April 28, 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.
From rural Iowa, editor/publisher/printer Timothy Fay sent the most recent two issues of his annual journal Wapsipinicon Almanac (#11 and #12), both a pleasure to hold and to behold. Looking straight out of the '60s, utterly unpretentious in tone, the Almanac wends its way unhurriedly from folksy editorial notes through essays by Iowans visiting Chiapas and living in New England and Saudi Arabia, historical articles on such topics as 'Jews in 19th century Iowa,' Iowa-related book reviews, and articles about drinking water, chemtrails, Iowa wineries, and the Wapsipinicon River itself. You don't need to be a native of the Hawkeye State to enjoy the journal's simple design, so compelling that I even felt inclined to linger over spot art and ads for the likes of corn-burning stoves, a regional puppet theater, and traditional wooden caskets made by Trappist monks. For more information: 19948 Shooting Star Rd., Anamosa, IA 52205; (319) 462-4623. -- Chris Dodge
A hand-size zine dedicated to promoting and exhibiting mail art exchange made its way from the land down under to Utne's library this week. The two stapled-together booklets, titled Gratis, contain drawings, photos, and invitations for mail artists to send pieces to their contemporaries in Belgium, France, Brazil, and Australia. Current projects include 'Wipe,' which asks for '40 sheets of printed toilet tissue,' and a call for jokers taken from card decks. A sticker with the word 'URGENT' in red letters, a super-sized seven of diamonds, and a colorfully stamped postcard also are included, providing ample material to concoct your own creation for shipping back overseas. -- Kristen Mueller
From the interior of a yurt -- a domed tent that traditionally housed Asian nomads -- Dan Frank Kuehn updated his previously self-published book, Mongolian Cloud Houses. Shelter Publications released the re-write this month, with the subtitle 'How to Make a Yurt and Live Comfortably' added to the cover. Inside are 140 pages of detailed instructions and diagrams mapping the path to constructing your own inexpensive home, along with a short photo scrapbook illustrating three decades of Kuehn's yurts around northern New Mexico to browse through between sawing rafters and sewing smoke hole covers. -- Kristen Mueller
'Outsider Art' can catch you by surprise with its unorthodox representations of artists' inner worlds. Such is the case with Raw Vision, a quarterly with offices in New York, Paris, and the UK. The high-quality magazine ferrets out art from the most unlikely of places while consciously avoiding the conceptual, theory-driven art culture of today. The Spring 2006 issue features a spread on art by women who had been confined in German psychiatric asylums in the early 20th century. The featured pieces, and the accompanying text, demonstrate how art helped individuals create a rich inner world as a stay against the brutal circumstances around them. -- Nick Rose
Out of Vancouver, PRISM international strives to publish the 'best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world.' The Spring 2006 'Homelands Issue' seems to do just that. Gathered loosely around the idea of home -- missing it, returning to it, leaving it for good -- the pieces form a diversity of voices that mirrors the many meanings home can have for all of us. -- Nick Rose
In an interview in the May/June issue of Sierra, the official magazine of the Sierra Club, superstar ethologist Jane Goodall explains that chimps aren't the only animals on the planet that are in trouble: People need help too. A large part of Goodall's work has shifted from primatology to fighting AIDS and advocating family planning. As she points out, 'Worldwide there are more human children born everyday than the total number of great apes left in the wild.' The issue also covers the current ecological crossroads of Puerto Rico, where relentless development threatens the island's natural beauty and safety. -- Bennett Gordon