Pasta With Gypsy

photo, fresh french strawberries at uncle's The best strawberries of the year.

Strawberries With Franny

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 9. June:–  During the week Uncle Den–Den, who is having his name shortened to plain Uncle, invited me to sit around in another neighborhood, outside another café. The Godet d'Or is his new enthusiasm. The drinks are better, the patron is cool, the music is jazz, the terrace has more to see – new ladies! – and the sky is bluer and the air is fresher. This is part of the 100 villages program. Paris is not a city but a dense jungle of different villages. Only the courageous and daring venture out to foreign quartiers, like on the other side of the avenue du Général Leclerc.

Balmy Days Shorted

It just goes to show that lousy weather can have a negative effect on well–being, at least until it turns into stunning sunshine like we had today. All last week it was glum–glum and cool. Were we mopey? You bet we were! Our well–being was in the pits. Oh, this sunshine today – not on the forecast and doubly welcome. Wait, there's more:

Until I went out shopping for vitals this afternoon I was wondering why I felt warm. The thermometre sign on the pharmacy explained it all – 26 wonderful warm degrees. I wanted to stay out, like a frog sitting on a log, waiting for a juicy bug to land on my tongue. And this wasn't any old still air either. The wind, ah, the wind was puffing from the west and there wasn't a cold bone in it.

photo, accordionist, patrick quichaud Patrick Quichaud on Friday.

The magic number for Tuesday is 26 again. Skywise we will be going from semi–great to semi with fluffy clouds, not to worry. And around here on Wednesday will continue to be semi great, with 23 degrees, which is good because. Because Thursday is supposed to be like last Thursday which wasn't a Thursday to remember. Remember? Ah, it will be semi–crummy, sunny periods, cloudy periods, dots all over, especially in the temperature that will hardly be any named that, namely 18 degrees. Bah! Humbug!

Meteoric musings from Météo Jim suggest heat waves sometimes. Weather forecasts on WNYC this afternoon mentioned "triple digits!" Here is the ultra–stinky hot version of how it will be in and around greater Pommeland:–

Roaring Air Conditioners

This spring in Pommeland has been cool and pleasant. Sometimes it seemed more like early April than the end of May. At these times we think maybe summer has forgotten about us and will stay away. But that only means that summer will arrive with a vengeance to make up for lost steamy days.

On Thursday the temperature was in the upper 60s. On Saturday the thermometer soared into the low 90s and the weather service issued a heat advisory warning. Today, Sunday, the temperature will rise into the mid 90s and by Monday expect to see temperatures around the century mark.

But relief is on the way. A cool and cloudy will start to arrive on Tuesday. Rain may fall on Wednesday as well as the thermometer and by Friday expect highs in the upper 70s and rain on Saturday.

photo, sign, bowl of dennis wierd bread

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

Pasta With Gypsy

Uncle felt so good about me going with him to a foreign neighborhood, both last Wednesday and again on Friday, that he invited me to meet Gypsy Rose Lee at his place on Sunday. On one hand he will cross the avenue to sit on a café terrace to look at new people and on the other he can stay home and have them drop in. I guess he goes across the avenue for sheer adventure. He used to work for the railroad. They promised him he could toot the whistle at level crossings.

On Sunday I went out to my backup café to get cigarettes, having forgotten that it's closed on Sundays. It meant I had to go down to the avenue but I needed a walk, carrying a heavy camera and a plastic sack full of heavy drinks. It's a way to see the arrondissement when you weren't expecting to.

But really I was building up my strength for Uncle's stairs. He has five flights of highly polished wooden stairs, with a flimsy railing. The gnomes of hell must polish every single step daily. When you get to the top outside his door it's always a tossup whether to just stand there and breathe, or go inside and fall down.

photo, so good, uncle's stuffed pasta Every little pea, stuffed in one by one.

Dimitri was already there. So was Franny, who claimed she knew me so I didn't find out her name. They were breathing normally, sipping wines and refusing Uncle's offers of vodkas. After a few minutes Gypsy Rose made it to the door and then there was more deep breathing. Gypsy was introduced as Sandra Church.

Franny and Sandra were meeting for the first time, and as artists they traded fifty mutual names. Houses down in heaven, near Toulouse, or here and there, Santa Barbara, or Cape Cod, back and forth. Not like us three neighborhood dogs, camped here, and that's it.

Dimitri did have a job up in or near the Pas de Calais so he told us about that neighborhood. You have to imagine a place where it rains a lot so the neighbors have carnival, the full extravaganza, everything except the canals of Venice but of couse, they do have the rain. Dimitri said they are big jokers. There was a film about them, and a hundred thousand turned out to cheer for it when the crew waved from the balcony of the Voix du Nord in Lille two weeks ago.

We had Uncle's salad, with its goat cheese and perfect tomatos. Then he brought out a big pot – the big pot – filled with pasta tubes stuffed with sausage and fresh peas. The pasta – the original kind of course. The peas picked by himself from the market. The sausage from the sausage guy. The Italian sausage guy that was. I had two plates of it and Dimitri tested the pea–shooter qualities of the pasta. It's okay to act like the Marx Brothers would have acted at Uncle's.

photo, dimitri the pasta pea shooter Dimitri ready to shoot .32 cal pea.

Everybody had a story. Even I had a story, the usual one. While on this, listening mainly, the strawberries were set out. They were the Red of the Year. No point in going to the market and trying to get them for they are only there once, if at all, and then they are gone. They tasted like – strawberries. In fact everything tasted like – why go into it?

Franny and Sandra had the usual stories about apartments and Internet connections that are flakey. That's Paris for you – that stuff doesn't work right unless you are completely indifferent to it. Franny wanted to get an early bus so Uncle got his laptop and looked up the RATP and of course their Website had all the information you might want except any kind of a timetable. It said that wasn't available or it was secret.

Everybody, except me, posed for Sunday's Group Photo of the Week so I could try out the blitz again. Nobody was very serious about this. Even so I did not lie on the floor. The ladies said they were washing the dishes while Uncle looked for the bus schedules, and then Franny wanted to undo them when he turned up zilch.

photo, sandra, dimitri, dennis, franny Sandra, Dimitri, Uncle and Franny.

Then we went downstairs – even more carefully than going up – and went half a block to the avenue where we found a busstop. A sign on it said the buses started at 06:05, just right for Franny to get to the Air France bus for Orly or Roissy, to go to Cape Cod or Detroit or Toulouse.

What about Gypsy you ask? This subject was never raised. I looked it up just now. Sandra played the part of Gypsy Rose Lee in the original production on Broadway in 1959 and she did it 702 times. She played beside Ethel Merman and Jack Klugman, under the direction of Jerome Robbins. The musical was based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee and was about her ultimate showbusiness mother. Sandra was also in Picnic on Broadway, and appeared with Marlon Brando in the 1963 film, The Ugly American.

Now I can say I had some pasta with Gypsy.

Whispers, Rumors, Untrue Fibs

This popular feature which began recently and was dumped two weeks ago gets another dump this week. Needless to 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, sign, cd case, stephane grappelli live in warsaw The music of the day.

There was other news too. The problem with it is it's still going on just like last week. Truck drivers are increasingly restless and 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 47 different issues. The government is inventing more things to fix, as if there weren't enough. In short, things are completely normal in France, if a bit more complicated. That's normal too.

Soldes d'Eté Déjà

If you've already read this, skip it. 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.

photo, sign, bowl of bagette bread

The Golden Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with a miniscule passel of members are fine with me. Last week there we were, uno y uno. Other members and new candidates are welcome too. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 101% new, will be on 12. June, a few days after and before nothing unusual. 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 repeats like crackers. Three dubious facts and seven true 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, the big strawberry

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 69 that Nero was helped to commit suicide, in order to avoid getting lynched. Curiously this was six years to the day after Nero's wife Claudia Octavia was killed by a fake suicide and had her head sent by UPS to Poppaea, Nero's new wife. While at it, just to set the record straight, Nero was most likely out of town when he fiddled while Rome burned. Meanwhile on this day in 1660 big Louis XIV married Marie–Thérèse d'Autriche. This was after a three day courtship. She brought chocolate and oranges to France for the first time, and she didn't speak a word of French. They were both 22. In 1909 a lady named Alice Huyler Ramsey from Hackensack, New Jersey drove a green Maxwell into San Francisco with three lady friends who could not drive, after a 59 day trip. What was remarkable was that there were no credit cards, no paved roads, no maps of the unpaved roads and no gas stations, no drive–ins or any malls. How did she do it? That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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