Churros In the Air

photo, place juin 1940, montparnasse, bicycles in the dark Between waves of cars, three bikes going the wrong way.

Neons In the Sky

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 18. August:–  I expected that everybody would come back yesterday but when I went around to get some vitals five out of seven boulangeries were still closed and the real estate ladies who know about my new apartment were apparently sunning themselves somewhere on the coast of Corsica, the one place in France that has had pretty darn good weather this season since, oh, about March. So I don't blame them. As the Irish are wont to say, "There's time." I understand that the city of Vienna has a lot of free apartments and it's supposed to be easy to get one in Berlin, but the weather!

I have not been watching the Olympics on my great bigscreen TV. I saw them before. Here, on the TV–news, we are offered short snippets. First they tell us about the French athletes and their winning traits. We saw them training, saw their confidence, saw them off on the planes to Beijing. Then, in competition, deception. China got the golds. A week later some guy named Steeve won a gold, and his brother won a bronze, both in the same thing. Wow! Never heard of them before and now there's two RATP security guys won medals. You, if you visit here, and ride the right métro at the right time, you can ask for their autograph after they've treated some smelly pickpocket to a little Greco–Roman jujitsu. That's cool.

photo, metro vavin Métro entry at Vavin.

Nice For April

It just goes to show that when August is half gone it is not too late to begin getting some school supplies, and heck why not, a little bit of advance tutoring. The French worry that their kids are going to grow up to be filthy hippies. Or autodidacts. That's the worst – not having a great report card from pre–kindergarten. One little slipup and the poor gamin is headed for life's trashcan. Nobody ever stops to wonder how those millions of kids got into the universities. Obviously somebody else's kids – kids taught by osmosis before they were born. I wonder how the psychoanalysts explain it's just not fair.

Golly, where did that come from? Anyway, now the good news – spies reported on the TV–news that the cheapest school supplies cost 0.2% less and brand–name supplies cost 0.2% less this year. That will be welcomed by folks here who recently learned that everything else costs 3% more than last month. Little Jeannie will get a new pencil but she will have to eat the wood shavings. Let's see what inflation is doing to the weather:

The TV–weather shown tonight was fairly silly for August but it wouldn't have been out of place in April if April was ever any good. There's an eternal huge swirl out in the Atlantic and it's sending wave after wave of crud across the country. That's the meta outlook. In detail we might have semi–cloudy demi–sunny on Tuesday, with a high of 24 which isn't shabby at all considering it could be far worse. Wednesday will possibly be more cloudy and only half sunny, and cooler at 22, while Thursday was forecast as maybe, cross your fingers, nicer. Again with 24 degrees. Note – all of last week's predictions of 21 degrees were really 23 or 24. My parka was a bit too warm.

Météo Jim came back from holidays in darkest Hoochikoochistan and now he wants a raise. Folks, like me, too poor for vacations, hate raises. We want to keep no taxes. Try that on les riches. Meanwhile, les temps in Pommeland:

Fay Dumps On Cuba?

After a stimulating visit to the distant and toxic – er, exotic land of Upper Lesser Hoochikoochistan and simulated weather reports – the local volcano erupted nonstop for the entire virtual weather convention, so looking at a sky full of anything other than ash and falling rocks was impossible – Météo Jim has returned to Pommeland just in time for a possible visit by Tropical Storm Fay at the end of the week. Right now Tropical Storm Fay is dumping on Cuba but weather forecasters think that the storm will head north – I was going to write "make a right turn" but French language censors freaked out when I wrote "right turn." Fay is expected to visit Florida but her itinerary is still a closely kept secret as well as her desire to see anything north of the Carolinas.

photo, sign, metro bus ticket

Until then, August is slowly fading away. The average high temperature has begun its southward plunge. The mornings arrive later and the sun sets earlier. This weekend has seen temps slightly below normal along with low humidity. Apart from the possible arrival of Fay, temperatures will reach the upper 80s a–grad on Tuesday and then a cool front and a possible Thunderboomerdonnergeblitzenohrensplitter will bring the temps back to 80 a–grad.

One other thing. Météo Jim is considering sending only repeat weather reports until Ed, Ric, Radioric and his cousin Radial Ric, who works for the gummi–rings, gives him a raise.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Repeat weather reports are fine because none are brand new. They've all happened before. Request for raise denied! – signed, Ed

photo, night terraces, le selectAll the full terraces in the soft air.

Café Life

Churros In My Eye

The weather never seems to turn out as lowkey as the usual dire warnings promise but there is no threat that summer is coming back this year. Mid–August is the end of the big desertion in Paris. They, who know who they are, will fill the autoroutes these weekends, weeping and sniveling, about coming back to this gritty megapolis, especially after a mediocre season of super high–priced frites at the seashore – seashores cold and windy, and along the warm Mediterranean, threatened with a mass invasion of highly icky jellyfish.

The forecast called for gloom for the rest of the weekend if not the rest of the year. Friday was mostly clear, in the evening, so I went down to the boulevard Montparnasse to see the sights and neons as the sky fell to blue behind the boulevard, beyond the Tour Eiffel. They called for 21 degrees but it was nearly 24 in the afternoon and that meant the terraces were full of people wearing their summer shirts. I didn't look to see if they were all drinking rosé.

The Dôme had reopened and the black and white waiters were snatching some garlic–free air in front. The boulevard itself seemed to be whole again with only a few green barricades left. I think they repaved the centre bus lanes. Too many folks must have been tripping on bumps and getting squashed by them. The terraces were occupied the whole block and beyond Le Select, then some more on the other side. It was quiet and there were murmurs in the dark.

photo, metro exit, montparnasse, hippo, cinema, newsstand The grand rendez–vous at Montparnasse.

I got too close to the churros when the guy there poked one at the camera's lens. It was his way of telling me not to shoot. As you can see all his secrets have been exposed. The kiosque was on a dark stretch, lit like a theatre stage. He should be performing, going his thing with flair, instead of worrying about his scraggly nosehairs. I couldn't resist it though. It's like the lighthouse of churros on the boulevard.

Across the wide street there's another neat little crêpes stand that I have trouble resisting. Like the street–eats carts in New York, no two in Paris are exactly alike. Lights, smells and colors, and if you really like Nutella you must be in heaven here.

photo, a churro in the eye, friday, montparnasse Close enough for a churro in the eye.

At the big place the cinemas splash around their blue neon, the pharmacy flip flops green neon crosses and Hippo glows in red neon. Somehow this mixes in the air, making everyone extras in a technicolor movie far beyond the rainbow, a reality that makes Disney pastel in comparison. Maybe its just because the camera was set to vivid like it always is. Well darkness had crept closer so there was deepening black too. Not, you know, like black velvet. Our nighttime black was crisper than velvet even if it was soft.

Friday night meant the roller rando so I hung around the métro entry in front of the Miramar cinema, waiting for the horde on wheels to glide down from the station. You see some people you might like to meet, and then you see them hook up with dudes they've been waiting for. Isn't that the way? Very few seemed to go in the cinema right there, but there's another multiplex around the corner on Odessa, and two more across the boulevard.

photo, metro exit, montparnasseMétro exit by the cinema.

It was just before ten so I crossed the street to see if I could get up on the patio overlooking the place but it was blocked off. Back down I went out in the place and on one of the bus islands, took a look around. Traffic was light for a Friday. Three cyclists scooted across in a lull, going totally the wrong way.

There was a story about cops from Spain and Belgium patrolling with Paris' flics. Concern about our behavior knows no borders, so I did wonder why there didn't seem to be any law around. All those people, out for good times on Friday night, and their pockets weren't worth searching, their mouths weren't worth testing? Maybe all the Olympic drug snoops are concentrated on the autoroutes.

photo, place juin 1940, montparnasse, smart in the dark The big place with a Smart in the dark.

The rollers must have gone the other way, south on avenue du Maine. I went up Odessa to Edgar Quinet and ripped off a last set of shots of the café Liberté. It came out all red and yellow, like a café version of hell. Blew the vivid away! I couldn't fix it. It was way off the scale. That's hell for you. All the other photos were pretty much as they came out of the camera – Photoshopless.

I didn't make any of this up. Montparnasse looks better when you can't see it clearly. I guess that goes for most places. When I got home I unscrewed the filter and washed the churro grease off it. There's a rumor the coming cameras will have audio and video capabilities, but I wish they could capture smells. Churros have a smell all of their own.

photo, sign, rue charles divry

Deux Sous for the Café Metropole Club

There were a largish crowd of members present at the last meeting and the secretary was glad to see them even if he had a paper to read. I would rather hear your stories so there's something to report even if it's tropical. Regular members and new candidates are welcome. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 102% new, will be on 21. August, a short 10 days before the nominal begin of the fantastic rentrée. All members in any form, class, shape, hue, any standing, of any sort will be greeted like heros even if you feel like sitting at a table on the terrace, pretending to not be at the meeting.

A distasteful rumor that repetition here will end someday is a canard. Three terrific facts and one oblique hint about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who have personally read it, and one or two may have, may already be club members for life without personal risk or very exorbitant fees, so it is probably unnecessary.

photo, sign, avenue des champs elysees

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is especially appropriate to remember that it was today in 293 BC that the oldest – the first? – temple dedicated to Venus was founded in Rome. For the occasion the priest of Jupiter cut up cute little lambs on the altar, broke grapes with his hands, and intense drinking broke out, according to Festus. However in Syracuse they had Venus with a pretty bottom although she, Venus Kallipygos, was considered to be an ancestor – like maybe Aphrodite? – of the Romans. Moving right along we come to 1868 when Pierre Jules César Janssen discovered helium, an invisible, colorless, odorless, non–toxic, inert, monatomic, element, number one of the gas class on the periodic table with atomic number 2. Don't ask how Janssen found it but he did. Then, today in 1903 there was Karl Jatho who flew his own powered glider, some four months before the first flight by the Wright Brothers. Still, this was four years after the first flight by Gustav Albin Weisskopf in Pittsburgh in 1899. He even changed his name to Gustave Albin Whitehead to make it more likely. Actually Gustave probably flew again on 14. August 1901 in Fairfield, Connecticut – still years before Jatho and the Wrights – witnessed by real folks and reported in the Bridgeport Herald by sports reporter Dick Howell. As of this writing the Smithsonian has not reacted positively to the news. That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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