Sitting Around

photo, bunch of sitters, stairs, montmartre, big view Sitting in the sun on Montmartre.

Not Blog, But Gulb

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 2. June:–  Last week while cruising down from Montmartre in the sunshine sweeping up the hillside it felt a bit steamy, a bit like I imagine Rio to be like on a good day. Sure I missed the smell of the sticky brine and the lush flowers but this was inland, in northern Europe. What you have to imagine is being in the tropics with the smells of garlic and fresh baguettes, and later underground in the métro, that particular odor of the hot disk brakes as the train slams into Montparnasse or Denfert. If you missed it last week, it's still with us this week.

Berserk In the Bathtub

It just goes to show that the weather can have an effect on imagination, at least until it gets into the crazy rain we've been having. Lightening, thunder, rain falling in sheets. Floods in the south, floods in the east, roads washed out and folks hip–deep in their kitchens, wondering if the bridge will hold up until they get out of town. It's not supposed to be tropical. There is no monsoon here. You wouldn't think so.

photo, willy on one leg, stone in shoe What's this?

The TV–news weather maps have gone nuts. Usually there's just a bulge from the Atlantic and it washes across France from west to east. These days there's a bulge in the southeast, one pushing up from the Pyrenees, another doing crazy jams in the middle with a baby one beginning on the nose of Brittany. By midday they go twist and twirl, and another wave sloshes over. Like a berserk bathtub.

On Tuesday the bulge hangs from the northern border and then moves east, leaving behind showers and, possibly, sunny periods, with a high of 19 degrees. Things might clear quite a bit on Wednesday here and it may even be semi–nice, with 19 for the high. On Thursday we will be under a 90 degree wave of semi not–so–nice, but better than the total muck that its following east. What can I say? 19 degrees again. Last night's probability rating was in the pits for the coming weekend.

Celestial observations from Météo Jim suggest hurricanes sometimes. Like during the half year that constitutes the season over there. Here is the ultra–ultra version of how it will be in and around greater Pommeland:–

Hurricane Jump Season

For those living on the western shores of the Atlantic and all around and in the Caribbean, the first day of June marks the beginning of hurricane – and to be fair, himicane and slowicane – seasons. However, Mama Nature shows her contempt for human lines of demarcation and has already unleashed Hurricane Arthur on the Yucatan Peninsula.

photo, sign, boulevard des capucines

As for the Pacific side of Central America, the season is even less pacific because its official start of the races is May 15 and Hurricane Alma has already come and gone.

The weather people predict a more active than normal season, but they have said this for the past three years and have been wrong, wrong, wrong. The groundhog's forecast for the winter is more accurate. Come to think of it, one of the meteorologists did look very furry and kept asking where was the nearest garden.

Last Tuesday saw the arrival of the Muggies in Pommeland. They were quickly chased out by near record low temperatures and frost warnings in some places. But the temperatures climbed into the 60s and 70s a–grad during the day only to be serenaded by Thunderboomersdonnerundgeblitzens on Saturday.

The first week of June will see the partly cloudies come together on Wednesday to form the rainies and then break up into the partly cloudies again. Temperatures will be in the upper 70s – lower 80s all a–grade.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

photo, sitters, terrace, cafe, montmartre More Montmartre sitters.

What the Hell Is This?

I didn't do Paris last week. My number one son Willy was here and we hung out, eating, drinking, smoking, talking and watching DVD movies on my huge TV. Oh, we went shopping for that food, and the drink too. We went to the Italian one night but it wasn't as nutty as usual because Uncle Den–Den caught something from some travellers. The crêpes the following night weren't any better, because they just weren't. That happens sometimes. I probably already wrote this in the club report on Thursday.

Some folks, ones that were born about the time the word blog was coined, call this a blog. Because I was doing it seven years before blogs existed, I doubt it is a blog. Look around here. What do you see? It doesn't look like a blog, does it? If it doesn't look like a blog, doesn't smell like a blog and doesn't taste liker a blog, then it probably isn't a blog. Call it a golb instead.

Maybe that should be gulb. It is a good word for last Wednesday. I hadn't seen Willy for two years, he said. After Tuesday's rain we had to go out on Wednesday and I asked him where he wanted to go. He said, "I dunno." He was born here but he has never looked at a guide book, looked up Paris on the Web, or knows the least thing about the place. He was counting on me to take him past something. I doubt if he cared whether it was beautiful, amazing or interesting. So we went to Montmartre.

photo, train full of sitters, montmartre Montmartre train full of sitters.

I doubt if the Butte has changed much since the first tour bus went up there in 1872 and tourists had a look at the wreckage left over from the events of the Commune. They were up there looking for Utrillo and bullet holes, cute little cabarets and arty types, colorful postcards and the dinky little train that putts around the hill. Maybe I'm wrong and they were looking for Jesuits, windmills or the telegraph. Maybe they saw the white church but I don't remember if it was built then.

photo, sitters, steps of opera Looks like folks sitting at the Opéra because they are.

Facts are getting slippery. Montmartre is full of holes. I can remember that, just like gulb. I told Willy the first bit was uphill. When we got past the vineyard and Utrillo's house, I told him all the rest was downhill because it is. We went and looked at the view from in front of the church. While we were looking, absolutely nothing happened to it. Beaubourg was where it always is.

It seemed like there are fewer artists in the place du Tertre. All of the surrounding café terraces have expanded, leaving just a few painters on the fringes. Waiters from some cafés were wearing costumes, totally fake. Maybe Disney has taken it over without putting up a sign. We went down an alley and looked at the view again, then skipped the Dali shop. Around the corner I told Willy that Utrillo painted the unlikely café, the Swiss something or other. He said less than nothing.

photo, big doll at saint germain The big Dutch doll.

He perked up when I pointed out a windmill on the way down, past the Chi't painted on a wall. We came out at Lepic and followed it down and around, to the tabac there. We got a table and had a drink, sitting in the sun, not a care in the world. It wasn't the worst place in the world to sit for a half hour.

After, the rest of the way down Lepic, to place Blanche and down through the 9th all the way to Haussmann and around to the Opéra and inside for a look at the marble and gilding, but it was mostly closed off. Some construction outside blocked the vue down the avenue just like it does in New York. We went through Vendôme and eyeballed Cartier and the Ritz, trying to spot the spooks.

The Tuileries were very quiet except for the cars racing along Rivoli. We passed the pool, the Carrousel, and took a pause on one of the stone benches in the Cour Napoléon. Did I remember to tell him it was the Cour Napoléon? No, I think I merely said that we'd come two–thirds of the way. In the Cour Carée I pointed out where the original Louvre had been. There's no sign of it. I told him about the other part that isn't there anymore – Marie's castle. Most folks don't wonder about it because they've never heard of it.

photo, obama poster, l'express, will Something a little different.

On the Pont des Arts I pointed out my bridge. It's looking really good since its renovation. We battled our way up the rue de Seine to the boulevard and went along there to Saint–Germain where some folks were erecting a huge, white, Dutch girl doll. Willy was cool – he didn't ask what it was. Angry artists, I suppose. It's springtime, artists are out pulling capers.

Then we got on the métro and went to my Monoprix. Willy got all his supplies for his return trip, and I helped carry them up rue Daguerre. We got some bread for breakfast, or would have if the bakery had not been closed. I must have got it elsewhere.

That's what I do when I don't do Paris. I drive a bus. I have done it often and I have the whole thing memorized. It is always supposed to be a bit longer, a bit further, than is comfortable. The last thing you would want to do is try and march all the way up the rue de Rennes to Montparnasse. Because if you did, then it's just a bit further to Daguerre. But that last bit is a killer.

photo, sign, place st ferdinand

On Friday I went with Willy to Porte Maillot where he caught the bus to that ramshackle airport out at Beauvais. He called it a rickshaw airport. He said it was in a tent or something. He was worried that they would charge him for overweight baggage. I heard later that he turned around in Dublin in two minutes and was out the door to somebody's 21st birthday. His is next year.

Whispers, Rumors, White Fibs

This popular feature which began recently and was dumped last week gets an update this week. Pay close attention. The unions and the employer's confederation have been discussing reforms with the government. After listening carefully and weighing all the options, the government decided to ignore both groups and proposed its own list of 60 modifications to the Code du Travail. Therefore the unions are calling for a massive strike on Tuesday, 17. June, to oppose the plan to dismantle the 35–hour work week, allowing employers to insist on up to 48 hours, without overtime pay.

photo, fiat 500, sitting, rue lepicFiat 500 of the Week, sitting too.

There was other news too. The problem with it is it's still going on. The fishermen are still mostly on strike, blocking ports, trashing supermarkets and giving TV interviews. Truck drivers are getting into the act with escargot convoys and some fuel depots are being blockaded. Teachers and students are still sore about plans to cut staffs. Taxi drivers are annoyed and so are motorcyclists. Nobody is cheering for increased TV fees. A lot of citizens are worried about 36 different issues. The government is inventing more thorny knots, as if there weren't enough. In short, things are completely normal in France, if a bit complicated. That's normal too.

photo, sign, rue villapet de joyeuse

Soldes d'Eté Déjà

If you've already read this, squeak. Like the annual winter sales, the summer sales happen without fail. This is scheduled to happen even without any summer. In fact, the less summer there is, the more great stuff there will be on sale. However since the terrific goods on sale are priced in euros your possible savings might be slight. The sales will begin on Wednesday, 25. June, and the wild shopping times roll on until 2. August.

The Olden Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with a miniscule passel of members are fine with me. Last week there we were, à deux. Other members and new candidates are welcome too. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 100% new, will be on 5. June, a few days before and after nothing special. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome even if you feel like waiting for your refund.

Repetition here is rumored to end someday but wafts on forever. Three dubious facts and seven 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 without personal risk or other fees.

photo, sign, rue de la mire, chit, merde

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is appropriate to recall that it was today in 455 that the Vandals began plundering, destroying, murdering, raping and sacking Rome for two weeks, because it was there. They did this because they were running away from the Goths, the Marcomanni, the Hermanduri and the truly nasty Hister folks of the Danube branch. Pope Leo the Great asked Vandal leader Geiseric to be satisfied with mere pillage. On the same day in 1953 a young lady named Elizabeth was crowned as Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Westminster Abbey, and she still is. This was the same day as the birth, in 1740 of Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, known to his close friends as Marquis de Sade. On a sadder note today marks the death of Hristo Botev, national Bulgarian hero, in 1876. Other than P. T. Barnum beginning his first circus tour of the United States today in 1835, that's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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