From the Stacks: February 9, 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.

‘Capitalism bites!’ So begins the charming, campy
tale of Buffy the Anarcho-Syndicalist, a comic distributed
by
AK Press that combines the spirit of the
cult TV series with the rhetoric of anti-capitalist activists.
The author clearly shares my long-harbored crush on Giles
(Buffy’s ‘watcher’ on the onetime WB show), who appears in the
comic as a sizzling ‘hardened revolutionary’ sporting a beret,
sunglasses, and a series of sexy poses. Ahem. The story unfolds
much like that of a typical Buffy episode, with our ‘proletarian
heroes’ rescuing innocent people from the clutches of various
evildoers (Klansmen, fascists, and capitalist vampires). There’s
a close call when Maria, the sinister CEO of Blood Red
Enterprises, nearly turns Buffy into her slave and, worse yet,
her ‘loyal consumer!’ If there’s another installment, I want to
see more puns — on the show, Buffy’s best feature was her love
of all things punny — but for now, I’m just happy that somebody
dreamed this up. — Danielle Maestretti

The Believer delivers exactly what heavy
readers and culture snobs love to see: interviews with obscure
artists and under-the-radar comedians, book reviews in which the
entire publication is summed up with one question, writers writing
about writers, the famous interviewing the famous, diagrams about
editing Wikipedia and the 16 steps involved in Pee-wee
Herman’s breakfast-making machine. The February issue opens with
musings on boredom. Fifty-two pages later, artist David Byrne
interviews evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson and they discuss
the quandaries of anthropomorphism. Like all
McSweeney’sendeavors, the Believer has
an artsy feel; it’s printed on heavy stock paper with clean designs
throughout. Occasionally, funky postcards are tucked into an issue,
to go along with the subscription card assuring readers in tiny
print that the Believer ‘is almost entirely awesome.’ —
Mary O’Regan

If the pages of the Believer, the
Sun, and the
Virginia
Quarterly Review
got swept up in a tumultuous tornado and
fell on someone’s desk, the beauteous result would look a lot the
Crier. The pages of the second issue of
this new literary magazine are filled with reviews and articles
fresh enough to give pause (see the piece on a colony of hemophilic
dogs) and graphics intriguing enough to keep you looking for more
(check out the illustration on how to make your own foie gras
shadow puppet). While technology has made it easier for small
publications to start up, it seems those willing to put a stake in
the old-fashioned publishing world aren’t as common. Not so with
the Crier, which insists on hand hold-able paper pages as
an important part of the artful experience — one bolstered by
commissioning a different artist to illustrate each issue. —
Jenna Fisher

Conservationis the newly re-titled
quarterly published by the nonprofit Society for Conservation
Biology (SCB) in Virginia and backed by a slew of reputable
conservation organizations. The January/March issue marks the
evolution of the magazine’s mission. Once named Conservation
Biology in Practice
, the publication now aims to focus more
broadly on conservation, daring to promise the best minds and
writing in the field and to ‘connect science to human experience.’
Of note in this issue, the editors spotlight five folks to track
this year in ‘Forward Thinkers,’ and in ‘When Worlds Collide’
Douglas Fox offers a look at climate change, focusing on the impact
it has on various species. — Elizabeth Ryan

Broken Pencilis one of those independent
arts magazines that you might stare at longingly as it sits on the
coffee table of a hip, young friend. But now is a better time than
ever to start getting your own copies because the issues keep
getting wilder. In addition to the usual book, zine, and music
reviews, Issue #34 — ‘The Games Issue’ — explores everything from
hipster bingo to urban manhunts. In editor Lindsay Gibb’s feature,
seven gamesters got together to ‘create a board game mash-up’ in
which games like Clue, Connect Four, and Sweet Valley High were
combined to make the ultimate board-hopping party. The result:
‘Sweet Valley Die.’ Sounds like fun. — Mary O’Regan

‘Games’ is a popular theme in our library this week — it’s
there in the latest issues of
Broken
Pencil
and Topic‘s Issue #10. The latter’s
interpretation of ‘Games’ includes the vast realm of video and
virtual reality games. In ‘Weight Loss Revolutionary,’ Matt Keene
writes about the interactive video game Dance Dance Revolution
(DDR), in which players hop, skip, jump, and try to dance along to
music and moving arrows that indicate where players should step on
an interactive mat. The DDR phenomenon has been
making headlines for the game’s role in
helping kids stay fit. As Matt concludes: ‘This is the story of
how a video-arcade game transformed a 500-pound depressed
teenager into a fit young man who’s never been happier.’ —
Evelyn Hampton

Like war rhetoric, peace rhetoric often echoes from
the highest echelons of policy making by those sheltered from war
and poverty. There are smaller voices however, that speak from the
thick of social justice struggles, voices that recognize the
worthiness of a peaceful endeavor as well as the work it entails.
Peacework, a journal published monthly
(excluding January and August) by the
New
England office of the American Friends Service Committee
,
is one such voice. In the February issue, contributors Natalia
Cardona and Jessica Walker Beaumont expose the human costs of the
drug war in Colombia and highlight the Indigenous Peace Guard that
serves as the nonviolent protector of communities threatened by
paramilitaries. After reading the stories and biographies you can
check out the back pages for listings of campaigns, gatherings, and
resources to aid you in your own peace work. — Natalie
Hudson

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