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.
In a word, Aranzi Machine Gun Vol. 1 is: cute. And somehow along its bizarre course through the imagined lives of an eclectic mix of characters -- some animated, some stuffed, some little more than pieces of felt -- it endears the reader. The recently published first volume of a three-volume book set includes a disparate array of comic strips, craft tips, and a photo journal of one puppet's solitary, westward trek. Originally published in Japanese by the design duo Aranzi Aronzo, this English language version, published by Vertical, charts the quirky and often haltingly minimal interactions and conversations of a handful of characters the pair have crafted in previous publications. -- Chris Gehrke
After a two-year absence WAVE2.5 has reemerged small and proud. Despite its slight stature, the now annual feminist zine is surprisingly fulfilling with an assorted mix of art, analysis, poetry, puzzles, statistics, stories, and even an emergency sewing kit! The female-empowering social commentary of the sixth edition (the zine's name refers to the space between first and second wave feminism) takes aim at both Barbie and Barbie bashers, President Bush, and costly weddings. WAVE2.5's latest appearance is a welcomed return, especially after reading in its pages that the Utne Reader's own Independent Press Awards nomination of the zine in 2005 caused a 'creative paralysis' resulting in the long hiatus. -- Natalie Hudson
A perennial favorite of the Utne staff is Extra!, the magazine of the national media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Extra! is never shy to leave any media outlet pummeled in the wake of its criticism, and the June issue delivers once again by diving into the greasy topic of the mainstream media's love affair with Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. The cover story argues that the lionization of Giuliani is more a symptom of journalists' personal stances on social and economic issues than his handling of 9/11. The latest edition also covers several prominent pundits' ill-informed skepticism of climate change, how the media portrays crises in Africa through the guidance of celebrity activism, and an interview (originally run on FAIR's CounterSpin radio show) with Columbia University government and anthropology professor Mahmood Mamdani, who points a finger at the misrepresentations of the Darfur genocide in the American media and what can be done about it. -- Eric Kelsey
'Written by activists for activists,' Left Turn rallies the troops of anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist groups to unite for change. The quarterly magazine is gearing up for the first US Social Forum to be held June 27-July 1 in Atlanta. The July/August issue exudes an eager optimism, barely kept in check by the realities of creating a social forum free from the domineering influence of political parties and global NGOs, which have overshadowed smaller groups at World Social Forum. Left Turn goes beyond such internecine sparring, though, to spotlight the intergenerational and multicultural inclusiveness of activists' efforts. -- Natalie Hudson
Boston's Whats Up is a refreshingly youthful, energetic street paper aimed at 'bringing arts & awareness to the streets.' (The paper's low-income vendors purchase copies for a quarter a piece, sell them for a dollar on the street, and keep the change.) The June/July issue keeps its fringe feel alive with a first ever 'Alternative Issue.' Highlights include an article positing lab-grown meat as an answer to polluting and methane-belching factory farms and a piece that looks at street theater as an innovative, creative way to stage protests and capture people's attention. The issue also sports features about conscientious cooking and alternative methods of self-defense, along with a profile of comic illustrator and publisher Andy Fish. -- Eric Kelsey
After 13 years Satya, a magazine focused on connecting animal rights to other social issues, is closing its doors with its June/July issue. In a letter posted on the Satya website, publisher Beth Gould explains her decision to move on from her cherished but challenging project. Consulting editor Rachel Cernansky echoes the disappointment of many contributors and longtime readers, Satya having been a haven for her values. But it's not all wistful goodbyes. The issue contains plenty of interviews with ambitious activists -- vegan grocery owners, a farm animal shelter's director, and a Kenyan woman leading an all-female village -- providing the kind of hope that Satya always aimed to inspire. -- Julie Dolan