From the Stacks: June 2, 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.

The June issue of
The
Walrus
, a smart Toronto-based magazine akin to
Harper’s, features a cover section examining Canadian
‘National Dreams’ from the points of view of Roy Romanow, Alan
Broadbent, and Mark Kingwell. More interesting to me: Marni
Jackson’s imaginative and funny account of a conference of
blackflies (‘BloodFest ’06: The May 24th Blackfly Rally’) and
Joseph Kertes’ essay ‘The Truth About Lying,’ the latter examining
how writers alter facts in search of truth. (Though Kertes’ facts
about Thoreau are wrong, perhaps some truth is served, whether or
not this was intended.) Also noteworthy: a profile of German artist
Anselm Kiefer (who just came to my attention
recently) and an untimely omnibus review of four graphic novels,
three of which date from 2001-2004 (by Joe Sacco and Marjane
Satrapi) and have been widely covered by US print media. —
Chris Dodge

The 101st issue of
Censorship News, the official newsletter
of The National Coalition Against Censorship, serves as a ‘Crash
Course’ on censorship around the United States. And it couldn’t
have come at a better time: Congress recently renewed the USA
Patriot Act, the National Security Agency is taking part in
warrantless wiretapping, and journalists, anti-war activists,
outspoken educators, and whistleblowers are being systematically
silenced. Censorship News believes the problem could stem
from a lack of knowledge about the First Amendment, and this
edition is meant to bring people up-to-date. The issue also
explores ‘The Controversy That Won’t Quit’ — Mohammed cartoons and
the public outcry that still surrounds their publication.
Bennett Gordon

If you’re one of the embattled few who think concision is a
crime, Environmental & Architectural
Phenomenology
— a tantalizing title if ever there was one
— may just be the newsletter for you. Published thrice a year and
edited by Kansas State University architecture professor David
Seamon, the slim newsletter contains essays, syllabi, and anything
else that promotes ‘beautiful, alive, and humane’ environments. The
current issue is accessible yet conceptually intricate, packed with
humdingers of phraseology. Highlights include: ‘the reification of
truth into knowledge-as-facts’ and ‘memory traces of the electrical
frequencies of two continents.’ — Nick Rose

We just received an excerpt from
Kendra Bailey Morris’ White Trash Gatherings, upcoming in
September from Ten Speed Press. If this slim sample is any
indication, the full book will have you stirring and frying like a
redneck faster than you can say, ‘Ya’ll git on in here and gitcha
somethin’ to eat!’ Recipes for ‘Cousin Eugene’s Country Corncakes,’
‘Cere’s Holler Baked Cheese Grits,’ and ‘Bacon Grease Fried Apples’
are interspersed with backwoods tails of squirrel huntin’ and rat
shootin’, plus etiquette and decorating tips. Morris recommends
recycling burlap sacks or paper grocery bags to scrawl invitations
on, and transforming toilet paper rolls adorned with dried pinto
beans into napkin rings. Take that, Martha. — Kristen
Mueller

You don’t have to be a medieval
explorer to uncover the mysteries of eras past — or to use those
discoveries to delve deeper into your own subconscious depths. In
The Museum of
Lost Wonder
, due out in August from
Weiser Books, Jeff Hoke has crafted a visual milieu of
scientific theory and philosophical debate, from mapping the big
bang theory to asking, ‘What is reality?’ Pull-out pages
bordering each chapter (named after museum wings) engage
readers’ imaginations, begging them to snip, paste, and play as
they build models of everything from the ‘Path of Destiny Peep
Show’ to a ‘Theater of the Mind.’ — Kristen
Mueller

Healing the world one hug at a time,
Mata Amritanandamayi, India’s ‘Hugging Saint,’ has embraced
disciples at least 26 million times. It’s her way of highlighting
the need for compassion. In addition to her hugs, Amma, as she also
is known, offers the radical idea that if people worked 30 minutes
longer and donated the money made in that time, starvation and
other suffering could be eliminated. Read the entire interview in
the Juneissue of the newly redesigned Chicago
Conscious Choice of Chicago, now part of a
four-magazine consortium put out by
Conscious
Enlightenment Publishing
, which seeks to ‘help individuals in
their journey towards conscious enlightenment and universal truth.’
The outfit’s publications are locally free in Chicago, Seattle, San
Francisco, and Los Angeles. — Miriam Skurnick

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