Well, I seem to have locked myself into a Ten Years Ago in Spy–style cycle of reviewing every issue of Monocle. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Instead of waiting a month for Issue 4 to arrive at the colonies, I snagged it at Heathrow. And I almost groaned at the cover (“Seoul’s School of Modern Media,” showing three Korean dudes). I think Tyler Brûlé’s ongoing Koreaphilia is strained, unconvincing, and difficult to distinguish from simply being a rice queen. (How unfair! you cry. His boyfriend is Swedish! Nobody likes both!) I say that as someone who spends every day around Koreans. I’m just not buying the idea that Seoul is the new Tokyo. They wouldn’t buy it either. That would be an insult. The Js think the Ks are inferior, while it never occurs to the Ks that the Js even exist.

  • The map of the world that tracks the countries covered in the issue again illustrates Canada as a void. I think I’ve had quite enough of that. It reeks of ideology: Of course interesting things are going on in Korea, but Canada? You gotta be kidding. But then, we find a tiny piece on Iqaluit. Planespotter Brûlé missed his chance to mention that the A380 has undergone cold-weather tests in Iqaluit twice. (All but one piece in the later Briefing section was about aviation.)
  • I skipped right over the endless piece on the mansions of Afghanistan. The equally overlong feature attempting to convince us that the Chinese city of Urumqi is some kind of hub of the future didn’t work for even a second, though it was amusing to see Chinese and Uyghur on the building signs. (And “Coca-Cola.”)
  • I did, however, find another article – on diplomacy school in Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan) – to be perfectly Monoclësque. The piece explicitly concerned a new elite of globalized young adults, except this group isn’t obsessed with Modernist furniture and hairless, waxen fashion models. (I guess I have effectively summed up the difference between Monocle and Wallpaper.)
  • A similar story covered the youth of government ministers in Georgia (ages 29 to 36 for the members discussed).
  • Also Monoclësque was the profile of Shane Williams, Queensland’s inventor of a cold vest. Industrial design, lifesaving, fashion, and Australia all in one go.
  • I groaned once more, this time at the squib about the new symbol “for the tenge, Kazakhstan’s currency since 1993.” They decided on something vaguely reminiscent of the Japanese postcode symbol, 〒. The article states “the symbol is identical to Japan Post’s for a post office.” Well, here we go again with currency symbols created by nonexperts. We thought we had it bad with the euro symbol, €. The Japanese symbol occupies a square; the tenge symbol is twice as tall as it is wide. You’re not going to be able to swap in one for the other.
  • The feature on long-haul truckers should have been of enough interest for me to read it. Even a photo of a wymmynz driver and a profilette of a Sikh dude from Brampton were not enough.
  • This month’s fashion assessment of world leaders concerns Robert Mugabe. A later fashion spread this time used some off-the-shelf (male) model, not the editor of a gay interview magazine. The misty, foggy, apparently cross-processed photos by Alexis Armanet were unconvincing at best.
  • Monocle flirts dangerously with Wallpaper-style snideness and flippancy.
    • “Nimbin, on the New South Wales coast, is famed as a counterculture town – its annual MardiGras festival campaigns for marijuana decriminalization [sic, with a Z]. Now locals fear their world could go up in smoke. It’s not the police they fear but acquisitive developers from chic Byron Bay…. What a drag.” (Emphases added.)
    • Actual article titles: “Maine Event,” “Let Them Eat Cake,” “Sending Out an SAS,” “Top of the Flops,” “Putting Up the Ritz,” “The Inn Crowd,” “Good Sports,” “Train of Thought.” Cut it out.
    • “We’re always short of notebook space for editorial inspiration (double-issue city scribbles), diary entries (for making and breaking engagements)” – Tyler Brûlé will cancel on you “owing to a subsequent engagement” – “and memos (home improvements, awards-acceptance speeches).”
  • The Panasonic advertorial is back yet again, as is an ad for the foppish Monocle bicycle. How curious that one of the endorsed products in the Inventory section is a pair of Panasonic speakers “matching the finish to our titanium MacBook Pros,” all of which are made of aluminum. The curiosity continues with a plug for a Panasonic Lumix camera two pages later. Still, nothing beats the advertisement for Alexander McQueen’s ovoid/Geigeresque Samsonite luggage. He’s standing chest-deep in the ocean, shirt unbuttoned all the way down to the water. My kinda guy.
  • Did you know there’s an entire children’s book (The Serif Fairy – unpleasant geminate there) whose illustrations are made of letters and symbols?
  • I should have been more interested in the piece on the handcrafted bookbinders in Cairo. I might have been had there been more photos of actual books.
  • Who’s the guest for My Last Meal? Milton Glaser, who kibbitzes randomly over dim sum (“I worked on the original Monocle, you know”).
  • Mykonos has never seemed less appealing as a gay travel destination. The unlimited expanses of white plaster look like a scene from Midnight Express, not a place where one might have a good time.

I think something is off the rose. Perhaps it is the bloom.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.06.18 12:51. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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