In the face of a category 5 hurricane, Delta Air Lines meteorologists, dispatchers, pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew accomplished an incredible feat on Wednesday. As Hurricane Irma bore down San Juan, Puerto Rico, Delta sent one last flight to help evacuate a few hundred people from San Juan just before the airport closed.
A hard drive containing unfinished works by Terry Pratchett has been crushed by a steamroller, as per instructions left by the fantasy novelist.
It is thought up to 10 incomplete novels were flattened at the Great Dorset Steam Fair.
The six-and-a-half tonne Lord Jericho was used to roll over the hard drive several times before a concrete crusher finished off the remains.
Pratchett died aged 66 in March 2015.
The creator of the Discworld series had been battling Alzheimer's disease.
Before vanquishing the hard drive, Rob Wilkins, the writer's long-serving assistant, tweeted that he was "about to fulfil my obligation to Terry".
70 million sales
44 years of writing
Richard Henry, curator of Salisbury Museum, said: "The steamroller totally annihilated the stone blocks underneath but the hard drive survived better than expected so we put it in a stone crusher afterwards which I think probably finally did it in".
He said Pratchett did not want his unpublished works to be completed by someone else and released.
He added: "It's something you've got to follow, and it's really nice that they have followed his requests so specifically.
"It's surprisingly difficult to find somebody to run over a hard drive with a steamroller.
"I think a few people thought we were kidding when I first started putting out feelers to see if it was possible or not."
With 12 stores and counting, Japanese bookseller Kinokuniya is slowly expanding its footprint in the U.S. The most recently opened locations are in Texas. The first site it picked was in Plano, but the company soon realized it was too small so it found a larger location. The 5,000-sq.-ft. outlet in Carrollton opened in February and an 1,800-sq.-ft. shop in nearby Plano opened in April.
Asked why the company opened two stores in such close proximity to each other, Shige Ono, general manager of Kinokuniya USA, said it was a pragmatic decision. “Toyota moved its headquarters from Torrance, Calif., to Plano last year, so we saw an opportunity to cater to the thousands of Japanese engineers, executives, and members of their families who will be moving there.”
Kinokuniya is headquartered in Tokyo and has 100 stores worldwide, including locations across Asia, in the U.S., and in Dubai. Its first American store opened in San Francisco in 1969, and today its American head office is in New York City, at the chain’s branch near Bryant Park, which, at 26,000 sq. ft., is its largest location in the U.S. Other locations in the U.S. include five stores in California and one each in Chicago, New Jersey, Portland, and Seattle, as well as five stationery stores under the brand name Mitsuwa.
“We are expanding slowly and deliberately,” Ono said. “Just one or two stores per year. Last year was phenomenal, as we saw double-digit percentage increases at our stores. This year’s increases are more modest, ranging from about 5%-8%, depending on the store, but we are still very happy with the continuous growth. Adding new stores helped further increase the total sales for the company.”
The product mix at Kinokuniya stores encompasses a wide range of books—of which 30% are in Japanese—and sidelines, including manga, anime-related toys, games, and other media. “Our line of Japanese manga and anime is unsurpassed in North America,” Ono said. “A big part of the appeal for customers is that we have things you cannot buy anywhere else. We have a special relationship with [publisher] Kadokawa, and they work exclusively with us on many items. Manga is definitely the strongest category, but fashion and design is also very popular. Another strong category is literature; what makes us unique is that we specialize in literary works from around the world, especially Japanese and Asian authors.”
Ono stresses that the authentic Japanese products are part of what has helped the company keep a foothold in a very competitive marketplace. Still, the retailer is a bookseller first, with nonbook items representing 20%–40% of stock, depending on location.
The stores, said Ono, serve as “ambassadors” for Japanese culture to American shoppers. The demographic of customers shopping at the stores has changed over time. “My impression is that, 20 years ago, more than half of our customers came from Japanese backgrounds,” Ono said. “Today, that number is probably down to about 20% or less.”
As such, Kinokuniya is becoming more active in its stores’ communities. The two bookstores in Texas recently participated in Texas Independent Bookstore Day, the New York store routinely holds author events and book signings in conjunction with Bryant Park, and several of the California stores hold children story-time readings and offer classes in Japanese subjects, such as origami paper folding.
The stores are in no way standardized. “Our goal is to give each store the appeal of an independent bookstore, rather than the cold feel of a massive corporation,” Ono said. “Our slogan is ‘read books, meet people,’ and tailoring our stores to the surrounding communities is a key part of making that slogan a reality. If you compare our stores in Texas, New York, Tokyo, and Singapore, you will be surprised at how much they differ. But they, as a whole, form the Kinokuniya brand, of which we are very proud. We strive to make Kinokuniya not just a place to buy books, but a place where people come together and enjoy the experience.”
A version of this article appeared in the 08/28/2017 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Kinokuniya Seeing Steady Growth In the U.S.
How the glow went from strip clubs to trendy restaurants
For decades, the iconic neon sign outsideKatz’s Delicatessenon the Lower East Side has been drawing in hungry, late-night partiers like moths to a pastrami-sandwich flame. It is one of the few classic restaurant signs left in a city that is constantly in flux, where neon was once in style, then out of style, and now very much in style again.
Neon restaurant signs are increasingly lighting up the city: Down the street from Katz’s, El Luchadorhas a sign that reads “Tacos vs. Burritos,” as if to urge customers to choose between two legendary (and tasty!) masked wrestlers. Over on Orchard Street, Dudley’s displays a pulsing affirmation that “Everything is going to be fucking amazing.” A few blocks north at Asian tapas restaurantCarma East, a neon sign washes the darkened dining room in a white and yellow glowing pun: “Let The Lights Dim Sum.”
The modern neon restaurant sign is more than the utilitarian block text that reads “Open” or “Bar”: It is now an inspirational or witty remark, sometimes rendered in handwritten typeface. It’s an intricately designed graphic, often displayed indoors. Neon can be found at fast-casual to fancy restaurants, from the hyper-efficient salad assembly lines at Sweetgreen, to upscale destinations like Cutby Wolfgang Puck, a brand that has Michelin stars in two locations. The proliferation of neon was perhaps unthinkable just a decade ago, when the glowing tubes invoked images of strip clubs, dive bars, and seedy, late-night diners.
Neon signs didn’t always have negative connotations. In the early 20th century, French engineer Georges Claude developed a way to produce large quantities of neon gas, which was eventually used for commercial purposes. Neon made it across the pond, at first in the form of signs for a Packard car dealership and subsequently became popular in American cities and along highways like Route 66, advertising everything from motels, shops and, yes, even restaurants.
The first signs were so bright and seemed so otherworldly that people would stop and stare at them for an awkwardly long time. But in the 1960s, new municipal signage laws and cheaper alternatives lead to a sharp decline in neon sign usage, except in places like Times Square and Las Vegas, where it came to represent the shimmering splendor of those cosmopolitan centers. But as those cities developed a reputation for crime and seediness in the following decades, so did their brightest, most visible markers.
For Jeff Friedman, the head of sales for Tribeca-based sign producer Let There Be Neon, the comeback for neon signs in mid- to high-end restaurants began with the artist Tracey Emin, who has rendered her handwritten expressions in neon for her work since the early 1990s. These art pieces made their way into hotels and restaurants, at first in London where Emin is more of a household name, and then the rest of the world.
“We have people coming in asking for reproductions of Tracey Emin,” says Friedman. “Of course, we have to decline.”
Schiller’s Liquor Bar, which opened 14 years ago and is closing August 13, was one of the first restaurants to bring back neon as an element in design, says Elizabeth Von Lehe, the director of strategy at design firm I-Crave. The McNally restaurant uses neon around the bar and has a sign outside that is so iconic that it appears in Saturday Night Live’s opening montage.
“Their neon use was what created that nostalgia and approachability that you now see is paramount for a successful upscale restaurant,” says Von Lehe. “They were the Instagrammable moment before Instagram. ”
Success on the photo-sharing platform can make or break a restaurant especially when it first opens and is a big reason why neon is becoming increasingly common in dining rooms across the city.
The degree to which the food and space is photogenic “defines the modern restaurant,” says Becca Parrish, CEO of restaurant public relations firm Becca PR. “When a restaurant provides sweet-looking elements to shoot, they make it easy for guests to share their experience… with friends and anyone watching.”
“[Neon] photographs beautifully, much better than a lit painted sign,” says Richard Pandiscio, who has designed branding and interiors for hotspot like Le Coucou and The Grill. “That does make it perfect for Instagram. There’s also a warmth and a touch of nostalgia that comes with it, the sense that the establishment has been around a while.”
Shay & Ivymanaging partner Evan Rosenberg calls his restaurant’s neon sign the “most Instagrammed thing inside of the venue,” echoing the sentiments of many other restaurateurs. “After our sign went up, the Instagrams started rolling in,” said Adam Fulton, co-owner of The Garret East in the East Villagewhich has a sign that declares, “No Bad Days.”
“It's an opportunity for your diners to be your marketers with Instagram,” says Von Lehe. It lt also stretches a restaurant’s marketing and design budget.
No restaurant has more experience with this than Two Handsin Tribeca, where model Karlie Kloss posted an Instagram of herself posing in front of the neon sign in the ladies’ bathroom, tagging the restaurant in the process. Her 6.3 million followers lapped it up to the tune of over 140,000 likes. With a Karlie Kloss Instagram post valued at between $25,000 and $50,000, the return on investment for the $1100 sign has been pretty good.
“The neon image does a great job of standing out within the Instagram feed,” says Phillip Huynh, director of paid social for advertising agency 360i. “It’s a unique visual that stops the scroll for a second, which is typically all that is needed to generate engagement and brand awareness.”
Indoor neon use at restaurants doesn’t always work as intended. When Cut by Wolfgang Puck first opened in downtown Manhattan, the neon sign in the dining room (which reads “Move Me”) was so bright that it cast an eerie purple glow across everything from the tablecloths to the food itself. The restaurant eventually had to dampen the brightness after complaints from customers.
“People were having seizures,” joked one employee about the situation.
Inside Let There Be Neon’s ground-level shop in Tribeca, a team of artisans try to meet the increased demand for handwritten typeface signs and other fanciful designs, which has increased from being just 1 percent of the business just five years ago to 7 percent today.
“It is an area of neon creation we had not previously seen,” says Friedman, who notes that traditional typefaces and non-restaurant commercial applications still account for the bulk of his orders.
Unlike LED panels and other types of signage, there is no automation — every neon sign must be made by hand. The company’s master glassblower, Jimmy Vu, began honing his craft in Vietnam before immigrating to the United States in 1988. He found such a dearth of artisans working in the field here that he had his son Joseph train as a glass apprentice. On a muggy July afternoon, the duo works on their latest project: a sign for Luke’s Lobster.
The process starts with a blueprint of the neon sign printed to scale, which Vu uses as a bending guide as he heats the glass tube on a ribbon burner that operates at 1200 degree Fahrenheit. The glass quickly becomes malleable and a bend is created before Vu blows into the tube, expanding the bent glass back to its original diameter as it quickly cools. He repeats this process until the tube has been twisted over itself dozens of times to form the shapes based on the guide.
Once Vu is done bending the glass, his son takes them over to another station, where the tubes are emptied of air and attached to electrodes. If the tubes are filled with neon gas, the sign will glow red; electrified argon gas will glow blue. Using a combination of various gases and coated tubes of different densities, the artisans are able to create almost a hundred colors of varying degrees of brightness.
From there, the signs are painted, mounted, and attached to a transformer that will convert American 110-volt outlets to the 1,000 to 15,000 volts needed to charge electrons inside the tubes and make it glow. Because the gas exists in a vacuum, the glass tubing will last forever, provided that it doesn’t break.
For Luke’s Lobster — which started as a small shop in the East Village that’s now a chain with locations around the country — neon was never a consideration until this year.
“In the early days we had the initial impression of neon signs, and the general public has it too, that they are gaudy,” says Ben Conniff, co-founder of Luke’s Lobster. But as neon has become more ubiquitous, management’s opinion on it warmed, especially since neon signs solved visibility issues for locations in busy areas like Nomad and Union Square.
“I definitely do see neon more,” says Conniff. “I think there is a general design trend towards the industrial, towards repurposing elements that you might not have traditionally found in restaurants, to invoke a certain vibe. Neon plays into that feeling.”
Whether it’s to instill a sense of nostalgia and approachability, or just a really thrifty and beautiful way to rack up the likes on Instagram, neon can be spotted everywhere, from fast-casual spots like Shake Shack and Sweets by Chloe, to high-end restaurants like Ocean Prime and Cote Korean Steakhouse. DeKalb Market Hall, a collection of more than 30 food vendors in downtown Brooklyn that opened just last month, has neon signs affixed to almost every stall, creating a quasi Hong Kong/Tokyo vibe.
Neon signs also play a crucial role for the rapidly expanding Major Food Group, which trades heavily on nostalgia. The signs appear in a handful of MFG’s restaurants where it makes sense, from the old-school Mulberry Street-inspired neon signs of Torrisi andParm, to the glowing pink ones that frame the entry to Dirty French — that MFG managing partner Jeff Zalaznick says was inspired by “70s porn neon.” The Carbone sign is a rendering of the restaurant’s name over the deteriorating remnants of the iconic neon of Rocco Restaurant.
“In my mind, it was one of the great New York signs,” says Zalaznick. “We left it exactly as it is. We put ‘Carbone’ over the main part, so what you have is a sign that is looking to what we were doing, but also preserving the past.”
Special thanks to Melissa McCart, Serena Dai, and Matt Buchanan
They’d grown used to the outside world not particularly knowing, or caring, what they did—unless they screwed up. At which point they became the face of government waste or stupidity. “No one notices when something goes right,” as Max Stier put it to me. “There is no bright-spot analysis.”
Urbanist Brent Toderian explains how Vancouver held onto its families.
In North America, we take it for granted: When couples have kids, they move out of the city to the suburbs.
The trend has only accelerated lately. Some of the most attractive and fastest growing cities — San Francisco, Portland, Pittsburgh, Washington, DC — have seen their numbers of children plunge in recent years. My home city, Seattle, is now the fastest growing big city in the country ... and has the second-lowest number of households with children. (According to Governing magazine, as of 2015, 19.6 percent of Seattle’s 304,564 households have children. In Laredo, Texas, it’s 55.3 percent.)
Should cities try to keep families around? Some urbanophiles argue that they’re not worth it. Families cost cities more in services, spend less in the economy, and produce less tax revenue than affluent young single professionals. Cities that want to grow fast do it by building studios and one-bedrooms and drawing on endlessly renewable mobs of Youngs.
But few city leaders take that attitude. They see families as an important source of economic stability (hot industries come and go) and social vibrancy. You can read a lament about DC here, one about Denver here, one about Seattle here.
All these articles go on and on about amenities families enjoy, but the root of the problem is that families need bigger homes, while developers have every incentive to squeeze in as many small homes as possible, to maximize their profit per square foot. Unless cities step in, that’s what developers will keep doing.
Yet somehow, Vancouver has thousands of families with children living in its downtown. I asked urbanist Brent Toderian, who was Vancouver’s Chief Planner from 2006 to 2012, how the city did it. He says that there are three elements of family-friendly city design: bigger housing, amenities for families, and a safe, welcoming public realm. (More of our conversation, which ranged over a number of urbanist topics, here.)
You’ve said that children are an “indicator species of a healthy downtown.” How did Vancouver make its downtown so kid-friendly?
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: We assume families don’t want to live downtown, we therefore don’t design for family, and, sure enough, families don't come, or they don't stay. It is remarkable to me how often I still hear that families don't want to live downtown, or in urban places.
[Vancouver has] somewhere between 5,600 and 7,000 kids downtown, by design. Vancouver found that if you design specifically for families, you will achieve numbers of kids that will be a challenge for you. A good problem to have, right?
There are three parts to designing for families and kids, and you have to do all three.
The first is to ensure there are homes that can actually fit families. If your homes can’t fit families, you don’t get families, period. That generally comes down to the number of bedrooms, though it can also be about the size of the apartment or home.
For decades, Vancouver has been requiring that 25 percent of units in all major projects have two bedrooms or more. And there's been a debate for decades about whether that requirement should include three bedrooms. I, for one, have believed for some time that it should. I think Vancouver is finally moving in that direction.
If there's a market, why do developers have to be pushed so hard to do it?
Because it's not as profitable, per square foot, as a small unit. Developers will cater to the more profitable market segment, even if there is a strong market interest for two- and three-bedroom units.
But it's not the job of planning to maximize the profit of developers. It's the job of planning to determine the vision for the city and the downtown, set clear expectations, and let those expectations help clarify land value for developers.
Developers will argue that two- and three-bedroom units are not viable, but it’s false. Economic analysis shows that two- and three-bedroom units can be less profitable than one-bedrooms or studios, but that's not the same as saying that they aren’t viable.
If you want families downtown — which many downtown plans say they do — it has to start with homes that can actually fit families. pic.twitter.com/Zqc90BFYcm
It starts with asking yourself: Do you want families downtown and in urban places? A number of cities say they do, yet they’re not willing to do what’s necessary to make it happen, such as regulate. That’s particularly a problem in the United States, where regulation is a dirty word. It’s that ideology around regulation that can often keep cities from progressing.
It’s a very simple policy to require the number of bedrooms. It’s only anti-regulation ideology that holds cities back. If you aren’t getting families, and you want families, regulation is necessary.
What is part two?
Point two is, even if you have the homes, you need the services and amenities that support family living. Those start with daycare and schools. We put a lot of attention into schools, but you can’t underestimate the importance of daycare. We [in Vancouver] largely use density bonusing to pay for daycare [density bonusing explained here], so we have pretty good daycare service by comparison to other cities, although we are constantly struggling to keep up with demand.
We just opened our second elementary school in the downtown peninsula, and we have a third planned, and a Catholic school planned just off the peninsula. They are already over-subscribed. We still have more kids than we have school space.
Point three is, you design the public realm for kids and families, because that means it will work for everyone. You have to think about all age groups: the parents with their strollers, young kids and their need for playgrounds, and then teenagers and their distinctive needs, which are different than those of younger kids. Teenagers are shaping up to be our biggest challenge in downtown Vancouver.
What do teens want in a city?
The most common answer I hear is “hangout space.” But that can become a bit of a lazy catch-all for the kinds of spaces that teenagers end up using by default, like malls, un-programmed parks, or transit stations, because there's nothing that's been made with them in mind. If there's nothing better, they'd go to any place they think other teenagers already are.
Or you can have places actually made for teenagers, preferably involving teenagers in the design process — things like skateboard parks; plazas with activities like music and games for teens instead of young children; places designed to help teens interact with each other and the space itself in cool ways (ice-breakers, conversation starters, and "show-off" opportunities); spaces with food as an option. And of course don't forget the wifi.
You also have to recognize that once your kids are at their teenage years, the number of bedrooms in your home might not be enough. We often hear about families in Vancouver not feeling the pressure to move out with two or even three kids when they’re small, but once they become big, the pressure increases. Housing to fit not just young kids but teenagers is critical, and support and services specifically for teenagers are important.
So that’s the three elements: housing that fits families; support for families, such as schools and daycare; and designing the public realm for kids.
Fitting families into dense downtowns is challenging for all kinds of reasons. At the most concrete level, what’s the right way to integrate residences into busy areas?
For Vancouver, the “city at eye-level” starts as simply as: no blank walls. We make sure that there are real, active things at grade, as a starting point — either retail stores or residential doors. Most urbanists, I think, default to stores.
That does seem to be the model that’s getting built in Seattle — a condo plopped on top of a retail row.
And if you can do that, that’s great. But what we found is that retail doesn’t always work, nor should it be the default assumption. In downtown Vancouver, we have retail streets and non-retail streets — streets where the ground-floor use is expected to be retail or commercial, and other streets where we don’t want those uses at grade, because it could dilute the success of the retail street. You have to have a strong sense of how much retail space your population can support.
But I think many urbanists feel they don’t have good plan B, because what else can you put at grade?
What else indeed?
Surely in our walk you noticed our housing. What we are good at in Vancouver, because we’ve figured out the details, is housing at grade — doors at grade. Most other cities still aren’t doing that, although there’s incredible historical precedent for it, like the New York brownstones. Sesame Street, for godsakes, right?
We always have something active at grade, but in most cases, it’s not retailing, it’s residential doors.
What are some guidelines for residential doors at street level?
It starts with designing your building to externalize the front door. That should go without saying, but it seems to be the problem with most architecture — it’s been designed to be internal, and the housing is internal, off the elevator or off the hallway. It’s not off the street.
So it starts with the goal of having doors and windows on the street — Jane Jacobs’s “eyes on the street.”
There are ways you can do it badly. The number one way we’ve observed is to do it flush.
Right up against the sidewalk?
Flush to the sidewalk or even submerged. That’s very common in American and Australian cities. It’s wrong because you can see into the amenities space in front of the door. You can see into the windows. So people don’t use the amenities space and they close the blinds on the windows. And what you get is a de facto blank wall.
Whereas, if you elevate [entrances], just a few steps — three or four steps — and design a semi-private amenities space, people will use it. They’ll keep their windows open.
You have to delineate, through design, the private, the semi-public, and the public. And you have to do each realm well.
Do those units do well in Vancouver? Do people like living off the street?
Yup. They sell. About 25 percent of our units have to be two-bedroom or more. Usually those at-grade units are part of that calculation; they usually have two or three bedrooms. They’re often the family-oriented units, and having them right on the street is a positive thing. It not only makes the street safer, it makes the street more comfortable and lively.
The presence of a door creates this possibility that something will happen! [laughter] Who will come out of that door? What will they have with them? No one even has to come out of the door for the presence of the door to make the street more interesting and more comfortable. It’s that possibility, that potential.