From the Stacks: May 26, 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.

Like 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

‘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

philosophers are funny — the best-kept secret in academia —
should come as no surprise to readers of
. 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

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

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
(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

Against the backdrop of $3 per gallon gas prices,
the nonprofit quarterly
The Next American
has devoted its latest issue to transportation.
Carbon dioxide emissions from transportation are causing massive
climate changes throughout the world, and Hari M. Osofsky profiles
the Sisyphean efforts some cities are undertaking to curb the
pollution. Another tack some groups are pursuing is taking the
issue to the courts by suing for pollution controls. Also in this
issue: John D. Kasarda profiles the popularization of
‘Aerotropoli,’ airports that have become, along with their
surrounding areas, cities in and of themselves, housing shopping
centers, restaurants, and a new breed of aircraft dubbed ‘nerd
birds’ for the traveling tech professionals they carry. —
Bennett Gordon

Though many would shrink from being handcuffed in the passenger
seat as an assassin maneuvers the rotaries (a.k.a. roundabouts) of
Massachusetts’ urban streets, Sadie didn’t seem to mind. Her
nonchalance was natural enough, however, considering that she is a
fictional character in Thomas Hopkins’ short story ‘The Samoan
Assassin Calls It Quits.’ Her driver, Daniel — code-named Roger —
truly wants to get out of the killing game and wed his big-boned
detainee. But is it a love they will hold, or is the relationship
purely based on thrill-seeking and wordplay? Pick up the newest
issue (No. 74) of
— from the Brooklyn-based outfit that publishes a
single short story every three weeks or so — and decide for
yourself. — Nick Rose

‘The term ‘tourism’ invokes fantastic images of palm trees,
sunny beaches, and fancy cocktail drinks served by smiling locals,’
writes Malia Everette in
‘s eco-travel issue. Unfortunately, Everette
reports, up to half of vacationers’ dollars end up lining pockets
in industrialized nations, instead of the developing countries
where they’re spent. But don’t pack away your swimsuit and
sunscreen just yet. The international human rights group
Global Exchange runs
,’ trips that ‘promote educational and cultural exchange,’
while striving to spend 98 percent of its funds on locally or
nationally owned businesses. — Kristen Mueller

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.