Tuesday. 14/12/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Lord

Chain of demand

There’s an unfamiliar silhouette zipping along the asphalt here in Los Angeles – and I don’t mean your humble correspondent, recently installed in Monocle’s LA bureau. I’m talking about a two-wheeled tribe making its presence increasingly felt in a city where the car has always been king. I’ve arrived in LA to find a cycle revolution underway. Local authorities are carving bike lanes through this city with palpable zeal, adding dedicated space for buses and metro lines too, in the hope of fostering a more pedestrian-friendly culture for when the city hosts the Olympic Games in 2028.

To underline just how novel this all is, one new bike lane in front of our office was inaugurated recently with an actual ribbon-cutting ceremony. Unfortunately, not everyone is celebrating. There’s talk of “blowback” from drivers who say that the new lanes are woefully underused. The city’s politicians are taking sides and, inevitably, there’s a whiff of culture war to the fracas. Having joined the morning cycle commuters, I can vouch that right now it’s niche enough that we cyclists still nod to each other here. It can also be a white-knuckle ride when a juggernaut thunders beside you at speed. But for this newcomer, there’s a welcome perspective shift on two wheels: LA looks even better when it’s not whizzing by out of a car window.

According to one activist, who began lobbying city hall for dedicated lanes after being knocked off his bicycle, the pressure for LA to change is also about infrastructure: Apple is building a massive new campus in our neighbourhood in Culver City; old movie lots are being brought back to life by the streaming giants. There will soon be even more people needing to cram into these already congested streets. In other words, the old LA way of everyone taking their car to work is running out of road.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / North Korea & South Korea

Peace at last?

South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in has announced that his government, along with the US, China and North Korea, have agreed in principle to formally end the Korean War. Though the three-year conflict, which resulted in the Korean peninsula splitting into two, ceased in 1953, no peace treaty was signed. As a result, North Korea and South Korea have technically remained at war ever since. Will the new formal peace make a difference? “This is incredible news but in practical terms it might be a little more complicated,” Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy in East Asia at King’s College London, told The Briefing on Monocle 24. “One has to be conscious of the fact that since Kim Jong-un (pictured, on left, with Moon) took power, North Korea has pursued its nuclear programme at a faster rate.” Still, it’s an undoubted legacy booster for South Korea’s president, who will step down after elections in March. “There will be a lot of domestic eyes on Moon Jae-in,” says Patalano. “This could turn the tables on how his administration is remembered.”

Image: Getty Images

Health / Austria

Key to freedom

On Sunday, three weeks after Austria implemented a full lockdown – one of only a few in the world at the time – it formally lifted the restriction but only for the vaccinated. Yet many parts of the country remain under tight rules: restaurants remain closed in Vienna and other states even as businesses and Christmas markets can open. This is a fragile time for Austria, which is in the middle of a political transition, with new chancellor Karl Neehammer taking office just this month and tens of thousands protesting coronavirus lockdowns and plans for a nationwide vaccine mandate from February. In interviews on Sunday, Neehammer pleaded for more “disarming language” from politicians and offered to engage in better dialogue with those who remain unvaccinated (Austria has one of the lowest rates of inoculation in western Europe). He acknowledged that lumping far-right anti-vaxxers together with those who had genuine concerns had been a mistake. Emerging from this crisis continues to require deft political leadership.

Media / Global

For the record

Originally published in 1955, Guinness World Records remains a popular Christmas gift worldwide and the 2022 edition is already appearing in book charts in many countries. Although social media and TV shows are part of a modernising strategy for the brand, Craig Glenday, editor in chief of Guinness World Records, says that the annual print edition remains the company’s flagship product. “The book is still the core of the business, the best and fullest expression of our brand,” he says. Licensed to many countries (a Mongolian edition was added in recent years), there’s also a plan to create a braille edition. One of their more recent record additions? Sashimi the cat and Lollipop the dog officially became the fastest feline and canine duo to operate a scooter. Guinness World Records is one brand that doesn’t deviate from what its fans expect. “The reason for our success is that we bring a bit of cheer to the world,” says Glenday.

Hear more from Glenday on this week’s edition of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Culture / France

Art support

Chanel has named the winners of its inaugural Next prize, a new biannual €100,000 award aimed at supporting international creatives. Set up as part of the Chanel Culture Fund, an initiative established earlier this year to expand the French house’s backing of the arts, the prize is given to 10 creatives across the fields of film, music and performance. This year’s winners – selected by actress Tilda Swinton, artist Cao Fei and architect David Adjaye – include dancers Marlene Monteiro Freitas and Botis Seva (pictured), and film director Rungano Nyoni. According to Yana Peel, the brand’s global head of arts and culture, the initiative mirrors the legacy of founder Gabrielle Chanel, who was known for supporting avant garde artists in her era. “It extends Chanel’s deep history of cultural commitment, empowering big ideas and creating opportunities for an emerging generation of artists to imagine the next,” says Peel.

Monocle 24 / The Entrepreneurs

Eureka: Re:Nourish

Nicci Clark is CEO and founder of Re:Nourish, a UK-based company that’s said to be the world’s first microwaveable and fully recyclable bottled-soup company. A qualified nutritionist and former critical-care nurse, Clark knows the value of healthy eating. The company has had incredible growth in the past few years, in both retail and direct-to-consumer, and has expanded to the Middle East and Hong Kong.

Monocle Films / Global

Japanese gift wrapping: Lesson 2

Our notebook collection produced in collaboration with German fine stationery purveyor Leuchtturm1917 comes in a variety of sizes, colours and styles. Stop by Dufourstrasse 90, our Zürich headquarters, to adorn the pretty linen covers with gold embossing – a thoughtful touch that’s sure to delight the new owner.

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