The Wanderers

photo, cafe de la marche, buci, terrace, striped awning Relaxing after a hard month's holidays.

Olympics 2012 Coming Soon

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 25. August:–  For the last week, last past week, before the Parisians were mostly back, we had a lot of rain. A lot of rain means I needed to carry my umbrella three times out of five sorties and it got rained on twice. That was quite a lot of rain for this green and pleasant town, not out in any desert, semi–close to relentless waves of clouds that form somewhere far out in the mid–Atlantic. By semi–close I mean these clouds pass right overhead, so if they contain water and their mood is sombre, it could rain here – but usually they pass harmlessly over and dump on Champagne.

The big news on tonight's TV–news was about the end of the Olympics. Some of the French heros were shown arriving at Roissy, smiling and speaking into the microphones. The following item on the news was about the Olympics in London, four lousy years from yesterday. The Brits have apparently found some slum there that needs rehabilitation – in other words, cheap – and that is where they are going to site their birdsnest. I can't take this. All those months as the Chinese raced to finish their stadium, get the air clean, chase away the beggars and demonstrators, and cook Chinese food for starving reporters – the endless countdown – I can't take it again.

photo, baby foot, paris plage, goodbye Bye bye baby foot.

Here in France the football stops for a few weeks in summer but it too has started again. During the summer itself there are festivals for everything all over. Great crowds surge from one side to another with more weight given to the south, in search of concerts, operas, plays, theatre, carnivals, fiestas, sing–alongs, bird watching, tap dancing and yodelling from mountain tops to the gentle clanging of cow bells. I always thought summer was invented so folks could ignore this kind of stuff, avoid going out in the rain on dark nights to hear Cosi Fan Tutti at Bastille. Doesn't anybody take any time off? Do I have to do it all by myself?

A New Show In Town

It just goes to show that when August is mostly gone it is probably too late. That's it! The year is over. Skip up to Christmas and before you know it, it's spring again and time to start the countdown until summer. I am kidding you know. I like autumn. I like watching the leaves holding out against a changing season – for seasons here do change – we had a summer more like spring and before that, winter, which was like fall without leaves. It's just that summer was so short – only about 10 days. If that's global warming, it's overrated.

Anyway, August. There's about a week left of it. Here, there, anywhere, let's give it our best shot. Even if you have to put on a sweater and a coat, go get yourself some wieners and popcorn and dial up your big screen TV and set the colors to vivid. Tune in to the Democratic National Convention playing now in Denver, Colorado. Watch the fireworks, listen to the speeches, wave your signs and wear your funny hats. Thanks to the Internet you can now do all of this in Paris too, so you will probably be curious about the weather:

photo, sign, take the cake

The TV–weather shown tonight was fairly astonishing for August, or any other month. It may be foggy tomorrow morning and there may even be a little rain, very soft. Around noon or 14:00 it is supposed to become from demi to semi–sunny, and a high of 25 was forecast. This is to be the beginning of an entirely sunny Wednesday, also with a high of 25. Too good to be true but nevertheless predicted, the same for Thursday, sunny and 25, and pay no nevermind to a skim of clouds along the Channel coast. The days of sleeveless sunglasses!

Météo Jim is with us again, fully rested from his holiday and ready to tango to the beat, beat, beat of autumn raindrops falling, falling, falling – and you can sing to it too. Meanwhile, les temps in Pommeland:

Fay Flops As Hurricane

Tropical Storm Fay never reached hurricane status which meant winds were blowing at less than 75 mph, but she set new records. She made landfall five times. Not certain what to do, after leaving land each time, she changed her mind and decided the life of a landlubber was more her style. Normally, storms quickly lose their strength when traveling over land but Fay was the Energizer Bunny. Some parts of Florida received 3 a–feet – almost 1OO m–meters – of rain. It poured and poured and poured.

photo, sign, roast chicken crazy

As for Pommeland, Fay's remnants may arrive here for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. The final full week of August is displayed on the calendar, just as it is in le pays de Paris–Plage. Pour les Parigots, c'est la rentée, la fin de la saison éstival, le retour de métro, boulot, dodo et resumption of paralyzing strikes, all of which are normal.

For Pommelanders who do not have to worry about such things, the weather will be cloudy with a chance of showers on Monday. The wet showers will dry off, but the partly cloudies will dominate until Friday when they will merge into the completely cloudies and rainies. Temperatures will be about 80 a–grad and then fall into the 70s a–grad as the weekend approaches.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

The Wanderers

It was a long time ago but Uncle still swears by sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll although, to hear him tell it, he already had more than his fair share in its home, in San Francisco. I guess what he really likes is New York and this means New York in the sixties, the New York that was depicted in movies made in the sixties. Martin Scorsese is his hero. That's what New York was.

photo, used dvd shop, cine corner, quartier latinCheaper than piracy.

There are some days when he isn't sitting in the dark at the Cinémathèque seeing some classic Italian comedy. Uncle is catholic. He will watch any :Serbian film festival, scrounge through filthy DVD bins for obscure Marx Brothers movies, pay anyone three euros for a classic Abbot & Costello – such as Abbot & Costello In the Grips of Marxism. He said that one wasn't their best, but, hey, three euros!

On Saturday, instead of prowling around in the dark getting some shots of those boring neons with the cocktails glasses and palm trees, I accompanied Uncle on an excursion to his secret used DVD shop. We treffed outside my building and went down to catch the métro or the bus on the avenue. It was sunny, after yesterday's day of rain, so we decided on the bus and one was coming.

It was the 63. We wanted the 38. Several civilian buses passed. Time went by too. A quiet Saturday afternoon, not everybody back from vacations yet. When the 38 arrived it was full and we squeezed on. It was a bus full of amateurs who wouldn't move to the back. We had a party pressed up against the windshield. Thirty more got on at the next stop. The good part was that it wasn't as warm as the last time I rode it and said, never again.

photo, buci news shop, foreign press All the news the Guardian prints.

We got off, some 40 of us, on the boulevard Saint–Michel in the middle of the Quartier Latin. This was just down the boulevard from the Sorbonne but there are parts of the university all around, and it means the necessary travel agencies and tent suppliers, and book stores of course. Students being students, they need records and DVDs too, so there are shops for new and used, and that's where we were going – to a used DVD shop about a block from where Alan Pavlik used to get his pipes and that filthy pipe tobacco he loves.

It was a tiny shop. I immediately found a treasure in a bin outside. I didn't go to movies for 30 years and I still don't, so I can pick A DVD blindfolded that I haven't already seen. If I do it like that it's better that I pick three euro ones, but all the ones in this place were about six euros. At least they didn't seem quite as D–grade as at Disc–King on Daguerre.

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photo, ice cream vendor on buci Ice vendors came, and conquered.

Uncle skipped all the Abbot & Costello and Marx Brothers DVDs. He did not waste time looking for Mae West and other hotcha flicks. He went right inside and found the rare pearl he went there for – The Wanderers, a 1979 film by Philip Kaufman about street gangs in the Bronx in the '60s. It was supposed to be all about sex, booze and fighting. No doubt it has rock 'n' roll in it too because our home town police chiefs said that was what caused all the other.

We went across the street for a drink in a handy café. One of the good things about Paris is having good cafés right across the street where you need them although Uncle said the one we were in was a rare pearl in the Quartier. A lot of cafés have been turned into Starbucks. As if we needed more coffee.

In fact we had two shots. Two euros fifty with a fair tip. Uncle wondered what it would be like to have dinner with Cheney and Bush. I had no idea. My lack of imagination staggers me sometimes. Do they ever have dinner together? Does Bush flick peas at Cheney? Do they both drink Coke or does Bush drink fake beer? Or do they get sandwiches from an automat? Cheney wonders where the road named after him will be. Rumsfeld had one named after him in Arizona, because he lives in New Mexico where he has his bodyguard drive his armored SUV to art gallery openings to score free wine and cheese.

photo, nicolas shop on buciNicolas where you need it.

Listen, I didn't bring up Bush and Cheney. Besides getting his DVDs, Uncle was on a mission, so we went that way because he wanted to show me a new Starbucks that wasn't full to the ceiling fans. I knew the one he meant. It's on Saint–AndrAndreeacute;–des–Arts and I pass it every week. Plus, I noticed by my own self that it's seldom full. Serves it right. It's in what used to be an interesting clothing shop, one of the rare ones that had hats. If this keeps up you won't be able to buy a hat to save your life here.

We looked in all the windows at the empty tables and chairs. How thrilling! Then we went around some of the narrow streets there and found Buci News. This was in just about the oldest part of Paris but off the quay and off Saint–AndrAndreeacute; it's quiet, tidy, renovated and very private. Folks live there, behind the big doors, above the interior courtyards, within 300–year old walls, under their ritzy roof tiles, all as happy as Larry. Not for them the the endless mobs tramping along Saint–AndrAndreeacute;, a little road laid out by Romans before somebody brutally bashed through the boulevard Saint–Germain.

The door, the gate, Uncle entered, looked like it was built by the Romans. Romanesque I guess it's called. None of that tacky Haussmannian brick–a–brack manufactured plaster fake grape crap. A plain wall, leaning away from the street, and a plain, stout door. Uncle's mission was to read – perhaps the paper, Guardian, he bought in Buci? – to an elderly friend who translated Marguerite Duras.

photo, hotrod for sale; rue de buci, market Red Euro hotrod for sale. Never raced much.

I left him there and went to find the comics shop he said was in Saint–AndrAndreeacute; to the left. Replaced, I guess, by a Lebanese fastfood joint. It didn't get better so I reversed and followed Saint–AndrAndreeacute; back to Buci. This is one of these little islands in Paris where the cafés have expanded their terraces so far that the street has lost its cars, and pretty soon you can hardly walk because it fills up with tourists come to look at Parisians sitting around outside doing nothing but drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, and keeping their eyes on their shiny new scooters.

And that, friends, was another Saturday wasted with aimless wandering, interrupted by silly speculation and impossible dreaming of the past – such as Brooklyn in the '60s. Sorry, I meant the Bronx. Some place that hardly ever was, unlike this place which is full time in the distant past.

photo, sign, rue des grands augustins

The Rip–Roaring Café Metropole Club

There was a more largish crowd of members present at the last meeting and every single one was welcome. Your stories are what counts so don't worry about the paper I bought. Regular members and new candidates can borrow it from me for 50 cents. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 101% new, will be on 28. August, a short mini–week before the begin of the outasight rentrée. All members in any form, class, shape, hue, any standing, of any type or creed, will be greeted as heros. Even if you feel like sitting at a table on the terrace, pretending to not be at the meeting, you are more than welcome to sit out there.

A foul rumor that repetition here will end someday stinks. Three wonderful facts and one delightful 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, with no penalty for signing up for free with another club supplier.

photo, sign, pub tv sports, liverpool, arsenal

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is especially apt to remember that it was today in 1938 that George Orwell made a diary entry for the day 70 years ago, about 64 years before the word blogger was coined and now it's online for you. Slipping back a bit, to 1609 we want to recall Galileo Galilei showing off his telescope, which led him to heliocentrism and got him placed in house arrest on the orders of the Inquisition. Not that it matters – to Galileo – but the Pope expressed regret, several centuries later, conceeding that the Earth does, in fact, move. Back to sports – in 1875 a swimmer named Matthew Webb crossed the Channel first, but later drowned in Niagra Falls. This day in 1944 is famous around here because Paris was liberated. It began in the usual way with strikes, first by métro workers, then postmen and the police, and wound up as a general strike on the 19th of August. Then the resistance FFI joined the fun and there was some intense urban warfare, pistols against tanks, until the cavalary arrived on the 24th and the surrounded occupiers surrended a day later. Instead of burning, Paris had a parade, Ernie Hemingway liberated the Ritz and Bob's your uncle. With a happy end like that let's skip today's quote by Trotsky. That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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