From the Stacks: November 3, 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

Just
east of the lush Oregon Cascades is a weird and gritty place called
the High Desert. The heart of that land is the town of Bend. Once
an isolated outpost where cowboys, hippies, and wild horses brushed
shoulders, Bend has exploded in recent years and now brims with
outdoorsy suburban types (much to the chagrin of its old-timers).
The town has become somewhat of an emblem of the new, fast-changing
West, and from this change, some great art has surfaced. Whether
pining for the old days of lonely sagebrush rides or contemplating
escape through the lens of a pinhole camera, the
High Desert Journal captures it all with
Western-themed fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and photography.
But don’t be misled by the Journal‘s elegant layout:
amidst the odes to wild places, there’s still a healthy dose of
good old-fashioned bronco ridin’ and whiskey drinkin’.
Elizabeth Oliver

The Fall issue of
Geist,
a proudly Canadian quarterly, is filled with captivating prose and
handsome photography brought to the fore by an understated design.
As one reader testifies, the magazine is ‘an antidote to literary
lameness.’ Many of the pieces compiled in Geist‘s pages
are excerpted from larger works, such as Robert Bringhurst’s
‘Sharing Immortality’ (culled from the essay, published by
Barbarian Press, ‘And, Much More, Not
Ourselves: The Work of Jan & Crispin Elsted ‘). Here, a utopia
(or dystopia) in which great literary works last forever confronts
the limitations of space and time in our reality. True immortality
would equal disaster, Bringhurst writes. Instead we must be
satisfied with the eternal life cobbled together from ‘finite,
overlapping lives.’ — Suzanne Lindgren

Black and white, tall and thin, with a wasps’ nest adorning its
cover, the 27th issue of
First Class stands out on a table full of
glossies, weeklies, and newsletters. With its compilation of short
stories and poems, this biyearly publication is probably best
described as a literary zine. It makes no such claim itself, but
the cover does assert that it ‘makes you feel downright
uncomfortable.’ One biting poem by ‘spiel’ called ‘How they make
your new fridge about: they have a refrigerator,’ riffs on those
people that devalue your tales of joy and trouble with their own
hyperbolized stories, often to the point of contradicting
themselves. — Suzanne Lindgren

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