Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:34 AM
Now here’s an idea right in Utne Reader’s wheelhouse: “a non-profit project promoting independent publishers to public libraries all over the United States.” It’s known as Hey Small Press! Founded by Don Antenen, who works at a public library in Kentucky, and Kate Hensley, Hey Small Press! has a three-fold method:
One: we select and review ten new or upcoming titles per month. Two: we send our list to public librarians and encourage them to order the titles. Three: we also make available all our reviews to the public. Our goal is for readers across the country to walk into their public library every month with our list of small press books and encourage librarians to order them.
Despite all the stories about the changes happening or likely to happen to libraries, Kathleen Rooney over at Harrietwrites, “For the moment, brick-and-mortar libraries continue to exist, and are still great places to get actual printed-on-paper-and-bound books. So it might be of interest that…Hey Small Press! now exists too…with the aim of encouraging ‘libraries to acquire small and independent press books.’”
There are still great books being published by small presses all over the world, but on top of the changing library landscape, independent bookstores have been closing all over the place and chain stores are less likely than ever to take chances on anything that’s not a sure bet. That means those small publishing houses need all the help they can get. It’s nice to know then that, as Rooney writes, “committed people are out there cultivating love for good books and working hard to get more of them on library shelves.”
(Related: “Library Haunting: A spirited defense of one of America’s last great public institutions” from the March-April issue of Utne Reader.)
Image from Pundit Kitchen
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:49 PM
Meatpaper is why I love magazines. Obsessive, obscure, and beautiful, this “journal of meat culture” is a true labor of love. Almost nobody gets paid and the magazine keeps coming out—another issue is on its way to the printer as I type. So what exactly is it?
“Meatpaper is about meat as a provocative cultural symbol and phenomenon,” cofounders Sasha Wizansky and Amy Standen wrote in the premier issue in 2007. “Meat isn’t a straightforward or neutral topic. In conversation it tends to ruffle feathers and provoke debate. We hope you’ll join in.”
Whether they are exploring what meat art can tell us about life and death or why Filipinos eat Spam, the good people at Meatpaper are always eyeball-deep in some cultural investigation or another.
I spoke with editor in chief and art director Sasha Wizansky about the magazine.
Jeff Severns Guntzel: You folks must get your fair share of hate mail.
Sasha Wizansky: It’s actually kind of stunning, but we get almost no hate mail. I’ve been very surprised by that.
Severns Guntzel: How often do you have to explain the magazine to people? Do you do less of that after 10 issues?
Wizansky: I’ve been noticing that I spend a lot less time explaining the point of Meatpaper than I did when we first started. I think the culture is sort of catching up to us in a certain way. So many people are concerned with food, sustainability, and looking closely at the meat industry.
Severns Guntzel: When you do have to explain it, what do you say?
Wizansky: I start by saying that Meatpaper is about art and ideas related to meat. Then people usually ask, “Are you for it or against it?” And the answer is neither. I list the angles we take. There are anthropological and historical articles—and then the journalism, art, and poetry.
Severns Guntzel: Do you personally commission the art that you’re putting in the magazine or are you using art you’ve discovered?
Wizansky: It’s a combination. Some people submit their art—they’ll say, you know, I’ve been painting beef sticks for several years and I just found out about your magazine! We also have a roster of really talented illustrators and artists and we’ll send them an article when it’s still in draft form and have them create art to respond to it.
Severns Guntzel: And do you have to hunt for the editorial content?
Wizansky: We get a lot of submissions at this point and we have to turn a lot of them down. We try to publish perspectives on meat that you aren’t seeing elsewhere. We’re not that interested in material that you can find in a food magazine.
Severns Guntzel: Is there a kind of story that you’re always rejecting?
Wizansky: We get a fair number of stories about people who eat offal, and we feel we’ve reported a lot on offal already. We’re clearly entering a new realm of carnivorism—I think people are becoming more adventurous about meat.
Severns Guntzel: So is the magazine healthy?
Wizansky: You mean financially healthy? [laughs]
Severns Guntzel: Yes!
Wizansky: We now have a 501c3 arts organization acting as our umbrella and fiscal sponsor, so we can apply for grants and accept tax-deductible donations. We have just begun fundraising, and are developing several side projects that will hopefully support our work. The reason why we’ve been able to publish 10 issues is that it’s pretty much all volunteer. At some point we’d love to be able to compensate people handsomely for their contributions, but right now it’s a labor of love for everybody involved.
Severns Guntzel: So nobody on the editorial staff gets paid?
Wizansky: We pay a few contractors: one copy editor, one database developer. All the editors are unpaid.
Severns Guntzel: What are you doing otherwise to earn money?
Wizansky: I do graphic design.
Severns Guntzel: Can you imagine an end to Meatpaper?
Wizansky: I’m not bored yet and we’re not running out of things to say. We're certainly not drying up in terms of enthusiasm. So yeah, I’d like to keep going as long as I can.
Severns Guntzel: Having created this very unique thing, can you offer any advice to people with a similarly unique vision for a publication?
Wizansky: I would say go for it. Back when we started Meatpaper, the idea sounded really strange to people. So instead of finding advertising or drumming up support we just went ahead and made a prospectus issue. That was the best thing we could have done because there was really no way to talk about this idea—we just had to do it. So we created a 20-page, full color prospectus, which we called Issue Zero and people really got it. Through that we were able to get national distribution for Issue One and a bunch of subscribers. We just kind of went for it.
Severns Guntzel: I have one last question for you. In looking through old interviews with you all there were mentions of various meat parties, including a party to help a friend of yours learn to appreciate bacon. Do you have a favorite meat party you’ve been to?
Meatpaper has co-produced a series of rabbit-dinners, featuring local rabbit meat and a collaboration between a San Francisco chef and a Brooklyn chef. We got to experience the coming together of a really special community of people who are passionate about food and hospitality. And a year ago we had an issue launch party with a butchery demonstration. Basically people came to the party, got a cocktail, and watched a pig being butchered. The meat from that pig was cooked immediately and then served. I wasn’t sure how people would react but they were really fascinated and into it. Since then I've seen a trend of “butcher parties” grow. I've been very happy to close the gap between animal and food. That’s a particular opportunity that’s very interesting to me and people seem to be responding.
Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:48 PM
The Dead Magazine Club is an Utne Reader project, hosted by Tumblr. For more than 25 years, Utne Reader has been reprinting the best of the independent press. Many wonderful magazines and journals have come and gone since we launched as a newsletter in 1984, and we have a special place in our library reserved for magazines that are no longer.
We thought there ought to be a place to remember these publications. It’s our hope that the people who made these magazines and the people who loved them will share their memories in the comments. The club has only one rule: no internet research. As far as we’re concerned, all we know about these publications is what we can glean from the one or two issues in our library. Everything else we want to hear first hand.
There is so much we want to know! How did the magazine start? Why did it end? Was it run out of an office or a basement? Best moments. Worst moments. You get the idea.
Join us at The Dead Magazine Club and help us gather the hidden histories of the independent press! Or just browse some amazing covers.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 9:16 AM
Ciné Institute is the only film school in Haiti. It was founded in 2008 on Haiti’s southern coast and serves Hatian youth. The school was flattened by the earthquake. The gear that survived has been put to good use. Here’s a compilation of (sometimes graphic) footage shot by the students of Ciné Institute:
(Thanks, Global Voices.)
Thursday, December 31, 2009 11:43 AM
Our mission is to highlight the best of the alternative press. What we have collected here is the best of the best of the alternative press. These are the stories we can't shake. We're thinking and talking about them months after they were published. These are the stories we will inevitably measure the stories of 2010 against. Enjoy!
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded
: So many months later, the bold, powerful arguments made in this excerpt from the outstanding eponymous anthology (published by South End Press in 2007) make their way into my thoughts and discussions about activism, philanthropy, and the nonprofit system—or nonprofit-industrial complex, as the members of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence prefer to call it. I’ll always be haunted by this line from Madonna Thunder Hawk: “Activism is tough; it is not for people interested in building a career.”—Danielle Maestretti
: What does one say about a story that begins with the discovery of “an alien nub on my left buttock, just inches from my exit hole on an isthmus of hair that juts into wallet territory”? John O’Connor’s uproarious Senegal-based tale of an abscess and a long-lost love is by turns tender and revolting; it surprises and delights throughout. We ran “The Boil” at five amazing (if at times pus- and blood-filled) pages in our March-April issue. I’ve never been more proud to work here.—Danielle Maestretti
Obscene Astronomy: Ah, Obscene Astronomy! This has to be one of the most cheerful and genuine pieces of writing we’ve published this year. Doug Reilly’s enthusiasm for astronomy—and sharing its curse-inspiring delights with passersby, through setting up his telescope on the street—is contagious, and the result is an essay that’s capable of reminding readers what awe and wonder feel like. Which, in my mind, makes it a perfect piece to revisit at the start of a new year. —Julie Hanus
The Lonely American: There’s been plenty written this year about loneliness, but little of it is as revealing as “The Lonely American.” In this excerpt from their book of the same name, Harvard psychiatry professors Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz get right down to illuminating the social impulses that have pushed us apart, from deep cultural myths (such as the self-reliant American) to more basic narratives that have slipped into daily life (“It’s too bad that we’ve lost touch, but that’s just the way it is”). —Julie Hanus
On Our Watch: By the time 2009 began, the word Darfur had become synonymous with violence, torture, death, and ethnic cleansing. No genocide has ever been so thoroughly documented while it was taking place, Richard Just wrote for the January-February issue. A persistent question remains: Why, in spite of the massive amounts of historical, anthropological, and narrative detail about the genocide that is available to the public could the world not put an end to it? Rather than allowing the violence to slip into the recesses of history, Just calls on people to both question the history and take action against the continuing suffering in Darfur. —Bennett Gordon
The Tao of War Photography: War correspondents are compelled far too often to share their thoughts and experiences. Sometimes it seems like every reporter who has heard a gunshot has a publishing deal to write about it. Yet we never hear from the photographers. The people with the cameras get closer and risk more than the people with the notebooks. Photographer Bruce Haley’s autobiographical “Tao of War Photography” is essential reading. It's part training manual and part memoir. It's mostly tragic and it's a little bit hilarious. And it’s like nothing you’ve ever read. —Jeff Severns Guntzel
The Mountain that Eats Men: This year The Walrus brought us one of the most exciting pieces of travel narrative from Andrew Westoll and Jason Rothe. In “The Mountain that Eats Men,” the writer-photographer team relayed their harrowing descent into the belly of La Negra mine in Bolivia and illustrated the bleak and gritty realities of life as a miner with such artful depiction you’ll feel as if you’re tucked in their rucksacks (with a headlamp and face mask on, of course).—Elizabeth Ryan
The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce: from The Virginia Quarterly Review will haunt you. Ashley Gilbertson chronicles small-town soldier Noah Pierce’s struggle to overcome the posttraumatic stress disorder he faced following his deployments to Iraq. It serves as both a call to action and a constant reminder that damaged soldiers like Noah are returning home every day, and we’ve failed to provide the tools they need—and deserve—to cope with the lasting trauma.—Elizabeth Ryan
Der Indianer: Not only is this one of my favorite Utne Reader stories of the year, it’s one of our website’s most-read articles as well, clocking in among the top ten. Apparently, folks just can’t ignore the riveting question posed by the subheadline: “Why do 40,000 Germans spend their weekends dressed as Native Americans?” The answer touches on art, spirituality, nature, and gnarly issues of cultural appropriation, but in the end the tale’s appeal is simple: It’s just one of those “who knew?” stories. —Keith Goetzman
In Search of Silence: Who could resist going on a hike to one of the quietest places in North America, deep in the mossy, majestic Hoh Rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Park? I certainly couldn’t, so I was a sucker for this tale about the Gordon Hempton and his One Square Inch of Silence, which aims to reclaim the importance of silence in a din-filled world. A quixotic quest, to be sure, but I’m cheering Hempton on. Quietly. —Keith Goetzman
Thursday, December 31, 2009 11:08 AM
Yep, we’ve gone meta. Here’s our list of the best decade- and year-end lists (and just some plain-old-list lists) we’ve spotted in the alternative press. Enjoy!
Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2009
Phil Plait, who writes the Bad Astronomy blog for Discover, offers up his fourth annual round-up of breathtaking astronomy photos. Seriously: You have to go look at these. For a second helping of awesome, peruse the blog and then read one of our favorite essays of the year: “Obscene Astronomy,” which appeared in our Sept.-Oct. 2009 issue.
Top Ten Worst Christmas Gifts
Grist, which also has “The Top Green Stories of the ’00s,” recounts the second annual list of worst—as in “profligate, unnecessary,” and guilty of “tasteless energy use”—Christmas gifts, courtesy of the Jamaica Plain Green House, a rehab project chronicled on its website. Warning: There is a thong-clad butt at #9, but if you can scoot past it, a jaw-dropping cupcake car (#10) awaits you.
Greenest Colleges and Universities
OK, so this isn’t a year- or decade-end list, but Sierra’s third annual “Cool Schools” ranking, published in the magazine’s September-October 2009 issue, deserves a shout out for equipping prospective students with an environmental metric. Note the link to Sierra lifestyle editor Avital Binshtok discussing how and why they do the ranking.
50 Best Movies of the Decade and 50 Best Albums of the Decade
Cinephiles and music lovers, this couplet of comprehensive lists from Paste are just for you—complete with trailers and streaming songs. I dare you to click through them and not compulsively begin adding things to your personal “must see” and “must hear” lists.
Top 100 Singles of the Decade
More music fun than you can shake a stick at: “Lifelong pop culture junkie” Ryan McNutt lists his top 100 and top 10 singles of the decade for Maisonneuve online (also published on his blog McNutt Against the Music).
Books of the Year 2009
Canada’s Quill & Quire is celebrating the end of the year with a feast of reading lists, including overlooked books, covers of the year, and a nice twist on the best-of genre: “The 15 Books that Mattered,” subdivided into lists of fiction, nonfiction, and books for young people.
Top Ten Stories Not Reported by the Mainstream Press
A yearly classic: North Carolina’s Independent Weekly publishes a recap of Project Censored’s annual list of stories that the organization says failed to get the attention they deserved.
The Vegetarian Stories of the Decade
Considering making a dietary New Year’s resolution? VegNews chronicles the significant legislature, important books, and other milestones in a decade of significant progress for the vegetarian-vegan movement.
The Best of Columbia Journalism Review
The venerable Columbia Journalism Review’s hardworking editors and writers, including Clint Hendler, Megan Garber, and Dean Starkman, revisit their top stories of 2009.
Top Online Stories from Next American City
Next American City expanded its website this year, including adding city-specific homepages and regular columns, and to celebrate deputy editor Julia Ramey picks out some of the best urban-minded reports, interviews, slideshows. NAC online also flexes its network of urban thinkers with a three-part series “Predictions for 2010.”
Sources: Discover, Grist, Sierra, Paste, Maisonneuve, Quill & Quire, Independent Weekly, VegNews, Columbia Journalism Review, Next American City
Wednesday, December 09, 2009 1:49 PM
What’s going on at the Copenhagen climate talks? Behind the mainstream media headlines, the independent and alternative press are doing what they do best: pursuing and parsing lots of interesting angles behind this potentially world-changing conference. Here’s where we’re finding coverage that cuts through the chatter coming out of Denmark:
The Copenhagen News Collaborative is a great one-stop site for conference coverage by talent-rich progressive and environmental news outlets including Grist, Mother Jones, the Nation, Tree Hugger, the UpTake, Huffington Post, and Discover. You’ve got to love Grist’s slogan for its Copenhagen coverage: “HOW FØCKED ARE WE?”
Blogs and news feeds by environmental advocacy organizations can be excellent sources of information on sub-issues such as forest conservation and carbon trading rules. We’re looking to, among other groups, the Rainforest Action Network, Global Witness, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, including both the NRDC Switchboard and the NRDC-published magazine OnEarth. Do these organizations have agendas? Sure—so does everyone at Copenhagen. That doesn’t mean they don’t know many of these issues inside and out.
One other approach is to get rid of the filter. Watch live and on-demand webcasts of official meetings and press conferences from Copenhagen at the conference website.
Sources: United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen News Collaborative, Rainforest Action Network, Global Witness, Natural Resources Defense Council
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 2:08 PM
How much money did your favorite writer make off that last book? You have no idea, right? With his next book, science fiction writer, copyright activist, and Utne Reader visionary Cory Doctorow is heading the demands of nobody (who ever demands financial transparency from writers?) and publishing every dime he earns in a column at Publishers Weekly. The transparency piece is intriguing enough, and it's just one piece of an ambitious publishing experiment:
Here's the pitch: the book is called With a Little Help. It's a short story collection ... Like my other collections, it will be available for free on the day it is released. And like my last collection, Overclocked, it won't have a traditional publisher ... Doctors swear an oath to do no harm. For this project, I've taken an oath to lose no money ... In the ideal world, every object I make available will either cost nothing to produce or will be physically instantiated only after it has been ordered and paid for. With this in mind, let me run down the packages.
The run down is lengthy but worth a look. Here's the elevator version:
+ Free E-Book
+ Free Audiobook
+ Print-on-Demand trade paperback
+ Premium hardcover edition
+ Commission a new story: $10,000
Many of these tactics are not new for Doctorow. He's been giving away e-books for free since 2003. This is where the transparency piece comes in. Doctorow explains:
This business of my giving away e-books is a controversial subject. I encounter plenty of healthy skepticism in my travels, and not a little bile. There's a lot of people who say I'm pulling a fast one, that I'd be making more money if I didn't do this crazy liberal copyright stuff, or that I'm the only one it'll ever work for, or that I secretly make all my money from doing stuff that isn't writing, or that it only works because I'm so successful. Of course, when I started, they said it only worked because I was so unknown. People want proof that this works—that I'm not deluded or a con artist.
In a recent interview with Utne Reader Doctorow spoke succinctly to the non-believers: "Of all the people who fail to buy my books today, the majority do so because they’ve never heard of them, not because someone gave them a free e-book."
Source: Publishers Weekly
Image by Paula Mariel Salischiker , licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 10:34 AM
Got space for thousands of zines? The Papercut Zine Library—which lends an unusual collection of 7,000 zines, indie books, periodicals, and audio/visual materials in addition to hosting community events—is looking for a new home in the Boston/Cambridge area. The collective-run, free lending library lost its space in Cambridge’s Democracy Center on August 15. It had operated there since May 2005.
As outlined on the collective’s Myspace page, Papercut is looking for at least 180 square feet of space in an accessible area. Joining an existing community/arts/organizing space is an option, and so is renting low-cost commercial space. There’s just one absolute: “that the freedom to make decisions about the library’s internal operation stay within our collective. That is, we are not interested in another library absorbing our collective if it means the collective will not be involved.”
Anyone who has ideas or tips should get in touch with Papercut.
Source: Papercut Zine Library
Image by gruntzooki, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, August 24, 2009 2:42 PM
Madison-based magazine The Progressive, an energetic voice of dissent and activism for 100 years, has issued an urgent appeal for funds. Longtime editor Matthew Rothschild is very straightforward about the magazine’s plight, explaining how they got there, what cuts they’ve made, and how they will manage long-term survival after this big fundraising push.
“Let me put it to you straight,” he writes on the magazine’s website. “We desperately need to raise $90,000 in the next two weeks to keep going. We’ve got no money in the bank, and we have payroll to meet on August 31, and our printer to pay, and other creditors hounding us.”
Since he posted the appeal last week, they’ve already collected about $60,000—two-thirds of what they need—and you can add to the count by donating here.
Even in a lean economy, such an outpouring of financial support isn’t too surprising (though it is, of course, extremely heartening): The Progressive, which celebrated its centennial earlier this year, has a long, strong relationship with its radical readers. It’s a relationship that matters come fundraising time, as feminist magazine Bitch found out last September, when its readers forked over tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of days to keep the magazine going. Meanwhile, music-enthusiast readers of Paste have donated more than $250,000 this year as part of a longer-term fundraising drive.
Madison’s alt-weekly, Isthmus, has more on The Progressive’s crunch.
Sources: The Progressive, Isthmus
Friday, August 21, 2009 1:05 PM
Forget putting video in magazines, it's high time we start putting our magazines in videos! That's what the Walrus did with their dramatic animated trailer for the September 2009 issue. It's a novel idea, and it's also an effective one. I was reading Helen Humphreys on the Plains of Abraham mere seconds after the trailer had ended.
Never heard of the Walrus? They won the 2009 Utne Independent Press Award for Best Writing. It's a fabulous magazine. But why take our word for it when you can hear it from Margaret Atwood, Broken Social Scene, Atom Egoyan, and Geddy Lee? They're all together (at last?) in another little video called Why We Need the Walrus.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 9:53 AM
Running from Gas
,” a Pakistani lawyer runs from tear gas, Pakistan. © Emilio Morenatti.
Pictures of the Year International (POYi), among the oldest photojournalism competitions in the world, opens its 2009 exhibit this weekend at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. If you don’t live on the West Coast, though, don’t let that stop you: POYi allows website users to browse the award-winning photojournalism in its online winner’s gallery.
There’s something to delight everyone there, all of it beautiful. Many images have a humanitarian bent, such as Jakob Carlsen’s “Untouchables of Asia,” the winner of the World Understanding award, but there’s no limit the scope of the competition. There is spectacular sports photojournalism, the best of the 2008 presidential campaign, riveting portraiture, and the list goes on.
This is POYi’s 66th year. It is a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, which previously served as host to the exhibitions.
Friday, April 10, 2009 12:10 PM
Featured in this week’s episode:
- A rumor mill for Baltimore, one of the ideas dreamt up by this year’s Urbanite Project participants (from Urbanite)
- Western innovations from High Country News
- The new Rad Dad, with dispatches from southeast Asia and a pair of essays exploring gender, identity, and parenting (not available online)
- Tapping Alaska’s grease market, from biodieselSMARTER
Sources: Urbanite, High Country News, Rad Dad, biodieselSMARTER
Thursday, March 19, 2009 2:58 PM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 8:47 AM
In the latest issue of This Magazine, Daniel Tseghay provides a roundup of bloggers and citizen journalists who are behind bars or have done time in recent years for what they've written, shown, or refused to disclose. It's no surprise to see bloggers from China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran on the list. But the United States?
"Journalist and video blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned in 2006 after posting a video on his blog showing an anti-G8 demonstration in San Francisco," writes Tseghay. "Police wanted Wolf’s unedited footage in order to investigate an attempted arson, but he refused to comply and was charged with contempt. It led to Wolf serving about seven and a half months in prison, the longest period any journalist has ever served in the U.S. for refusing to disclose sources."
If you missed the Josh Wolf story the first time around, here's an interview from the the PBS documentary series Frontline.
To read about the much more grave situation for jailed bloggers around the world, read Daniel Tseghay's piece here.
Monday, January 26, 2009 5:37 PM
Two and a half years after he co-founded Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, which won last year’s Utne Independent Press Award for best new publication, Kenneth Baer nabbed a job in the new administration. He’s now heading up communications and strategic planning at the Office of Management and Budget, the office President Obama has charged with boosting government transparency.
Baer is leaving Democracy with a supremely talented staff, including Andrei Cherny, the co–founding editor, and E.J. Dionne, Jr., who was named chair of the journal’s editorial committee in December. The new issue takes stock of Obama’s America, with dispatches from Orlando Patterson (on equality), Geoffrey Stone (on liberty), Jedediah Purdy (on community), and others.
Friday, October 17, 2008 12:55 PM
Houghton Mifflin recently published its 2008 edition of The Best American Essays with Adam Gopnik serving as guest editor. The Best American series is always a good showcase of the year’s finest offerings in a genre, and a reliable gauge of each form’s contemporary direction.
While this collection is led, as usual, by standout pieces from the New Yorker and Harper’s, it also culls some brilliant offerings from smaller magazines and literary journals, providing a modest cross-section of the essay-writing talent in the independent press. Pieces from PMS (Poem Memoir Story), Transition, Pinch, Swink, and Open City have all made the cut.
Part of the fun of these collections for essay-geeks like me is to see which luminary they’ve invited to guest edit. David Foster Wallace presided over last year’s collection, and the essays he chose had an immediacy that previous editions lacked; several of them addressed pressing issues like war, class, and politics, contradicting the frequent charge that personal essays are too solipsistic.
Gopnik’s introduction is similar to previous editions’ in that it makes a compelling case for the importance of good nonfiction in today’s literary world, and continues to defend the form—especially the subgenre of memoir—against the too-frequent charge of self-indulgence. But Gopnik provides a solid argument about the universal urgency of even the most personal essay:
Certainly people attack the memoir, and the memoir essay, in exactly the way people once attacked the novel. . . as vulgar and above all self-indulgent. But “self-indulgent,” fairly offered, means that expression is in too great an ascendance over communication. . . .In truth, the impulse to argument that is part of the essay’s inheritance. . . makes the memoir essay, even of the mushiest sort, the least self-indulgent of forms, the one where the smallest display of self for self’s sake is practical. A novelist can muse motionlessly for pages on the ebb and flow of life, but if an essayist hasn’t arrived at the point by the top of page three. . . if the leap into a higher general case, from the specific “I” to the almost universal “you” doesn’t take place quickly, the essay won’t work. . . . Memoir essays move us not because they are self-indulgent, but because they are other-indulgent, and the other they indulge is us, with our own parallel inner stories of loss and confusion and mixed emotions.
Gopnik and the series editor, Robert Atwan, have chosen big names like David Sedaris, Lauren Slater, and Jonathan Lethem to sit alongside relatively obscure writers: Joe Wenderoth, Patricia Brieschke, and the British-Sudanese novelist Jamal Mahjoub.
I’m personally hoping John O’Connor’s “The Boil” makes it into next year’s collection—but I won’t hold my breath.
Thursday, October 16, 2008 10:51 AM
For 13 years and 75 issues, No Depression was a beloved chronicler of the alt-country music world. In February of this year, the magazine’s publishers sadly announced they were halting production, citing insufficient ad revenue, a music industry in transition, and the troubled economy.
“Barring the intercession of unknown angels, you hold in your hands the next-to-the-last edition of No Depression we will publish,” publishers Grant Alden, Peter Blackstock and Kyla Fairchild wrote in the magazine’s March-April issue.
Just eight months later, Alden and Blackstock provide this addendum: “As it turned out, the angels who interceded to preserve No Depression were mostly well-known to us. Some who responded were rank strangers; all were generous and kind.” So begins issue #76 of the resurrected magazine, in the form of a lavish, 145-page, ad-free paperback—or, in the words of its cover copy, “bookazine (whatever that is).”
Published by the University of Texas Press and hitting stands this week, the theme of Issue #76 is “The Next Generation,” its cover graced by Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet and its profiles mostly devoted to emerging artists like the Infamous Stringdusters, Bowerbirds, and Samantha Crain. Tucked in the back of the issue is a feature on Hanson—yes, that Hanson.
No Depression’s online organ—currently offline, but set to relaunch soon—will continue with news and reviews, along with a near-complete archive of back issues. The bookazine, published semiannually, will contain less time-sensitive content.
In a troubled publishing industry, No Depression’s unique reincarnation might provide a model for other endangered or extinct publications—the bookazine represents one altered, but not necessarily diminished, manifestation of the independent magazine in a changing media landscape.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 12:08 PM
In case you hadn’t heard the good news, Bitch has been saved—and then some. On Monday, September 15, the Portland-based feminist magazine issued a red-alert call for donations: They needed to raise $40,000 by October 15, they said, in order to print the next issue.
“Save Bitch!” posts quickly spread throughout the blogosphere, and within three days, they’d surpassed their goal—they were already looking at $46,000. And even then, donations kept pouring in; they’re up to about $55,000 as of last week, according to Bitch publisher Debbie Rasmussen.
If you’re wondering how an independent magazine is able to mobilize that much support in an economy this crappy, look no further than the lovefests—er, comments sections—here and here. People feel invested in Bitch, in its past and present and future; they remember the first time they read it, and what they’ve loved and hated about it; it speaks to them so strongly that they feel it’s worth more than $20 a year. That depth of connection, that strength of community—that is the future of independent publishing.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:24 PM
If you’re not familiar with Bitch or haven’t read it in a while, here's the lowdown: It is a 12-year-old independent magazine that looks at feminism through a pop-culture lens. It is genuine and earnest and playful at turns; it is surprising, incisive; it is the only print magazine out there doing what it is doing.
And I have to say, as a longtime fan of Bitch, this magazine just keeps getting better and better: The writing is tighter, the analysis deeper, the pieces more varied with every (quarterly) installment. I flagged nearly every article in their new issue (#41) to discuss at our next pitch meeting—to name just a couple of standouts, there’s an energetic discussion about why “it’s a new golden age of young-adult fiction,” despite continued censorship of books with “adult” language and sexual content, and an awesome, inspiring Q&A with the Detroit hip-hop artist and activist Invincible (articles not available online).
Please watch this short video in which Bitch’s top ladies, Debbie Rasmussen (publisher) and Andi Zeisler (editorial and creative director) explain the magazine’s plight. Basically, they need $40,000 by October 15 to print their next issue, and it looks like donations are already pouring in. (Bitches make great gifts, too!)
UPDATE (9/19/2008): Bitch has already surpassed its goal! They raised a mind-boggling $46,000 this week, which means their next issue will hit newsstands December 1. Hooray for happy indie-press news!
Sunday, June 08, 2008 2:52 PM
One of the best (and most overwhelming) parts of a conference like this weekend’s Free Press event is the confluence of energized people, all armed with sharp ideas, many working on innovative, exciting projects. On Saturday afternoon, one project making innovative use of radio stood out from the fray:
, a project of the Appalachia-based arts and education center Appalshop, is “a national dialogue project addressing the criminal justice system” that uses video, theater, radio, and the Internet to help people to share their experiences and motivate reform. Amelia Kirby, the project’s media producer, played several minutes of a radio call-in show for conference attendees during a session on “Connecting with Social Justice Organizations.” Over crackling phone lines, family and friends sent holiday wishes to incarcerated loved ones from whom they were separated.
Before one airing of the show, Kirby explained, they had a caller who was outraged at the premise, offended that they’d be doing such a thing for incarcerated people. After the show aired, Kirby said, the man called again. He had listened to the program. He had changed his mind—he’d never “thought of things this way.”
It reminded me of what Janine Jackson, from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, had said the day before, when someone asked her how media critics might also be activists. Her answer resonated beyond media criticism: To make change, she explained, you don’t have to necessarily change the institution. You just have to change how one person thinks about the institution.
For more on the National Conference for Media Reform, click here.
Saturday, June 07, 2008 5:46 PM
Big, bold, and occasionally crazy-sounding ideas get thrown around at the National Conference for Media Reform. Abolish the FCC. Take down Fox News. 9/11 was an inside job. But the most out-there notion I’ve heard yet this weekend has to be this: Let’s rewrite the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment is an amendment, meaning it can be amended,” is how community activist Malkia Cyril announced her brainstorm during the well-attended panel titled “From Broadcast to Broadband: The Next Frontier of Media Reform.” Malkia had already admitted that she had forgotten until this morning that she was speaking on the panel, and she spent the first part of her address riffing on the colonial implications of the word “frontier” before dropping her First Amendment bombshell.
The crowd, which had gotten into the habit of politely applauding any remarks regarded as potentially hell-raising, delivered a notably tepid response to this suggestion, though it should be noted that a few people clapped exuberantly. But as Cyril further delineated her idea—something about the First Amendment being the “product of a slaveocracy” that needs to be redefined to include more marginalized groups—it became clear that not only did her suggestion have little to do with the panel’s topic, it had possibly just occurred to her.
Now, I’ve seen Cyril fire up a crowd with well-prepared, impassioned speeches before, and she made some good points even in her off-the-cuff remarks. But of all the many things on the media reform movement’s agenda, taking a bottle of Wite-Out to the first item in the Bill of Rights is way, way off the radar, and I daresay it’s a pretty stupid idea. But of course—thanks to the First Amendment—she’s got a right to speak about it, even in a crowded theater.
For more on the National Conference for Media Reform, click here.
Saturday, June 07, 2008 4:10 PM
It’s easy to look at the disaster in Iraq, hang your head, and curse Dick Cheney’s soul. Indeed sometimes, especially at lefty fests like this weekend’s National Conference for Media Reform, it seems like all our troubles can be traced back to Dick and his underling George. Blood and Oil, a documentary based on Michael T. Klare’s 2004 book of the same name, makes a strong case for looking beyond Bush & Co. to the roots of the United States’ geopolitical oil mongering. Along the way, it takes aim at some sacred idols of the left, namely Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter.
In 1945, as Roosevelt saw the United States’ self-sufficiency in oil production slipping away, he set out to meet with Saudi Arabia’s king, striking a deal that has survived all administrations since: U.S. protection of the Saudi royal family for proprietary oil development rights. From there, Klare, the defense correspondent for the Nation, traces the evolution of U.S. oil policy through various presidents, reserving a special place for Jimmy Carter, who he says laid the foundation for the doctrine sanctioning the use of military force to protect America’s strategic oil interests in the Middle East. Reagan beefed up that doctrine, and, producer Scott Morris noted in a question-and-answer session after the film, Cheney “blew the policy out of the water.” But it didn’t come out of nowhere, and that’s a valuable lesson as we prepare to write the obituary of the Bush administration and look toward the policies of the next president.
For more on the National Conference for Media Reform, click here.
Friday, June 06, 2008 6:09 PM
With a pivotal presidential election just around the corner, attendance was robust at the panel dubbed "Media and the Elections: Covering 2008" at the National Conference for Media Reform. The discussion didn't produce any silver-bullet solutions for immediate improvement of political coverage, but the panelists offered substantial food for thought as Barack Obama and John McCain head for a November showdown.
The starting point, naturally, was the dismal state of mainstream media election coverage: the off-the-charts obsession with remarks made by Obama's pastor, the Rev. James Wright; the racism and sexism on display in coverage of the Obama and Clinton campaigns; the gaping media blind spots on issues of race, the environment, and unemployment; and the marginalization of third-party and lesser-known candidates. John Nichols, Washington correspondent for the Nation magazine and author of the book Tragedy and Farce, put the problem in stark terms: "We're not just seeing bad media. We're seeing assault and battery on our democracy."
Robert "Biko" Baker, a community activist with the League of Young Voters in Milwaukee, brought a more street-level perspective to the topic, describing the poverty and disenfranchisement of the youth he works with—and the vast distance between them and the talking heads on CNN and Fox. "Corporate America runs the media and will continue to run the media until we stop it," he said before concluding with a clarion call: "The world is in peril. We have to challenge our contradictions."
Sirota, author of The Uprising, added a fresh twist to the discussion. Many of us, he noted, see the media as a monolithic force, and we await the news sent down from "Media Mount Olympus." But that passive role is exactly what has strengthened the role of the "paternalistic" media. "We have the chance to be our own media," he says, and we ought to seize it. For another audience, this might have sounded like a simplistic bromide. But for this crowd, made up largely of indie media activists and advocates, it sounded plausible, and when they filed out of the room, you suspected they might just go out and do it.
For more on the National Conference for Media Reform, click here.
Friday, June 06, 2008 6:05 PM
A while back I blogged about a witty British group that’s pushing Parliament to make legislation more technologically accessible to the public with its “Nice, Polite Campaign to Gently Encourage Parliament to Publish Bills in a 21st-Century Way. Please. Now.”
I lamented the lack of such efforts in the United States and longed for tools that would let people easily search and track legislation (no easy task today, as anyone who has rooted around Thomas.gov for legislative information without a public policy degree knows), but also allow citizens the opportunity to provide feedback and help shape the proposed laws that will affect their lives.
Well, apparently there was no need to lament. Turns out there are some innovative, promising stateside websites and online conversations converging to create Legislation 2.0. And I heard all about them at a panel at the National Conference for Media Reform today.
First, there’s Open Congress, a handy project of the Sunlight Foundation and Participatory Politics Foundation that lets you search, track, and comment on legislation. Also check out PublicMarkup.org, another Sunlight effort that goes a step further. The site invited the public to help Sunlight refine their own legislative proposal, the Transparency in Government Act of 2008. They’re culling through the feedback, and a newly revised version of the bill is due out later this month.
“Legislation is essentially an outgrowth of conversation,” said Open Left cofounder and panelist Matt Stoller. “That conversation has been corrupted.” The internet offers a way for citizens to reclaim the dialogue from lobbyists. Stoller offered the real world example of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s efforts to open an online conversation on how to expand broadband access. Live blogging and an unexpected flurry of feedback ensued, unleashing the thoughts and passions of fired-up, informed constituents. And those are the folks that Senate staffers need to hear from (and be motivated by), said panelist Russell Newman, then a legislative aide for Durbin.
They’re all very encouraging developments in terms of democratizing legislation and shedding some light on the machinations of Congress. Before I go, I’ll just mention one more. It’s not about legislation per se, but rather the wining and dining that gets legislation flowing: This July the Sunlight Foundation will release Party Time, a database of all the D.C. hobnobbing, fundraising parties and the hosts who host them. Should be an interesting new tool for tracking the web of money and influence in Washington.
Friday, June 06, 2008 5:51 PM
“Let’s take off the gloves,” moderator Paul Schmelzer of the Minnesota Monitor said to his panelists, an assembly of media critics charged with talking about their changing role in an evolving media landscape. The question: What could they be doing better?
Janine Jackson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) called for more rounded subjects. Critics get mired in deconstructing the coverage of domestic and party politics, she said. Among the areas in which Jackson would like to read more are the disability community, labor news, and feminist and antiracist criticism. She also noted a tendency to focus heavily on print media, neglecting mediums such as radio. “Wherever the influence is, criticism should be,” she stressed.
Eric Deggans of Florida’s St. Petersburg Times noted that media critics don’t criticize themselves very well, that they’re more cautious when approaching their own institutions. Deggens also pointed out the lack of media criticism on TV; he’d like to see the nightly news dissecting media coverage. “[Producers] don’t think viewers are interested,” he said, “but they could get them to be interested.”
Media Matters for America
's Eric Boehlert suggested refraining from personal attacks. It’s a model that’s worked for Media Matters, which keeps its criticism focused on “comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” as opposed to demonizing conservative pundits.
Finally, Diane Farsetta, from the Center for Media and Democracy, chimed in with the need to form partnerships with community, university, and other local organizations. If the media is missing a story, or misreporting the information, instead of “becoming an expert in 30 minutes,” make a community connection, she counseled. Then when you deliver your criticism, you can direct the criticized party to an expert source.
For more on the National Conference for Media Reform, click here.
Friday, June 06, 2008 12:52 PM
The National Conference for Media Reform kicked off today with a rehash of corporate media’s recent and familiar failures—lapdog reporting during the run-up to the Iraq war, the contrived “balanced” coverage of the climate change debate, and the infiltration of Pentagon “message force multipliers” into network and cable news shows, to name a few.
But as fun as it is to lambaste the likes of Rupert Murdoch and his corporate cronies, this conference isn’t about licking the wounds of the past. Rather, speaker after speaker intoned, it’s about looking to the future, harnessing a building movement for media reform, and ensuring the same mistakes aren’t made again.
“In this day and age, we want to be good at reaction, but we need to be much better at proaction and vision,” the Ruckus Society’s Adrienne Maree Brown told the crowd gathered for the conference’s opening plenary. To that end, Brown’s group works with disenfranchised communities to empower them as media creators instead of media consumers. Those previously bereft of media outlets, like young people of color, get to tell their own stories—through low-power FM radio, zines, web zines, video blogs, you name it. The idea here, says Brown, is that communication is action.
“We’re very comfortable on the margins, holding it down,” Brown says. It’s time, though, to move beyond the comfort of the choir.
Today’s movement is well poised to do that, according to Lawrence Lessig, renowned Stanford professor, author, and chair of the Creative Commons project. “Now is the time,” he said “that we understand the issues better than they do.” Lessig gives media reformers an eight-year window—during which they’ll grasp new media’s tools better than the legislators brokering media regulation—and in that time the movement has to secure a free and neutral internet.
Lessig’s issue is congressional reform, freeing the mechanics of government from the vice grip of lobbyists and corporate influence through his new organization Change Congress. Media reform, he says, is central to that mission. And there to back him up on that was Keith Ellison, Democratic representative from Minneapolis, who roused the crowd by telling them that their efforts ripple in the halls of Congress, when they make their voices heard.
“Welcome to the beginning of a great movement in our country that is all about the common good.”
For more on the National Conference for Media Reform, click here.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 3:08 PM
There’s no gloomier time in our library than when we peel open the pages of a new arrival eager to dig into dispatches from some obscure cultural front, only to find the equivalent of a death notice. Such was the case when Youth Truth—the “official zine” of Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions (ASFAR)—came in the mail last week.
This feisty publication has been a fierce defender of the rights of young people, routinely calling on government and society to afford youth the rights and responsibilities granted more aged citizens. In its pages, one could find disturbing chronicles of censorship in schools, news of “gulag” camps for troubled youth, and insightful breakdowns of health and education policies. That's just to name a few of the issues that, if they are covered by mainstream media at all, rarely include the perspective of those darned kids.
Youth Truth’s parent organization is taking a break from zine publishing to focus on its activism. Editor in chief Susan Wishnetsky announces in the latest issue (Winter 2007-2008): “Youth Truth may return, once ASFAR gets its house in order, but we do not expect to publish any more new issues in 2008.”
Here’s hoping 2009 brings better news.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 2:20 PM
Recently redesigned and now biweekly rather than weekly, the venerable Science News chugs along at an awe-inspiring pace. The sheer diversity of scientific information contained in a single issue defies all reason. Except not, since Science News, a 2007 Utne Independent Press Award winner, details the cutting edge of research and reason, highlighting everything from how driving distractions “sap brain power” to new evidence that suggests what was once thought to be “nanobacteria” is not bacteria at all (it's actually a mineral). The publication is hardcore, geeked-out, and information-dense, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t well-reported and well-written. It offers excellent feature writing, including the May 10 issue’s cover story on “carbon sequestration.” For anyone who consistently marvels at newly minted technologies and the wonders of obscure research, Science News is the wellspring you’ve been missing.
Monday, March 17, 2008 11:12 AM
If you haven’t been reading the Oxford American, one of the best showcases for Southern writing this Dixie-loving nation has to offer, now’s a good time to start. The nonprofit magazine has been hit with a big financial blow, albeit of a different variety than what the rest of the ad-revenue-challenged publishing world is experiencing: The Oxford American’s office manager is accused of embezzling upwards of $30,000, Publishers Weekly reports.
In past years, Oxford American has shown a Scarlett O’Hara brand of resilience, weathering three press-stopping financial disasters since it began printing in 1992. Founding editor Marc Smirnoff remains optimistic. “I’m confident that this year we’ll get an infusion of cash,” Smirnoff told Publishers Weekly. “I don’t know why, I just am.” Behold the current issue, phenomenal from front to back, which is dedicated to sports. Boxing, cockfighting, a true-crime murder mystery involving a former rising star in pro baseball, and writing by the likes of M.O. Walsh and John Updike. Rhett Butler be damned, the South shall rise again.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 11:33 AM
It’s a prestigious journal indeed that can name such luminaries as Mark Twain, Sun Tzu, and Winston Churchill among its contributors. The debut issue of Lapham’s Quarterly features work from these thinkers and many others, which makes for a fascinating read and a pretty startling group of contributor bios (Homer’s and Herodotus’ are crowned by classical-sculpture mug shots).
The hefty new journal (all 200+ pages of it) is a labor of love for former Harper’s editor and unabashed history buff Lewis Lapham. Four times a year the Quarterly’s editors will seize upon the most urgent question in the headlines—foreign war, financial panic, the separation of church and state—and dig up relevant responses from authors whose writings have passed the test of time. Lapham’s method assumes that profound observations of the human character and predicament don't become obsolete.
Each issue adheres to a specific theme (this one’s is “States of War”), which is explored through essays by prominent writers past and present. The way the journal frames the ideas of long-dead thinkers within a contemporary context is engrossing, and the selections from modern writers and thinkers are no less effective or prescient.
Lapham’s Quarterly is careful to avoid narratives bogged down in scholar-speak, instead favoring histories rich in both detail and prose. This commitment to readability makes the journal’s content a unique, pleasant marriage of great storytelling and important historical accounts.
Thursday, February 07, 2008 10:50 AM
Getting older is more fun with ELDR, a new magazine that “brings an enlightened, entertaining and sometimes edgy approach to aging.” The second issue (Winter 2007-2008) serves up progressive, informative, fun articles, with content I found interesting even as someone decades younger than the intended audience. I especially enjoyed “Hooray for Gray!,” which reports on the growing number of women who let their hair stay gray, and “Best Fish to Eat,” a chart that rates fish based on health and environmental factors. There’s also a colorful pull-out poster with tips on how to avoid the flu and a longer feature on staying mentally sharp through brain exercises. I no longer have grandparents, but I will definitely recommend ELDR to my parents. (Once they’re old enough to not be offended, anyway.)
Monday, February 04, 2008 7:36 AM
Where do the candidates stand when it comes to supporting alternative media?
by Jason Ericson
So far this election, the media’s focus has been limited to calling (rather unsuccessfully) the long and short odds of the presidential candidates as they jockey for primary positions. Analysis of the candidates’ platforms has been scarce. We know that change = good, terrorists = bad, and health care reform is important (minus the details).
Beyond a few touchstone issues, though, information turns from scant to nonexistent. The sorry state of mainstream election coverage makes this much clear: A flourishing independent media should be a campaign issue. So we ferreted out the candidates’ stances on some key issues that determine the health of the country’s independent media, and homed in on two major strains:
First, we looked at their positions on media ownership, specifically recent trends toward consolidation. This includes the candidates’ responses to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule change in December that relaxed restrictions on a single company’s ability to own both a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same market. The rule change is a boon to industry moguls, and, as the Nation reports, poses a great threat to media diversity.
Second, we examined their stances on network neutrality—the belief that in order to preserve the democratic nature of the Internet, service providers shouldn’t be able to charge more based on content, website destination, or platform. In other words, the information highway shouldn’t become an information toll way. This fundamental tenet of the internet has helped usher in an era of unprecedented openness and participation in the creation of media.
There is a sharp contrast in the amount of airtime the two side’s candidates have given these issues. So far this election, supporting independent media appears to resonate more with the Democratic base than the Republican faithful (though federal moves like the recent postal rate hike have mobilized resistance from liberal and conservative publications alike). Despite a paucity of information, we scrapped together everything we could find about the Republican candidates’ views.
Senator Clinton cosponsored the Media Ownership Act of 2007 (S. 2332), a bill designed expressly to counter the FCC’s December rule change. The legislation would lengthen the comment and review periods on FCC rules changes, promote local programming, and encourage women/minority ownership. But the senator has also drawn fire for her odd political relationship with that poster goat of media consolidation, Rupert Murdoch. She took heat for her participation in a fundraising event Murdoch hosted for her in 2006, complaints about which resurfaced, the New York Times reports, at a campaign stop in November. Senator Clinton is also a cosponsor of the pro-network neutrality bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (S. 215). However, the senator has been criticized from the techie-left for not making net neutrality a more prominent part of her campaign.
Along with Senator Clinton, Senator Obama cosponsored the Media Ownership Act of 2007 and the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. In addition, Senator Obama, ahead of the FCC’s December vote, coauthored a strongly worded op-ed piece with Senator John Kerry warning of the danger that media consolidation poses to women-, minority-, and independently owned media outlets. The two senators also sent a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin threatening to work to cut the proposal’s funding if it passed. Obama has also pushed for the preservation of net neutrality on the campaign trail.
Huckabee has not articulated a clear position on media consolidation issues. However, the former Arkansas governor has given at least middling support to network neutrality. On 10questions.com, he likened the internet to a highway where vehicles from 18-wheelers down to motorcycles should be granted equal access.
Senator McCain told Michael Arrington of TechCrunch that he does not see any actionable problems with the FCC’s current policies and that the commission should aim to stay out of way of business: “I think [the FCC] should focus on policing clearly anti-competitive behavior and consumer predators. But, frankly, until some foul has been committed, I don’t think it should be interfering in the market, and probably shouldn’t be trying to micromanage American business and innovation.” The senator has not articulated a clear position on network neutrality issues, reports Politico.com.
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney has not articulated a clear position on either of these independent media issues.
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008 11:41 AM
We just got our hands on the debut issue of a.magazine, a South Africa–based quarterly of writing, photography, and art. In the resplendent first issue, the editors clarify that the magazine will work to “highlight the modern, the beautiful, the unexpected and complex sides of Africa, while not shying away from writing or art that confronts the work still to be done.” This mission statement alone is enough to grab one’s attention—I can’t think of any magazines out there that are doing this right now—but as if that weren’t enough, the table of contents for this issue boasts well-known literary figures like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Purple Hibiscus) and Zakes Mda (Ways of Dying). A piece by Greg Marinovich, “Fence Jumping: A National Sport,” tracks the paths (literally) of Zimbabweans illegally crossing the border into South Africa, with stunning photos that prove the athleticism of the endeavor. This is one of the most exciting, promising projects I’ve seen in a long while.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 2:14 PM
It's time once again for Heeb's Chosen Issue (Fall 2007), when the sassy Jewish mag's editors ordain their favorite players in arts and entertainment. It's also, as editorial director Rebecca Wiener writes, "a great excuse to unleash our OCD tendencies" with a particularly careful selection process. If that doesn't scare you away, check out the issue's goods, among them an engaging profile of Joan Rivers, who is returning to her roots in the Manhattan comedy clubs, and a short piece about Dmitry, a 33-year-old Ukrainian-born Jew who finally goes ahead with his bris nearly 20 years after emigrating to the United States. The issue also features coverboy Jonah Hill (Superbad) and the Heeb Hundred, a roster of 100 up-and-coming members of the tribe. The print edition includes just 20 of the notably hip crowd, but you can assess the rest of the lineup at Heeb100.com. —Eric Kelsey
Monday, October 15, 2007 5:33 PM
Good news for your weary eyes: A handful of hip indie mags are currently featuring photo-driven issues, which means more eye candy to gaze at and fewer words to pay attention to.
Slick urban arts mag Re:Up shows off its first-ever photography edition this month (issue #14), with thoughtfully presented images by Corey Arnold, Anthony Goicolea, Jean-Paul Goude (whose iconic portrait of Grace Jones dominates the cover), and other professional and amateur photographers.
Fellow Brooklynite Wax Poetics, a lively magazine devoted to hip-hop, jazz, funk, and soul music, just rolled out its first photo issue as well (October/November). True to the magazine's mission, its snappy photo essays are borne out of the music world, mostly (but not exclusively) from hip-hop scenes past and present.
British design magazine Creative Review publishes a king-sized photography annual every October. This year's works are showcased in a roomy 75-page advertising-free zone, with photographs that run the gamut from artsy to gutsy to out-there. I really dig my Creative Review's cover, which features one of Matthew Georgeson's mesmerizing cityscape photos (from his "Metropolis" series). Scope out the other cover possibilities—one of which is Nadav Kander’s nearly life-sized head shot of David Lynch—at an artsy newsstand near you. —Danielle Maestretti
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