Friday. 15/7/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Cool heads prevail

As temperatures soar in Europe, many are braced for the giddiness, frivolity and glee that traditionally grip global newsrooms in high summer. It’s dubbed “the silly season” in the Anglosphere and, pleasingly, “cucumber time” elsewhere. It tends to coincide with when seasoned news editors go on holiday and leave less-tested hands on the rudder. It’s also when politicians, CEOs and the folks often responsible for driving the news cycle find themselves splashing off yachts, in swimming pools or sunlit coves rather than on the front pages of broadsheets or the tickers of news programmes. The summer slump is coming.

Here at Monocle we’ve always believed in the power of great reporting to entertain – but that it should inform, inspire and implore too. It should offer solutions, benchmarks and courses of action. That’s why we’ve relaunched our bold and beautiful Berliner-format newspaper Monocle Mediterraneo for the summer and it’s on newsstands from today. Within its pages we’ve scoped out the businesses, brands and desirable destinations you need to know about. We beat a path to the sunbelt cities attracting new residents, from Girona to Valletta and Palermo, and call in to Cairo to survey a saline solution to the problem of keeping cities cool. Plus, we look at how tensions between Greece and Turkey are simmering on the island of Samos.

We also profile the cash cows (and sheep and goats) behind the regional cheese varieties that make a Mediterranean break so tasty – from manchego to salty shanklish and soft, rich brocciu from Corsica – all before presenting you with some sunny reading recommendations, hot spots, must-see museums and a roadtrip around Cilento to understand a European brand of living a good, long life. (It involves plenty of sun, wine and family.)

So whether your plans lead you to the mistral or sirocco this summer, finding something cheery and upbeat to read is a breeze. You’d be silly to miss it.

Josh Fehnert is Monocle’s editor. Subscribe and you will automatically receive a copy of ‘Monocle Mediterraneo’. Alternatively, pick up a copy on newsstands or online here.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Italy

Falling apart

Technocrat prime minister Mario Draghi, once Italy’s beacon of political stability, offered his resignation to the nation’s president yesterday evening. Tensions with the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), a member of the ruling coalition, made his continuation in the role impossible after it withdrew its support for him. The end came shortly after M5S followed through on a promise not to take part in a confidence vote in the Senate over a cost-of-living package; the head of the movement, Giuseppe Conte, had argued that the amount offered was too low and had made a series of other demands – including for a minimum wage – to keep his party in government.

Draghi, who has claimed that he wouldn’t preside over a government without M5S, has also said that he is not open to trying to form a new government. Whether he can be persuaded to do so – given that he remains one of the few Italians who can bring together the bickering factions on the left and right – remains to be seen. If neither he nor anyone else takes up the mantle in the coming days, that would mean early elections this autumn – something that the far-right, sniffing gains, is calling for.

To keep up with the latest developments in Italy, tune into ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / France

Inside, looking out

Thousands of military personnel marched along the Champs-Élysées in Paris yesterday for an annual event marking Bastille Day. The national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, which triggered the French Revolution, but this year’s affair had a conspicuously international outlook. The event featured homages to Ukraine and Nato, the latter of which France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, dubbed “braindead” as recently as in 2019.

The flags of nine allied countries, many in Eastern Europe, were presented at the parade and their troops marched together in Paris as part of the celebrations. On Wednesday, Macron called for military reforms to better respond to emerging threats and a “rethink” of France’s presence in West Africa; he also repeated a call to introduce national service for French citizens. The message that Macron is pushing is clear: France is an influential and co-operative player on the world stage, even if he is struggling to muster support at home.

Image: Getty Images

Media / Global

Different view

In a bid to combat dwindling subscription numbers and competition from other streaming services, Netflix is teaming up with Microsoft to provide a cheaper offering that will feature adverts in its programming, with the exact pricing still to be announced. It’s not the first time that the content provider has experimented with formats to find new revenue streams: last year it announced a move into video games to attract a younger audience.

But the latest developments beg a wider question about whether the streaming model that has dominated small-screen viewing for the past few years is the only one that works. Reintroducing ads into shows feels very much like a return to the old days of so-called “linear” TV. Last year, Netflix also introduced a “shuffle” feature that decides what to play on the viewer’s behalf to avoid them feeling overwhelmed by choice. Perhaps there’s inspiration to be drawn from the ways we watched television in the past.

Image: Airyka Rockefeller

Art / USA

Hot off the press

San Francisco has long been a centre of independent publishing, going back to the numerous underground zines peddled on its streets in the 1960s. The SF Art Book Fair, founded in 2016, taps into that history and returns this weekend after a two-year hiatus. More than 100 exhibitors are presenting artist monographs, experimental publications and limited-edition magazines.

“The fair model is the strongest representation of everything that’s great about the art publishing world at a commercial level,” says co-founder Jamie Alexander, who co-owns Park Life, a book-and-design shop in Inner Richmond. “It’s accessible and is the quickest way for artists and publishers to get things out and widely seen.” Alexander says that this year’s participation by publisher Printed Matter, which runs New York’s highly respected Art Book Fair, shows that his West Coast event has earned its stripes. Highlights to look out for: Aperture and California’s Deadbeat Club are firm favourites and there’s a special section dedicated to Swiss art publishing too.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

Turning off the taps

Russia’s gas supply to Europe has been halted due to what Russia claims are annual maintenance works and technical issues. Andrew Mueller offers an alternative explanation.

Monocle Films / Paris

Meet the photographers: Alexandre Guirkinger

Mont Blanc is one the world’s most famous mountains – and its deadliest. We asked French photographer Alexandre Guirkinger to create a portrait of this mountain and the people who dwell in its powerful shadow. In our latest film, Guirkinger speaks about the process behind the assignment and how he captured the peak’s enthralling, luring mix of beauty and danger. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy today.

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