This month we open with a game. The rules are pretty straightforward: I will give you a couple of clues and you have to guess where in the world this little tableau unfolded. Here we go.
It’s a sunny Tuesday morning and we’re settling in for a not-too-early breakfast at a new café at the base of a low-rise residential development. There are a lot of pressed juices on the menu and the staff are puzzled by our request for two flat whites. (Ready to guess yet?) I’m travelling with Monocle editor Andrew Tuck and we’re the back-up for our colleague Ezra, who’s charged with looking after our US ad market. As we deliberate about what juice blends might best suit our mood we’re greeted by our clients, who’ve dressed like it might snow at any moment.
We do our round of greetings, exchange business cards and, just as we’re about to get started, the more senior of the two clients leans in close. “Don’t look now but do you see the woman walking out?” she whispers. “You’ll catch a glimpse of her in a second.” I prepare to catch her as she rounds the corner while the client continues her hushed commentary. “She’s a German TV star. Don’t ask me what show or what channel. She’s here having her waist made smaller. I think she’s had two ribs removed.” At that moment the woman comes into view in high-waist Lycra leggings, a bolero-cut activity top and a very bouncy blonde ponytail. “Wow,” says Andrew. “Looks like she’s had more than just two ribs removed.”
Have you guessed where we are yet? That’s right. We’re in Los Angeles – the West Hollywood fringes to be exact. It’s a fitting setting and, as we loaded our truck in New York and headed across the country to set up a new West Coast base in Los Angeles, a little reminiscent of The Beverly Hillbillies.
For those with a good memory or who happen to call Santa Monica home, you might recall that we had a small shop in the Brentwood Country Mart in our early retail days and enjoyed our interactions with Goldie Hawn, Maria Shriver and other regulars who popped in for issues of the mag and assorted goodies. This time we’ve set our sights on Culver City and if all goes to plan we’ll have a good stretch of street frontage – benches, greenery, little Swiss-made tables and plenty of shade – at the Platform and be throwing open our doors some time around Labour Day.
As for operations on the East Coast, our team in Toronto is now in charge of everything from Gander to Key West. Los Angeles will look after not only the West Coast but a good chunk of Latin America as well. (I have a feeling that the Los Angeles bureau is going to generate a lot of staff travel requests for editorial visits.)
After breakfast I took Andrew on a tour of Silver Lake and we watched with great fascination as a shopkeeper carried 20 cacti outside for their morning in the sun. The exercise was executed with such care and attention that it felt like the shopkeeper was installing a horticultural exhibition or organising naptime for a kindergarten.
We snapped a few pictures of the cute arrangement and noted that sunshine can have a powerful effect on one’s world view and daily outlook on life – and that we’d probably have to factor in some additional budget for the upswing in West Coast trips.
While in LA we also met some of our new neighbours, along with subscribers and collaborators at a mini edition of The Monocle Media Summit. Unfortunately some late snow got in the way of the summit’s New York edition that was scheduled for later in the week but we’re hoping to return soon and cook something up for early summer.
A week later the summit popped up at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong with a slightly different format, which sparked a lively discussion both on and off stage. If you’re reading this in Paris or Milan, stay tuned; we’re looking to do a couple of evening events towards the end of May. Actually, while you’ve got your diary, you might want to make these notable additions: the opening of our new Zürich HQ in mid May; the seasonal start of our shop in Merano around the same time; and our Quality of Life Conference in Zürich, which kicks off on 28 June.
In other news, we’re about to fire up the newspaper presses: we’ve got a special edition coming out for Milan’s Salone del Mobile and we’ll be doing another run of newspapers across May and June to tie in with the Venice Biennale and Art Basel season. You can subscribe via our site or, if you’re near a good kiosk in Mitteleuropa, keep your eyes peeled and pick up a copy in person. Keep your eyes peeled for story ideas too. If you have any good tips, comments or ideas then please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. As ever, cheers and thank you for your support.