March 17, 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.
Since the mid-1990s, a decentralized outfit called CrimethInc. has published seditious books, tabloids, and other propaganda about living one's dreams and 'dismantling capitalism.' This week's mailing from CrimethInc. includes a 621-page book titled Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook/A Moveable Feast with how-to-do-it chapters on 'asphalt mosaics,' banner drops, billboard improvement, classroom takeover, sabotage, squatting, stenciling, and dozens of other 'direct action' projects. For those with patience to sit and watch, a two-disc, 312-minute 'Guerrilla Film Series, Vol. 1' includes documentaries on old-growth forest protection, the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests, and repression at the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas demonstrations in Miami. For the less ambitious there's a collection of vapid Bukowskian poems by ex-convict Raegan Butcher (Rusty String Quartet). Filling out the shipment: pamphlets ('A Civilian's Guide to Direct Action,' 'D.I.Y. Guide II,' and 'CrimethInc. Worker Bulletins 47 & 74'), stickers ('YOU ARE UNDER SURVEILLANCE' and 'THIS PHONE IS TAPPED'), Stella Marrs postcards, and four posters, one featuring art by Nikki McClure. -- Chris Dodge
The April issue of The Ecologist gives readers some nutritious food for thought. The UK-based magazine examines the problem of feeding over-processed foods to prison inmates. While junk food is clearly not the only reason people turn to crime, the article ponders whether giving prisoners a better diet may prevent some violence and recidivism. Citing studies that tie drops in violence to better food, the article asks, 'Why are we waiting?' The issue also profiles Al Crisci, dubbed a 'Food Hero,' who supplies prisoners with tasty, nutritious, organic meals that don't cost much. His culinary leadership even provides some prisoners with the opportunity for employment in the catering business after lockup. -- Bennett Gordon
Recently redesigned, 2003 Utne Independent Press Award winner Art Papers is one of the United States' foremost digests of art and theory. At first glance, their March/April issue pops with stunning images from the rarefied world of theory-based art. But don't let that fool you: The magazine is as much about the world that produces art as it is about the world that art creates. This issue moves thoughtfully from New Orleans' post-Katrina art scene to Cuba's political and cultural identity as represented in the photography and film of Stan Douglas. Like the perfect guided tour through a foreign and beautiful land, Art Papers wheels you past dislocated, alluring images while not neglecting to tell you how, and why, they are meaningful in their cultural context. -- Nick Rose
Standing in stark contrast to anything I was read as a child, the picture book Der Struwwelpeter just arrived in our library. Originally written in German by Heinrich Hoffmann in 1844, the book is a series of 'cautionary tales' meant to scare children into good behavior: One child sucks his thumb until it gets cut off by a mad tailor. Struwwelpeter, the title character whose name translates to Slovenly Peter, refuses to bathe until he is overcome with filth. 'Don't believe me? Take a whiff / Puke or poop's a better sniff!' The book arrived with two others from Fantagraphics Books: Sheep of Fools, a frighteningly graphic depiction of the sheep industry, and Darling Cheri, a pornographic picture book recounting a breakup. The politically incorrect tales of Der Struwwelpeter are wonderfully illustrated by Bob Staake and due out in April. -- Bennett Gordon
Education Next, by 'presenting the facts as best they can be determined,' aims to stem the tide of a national education policy that originates more from ideology than from practice. Giving voice to a chorus of education specialists around the country while avoiding any 'program, campaign, or ideology,' the spring issue is packed with prescient analysis that, like a good teacher, edifies but doesn't proselytize. Though not without its skeletons in the closet -- Education Next is a publication of the conservative Hoover Institution -- the magazine nevertheless sets the bar high with editorial content that is, by and large, meaty, in-depth, and reason-based. -- Nick Rose
Surgically attached to a stark white counter in the Apple store were iPods in candy apple green, Barbie pink, eye-jolting blue, and sleek silver. My mission: Choose a color that would display my unique personality among the hordes of plugged in iTunes junkies. I spent days agonizing over the decision, followed by more days agonizing over the fact that I had agonized over what color iPod to buy. So when Anthony Dunne's book -- Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design -- landed on my desk, I was eager to read that someone else was as preoccupied with the design aesthetic of modern technology as I was. Through six essays, including 'The Electronic as Post-optimal Object' and (In)human Factors,' Dunne tackles the relationship between fine art and electronics, and their current and potential impacts on everyday life. First published by the Royal College of Art 1999, the revised edition of Hertzian Tales is due out from MIT Press next month. -- Kristen Mueller