After years of traipsing to every pop-up launch party to report on the ephemeral offerings therein, New York magazine and The New York Times have officially commenced the backlash.
On Sunday New York Times City Critic Neil Genzlinger took on the urban epidemic of the pop-up shops/restaurants.
“Somebody get me a large mallet,” he said, of the whack-a-mole game of trying to cover them all.
Today Felix Salmon, whose face you can own or get as a gift for Henry Blodget, articulated a similar frustration, though specific to restaurants, on Grub Street.
“[P]op-ups are a bit like stock-market volatility: They’re generating a lot of heat and noise at the moment, but are best ignored over the long term,” he wrote.
Like any critic worth his or her pomo salt, Mssrs. Genzlinger and Salmon analyzed the language of the pop-up, rather than invite action against them.
Mr. Salmon says: “How, then, to explain pop-ups’ popularity? First, the semiotics of pop-up restaurants all scream, This is a great deal. Haphazard service, cheap chairs, liquor-license issues: Diners see these things and think they must be getting a bargain price.”
Mr. Genzlinger: “And who picked this term, anyway? I’m not sure which usage came first, but why continue to label something with a phrase that also describes the second-worst thing on the Internet, the pop-up ad? […] ‘Hmm, what phrase can I use to make people want to come spend money at my temporary T-shirt cube? I know; I’ll pick something that annoys the heck out of everyone who has ever touched a computer keyboard: ‘pop-up.’ ‘ It’s akin to naming your skin-care salon Leprosy.”
New York and the New York Times are two of the most important fronts in the war against throwaway commerce, but it won’t be won with semiotics. It’ll be won with spam-filters programmed to catch all press releases with the word “pop-up” in them.