From the Stacks: July 14, 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.

Jim Lowe’s zine, Time is the Problem, seems to have
been cobbled together by an introspective teenager. Handwritten
using capital letters, its 32 photocopied pages look a little
messy. But don’t be fooled. This zine is the work of a mature mind.
In three previous issues Lowe presented anecdotes about
coincidence, posed deep questions, and examined paradox and
meaning. In his new issue (#4) Lowe focuses on fan letters he’s
written in his life and surprising developments that ensued. A
boyhood query to ‘Information, Department of Justice’ drew response
from J. Edgar Hoover himself, but failed to dampen Lowe’s
inquisitive nature. A letter to Brazilian pianist Bernardo Segall
opened a door to weekly music lessons. A note to English author
Lucy Boston (whose autobiography is titled Perverse and
) led to a 10-day visit with Boston and to multiple
friendships. This zine should come labeled with the warning Lowe
says is posted along his driveway (from a British traffic sign):
‘Caution: Altered Priorities Ahead.’ Box 152, Elizaville, NY 12523.
Chris Dodge

Massage therapists use ‘bony landmarks,’ those ‘bumps and
nubbins and grooves in your skeleton that everything attaches to,’
to locate and then relieve tension in aching muscles. Andrew
Coltrin uses the term to title his zine. Bony Landmarks
(#2) is a DIY collection of true adventure tales, comics, and
cultural artifacts produced by Coltrin and his fellow members of
the Look for Signage Art Collective, a group of creatives dedicated
to obtaining answers by using the visual cues surrounding them. To
learn more about the collective, or to order a $3 zine, e-mail
Kristen Mueller

If I created the
syllabus for a comprehensive historical literature course,
Literature Today
, published bimonthly at the
University of Oklahoma, would be required reading. Profiled in the
July-August issue is famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who created the Silk
Road Project, a nonprofit organization that ‘promotes collaboration
and a sense of community among institutions, artists, and audiences
who share a fascination with the artistic imagination.’ Yo-Yo Ma
explains how narratives in literature and music act as passageways
in the exploration of foreign ideas and cultures. Exiled Algerian
writers Marie Virolle and Aïssa Khelladi also are interviewed about
their literary magazine, Algérie Littérature/Action,
created in Paris in response to the devastation in their war-torn
country. That publication provides a forum where ‘writers and
artists…raise their voices in favor of a free and pluralistic
Algeria.’ — Miriam Skurnick

‘Cartoon Travelog.’ Not two
words you see together often, but that’s how Mats!? (yes, his name
includes punctuation) defines
Asiaddict, his silly and functional
write-up on Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It’s actually as much a
guide as a travelog — beneath the bombardment of sensationalistic
art and overabundant exclamation points, Mats!? gives sound advice
about the attractions, transportation, and cultures in each
country. He also weaves in the region’s horrific history in highly
readable form — so readable, in fact, that one wonders if he isn’t
taking it too lightly. Perhaps intentionally, then,
Asiaddict brings up timely questions about humor, drawing
style, and even the definition of the comics/cartoon format. I’m
not sure what Asiaddict is, but I do hope I see more
things like it very soon. — Rachel Jenkins

Iza Bourret recently divided
her zine, Orange and Blue, into six smaller, focused
zines. The Happy Loner is her ‘perzine’ (personal
zine), a lovingly patched-together, scratched-out, photocopied
artifact of a sometimes strange, always likeable individual.
Bourret begins issue #1 by defining a happy loner — ‘a person who
is content with doing things on their own’ — then takes us
straight into her life in Quebec City. Bus maps and ferry schedules
are the physical backdrop for endearing daily life stories — a
mouse on the bus, a new sweater from the thrift store, her
friendship with the illiterate Marcel. The design is low-tech but
eye-catching and clever. You’d never guess Bourret’s first language
is French; her writing is loose and conversational. The whole thing
feels a lot like a letter from a friend. — Rachel

Also from the newly six-dimensional world of Iza Bourret… What
happens when a cat is your soul mate? Though Bourret does not pose
this question directly in
Girl w/ Cat, she does make her readers
wonder. This first issue of the zine is all about moving on as we
follow Bourret through the process of grieving the loss of a cat
that died two years ago. The pages are filled with slightly
off-kilter musings such as, ‘I wanted to make my life with him, but
I could not.’ A devotion that would be admirable directed at a
lover is uncanny when aimed at a cat, yet Girl w/ Cat is a
refreshing homage to the beauty and power of non-romantic true
love. — Suzanne Lindgren

The July/August
issue of the UK-based
Socialist Review caught my attention with
its cover story ‘Alternatives to Neo-Liberalism.’ In the feature
Alex Callinicos suggests that the left is gaining supporters, but
lacks any concrete alternatives to the status quo. Rather than
discuss multiple alternatives to neo-liberalism, Callinicos expands
upon a single one, socialism, which — given the title of the
publication — should come as no surprise. It is an interesting,
though not entirely convincing, promotion of a new socialism. —
Suzanne Lindgren

, an Australian independent publication, is thick
with commentary and analysis on political, social, and cultural
topics of national and international interest. The June/July issue
peers into the crannies for the lesser-told stories, like the women
organizing for Timor-Leste’s independence, or the less-heard voices
in the environmentalist-logger debate in Tasmania. In ”Sleep No
More,” Simon Cooper wonders, If new pill technology can allow us
to postpone sleep for two days, will all this awake time with
ourselves be a bad thing? — Rachel Anderson

The new issue of
(July 2006) takes a look at Hollywood and the
law separately, though the two are combined on the cover by
featuring recently arrested actress and activist Daryl Hannah.
After highlighting the green dabbling of Brad Pitt and Time Warner,
the issue heads to the courts. ‘Day in the life of a ‘sustainable’
lawyer’ lets readers peak into the hypothetical counsel’s PDA,
which is filled with tasks like ‘review social and environmental
warranties’ and ‘update on carbon trading project.’ The rear of the
magazine lists brief technological developments in energy, green
building, agriculture, and recycling. — Rachel

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.