Saturday 23 March 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 23/3/2019

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Mug’s game

Want to play Luggage Jenga? Here’s what you’ll need. An airline that discourages passengers from checking bags and instead gives generous hand-luggage allowances and cheap tickets to anyone who agrees to take onboard everything they need for a month in Nice or a year-long adventure in the Serengeti. Then you will require airport staff who allow suitcases the size of baby elephants to be herded through X-ray machines – while all masquerading as hand luggage.

You can gain extra points by grabbing enough duty-free booze to get you through to Christmas. Be warned: the airline may try to scupper you by attempting to move some bags to the hold just as you board – but clever leg-shielding and the flashing of a frequent-flier card kills off that ruse.

The winners will be those who get at least three large bags into an overhead luggage bin. Bonus points will be given to passengers seated beyond row 20 who leave all their bags above row one (especially if, on landing, their duty-free gin falls from the rammed luggage compartment onto someone’s head). And an important rule: as people fight to find the final gap for their nice hat, you must never offer to put one of your bags by your feet.

Finally, remember that the air crew are not there to referee this melee but rather perform Luggage Jenga’s famed anthem of huffs and snorts. They may even give you a disdainful eye roll if you’re lucky. Ready? Let battle commence.

Report / Media

More than you can chew?

By the autumn your weekend entertainment may take on a different flavour (writes technology correspondent David Phelan). You could be watching more films that premiere on your television at the same time as in the cinema, or seeing higher-quality shows on streaming platforms than those offered by regular broadcast services.

On Monday, Apple is hosting an event at its Cupertino home in California that’s expected to be a star-studded announcement of its plans for a television service to rival Netflix. As well as revealing more details of the shows it has in production – including programmes from experienced producers such as Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey – it will also say how much its new service will cost (likely to be $10 to $15 a month).

It seems certain to bundle other network programming for this price, from companies such as CBS, Viacom and HBO. But not everybody is eager to join: Netflix told reporters its content is for its service only and Disney has plans for its own streaming platform. Even so, Apple’s service could be attractive given the $1bn that’s so far been spent on content, especially if rumours of some free programming for owners of Apple products come to pass.

Trade fair / Baselworld

Added complication

This year’s edition of watch fair Baselworld is partly an exercise in crisis control. The main source of distress is the absence of the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watch company. Swatch, the owner of Omega, Harry Winston and Longines, pulled out to host its own event in Zürich. Its brands are the most prominent to snub the Basel fair but by no means the only ones. In 2017 the event, which runs until Tuesday, had 1,500 exhibitors; this year the number is about 500.

For some brands the costs of exhibiting at a major trade fair are not worth the rewards. Nonetheless, Baselworld remains a crucial appointment due to the presence of heavyweight houses, including Chanel, Rolex and the LVMH-owned TAG Heuer, Hublot and Bulgari. “Before, Baselworld was a one-stop shop,” says Joachim Ziegler, CEO of Swiss watch retailer Les Ambassadeurs. “You could have one meeting after another, covering the whole industry in a very short time. Now there’s a different ambience to it but it’s still a must.”

The faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Breach of the peace

It will come as no surprise that my inbox doubles as a dumpster for airline press releases; nor will the fact that the past week saw plenty of bulletins about suspended Boeing 737 MAX services. There were assorted releases about Lufthansa starting flights to Montenegro (I’ll pass), BA’s tarted-up Business Class on its A350s (about time) and TAP Air Portugal launching services to Conakry (can’t wait). I deleted most of these emails while sitting at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. You’ll have to wait a few months to find out why I was in Houston but, in the interim, I recommend visiting menswear shop Stag for some spring wardrobe additions and spending some time in the courtyard of the Menil Collection’s new Drawing Institute to enjoy the silence.

It was fortunate that I managed to bank a moment of serenity at the Menil because the American Airlines Airbus from Houston to LAX was a blaring, clacking, pinging, thumping, over-amplified example of what happens when social capital implodes and people don’t know how to behave. Let me elaborate.

In the queue to board there was a young woman with an array of hair and nail extensions talking on her phone – volume cranked up. Along the ramp the dispatcher was chatting to a friend on speakerphone and behind me someone was talking on one phone while ignoring the Ariana Grande remix ringtone of their other. In the cabin a dad with his tablet was showing his child what the interior of an Airbus looks like via Skype while the hair-and-nails lady collapsed into her seat with such force that much of her acrylic mane cascaded over the back of the headrest and skimmed my knees. The volume on her earphones was so high that I didn’t even hear the engines fire-up during push back.

Amid all this racket the inflight supervisor belted out her various dos and don’ts. I wondered what would happen if I politely asked to borrow her microphone to make a small addition to her spiel. “To avoid in-cabin conflict during the flight, we would kindly ask that all passengers behave in a civil manner and not use speakers turned up to full to have conference calls. For your own health and that of others, you should keep your headphone volume low enough so that you can still hear announcements and not invade the airspace of those around you. And finally, as this is both a public and private space, you need to ask passengers’ permission and have them sign releases if you’re going to film the cabin on your tablet. Thank you for flying American.”

Every time I get on a plane I hope that the carrier has plucked up the courage to take on digital-device noise pollution but, so far, no CEO has dared. Why? Could it be that they see it as part of the great “digital transformation” they’re so keen to talk up? If passengers on planes, buses and trams are allowed to be inconsiderate with their phones and invade the privacy of others then I’m heading out to buy a vintage Panasonic boombox for my travels in the hope that it might cause a mid-flight riot. In turn, that might lead to some much-needed house rules for transport operators worldwide.

The interrogator / Edition 04

Hala Gorani

CNN International anchor Hala Gorani broadcasts every weeknight from CNN’s London office – but her news intake begins early in the morning with a Twitter scroll. In the latest instalment of our series dedicated to media habits, we learn what this “streaming junkie” has been watching and find out whose voice sends her to sleep (in a good way).

What news source do you wake up to? I check Twitter: I follow all publications that I use for work as well as journalists that I respect and trust.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines? Definitely coffee with almond milk.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes? Actually, neither: I use Apple Music and Amazon Music. I usually think of an artist or band I feel like listening to and then check out the suggestions that come from it.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower? Oleta Adams, “Get Here” – but I sing it, not hum it. The bathroom’s got great acoustics.

Papers delivered or a trip down to the kiosk? More a trip down the kiosk but I buy the paper at the weekend with the shopping from the supermarket.

Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?The New Yorker is one; I love House & Garden too. I travel to Paris a lot so I like reading L’Express, Le Point and Paris Match.

Are you a subscriber or more of a newsstand browser? I subscribe to my daily newspapers. But for the US ones – The Washington Post and The New York Times – I subscribe online.

Sofa or cinema for the evening? Sofa. I’m a streaming junkie: I have Apple TV and an Amazon Firestick.

What’s the best thing you've watched of late and why? I watch a lot of documentaries. Surviving R Kelly was very well done.

What papers and periodicals will be spread out on the table? I love The Observer. For all the others it depends on the front page.

Do you still make an appointment to watch the nightly news? Well, I have to make an appointment as I’m on it! Once I’m done with my workday I need to not watch the news; by the time I get home I’m all newsed out. If I do watch anything it’s Newsnight.

A favourite newsreader, perhaps? Jon Snow is an incredible interviewer: tough but respectful. I like a lot of people on CNN US; to get to the bottom of the ins and outs of Trump you need a specialist and Jake Tapper is doing a great job.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off? I listen to a lot of podcasts. I love Melvyn Bragg’s history podcast In Our Time. I have to listen to the same episode two or three times though because I always fall asleep during it.

Culture / Watch / Listen / See

Are you not entertained?

‘The White Crow’. It takes guts for a professional dancer to impersonate Rudolf Nureyev in a biopic, especially as a first-time actor – but Ukrainian Oleg Ivenko does a great job. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in a film that’s more Cold War thriller than dance movie: it’s 1961 and Nureyev is in Paris for his first tour outside Russia. The peasant-born “white crow” has always stood out from the crowd; the drama of his defection from the Soviet Union becomes the rousing story of a flight for freedom.

‘Doko Mien’ by Ibibio Sound Machine. If you had to design the perfect album to dance to this weekend, you’d probably chuck some synths, a brass section, percussion and a high-pitched guitar together. You could do worse than making it an afro-beat record with 1980s disco and funk influences. We’d then recommend getting frontwoman Eno Williams to lend her powerful vocals to the mix. The result would probably sound a lot like this faultless record.

‘Le Marché de L’Art sous L’Occupation’, Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris. A tough visiting experience but a fascinating one. Between 1940 and 1944, the art market in Paris flourished. The reason is easy to gauge: a huge number of works of art were confiscated from Jewish families and resold for a profit. Curator Emmanuelle Polack has written a book to uncover the history behind that boom; in this exhibition we glimpse the ever-busy auctions that took place at the glitzy Hotel Drouot and the painstaking process of tracing families’ possessions after the war.

Eurovision / Song of the week

“Soldi” (Italy)

Every week in the run-up to Eurovision, which will be held in May in Tel Aviv, Monocle’s Fernando Augusto Pacheco will put the spotlight on one entry. This week it’s Italy’s Mahmood with his track “Soldi”.

Since Italy returned to the contest in 2011 it has been in the top 10 no less than six times – and its entry this year is one of the favourites to win. Alessandro Mahmood first performed his song “Soldi” (“Money”) at the 69th Sanremo music festival, where the winner receives the right to represent Italy at Eurovision. The singer, who is of Italian-Egyptian origin, has attracted the ire of the far right in Italy. Deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini complained about him on social media, saying that his song doesn’t deserve to represent Italy. The personal lyrics and hip-hop influences don’t make it your usual would-be winner but it’s in with a chance.

Outpost news / Yellowknife, Canada

Chilly conditions, warm words

Monocle has always made it a mission to shine a light on far-flung corners of the world. This week we see what’s making the news in the capital city of Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Yellowknifer, established in 1972 and now with a weekly circulation of 8,000, is the twice-weekly newspaper for the Canadian city of Yellowknife, which sits on the fringes of the Arctic Circle. Michele Taylor is assignments editor and here she tells us what’s been making the headlines in the past seven days.

What’s the big story this week? Every year Yellowknife builds a huge snow castle to celebrate winter. There’s a dancehall, a café, an outside play area and a tunnel to slip and slide through, and it will host a big ice-carving competition at the end of the month. But we’ve had unseasonably warm weather this spring: this week temperatures hit 9C. Normally in March we’d be anywhere from minus 15C during the day to minus 25C at night. The warm weather is causing the castle to melt; it’s getting very slumpy. So it’s been closed during the day, and that’s been a big story.

Best picture? My favourite is a photo-story on a fellow who is preparing for the ice-sculpture contest. He’s made a perfect little unicorn dragon; it’s really quite beautiful.

What’s your down-page treat? We’re on spring break this week and about 30 of our students took part in protests on climate change. Some of the little activists were as young as two years old, holding placards. It was a very cute story.

Next big event? The Long John Jamboree, which takes place next weekend; it’s our annual festival that marks the end of winter. There are lots of activities: maple-syrup-pouring displays and even a “tot toss”, where parents fling their children along the ice to see how far they can go.

Weekend plans? / Downtown LA

Bed down in La La Land

Tinseltown loves a good underdog story and Downtown Los Angeles is playing the part. The former Case Hotel on Broadway and 11th Street will become the new Proper Hotel this autumn and Soho House has confirmed that its third LA property will arrive in this once grotty district later this year.

“Oh, it’s changed – I dropped some kids off in a middle-of-nowhere part of Downtown the other day,” a taxi driver told Monocle as we careened to the entrance of our hotel on 7th and Olive. He should know: his father owned a laundry building Downtown for decades and he’s monitored the change from financial district to entertainment hotspot. “They were off to a supper club but it’s the sort of area I would have been scared to go to before,” he added. The dining scene and shops have been joined by a rush of hotel brands from all corners of the US: there’s The Freehand (originally from Miami), The Ace (Portland-founded) and LA-first overnighters including The Line and The Standard. The Firehouse Hotel will open in the nearby Arts District in April.

The grandest place from which to survey the excitement is the NoMad. The plump parakeet-green seats in its neoclassical lobby host a glittering crowd of media sorts and nosy natives keen to take in the pageantry of it all. The Sydell Group’s CEO Andrew Zobler and partner Ron Burkle snapped up the building in 2015 and tapped Parisian designer Jacques Garcia to oversee a transformation – now it’s all stuffed peacocks, fresh lilies and baroque brilliance. Move over Silverlake, Beverly Hills, Malibu and Venice Beach – LA has a neighbourhood going all out to woo the overnight crowd.

Eat / Munich

Munching in München

Munich is a cosmopolitan city but I struggle to see beyond the traditional stuff when it comes to eating there (writes executive editor Josh Fehnert). There are, of course, worldly venue options for picky punters: Bar Giornale for an apéro, Dallmayr for groceries and Loretta Bar for brunch. But if you need to be convinced about Munich’s time-tested merits, try the Ratskeller München.

This vast, wood-panelled 19th-century cellar beneath city hall offers diners substantive proof that they’ve arrived in the beating heart of Germany’s oldest state. It’s crammed with smiling couples, business folk in alpine jackets sealing deals and families breaking Brötchen. Above all, as you’re chided in impatient fashion to your table, you’ll feel a sense of place that so many newer restaurants lack. The stone staircase, vaulted ceilings and pastoral friezes conjure the mood of a medieval feast; so too the frilly-costumed fraulein bearing clinking steins of Weissbier.

I ordered from an English version of the menu that is a work of extraordinary mistranslation and similar in length to the collected works of Goethe. Humble-sounding dishes such as potato soup are elevated to salty, umami-rich heights alongside tender Tafelspitz (boiled veal), crusty rolls and plates dubbed “regular” in size that arrive bearing 12 sausages. I hoped that the best bit of the meal would be the crisp cinnamon-freckled Apfelstrudel with a dollop of double cream but I was caught out: it was the temperature of a collapsed star.

Then, however, the Ratskeller played its ever-so-Bavarian trump card. Without warning a pony-tailed, leather-vest-wearing accordionist sprung from his carved chair to play a sprightly German folk song. Kitsch. Yes. Camp? I’ll say. Bavarian beyond cliché? Jawohl. But boring? Never.

M24 / The Sessions at Midori House

Nick Waterhouse

The Rhythm-and-blues musician makes his return to Midori House to play some toe-tapping tracks from his new album.

Film / Media

Hot off the press

Prompted by Brexit, among other things, we’ve embarked on a design update. We’ve changed up the paper stock and fired up presses just outside of Hamburg; join us for a tour of the on-page innovations in the April issue of the magazine.


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