Nuit des Freebies

photo, nuit des musees, waiting for louvre, sunset Ticketless folks line up for Saturday night at the museum.

Open Doors Season

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 19. May:–  For those who were troubled by envy of our great summer weather the situation has returned to normal, as in, it is spring again and the heavens can split apart allowing tons of hailstones to fall on our heads, crops, roads, underground parking lots and ships at sea, unless they are fisherfolk blocking ports in protest over the high cost of fuel. Whether we have summer in spring or spring in spring, life trumps minor details.

Bizarre Ordinary Normal

It just goes to show that indignation has no effect on the weather but you already knew that. We slid backwards from unearned summer to unwanted spring and the weather birdies on the TV–news were saying that the times in the sky were grave. After being higher than normal we regressed to less than normal, but it turned out not to be permanent and coming up we are now to have normal. As the French say, "Jamais!"

photo, brake lights, porte du louvre There's a lot of color outside too.

Tonight, with no strike, a normal night believe me, the TV–news had a straightforward forecast. There is a high somewhere over Helgoland in the North Sea which will be causing rain in Nice and Corsica but not here. Tuesday should be semi–to–better sunny with a high of 21 degrees, allegedly normal ! On Wednesday it may even be sunnier and calm – no northeast winds – and the temperature might be 21 again, because it's so normal. For Thursday clouds press from the west but we should hold up as mostly sunny, unless it becomes normal. Expect 22 degrees, one point above absolute normal.

Astute observations from Météo Jim lead to horse racing. Every forecaster has his minor quirks, but usually it's baseball. Here, the ultra brief version of how it will be in and around greater Pommeland:–

Not a Nor'easter!

On a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Pimlico race track in Baltimore, Maryland, Big Brown made a dash for the finish line and won the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Three weeks from now, the third leg will be run at the Belmont racetrack in Paris ouest, also known as Queens, New York. Will Ed, Ric, Radio Ric and his cousin Radial Ric who works for Michelin take their summer vacation a few weeks early so they can come west, make a friendly bet, win a few euros, and return to Paris est in time to use their winnings on les Soldes d'été?

photo, sign, door handle

As for le temps d'été, last Monday saw a nor'easter develop and visit Pommeland. For those not familiar with the term, a nor'easter is a low pressure system that sits out in the ocean and the winds turn in a counter clockwise direction. It is a miniature hurricane and can sometimes stay in one place for days.

A storm system will arrive from the west and bring clouds, temperatures in the 50s and wind on Monday. As far as is known, it has no intention of becoming a nor'easter. As for the rest of the week, see Metropole from two weeks ago. For corrections, see page 67 of this week's issue.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

photo, sign, rue roger

Ed's answer: No.

Café Life

Nuit des Freebies

Maintaining an ancient tradition all of four years, Saturday night was the occasion for a couple of hundred museums to be open with come one come all, until about midnight, and despite several exceedingly important football matches tens of thousands of Parisians forsook their television sets and were out traipsing around in the dark, taking tastes of nocturnal culture because it was too much of a good, free, thing to pass up.

Don't get me wrong, where was I? Out on the traipse with everybody else and I got so carried away that I overshot my quota of photos. Only needing four or five I came home with 125. What a schmozzle! Luckily nothing will go to waste – burning the spares will keep me in free incense for weeks.

photo, cour napoleon, statue, louvre A fancy lobby in the old style.

To have the absolute tip–top info to guide me through the high–brow evening I purchased the official paper, Le Parisien. But none of its tips suited me. Who wants to caper around in Rodin's garden in the dark? I picked none of the above and hooked a métro to get to the Louvre, the world's foremost and most gigantic hypermuseum, home of the smiling lady and the winged flying thing plus warehouses full of ancient evening's Egyptiana.

I was not disappointed. Thousands of folks were standing in line to enter via the Pyramid which is copyrighted and you must have permission to merely gaze upon it so I am not admitting I took any photos of it, nossir. I took photos of its reflection in the various pools surrounding it. Reflections are very temporary items, unsuitable for copyrighting. If there is no water handy it is okay to use glass, as in windows, even the Pyramid's.

So anyway, these thousands were strung out all over the Cour Napoléon, gossiping, sipping their eternal waters, humming, trading baseball cards and generally having a stand–around time until allowed to enter only to be replaced by yet more citizens willing to loiter for a freebie. I could have watched them for hours because Saturday's rain and hail happened about six and we weren't flooded after all like they were Friday in Toulouse and Lille, at opposite ends of the country.

photo, rue de rivoli, palais royal, traffic Outside of the Louvre at Palais Royal.

After the Louvre I decided to skip the 196 other attractions and take a métro zip to the Grand Palais. I certainly didn't think I would get in – I have not been in the Louvre since one rainy Sunday in November of 1978 – but maybe the folks would be distraught or antsy – who knows? Revolution is never far off in France especially now with the cost of diesel fuel exceeding the cost of super gas which is flipping high! Plus Paris' football team PSG might wake up Sunday morning in the second division.*

There were only a couple of people going up the stairs to the Grand Palais. There were several hundred folks huddled around the corner in the dark I didn't notice at first, but I kept clear of them. That part was for paintings anyway. I wanted to, if possible, see Richard Serra's beautiful steel slabs in the big part of the Grand Palais – and was I surprised to get in! No frisk, no pat down, no peek in the bag. Just walk right in and gawk.

photo, richard serra, steel slabs, interior grand palais Interior of the Grand Palais with one of Serra's steel slabs.

It was kind of dim in there. It is a huge place inside. You could fit a small town in the central part and stash a village or two in the wings. So Serra's four or five steel slabs standing on end, about three meters wide and 17 metres tall, so where were they? Yes, in there alright, but like toothpicks in that space. The rest of it was empty except for all the Parisians milling around, asking each other if anybody knew where to find the toilets.

If you ask me I'll tell you that it is really worth it to go and see Serra's flat steel slabs for free in the dark. If you didn't know they were there and just wandered in off the street you might not have noticed them in the gloom. Besides, once you seen one that's it. The other three or four are identical. The darkness enhances their effect of sameness. They were free after all. No sneer, I've always been fond of steel.

After that I decided to inspect the Alexandre III bridge in the dark because it is only half a block from the front door of the Grand Palais and it has a lot of gilding. I'll say this for it – it had more lights than the inside of the Grand Palais, plus as you are crossing it, you can look at the gilded dome of Les Invalides, Napoléon's current home. It is well–lit as is the Tour Eiffel which you can also see from the bridge. Another freebie, although it should be dark if you want to admire its lights.

photo, toon, richard serra, steel slab, clochards "It's steel, it's authentic!"

The métro took me home and when I got out of the tunnel I didn't bother looking over my shoulder at the fairy lights on the Tour Montparnasse because arty it's not. Too much free stuff in one night gives me heartburn and pesky lint behind my ears. I can hardly wait until next year to do it again. Ah, moment here, what about the Nuit Blanche? That's sort of the same thing, except it's modern art instead of steel slabs. What other free stuff comes before October? Technoparade?

* PSG, by some miracle, managed to win by 2–1 over Lens, thereby avoiding by a whisker being tossed into the depths of the second division. At the opposite end of league standings, Olympic Lyon copped the Coupe de France for the 7th year in a row and had a monster fête at the Hôtel de Ville.

Whispers, Rumors, White Lies

Everywhere you go these days our governments are getting into the behavior control business, trying to make sure we are all acting appropriately at all times. Tonight's TV–news announced the latest target – the Happy Hour, when bars and cafés typically offer half–price drinks in the early evening, in the hopes that you will stay long enough to fail noticing how much full–priced drinks cost, because of the cheap booze you started with.

photo, entry to grand palais, saturdayThe Grand Palais is not 'grand' for nothing.

To demonstrate how this affects young people they showed teenagers buying cases of beer in supermarkets and drinking it in parking lots and parks. Then they mentioned the binge drinking that apparently happens on weekends in Britain. I guess it was the best they could do. My objection to the cheap drinks is the way Happy Hours is spelled, with a plural. Granted that Happy Hour is usually two, at least, but in the Protestant tradition, you are only allowed one hour for happiness because any more would be like gluttony, and therefore, inappropriate.

While the government careens around, coming up with new ideas for annoying the populace, many folks are up to their usual antics of annoying the government, by having strikes. The students were on strike, but may now be getting ready to write exams. Doctors and nurses, teachers, patients and the retired, are always on strike for this and that. The government counters by insisting that there must be a minimum service but when everybody is on strike it is not easy to find anybody to actually do the minimum service. Members of Sarko's majority UMP party are not going to get their hands dirty, are they?

I have already mentioned that fishermen are blocking ports with their fishing boats. They say their cheap gas is too expensive. The government says it will go to Brussels and ask if it can subsidize the gas. Brussels will say no, and the government can say it's Brussels' fault. The fishermen will burn more tires and block imported fish.

photo, champs elysees, arc de triomphe, saturday night Meanwhile, the rest of Paris.

But none of that is around here. In Paris there will be a transport strike on Thursday, maybe involving teachers, students, and who knows who else might join in. Some people will be striking because the RER line A is saturated, increasingly carrying over a million passengers a day. On the other hand, on a strike day those folks may be walking, which is inappropriate when you've got a valid ticket. The strike parade starts at 14:30 at Bastille, and goes to Saint–Augustin, in case you want to try something a bit different.

Many public toilets in Paris are free if they are ones operated by the city, and if they are open and functioning. In contrast the SNCF is demanding 1€ at Gare du Nord and a nearby McDonald's might be charging 50 cents. Better, if you must, do it on the train before you arrive. Failing that, suggests Le Parisien, leave the station and take an express in the nearest café. This will cost 1.20 but the use of the toilet will be, appropriately, free.

photo, sign, rue deparcieux

Déjà Soldes d'Eté

Like the annual winter sales, the summer sales happen once every year. This is programmed to happen with or without any summer. In fact, the less summer there is, the more stuff there will be on sale. However since the goods on sale are priced in euros your possible savings might be slight. The start date for the sales will be Wednesday, 25. June, and the good times roll on until 2. August.

The Unique Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with another lone member are fine with me. Last week there we were again, à deux. More members and candidates are welcome too. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 100% new, will be on 22. May, another one of our great strike days, for public transport this time. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome even if you feel like demonstrating and waving a banner.

photo, sign, m for metro

Repetition here is slated to end someday but persists forever. Several dubious facts and other false rumors about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who have actually read it, and one or two may have, may become club members even despite their wishes.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is appropriate and fair to recall that it was today in 1780 that New England was covered by heavy clouds, fog and dense smoke from forest fires in Canada to such an extent that it became dark at 11:00 and the rest of the day was called off. A little while later, in 1889, a citizen named Jacob German was busted in New York for exceeding the speed limit of 15 miles per hour. I wonder if there even was a speed limit then, or was it another attempt to interfere with behavior? However, who can forget the birthday, in 1870, of Albert Fish, an inappropriate person if ever there was one. For what he was suspected of I switch to French – entièrement dévouée aux perversions sexuelles – pornographie, fétichisme sexuel, voyeurisme, sadisme, masochisme, flagellation active, auto–castration, bestialité, prostitution, coprophilie, coprophagie, et bien sûr, cannibalisme. The Brooklyn Vampire was executed, causing two short–circuits to his electric chair. That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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