From the Stacks: July 28, 2006

| July 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.

Good Medicine, created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, focuses less on pharmaceuticals than diet and nutrition. Flipping through, one gets the message that food can be the difference between long-term illness and health. The Summer issue appears to have a pro-animal theme to it, with a piece about vegan athletes speaking to Congress and another imploring readers to help end animal testing. In the cover story on the cancer risks of eating grilled chicken, ?Playing With Fire,? author Jennifer Reilly rules out grilled, fried, and undercooked chicken, leaving the reader with a few healthy grilling recipes, including veggie burgers and 'barbecue vegetable brochettes.' -- Suzanne Lindgren

Those interested in the 'Korean American experience' might pick up KoreAm Journal, a glossy that seems able to transcend age and gender by covering topics that reflect an audience with diverse interests. From blind dates and new movies to updates on the continuing tensions between North and South Korea, the magazine runs the gamut of concerns. In a poignant feature excerpted from Brenda Paik Sunoo's Seaweed and Shamans: Inheriting the Gifts of Grief, the author tells of the death of her artistic teenage son, Tommy. Sunoo discusses the unexpected benefits she encountered as she healed, such as the honor of one of her son's friends having a drawing of Tommy's tattooed on his torso. -- Suzanne Lindgren

My favorite thing to do when visiting a new city is to pick up the local alternative weekly. Not only does it tell me which bands are in town and what restaurants to hit, it also helps shed light on the locals and the issues they're probably talking about. We get stacks of weeklies from all over the country at Utne, so I didn't need to venture to Detroit to enjoy Metro Times. The alt-weekly's July 12th cover story, sprawled in black and white with Technicolor splashes in the headline, is 'Color Commentary,' a look at the melding of race and music in the Motor City. The featured dialogue between two musicians, Panamanian-born Mary Ramirez, guitarist for the rock/soul Detroit Cobras, and Amp Fiddler, an African-American funk musician, uncovers differing opinions on how and if the music scene should be racially integrated. -- Rachel Anderson

For design lovers, the September edition of Dwell is nothing short of inspiring. This month's Sustainability Issue spotlights rooftop gardens, bamboo floors, and straw bale walls among other earth-friendly innovations. It's not all treehugging either; the package also includes a piece on Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit that recruits designers to shelter some of the world's most despairing people, and a light-hearted pictorial on communing with nature in modern-day tree houses. Dwell presents itself as forward-thinking, in design and in sustainability: In her note, editor-in-chief Allison Arieff announced her prediction that the label 'green architect' will soon become a redundant term. -- Rachel Anderson

BITCHFest (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, August) is vacuum-packed with 10 years of feminist, queer-happy, body-positive, and media bashing essays. The articles, culled from Bitch magazine by founders/editors Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler, vary wildly in topic (fat suits as the new blackface, Martha Stewart's single status, gender politics in slash fiction, the effect of 'girl power' on feminism, and MTV's now defunct Loveline), but the bottom line is clear: Pop culture will always influence how we view ourselves and the world around us -- unless we take a stand, criticize freely, and, sometimes, just bitch. -- Kristen Mueller

What do a man in a chicken suit, neon signs illuminating Times Square, a steel-desk-crushing machine, and trippy '60s concert posters have common? All are featured in July's Creative Review, an oversized magazine showcasing 'the best in visual communication,' be it found in cyberspace, in advertisements, or pasted across a rock venue's wall. The monthly publication is more than just a pretty package, as demonstrated in 'Protecting Brand Mandela,' an article exposing the South African political icon's attempt to free himself from, well, himself. Nelson Mandela's face is regularly found printed on signs, his body cast in bronze, and his name splashed on everything from an art gallery to a town square. -- Kristen Mueller

Seeking to carry the discussion forum beyond the classroom, three professors from the University of Liverpool created The Reader, a literary journal dedicated to 'bringing books to life.' Published by a nonprofit group bearing the same name, this issue (#22) offers new poetry, essays on Tolstoy, several reviews of contemporary and older literature, and a recommendations section featuring seven authors whose works soon will be making their way into my reading pile. (Reader's readers can submit their own recommendations to the editors.) Several of the essays are topped-off with smatterings of quotes from Dostoevsky and Donne. This journal is like a perfect hybrid of your favorite class in college and a really productive book club filled with people who love to read. -- Miriam Skurnick

Artists live in their studios. Writer Adam Ward lived in a truck. Thor and Liv Heyerdahl live on a remote island. The Desert Parents and Thomas Merton live within the same pages as Bif Naked and the Rev. Creflo A. Dollar Jr. Welcome to the second issue of Geez, the Canadian quarterly taglined, 'Holy mischief in an age of fast faith,' with creators who mean much more than mischief. Issue two explores materialism -- money, stuff, space, the ways we use them and they use us, and how they affect our spirits. The sarcastic humor is a springboard to serious explorations of religion, society, and the painful, rewarding, baffling search for something more. -- Rachel Jenkins

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