Shotgun Review

Pop-Up Magazine Issue 4

By Matthew Harrison Tedford September 11, 2010

Someone asked me, "Why call it a magazine? It's a happening." Happening or not, make no mistake, Pop-Up Magazine deserves the label. Don’t let the medium bog you down. Online publications such as Slate, Salon, and, of course, Art Practical are all magazines because of their content and makeup. Sans paper, it is an evolving form.

A sold-out crowd at the Herbst Theatre read Issue 4 on Thursday, September 9, 2010. The event, aimed at the same culture vultures that read the New Yorker or Harper’s, included the stories, features, and interviews one would expect from its literary peers. The issue began with a series of shorts. (Think of the numbers and bar graphs at the front of Time. Better yet, think of Shotgun Reviews.) These ranged from popular science writer Mary Roach reading letters she has received about orgasms and ejaculate to McSweeney’s editor Eli Horowitz musing on the relationship between Castro’s conquest of Cuba and the game of ping-pong.

The feature articles covered topics one would expect in a traditional culture magazine, but the non-static medium allowed for innovation and novelty. National Slam Poetry champion Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s tale of the 2010 Haitian earthquake took the shape of a poetic dance performance. The most entertaining feature was freelance writer Adam Starr’s story of a Nevada temp worker who served as a decoy Taliban foot soldier for the U.S. Marine Corps. The live format meant that in this story, as well as in Nishat Kurwa’s article about Oakland’s Love Center Ministries, the narrator’s voice was interposed with those of the subjects and interviewees, who literally spoke for themselves via audio recordings. In similar fashion, Lisa Margonelli’s live interview of mariner and blogger John Konrad held promise, but instead felt stilted and awkward. Other documentaries unraveled cinematically on a projection screen.

And lest viewers forget that this is a magazine, editor-in-chief Douglas McGray threw in a live commercial by sponsor Espolón Tequila. At least there were no subscription cards, or none that I have found hidden in my clothes yet.

Much of this material could be presented online via embedded YouTube clips and XML manipulation. Instead, Pop-Up gives its viewers the content and the form of a magazine in an inventive medium that heightens viewer excitement and energy. Unique to the live magazine, the viewer gets to experience all the mistakes and stutters.

 

Pop-Up Magazine Issue 4 took place at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on September 9, 2010.

 

 

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