Dribbles, Drabs and Lemon Drops

photo, quay, right bank, ile de la cite, notre dame, sunday sunshine Good seats for seeing the Ile de la Cité cruise by.

Through Warm Peanut Butter

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 15. September:–  Today turned up here as usual and as usual it was earlier than in New York where ultra massive investment banks were going bankrupt or being bought cheap by massive commercial banks, while hapless investment bankers and bond traders – Masters of the World! – were seen carrying their personal effects out of titanium and glass skyscrapers in brand–new cardboard boxes. It wasn't even 8 pm on Wall Street and I realized that the cardboard boxes had been delivered on Friday, or Saturday at the latest. They were skunked on Friday and didn't know it yet.

It must have been a weekend of high suspense. I have never seen so many rich folks looking so happy, carrying their pitiful cartons past stern security goons, who will be soon following them into unemployment once the last trader left and the lights are extinguished. So, was it relief I saw on their shining faces? Was it this morning's sunshine in lower Manhattan? Was it the realization that the Champagne days are over, no more lost weekends in Paris, or the end of the glory of trading convoluted financial instruments so complicated that they couldn't tell their kids what they did for a living? All of these? None of these?

photo, tour saint jacques, rue de rivoli Renovated Tour Saint–Jacques.

Of course over here we can afford to be smug. Why it was only the other day that Bernard Tapie had arbitrators decide that Credit Lyonnais had indeed flim–flammed him on the sale of Adidas, and ordered the bank's owners – the French government – to pay what he should have gotten, plus interest, plus damages. It sounded like a lot – hundreds of millions – but they wouldn't need to be paying him now if they hadn't flim–flammed him then.

Some folks think he did something like win the lottery, but instead he had creditors hounding him for 15 years, his yacht was confiscated and sold, his house, his cars, his cufflinks, all gone. He had to take up acting on TV and in movies to hold body and soul together. The final act was last week when plucky Bernard explained to a parliamentary commission why he chose the rare once and for all arbitration method to resolve the conflict. He said he didn't want to spend another ten years in court.

I am glad I have this opportunity to get this off the ledger. The affair Tapi was preceded by the incredible Tapie, a guy who took over floundering companies and instead of asset–stripping them, he built them up. Then he would sell high and buy another troubled shop. He was in politics too and once had a ministerial post. He also ran the Olympic Marseille football club, but got caught fixing a game. He did hard time for that, and I guess about then the Credit Lyonnais might have thought he might be a soft touch. Turned out they were badly mistaken. You can see Bernard Tapie playing Oscar at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, with his daughter Sophie, beginning 30. October.

photo, sign, rue daguerre, in golden tiles

It has gotten cooler here and they quit saying on the TV–news and weather that it's better than normal. While there have been very sunny days, like Sunday, it was with a northern wind. Here are details:

Spot–On September

The big news is sunny. Did I say that already? No? More sunny than all cloudy. Forecasts were for 19 degrees and we got 18 but now we are supposed to believe in 20 for Tuesday. Small cheer. This is a day that might begin sunny and then slowly, after 14:00, become sunnier. Watch out for the 40 kph northeast wind in the Channel if you are up that way. Wednesday was forecast to be at least half sunny, with 19 degrees. Thursday showed another tricky map but we should be in the centre of 95% nice and sunny here, again with only 19. On Sunday night the future was ranked only two out of five so don't count on picnic weather next weekend.

Météo Jim tells us, if we can understand what we read between the lines, that Hurricane Ike was a wet flop. This shows, yet again, the uselessness of these timely reports. Plan now for that beach picnic at Coney Island next summer. The latest details:–

photo, centre section hotel de villeThe Hôtel de Ville, centre section.

Ike Overrated, Galveston Sinks

On Saturday morning at 2 am, Hurricane Ike, a storm the size of Texas, made landfall at Galveston, located in Texas, a state the size of Texas. Although there was considerable damage and flooding, the destruction in no way compared with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. As a result, the news and weather channels quickly lost interest and turned to other items of non–interest which they postponed showing because Ike hogged all the airtime.

Ike moved quickly through Texas and then met up with a cold front moving in a southeasterly direction. This forced Ike to head north, then east and finally to cruise along Lakes Erie and Ontario and the southern part of the province of Ontario where it will pass into Québec and learn French.

Today, Sunday, will see near record temperatures at or above 90 a–grad. The cold front that chased Ike away will arrive on Monday. The rest of the week – the last full week of summer – will see temps in the low 70s a–grad.

As of now, the Atlantic is quiet with no storms in sight. For those keeping records, Sept. 12 marks the high point of hurricane activity. But in weather forecasting, as with Fiat 500s, there are no promises.

photo, sign, hotel key symbol

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

Dribbles, Drabs and Lemon Drops

Unlike last week when there was nothing much in the issue except extra posters, for this week I have nothing extra and barely have anything usual. The Pope came and the Pope went, all in the space of a weekend. He spoke at the Collège des Bernardins and Invalides, and then went down to Lourdes with his Popemobile and cheered up the crowds there. According to today's Le Parisien the pilgrims at Lourdes had a fine time but local merchants were disappointed. It seems that switching allegiance from past Pope to present Pope isn't all that automatic, especially for Pope trinkets.

photo, quay ile saint louis, bridge, notre dame More island watchers.

Le Parisien also devoted a couple of pages to the Republican candidate for vice–president, starting with the banner headline, "Sarah Palin, the Republican Who Came from the Cold." There's a half–page photo of her standing on a dock by a bay or something, looking out at trees and snow–topped mountains on the horizon. Could it be Russia? The paper asks if Sarah Palin might not be a feminine version of George Bush. Then it gives the stats for Alaska, and I note that the whole state has half the population of the Bronx. Could Sarah Palin run the Bronx?

There was some real drama on the high seas on Saturday night when a bateaux mouche apparently rammed a pleasure cruiser, which hit the Pont de l'Archevêché and sank. Ten persons were rescued from the small boat and two drowned. The circumstances on the accident remain unclear, but the bigger ship, La Besogne might be unlucky. It was involved with two other accidents on the Seine. In 1989 it rammed a gravel barge and a passenger was killed, and in 2003 a Zodiac ran into it, and sank, costing another life. In memory there have been three other accidents involving the promenade boats but none with fatalities.

photo, north side ile saint louis, sun filled gap The sun shines through
Ile Saint–Louis.

I find it just as convenient and cheaper to do my tours of the Seine on foot like I did yesterday while the sun was shining with extra brightness and the temperature was trying mightily to top 18 degrees. A great number of Parisians were perched on quays or leaning over bridge railings, with a lot of them facing south, possibly meditating on the worth of free and rare hometown sunshine.

Those were the ones who weren't jammed into the blue shadow canyons of the rue Saint–Louis en l'Ile or the rue de la Huchette in the Quartier Latin. Sunday armies besieged the ice cream shops on the Ile Saint–Louis, Sunday music and acrobat fans filled the Pont Saint–Louis and another army of the faithful crowded into the space in front of Notre Dame, perhaps to prolong the memory of the Pope's weekend visit. All who were without cameras had portable phones. It was like crickets walking through warm peanut butter.

The Real, the True, End of the World

Fresh from his recent triumph in Berlin our neighborhood starving artist is at it again with a new exhibition across the Atlantic. Believing that everyday objects – like a drain plunger or a juice squeezer – around us signify doom and gloom, Matthew Rose refuses to abandon hope. We in turn refuse to abandon our hope that Matt can find inner peace so long as his paint pot and his glue bucket continue to overflow. Matt's works will give you courage!

photo, sign, avenue victoria

The End of the World
Collages, Drawings & Terribly Unusual Objects
18. September – 15. October
At the Wm Turner Gallery
The Stove Works, 112 Krog Street, Atlanta Georgia 30307
Tel: 404 577 45 00

The Fancy Toes Café Metropole Club

There were three ladies and Dana, all members, present at the last meeting and every single one was there. My scribbled notes hardly reflect the drinks we had, plus fun. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 100.3% new, will be on 18. September, the day just after the middle of the month. All members in any form, class, shape, hue, any standing, of any type or creed, will be offered a chair. If you feel like sitting at a table on the terrace, pretending to not be at the meeting, you are more than welcome to find your own chair.

photo, south face ile saint louis The sunny side of the Ile Saint–Louis.

A foul rumor that repetition here will end someday stinks. One humble fact and three minor factettes about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who have personally read it, and one or two have, may already be club members for life without personal risk or exorbitant fees. Refunds cannot be refunded due to lack of cash. I spent the money not paid for fees on orange juice.

photo, sign, cafe relais odeon

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some alert readers might have been thinking that it is apt to recall that it was today in 668 that Constans II, the eastern Roman emperor, was bumped off in his bath in Syracuse. Shortly thereafter, in 921, somebody named Tetin had her mother–in–law Saint Ludmila murdered. With these faits diverse out of the way, we come up to 1885 on this date to find a train accident in St. Thomas, Ontario that involved the large and famous Jumbo, an elephant. Hit by the engine Jumbo was killed as was the engineer. Jumbo was born in 1861 in the Sudan and grew up in the Jardin des Plantes before moving to London. Our late friend P.T. Barnum purchased Jumbo for $10,000 in 1882. After the death, Barnum had Jumbo stuffed and donated him to Tufts University, where he was destroyed by fire in 1975. His ashes are kept in a Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter jar, according to legend. Today would not be complete without reminding you of Marco Polo's birthdate, today in 1254. With his uncles he travelled to China and met all the bigwigs there, and managed to write a book about it – before printing had been invented. Striking a sadder note, today in 1830 was unlucky for William Huskisson, famous for being the first person killed by a train, namely one of the first, by George Stephenson's locomotive, Rocket. Huskisson was kind of lucky too. A horse fell on him during his honeymoon and he wasn't killed. This reminds me of something once said by François de La Rochefoucauld, "If we had no faults we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others." That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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