From the Stacks: June 9, 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.

Literature has
explored addiction in its many guises: drugs (Junkie), sex
(Choke), and wagering (The Gambler). David Axe
and Steven Olexa are adding to the canon with
War-Fix, a graphic novel that follows a
journalist with a jones for war. After coming of age in the glow of
TV broadcasts of the 1991 Gulf War, David risks his personal
relationships and his life to cover the war in Iraq, where he
discovers he’s not alone in his affliction. The book is like a mix
of Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead and Francisco de Goya’s ‘The
Disasters of War,’ switching from scenes of aimless boredom to
nightmarish visions of brutality. Due out this month from
Nantier Beall
. — Bennett Gordon

The June/August issue of PanGaia — a journal of pagan-oriented
commentary, poetry, and fiction — contains as much historical
background as it does current perspective. Ranging across disparate
and distant cultures, the commentaries inevitably pose the
question: How can the practices and beliefs of long-gone pagans
influence and inform the pagans of today? Dangerous ground, when
those past practices often involved human sacrifice, as did those
discussed in Archer’s ‘Gifts to the Gods,’ in which Archer looks at
the ‘Bog People’ of Northern Europe. But the discussion proves
rewarding: Neither for nor against the practice, Archer approaches
the topic with curiosity and reverence — which ultimately is
exactly what these bog-preserved bags of bones deserve. — Nick

Before I open Lauren Eggert-Crowe’s research project/zine, a
mini zine slips from the pages and lands on my lap. In its six
pages, Eggert-Crowe describes her very first DIY publication, a
fantasy-fueled newsletter about ‘Unicornia, the land of unicorns.’
Since then, Eggert-Crowe has moved on to create this larger
cut-and-paste volume on the equally enchanting world of zinesters,
titled I’ve Never Meta-Zine I Didn’t Like. After a quick
history lesson on the 18th century origins of the underground
press, she time warps to the cult world of 1930s sci-fi fanzines,
careens toward the punk and Riot Grrrl zine scenes, and ends with a
passionate letter heralding the revolutionary powers of
counter-culture press. — Kristen Mueller

The first print
issue of The F-Word, ‘A feminist handbook for the
revolution,’ entered Utne‘s library Wednesday. Inside the
Spring issue is an essay by Texan Shelby Knox, whose crusade to
bring comprehensive sex-ed programs to her community, rife with
sexually transmitted infections, has earned her national attention.
Also inside: interviews with Alix Olson, ‘an internationally
touring folk poet and progressive queer artist-activist’; the
wondrously outspoken Margaret Cho; and Pamela Means, who protests
domestic abuse and racial profiling with a guitar and collections
of biting personal lyrics. All in all, the magazine contains enough
inspiring dialogue to make any Riot Grrrl stand up and shout. —
Kristen Mueller

As World Cup mania kicks into high gear around the globe, the
potential of African teams to compete with soccer darlings like
Brazil and France has been touted as globalization at its best. But
in the latest issue of the UK-based
, David Runciman debunks the celebration as hype.
African countries, like the Ivory Coast this year, are often among
the most touted World Cup contestants, but Runciman claims that the
success of African national teams is always short lived. The
continent’s most talented players are constantly plucked for
European club teams, and while Senegal, Cameroon, and Nigeria have
all experienced momentary World Cup success, the fleeting victories
have done little to change the countries’ soccer programs.
Elsewhere in the May 29 issue, John Gray argues that the only
existing power that can help Britain fight climate change is
nuclear power. — Bennett Gordon

Soil Association
has been an outspoken opponent of genetically
modified (GM) foods for about a decade. And a new flurry of
scientific research has emerged to buoy its anti-GM case. The
Spring issue of the group’s member publication
Living Earth cites a recent study in
Russia that ‘found a 56 percent death rate among young rats fed
GM Roundup Ready soya, as well as stunted growth in the
surviving progeny.’ The magazine also reports on a recent
governmental attack on organic food labeling. The European
Commission wants to allow food with up to 0.9 percent
contamination with GM organisms to still be labeled ‘organic.’
The Soil Association vehemently opposes the measure and is
encouraging people to contact lawmakers to stop the pro-GM
proposals. — Bennett Gordon

Though Republican
and Democratic caterwauling seems to dominate the political
discourse in the United States, an independent undercurrent is
alive and well. This independent streak was on exhibit when Michael
Bloomberg was re-elected mayor of New York City in 2005, Jacqueline
Salit argues in an article for the New York-based
Neo-Independent. Partisan politics, Salit
says, led African-American voters to be disenchanted with the
Democratic Party. The partisan haze prevented political wonks from
predicting such a scenario, so when nearly half of black voters
went to Bloomberg, whom Salit labels an independent Republican,
many analysts were surprised. Score one for independent voters.
— Nick Rose

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