Tin On Wheels, Lights On Clouds

photo, salon automobile, alfa romeo Why do little boys love red Alfa Romeos?

Night Dark for Freebies

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 6. October:–  The wind that wouldn't stop kept on thrashing around here even though the temperature fell and the sky clouded over, and even picked up a dozen knots to set all the trees moaning and rattling their overage leaves. The central heating just couldn't keep up. Inside the apartment the wind chill factor fell off the scale as the humidity reached heights familiar only to November. But overnight it died as warmer air funneled up from Spain and before I knew it Uncle was calling to say that the leaves were piled up on the ground like collections of golden dollar pancakes.

On the apartment hunting and economic fronts the outlook is grim in Europe tonight. Save as houses European financial institutions were wobbling, with some of the stouter units snatching up the wreckages of the frail. One by one European leaders said they – personally, they – were guaranteeing our piggy–bank deposits. Small cheer to all who were fast–talked into those other obscure financial instruments that all banks and insurance companies – even the Poste! – were peddling, until recently. If you want to earn more you have to invest more our leaders said. The joke's on us.

photo, nuit blanche, tour montparnasse, heaven Lights hide Tour Montparnasse.

I wish I could say at least the weather is more cheery. The sun didn't shine but the wind dropped to nearly nothing and I had some of my windows open. If we have a high pressure system I don't know where it is or if it's in the wrong place. What difference will it make? Here are details:

Variable Fall Days

According to the TV–weather for the week last night, next weekend's forecast is 2 for 5, meaning, basically, that it's up for grabs or that it's a crap–shoot. After a scary map was explained tonight it seems as if Tuesday will be very crummy in the morning followed by an afternoon that will be semi–nice, with friendly clouds and bursts of sunshine. Add a temperature expected of 21 and we'll be happy as Larry.

photo, sign, skoda badge

Wednesday and Thursday were predicted to be similar, with semi–cloudy and semi–sunny, with temperatures in the 17 and 16 degree range. That's probably about average for this time of year, and the sunny–cloudy is too. No snow was forecast for anywhere near here.

Météo Jim sent a terse report this week. We are past being paid by the word, with only dismal dreariness to come – so bad that wasting words on it is redundant. No more colorful Frank the Flipping Hurricane! forecasts. The latest details, in a few words:–

Ho–Hum In the Sky

As we head into the first full week of October, the trees and bushes are already beginning to glow with the colors of fall. In addition, the weather has been at or just below normal for this time of year. The wind, racing clouds and trees swaying back and forth add to the feeling of the season.

For the coming week, the weather will be cloudy and a high of 57 a–grad. The cloudies will break up into partly cloudies until Wednesday along with temps that will peak at 70 a–grad. A cool front will arrive and temperatures will once again fall into the lower 60s. The partlies will break up into the mostly cloudies, but how many parts it takes to become a mostly is still unsettled. See Thursday's special supplement for more info.

photo, sign, lancia badge

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

Tin On Wheels, Lights On Clouds

Everybody is freaking about the economy and the melting poles and poison food and the disappearing squiggly spider and the wars here, there, and everywhere, and I must not forget the pirates – the real ones, who go out on the high seas and hijack passing zillionaire sailors to hold for ransom just like in the old days of the Barbary Coast. Where are those Marines when Montezuma needs them?

photo, ferrari california, salon automobile Ferrari California, banker's hotrod.

In this town on Saturday our supreme leader was having a meet with the other European economic honchos, to try and come up with a rescue plan that will make him as popular as John McCain. My hearing went off as they were saying what Angela Merkel had decided that they should do. The Germans may not have those hard Deutsche Marks any more but the European Bank sits in their country. Disinflation is not, is never, on their menu.

Meanwhile the folks, worried, are going about their business of enjoying the Circus of the Week, with a bonus this week of having a twofer – the opening of the Automobile Salon Saturday morning and Nuit Blanche Saturday night. What better way to squander Saturday than to ride the métro to Paris Expo to see the world's latest tin on wheels?

We had already seen a lot on the TV–news. For example, Ford was threatening to close one of their plants here – one that makes auto transmissions for big North American Fords – so the first thing new I heard in the big number one hall, near the Fords in fact, was some weird chanting. It sounded like rugby fans. For all I know the game of the century was on that night. The opéra in the Stade de France was last weekend.

photo, renault z electric, salon automobile Renault dream electro trucklette.

Ford has been making some clean–looking cars in Europe for the past several years. When the Ka first came out it reminded me of a '36 Ford coupe, considerably shrunk, and without a V–8 because Europe is smaller than America. Ford still makes the Ka – in Poland I think, at the same factory that makes the new Fiat 500. In fact the Fiat 500 might be a Ka, made with Italian PR. Then the Italians will put some Abarth speed tuning on them and everything will be okay again. Arriba Italia!

The big news this year was not about the electric cars and the normal cars that go 200 kph on a thimble of gas – they are a dime a dozen – but Alfa Romeo. This company has got a copyright on the color red, and the world's exclusive right to make sporty cars for everybody who can't afford a Ferrari. It's a lucky thing they are the same company because the Ferraris look like expensive trick peddlecars and the Alfas look like cars that can get you arrested even when they are parked in the dark.

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