From the Stacks: April 14, 2006

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 they can’t all fit into our bimonthly
magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of ‘From
the Stacks.’ Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of
the independent and alternative media.

The quarterly magazine of the
Wisconsin Academy of
Sciences, Arts and Letters
sports a new name with the Spring
2006 issue:
People & Ideas
. Editor Joan Fischer says the old title
Wisconsin Academy Review — was widely considered ‘dry
and daunting’ and didn’t accurately impart the accessible content.
The magazine has been academicspeak-free in the five years I’ve
seen it regularly, running articles of interest to general readers,
even ones outside Wisconsin. The new issue features a ten-page
article about Ho-Chunk photographer Tom Jones, with eleven of his
photo portraits, four depicting his grandfather, Jim Funmaker Sr.
It also includes an ongoing ‘In My Words’ section of reader-written
pieces, this time focusing on childbirth. — Chris

a British magazine named
of the best new titles of 2005 by Utne
, lives up to
its label in the newly arrived ninth issue (April/May). Seventy
percent of the articles were penned by writers who aren’t old
enough to rent a car from many companies, but when they do reach
the standard 25-year mark, you won’t see them tooling down Oxford
Street in gas-guzzling Land Rovers, as illustrated in the article
‘Oh, SUVs… How I Hate You.’ Contributing to the green theme is an
interview with Bjork, the amateur ‘spokesperson for
nature’/musician, who defends the ‘velvety black silt mountains’
and ‘delicate crystal streams’ of her native Iceland. Three percent
of the country ‘will have disappeared under water’ with the
completion of the Karajnukar project, which plans to build ‘an
enormous hydroelectric dam… to service the US owned Alcoa
aluminum plant.’ — Kristen Mueller

One needn’t be Jewish, or a student, to appreciate
New Voices, a
Jewish student magazine out of New York. Though it tackles big
issues, it does so in an offbeat manner that provides refreshing
perspectives on topics otherwise considered understood. The
March/April issue reviews a book titled Hitler and the Power of
. As a way into the piece — subtitled ‘Why does
good art happen to bad people?’ — the reviewer recounts his
‘experiment’ standing on a street corner, asking Jews their
opinions on a painting he later explains was done by Hitler. ‘They
praised the sunniness of the piece, the happy mood, and the ‘pretty
colors.’ I then showed them the byline: Adolf Hitler. Dispositions
changed from pleasure to shock, horror, and embarrassment.’ —
Nick Rose

Poetry Project Newsletter
is one of the many aspects of
The Poetry Project.
Based in New York City and founded in 1966, the organization is
constantly holding readings and other events aimed at providing a
space where poets and writers can commingle. The list of poets who
have passed through its doors reads as a who’s who of the literary
world. The Newsletter itself provides much the same
service, keeping readers up to date with what’s going on in poetry
circles around the nation while highlighting literary happenings in
NYC proper. The April/May issue eulogizes Barbara Guest, a New York
poet and critic who recently died. The piece concludes: ‘The
gracious and persevering maker has left us, but what she made will
challenge and enlarge our world for a long time to come.’ —
Nick Rose

book couldn’t possibly cover all of the roadside attractions in the
Midwest, but Eric Dregni’s

Midwest Marvels
comes pretty close. The book begins with
Albert the Bull in Audubon, Iowa, a 30-foot-high ‘monument to the
beef industry’ that claims to be the world’s largest anatomically
correct bull. Joining Albert are the world’s largest six-pack, Earl
Bunyan (the lesser known brother of lumberjack Paul Bunyan), and
Minnesota’s Spam Museum. Questions like ‘Where the Hell is Wall
Drug?’ will be answered with the meticulously researched histories
of these shrines of kitsch. The book is perfect for adventurous
road-trippers or Americana devotees. Due out from the University of
Minnesota Press next month. — Bennett Gordon

A romantic nostalgia flows through the pages of the latest issue
of Common
, an official publication of the National Park
Service with the mission of ‘Preserving Our Nation’s Heritage.’ The
Spring issue delves into America’s mining history in search of a
‘Silver Lining in a Prospecting Past.’ Joe Flanagan, the article’s
author, doesn’t focus on the dark cloud of environmental
destruction, but chooses to depict the beauty and grandeur still
present in the old mining towns of Colorado. The issue also
profiles a 200-year-old quarantine facility in Pennsylvania and a
Maryland amusement park whose history encapsulates the 1950s. —
Bennett Gordon

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