A magazine is traditional media – the long, medium and short documentation of news, pop culture and social justice, or injustice. Writers, journalists, poets, artists and photographers constantly tap the pulse of society, digging deeper to investigate the very blood which keeps our world alive with a fervor and time commitment colossally more vast than a daily newspaper or local television newscast.
Authors are presented below a spotlight, where they read impactful prose to an auditorium of folks, who likely grew up abandoning their parents in store aisles to lunge at the vibrant pages calling out to them. Accompanying the writers, filmmakers and photographers is the Magik*Magik Orchestra, making the spectacle feel like NPR Live, a true variety show melding a dynamic blend of topics under the umbrellas of news, music, art, humor, etc.
I sat down not knowing what to think of this idea. I didn’t know if “magazine” was the right word, because I grew up flipping through Harpers and The Atlantic; I perpetually read stories worth thousands of words. On a stage, those aren’t possible to vocalize – too many pauses and breaks, too many attention spans at risk. The words were minimized in favor of the orchestra, the visuals, the interaction.
Magazines are meant to move people, to connect us to different parts of the world we can’t venture to. Pop-Up did just that, whether it relayed a relatable story of being fired for an abundance of reasons like “McFired” by Yassir Lester or whether it focused on the heroics of a person countries away such as Fazeet Aslam’s “Fatima.” These stories felt very magazine-ish – an alternative to a news story, a different and intriguing way of observing a common happening or an uncommon individual.
Like a number of other products operating under the care of print advertising dollars, the industry is experiencing a renaissance period where the people making decisions must adapt. Some shifted to online, some decreased issue counts and some folded, closing their doors permanently.
However, people always seem to flock to these colorful pages. Whether you’re in airports, dentists offices or grocery stores, the look and feel never lost appeal to the masses, even if they ultimately don’t want to pay for it. Magazines will never lose their assets: the way stories carry more girth and feel entirely personal, or how the elevated design work eases the eyes – and don’t forget the gritty photos between blocks of texts to unearth the beautiful and ugly truths.
Without copious amounts of words, the authors of the respective stories rely on visuals and sound to carry more of the weight. This allows stories worthy of large page spreads come to life in 10-minute increments such as Lu Olkowski’s “Armed Poetry,” which used audio clips and animations to illustrate how poems toppled the Somali government decades ago. There were even tapes of modern works to reflect the political landscape of today’s world handed out at the end.
The most interactive moment of the night undoubtedly occurred when the audiences joined the orchestra in a karaoke sing-a-long of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’” which Brittany Spanos’ “Sing at Your Own Risk” story deemed the worst tune to request from people running karaoke bars.
So, no, the Pop-Up Magazine is not a traditional publication. Not in the sense that it combines stories of varied length onto pages to purchase, but you can pick up the company’s California Sunday Magazine for that. Instead, the event captures the essence of what a magazine is supposed to be: a collection of intriguing items curated by talented storytellers and editors meant to evoke thoughts and laughs.
For more information about future Pop-Up Magazines, visit the website.