From the Stacks: August 4, 2006

| August 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.

Un Chín magazine's 'ch issue' (#7) is chock-full of charm. There's a tribute to comedians Charlie Chaplin and his Latin American equivalent, Chespirito. Cheech Marin chats about Chicano-made artwork. 'Jazz-brat' Monday Michiru advocates for the online record label ArtistShare. And a member of the media watchdog group Chica Luna mouths off about the nonprofit's social justice-themed film festival. The 'ch's' don't end here. Also inside is author Michelle Serros, news on London's Saatchi gallery, Manu Chao, Chile's former president, and Chef Claude Chassagne's fusion restaurant, Chubo. -- Kristen Mueller

A patch of land, permanent population, functioning government, and willingness to relate to other states is all you need to create your own country. If you're interested in checking out how other folks have fared in that quest, check out Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations, which illuminates the often hilarious histories of dozens of these unmapped territories. Take the Principality of Sealand, 'a crumbling former anti-aircraft tower in the North Sea'; the Copeman Empire, which consists of a caravan that rolls across the UK; and the Kingdom of North Dumpling Island, the currency of which is -- yep -- the dumpling  (its value is pi). -- Kristen Mueller

Leaving the doom and gloom to someone else, the Autumn issue of the UK's Permaculture Magazine stays positive and true to its motto, 'Solutions for Sustainable Living.' They offer a tale of two eco-villages, weighing the pros and cons of a more urban community versus a rural village. In 'Putting My House in Order,' Donnachadh McCarthy details how he transformed his home's plumbing, heating, and electricity to be more eco-friendly. There are also how-tos on building your own compost bin and reusing old oil drums. Also of note: Chris Johnstone's article, 'From Overwhelm to Engagement,' insists that if we're to overcome climate change, we'll have to do away with all the fear and make sustainability enjoyable. -- Rachel Anderson

A little warning about the latest Matrix: You might not want to be eating or drinking while reading issue #74, for risk that you'd choke from the hilarity of some of the stories. Jordan Scott grapples with whom he wants more in his bed, his girlfriend or his Cabbage Patch Kid, in 'The New Canadian Pornography.' Equally entertaining are the comics and 'fan friction' paying homage to Xena: Warrior Princess, Lost and Charles in Charge. The Canadian publication reads like a zine all-stars edition, where the unrestrained artistic license is clear, as is the talent of the dozens of contributors. -- Rachel Anderson

DJ Frederick's zine, the /wave project, is devoted to shortwave and pirate radio. The third issue, 'RADIO/waves,' covers pirate (a.k.a., 'free') radio from technical instruction -- 'Single Side Band' and 'How to hear your first pirate' -- to personal experiences with the medium. Also included are interviews with the likes of Alan Maxwell, a sub-cultural hero. DJ Frederick's veneration for this elusive mode of contact emanates from the page, drawing any reader in, pirate radio fan or otherwise. Even tech-speak has a tendency to become poetic through his words, as in his explanation of propagation: 'Shortwave radio signals are capable of reaching the other side of the planet because they can be refracted by the ionosphere.' -- Suzanne Lindgren

The July 20-26 cover of the Denver alt weekly Westword pictures three young women looking idealistic and ready to build a bike. Inside, writer Jared Jacang Maher asks, 'Why is the city putting the brakes on the Derailer Bike Collective?' When some political-minded youngsters started a free bike shop/workshop for locals out of their garage in a poor part of town, most people -- though not everyone -- approved. Add the naysayers to a tangle with the FBI for involvement in peaceful protests, and you have the recipe for a cease and desist order. The conflict serves as a vehicle for discussing a more interesting aspect of the story -- the Do It Yourself attitude of the women who started the collective and aim to keep it going despite obstacles. -- Suzanne Lindgren

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