From the Stacks: October 20, 2006

| October 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.

When one of our editors was trolling around her co-op recently, she couldn't help but notice Theme peeking out from behind The Nation. Our library had never seen the likes of Theme, and when the hefty box of back issues arrived, I too reveled in the magazine's impeccable design. This stunning quarterly of Asian culture and arts draws in readers with arresting cover art. True to form, the Fall issue introduces its theme -- performance -- with a prematurely earnest-looking boy wearing space-themed underpants, one in a series of photographs documenting young male gymnasts. Other featured performers span a wide range of the loosely defined terrain that is art, including musicians, BMX bikers, dancers, skateboarders, and designers. My favorite piece includes mind-boggling photos of North Korea's Mass Games, in which some 80,000 participants perform flawlessly coordinated gymnastics and dance. -- Danielle Maestretti

White Crane, a quarterly 'forum for exploring and enhancing gay men's spirituality,' takes its name from the elegant birds of ancient Asia that symbolized wholeness, happiness, and independence. The diversity of interviews and essays in the Fall issue make clear how each interpretation of being both spiritual and gay is highly individualized. Prominent throughout this most recent issue is the idea of a charlatan: Those selling gay spirituality in the form of an expensive cruise or exclusive retreat, or those, like Greg Marzullo, who have seen an 'Everyday Charlatan' inside themselves. -- Rachel Anderson

The folks behind ActionLine, the quarterly publication of Friends of Animals, may be hopelessly devoted to furry critters, but their approach to animal rights issues could hardly be described as? 'soft.' The platform of the magazine is decidedly vegan and critical of acts sometimes considered animal-sensitive, like raising pets or buying free-range products. The Fall issue exposes exploitative and threatening practices confronting a host of animals, like utility-pole-dwelling monk parakeets and double-crested cormorants killed by government agencies. ActionLine backs up its name by offering sources at the end of many articles so readers can write to express their support or opposition on each topic. -- Rachel Anderson

A glimmering gem of all things indie, Arthur could be the love child of Rolling Stone and a SoCal alt weekly. The self-described 'review of life, arts and thought' focuses primarily on music, and the October issue features interviews with LA-area musicians, including the idealist band the Sharp Ease. Toward the back, Byron Coley and Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame) jam poetic opinions of underground bands sardine-like into a rambling journey of a review, while entities dubbed 'C & D' give readers a heads-up on what's in stores via a conversation that's both silly and descriptive. The topics of 'life' and 'thought' are not neglected, with nods to goings-on in the worlds of food, design, and technology. Though we wish he would come out to play more often, Arthur visits only once every two months. On the upside, the magazine is 'free across the US & Canada.' -- Suzanne Lindgren

The theme 'The Young Canadians' runs through the Autumn issue of C Magazine, one of a bevy of stellar publications that comes to us from up north. Notable among those featured is a Vancouver 'collecting collective' (interviewed by Christina Ritchie). The experimental yet earnest group of art collectors and creators combine resources to increase their purchasing power. The collaboration started in 2002 as a project of then-students at Vancouver's Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Members see the endeavor as a kind of performance art that supports emerging artists and creates buzz about work they like (as opposed to the more traditional works typical collectors invest in). C Magazine has an exhibition catalogue feel to it, with several essays theorizing on artists' projects. A lovely 'artist centerfold' completes each issue -- October's is a quaint collage of 'lace and tattoo images' by Jennifer Murphy entitled 'Wait for Me.' -- Suzanne Lindgren

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