We live in a time when any act of self-expression just gets nodded through; for example, few people would even dare to raise an eyebrow at “ink culture” for fear of disrespecting it. So while you should be able to say that you really are not that invested in your partner’s purchase of a large swathe of body art, most people still try to remain calm – or at least come across as nonplussed – when faced with such news. “Really? A giant caterpillar popping its head out from your underwear? Sounds absolutely charming, dear. Although you are 70 now; it could look a little, well, slug-like.”
The only people who seem to make their views blatantly clear are parents. When they discover their 10-year-old son, Joachim, trying to purchase a copy of Tattooing for Beginners: You Too Can Ink Your Sister on Amazon, a potent cocktail of bribes and threats are usually brought to bear. Something along the lines of: you will get the car/holiday/stripper of your choice if you are tattoo-free on your 18th birthday. If not we will change our names, move house and deny all knowledge of you.
But more often it feels as though the bribing should come from the other direction. During our conference in Madrid this summer, Fiona Wilson, our Tokyo bureau chief, and I met for breakfast to be swotty and run through the panels we would be hosting. At the next table a German family was looking for some Frühstück. The two teenage daughters were tall and chic but with that youthful goofy inelegance that reminds you of a giraffe. The mother was also striking. All three were in shorts and T-shirts and had no tattoos. Dad, meanwhile, was embellished from ankle to neck and in a hotchpotch of styles; a Maori-type swirl here, some Chinese script there. Personally I think that a good rule of thumb is that when you become more patterned than a Turkish carpet, it’s time to apply the handbrake – just a teeny bit. Anyway, to ensure maximum body-art reveal, he had also rocked up for his eggs in a singlet and shorts so short that he risked fully revealing his caterpillar. Fiona and I named the look “Porn Dad” and wondered whether his daughters liked him collecting them from school. But no, we were not judging.
OK, I’d better say something nice. Especially as at Monocle you can spy some inky treats: a whale here, a little dog there, a crow perched on a calf. They seem personal, considered, timeless. Oh, and Tyler has a big Monocle M on his back. Come on, I’m joking. But too many tattoos seem to be linked to trends and periods in ink history – those Maori tattoos are very 2000. They are more effective than carbon dating at revealing the owner’s age.
Now the reason the tattoo world came to mind is that I have spotted another shift in the world of self-expression. Yesterday, I saw a man with one of those epic Edwardian-style beards and I suddenly realised he was a hirsute anomaly on the street. Indeed I hadn’t seen such a flamboyant whiskerfest for ages. So while scrubby chins and modest beards are clearly not in decline, have we passed peak pointy beard? (Thankfully it’s been months since I received a press release flogging beard brushes, beard decorations and beard performance oils).
Could such a shift happen to tattoos? Perhaps too many people have invested too much in this world for it to dim. But it is fashion-driven and fashion has a now-let’s-do-the-opposite-thing at the heart of its DNA. So be wary.
But in the meantime, I do wonder why what ends up being tattooed on flesh remains so limited. And here lies a potential route to salvation for anyone dealing with that partner who proposes getting, say, a “sleeve” on their forearm or angel wings on their back. As it’s you who’s going to wake up looking at the “art”, why not encourage them to get real art. Perhaps your favourite Rothko between their shoulder blades, a Hockney on their haunches of just a much-loved modernist housing project on their thighs? Or how about a giant Hieronymus Bot? Now that could be fun.
Street-style fashion photography was championed by Bill Cunningham of The New York Times (writes Jamie Waters). He told the story of that city by capturing spontaneous moments in the lives of its residents, particularly those who nonchalantly embodied good taste. In recent years, however, the medium has become overrun by images of Instagram influencers who know their angles and indulge in more than a bit of product placement.
Garçon Style, a striking new book by street-style snapper Jonathan Daniel Pryce, largely ignores social-media stars and look-at-me fashion and brings us back to a study of urbanites with a natural knack for dressing. The Glaswegian – who goes by the moniker Garçon Jon and who is never without his Contax camera – shoots men in London (his favourite city for men’s style), New York, Milan and Paris.
As well as beautiful people in beautiful clothes, the book is about these metropolises and how they shape the style of the men who inhabit them. Some subjects, such as a pair of off-duty Korean models smoking in oversized coats, stare into the lens; others, including an African-American man crossing a Manhattan road in a big blue coat and bright red beanie, are candid.
“I’ve seen a huge shift [in the industry] from a very honest, naïve way of dressing to a more structured, quantifiable method designed to get likes on Instagram,” says Pryce. “Newness is paramount to keep people’s attention so it’s a more self-conscious time than a decade ago. I prefer to shoot subjects who look effortless rather than following trends; it gives a timelessness to my photographs.”
‘Garçon Style’, published by Laurence King Publishing, is out now.
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It might have been his slightly lopsided pacing back and forth across the lawn that caught my attention. Or maybe it was just his tweedy, speckled get-up on a warm morning in early September; certainly appropriate for the setting but maybe better suited for the end of the season. I glanced up to give him another once-over but he was gone. That was fast. Where did he go? I returned to my morning papers and waited for the ding-dong of room service. I finished looking at the pictures and stumbling over the headlines in Le Monde and gazed out across the lawn, past the cypresses to the twinkling sea beyond. I caught the grey hull of a handsome looking Feadship pass close by before a menacing looking Wally tender approached the hotel. Then he returned. This time the pacing was a bit more harried. He even added a bizarre two-step hop. Did he have a guardian? Should I mention something to the hotel security team? I cracked open the New York Times and, just as I was settling in to read the frontpage left-hand column, the doorbell went.
I got up from the terrace to open the door and noticed that a woman had joined him halfway across the lawn. She was all white with an accent of grey here and there. I let the gentlemen with the breakfast trolley in and, when I returned, there was some serious scolding going on. It was all rather hushed – this being a respectable hotel and all – but it was nevertheless firm and looked like the message was getting through. “You do not bother the nice people having breakfast. Understood?” Off they went.
Breakfast at this particular establishment is a fancy affair with plenty of old silver, delicate linen napkins, the best croissants and good coffee – always a pleasant surprise in France. I was so caught up in the spread that I didn’t notice that they had returned – and the lady in white was heading our way. Was she going to apologise? That would be most unnecessary. She must have read my mind or sensed the mood as she suddenly stopped, turned around and went back to the young man. In a rather awkward bobbing motion he seemed to signal that he was hungry. She glanced around and looked toward the grill restaurant and the cabanas down the gentle slope. Good move, I thought; the breakfast buffet would be just the ticket on this lovely morning. Off they went.
I had finished my eggs and was doing emails, my mom was with the papers and Mats was on a call when I noticed he was back – solo. Now he was just staring and it was uncomfortable. Hopefully the waiters would be back to clear the plates and this would create enough of an intervention to bring back his guardian. He took a step closer and made a gurgling noise in my direction. I leaned backward. My mom looked up and commented on how incredibly bold and cheeky he was. I tried to ignore him but could feel some kind of motion happening beyond. Good heavens, what could he be doing? I peered up and saw him hopping back and forth. The next thing I knew, the lady in white was back and encouraging the behaviour. She moved towards him – blocking my view – and clearly said something before taking off.
What happened next was something like an audition for Siegfried & Roy. The hopping soon turned into a little dance: a bounce, a sidestep, a double bounce and another dainty sidestep. He stared back at me for some kind of response. I froze him out. I’d seen that number before and went back to my emails. Next he puffed out his chest, locked one leg and then extended the other one directly back – parallel to the ground. Reasonably impressive but it was time to wrap this circus up and head to the sea. As I leaned forward to collect the paper he caught my eye as if to say, “Don’t you dare leave before the finale.” I continued to make my move and then he busted his very best move. With wings at right angles overhead, he paused, as if he was the most regal gull in ancient Egypt, etched onto the surface of a Luxor temple. Full respect: it was much more commanding than any Tesla family-mover with its door flung open. Despite the show, the encouragement from his minder and the crumbs on the table, I wasn’t giving in. The speckled bird might have deserved a treat for his efforts but, given his porkiness, he was going to have to find a more willing customer. Before we parted I did give him a wink and suggested that he and his people might want to launch a class-action suit against Elon Musk. After all, his much-hyped door design owes much to talented, resourceful and occasionally entertaining gulls.
Piauí was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 2006. A monthly magazine focusing on culture, politics and economics, it offers longform narrative journalism alongside profiles of prominent Brazilians. Rafael Cariello is an editor and reporter for the magazine; he joined the title after working for the city’s daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo. Here he reveals which Brazilian composer he loves to hum along to and the podcast he curls up with. Interview by Nic Monisse.
What news source do you wake up to? I read a Brazilian financial newspaper called Valor Econômico in print every morning and Folha de São Paulo on the web; it’s the biggest and most important Brazilian newspaper. Usually I watch TV and flip between Global News and Bloomberg Surveillance. I like [host] Tom Keene and the fact they don’t just talk about the economic beat but have professors and people that can give a broader and bigger picture of what’s going on in the economy and the world.
Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with the headlines? Just coffee. Black coffee. Two cups at least.
Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes? Usually I use Spotify. I like Brazilian composers. I love João Gilberto, who passed away a few weeks ago. And I love Leonard Cohen.
What’s that you’re humming in the shower? Luiz Gonzaga. He’s a Brazilian composer from the northeast, a poor region of the country. It’s very beautiful; it sounds like folk music, something ageless that nobody wrote.
Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack? It would be the New Yorker, The Economist, New York Times Magazine and a couple of Brazilian magazines: Serrote (a literary essay magazine) and Piauí, of course.
Sofa or cinema for the evening? Sofa definitely. We have a three-month-old baby so there’s no way we can go to the cinema.
What’s the best thing you’ve watched of late and why? I think it’s The Mule, a movie by Clint Eastwood. I loved it. I wouldn't say that I'm conservative – I think I'm centre-left – but I really like the kind of conservatism that Clint Eastwood is able to represent and express. It’s really interesting; there’s a lot of truth in there
Sunday brunch routine? We don’t really have brunch in Brazil. Usually it’s the one day when I can read The New York Times more thoroughly; during the week I cannot read it properly. We’ll have coffee, eggs and bread.
Do you still make an appointment to watch the nightly news? Not on purpose; I will if it’s on but I don’t stop and say, “Now it’s time for nightly news.” That is something that’s really changed in the past few years. When I was a reporter at Folha de São Paulo, we would stop writing – right on deadline – to hear the main headlines of the nightly news.
What’s on the airwaves before drifting off? Usually that will be a podcast, which is a pity because many times I start to fall asleep and lose the end of the story but the next day I catch up with it. I like In Our Time, the BBC Radio 4 show or Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell.
‘Sonocardiogram’, Daymé Arocena. Young Havana-born singer Daymé Arocena has a warm and powerful voice that inevitably outshines all of the other instruments in her syncopated jazz. A composer as well as a choir director, Arocena is a musical prodigy and this surprising record, spanning everything from chilled-out rumba to frenetic drum crescendos, is proof.
London Art Book Fair. The Whitechapel Gallery hosts its annual fair showcasing the work of 80 art publishers from 16 countries. Expect talks, workshops and, of course, plenty of titles to purchase. Our roving culture correspondent Fernando Augusto Pacheco will be in attendance to bring you his pick of the best publishers; tune in to today’s episode of The Stack to hear more.
Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) kicked off on Thursday. As Hollywood’s great and good head north to grace the red carpet, here are some of the highlights from this year’s programme:
‘Anne at 13,000ft’, Kazik Radwanski. The most anticipated of Tiff’s Canadian offerings in which Toronto’s Deragh Campbell plays a children’s daycare employee grappling with the unpredictability of her life.
‘Joker’, Todd Phillips. This is the North American premiere of the big-budget origin tale of one of cinema’s most compelling villains: The Joker of Batman fame. Joaquin Phoenix’s title-role turn could well earn him his first Oscar.
‘Incitement’, Yaron Zilberman.** This provocative thriller by the US-Israeli director unpicks the events that culminated in the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
You can reach the island of Santa Catalina by taking a 50km ferry trip from Long Beach, Los Angeles. The Catalina Islander, which has been published continuously for more than 100 years, is the island’s only newspaper. It serves a population of between 4,000 and 5,000 permanent residents. Many of the people who work there make the hour-long commute from the mainland. Among them is Ted Apodaca, who has headed up the editorial team of two for the past nine months. He gives us the lowdown on the island’s goings-on.
What’s the big story this week? It’s been a slow summer for tourism, which is a concern. It’s a big part of the economy here; people come on cruise ships or for day trips from LA. This past week the city council and chamber of commerce have been discussing what to do.
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What’s your favourite headline? “Dog overboard, survives night in harbour.” The owners of a boat had left for the evening and by the time they were home, their dog was gone – it had leapt out of a window. It wasn’t until the morning that the harbour patrol found her clinging to a yacht’s boat-line.
What’s your down-page treat? Through the summer we have a fishing derby during the week for children. We get pictures of eight or nine of them from different age brackets and run little write-ups on their catches, such as heaviest fish and most fish caught.
What’s the next big event? Are you familiar with the movie Step Brothers? Will Ferrell is working for a company that sells helicopters and his boss keeps shouting about the: “Catalina Wine Mixer”; it’s supposed to be a big deal. Well, Catalina didn’t have a wine mixer at the time but it does now. They screen the movie and throw a big party down on the shore; it’s a pretty big deal.
London’s destination restaurants, for which people used to flock “into town”, are under siege from a more low-key adversary: the humble, independently run and reliable neighbourhood restaurant (writes Josh Fehnert). And can you blame them? Customers, it seems, are bored of trekking from the ’burbs to Soho or shuttling across the capital to be chivvied out of a Chelsea restaurant by a waiter who “needs the table back”.
And so to a charming east London favourite in the form of Brawn: a quaint two-room restaurant that’s plied a fine trade on the fringes of Columbia Road. Expect low lighting and gentle burbling from the canny souls exchanging expectant glances over an understated menu – about which no one will explain “a concept”. The food here is mostly European, while the menu usually shows the chef’s penchant for pigs (eating them) and is unerringly delicious. The pappardelle smothered in an unctuous pork-and-fennel ragu, and the velvety burrata with courgette, basil and hazelnut both deserve special mention, as do the Cantabrian anchovies.
Married team Ed Wilson and Josie Stead own the joint and gained their hospitality wings working in busy city-centre hotspots: him as co-owner of the Terroirs Group; her at The Quality Chop House and Sketch. They have transposed hard-won lessons into this easygoing neighbourhood stalwart.
The wine list is worthy of thirsty exploration and, if your waiter is like ours, you won’t be asked to vacate your table to make room for someone else. Restaurants should be restorative and that’s exactly why hospitality is shifting away from the once-desirable city centre. Forget destination dining: customers are taking a quiet stand – or should we say seat? – a little further from town.