I’m in Greece, and now that boutique hotels no longer have bookcases (blame the Kindle) was searching about for something to read.
I think if I ever met Canadian magazine editor and columnist Tyler Brulee I’d probably like him and we’d find plenty to talk about – we seem to visit the same European places, after all. I just get annoyed by his solipsistic writing, the shallow columns about airport VIP lounges and speedboats which suggest that a walk through the ocean of his soul wouldn’t get your feet wet.
Which makes it all the more peculiar that I got addicted to his newspaper, ‘Monocle Mediterraneo’, which covers all of the countries bordering the Med, and manages to be in equal parts vacuous (a pointless article about diving boards, another about getting out of the sea elegantly) and decent (articles on Med overfishing, struggling entrepreneurs in Libya). There’s style, design, music, clubbing, hotels and the odd social issue, wrapped up in a large format newspaper that largely manages to avoid the dead watches-and-jewellry look common to most similar magazines.
And unlike Wallpaper magazine, which suggests we should all go and live in converted abattoirs or Bauhaus-inspired missile silos, its properties look inhabitable. Oh, and the newspaper now has its own destination-hopping seaplane. As you do.
But there was a really odd essay in the back of the latest issue, about a place called Camp Darby. It seems the US military has an outpost in, of all places, Tuscany. The camp has its own DJ, surfing facilities, beach, cinema and weekly fireworks displays (well, it’s sitting on one of the world’s largest munitions stores) but is also a ‘Reset’ training tool for soldiers who have endured battle conditions. You can tell it’s military because the sun-loungers are reserved by rank.
The story is so bizarre that it seems odd to be sandwiched between ads from Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford. What is this niche market that Brûlée has uncovered? Well, you see his consumers on the Med beaches; tanned young fashionista with identical designer bodies, all sporting this summer’s look; acid-green sunglasses, massively oversized watches, and speaking an odd polyglot language of English, Italian, Greek and French; Med-speak.
As a writer, I tried to imagine how to reach them. Two tanned lithe young detectives, Sebastien and Etienne, discover the body of a young girl on a beach who has been choked to death on a nightclub glowstick, but they decide to do nothing about it and go to a Japanese restaurant instead.