A couple of weeks ago I bought a copy of Monocle, a new magazine created by Tyler Brûlé. He’s that Canadian publisher I suppose is best known for launching the highly successful style and fashion magazine Wallpaper a few years back.
The magazine caught my eye not only because I’d recently read a short write-up about his new venture, but that the May edition has two articles on things near and dear to my heart: one on bicycles and cycling, another on the city of Hamburg. Always on the lookout for English-language reading material that is neither too British nor too American, I thought the 12-euro
gouge price was worth it, so I bought it without even flipping much through the pages.
I don’t think I’ll pick up another copy though. It has the look and feel of a magazine whose publisher couldn’t decide whether to come out with another glossy fashion, gadget, design and superficial urban lifestyle work, or something similar but printed on weightier matte paper to convey a sense of gravitas to the social and political angles given to some of the articles. The result is a mish-mash of disconnected stuff, and although you’ve enjoyed reading what they’d bothered to print, you’re left wishing the subjects had been given a little more time and research. Sprinkled throughout are what amounts to printable soundbites, cutesy headlines for various bits of this and that, a few half-hearted fashion pages that don’t set well on the greyish paper, an astoundingly incongruous pull-out manga cartoon that just screams, “see – we’re cutting edge!” and you have to ask yourself: just where are they hoping to find people to read this? Think in-flight mag with a dash of shit or hell thrown in now and then in an effort to chase the blandness away.
The section on Hamburg was particularly disappointing. I’ll admit it was fun comparing the writer’s idea of a wild night on the town or a cool place to live with my own, but I already knew that we don’t live in the trendiest neighbourhood around, and that going out more often is going to depend a lot on when the new bar-and-restaurant smoking laws kick in. By that time the places listed will have either closed or I’ll be 97 and long since swapped verbal incontinence for physical. There haven’t been any street riots or mass arrests outside our front door over the past four weeks either, so we must be doing something right. Pity those who jumped at the chance to take his cool-places-to-live recommendations at face value.
The absolute killer is the Hamburg section’s main article. If you are prone to seizures or cringe uncontrollably, I advise you to read no further.
Indeed, the politicians want to reposition Hamburg as a benchmark for all modern cities. And if that’s not enough to convince you of the city’s investment potential, just imagine how you could tell people “I’m a Hamburger” with relish.
Half-blind and shaking, I nearly sliced off a fingertip on a loose razor blade scrambling to find the Visine bottle at the bottom of the drugs drawer, desperate for a good squirt or two to wash away the aftermath of coming across such an awful, AWFUL pair of sentences in a publication I actually plunked down good money for. Meaningless, biz-speaking wanker’s twaddle followed by the oldest, hoariest, groan-and-gag-me joke about Hamburg in the book?
Just in case nobody believes it…
OK, I admit to coming out with a few cornball one-liners, some tired and reworked word turds myself, but hey, this is a blog fer crissakes. I’m not counting on it to pay the rent, and you sure as hell don’t have to throw away 12 euros for it.
All for now,
PS: Now that the initial shock has long subsided and I’ve forced myself to take a second look at the offending article, I must give the writer the benefit of the doubt. After all, who would dare submit a closing like that and expect to be asked to write anything for them ever again? This is what happens when you let
Homer Simpson some editor/desk jockey have final say over your copy.