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Thanks for the Orange Juice

photo, christmas window, galeries lafayette It's kiddie time at Galeries Lafayette again.

What Comes Next

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 24. November:–  It was snowing here yesterday. They were small, timid little snowflakes swirling around the Sunday shoppers out in the damp air to get their foodstuffs, for that happy feeling one gets from good hot food on a Sunday afternoon when it's all blue outside and a long, long time until the next summer holidays. I took a table on the terrace at Perêt and ordered a double–express, and watched the errant snowflakes whisper in from the sky, my left side warmed by the heaters and my right adjacent to the cool Siberia of Daguerre.

Better than a sock in the eye or a walk in the park, to be dressed warmly and awake on Sunday to tour the marché to pick up some seafood to go with the roast or something from one of the butchers, to be warm standing in lines outside boulangeries where the bakers have been at it since before dawn. Fresh bread on a Sunday is a right in France not a luxury.

Steam on the terrace. Wisps of vapor bravely rising from café cups and jars of warm grog. The waiters, white shirt–sleeved with black vests, busily warm taking orders and dealing out trays of hot drinks and light snacks. Arriving customers disappointed that the terrace is full, but it's so warm and cozy inside where there is red pork and sauerkraut, and even kids are digging into it.

photo, christmas decor, ights, printemps Decked with balls at Printemps.

Just outside when I was about to corner my table, one of the homeless campers by Monoprix told me about his girlfriend in a coma and when the social aides came by they refused to haul her off. Or was he talking about the SDF who died overnight out at Vincennes? The evening news said the death wasn't caused by the cold and showed video from last year of the man alive in his bidonville shack made of refrigerator boxes and old bits of tin plate. He was one of the good guys they said.

The weather resembles classic November. We don't have this every year and when we haven't I have always been content. Classic means that it rains when you least expect and it's a cold rain. When it isn't raining it still feels like it. If there's a wind it feels like underwater, below the ice skaters. For what it's worth, details of the coming weather:

Gris Gris Weather

According to tonight's TV–weather news the habitual depression that hangs over northern Europe has settled in for the duration. On Tuesday you can be thrilled by a 70 kph breeze from the north blowing around here, stirring around the air valued at 1 degree. For some reason we are supposed to believe that the high will reach 8 but the sky will not be clear so it hardly matters.

photo, seine quay, bridges, notre dame Fall flows into winter.

Wednesday has some promise even if the temperature does not exceed 6 degrees. It might even be semi–sunny part of the time. Thursday may be pretty much the same except that there will be no semi. It is forecast to be cloudy, perhaps rainy. On the TV–weather news they said the other day that when the air is cold and damp it can snow, when there's high pressure, and there isn't. Today's Le Parisien suggests that Friday will not be disagreeable. Say what? Every night they talk about the promising shades of comfortable weather on the Côte d'Azur, deftly ignoring the deep freeze in the middle of the country except when the snow drowns the power and the rivers leap their banks.

Our man Météo Jim, bless his sturdy heart, offered to send the weather for New York but I wasn't certain to do the same for Paris. Therefore Météo Jim is taking a bit of time off from his onerous duties, even though profi weathermen never sleep, especially not while on the job.

photo, sign, boule de pain, bread ball

Café Life

Thanks for the Orange Juice

Old habits die hard so I was over on Haussmann to see if the grands magazins were keeping to the tradition of having decorated windows to inspire seasonal shoppers and their little folks. Printemps had the underside of its awning decked with balls of silver and yellow but all the windows were under construction. I wasn't disappointed because this was a couple of weeks ago and the celebration we didn't have for Halloween was just past.

photo, sculpture chez grace Sculpture on the walls, on the floor, at Grace's.

Further along Galeries Lafayette had very elaborate tableaux featuring hand made puppets in all of its major windows. There weren't thousands of citizens – it wasn't a Saturday – pressing against the raised stages for the little folks to be against the glass. They looked at the automated puppets and 'o'd their mouths when they turned to make sure mom was catching the action. It was a lot better than years ago when they let the toy merchants fill the windows with plastic prefabrications.

Interruption for plug – Living as I have been in a hotel for the past three weeks, I draw your attention to the Hotel Agenor in the rue Cels in Montparnasse. They have treated me fine and I would stay there the rest of my life if I didn't have some other things to do.

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photo, roast chestntus, smell What's that burning smell?

I did my regular pop–in too, going inside on the ground floor to see the tree and it was there. For all I know it's there year–round. You go in past the perfume and then crane your head back and the tree is like a needled missile, pointing at the incredible dome of colored glass, surrounded by the soap–opera balconies. It's like being inside an extravagant cake, plus, it smells great.

There were no decorations at the Opéra when I passed it. The afternoon sunlight was pretending to be as warm and bright as it gets in early November, and the building glowed, as sort of an outside to the Galeries' inside. From there I got into the rue de la Paix, going past windows with jewels and bodyguards, to the place Vendôme which had its long shadows like bowling alleys, and all of its granite, solid and blue.

The Tuileries was like it is in winter, small puddles reflecting the sky and the light lying low making all the leafless branches – what? Bare I guess. But there is always a carrousel, turning even for three riders, and moms sitting patiently in the green metal chairs, probably glad that some simple things never change.

photo, fiat 500 It's that classic Fiat 500 again.

The other tours I took, will be on other pages in this issue. I went to Grace's up on Montmartre but I forgot to be introduced to her artists. I talked to people but I don't remember what they said. There are only two stories – either one has lived in Paris a score of years or more, or got off the jet two weeks before. Since my story is mostly here in Metropole I tend to ask questions – like, is there any orange juice left. Actually I was there to get a used portable phone from Grace, but none of them were charged. Thanks for the orange juice.

What Comes Next

Apartment hunting has not been kind. It was always hard but now it is so bad that real estate agents are shutting down. I have had to ask myself whether it's worth it – clawing my way into a sub–standard bolthole, fourth floor walkup, with EDF heat by the minute and no closets. Is it a battle I want to win?

photo, sign, direction montmartre

I am going to take some time off while I think about this. Right now, with this weather, I am inclined to think that I will look for a place down south, somewhere where the TV–weather folks are always upbeat about the possibility of sunshine in the afternoon. You know, where oranges grow on bushes on the balcony and every apartment is equipped with a free toaster. Some place that might not exist but if it doesn't, somebody should invent it.

photo, sign, rue d'amsterdam

The Café Metropole Club That Used To Be

Until further notice the club secretary will NOT be hosting club meetings in Paris. After all you coud have been at any of the 400+ meetings already held. All the same check Metropole's front page for possible but unlikely updates. All members in any shape, class, form, hue, any standing, of any type or creed, used to be offered a chair. If you felt like sitting at a table on the terrace, pretending to not be at the meeting, you couldn't have used a club table to hold up your drink.

The rusty old rumor that repetition will end someday is increasingly likely. One false fact and four–thirds of a fake history about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who have read it in person, and one or two have, may already be club members for life without exorbitant risk. Principle dictates that refunds can be refunded on principle. Principle is not a member.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

photo, sign, metro

Some alert readers might have considered that it is apt to remember that it was today in 1639 that Jeremiah Horrocks observed the transit of Venus. Since he had already predicted it, it was hardly surprising even though it only happens once every 243 years, the last transit being in 2004. As usual, the Convention published the Republican Calendar on this date in 1793. On the same day all churches were closed in France but they have since reopened. A little later, in 1874, a patent was granted to Joseph Farwall Glidden for his discovery of barbed wire. Moving right along, this date in 1966 is recalled in New York City as the smoggiest day in history. Birthdays today worth remembering are for Henri de Toulouse–Lautrec, born in 1864 and 1941 for musician Donald "Duck" Dunn who played with Booker T. and the M.G.'s in addition to appearing in the movie The Blues Brothers, with the line, "We had a band that could turn goat piss into gasoline!" By no means least, we fondly recall this date in 1850 for the historic battle at Lottorf, a hamlet in Schleswig–Holstein, in which Danish troops, about five in all including reinforcements, won a great victory over some folks known to history as Schleswig–Holsteins, but only after a farmhouse caught fire accidently and only after 50 additional troops were dispatched from Over Selk for a counter–attack. This tense encounter took a hour and the Schleswig–Holsteins had one casualty and one wounded while the Danes were unscathed. This crucial battle also prolonged the war until early in 1851. Finally, this week's Quote of the Week is attributed to Larry Foghorn, who once said, "The essential ingredient of politics is spam." That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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