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The Mag is Dead, Long Live the Mag!

Magazines

I’ve been convinced that the end of the world is upon us, for months now. My evidence? Well, not the Japan earthquake and tsunami, as bad as that is. Nor the death of Usama bin Laden. Oil prices haven’t caused my paranoia fear. Even the global die-off of bees isn’t in the running.

No, it was the loss of my favorite food magazine. Specifically, Chile Pepper magazine.

I’ve been a diehard fan of Chile Pepper since at least 2002. (That’s how far my personal archives go back.) During 2009 and on into 2010, Chile Pepper seemed to lose traction. Issues shrank, articles became less interesting. Somehow, it felt like they were simply going through the motions. Some of the features were still great, and the thematic issues continued to bring interesting tastes, techniques and tales to the dedicated chiliheads who read each issue, cover to cover. Hot Commodity showed us the neat tools and trinkets; Hot Off the Press kept us up to date on happenings. Chile Lite kept us all from needing Goodyear branded overalls or Gloria Peterbilt jeans. But still, the magazine was sliding. I even thought maybe it was just me, simply tired or bored with the repetition and routine.

Then the issues stopped.

I checked frantically with my magazine sources. None were available for purchase, anywhere. The fellow I trusted to keep me supplied with the good stuff my favorite mags on the shelf said it seemed Chile Pepper was gone. MIA. Busto.

Rumors on the web weren’t pretty either. People getting nothing for their subscriptions. Nobody answering the phones. Emails disappearing into some electronic black hole. Writers not getting paid for their articles. That last item was what convinced me: Chile Pepper was dead. Dead, dead, dead. Touched a duck in a dungeon.

The Zesty Life had expired.

I was too busy to hold a wake, but I clearly felt the lack. Even though the magazine only showed up six times a year, I still missed it now that it was gone.

Last week I found myself perfunctorily perusing the magazine racks at Barnes & Noble while I waited for a friend to pick up a book. I wasn’t really looking for anything; more like reminiscing, hoping someone would put up at least a pale imitation of my recently deceased friend. Then I saw it: Chile Pepper!

I knew it had to be a mirage. Still, my hand moved of its own volition towards the visible corner of the volume. Could it be true? Could this be the Real Deal?

Youbetcha.

I held the issue in both hands, drinking in the bold colors and lovely image of gumbo shown on the cover. And I don’t even eat shrimp! I looked both ways quickly, making sure nobody was sneaking up to take the slim volume away from me, or worse yet, tell me I was on Candid Camera or something. My paranoia spiked and I walked quickly to the checkouts, nearly running in panic. Mine! All mine.

To heck with the friend, he could take a taxi home. I had to get away with my loot!

The next thing I remember I was sitting in the car, leafing through the Cajun & Creole Issue with a tissue held to my chin to contain the drool. Suddenly I was very hungry! After a quick look through, I turned to the Editor’s Letter, and there was the explanation, in the words of the new Executive Editor and Publisher, Rick McMillen

I am convinced that, if you live long enough, all of your fantasies will come true. This past year was great for my entire family (myself included)., and quite possibly the crowning glory was the purchase of this very magazine.

Tell all your friends! Launch the fireworks! Somebody get Obama on the line, this will lock down his re-election! The Mag’s Back

Chile Pepper has an all new editorial staff, a new publishing company and leadership, and a bold new look inside. Oh, the cover’s a sweet reprise of past fronts, but the inside’s been carefully retooled. Bold colors, cleaner typography, slicker production values. No one thing by itself is a huge change; the combination, though, is strong and pleasing. Enough to make me forgive them for missing a couple of issues. (Well, almost.)

While the current release is a slim 80 pages, I think we’ll see larger offerings in the near term. There’s a sense of vitality and renewed drive here. Needless to say I’ll be watching closely, just as soon as I try out some of these new recipes…

Enjoy the (Chile Pepper is Back) Heat!

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2 comments to The Mag is Dead, Long Live the Mag!

  • So when are you going to query them about an article — or taking over their online division? After all, if they’re new, they probably haven’t heard all the rumors yet…

  • Well, soon, I suppose. I mean, if I’m going to stay on timeline for world domination, I mean. As for the rumors, none of them have proved true. Although I must admit, I’m running a bit short of bribe cash; you got any to lend?