Chinese In Flames

photo, spring in the quartier latin, saint germain, deux magots A true cliché, spring in the Quartier Latin.

A Durable Shambles

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 7. April:–  The météo folks issued a warning for northern France last night saying that we should be prepared with our shovels and snow chains and, no, it wasn't so unusual for it to snow around here at this time of the year – so I start this with the weather again after telling myself I was going to give it a rest – and toss in a photo of the snow in New York the day after I arrived, and dump the photo of the new Fiat 500, partly because it looks like a committee car rather than an amusing expression of Italian automobile flair. Phooey.

New, Improved, Weather

It just goes to show what good intentions are worth. While 4 centimetres of snow plagued the north there was none to see around here when I was able to see it because my eyes were open. Instead it was semi–sunny part of the time and semi–cloudy the rest. It was a bit chilly too, but when isn't it in April?

My TV is working again and today was the first when France–2 upped its format to 16:9. When the weather ladies are at the edge of the screen their derrières appear normal now, so the weather is less exciting. Accordingly it will be mostly sunny tomorrow, the same on Wednesday and half–and–half on Thursday. Temperatures are kind of cool, with two 10s and a 12 coming. Snow was not forecast, but 29 and sunny was predicted for Guyana.

photo, more spring, quartier latin, blossums More spring, still in the Latin Quarter.

Like the famous mountain coot, Météo Jim's forecasts are predictable. I haven't told him about the new regime yet, so here is the last old version of how it will be overseas:–

Baseball Score – Miserable

Pommeland had its first and only snow storm of the winter. To call it a storm stretched the imagination, but after going weeks and months without snow, what else could it be called? Now that spring is here and winter is over – although there is a movement to change the name of winter to wimper since it has become so pathetic – the chances grow for a significant springtime blizzard.

While winter in Pommeland has been wimpy, it must also be noted that in northern Maine, a record snowfall of 192 a–inches – 487 e–middle meters – has fallen. Once again the European Translator Union has gone on strike over these inhuman measurements.

The faded month of March also marks the 40th anniversary of the infamous headline, "Paris s'ennuie?" which set the stage for les Evénements de mai and the arrival of les soixante–huitards 39 years and 11 months ago. As for les Evénements for the coming week, le Poisson d'avril will see partly cloudy weather and a high of 65 a–degrees. The warmer weather will arrive and raise temperatures into the low to mid 60's during the day. A rain shower is scheduled to arrive on Friday, then depart and leave the weekend mostly cooler but mostly partly sunny.

photo, sign, traffic sign of the week, at denfert

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

Chinese In Flames

I have never seen the Olympic flame. I was close once. I went to Munich to get a job with the Olympical hustle, but it didn't pan out and I moved to Hamburg. I wasn't even in the country when it all went wrong at the '72 Olympics.

Time takes care of disappointments so I thought today might be the day to see an Olympic flame, live, in person. However the TV–news wasn't encouraging. Everybody who had an opinion about Tibet and China had been on TV, so it looked like the event might be controversial, might even be contested. Then they ran the flame through London and we saw how the Bobbies had their hands full – of demonstrators.

And that's the place that won the next Olympics. What about here, the place that lost the Olympics to London? For the first time it seems as if a lot of Tibetans live here, and everybody knows there are a lot of Chinese too, although on other days they might be Vietnamese. But the official word was that this was a sporting event, belonging to all mankind, with a lot of money at stake. Plus, think of the athletes!

photo, t-shirt slogan, pekin 2008, handcuffs The anti-Beijing t-shirt.

For the moment, forget the refugees, in other words. But things don't work like that in France, where a portion of the French can decide their government is not representing them and Republican ideals.

Another portion had already decided that folks should keep quiet and do as they're told and to prove who had might they put 3000 security agents into place, including the cops, the anti–mutiny police, Gendarmes, firemen, army, navy and airforce, radar, helicopters, speedboats, motorcycles, spy cameras, roller flics, secret agents, the whole caboodle. More, far more, than for Sarkozy's coronation. Plus, the Chinese themselves supplied a troop of trained musclemen, dressed in sky blue jump suits.

I went down to Denfert where the procession was supposed to pass the Lion on the way to the Charléty stadium, where they were to have some sort of solemn ceremony. I was a bit early and there was no sign of any security, barriers, demonstrators, nothing. The sun was mostly shining, with a photogenic sky, looking like spring. Birds tweeted.

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photo, olympic flame at denfert, monday, without flame Denfert view of hidden Olympic flame today.

While standing there looking towards boulevard Raspail a fellow began talking to me, telling me about getting bounced by the cops at Charléty, for wearing the Reporters Sans Frontières t–shirt with the handcuffs. They took his name and told him not to disturb the peace. "For wearing a t–shirt?" he said.

Meanwhile some folks slowly gathered around the Lion in the middle of the intersection. Some had Tibetan flags. Near me some other folks had Chinese flags and Samsung bags. The place filled up with both types of supporters and the security. In fact the security grew until it probably outnumbered the onlookers. We were shoved off traffic islands, the Lion was cleared. There were seventeen different flavors of cops.

Finally the helicopter was overhead and a last phalanx of cop vehicles came up Raspail, then the Chinese truck. There were so many police vans in the place there was nothing to see. No sight of any French sportsperson carrying any Olympic flame. Once the truck was past we all went to Monoprix to do the day's shopping for food.

photo, snow in new york Snow in New York, but in February.

The first 20 minutes of the TV–news covered the event. Reporters Sans Frontières hung their handcuff banner off the Tour Eiffel, off Notre Dame and off the Hôtel de Ville. At the Assembly National two dozen deputies hung out a banner reading, Respect des droits de l'homme en Chine. At the Hôtel de Ville there was to be a small ceremony. That was where a Chinese official called it off – put the flame in a bus, and hauled out of there.

To me and the other people nearest, the police were polite. On TV though, they were shown as being not so kind. The announcer said the police had orders to confiscate Tibetan flags. A cameraman was shown being kicked in the camera. There was even a little blood but never any word about civilian injuries. The usual 20 rowdies were arrested for disturbing the peace and rebellion.

Not that it has anything to do with anything, but the Paris Marathon was run off on Sunday, yesterday. It featured thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators, and went from one side to Paris to another. There were, I think, no arrests. Not of anyone involved with this other city–wide sporting event.

A Durable Shambles

I am in the process of changing everything around here so there is a enduring shambles. I don't know how folks deal with all this modern stuff. My old phone – it was a black one with 17 buttons. I never knew what the top four were for. Now I have a sort of portable phone, that gets calls from the Internet via DSL. For a year it had its own number but it's good I never learned it, because Orange gave it the old phone's number, the one that's in the book.

The new phone has 20 buttons but none of them do on and off like the old phone – like, hang up and it's off. Every other month I take a stab at reading the user manual. It took a year to turn off the alarm that I thought was somebody phoning me every day at 18:23. Then it turned itself back on. If I don't answer when you phone at 18:23, it is because I've found the button to push hard, twice, to turn it off, and get rid of folks trying to sell me fancy second–class china.

photo, sign, geno's cheese fries, philedelphia

Everybody knows I got a new TV. It's about as wide as a Fiat 500 but the sound of the news on France–3 is indistinct. I want that swirly sound for watching movies so I got an audio–visual amplifier, and three huge speakers. "Big enough for a grande salle," according to the literature. The amp even has one of those big rooms built in. Some ritzy rococo concert palace in Munich.

But the user manual is pretty complex as well as thick. To get the amp to recognize the speakers I have to hook up a microphone and put it where my head usually is. And then get out of the room while it does something technical, mysterious and loud. I can't wait to try this out.

As soon as it seems one thing is going to work as advertised something else goes wrong. The amplifier for example. It's as big as two apple crates and I made a suitable space for it. Did they say in the literature that the thing is wide and high, as well as having an unheard–of depth? It sticks out into the room like a triple–black bumper, cantilevered over empty space. It makes the room look lumpy.

But I will tell you, even without it set up, it sure sounds good. I have listened to music CDs I have had for years, some I never listened to before, and they sound crystal clear. Like the TV, the amp needs a burn–in of at least 50 hours, until the circuits settle down and get their groove. At the speed I'm going I reckon it will be in great shape by next Easter.

photo, sign, young frankenstein

The Café Metropole Club

One or two club meetings with four members is okay with me, such as the great one last week. All other members and candidates are still welcome. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 99% new, will be on 10. April, in the first month of spring. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome, welcome, anyways and always.

Unending repetition here is slated to end. Still, several erroneous facts and other outright rumors about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who actually read it, and two or three might have, often become club members even if they wish they hadn't.

photo, sign, rue de l'amiral de coligny

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 1795 that France adopted the métre and had one made of brass. This was done by deciding that the distance from the North Pole to the Equator was exactly 10,000,000 métres. It was after the Assembly National agreed in 1791 that the métre was one ten–millionth of the length of a quadrant drawn through Paris. In the same year, 1795 that was, the thermometer of Anders Celsius was also adopted making the score 100 even. Also on this date, but in 1906, there was an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that devastated Naples and not for the first time either. Since 24. August 79, Vesuvius has blown up about three dozen times. At the moment Vesuvius has been quiet for the longest time in 500 years. It's our world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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