Everything you ever
wanted to know about TC, but were afraid to ask
|The editors on a lunch time
Simon Reynolds provides a (hopefully) rare
glimpse into Tokyo Classified' inner sanctum. Tread quietly lest you disturb the
It's 9am at the "Tokyo
Here and Now" conference, and new arrivals to the city gather within the overstated
opulence of the Tokyo American Club ballroom to consume TC editorial's latest
take on life in Tokyo. Intrepid editors Georgia Jacobs and Matt Wilce wait for their turn
on the stage, ready to offer up their own newcomer faux pas stories and impart insider
information to 75 of the city's finest ladies fresh off the plane.
|The search for the perfect martini
Having left the food and
style beat at Singapore's hottest free entertainment/lifestyle magazine for the teeming
environs of Harajuku to head up Tokyo Classified's editorial team, Georgia begins
with the dish on Tokyo dining and a few high-tech toilet how-tos to lighten the mood -
don't get up if the bidet starts to spit and (heaven forbid!) keep cats out of the
bathroom. Then it's on to day trips and survival tips, and a selection of goodies from TC's
pages. It's TC unplugged.
|Stuart struggles to transcribe his
Later that day Georgia
assembles the Editorial team for a joint effort in a difficult task. They must stakeout
the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Old Imperial Bar as part of the upcoming cocktail feature.
The team goes about its work with meticulous precision. A waiter is summoned and a
Smirnoff Black martini along with a Bombay Sapphire extra dry with double olives quickly
appear. Not wasting any time, the Sapphire is swapped for spicy Zubrovka and the Smirnoff
for a fruity Cosmopolitan; that the drinks are shaken not stirred is duly noted. The
editors' commitment to the search for the perfect martini has got them in the mood for a
follow-on appearance at the "Tokyo Here and Now" cocktail party. Time to spread
a few more handy life hints, before rounding off the night with another taste-testing at
the Trader's Bar. And then home? Maybe. A typical day? Perhaps.
|Debbie and Matt discuss last minute
Eight days a week
Every Monday the process of producing your weekly slice of life begins again; artwork and
photos are laid bare on a light table and subjected to the scrupulous eye of Marco
Mancini, the Brazilian/Italian art director and free jazz sax player who skirts around the
production desk in army fatigues. A man of few words who expresses himself best while on
stage at Blue or behind the Mac, Marco is figuring out which of Beezer's (Photographer
Extraordinaire) photos to use for Tokyo Talk. Oh well. He takes another cigarette break
and contemplates next weeks' cover.
|Marco studies slides for the next
Meanwhile, in the
backstreets of Shibuya, Matt, with Maki, bilingual editorial assistant and survivor of
1995's Great Hanshin Earthquake, set out to get the lowdown on Japan's hot rap trio,
m-flo. The interview is running late. The manager escorts Matt and Maki into a cosy
meeting room, tucked beneath a studio in Shibuya's backstreets. A friendly and apologetic
Verbal - one third of m-flo - makes an understated entrance into the smoke-filled room.
Acclimatizing to the tobacco-tainted air is an occupational hazard when it comes to
rubbing shoulders with Japan's stars.
|Georgia's fingers fly to get the ed
note to Marco
London-born and famous
around the office for his Gucci garb and impeccable Japanese, Matt's six years of Japan
experience supplemented with a two-year stint at English entertainment mag, Eye-Ai,
makes him adept at schmoozing marketing people and managers for further interviews. More
important, he is the resident expert on celebrity gossip. Dropping the chit-chat he
switches on the tape-recorder and starts an amicable interrogation.
|Design and production scrutenize
Afternoon in Omotesando.
Debbie, faced with yet another esoteric homage to Zen Buddhism asks Georgia, "What
does satori mean?" In between weekend raves, the Australian Production
Manager spends her weekdays mapping out ads, proofreading, grappling with space
constraints, practicing diplomacy with sales, editorial and design, and doling out praise
to Simone, fellow compatriot and graphic designer, whose keen eye and quick tongue help
waylay a potential spacing problem. "You're a genius you know?" says Debbie.
Points of grammar up for contention are decided by the AP Style Guide, and the latest
electronic version of Webster's Fourth Edition. Throughout the day captions are called
for, paragraphs deleted, photos resized and pages rearranged and then sent for layout.
Simone shares the increasing workload with Meg (the quiet one in the corner), laying out
each page at Superwoman speed.
|Quick on the mouse, Simone tackles
yet another page
Wednesday, and panic has
struck the Editorial Department : The Looking Good spread is missing in action. Simone
notes that most things gone astray are buried under the piles on Georgia and Marco's
desks. However, this time Maki is the culprit. When she appears hours later with the pages
and an innocent "Were you guys looking for this?" seven sets of evil editorial,
design and production eyes reply in unison. She holds up a yellow Post-it with a cryptic
symbol (meaning Starbucks), a discreet offer to procure caffeine from a nearby American
chain as a sign of peace. At 6pm the cappuccinos have failed to jog Matt's memory. Trying
to fact-check online sites included in a Web Watch article, he realizes that some of them
simply don't exist!
|Debbie redoes the ad-map to
accomodate a late ad
While the editorial team
decides whether Juliette Binoche or Judi Dench will be interviewed for the next "In
Person" a cry for help comes in from a reader. Georgia asks around: "Do you know
how this guy can get a job as a host?" Matt thinks he knows but he's "going to
have to make a call". Georgia reflects on her email inbox: she's still working how to
answer "Hola, soy Biologista Molecular de Barcelona y quiero vivir en Tokyo.
¿Tiene usted trabajo en Tokyo Classified por mi?"
|Changes waiting to be made
It's Thursday night, after
banging away on the keyboards all week, the classified typists are, at last, ready. Simeon
has led his type-happy band through the high seas of fax paper and emails; the fruit of
their labors is the last link in the magazine production line. As the classifieds are
exported from the database into the page templates, the delivery man arrives with a shiny
new edition. Everyone stops for a half a second. How does it look? Is everything in the
right place? Smiles round the office mean it ain't no FrankenTC this time. Then
we settle back into the groove knowing that tomorrow the wrinkled face of hope on a racing
punter will introducing Japanese racing, the week's best movies, concerts, restaurants,
and classifieds all around town.
|Simeon tries to stay on top of the
never-ending stream of personal ads
One more time
It's Monday again, just before (or sometimes after) lunch. The mad rush to put the final
pages on disk is almost over. TC has left the building! It's the collective
creative output of your multi-lingual, multi-cultural motley crew of designers, scribes,
production and sales gurus, who join together to render their take on Tokyo's vibe every
seven days. With another week's work safely in the hands of one of Japan's biggest and
best printers for the next 24 hours, Georgia, Matt and the designers give each other a
wistful look: Another week, another TC.