From the Stacks: June 30, 2006

| June 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 new issue of Topic (#9) focuses interestingly on music and its attractive design compelled me to read it word for word. In its pages I learned about a deaf person's music listening experiences, a 'model anthem' combining the world's national anthems into one song, and the troubled life and career of Jimi Hendrix's younger brother Leon. I attempted to match eight pictured teenagers with their favorite song, commiserated with a woman pianist who quit classical music at 18 (after 14 years of playing), and got inside the minds of Wrigley Field organist Gary Pressy, horror film music composer Joseph Loduca, and pop musician Sufjan Stevens. Now in its fifth year of publication, Topic has previously investigated such concepts as prison, food, fads, family, and sin. -- Chris Dodge

A hulking man with a cape and striped knickers graces the cover of the latest issue of the Saskatchewan-based BlackFlash. He's Sweet Daddy Siki, a flamboyant Stampede Wrestler from the 1960s, and he and the likes of the Cuban Assassin and the Dynamite Kid are part of a photographic feature on the world of wrestling. Through the magazine's dedication to presenting 'photo-based, electronic, and digital art production with an edge,' the issue (#23.3) wanders into other sporting nooks, including an artistic project that sponsored an Irish football team and scrawled ART on players' jerseys, as well as a Winnipeg art film on the demise of the town's heroes: Death by Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets. -- Rachel Anderson

Lois Gibbs helped make the Love Canal, and consequently toxic waste, a household name. Today she sits as executive director of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, an organization dedicated to creating safe and healthy communities. The group's quarterly newsletter, Everyone's Backyard people know that the fight for health is still on. The Summer issue celebrates the Environmental Protection Agency notching up its standards for cleaning up dioxin contamination in 'Raising the Bar,' and Mike Schade explores biobased plastics in 'Back to the Future.' Perhaps most inspiring is the 'Action Line' section, highlighting activist efforts in 20 states and two continents. -- Rachel Anderson

Slither's fearless honesty makes the reader feel as if its creator, Kelly Froh, is an old friend recounting, comic-strip style, her everyday adventures. In the zine's sixth issue we see her through an awkward first date, the discovery made in a deep Wisconsin Hobby Lobby that she does in fact look like her father, and an unfortunate moment when she overhears her parents doing the deed. Another highlight: Froh's depiction of specialty pizzas and the types who order each variety at the joint where she finds her summer job. -- Suzanne Lindgre

Hailing from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Flux features a quirky and eclectic array of pieces in its Spring issue. The cover story follows one man's efforts to reconnect his Grand Ronde tribe with tradition through the creation of a longhouse. The traditional structures, Sena Christian explains, are 'spiritually blessed places where members privately gather to participate in sacred ceremonies, dances, and rites of passage.' Not quite a centerfold, but close, is Adrienne van der Valk's feature 'Back in Black,' which explores the resurfacing of burlesque as a pastime and profession residing in the gray area between art and porn. Also within Flux's pages: students investigate topics from environmentally correct clothing to prison work programs, pit bull disposition makeovers, and the endangered state of honey bees. -- Suzanne Lindgren

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