Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we've decided to share the gems here: Welcome to the third edition of "From the Stacks," a new weekly feature on Utne.com. Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
Received here in the wake of recent coal mining accidents in West Virginia, William C. Blizzard's When Miners March (Appalachian Community Services, 304-927-5333) is a contemporary (but uncorrected) edition of a work serialized in a newspaper called Labor's Daily in 1952 and 1953. The book describes how unionized coal miners in West Virginia in the early '20s battled an army of private coal company detectives backed by federal troops who attacked miners from the air. You know a bit of the story if you've seen the John Sayles film Matewan, and more if you've read Lon Savage's 1982 Thunder in the Mountains, David Alan Corbin's The West Virginia Mine Wars (1990), or Robert Shogan's The Battle of Blair Mountain (2004). Blizzard's book, however, is closer to the sources than those. Not only was it written when some of the key players were still alive, its author is the son of chief protagonist Bill Blizzard, who led the miners' march and was tried on treason charges for his efforts. -- Chris Dodge
The February issue of Rock & Rap Confidential -- a standout newsletter of music writing and coverage -- just arrived this week. It leads with a dispatch from Bethany Ewald Bultman, the co-founder and program director for the New Orleans Musician's Clinic, reporting the highs (new temporary offices) and lows (resurrecting a corporate-sponsored Mardi Gras) as the group works to provide musicians health care and get them back in homes. A fun nugget of reminiscence comes from Associate Editor Danny Alexander, who was led to quirky musings on what rock 'n' roll has lost after going to a Billy Idol concert with his niece. Queries Alexander: "Where are the rock bands today who sound like they actually love sex as much as Def Leppard does on songs like 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' or 'Armageddon It'?" A question for the ages. -- Hannah Lobel
A great many valuable publications that expose the seamy underbelly of our geopolitical situation come in to the office. So it can be nice to relax with lighter fare, like the recently delivered Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat?: Pop Psychology for Superheroes . Providing a rare glimpse into our caped friends' softer sides, the book, illustrated by Lia Miternique, reminds us that superheroes are people, too. Those perfectly positioned codpieces don't just materialize out of thin air, and, according to authors Chelsea Cain and Marc Mohan, a lot more thought goes into their awe-inspiring monikers than meets the eye. So don't let it get you down when you aren't able to bend steel bars (let alone crush a beer can on your forehead), because superheroes cry, too. Due out in June 2006 from Chronicle Books. -- Nick Rose
Hi-Fructose is a magazine about toys, but children aren't the target audience for this beautiful, glossy art publication. The magazine describes itself as "a cross section of the best and bizarre of Toysploitation and Under the Counter Culture." The premiere issue, which just landed in our library this week, consists mostly of profiles and Q&A's with underground urban artists such as Brian McCarty, a toy photographer described as the "Annie Leibovitz of the indy toy revolution." Issue #2 is due out soon. -- Bennett Gordon
The latest issue of Afterimage contains an interesting interview with William Pope.L, a performance artist whose pieces consist of epic crawls (that's right, literal crawls) on the streets "in the name of, and in support for, those who lived upon them." From there the bimonthly journal goes on to discuss Hye Rim Lee's TOKI, an installation that explores the swirling nexus of thought on the human body as idealized form. Writer Barry King sees the art as partly "an avatar standing for the artist herself," partly "an animal mimicking human identity." From crawling performance art to digitized and essentialized identity, the Jan./Feb. issue of Afterimage develops the new direction that its recent redesign put forth, that of expanding its coverage of art as political activism while maintaining a high degree of graphic quality. -- Nick Rose
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