Thursday. 2/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

Spirit of the times

In the two weeks that I’ve been in Los Angeles I’ve had numerous conversations with other young people on the topic of alcohol – specifically, how we aren’t drinking that much of it. Millennials in the City of Angels are increasingly turning to now-legal cannabis on nights out – fewer calories and less chance of a hangover, apparently.

But the general notion of laying off booze extends to other cities. I’ve had similar conversations with countless peers in London who won’t stay for another round because they’ve got yoga the next morning. In San Francisco youngsters talk about smashing “sleep scores” (through their monitoring apps) rather than pints. Beer companies across the globe are reporting slumping sales. Could this be because the cool kids are hitting the juice bar instead of the pub?

Every decade or so, newspapers report that the new generation are sobering up. It’s cyclical but this latest wave of sobriety could have staying power. Why? Because it’s not a fad: it’s intrinsically connected with modern lifestyles. Boutique gyms, meditation apps, smoothie bars and athleisure have gone mainstream and many people now seem to believe that being a paragon of health – rather than a rockstar – is the ultimate goal.

While I’m guilty of falling into this trap (I do love an overpriced gym class), it’s time to redress the balance. There’s something about a night out – the spontaneity and the temporary loss of inhibitions and pent-up righteousness – that we still need, even if we are queueing up for wheatgrass shots the next morning. I’ll see you on the dance floor.

Defence / USA

Communication breakdown

No news is good news, unless you’re a US government watchdog in Washington trying to keep an eye on the fight against the Taliban. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction this week announced that Resolute Support, the US-led Nato mission in the troubled state, was no longer providing information about how much of the country is in the hands of the Taliban and how much is controlled by the government. The lack of intel would seem to suggest that either the campaign is facing setbacks or that quantifying its success is becoming more difficult. It also weakens US influence in the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban. “Unless you have real openness on these issues, there is very little chance of getting any kind of negotiated settlement,” says Paul Rogers, professor emeritus of peace studies at Bradford University.

Culture / Italy

Radio control

Italy’s ruling coalition has long been displaying signs of internal friction. Now, after political disagreements on everything from infrastructure projects to economic policy, the confrontation is moving to culture. Deputy prime minister (and minister for economic development) Luigi Di Maio has threatened to silence the digital output of Radio Padania, accusing it of broadcasting nationally without the appropriate licence. The station acts as a mouthpiece for his coalition “frenemy” Matteo Salvini’s the League. The objection is legitimate but the move would also be a comms coup for Di Maio: much of the propaganda for his populist Five Star Movement remains online or on social media – a space that’s conveniently under-regulated and notoriously hard to muzzle.

Conservation / Scotland

Box of tricks

In an attempt to preserve The Hill House, one of Scotland’s most treasured buildings, The National Trust for Scotland has come up with a striking solution. It’s unveiled a temporary metal structure named The Box, which looms over the original house much like a huge marquee, protecting it from the weather. Excess moisture in The Hill House exterior has led to multiple cracks and leaks, compromising the building’s integrity and calling for a radical fix. By employing a steel frame and translucent chainmail mesh sides, The Box will allow air to flow through the building and give it time to dry out before renovations take place. While this is its primary function, the structure’s elevated walkways will also provide visitors with a fresh perspective from which to view the property. It’s a bold move by The National Trust for Scotland – and we think it’s boxing clever.

Fashion / Global

The Neo look

Saint Laurent is on a roll. A week after reporting that its first-quarter sales for 2019 were up a whopping 17.5 per cent, huge excitement has greeted the unveiling of the Parisian house’s new campaign star, Keanu Reeves. It’s a smart choice: the 54-year-old actor, who appears wearing long locks and a leather jacket, retains a cool cult status. By choosing him, Saint Laurent has demonstrated a certain self-assuredness: Reeves is not the obvious millennial clickbait. While a young fanbase has contributed to the brand’s recent success – it’s estimated that millennial purchases comprised 65 per cent of sales in 2017 – having an older model is unlikely to alienate them.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Richard Pierson, Headspace

Richard Pierson is the CEO and co-founder of Headspace, the meditation app used by millions of people in more than 190 countries. Struggling to deal with stress and anxiety in his life, Pierson left a successful career in advertising. But when his struggles only got worse, he took up meditation, coached by Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. They went on to launch Headspace in 2010, first as an events company and later an app with the aim of making meditation more accessible.

Monocle Films / Greece

Athens’ favourite neighbourhoods

Do you want to visit the heart of Athens but steer clear of the tourist traps? Take a walk around Petralona, Koukaki and Filopappou to discover the best areas of the capital according to Athenians themselves.

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