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Culture

An Energetic and Imaginative Four-Year-Old: PopMatters is Four!

Karen Zarker

Energetic and imaginative best describes four-year-olds. They are able to learn new words quickly, and use them in chatting with you, telling you jokes and wild stories.

"Energetic and imaginative best describes four-year-olds. They are able to learn new words quickly, and use them in chatting with you, telling you jokes and wild stories."
Ages & Stages (Iowa State University, March 2001)

Upright and running and quite the chatty Cathy, look how PopMatters' has grown since October '99. At four, our writers and editors are perpetually wired, watching, listening and thinking about all that matters; and they tell our monthly readership of over 350,000 what they've learned with savvy and style. That's why key people who work in the music, film and literature industries read PopMatters regularly.

". . .Writing as thought-provoking, engaging, insightful, witty, and just plain ol' fun as much of the fare on PopMatters is, is a rare and wonderful thing, and it should be treasured," writes Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times.

"PopMatters is one of the few sites I check every day," writes Michael Roux of Parasol Label Group, "From the record reviews to features like 'The Best Songs Since Johnny Rotten Roared' . . . (PopMatters' writers) provide a good mix of information and opinion on the fringe, the mainstream, and the space in-between."

PopMatters writers and editors live in various parts of the globe and wear white and blue collars, ties and tweeds. Many are called upon for their opinion by notable members of the media such as the BBC, NPR, MSNBC, and VH1. Publications such as USA Today.com, Alternet.org, and Movies.com regularly pick up links to PopMatters articles and post quotes from PopMatters writers.

As the tagline touts, PopMatters really is a magazine of global culture. Just one example of its reach: while at an academic meeting in Barcelona, a Taiwanese woman who was enrolled at the University of Oregon, but working in Paris for UNESCO, approached columnist, Todd (tjm) Holden (ReDotPop) and said, "So, Todd, you write for PopMatters . . . isn't that just the BEST site for popular culture on the web?"

This publication of many things pop culture is the precocious offspring of PopCultures.com. PopCultures.com is a resource site created in June of '96 for "like-minded" folks with an interest in cultural and social studies or communications theory. Both sites were created by Sarah Zupko (a.k.a. "Pop Sarah"), a renaissance individual, if you will, of interdisciplinary interests with a proclivity for publishing, a knack for website development, and a AAA-personality-drive. (For more about Zupko, read Barbara Flaska's interview with her on RockCritics.com.)

"I wanted a pop culture site with original content," says Zupko, "I wasn't seeing a space for smart writing on cultural issues that was magazine-style writing, as opposed to academic-style writing. I also wanted to create something that would have an international perspective and an international audience."

Zupko placed a call for writers on PopCultures.com, and those who answered helped to form what you see on PopMatters today. Zupko may have brought on the baby, but it took a whole village. PopMatters has a large group of contributors who have been with the magazine for a long time. Each has published hundreds of essay-length articles. That's unusual dedication. One who answered that early call is our esteemed Film and TV Editor, Cynthia Fuchs, who has been a vital presence on the magazine from the very beginning.

Patrick Schabe has been with the magazine well before it reached the toddler stage. "I first discovered PopMatters when it was just an idea," writes Patrick Schabe, Associate Music Editor and music critic. He saw the "Call for Writers" circulating on PopCultures.com and shortly thereafter submitted this astute essay, "Why Does PopMatter?"

Long-time PopMatters music critic, Mark Anthony Neal (Critical Noir) started writing for PopMatters within its first year of publication, too. "I was already cool with Cindy (Fuchs), so I decided to give PopMatters a serious thought in late 1999 . . .", writes Neal, ". . . from day one what I've appreciated is the fact that I have wide editorial latitude and the freedom to do the ghetto slang/post-structuralist jargon thing that I do . . . I'm allowed a voice and a complexity that some of the more mainstream sites aren't willing to grant."

Holden has also been with PopMatters since the early days. ". . . (PopMatters) never gets old and it affords me the chance to communicate about something that is significant and will only continue to grow in significance as the years go on," writes Holden, "We are not just in a globalizing 'moment'; from now on the world will be global. That means not only a greater melding of cultures, but greater accentuation of differences . . . PopMatters is one of the best forums for communicating the myriad mediations of cultural difference, and helping folks learn about the array of ideas and styles that are all around them and available to help them grow."

Our editorial staff has grown, too. Editors such as Barbara Flaska and Devon Powers bring fresh vision and enthusiasm to the magazine. Music Columns, edited by Michael Stephens, has a staff of writers who are focused on "issues, audiences, scenes, clubs, subcultures and events" within the broad concept of music as culture.

"In my work as a publicist for quality recording artists for nigh upon 20 years, I have read a lot of publications over the years . . . ," writes Cary Baker, of Baker/Northrop Media Group, "I was immediately won over by PopMatters . . . copious with music, arts, politics, news and much more . . . I found its music reviews consistently on-target . . ."

The General Columns section, edited by Karen Zarker, brings writers from places as far flung as Japan and South Africa, and many points in-between � each with a distinctive cultural/political take on the world as they see it. Our Books section, carefully tended first by John Nettles, further cultivated by Val MacEwan , and soon to be brought into expanded fruition by James Oliphant, boasts a staff of astute critical thinkers with literary sensibility.

Because of its broad reach, its topical content, and its celebration of style, PopMatters is a writers' magazine, as well as a readers' magazine. "I hope that PopMatters will prosper for some time to come," says Baker. Oh, it will. The world-at-large is truly our oyster. Just you watch and see how PopMatters grows.

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