Saturday 11 May 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 11/5/2019

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Game for a laugh

OK, here goes. I have never been to a professional football match, watched anyone play golf or spent an afternoon at the cricket. And I don’t think I have missed much. Hey! Stop, throwing things at me! I promise that there’s a moment of sporting redemption coming your way.

Firstly, I blame the parents. Mine had no interest in any sport – watching Wimbledon on TV on a hot summer’s evening was about as far as it went. That’s why in junior school the headmaster, sensing my apathy, would bring along his dog Benji to football practice and let me take it for a walk while everyone else skidded on the muddy field.

Over the years, however, I have been to the rugby, the races and even Wimbledon. And it’s been fun enough. Especially when there’s catering involved. But watching it. On TV. No way.

This means that on a Monday morning at Monocle I can usually dodge the first conversation of the day – how various teams performed at the weekend. Although it can be fun pretending to join in every now and then – a good trick is to learn just one footballer’s name and, when some football banter starts, chip in with an inane – but referenced – comment. For many years my go to was, “What about little Joey Cole on Saturday.” I must have seen his name somewhere and he did me good service, enjoying a long career and numerous outings in the national squad. People even began to tell me updates about my seeming obsession. Sadly he retired last year and I need a replacement.

Now for the promised – modest – redemption. Earlier this month while visiting Monocle’s bureaux, I went with a sports-obsessed colleague (let’s just say he spends a lot of time managing a pretend football team on his phone) to see a basketball match in Toronto featuring local heroes the Raptors.

For the sports-averse it had some obvious appeal: it’s indoors, the people getting rowdy are Canadians (basically, we’re safe), you can have a drink brought to you and there are fireworks and a dancing troupe.

Even so, I may have had a sports-fan moment back there. Or as my colleague said, “you look tense”. But the oddest moment was when they lost – just when it seemed possible that victory could have been theirs. It was a sport and a team I knew nothing about, and I was pissed off. Sport: see, I knew it wasn’t good for you.

Culture / China

Mean streets

Visit a Chinese city and you are likely to come across a red-and-yellow billboard advertising the government’s crackdown on organised crime (writes James Chambers). But as the hoodlums go into hiding in real life, the cinema is offering them a hideout. Chinese filmmakers are currently reeling out critically acclaimed movies that depict shady characters and regular lowlifes eking out a living in dreary third-tier cities.

There’s Hu Bo’s four-hour epic An Elephant Sitting Still, in which a small-town thug wrestles with his feelings for a deceased friend; Ash is the Purest White, where the passage of time ravages a once powerful mob boss; and The Wild Goose Lake, which stars an on-the-run gangster. The latter is the fourth film from Golden Bear-winning director Diao Yinan. It will make its debut at the Cannes Film Festival – as long as state censors don’t pull the plug at the last minute. Beijing closely controls film production so it’s intriguing that the Communist party seems unconcerned by this sentimental portrayal of hoodlums.

Perhaps spreading an image of a poor, crime-ravaged China serves President Xi Jinping’s interests during Beijing’s ongoing trade war with Washington. The films’ hustler heroes are world’s apart from their wealthier, Gucci-wearing, countrymen buying up Parisian boutiques. You leave the cinema feeling rather sorry for China.

The faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Why Zürich is the perfect summer city

It’s about this time of year that most casual or professional conversations are punctuated with, “So what’s the plan for summer?” At Monocle’s first Zürich anniversary event at our digs on Dufourstrasse on Thursday evening I caught the following snippets while meeting, greeting, filling glasses and making intros.

Woman in a near head-to-toe Hermès equestrian get-up: “We’ll be doing a bit of Mykonos to start the summer and then mostly at the house in Cannes…”

Gentleman who looked very much like a young Yves Saint Laurent: “I’m quite free this summer, we’ll see. Last year I spent a week on my own in Ibiza and that was interesting…”

A couple from one side of the lake chattering to another couple who lived on the other side: “We’ll be up in Sweden for part of July but then we might need some mountain time…”

As the evening moved into a gentler mood and guests found places to sit and settle in, a guest from Geneva asked me about my plans for summer. “I’m staying here,” I replied. “The plan is to be mostly in Zürich.”

“I totally get you,” he said. “It’s so great having a lake and all a city has to offer. I feel the same about being in Geneva.”

Last summer I tried to limit my travel to business only but a couple of family matters intervened so I found myself jumping on a plane more often than planned. From the end of June, however (when we wrap up our Quality of Life Conference in Madrid), I plan on going no further than Südtirol when it comes to long weekends and engineering a swim-work-swim-work-swim schedule Monday to Friday. As the bathing club is less than a minute from my front door and two minutes from the office, it’s quite easy to have a working holiday in the ’hood so long as Zürich is warm and sunny.

Indeed, it becomes a bit addictive and you find a rhythm that is quite hard to beat. The morning run is followed by a dip and a coffee. At lunch it’s perfect to just settle down on the warm planks with a towel and The New Yorker. A mid-afternoon splash is ideal for clearing the head. After work it’s a chilled glass of Swiss white, a swim out to one of the rafts and then chatting with friends till the sun starts to set. In between all of this you’re still able to do presentations at the office, review projects, hold conference calls and function completely as normal.

In fact, the bathing season has become so important that I decided it needed an official kick-off and to mark the occasion we’re hosting our first ever Badi Market at our shop and café on Dufourstrasse. Should you be on the hunt for good trunks, a nice scent, a tote for your pedal down to the pool or pond, we’d love to see you here in Zürich next Saturday. A good crew from Monocle will be on hand and, weather permitting, we can enjoy a few sundowners.

The interrogator / Edition 11

Ron Haviv

Photojournalist Ron Haviv has been chronicling conflicts around the world for decades and travelled to more than 100 countries. From Bosnia to Afghanistan, his images have had a huge impact in shaping the media’s coverage of war. After co-founding VII Agency with the aim of supporting human rights, he has also been working on The Last Column – an important project (including a book) dedicated to the many journalists who have lost their lives while reporting on the front line. He will be joining us at the Monocle Quality of Life Conference in Madrid this June to talk about the importance of bearing witness; here he talks to us about where he gets his news from and an inspirational documentary.

What news source do you wake up to?
NPR’s Morning Edition.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines?
When travelling, a double espresso is key.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
Anything from singer/songwriter Luthea Salom – with Leonard Cohen as an additional go to.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
Not a sound. It’s a meditative moment with the water.

Papers delivered or a trip down to the kiosk?
All digital, all the time.

Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?
The Economist, Time, NYT Magazine, Photo District News and Vogue.

Bookshop for a drizzly Saturday afternoon?
Harder and harder to find: but when in DC, Politics and Prose is always a stop on the trip.

Sofa or cinema for the evening?
Love the cinema but sofa wins more than it should.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched of late and why?
The Chambermaid by first-time Mexican director Lila Aviles: I saw her present at the Panama Film Festival. As I’m co-directing my first film, Bio of a Photo, it was inspiring.

Sunday brunch routine?
Dim sum in Chinatown, NY.

What papers and periodicals will be spread out among the breakfast?
An iPad with The New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, with a host of other curated publications via Apple News and Flipboard.

Do you still make an appointment to watch the nightly news?
No. I catch up story by story and network by network.

A favourite newsreader perhaps?
I lean towards CNN with Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo.

Image: Dan Weill

Report / London

Rich tapestry

“Craft” is a term too often exploited in the marketing of everything from alcohol to shoes (writes Nolan Giles). But London Craft Week (LCW), which runs until tomorrow, aims to put some integrity back into the word as it turns the UK capital into a vibrant canvas for showcasing handmade goods.

“It’s about personal enrichment,” says managing director Jonathan Burton. “What we provide is the opportunity for discovery. When you discover something on your own – a new brand or maker – you are much more likely to champion it.” There has been considerable growth in interest for the annual event, which this year is expected to welcome 100,000 visitors to shops, studios and street events across the city.

Makers and brands displaying their craft credentials at LCW range from high-powered luxury fashion names such as Loewe, which is providing in-store basket-weaving demos, to sole traders such as leatherwear specialists Lost Property of London.

Offering events in both shops and studios, LCW is a spring fixture of increasing relevance in Europe for opening the minds – and wallets – to the importance of well-made wares.

Image: Kent Andreasen

Culture / Visit / Listen / Watch

Exposure, emotion and explosion

Palm Photo prize, London. An official satellite event of the upcoming Photo London Fair, Palm Photo prize (pictured) will be taking place at Theprintspace gallery from 14 to 17 May. Palm, a photography-focused London-based publisher, has whittled down 3,860 submissions to 100 impressive images, some of which are on display at the exhibition. The shortlist pits established photographers, such as Nich McElroy, against Giulia Savorelli and other up-and-coming snappers.

‘Spirit’, Rhye. Canadian act Rhye’s experimental R’n’B has made Blood one of our favourite records from last year. This follow-up promises to deliver more of Mike Milosh’s wonderfully atmospheric music and falsetto vocals. But there’s something new too: Spirit is centered around his love of piano. The result is a mellow, layered affair that’s an ideal soundtrack for a long flight.

‘Chernobyl’. HBO’s new series is a chilling but extremely gripping account of the 1986 nuclear-power plant disaster. We’re in Chernobyl when the explosion takes place but also spend time, long after the blast, with the people whose job it is to understand how the catastrophe could happen – and how to prevent it from becoming a Europe-wide issue. Action mixes with Soviet-style intrigue in this ambitious recreation of history – and there are subtle lessons for the present too.

Eurovision / Song of the week

‘Chameleon’ (Malta)

Every week in the run-up to Eurovision, which will be held next week in Tel Aviv, Monocle 24’s Fernando Augusto Pacheco has been putting the spotlight on one entry. This week it’s Malta’s Michela with her track “Chameleon”.

Malta has been a member of the Eurovision Song Contest since 1971 but, so far, no wins even though it is a bit of a powerhouse in the festival – ending up in the top five some five times. If you like divas singing powerful ballads this is your country, although it has something a little more current with 18-year-old Michela, who won Malta’s version of The X Factor. “Chameleon” is among the most popular with Eurovision fans this year.

Weekend plans? / Athens

Comfort food

There’s still nothing like the buzz of the Athenian summer. Next month the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival will bring music, theatre, dance and visual arts to the city, with music-festival season close behind (Ejekt, Release and Plissken are just a few of the events taking place). But for a pocket of quiet in the city, head to one of the airy rooms at Ergon House, a short walk from Syntagma Square. It’s the first hospitality venture from Thessaloniki-based Thomas Douzis, the entrepreneur behind the Ergon deli chain that specialises in food from small producers around Greece. No wonder his first hotel is one for enthusiastic eaters: at ground level a modern-day agora is housed in an impressive atrium, bringing together a greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger, bakery, roastery, bar and restaurant. The best part? Guests can take their pick from the produce and book one of two handsomely equipped kitchens – or hire the hotel’s chef.

Outpost news / Inuvik, Canada

Midas touch

In the 1950s, Tom Butters moved to Canada’s northern reaches in search of gold, before settling and founding the Inuvik Drum in 1965. The weekly newspaper continues to serve the tiny town of Inuvik (population 3,000), found just 97km south of the Arctic Ocean in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The weekly newspaper has achieved an impressive circulation of 1,000 readers. We speak to its current editor, Aaron Hemens, who graduated from journalism school in Ottawa in 2018 before moving north.

What’s the big story this week? There’s a local firefighter, Dave Bernhardt, who’s been with the fire department for 39 years. All the firefighters here are volunteers and he won a national Canadian Volunteer Firefighter Services award. You can tell he really cares about the community, and the community cares about him. That’s making news around town. People are really happy for him.

Best headline? “Inuvik residents keeping the faith.” This couple in Inuvik are starting a church in their home but you don’t have to be a Christian to join them. They’re inviting people from all over the community.

Best picture? On Monday, the school won a contest to speak to a Canadian astronaut who’s on a space station. He was floating around drinking little blobs of water. One kindergarten student came dressed up in an astronaut suit and I took a picture of him completely focused on the live stream and the astronaut. That’s my favourite.

What’s your down-page treat? There’s a climate action group here – a bunch of elementary and high-school kids – and they’ve been trying to raise awareness around climate change and the use of plastics. They’ve met with the owner of the local grocery store called Northmart to try and get him to stop using plastics in the shop. Recently, the owner starting handing out free reusable bags. People were excited about that.

Next big event? There’s an outreach event today to encourage kids to get involved in science and technology. It’s called Stem Science Rendezvous. That’s a big one that we’ll be covering.

Wardrobe update 06 / John Elliott

Setting out his stall

Over the past five years, John Elliott has elevated the uniform of southern California with fashionable touches: making soft cotton T-shirts with curved hems and sweatshirts with slightly oversized fits. The Los Angeles-based designer, whose products are manufactured in the City of Angels, has built a fine reputation: his brand shows at New York Fashion Week Men’s and has accrued stockists including Bergdorf Goodman, Forty Five Ten and Selfridges. Now he has cemented his status with a first bricks-and-mortar shop, an industrial-style space accented with breeze-blocks and ferns on West Hollywood’s glossy Melrose Avenue (his new studio is upstairs). If you want easy basics done well – a grey crew-neck T-shirt that fits just so, a natty denim jacket with shearling lining – it’s a good place to start.

Modern etiquette / Edition 05

Can I ask a waiter to intervene?

We’re in downtown Los Angeles at a fun hotel for breakfast. It’s early, we’ll have scrambled eggs and flat whites, please. There’s an LA Times to peruse and the day is starting with the engine at a low hum. The scene at our table is also being played out at other calm spots across the floor.

And then they arrive: two women dressed in out-of-place executive outfits. They whip out their iPad, perch it on their breakfast table and begin their Skype conference call. As with all Skype calls, their voices boom. “Hello, Sheryl!” they shout to some pixelated apparition in Denver. Soon the restaurant is party to their company’s most mundane workings. Now, we could leap up and ask them to shut the f*** up but instead we endure. Should we have asked the waiter to address the situation? Yes but you imagine that the chances of action are minimal – this is the age of non-confrontation in Los Angeles.

The same situation occurred a couple of months ago in Switzerland. Before we could even choke on our bircher muesli, a waiter had shot across the room and delivered a stern, “Not here.” So in short, yes, ask the waiter to return the dining room to calm; share the misery. Oh, and Sheryl, really sorry you didn’t get the promotion.

M24 / The Monocle Culture Show

May music

Laura Snapes and Georgie Rogers give Robert Bound their top tips for albums released this month, including records by Carly Rae Jepsen, The National, Hayden Thorpe and Holly Herndon.

Monocle Films / Madrid

The secret to ordering tapas

We jaunt around Madrid’s tabernas, the lively living rooms of the Spanish capital, and share some tasty dishes with the regulars.


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