City Paper is not for tourists
There is no shortage of media fodder today if you are looking for new reasons to kill yourself, but why self-mutilate over the predictable tax cuts blah blah blah when you could venture a bit off the beaten-to-death path and check out the Tyler Brûlé profile in New York? Brûlé founded Wallpaper and now runs Monocle, a magazine staffed by worldly Renaissance men who sometimes moonlight as J. Crew models. He describes his editorial philosophy thusly:
It’s stunning to me what, even among mature adults, counts as news today. There’s so much focus on that woman who grew up in a backyard in California. But I think it just provides more of an opportunity for us to engage with people who want to know if now is the time to buy a large tract of land in Madagascar in order to grow vegetables for the Koreans.”
Naturally he comes to us from Canada, where people apparently do not grow up in backyards. He also writes a regular column for the Financial Times, featuring sentences like this:
With a little more work, we were able to get my trainer Vivi over from Switzerland for early mornings at a private gym in Fitzrovia, and some calls to friends at the Foreign Office helped us track down an Arabic teacher who could do private classes straight after the gym.
He also refers to Monocle’s foreign offices as “bureaux” and is a man of contradictions, according to the story. For instance, although he concedes he founded Wallpaper to “be a little bit hedonistic,” writer Amy Larocca stresses that his defining characteristic is really his “penchant for practicality.” And while you could be forgiven for assuming that his “passion” is for “design,” what “unifies” him is actually merely an appreciation of “things that work spectacularly well” such as, “the first-class cabins on Singapore Airlines.” Explains editor Andrew Tuck, newly back in London from Brazil, over a trendy staff dinner. “It’s just a choice of how to live.” But sometimes, this fetish for things that “work” trickles all the way down to people who actually “work”—as opposed to make “choices about how to live”—for a living. New York finds this “touching”:
And perhaps most touchingly, it keeps wanting to unearth success stories—or to proffer advice for companies and countries that could use a bit of a rethink. As high-flying as its tastes can seem (“It’s official: The Koreans do the best hotel gyms”), Monocle also exhibits a deep curiosity about the state of infrastructure in big cities and small towns. About public housing. About measures to improve traffic safety in La Paz (hiring youths in zebra costumes had a strangely beneficial effect). About the efforts of Tbilisi to transform its skyline.
One thing that is pretty cool about this profile is that it isn’t bogged down in all the “numbers” bullshit “mogul-in-waiting” blowjobs like this usually try to marshal to prove that whoever they’re blowing this week is some sort of visionary genius entrepreneur wunderkind. Because while it maybe seems to someone who works for New York like it is some sort of dramatic achievement to turn a healthy profit—which Monocle is, I am told, ahead of schedule in doing—publishing a print magazine catered primarily to chronicling and deconstructing the consumption “choices” available to the super-rich, well, maybe New York just needs to think about paying writers less, satiating them with evermore free shit and pimping out their modeling services to large apparel chains like Monocle does. Sorry, everyone I know who works at New York; but it is a time of great sacrifice in this country right now and we are all going to be asked to share in the suffering except of course as your magazine also points out this week, for millionaires and billionaires, whom we can all count on sucking up to for the rest of our lives, the end.
Photo by eirikso via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license