Wednesday. 10/11/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Record keeping

Over the past two weeks I took a European trip and, between seeing old friends, family and some excellent restaurants, I made sure there was enough time to add a few CDs to my collection. Physical record shops have had a difficult time with the rise of streaming but some iconic music stores are standing their ground.

Fnac in Paris: Fnac in Les Halles is always worth visiting for its stocks of rare Japanese versions of classic AOR music. As you will know if you listen to the songs played on Monocle 24, the breadth of French talent is astounding, from Clara Luciani to L’Impératrice.

Dussmann in Berlin: The Dussmann bookshop is a classic and it has a fantastic selection of jazz music. And I was pleased to be in the city for the release of Helene Fischer’s new album, which is a joy, as always.

Empik in Poland: The Polish love high-tempo music and their 1980s dance genre, disco polo, is enjoying a resurgence. In Warsaw and Krakow I visited a few outposts of the Empik chain, a combination bookshop, newsagent, stationers and music shop with a varied selection. Yes, I did buy a few cheesy Euro-dance compilations (I love the genre) but there were also a few unexpected album purchases, from MiłyPan to Polish band Mitch & Mitch’s collaboration with Brazilian musician Kassin.

It warms my heart that there are still places that understand the importance of a beautiful physical space. Not all of us are digital customers and a good bookshop, record shop or charming newsagent is a welcome addition to any neighbourhood. So the next time you travel, keep an ear to the area’s radio stations and try visiting a record shop to expand your musical taste. You won’t regret it.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Bosnia

Complex fracture

Nearly 30 years after the Yugoslav Wars, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains ethnically divided and its uneasy peace is showing real signs of fracture. Senior Bosnian-Serb politician Milorad Dodik has long called for the Serb-majority north and east, known as Republika Srpska, to peacefully split from the rest of the country, which is currently unified by a weak government. Dodik’s rhetoric has ramped up in recent weeks with calls to withdraw from national institutions, including the army and parliament. The threats have escalated ever since Bosnia’s outgoing high representative, Valentin Inzko, implemented a genocide-denial law. Its main target is Dodik (pictured), who has repeatedly denied the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, when more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslims were killed. “The country is sliding into a gradual and accelerating disintegration,” Toby Vogel of the Democratization Policy Council told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “And let’s not kid ourselves about this: such a disintegration cannot take place in a peaceful manner.”

Listen to the full report by Monocle’s Balkans correspondent Guy De Launey on ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / USA & France

Making nice

US vice-president Kamala Harris (pictured) is in Paris today to repair what she has described as “America’s oldest alliance”. Relations have been strained since France was sidelined by the Aukus submarine deal between the UK, US and Australia – a move that Joe Biden has conceded was handled clumsily by Washington. Emmanuel Macron has made no secret of his annoyance at the saga and, after Biden’s recent meeting with the French president in Rome, it will now be Harris’s turn to undo some of the damage. “What happened still leaves a bitter aftertaste on the French side,” Paris-based AFP journalist Florence Biedermann tells Monocle. And while it’s an important moment for US diplomatic relations, it’s also vital for Harris; a recent survey found that just 28 per cent of Americans approve of the job she has done in her time as vice-president. Harris will also speak at the Paris Peace Forum and a conference on the future of Libya. “France will approach the meeting with a constructive spirit,” says Biedermann. “They both have more to lose in a cold confrontation than in a partnership, even with its limits.”

For more on the Macron-Harris visit, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Transport / Vietnam

Delayed gratification

Vietnam’s first metro line is up and running in Hanoi after a decade of construction and countless delays. Green-liveried trains began operating over the weekend and patient passengers in the capital are being rewarded with free rides along the 13km route for the first 15 days. But commuters in the traffic-clogged city won’t be swapping their motorcycles for a season ticket just yet. Completion of the second of eight planned lines is behind schedule and the rest of the network is little more than a colourful subway map. Much has been made of the competition between the Beijing-backed project in Hanoi and the Tokyo-led subway line in Ho Chi Minh City. But with similar problems blighting Vietnam’s commercial centre, this could be a race with no winners. China and Japan are both adept at building rail infrastructure on home soil; the higher-ups in Hanoi should take some responsibility and get a move on.

Image: Alamy

Media / Ukraine

Last ‘Post’

After 26 years, Ukraine’s oldest English-language newspaper, the Kyiv Post, suspended publication this week. A statement released by the paper’s owner, Adnan Kivan, said that the newspaper will close immediately “for a short time”. Its journalists have accused Kivan, a construction tycoon, of shuttering the paper in response to their attempts to save the Kyiv Post’s editorial independence after he bought it in 2018. “We have irritated presidents, prime ministers, general prosecutors, members of parliament, oligarchs and CEOs [in a country that is] not the friendliest climate for independent media,” Brian Bonner, the newspaper’s chief editor, told Monocle 24. Nevertheless, Bonner holds out hope that the paper will come back “bigger and better”, as Kivan has promised. As a long-standing and integral source of news from Ukraine to the international community, let’s hope that this is one threat to independent journalism that winds up with a happier ending.

Hear the full interview with Brian Bonner on the latest edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

Elizabeth Street Garden, New York

Monocle’s Henry Rees-Sheridan looks at a clash between two equally admirable projects fighting for space in New York.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle Preview: November issue, 2021

Monocle’s picture-perfect November issue is a design special that sketches out the future of concrete and visits a Gio Ponti gem in Paris. Elsewhere, we take to the skies in an airship and tuck in to Berlin’s best Currywurst. Yum!

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