Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exclusive: Charlie Hebdo Coming To San Diego Next Tuesday

Paras Newsstand in San Diego  -  Photo by Junior N
I've just learned that the owners at Paras Newsstand, which has stood as a proud beacon of the printed page in San Diego's North Park neighborhood since 1949, have agreed to sell 100 copies of the infamous "survivors' issue" of Charlie Hebdo, the snarky French satirical magazine, starting next Tuesday afternoon. 

The special issue was produced just days after terrorists attacked the magazine's office in Paris, killing 12, including editor Stephane Charbonnier and cartoonists Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and economist Bernard Maris. The terrorists were apparently motivated by the magazine's criticisms of Islam and depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

The cover of the new issue, which includes a cartoon of the prophet holding up a sign that reads "I Am Charlie" in French, has been described by some as insulting to Muslims. It has prompted protests in Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Senegal, and Mauritania, according to CNN.

The special printing of the magazine, which is in French, not English, has been a worldwide phenomenon. Seven million copies have now reportedly been printed. The French newspaper Le Figaro called it "a record in the history of the French press."

CNN reports that the edition was just making its way to the United States late last week at a few book stores in New York. 

Paras is the only location in San Diego of which I'm aware that is selling the publication. In an interview with The Reno Dispatch on Tuesday afternoon, Ann Gabbara, co-owner of Paras, said there is great demand here for the publication.  

"A lot of people have been calling and asking us if we are going to carry it," she said.

Jennie Blendulf, a writer who works as a volunteer for Fern Street Circus, was browsing at Paras when I stopped in to interview the newsstand's owners on Tuesday afternoon.
Blendulf said she will be in line to purchase the magazine. purchase. 

"I want to support freedom of speech," she said. 

Gabbara said the great desire for the French magazine in Southern California and around the world shows that there is still a hunger for a free press. And, she said, it shows that print journalism is not dead.

"We definitely see here at the store that print is making a comeback," Gabarra said. "Not books as much, but magazines. We have very loyal customers who come in and want print editions. They don't want it on their tablets or their computers. They want the printed pages."

Kent Snyder, Paras' magazine manager, said people still come to the newsstand from as far away as Mexico. He noted that the horse racing magazines do well, as do the foreign language publications, which are available in everything from Spanish and French to German and Italian. 

Snyder said that one man recently came from San Juan Capistrano, which is an hour north of San Diego in Orange County, and "spent $700. Mostly on fashion magazines, but he bought all kinds of things. He's a regular customer who is in his 30s or early 40s. It was a record for us for a single magazine purchase." 

Gabarra noted that even kids and teens still come in for certain magazines.

"Young people come in for fashion magazines and skating and surfing magazines, things like that," Gabarra said. "I predict that in one or two years, you are going to see an even bigger move back to print. I have nothing against the Kindles and tablets or computers, but people still love magazines."

Including, evidently, Charlie Hebdo, whose surviving editors have vowed to continue publishing.

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