From the Stacks: March 2, 2007

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.

If you don’t reside near the Arctic Circle,
Alaska magazine can help you live
vicariously through the bear-eluding, bush-whacking folks who do.
The self-proclaimed ‘world’s only general interest magazine about
Alaska and only Alaska’ churns out 10 adventure-packed issues a
year from the land of frost heaves and musk oxen. In the Dec./Jan.
issue author Ned Rozell tells of his wife Kristen, the ‘bear
magnet,’ who once had her head pinned by the jaws of a grizzly.
Also in this latest edition, Joe Stock reports on his 22-day skiing
adventure with two friends in the Neacola Mountains, during which
he ‘traveled a hundred miles and 57,000 vertical feet across a
mountain range no one’s heard of.’ — Elizabeth Ryan

I consulted a map
to locate The Republic of Ester, just outside of Fairbanks, in the
center of the vast ice cube I naively imagine Alaska to be. From
this frozen zone comes
The Ester Republic, a witty monthly
magazine. The February issue includes ‘The Shopping Cart
Graveyard,’ a subtle bashing of big-box development in which Dru
Heskin laments the abandoned, snow-covered shopping carts
collecting in a ravine near Ester’s new Fred Meyer hypermarket.
Elsewhere, ‘Eureka Narcosis; Or, Rapture of the Trash’ features a
collection of songs by the former captain of the Ester Dumpster
Diving Team that celebrate the ‘eureka narcosis’ of discovering
good, usable stuff amid Dumpsters’ clutter. Eureka narcosis is much
like the feeling of finding a good publication like The Ester
Republic
amid the clutter of the daily mail. — Evelyn
Hampton

Last Known Address, a lovingly composed zine by Niku,
recently found its way into Utne Reader‘s mailbox. A
recounting of Niku’s many migrations, Last Known Address
is filled with hand-drawn illustrations and detailed narrations of
each place Niku has passed through. What sets her writing apart
from other loners’ on-the-road ramblings is her obvious attachment
to each place she’s been, which comes across in the details of her
narration. She recalls the stove in her Dinkytown, Minneapolis
apartment, a Durham, North Carolina neighbor’s affinity for leopard
prints, and the odd raisin-flavored lifesavers in Ontario, Canada.
Niku’s zine achieves what I think zines, more than any other kind
of publication (save the old-fashioned letter), are uniquely suited
to achieve: direct, personal communication with the individual
reader. — Evelyn Hampton

Fellowship offers gritty details on
global issues along with the positive impacts of people and
movements effecting change. The now-quarterly (once bimonthly)
magazine, published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, takes readers
around the world to the various regions where members and others
are promoting peace. The Winter issue highlights those who are
working to push back the global expansion of the US military.
Catherine Lutz writes that right now, the United States has a
quarter of a million soldiers positioned in 737 military bases
located in 130 countries. These bases face fierce resistance on
many fronts, from Japan to Puerto Rico. — Natalie
Hudson

American Atheist Magazine offers hardcore
atheism from front to back, with pages that speak out vociferously
for the rights and recognition of atheists in the United States.
The magazine is published monthly (except for June and December) by
American
Atheists
. In February’s ‘No More Atheist Cleansing,’ the
organization’s president, Ellen Johnson, presents a rallying cry
for atheists to stand up for their rights and not back down in the
face of bigotry. She writes, ‘Atheists everywhere should be the
voice and presence in their schools, workplaces and military.’ The
issue also provides some comic relief with a piece from The
Onion
satirizing the conflict between science and religion
with an ‘Intelligent Falling’ theory that acts as an alternative to
the law of gravity. — Natalie Hudson

At first glance, Mufa::poema appears to be a zine —
it’s printed on small paper, creased and stapled — but by
Alejandro de Acosta’s definition, his publication is more of ‘a
series of micropress projects.’ Whatever it is, de Acosta’s clean,
quirky poems are delightful to read. They range from short and
choppy to long and dense, and he’s not afraid to play with the
poetic form. An early issue experimented with odd layouts, with
words hidden inside words, and had Spanish words sprinkled
throughout the text. In the latest edition, #6, de Acosta toys with
ape-like mimicry: ‘IBU analyst, write or tell me wish plan for yet
another BOLO / IBU wish for BOLO / IBU wish for BOLO.’ I wish for
de Acosta to keep on writing. — Mary O’Regan

The glossy pages
of Angle
magazine are impressive in their own right, but I was astonished to
discover that the magazine’s staff consists of just two people.
Since the publication’s inception in 2003, editor/director Amy
Bracken Sparks has kept the bimonthly nonprofit ‘journal of arts +
culture’ afloat with vibrant colors, wise writing, and fantastic
photography. The magazine specializes in reviews of any kind —
theater, film, music — and never loses sight of its Cleveland
beat. Recently deceased photographer Lauren Bugaj, whose work
graced
Angle’s first ‘Portfolio’ page, is featured on the
cover of issue 30. Writer Douglas Max Utter mourns her death in a
way that only a local could: with passion, beauty, and personal
experience — three of the key components that make Angle
work. — Mary O’Regan

Prison Legal News (PLN) is
‘dedicated to protecting the human rights’ of all those involved in
the prison system, from guards to lawyers to inmates. Reporting on
detention centers throughout the country, the publication explores
topics such as violence, healthcare, and overcrowding. Michael
Rigby, a former prisoner in Texas who was released in December
after 13 years behind bars, wrote the February cover story about
brutality and violence in Maryland prisons. Firsthand perspectives
such as his are what make PLN an important and informed
publication about the taboo world of life behind bars. — Mary
O’Regan

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