Jared Flint | January 3, 2022

The Monday Media Diet with Jared Flint

On Hong Kong, Beirut, and a ton of reading recs

Recommended Products

The St. George Hotel Bar: International Intrigue in Old Beirut- An Insider's Account
The St. George Hotel Bar: International Intrigue in Old Beirut- An Insider's Account

Recommended for getting insight into Lebanon, specifically recommended by CJN in the post.


Described as an absolute classic.

Jared Flint (JF) is a longtime friend of WITI. He’s been based in Hong Kong and unable to move around with the freedom that he once enjoyed, but hopefully he will be back in the air soon. Nevertheless, he banged out this epic MMD from the FCC in Hong Kong. Also, don’t miss his wife, Aisha’s installment which was also fantastic. Have a great week. -Colin (CJN)

Tell us about yourself.

I’m currently based in Hong Kong looking after brand strategy, partnerships, and events within the cozy confines of a large French luxury group. I grew up in Orange County, went to university in Hawai’i, and spent the better part of my twenties and early thirties in New York City. I’ve been a high school teacher, professional Arena League football player, home school teacher for a burgeoning pop star (who didn’t make it), bartender at the Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki before dropping out of two grad schools. I was an editor at NYLON magazine for a few years before hopping over to the retail side of things at Gilt Groupe during the #menswear/Tumblr heyday. I used to write and contribute to Men.Style.com (RIP), Monocle, V, W, etc. 

I like to read, watch films, play basketball/tennis and hang out in airports.

Describe your media diet.

Every day starts with the print version of the FT delivered to our door. I try to read it as soon as I get to the office but often I’m cracking it open at 8 pm like some ‘50s TV dad. I’ll then run through the news app cycle of BBC, The Guardian, NY Times, and the SCMP for a local fix. I do find nothing really beats chronological Twitter when something is really popping off in real-time. 

I read The New Yorker each week via app as it’s a much better way to spend time on one’s phone and the print version gets delivered about a month later in this part of the world. It’s still the greatest magazine in the world. I also have a stack of the London Review of Books piling up by my bed that I’ll probably never read. 

I’ve cycled through so many podcasts but really only listen to Ringer chat about the NBA or How Long Gone. Those dudes have somehow done a really effortless job in simulating real-life conversations in very specific sections of America. Having not been there in three years, it’s nice to tap in with the zeitgeist. 

What’s the last great book you read?

What a question. Great is a loaded word. Let’s be liberal with its application and look at books I’ve read and loved since HK closed its borders. My son is quite obsessed with Ancient Egypt (and has lots of questions) so this prompted me to revisit John Romer’s excellent two-volume A History of Ancient Egypt - it’s very archaeologically focused and challenges the context through which our narratives around that civilization are based. Speaking of Egypt but in a modern sense, David Kirkpatrick’s Into the Hands of Soldiers and Peter Hessler’s The Buried are great insights into the foreign correspondent as eyewitness into revolution. 

Hirohito’s War by Francis Pike is a VERY long, VERY detailed, battle by battle history of the Pacific War. I found it utterly fascinating. Read it with Google maps and see so many of the scars of that war still dotted from island to island. 

I also finally read Ed Moloney’s Voices from the Grave. Heartbreaking account from both sides of The Troubles.

From a fiction standpoint, Severance by Ling Ma, China Dream by Ma Jian, Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad, The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, and eventually got to Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem. All excellent. Particularly Bangkok as it made me miss the city greatly. 

I love Neo-Western as a genre - Inland by Tea Obreht and How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang captured this really well. 

For anyone interested in Beirut or the Lebanese Civil War, De Niro’s Game and Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage are fantastic entry points into the everyday lives of that city and conflict.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry made me LOL IRL and was Irish in the best possible way. 

I also recently re-read Dune for obvious reasons. What an absolute classic. 

What are you reading now?

I’m currently on holiday so I’m starting a real holiday read - Tarantino’s novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

On my queue:

For my spy fix: The Secret World: A History of Intelligence - Christopher Andrew

For my Lebanon fix: A House of Many Mansions and The St George Hotel Bar (recommended by CJN thank you) 

For my geopolitical fix: Marc David Baer’s new The Ottomans, Global Jihad: A History by Glenn E. Robinson, as well as Carter Malkasian’s The American War in Afghanistan.

I’m also keen to dive into some early human stuff - The Dawn of Everything and Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art

And some novels I hope to get to:

My Year Abroad - Chang-Rae Lee
Antiquities - Cynthia Ozick
Sea of Tranquility - Emily St John Mandel
The Anomaly - Herve Le Tellier
Civilizations - Laurent Binet
Our Country Friends - Gary Shteyngart

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a copy of your favorite publication?

Front to back and not bothering with topics or articles I’m not interested in. Life’s too short. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

I want to say Robert Fisk and his The Great War for Civilisation. I know people have found some mistakes and potential inaccuracies but it still holds a place in my mind right next to Lawrence of Arabia. Epic, ambitious, flawed but utterly engrossing.

I’d also say Edward Whittemore, ex-CIA, ex-foreign correspondent. My wife somehow found a copy of his Jerusalem Poker for my birthday last year, part of his Jerusalem Quartet series. They’ve been out of print for years but are amazing reads. Pynchon by way of Pontius Pilate and the Balfour Declaration. Absurd, historical, funny with an amazing sense of place. 

What is the best non-famous app on your phone?

It’s not, not-famous but FlightRadar24. I can longingly track planes leaving Hong Kong like Rick in Casablanca. 

Plane or train?

After 24 months straight in HK, plane. I love planes. I love the anticipatory hum of energy in airports. I miss the Chili’s in DFW as much as the Doha First Class Lounge (shoutout Al Safwa -CJN). I can’t wait to get back up in the air. That said, ending a meeting in Paris and jumping on the Eurostar in time for drinks in London is pretty first rate. 

What is one place everyone should visit?

A long, long lunch at St John in London, a negroni in the Hotel Locarno courtyard in Rome, a wander around the near empty Roman ruins at Baalbek, a night at Locanda Cipriani on Torcello. When Hong Kong does open up eventually, find a way to the FCC Main Bar and make that HQ for the visit. 

Tell us a story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.

This is slightly embarrassing but I did go into a bit of a JFK assassination wormhole. I recently read Crossfire by Jim Marrs which lays out any and everything associated with JFK killing.  Of course, rewatched JFK. It’s become so wrapped in lore and myth making that its hard to believe those events actually happened. It’s all such an absurd stage set. Speaking of conspiracies, Tom O’Neill’s Chaos about the Manson family and the CIA is a real way to open your third eye, if only for speculative entertainment. (JF)

Friend of WITI: Storythings

To mark their 10th anniversary the content studio (and friends of WITI) Storythings commissioned 8 emerging writers across the globe to respond to the question- what will the world be like in 2031? Check out the piece here. (CJN)

WITI x McKinsey:

An ongoing partnership where we highlight interesting McKinsey research, writing, and data.

Improving organizational performance and sustaining it over time remains a challenge that few companies have cracked. One key finding from our latest McKinsey Global Survey?  Three core actions during a transformation can help predict value capture. New research on the topic could up your organization’s odds of achieving its full transformation potential.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Jared

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