From the Stacks: November 17, 2006

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.

O, lovingly
hand-bound journal of literature and art! O, exquisitely
letterpressed cover! Beeswax Magazine‘s beauty captivated me
the moment I saw it. And I was delighted to find that
Beeswax‘s editors clearly took this same care with its
content. In the recently arrived second issue (Spring/Summer), the
stories are engaging, delicately written, and often funny. I
laughed aloud reading fictional blog dispatches from Ray Smuckles,
an anthropomorphic cat who throws high-end parties nearly every
week. I also got wrapped up in illustrations of prisoner personal
ads an artist happened upon while online (‘Benefits of dating me?
No stress — face-to-face once a week and letters the rest of the
time’). Also intriguing: a short story about a ‘longtime grocer’
and an awkward conversation he overhears while arranging apples. —
Danielle Maestretti

Where
nationalities are hyphenated, one can expect to find a culture
that’s more than the sum of its parts.
Hyphen follows cultures and subcultures
that form around the union of Asian and American. Not surprisingly,
a motif in their Fall music issue is fusion — the new and often
controversial sounds that come of merging tradition and innovation.
‘The Vibrations of Lineage’ traces how classical Indian music has
changed from a traditional practice subject to ‘a strict code of
lineage and patriarchy’ to a contemporary genre that’s influenced
by technology and musicians’ interactions with the West, often to
the dismay of older generations. As musician Alam Khan, the
grandson of Ravi Shankar’s guru, quotes his father: ”There is
fusion, and there is confusion.” — Evelyn Hampton

A certain level of timelessness shines through Manuel
Rivera-Ortiz’s photographs of Cuba. Current fashion is absent,
classic cars dot the background, and the sharp contrast of the
black-and-white film offers little clue that these pictures are
from 2002. The photographs are just some of the pieces highlighted
in issue 11.02 of
Nueva Luz, the tri-annual photojournal
that publishes the work of photographers of African, Asian, Latino,
Native American, and Pacific Islander heritage. Commentator
Margarita Aguilar revels in the featured artists’ abilities to
present themselves as travelers, both to ‘real, geographical places
as well as imagined landscapes or distinctive spaces conjured up by
their imagination.’ — Rachel Anderson

At the
recommendation of a colleague, a few of us sat down after work one
evening this week and braced ourselves to view
American Blackout. Directed by the
Guerrilla News Network‘s Ian Inaba, the documentary
highlights the egregious dearth of reporting on the voter
suppression in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, offering
the chilling truth about manipulation not only in Ohio and Florida,
but also in Georgia — as witnessed in former Rep. Cynthia
McKinney’s campaigns. McKinney, an African-American woman serving
her fifth consecutive term in office, was asking the tough
questions in Congress about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when no
one else was. When her behavior was deemed unpatriotic (and
threatening), her reelection bid was sabotaged by crossover voting
tactics employed by an unremorseful Republican interest group.
American Blackout stimulates one’s social conscience,
heightens the importance of civic responsibility, and calls for
action. — Elizabeth Ryan

For
those trying to navigate the daily onslaught of headlines from the
Middle East, Dan Smith’s latest book,
The State of the Middle East: An Atlas of Conflict
and Resolution
, will come in handy. Published by the
University of California Press, Smith’s ‘atlas’ guides readers
through the tumultuous region’s complex issues and conflicts. The
book is broken into sections that cover everything from the Ottoman
Empire, to the formation of the state of Israel, through the US
invasion of Iraq in 2003, and beyond. It’s filled with readable
graphs and colorful maps that pinpoint everything from regional
ethnic and language groups to military spending and urbanization.
Jenna Fisher

Permaculture Activist empowers ordinary
citizens by encouraging self-sustained living. November’s issue
ponders ‘The Art of Permaculture,’ touching on various creative
endeavors as they cross paths with permaculture, from writing to
environmental art to performance. In ‘Is Beauty the Forgotten
Permaculture Principle?’ editor Scott Horton notes that ‘some
permaculturists frown upon aesthetics.’ He cautions against such a
view, arguing that design — a core tenet of sustainable living —
is inherently linked to aesthetics and calls for permaculturists to
reclaim art and infuse beauty into all creations. — Suzanne
Lindgren

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