From the Stacks: May 26, 2006

May 26, 2006


| May 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.

BidounLike a city street bustling with diverse sights, sounds, and scents, Bidoun can be mind-expanding and overwhelming. We've just received issues #5-7 (Fall 2005-Spring/Summer 2006) of this weighty quarterly magazine covering the arts and culture of the Middle East, totaling 464 pages on architecture, film, graphic arts, design, fashion, music, books, tourism, and more. Read in #5 about the underground economy of cigarette sellers in Tangier, Morocco, popular Egyptian singer Shaaban Abdel Rehim ('condemned ... as boorish and lowbrow' by elites), and the archaeology of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In #6 see what Pakistani immigrant Nav Haq makes for dinner and learn how to say in Beiruti Arabic, 'A Marxist reading group, every Thursday at Starbucks. That's really neat.' Read in #7 about the airports of Tehran, Iran, and Damascus, Syria, see color photos of airline meals, and wonder about multitalented musician Hisham Bharoocha's top ten listening list. Bidoun means 'without' in both Arabic and Farsi, an irony considering how much comes with each issue. -- Chris Dodge

Riding With Strangers'In an ever more isolated and paranoid world,' Elijah Wald proves that 'people are pretty decent and helpful' by hitching rides from Boston to Seattle. In his book, Riding With Strangers (May, Chicago Review Press), Wald documents his 'cross-country jaunt.' Although he catches the occasional car ride and befriends a hobo on a freight train, most of the passing landscape is viewed 'through the high, wide windshield of a semi.' Here, he sits alongside an evangelical missionary, a bluegrass-loving Czech named Martina, and listens to generic Russian pop in the cab with Sergei, an immigrant from the Ural Mountains. By the time Wald reaches the West Coast, even the weariest of readers will be tempted to stand on a curb, stick out a thumb, and trust in the kindness of strangers. -- Kristen Mueller

Philosophy NowThat philosophers are funny -- the best-kept secret in academia -- should come as no surprise to readers of Philosophy Now. Frolicking among fields of wordplay or pausing to sip from a stream of consciousness, the thinkers published in the magazine's pages relish inquisitiveness above all else. The pieces in their most recent issue (May/June) focus on medical ethics, and avoid the glib moralizing that so often dominates such debates. Instead, they survey the terrain with a cool eye, unflinching in its capacity for perceptive analysis and understated irony. This UK-based bimonthly is rewarding for the professional philosopher and the weekend Wittgenstinian alike. -- Nick Rose

High Country NewsThe American West has been engulfed in debate over immigration, so High Country News, a biweekly newspaper out of Colorado, set out to uncover the 'untold human dramas' that have been lost in dogmatic argument. The May 15 issue follows the path from Pancho Villa, a Mexican town bereft of young men, who have all left for the United States, all the way to Washington state, where two teenage girls are finally getting their chance at citizenship. The issue avoids overt political conclusions and focuses on the people directly affected by immigration, from the men preparing for a dash across the border to the Border Patrol agents tasked with stopping them. -- Bennett Gordon

Yes!With most media detailing the minutiae of our national and global dilemmas, it's easy to feel helpless and defeated. Yes! -- 'a journal of positive futures' -- offers an antidote with constructive ways to take action. The recently arrived Summer issue highlights the work of a nonprofit reproductive health clinic being built by the Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota. The clinic hopes to sidestep the state's near total ban on abortion by offering the procedures on Pine Ridge Reservation, where they hope tribal sovereignty will trump state law. Also in the 'Indicators' section is a piece on instant runoff voting (IRV) in the recent mayoral race in Burlington, Vermont. IRV allows voters to rank their preference for all candidates, which allows tabulating whom the majority of voters actually prefer in instances where there is no majority victor. This issue ends with photos of graffiti on the West Bank wall done by the London-based artist Banksy, whose art makes me gasp, and his heartbreaking exchange with an old man. -- Miriam Skurnick