A Dud Pétard

photo, twirly in the tuileries, fete Whirly twirls in the Tuileries all summer.


by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 14. July:–  I'm not sure I have the strength to put up a good rant. For starters I did not travel to the Champ de Mars for tonight's fireworks show. I stayed home with my big beautiful widescreen TV and got hoisted by my own pétard. Intending to go to see the fireworks, I turned on the TV and saw that there was a huge crowd already there. It was like, if you wanted to see the fireworks this year it would have been better if you started out right after the ball at Bastille finished this morning. But important things first, with the weather:

A Fine Mess

It just goes to show that when July is here and it tries really really hard to be summery, it kind of makes it even if the forecast seems to be sort of gloomy and cloudy and it doesn't seem like it is going to be warm, but then it turns out brighter than imagined and even if it isn't all that toasty, it isn't absolutely cold either. Just remember this as you absorb the details:

Tuesday will start sunny and then it will get cloudy but it might not be total, and besides, the temperature was forecast to be 27 degrees which isn't shabby at all. Then Wednesday will likely be mostly cloudy although there will be some bright periods. The high is expected to be 24, good for June, lousy for July. Club day on Thursday is expected to be semi–cloudy, again, and the temperature will hold at 23 degrees. I am as sorry about this as you are, if you are here too.

photo, ferris wheel, twirly, tuileries Next to the whirly twirls.

This week Météo Jim looks abroad for weather that won't be near you real soon. Here is Jim's latest up–to–date version of how it will be in and around greater Pommeland and ships at sea:–

Not Near Pommeland

July is the midpoint of the summer and the All Star game marks the halfway point of the Boys of Summer's quest for the undying glory of the World Series in October. Also in this month, training camps open for les chars blindé d'automne and their search to be one of the teams that will clash in the Stupor Bowl this coming winter.

Last week tropical storm Bertha was born off the coast of Africa, but it has been busy setting records. It is thrashing about in the mid–Atlantic and is expected to turn northeast and pass on the eastern side of Bermuda. It set one record by having the fastest increase in strength – four hours after going from a tropical storm to a hurricane, it jumped to a category 3 storm. It is also the longest lived hurricane ever tracked.

Although the storm will not come anywhere near the East Coast, it is causing problems along the beaches with its rip currents. For those Paris Plageois not familiar with this term, these are currents that flow parallel to the shore. If you get caught in a rip current in New York, it could take you to either Miami or Boston.

As for the weather, expect rain Sunday night and Monday morning, then clearing and sunny. Temperatures will be in the mid–80s and reach the low 90s by the weekend.

photo, sign, arrignees vivants

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life


Last year our president Nicolas Sarkozy was newly elected so he decided that his Ministry of Culture should take over the Champ de Mars on 14. July and put on a free pop concert and then he convinced the television to broadcast it. Many people who regularly go to watch the free fireworks on 14. July were amazed to find the Champ de Mars already three–quarters full of pop fans.

photo, sundown from louvre One of our postcard sunsets.

The result was that the traditional crowd of 3–4 hundred thousand probably numbered 600,000. I think I had this in my subconscious when I turned on my TV tonight to see how things looked. They looked – already full – two hours before the fireworks. All of the big field was full, from the Ecole Militaire to the legs of the Tour Eiffel.

I looked hard at my TV. It looked fine. I got out the camera and put it on a tripod, and took some test shots. The little window on the back seemed to show useable results. I decided to let the TV do the work. This was a mistake.

It must be a great honor for a pop star to be engaged by the Ministry of Culture to perform three songs for 600,000 live people and the national television. However these are iPod people so these pop stars are the kind that fit in the little screen and make sounds that are thin too. This is in general, so if I say tonight's performers seemed pretty good, I mean it. I mean, no better and no worse than your average variety show.

They had a huge orchestra and a monster chorus, and some very zoomy camerawork plus a decent sundown. Did I mention the helicopter? And they had the Champ itself and the star, the Tour Eiffel. Production values must have been somewhere near a Hollywood level.

photo, sunset on the seine, louvre, bridges More sunset, same evening.

The reason widescreen TV looks so good is that our eyes are so slow. I just found out you can't fool a camera with high resolution. You see this sharp picture with brillant colors and the camera captures blobby colors, lines you can't see, and other crummy junk. Horrible and useless.

But I didn't know this when the concert finished in time for the fireworks to begin. Because I always went to the Champ de Mars to see the fireworks with my own eyeballs I didn't know that television was not in the habit of broadcasting this annual show. Too tacky for them?

The first half was to honor the 400th birthday of Québec City, so there was a lot of blue. The TV's camerawork on this was worse than my poor postion in midfield last year. After only five minutes they said it was over and ran some ads for other programs. They just dumped the rest – half? – more than half? – of the fireworks. These friends of Sarkozy's.

By then the crowd was estimated at 700,000 – by, I'll admit, the TV dude. From what I could see on TV it could have easily been that number. A lot of people know the fireworks start at 22:45, and they come right on the button. Or they did, because they knew there was room for all. How many were watching the TV I'll probably never know. For France, I bet it was a fair audience.

photo, ferris wheel, detail, statue Is the Tuileries the place for carney?

They say, those famous they, that Sarkozy is a clever dude. They call him l'Américain. No hesitation at all about dragging France into the 21st century. He will tell anybody who will listen regardless of whether they want to, that he was elected to kick France into gear. I don't know. Subtract those under voting age, those in prisons, the homeless without voting cards, those in hospitals and mental homes, and the indifferent, and you have him being elected by less than 50% of the French.

Next year no TV. Next year I'm going to see the fireworks in person. They are a show for Parisians, a reminder that once upon time the folks in this town changed the world's history. They risked their necks to do it. Fireworks may be cheesy, but they are worth it.

photo, sign, cheese tartelette

The Cockeyed Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with a few members are fine with me just so long as half of them aren't knitting. Discussing the Internet beats knitting every time. Regular members and new candidates are welcome, so come on time. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 106% new, will be on 17. July, a few days after the fabulous Bastille Day fête. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome even if you feel like ;trying to score some super deal with the soldes hitting –70 off.

photo, sign, plan b, dirty bulb lights, metro saint germain

The rumor that repetition here will end someday is totally false. Three dumb facts and four fake 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 already be club members without personal risk or other exorbitant fees.

photo, sign, fruit tarte

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is appropriate to remember that it was today in 1789 that Parisians attacked the Bastille and freed seven prisoners including the the comte de Solages, thus beginning the revolution that changed France and the world forever. The national hymn was adopted today in 1795 and is still popular. There was a big stink in 1799 when the general Jean–Baptiste, comte Jourdan proposed a toast, "A la résurrection des piques." But it wasn't until 1880 that the anniversary of the capture of the Bastille officially became a national holiday. For the 100th anniversary in 1889 the 10th Universal Exposition was staged in Paris, and the Tour Eiffel was built. Finally, a word from our sponsor, Alexis de Tocqueville, who said, "No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country." That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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