Chin is Spanish for "a little bit." Its laudable editorial mission is to document Latin American lifestyle, bringing "neglected elements of popular culture from the fringe to the mainstream." I'm down, but please stop using phrases like "fusing arts, fashion, politics, language and intangible sensibilities." I don't know what "intangible sensibilities" are, but I'm pretty sure it's not a reading list from Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And "bit" is on the mark here. Let's see a bit more politics and celebration of Hispanic culture versus photos of men who think it's arty to pose shirtless and hide their nipples.

Chin is divided into two sections: "City," which includes Metro, Travel, Being and profiles of various artists, and "UC Talks," which houses Music, Theater, Books and Chronicles, a calendar of upcoming events. (The "U" is from "Un Chin," which may or may not be the actual title of the magazine. It appears on the magazine's spine and in house ads, so I can't decide if this is grammatically correct or they're just messing with us.) Plus, stories carry no "by" bylines. In its place, a simple slug --"Words"--is followed by the author's name. In short, the affectation radar is now on.

Like many magazines, Chin begins with a contributors' page. A healthy percent are right out of college; the bio section lists graduation dates. Given its fringe stance, which tilts young, that makes sense. One photographer's blurb claims his work is "undoubtedly a flawless fusion of romantic sensuality with a subtle, unsettling edge." Again with the fusion. Please, leave it to the physicists; they do less damage. Frankly, I take umbrage at "undoubtedly." The photos are dramatic and technically precise, but they also have a creepy Roman Polanski "Knife in the Water" quality. Yes, it's edgy, but romantic? When a woman mimes a heroin nod, sensual it's not.

But does the content work?

I liked the Metro section--reviews of nightclubs and a Tutankhamun museum tour, though I'm hard-pressed to see the Latin American connection. And it doesn't show up in the travel story, "Miami, the Celeb's Paradise," either. Not so much as a peep about the city's sizzling Cuban restaurants or Little Havana, which boasts Versailles, a famous neighborhood diner. What self-respecting celeb doesn't dig the occasional kitschy eatery, especially one renowned for caffe con leche? Any magazine can run the Miami story; the trick is to find the Chin twist. Music and Theater, however, are true to Latin form, as is the "South of Chavez" photo essay on storeowners in the PrecitaPark section of San Francisco. But I didn't see Houston's New WorldMuseum, which promotes the significance of Hispanic art, or any mention of hip galleries in Tucson, New York and L.A.

Similarly, in the "Being" profiles, D-Pl is "inspired by Japanese prints and traditional African art," while Fiorentina recalls her childhood in Italy. The saving grace is Wanda Ortiz, a painter, who created "Wepa Woman," billed as "the fed-up Puerto Rican woman who represents the many different roles of a Latina." Ortiz says she's trying to reverse Latino stereotypes. So far, she strikes the most authentic note. Later, Emilio Estefan, businessman, Grammy-winning producer, and, oh yes, husband of singer Gloria, is profiled. A savvy promoter who has development projects with Telemundo, he also owns five hotels and two restaurants. Double E parlayed Miami Sound Machine's Latin pop into a blueprint for contemporary Latin music in the U.S. His achievements are muy impressive. But does he qualify as a "neglected" element of pop culture?

This is where Chin misses an opportunity. The premise is terrific, but there is an emotional disconnect. Fringe does not equate with Tag Heuer watches or Cavalli perfume. Chin is torn between its cutting-edge desires and showcasing products that are a staple of In Style andVogue--and demand a budget more in line with surgeons than sculptors. In short, it seems to target those who buy $500 Bridget Shuster bags (billed as "affordable") and consider ADD a sign of artistic temperament. The photos are self-conscious and oversized, geared to those who greet 1,000 words on say, current events, with a stare of ennui.

Final blow: the spread "Smufato," in which a young woman in short-shorts approaches a man in an SUV. Ay carumba! This is a little too Taxi Driver for me. Note to editor: Consider a piece on Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a research scientist, inventor and the first Hispanic female astronaut. She's younger than Estefan, but just as fascinating. After all, what's more "intangible" than space? There's potential here. But for now, readers have to take it on the chin.

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