Rumors of a Magazine Launch Party Confirmed

Afar Reminds Us of the Way Things Used to Be

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Remember magazine launch parties? Those were the shindigs in which people gathered to celebrate the birth of a new print magazine by drinking a lot of free booze and trying to find a graceful way to eat passed hors d'oeuvres while doing so. It's OK if you don't remember these things. Seems that lately the only thing we're doing in honor of magazines is sitting shiva.

But last night, ladies and gentlemen, I went to a magazine launch party. A real one! Just to be safe, I stopped at a bar beforehand and had a burger, fries and a couple of beers, but when I arrived, there was food and alcohol aplenty. Indeed, it was like a magical wonderland, four floors of international food -- Brazilian, Moroccan, Vietnamese -- and beer and wine and vodka and two dudes sitting on the roof playing the didgeridoo and another guy in a room playing the tabla and another playing the zither and at some point eight people ran out into the middle of the space and did a capoeira performance. Why, Mr. Magazine himself was there!

For a brief second, I thought I caught a glimpse of rainbows, unicorns and vast revenue streams supported by advertising pages!

But seriously, folks, the launch party was for Afar magazine, an experiential travel magazine. That's right. A travel magazine in this economic climate. And founder-CEO Greg Sullivan is probably getting a little tired of hearing THAT particular line. Just as Editor in Chief Susan West is probably feeling a little overwhelmed by freelancers. (Here's a video interview with Sullivan.)

By the way, freelancers, in the first issue there are a few articles that seem to clock in at 4,000 words. WORDS! Remember when magazines used to use words, rather than shiny pictures, charticles and infographics?! (Of course, there are a few of those in the magazine as well.) My favorite feature of the magazine is the "Spin the Globe" section, in which the editors randomly select a country -- and the writer isn't told his destination until he's standing in the airport. (In the first issue, Frank Viviano ends up going to Venezuela.)

But back to the party. It was held at 632 on Hudson and it was just like the old days. While one would think the amount spent on the food and booze would be enough to feed a small village for a year -- or pay one editor! -- a spokeswoman told us that the vendors -- Txikito, Baoguette, Phosure, Zerza, Tumbador Chocolates, Belvedere Vodka, King Fisher beer, Stella Artois and Chang Beer -- donated it all.

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