You Call That A City Guide, Monocle?

I have extremely conflicted feelings when it comes to Monocle, a magazine that covers everything from world issues to what the next hottest bag designer will be. On one hand I think they’re slightly brilliant. The design of the magazine is pretty flawless, using a tight and concise grid system and only photos taken on film, they have high standards and they’re stories delve into areas of the world not covered by by pretty much anyone else. On the other hand though, I can find the magazine and it’s editor in chief Tyler Brûlé extremely pretentious. I have no idea what type of person enjoys all the things featured in the magazine, but it’s certainly not me, as I make much less than 100k a year, nor do I travel around the world going to day spas. Nonetheless, I applaud the magazine for the niche it fills.

But I visited the website last week (a beautifully seamless extension of the magazine) and came upon a city guide showcasing the top 25 business and resort cities in the world. Curious, I took a gander at the Los Angeles guide, curious to see what made the cut. Reading it through it, my jaw dropped and I couldn’t help but laugh at the most ludicrous list I’ve ever read. Read under the cut for a long winded rant about how Monocle totally screwed up this list.

The list starts off with essentials, the ‘what you need to know’ about Los Angeles. The first item is, “Nobody walks anywhere. For trips of more than two blocks expect to buckle up.” Well, that first sentence is partially true, the people of Los Angeles are forced to drive a lot because of our lack of decent public transportation. But the way it’s phrased makes it sound like pretentious fucks who don’t walk anywhere. The funny thing is, Los Angeles is the 9the best cit of walking as calculated by, my particular neighborhood scoring a 95 out of 100.

Their 5th essential item is a really deep one: “Never ask for a second basket of bread at dinner, you may provoke an intervention. Carbohydrates are to be consumed in private.” I’m guessing this is the writer’s attempt at being funny, but as the point sits in a list titled Essentials, I was expecting something a bit more poignant I suppose. Their 9th point made me laugh though: “An hour to spare? Head for Ralph’s to do a bit of A-list celebrity spotting.” Now, imagine the biggest supermarket chain store in your town… that’s all Ralph’s is, and though you might spot a celebrity, this extremely laughable, especially depending upon the Ralph’s you happen to be visiting. But their 10th and final point is the icing on the cake: “Expect to get the brush-off at parties unless you’re incredibly well-connected.” Right. We as Angelenos are all pretentious pricks, refusing to talk to anyone.

Moving on to the meat of the list, the ‘where to visits’, the list sounds like a list written by a tourist written for tourists. Living in Los Angeles I don’t stay in hotels, so that part is slightly moot to me, but then they get to dining, things get silly. They’re idea for “Mid-morning coffee?” Any Peet’s Coffee in LA. Right, that’s a side step from saying Starbucks, instead of eschewing for the ultra-hipster, yet delicious and always friendly Intellgentsia in Silverlake. What if you need “Dinner on your own?” They choose Fatburger, one of the dive-iest, fattest, probably grossest chain o hamburger joints in Los Angeles. Instead they could have chosen one of the best places to get a hamburger in all of the Los Angeles area, Father’s Office, which also serves about a hundred beers on tap as well as some of the tastiest shoe string fries I’ve ever had. The kicker when it comes to food though, is in the Shopping section under “Something you can’t get anywhere else.” It’s a place called Pink’s, a hot dog stand that has become a landmark here in Los Angeles, but it’s also one of the largest tourist attractions and features the most over-hyped hot dog ever. IT’S JUST A FRIGGING HOT DOG. The line can get up to 100 people long, and you can expect to wait over an hour for something no so thrilling.

Under they’re reading section they give you one suggestion, Book Soup, which is a nice store, but overly crammed with stuff and parking isn’t always the easiest. Instead there are two that stick out in my mind, Hennessy + Ingalls in Santa Monica which features a huge selection of art related books and magazines, and then Skylight Books in Los Feliz, which has expanded to two stores, one for traditional literature and one for art books and magazines. They never fail to impress and they both have incredibly large collections.

Shopping is continued with bland choices like Barney’s and Fred Segal, which honestly aren’t that great and are ridiculously overpriced. Instead they could have named a hand full of interesting boutique shops like Opening Ceremony, the spanking new CConfederacy (which I wrote about here), or American Rag. These are the kind of stores that make Los Angeles worth shopping in, and there are probably another 30 or so that I could mention in addition.

Their suggestion for “Two hour Tour” seemed a bit laughable, The Griffith Observatory and The Getty, both of which would take much more than two hours to enjoy. The Getty is a HUGE museum, like epic, with several buildings filled with tons of art, as well as an outdoor garden where you can stroll and lay in the grass. The other funny thing is that these are also on the opposite ends of town from each other, and would take you at least 30 minutes to get from one to another, and that’s not taking into consideration parking.

This last point was pretty much the last fuck you in the guide, the Transport section: “Taxis or limousines everywhere, or hire yourself an Escalade and ride around like a true Angeleno.” Really, Monocle? REALLY?! You mean the .001% of people here who can afford one? This was the final nail in the coffin for me, the list is utter shit.

I guess I had higher hopes, or expected more from Monocle, simply because they seem to take such pride in everything they do, but like I said, this list was written by a tourist for tourists. I’ve only lived in Los Angeles for about 5 years now, but I take my city seriously, and reading things like this just pisses me off and honestly makes the people here sound like the stereotypes that are portrayed on cheesy TV shows. Maybe I should writer “The Mid-20’s/Gay/Hipster/Blogger/Angeleno Transplant’s Guide to Los Angeles?” The rest of the cities featured are listed at the bottom of the page, so take a look and see if your city made the cut, and whether it was featured in the light you think it deserves.


November 2, 2008