May 5, 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.
Signs of the Times, a slender volume of poetry by Bud Osborn and prints by Richard Tetrault, was published by Vancouver-based Anvil Press last year but we've just set eyes and hands on it. Regardless, it's a timeless marriage of ardent words in the tradition of Pablo Neruda and Walt Whitman, on behalf of those whose voices aren't often heard, with striking woodcuts and linocuts reminiscent of the works of Lynd Ward and Clifford Harper. Osborn's poems about the dehumanizing experience of being homeless in a city express a generic sense of outrage and compassion even as they describe specifically the lives of suffering junkies, prostitutes, and 'binners' in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. -- Chris Dodge
The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), based in Culver City, California, offers a museum; a land-use database; a litany of projects, programs, and publications; and, when they get around to it, a newsletter entitled The Lay of the Land. The wait is worth it. The newly arrived Winter 2006 issue is studded with more gems than a diamond mine in Africa. Focused on the US, the profiles in the issue leap around: one minute you're learning more than anyone should ever know about corn, and the next you're reading about an island of concrete in the Pacific that the federal government is thinking about selling. The entire time, however, you're realizing how complex and fascinating our relationship to land can be, and you keep reading. -- Nick Rose
The newest issue of Red Pepper, a monthly digest from the UK, is punchy, conversational, and engaging. The magazine focuses on green, leftist, and radicalized news and opinion from around the world. The April issue strikes a successful balance between news you can use ('how to make sure that your shopping is cruelty free') and political reviews (an interview the Venezuelan military's Commandante General Raul Baduel). The thoughtful takes on engaging and unexpected issues are complemented by an easy-to-read and attractive design, making Red Pepper a delightful and rewarding read. -- Nick Rose
There are publications whose pages would appear as at-home on an art gallery wall as they are bound together and numbered. Issue two of Ladies & Gentlemen is one of these rare, tantalizing gems. Like limited edition designer prints, there are only 1,000 copies of each 12'x12', hand-assembled issue. Carefully peel back the cover, screen-printed by design duo Aesthetic Apparatus, to find interviews with Chef Greg Norton, artists Robert A. A. Lowe and Tyondai Braxton, plus a job application humorously completed by graphic designer Wes Winship. Utne's own Chris Dodge also contributed 'Gone But Not Forgotten,' a list of 'ten defunct periodicals.' (And we must give a nod as well to former Utne intern Abbie Jarman, whose position is tellingly designated in the masthead under 'General Total Helpfulness.') If all that's not enough stimulation, dig up a record player and groove to the eight-track album stashed within for the ultimate sensory experience. -- Kristen Mueller
As Canada's longest running alternative magazine, This Magazine has been a bastion of left-liberal thinking since the 1960s. The newest issue should be of special interest to American readers because of the exploration into Canada's guest worker program. The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, as it is known in Canada, provides employers with cheap labor, and provides workers access to the Canadian health-care system. That is, until workers get sick. Although our copy of the issue had some pagination problems, it was filled with thought-provoking articles including a profile of book publisher Beth Follett, who has run the independent Pedlar Press for nearly a decade. Also notable in May/June: an article about the future of digital rights management and a pictorial essay on hope in Haiti. -- Bennett Gordon
In the latest issue of The Humanist, the bimonthly magazine of philosophical and social criticism has found a kindred spirit in Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. Jeff Nall sits down with the award-winning journalist to discuss journalistic integrity and the importance of independent media. Goodman explains how the traditional political parties are breaking down in the United States and says it's up to independent media to fill the void by bringing people honest, but not necessarily objective, information. Also in this issue, Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, explains the problems with parental notification laws for abortions, and Daniel Consolatore wonders if Afghanistan is moving toward democracy or civil war. -- Bennett Gordon