From the Stacks: December 1, 2006

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.

The
Southern
Poverty Law Center
(SPLC), the venerable Alabama-based civil
rights organization, prints the good with the bad in its quarterly
publication,
SPLC Report. Alongside examinations of
racist extremism and human rights abuses are heartening tales of
justice and tolerance. The September 2006 issue discusses
Congressional reactions to the SPLC’s July report on racist
extremists in the military. As for positive developments, we learn
that a major Hurricane Katrina contractor has been taken to task.
Migrant workers who were active in post-Katrina cleanup and
rebuilding will finally be paid for overtime labor. The SPLC also
publishes
Intelligence Report, which focuses on
in-depth investigations of extremist activities and hate groups in
the United States. — Danielle Maestretti

Buddhism Today, published by the
California nonprofit Diamond Way Buddhist Centers USA, is aimed at
Westerners ‘leading normal, active lives, who wish to understand
and experience [the] mind’s vast potential.’ The Fall/Winter 2006
issue applies the Eastern religion to Western culture by depicting
‘The Brain in Meditation’ and discussing the value of meditation
retreats in Western life. Another instance of fusion is found in
Gretchen Rose Newmark’s ‘Counseling as a Buddhist Practice.’ As a
nutrition therapist, Newmark helps those with ailments such as
compulsive eating or anorexia find the ‘happiness and freedom’ they
are searching for by teaching them to be mindful — but not
judgmental — of their bodies’ needs and their relationships with
food. The idea is that the healing then follows naturally.
Suzanne Lindgren

The Borderlands Theater in Tucson, Arizona, may be 63 miles from
the US-Mexico border, but inside, illegal crossing and immigration
issues are played out at arm’s length. The December issue of
American
Theatre
spotlights the playhouse’s newest production,
Evangeline Ordaz’s Visitor’s Guide to Arivaca (Map Not to
Scale),
which writer Kerri Allen sums up this way: ‘Those who
arrived with a one-dimensional view of the immigration problem had
their tunnel-vision dispelled in short order.’ The rest of the
publication reads like an industry insider, informing thespians and
craftspeople of opportunities and showcasing productions from
around the world. — Rachel Anderson

‘Think
for yourself or they will think for you,’ reads the caption of an
anti-ad featuring a man, a baseball bat, and a mountain of smashed
televisions. Justin Renteria’s work is just one of many that goads
readers away from the siren song of commercialism in the
January/February issue of
Adbusters. This month’s cover section
satirizes a recent layout in Vogue Italia, which featured
a model donning a red dress whilst sprawled on the ground, a man’s
foot on her neck and battalion at her chest. Adbusters
took the theme a bit further, offering pricing on all accoutrements
(‘assault rifle $3600’) so that readers might create their own
fashion-forward world of police brutality. — Rachel
Anderson

Air Canada’s
in-flight magazine, EnRoute, caught my eye this week with its
two-page photo commentary on consumerism. The spread features
artist Colwyn Griffith’s mini Great Wall of China made out of Rice
Krispie Treats and England’s Millennium Dome crafted out
lifesavers. The magazine contains the requisite destination
information and reviews, but the November ‘Food Issue,’ with
articles in both English and French, is stylish enough that it
could easily be confused with a glossy sold at a newsstand.
Especially cool were the five delightfully useful pages dedicated
to prize-winning tips on everything from how to concoct the best
chocolate (it’s all in the chemistry) to how to make the perfect
pizza crust (think flavor). — Jenna Fisher

Places: Forum of Design for the Public
Realm
is produced by a consortium of eight schools
of architecture, design, and planning. The latest issue to
arrive, Summer’s ‘Media and the City,’ examines how the notion of
‘public space’ is being expanded beyond the physical by technology
and collaboration. ‘Zaragoza’s Digital Mile: Place-Making in a New
Public Realm’ discusses plans for an interactive zone in Zaragoza,
Spain, replete with (among other innovations) digital façades,
pavement that changes to reflect patterns of use, and a ‘waterwall’
that responds to the environment and human interaction. Projects
like this show just how much technology is changing our landscape.
I’ve found that in Places, the emphasis is just as much on
technology as it is on people — how we make, define, and change
the places we inhabit. — Evelyn Hampton

Zines
capture what’s beautiful (and sometimes ugly) about
self-publishing: raw prose, copy machine quirks, and startling
images. So does Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? The Art of Making
Zines and Mini-Comics
(Graphia, 2006), an
inspiring guide to the history and making of zines. Written by
experienced zine-makers Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson,
Whatcha Mean covers the basics (such as how to bind pages
and master the copy machine) with entertaining graphic narrations.
But like any good zine, this guide contains aesthetic and textual
nuances that are best appreciated firsthand. — Evelyn
Hampton

Plenty makes good on its name and its
green mission in its December/January issue. Not only is the
bimonthly produced on 80 percent recycled paper, but the current
issue is chock-full of green ideas to get you through the holidays.
Get a head start on your shopping with the green gift guide, which
includes write-ups on gems such as a mini self-sustaining ecosystem
and a small wind turbine. Elsewhere, you can read about the
evolution of activism or discover how beer companies are practicing
renewable brewing. If you’ve still got the winter blahs, an article
on snowbiking might help, or you can find out how to volunteer with
World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization that
connects ‘agritourists’ with farmers across the world.
Elizabeth Ryan

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