From the Stacks: August 3, 2007


| August, 2007


Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

In the debut issue of Meatpaper, editors Amy Standen and Sasha Wizansky describe the magazine as 'an investigation into what we see as a growing cultural trend of meat consciousness.' San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino, interviewed by Standen, is helping to foster that understanding with his unorthodox cuisine of offal. Known to butchers as the 'fifth quarter,' offal is essentially what's left after what Americans regard as choice cuts are packaged for the supermarket. (The term derives from the phrase 'off fall.') Serving up spleen and tripe is part of Consentino's effort to expand his customers' palates and bring them closer to the animals they eat. 'What I try to do,' he says, 'is make people understand a whole-animal ethic.' -- Eric Kelsey

ComicsJournalAlternative and subversive comics are given their due respect, thought, and artful appreciation in the Comics Journal. Published eight times a year by Fantagraphics Books, the publication offers 200 pages of reviews, artist interviews, analyses of contemporary and historical comics, and scores of comics ranging from the absurdly grotesque to the affectionately playful. Highlights from the July issue include a lengthy interview with artist Gene Yang, author of the graphic novel American Born Chinese. Yang talks about the mainstream success of his work, including the infiltration of his comics into middle school lesson plans. -- Natalie Hudson

Never too big for its own good, Small Farm Today effectively covers a variety of issues relevant to rural, ecofriendly, and agrarian communities. The bimonthly magazine offers farming advice in the larger contexts of community and the environment. In the May/June issue John Ikerd, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, questions whether the global capitalism practiced today is sustainable. (The short answer is 'no,' but the long answer is much more interesting.) Other features look at 'How to Save Money on Lawnmower Repairs' and making raised garden beds out of cinder blocks. -- Natalie Hudson

Another dispatch from the farm arrived in the library this week. As 'The Voice of Eco-Agriculture' for the past 35 years, Acres USA gets into the down and dirty of ecoconscious farming -- the techniques, the politics, and the farmers. This monthly magazine from Austin, Texas, profiles farms and farmers nationwide, detailing the philosophies and economics that sustain the industry. In the August issue, Rebecca Reider looks to New Zealand to figure out whether an 'organic cartel' of international cooperation would be a smart way for farmers to consolidate their resources. Reider concludes that organic farmers and marketers must find a way to combat the cheaper-is-better mentality of supermarkets and chain stores. -- Julie Dolan

The July/August issue of Academe, a magazine catering to university professors, takes an in-depth look at US military academies. In a synopsis of a two-year, in-house study conducted by two US Air Force Academy, professors  Kathleen Harrington and Jackson A. Niday II write that oaths of office and the US constitution command military officers 'to think more critically, more accurately, and more independently' to ensure academic freedom. Also in the issue, English professor Lucretta A. Flammang examines the role of the humanities in the Coast Guard Academy where she teaches. According to Flammang, the decline of the humanities has coincided with the rise of pop culture images and stereotypes of soldiers as 'an ideal of masculinity that values action over thought.' -- Eric Kelsey