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 fifth 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.
Wanderlust takes us all from time to time, but when you just can't get away, reading vagabond missives can be the next best thing. Issue 53 of 2004 Utne Independent Press Award winner Moonlight Chronicles -- hot off the presses -- could be just what you need to (almost) feel the free and easy night sky pass blissfully over you. The newest issue delivers a daily sketchbook chronicle from intrepid peripatetic philosopher D. Price, taking you a'wandering through Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, and the writer's luminous ruminations. The pocket-sized booklet reads like an 8-year-old speaks: honest, charming, and, at times, blindingly brilliant. -- Nick Rose
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote earlier this week about government agents in a public library, and quoted Benjamin Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." On the heels of reading this we've received the new issue of Statewatch , a watchdog publication "monitoring the state and civil liberties in the UK and Europe." Only the names have changed. This edition of Statewatch reports on the increasing ability for law enforcement and security agencies in Europe to access databases of people's fingerprints, DNA, and photographs; lists a dozen "incidents at sea" in late 2005 that resulted in the death of migrants; and provides background on the forced use of emetics in Germany on people suspected of having swallowed drugs. Included also: news clippings related to the military, prisons, and policing. -- Chris Dodge
The newly formatted, perfect-bound spring 2006 Clamor magazine arrived this week, sporting a slightly changed subtitle ("Your DIY Guide to Everyday Revolution") and new elements, including a thematic reader-written section reminiscent of The Sun's "Readers Write." (This issue's theme mirrors the cover story, "Land & Geography," which includes a photo-essay on mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia.) With this edition Clamor moves from bimonthly to quarterly publication and expands to 96 pages. Included here are an interview with the initiator of an oral-history project documenting experiences of displaced New Orleans residents, an article on resistance to genetically modified crops in Africa, and profiles of four environmental justice groups. Kudos to Jen Angel and Jason Kucsma for persisting in publishing a political magazine that puts forth ideas, not (for the most part) gear and crap to buy. I wish they'd return authors' bylines to the table of contents page and rethink the full-page house ads with pictures of pretty young women. -- Chris Dodge
It has all the characteristics of a book you would read a five-year-old before bed. Illustrated cartoons, clever rhymes, and envelopes perfect for tiny fingers to pull out messages. It's even based on a children's classic, The Jolly Postman. But the bad guy isn't a wolf in grandma's nightgown. It's George W. Bush. The Jolly President: or Letters George W. Bush Never Read -- due out from Lunatic Press in April -- is Joey Green's satirical dig on America's political climate. With Osama Bin Laden, Dick Cheney, and John Ashcroft as the supporting cast, this is one fairy tale you'll want to keep out of small hands. -- Kristen Mueller
It's easy to sink your critical teeth into the Vietnam War -- a dash of "military-industrial complex," a pinch of "inept foreign policy," and you're pretty close to a coherent analysis. Ed Salven's new book The Soldier Factory: A Window eschews this recipe in favor of a more home-style, off-the-cuff approach. Trained at Fort Ord in California during the height of the Vietnam War, Salven decided to revisit the "soldier factory." These visits spawned the book -- an impressionistic salvo to both the scared and determined men who passed through the Ord and the fort itself -- which intersperses Salven's military memories with paintings of soldiers by university students hung in Ord's now-boarded-up windows. Out in June from George Braziller, Inc. -- Nick Rose
The March/April issue of Ethical Consumer just arrived from the United Kingdom. The cover story is on problems with big pharmaceutical companies, exposing the drugs with the worst records on the environment, animal testing, and workers rights. The magazine is filled with tangible tips on how to stay ethical in today's consumer culture, including one piece on whether electric or gas stoves are better for the environment (the given answer is gas). The articles are often accompanied by easily readable charts or bullet points, like tips on how to make your cooking more environmentally sustainable. Suggestions range from using lids for your pans to eating more raw foods. -- Bennett Gordon
The first issue of Geez recently resurfaced in the library, and it is blasphemous. Filled with insights into spirituality and the powers-that-be, this magazine is ad-free and made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. The flagship issue deals with the strange phenomenon of "altar calls," where spiritual leaders call upon congregants to come forward to profess their faith. Geez, named for the euphemism for Jesus as an expletive, turns this practice on its head by publishing a few altar calls of their own by people like Mahatma Ghandi and anti-globalization expert Vandana Shiva. With poetry, personal essays, and photography, Geez presents a mix of social activism and spirituality. -- Bennett Gordon