Numlock News: July 11, 2023 • Los Angeles, Ancient Rome, Margaritaville
By Walt Hickey
Some People Claim There’s A Creditor To Blame
The owners of the New York City Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Resort Times Square Hotel— home to such iconic amenities as the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Rooftop Bar — filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, with the 234-room facility seeking to refinance $309 million worth of debt. Revenues were shellacked by the pandemic, with the unique concept’s launch in 2021 arriving at a bit of a nadir when it comes to international travel to Times Square. The hotel was appraised at $266 million to $350 million, and revenue is bouncing back this year — poised to beat $25 million by the end of next year — amid renewed interest in year-round heated pools and liberally salted cocktails in the squalid center of Times Square.
As of July 4, the average wait time at each of the Walt Disney World parks was well below not only the 2019 averages but also the 2022 average, as demand softens for the pricey park experience. The average wait time on the Fourth was 27 minutes in the Magic Kingdom, down from 31 minutes last year and 47 minutes in 2019. The lighter crowds are a double-edged sword, as capacity at the parks had become intense, but the higher prices likely spooked some guests away. Similar evidence for lighter travel is visible down the road, with Universal Studios logging average wait times of 28 minutes, down from 38 minutes in 2022. Data was unavailable for Shapeland.
Last year 6.8 million couples in China registered for marriage, the lowest number since records began all the way back in 1986. That’s down from 13.5 million in 2013, and it’s a problem for a country where the birthrate is on the decline and it’s rare for single women or unmarried couples to have kids. Even though the numbers are so far up slightly in 2023 year over year, on net it’s still bad: While an additional 40,000 couples were married in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same quarter of 2022, divorces were up 127,000 year over year for Q1, more than cancelling that growth out threefold.
Book sales in the United States are down 2.7 percent in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period of 2022, with 353.5 million books sold according to BookScan. First quarter sales, which were essentially flat, were bolstered by the release of the memoir Spare by the veteran and expatriate Harry Windsor, which moved 1.1 million copies. Not all genres are faring the same, as some have seen explosive growth: romance fiction was up 34.6 percent, horror/occult/psychology was up 32.5 percent, fantasy was up 26.5 percent and graphic novels have climbed to become the third largest genre in all of adult fiction. Meanwhile, home and gardening nonfiction was down 17.5 percent and cooking was down 15.4 percent as two pursuits that gained big in the height of the pandemic revert to mean.
AMC Theaters is reporting that no fewer than 20,000 of their AMC Stubs members have purchased tickets to see Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day, as the Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan films are poised to go head to head next week. That fascinating double feature — each about a character who had a lot to do with the eventual notoriety of Bikini, I suppose — is likely going to get even more popular, as the past four days saw an increase in 33 percent of those bookings, proving that a little healthy competition between films is probably a good thing for movies in general.
A section of neighborhood in Rolling Hills Estates in Los Angeles was forced to evacuate as a result of their incredibly aptly-named neighborhood fulfilling its destiny. One homeowner found cracks on Saturday, leading the LA County Fire Department to evacuate that and 12 adjacent homes. This isn’t exactly a surprise, and is in fact a long-standing issue stemming from a landslide that began in 1956. The earth has continued to shift about 8 feet every year, and the city spends about $1 million a year to cover up cracks in the cliffside road.
A new analysis of sediment cores pulled out of the Gulf of Saint Eufemia off the coast of Calabria found that researchers were able to track the history of human settlement in the area based on what kind of pollen grains and spores were in the cores, tracking the colonization of Naples by Greeks and Romans. The cores turned up pollen from dense forest cover from around 5,055 to 2,700 years ago, then a period of aridity and declining forests from 2,700 to 2,000 years ago, and then deforestation and agriculture since 790 years ago. That second phase is linked to the rise of Greek and Roman civilizations.
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