Pop-Up Magazine

Thursday night I went to Pop-Up Magazine, a smarty-pants event featuring readings, music, art and the like. It started five years ago, and now has corporate sponsors and the ability to sell out within minutes of tickets becoming available. The organizers have also rolled out California Sunday magazine, a print mag that is distributed monthly in the SF Chronicle, the LA Times, etc. 

The event was held at the SF symphony hall, but isn’t recorded or photographed. 20 or so folks – including the author Susan Orlean and This American Life’s Starlee Kine – spoke for 5 to 10 minutes each, covering topics from a college student living in a sheep barn to folks who pick up released prisoners from jail and usher them back into the world. As soon as I got home I scribbled notes on the program so that I wouldn’t forget each piece. 

It was truly inspiring, and I tend to wrinkle my nose at that word. It made me want to track down all the interesting, quirky stories that must be intersecting my life somewhere. Clearly I’m just not paying enough attention as I go to work and come home and make dinner and go out for drinks with friends and go to sleep, day in and day out. Let’s break out of this routine, and make friends with people with tortoises!

That tortoise reference is from one of my favorite readings of the night, by a writer who attended a meeting of the tortoise owners’ group of Silicon Valley. She noted that tortoise owners have to plan for lifetimes beyond their own, as their pets will likely outlive even their grandchildren. I once volunteered at the Oakland Zoo and was charged with raking the enclosure of two tortoises who had been donated to the zoo when their owners passed away in their 80s but left money for their care for another 50 years. I felt like we became buddies as they calmly watched me rake around them. It also turns out the 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick owns a tortoise, but since he travels so much his parents are now the (unethused) caretakers of Sammy. Sammy even has his own 49ers jersey (and Twitter account). The more you know.

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