From the Stacks: November 3, 2006


| November 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.

The US mainstream media, for the most part, has serious shortcomings in its coverage of Latin America -- stories about its peoples, cultures, and politics are often ignored, misrepresented, or buried deep within the international sections of newspapers and magazines. When longtime staff favorite (and four-time Utne Independent Press Award nominee) Connection to the Americas arrives in the mail, I am awed by the ability of this low-budget newsletter to provide in-depth reporting on the region. The November/December issue of the newsletter -- published by the Resource Center of the Americas in Minneapolis -- focuses on human rights violations in Latin America and the United States. Each issue includes feature articles published in both English and Spanish, and a lengthy 'News in Review' section keeps you up-to-date with important dispatches organized by country. -- Danielle Maestretti

Folks with a hankering for 'craftier' DIY adventures will hail the debut of Craft, a quarterly magazine by the staff of Make. Faced with an influx of more soft-tech project ideas from readers, the makers of Make considered a theme issue, but opted for a sister publication instead. The premiere issue boasts more than 20 unique projects ranging from an ant farm room divider to needlepoint wrist bangles. Longer projects include time estimates and complexity ratings, and there are quickies, such as an iPod cozy by Emily Drury or a chain mail fashion by Annalee Newitz. For more hands-off ideas, browse the profile of crafter Liza Lou, who beaded a life-size installation of a kitchen, or check out the 'Handmade' column showcasing 'extreme crafting,' where you can ogle a Johnny Swing couch made from 6,400 welded nickels. -- Elizabeth Ryan

When Hurricane Katrina roared through New Orleans, it washed away much of the city's public school system. The Fall issue of Rethinking Schools explores how in just a year's time, charter schools have all but replaced public ones. Leigh Dingerson of the Center for Community Change offers a 7-page timeline chronicling this fast-paced evolution, from the status of public education at the end of the 2004-05 school year up through the current system of independently operated schools. The issue also includes accounts by New Orleans teachers and students, and even educators outside of Louisiana who view the catastrophe as an illustration of the reality of class, race, and poverty in the United States. -- Rachel Anderson



If you're hungry for some zine writing that's doused in Canadianisms, pick up the latest issue of Broken Pencil. Issue No. 33 is all about food with a collection of writing that peeks around the underbelly of food culture. There's 'The Trickle Down Gourmet Prepares a Hogtown Recycling Feast,' in which the writer dives Dumpsters to collect vodka, partial loaves of bread, and an Earl Grey teabag, among other foodstuffs, and prepares a mouthwatering buffet. David Silverberg writes that living in cities doesn't have to mean shipping in your food. And for a laugh, check out MariNaomi's comic 'Recipe for Disaster,' which hits a little too close to home for the culinarily challenged. -- Rachel Anderson

The folks at Swindle just sent us a copy of their jaunty quarterly arts and culture magazine aimed at hip 18- to 30-somethings craving inspiration. Inside issue 'No.7,' flanked by surreal art spreads and sandwiched between sassy articles on a leading tattoo artist and a spray paint company in Spain that designs spray paint for graffiti artists, is an article on prohibition in the United States. The article, by Caleb Neelon, dispenses fun tidbits I can now share at a cocktail party, like the fact that bootleggers' fancy tricked-out cars of the early 1900s were inspiration for NASCAR, and that prohibition is partly responsible for the nation's binge drinking. -- Jenna Fisher