Cheesy Highlights

photo, footbridge, canal st martin Above the Canal Saint–Martin on Sunday.

What's that Smell?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 4. February:–  That was a narrow escape, getting out of January like that. Uncle came back from Italy and said he was on the beach in sunshine down there. He said that you get free tapas with drinks and the only kind of restaurants there are Italian and all of them have wonderful pasta. That's nothing! The sun was shining in Paris yesterday up by the Canal Saint–Martin and some well–dressed folks were basking.

Swoon Worthiness

It just goes to show that the world does not live by pasta alone. There are other things in life, like Presidential weddings, like the one we had at our very own people's palace, the Elysée on Saturday. However it was a private affair, and we were just as locked out as the 2348 paparazzi who showed up to cover it. It means we won't be able to catch up with the next edition of Hallo. It means nothing to look forward to reading at the dentist's.

France–2 TV news and weather did the best they could. The video of all the paparazzi standing behind police barriers across the street from the palace was wonderful. The images of the dark windows of all the state limos was terrific. This was followed by Sunday's news that did not show our President and brand–new first lady of France snuggling on a café terrace at our other people's palace, Versailles. However Monday's Le Parisien came through with the goods. Worth a swoon.

photo, folks on footbridge

But I guess you are impatient for February's weather. This is to be completely different from the unlamented former month that was, beginning on Tuesday with rain in the morning and rain in the afternoon, wind in the morning and more wind in the afternoon, with the whole thing being being englobalized in a temperature of 12 which would be nice if it weren't so damp.

Then, before your umbrellas dry out, there will be Wednesday that is expected to be mostly semi–sunny in both morning and afternoon, and the temperature might even be 11 degrees. Then exactly the same was predicted for Thursday except for it being mostly cloudy, some winds whipping up the Channel, and a high temperature of 12, I think.

Usually a day early, Météo Jim our prime forecaster of animal wisdom, has posted still another sightful prediction that includes that dreaded word, winter. His grasp on the weather situation, in general, is worth saluting:–

The Hog of Winter

February started off with almost 2 a–inches of rain in Pommeland while January ended in Los Angeles with floods and mud slides, none of which were expected to reach Paris–Plage.

In the meantime, Groundhog Day came and went along with predictions from groundhogs of all sizes and competencies. The official groundhog, Punxsatawney Phil, boldly predicted that winter would last for another six weeks. The Grosse Pomme hog, Staten Island Chuck, stated flat out that spring will arrive in six weeks. Not to be outdone, Beauregard Lee in Georgia agreed with Chuck that spring will be here in six weeks. When asked about the Silly Season in the US that started last summer and will continue for another nine months, the critters uniformly replied, "Why do you think we hibernate?"

A final note about the Metropole Groundhog. A news agency picked up a report about an incident south of the border. All it said was, "In Durango, Durango, a groundhog did fandango." Which animal it was could not be determined. On verra... ou pas.

For those of us who either will not or cannot hibernate, the weather for the coming week is the following – temperatures in the lower 50s a–grad through Thursday. Monday will have a light wintry mix of snow and rain. Heavier rain will arrive Tuesday night into Wednesday. Then the clouds will lighten, the sun will brighten and the temperatures will slighten to 40 a–grad. None of the hogs of winter have confirmed the accuracy of this forecast so believe in it at your own risk.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

photo, canal quay

Café Life

Cheesy Highlights

This is another one of those weeks that had a Saturday or Sunday with some form of clear skies. It wasn't warm yesterday but it was bright so I was up to Gare de l'Est which appeared to be new. I mean it was the same old station but somebody cleaned up the stonework and painted the metal. It was pretty shiny, in a part of town that is kind of dreary unless you like dark stone that looks like it lost the war of age. Eh! What am I saying? I should be saying the new Gare de l'Est hasn't wrecked the neighborhood!

It is just a short jaunt from there to the Canal Saint–Martin. I make the same mistake every time I go there in winter – it is dark place at the time I go. After all these years I am gradually coming to the idea that I should do a tour in the morning when the sun – if it is shining – has a different slant on things.

I had to go out early one morning last week and it was ghastly. The sun was so low and so bright I could hardly see. By the time the afternoon rolls around and the sun is low there's enough pollution in the air to filter it. You know – kind of give it that mellow burnt ozone glow, like seeing it through wavering gasoline fumes.

photo, buildings along quay

Speaking of which, there was some odd smell around the Gare de l'Est. A lot of people used to complain about how Paris smells at times, but usually it doesn't smell like that any more. But yesterday, that was different. Could it be that with the Gare de l'Est looking so new it acquired a smell of the old days? If so, no thanks!

At the canal nothing was happening. Slight breezes ruffled the surface of the water and people climbed up the footbridge and leaned on the rail at the top to gaze on the still canal while others sat on the café terrace with a rare bit of afternoon sun. Since my last time there the streets are more blocked to traffic, except for occasional cyclists.

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photo, swing bridge for traffic, canal st martin The unswung swingbridge on Sunday.

So you can look at other folks looking at the canal or the bridges. On any other day there is more activity – barges, police cars, ambulances, delivery vans, scooters whizzing about – but on Sunday there are just other people like yourself, looking at everything except each other, because nobody is doing anything.

I went down a block to the swing bridge. It can set off a lot of action – it swings open, barriers fall, cars and buses stop, pedestrians wait, warning lights flash, there's some audio alert, a barge chugs through – but on Sunday, nothing happened. A swing bridge that didn't. Had no soul.

The sun wasn't down but was low, slanting in from the southwest on a few streets angled right. Away from the canal Paris was closed with its metal shutters down. Over at République an army could have fit in and there was a winter crowd on one of its islands, watching some drummers. The ambiance – boom, boom, boomy–de–boom boom. Like a brass band without the brass.

photo, grass between the cobbles

Further down, going towards Bastille I fell into a café. It was an old PMU with its television showing the trotting races from Vincennes. The floor was strewn with betting slips and sugar wrappers. It was the kind of place that would have had so much smoke in it that it could have been sliced into cubes and carted away. Yesterday it was just murky. I guess the lights never were that bright. The café was okay too.

I caught the métro before Bastille and had to change there to go on to Italie. There was that smell again. Maybe somebody left something in the moat. Maybe it's cigarettes that have been masking these smells for a century. Maybe the cheesy smell is taking over. One of the unexpected consequences that the economists didn't think of.

Soldes for You in Paris

Bring yourself to winter sales,, and in return Paris will give you a big discount. The Soldes d'Hiver continue until February, until the 16th, which is the Saturday following Valentine's Day.

The Café Metropole Club

Some club meetings with one member is fine with me, such as the one last week. All other members and prospectals are still welcome. The next Thursday everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 99.5% new, on 7. February, in the short month of Valentine. Any members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome, anyways and always.

photo, cirque d'hiver, sundaySun on the Cirque d'Hiver.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 7. February, exactly a paragraph after repeating it twice already. The Saint of the Day is over, booted to perdu, gone. In substitution famous days to forget, such as Thursday's Pluto day, which honors Pluto getting inside Neptune's orbit in 1979 for the first time since either was known to science. But Pluto ceased to be a regular planet in 2006 on account of Eris which is 27% more massive. Instead the boffins said both were dwarf planets, and gave Pluto the number 134340.

Dreary repeats endlessly, related to Paris by a long and invisible but slender thread. One erroneous rumor and two factettes about the club and its single scent are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who actually have read it, and two or three might have, need not do it again. If I am wrong as has happened often, write your own version. The free membership card for real members is still as free as ever. Whatever is asked for it, it's cheap for the price.

photo, sign, rue scarron

Metropole a Real Long Time Ago

Who, exactly, cares about the past? An ordinary decade is ten big years, yet it was only 7 little years ago that the Café column had Birthday Vodka Chez Dennis, Au Bistro raved about Retirement – Are You Ready, and there was a feature about La Défense – Business Slum. There were four neat posters too, and a cartoon, titled No Beef! Just Caviar and Vodka! That was really all in Issue 6.05:– Monday, 29. January 2001 and I'll never forget it.

Café Life Légère 93.4

Sweet Chaos

This week's tame Quote of the Week has a slight connection or relevance to today, but none to last week or next week. Take one by Germaine Greer. She had a couple of things to say, such as, "We could only fear chaos if we imagined that it was unknown to us, but in fact we know it very well." So I guess that means we know and love chaos so a little anarchy is really nothing at all, really unlikely to cause panic and terror except to the police.

photo, sign, soyez bref

'Patahistory of Flight

There are no more than 330 days left of this year, the same number that 1890 had when Clément Ader climbed aboard the Eole and took off, for a sustained self–propelled flight of about 50 metres. Somehow he was completely overlooked for the first flight prize, so he designed the world's first aircraft carrier, which was seen by the US Naval attaché in Paris, and it was tried out in the United States in November of 1910.

Wobble–Degeneration and Corruption

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 35 days, the same number that 211 had when Septimius Severus died. He left the Roman Empire to his two sons, Caracalla and Geta, who were quarrelsome boys. Although Septimius Severus created a military dictatorship, he was loved by Rome's citizens because he stamped out moral degeneration and rampant corruption. He was born in Libya and died at 65, so they say.

photo, sign, pate de porc henaff

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

A few folks have might have been thinking that it is only right and proper to remember that it was today in 1992 that the the coup d'etat led by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela failed. But he won the presidency by election in 1998 – declared official on this date in 1999. Besides annoying certain folks in Washington DC, Chávez is also a very busy president. While we're here let us remember 1794 and France's abolition of slavery today, and the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus in Egypt in 1859. Then in 1991 the Baseball Hall of Fame banned Pete Rose, who said later, "I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team. I did everything in my power every night to win that game." That's sports, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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