This holiday season, our crack team of magazine readers has teamed up to help you avoid the consumer-frenzied mall and give the gift that keeps on giving: information. With the care of a gourmet sommelier pairing a rare delicacy to its rightful wine, we’ve matched some of our favorite alternative magazines to their ideal recipients—those exasperating names on the gift list for whom a sweater just won’t do. The hermit socialist uncle? Got him. The eerie niece? No problem.

If you’ve still got a magazine-gift dilemma after reading our guide, drop us a line in the comments below. We’ll sort through our stacks and get back to you.

ImbibeFor your faraway friend with whom you can’t share a beer:
Get him or her Imbibe, a magazine of “liquid culture.” Imbibe answers perennial questions about coffee, beer, and cocktails, such as that nagging head-scratcher: What was George Washington’s drink of choice? (Answer: Applejack, a traditional American liquor). Then, next time you see your distant friend, crack open a couple of Hefeweizen, the unfiltered wheat beer featured in the Sept.-Oct. 2007 issue, and enjoy the cultured conversation that’s sure to flow. “Did you know that Hefeweizen is brewed with at least 50 percent wheat malts, unlike most beers, which are brewed with barley?” your friend will ask. “And that while in the United States Hefe (as aficionados call it) is served with a slice of lemon, in Germany that’s unheard of.” You may never eat solid food again. —Brendan Mackie

MeatpaperFor the unapologetically carnivorous:
Meatpaper, a nominee for best new publication in this year’s Utne Independent Press Awards, is about more than eating meat. It’s about meat history, meat ethics, meat as a metaphor, and, perhaps most bizarrely, meat as art. This San Francisco-based magazine honors what editors Sasha Wizansky and Amy Standen call fleischgeist—the spirit of meat. In Meatpaper’s Fall 2007 issue, this spirit is manifest in a wide array of articles, including a Q&A with butchers who advocate using less popular but deliciously traditional cuts of meat, and a look back at Jana Sterbak’s 1987 Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, in which a waifish model wore a costume made entirely of raw steaks. The text throughout is framed by a clean layout and luscious images, which makes Meatpaper an intellectual and aesthetic treat. —Morgan Winters

Oxford AmericanFor the Yankee pal who won’t stop with the mint juleps:
A slew of magazines without a lick of the South in them have been, of late, trumpeting this recently discovered region below Cincinnati that has a ton of great stuff going on. It’s called “The South,” and did you know that bands come from there? And writers? And artists? And that it’s impossible to write about this place without employing clichés such as “bourbon-soaked” or “country-fried?” Well, not so for the Arkansas-based Oxford American. This class act has covered its beat for the past 15 years, showcasing all things Southern and great (or sometimes not so great). The latest edition (#58) includes a CD compilation of the 26 Southern recording artists profiled for the annual music issue, which showcases a diverse group from Thelonious Monk to Daniel Johnston. The issue also features a cool series of essays titled “Writers Who Rocked,” penned by the members of an assortment of noteworthy musical acts, including the Red Crayola and the Del Fuegos. Smart, edgy, hip, funny—Oxford American proves that Southern culture isn’t an oxymoron. —Jason Ericson

Z MagazineFor your bearded uncle who stopped coming home for the holidays because he’s too busy working on his manifesto:
So you’ve got a problem. Last year you got your uncle the Nation, and though he really enjoyed the Deadline Poet, the coverage was just too far right for him. Well, don’t fret. Z Magazine might be the solution to your gift quandary. Z regularly draws contributions from top-shelf revolutionary thinkers, such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, as well as radical educators, leaders, and in-the-trenches activists you’re likely to have never seen or heard elsewhere. Don’t expect to find much love for Democrats here, standard bearers of hegemony that they are. For a real vanguard trifecta, throw in subscriptions to Socialist Review and In These Times. Taken together, they’re guaranteed to have you and your uncle renouncing your citizenship and burning the contents of your wallet. —Jason Ericson

wes_6
12/25/2007 12:45:25 AM

Z Rocks!