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    Utne Weeder


    IRISHSean-Nos Nua by Sinead O’Connor
    (Vanguard). Out of the spotlight lately, O’Connor re-emerges as a
    Celtic siren, interpreting Irish classics in a lush style that
    bypasses drippy sentimentalism for something much deeper.
    Keith Goetzman

    ROOTSOf MyNativeLand by Clothesline Revival (Paleo Music). With an
    eclectic and mesmerizing blend of soundscapes–electronica, acoustic
    country, downhome vocals, and samplings of 1930s and ’40s field
    recordings from Alan Lomax and Moe Asch–recording artists Conrad
    Praetzel and Tom Armstrong offer up a fresh and soulful version of
    Americana. —Karen Olson

    VOCALFlight: Rhiannon’s Interactive Guide
    to Vocal Improvisation
    (Sounds True). Rhiannon, a founding
    member of the a cappella ensembles

    Voicestra and Alive!, guides you through 136 minutes of intimate
    exercises–everything from Qigong warm-ups and breathwork to jazzy
    scat-singing–all to help you discover the Bobby McFerrin and the
    Ella Fitzgerald inside you. —Eric Utne

    POPHome Away by Will Kimbrough (Waxy
    Silver). Borrowing a bit from stompy blues, hook-laden power pop,
    and scrubby country-rock, Kimbrough comes off as a self-deprecating
    but spirited songwriter. This spill-it-all solo debut–“my Double
    Fantasy,” he has called it–marks him as a man to watch, and listen
    to. —K.G.

    CLASSICALChopin: 24 Etudes by Murray
    Perahia (Sony). Perahia attacks these piano treasures with
    remarkable clarity and verve, power and solemnity–obviously
    delighting in the composer’s many and varied moods. —Craig

    CARIBBEANCalypso by various artists
    (Putamayo). This bouncy anthology, gathering 1950s-era tunes from
    across the Caribbean, delights with sunny, witty music that shows
    how jazz, swing, and R&B influenced the island sound.

    ROCK-GOSPELLive at the Wetlands by
    Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Dare/Warner Bros.). Players of
    the “sacred steel” guitar generally limit the instrument to church
    performances, but Robert Randolph visits nightclubs to evangelize
    via soaring runs of notes that have two trajectories–high and
    higher. The pedal steel’s voicelike inflections and sheer
    joyousness make the Family a jam band like few others.


    KIDSLove atGoonPark: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
    by Deborah Blum (Perseus, $26). Children need love. Sounds like a
    no-brainer, but when psychologist Harry Harlow declared as much in
    the 1950s and 1960s, he was initially shouted down by leading
    psychologists who believed that parental affection was not only
    unnecessary, but downright destructive for children. Pulitzer
    Prize-winning science writer Blum vividly reveals how Harlow has
    forever altered our notions of love. —Anjula Razdan

    SMALL-TOWNAMERICAPopulation: 485 by Michael Perry (HarperCollins, $24.95).
    With hilarious and heartbreaking stories about life as a volunteer
    firefighter in a small Wisconsin town, and a poetic voice that is
    simultaneously cantankerous and tender, Perry delves into the heart
    and soul of what it means to come home. Population: 485 is destined
    to become an American classic. —Karen Olson

    THE GOOD LIFESustainable Planet: Solutions
    for the 21st Century
    edited by Juliet B. Schor and Betsy
    Taylor (Beacon, $18). Smart essays by sharp-eyed observers (Mary
    Pipher, Bill McKibben, Vicki Robin, and more) showing how career
    success and consumer overload can distract us from the pursuit of
    happiness. —Jay Walljasper

    CONSUMERISMBranded: The Buying and Selling
    of Teenagers
    by Alissa Quart (Perseus, $25). A biting
    indictment of corporate marketing, Quart’s exposé reveals the
    numbing effects of consumerism on American teens and shows how kids
    have been able to successfully opt out of the game. —Craig


    CALENDARSThe Autonomedia Calendar of
    Jubilee Saints: Radical Heroes for the New Millennium
    Sheroes 2003: Womyn Warriors Calendar commemorate the
    lives of artists, freedom fighters, iconoclasts, and visionaries
    worldwide, many of whom are little known–Gerard Winstanley, Bhagat
    Singh, and Armida Garcia de Contreras, for example. ($8.95 and
    $9.95 respectively from Box 568, Brooklyn, NY 11211; www.autono
    media.org) —Chris Dodge

    CATHOLIC CHURCHBread Rising A strong
    voice of reform for Catholics edited by scholar and former priest
    Terry Dosh, this invigorating newsletter monitors ideas and
    developments around the world affecting the cause of democracy,
    social justice, women’s rights, and common sense within the church.
    ($19/yr. [8 issues] from 4124 Harriet Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN
    55409; mdoshx001@tc.umn.edu —Jay Walljasper

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    POP The Living Room Tour by Carole
    King (Rockingale/Concord). This two-disc concert recording finds
    the legendary artist shuffling through her hit-festooned songbook,
    rendering everything from ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ to ‘Locomotion’ in
    a stripped-down style that highlights her exquisite songcraft and
    rich, inviting voice. She’s so good she can make almost anyone feel
    like a natural woman. — Keith Goetzman

    JAZZ I Am Three by Mingus Big Band,
    Mingus Orchestra, and Mingus Dynasty (Sunnyside). Three bands are
    magnificently obsessed with the work of composer-bassist Charles
    Mingus; put them in the studio for some sessions and the result is
    bracing, vital music that keeps his big spirit alive and very well.

    BLUEGRASS Julie Blue by Joe Purdy (Joe
    Purdy Music). Joe Purdy’s bluegrass-meets-Jack Johnson sensibility
    tastes like liquid smoke and smells like dusk. Combining Southern
    melancholy with just the right amount of optimism — ‘I love the
    rain the most,’ croons Purdy, ‘when it stops’ — this spontaneous
    musical memoir feels deeply personal and honest. — Laine

    AMBIENT Belladonna by Daniel Lanois
    (Anti). This ultrasedate, all-instrumental album recalls the
    groundbreaking ambient work of England’s Brian Eno, which fits
    because Lanois is in essence the American Eno, a superproducer with
    his own creative urges. Quiet as a shipyard in winter, his music is
    bold in its delicacy. — K.G.

    REGGAE Surfin’ by Ernest Ranglin
    (Telarc). Extend your summer with this album, as guitarist Ranglin
    runs through fluid, good-time grooves that draw on jazz and surf
    influences but always rest on solid, skanky island rhythms. His
    muted chords and flurries of notes are a mellow tonic for troubled
    times. — K.G.


    SELF-HELP Transforming Stress: The HeartMath
    Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue, and Tension
    Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman (New Harbinger, $12.95). When I
    encountered HeartMath, I felt like I had received the operating
    manual for life. Transforming Stress simply and accessibly
    presents the scientific rationale, as well as the practical
    techniques, that underlie HeartMath’s proven system. If you want to
    learn how to live authentically from the heart in a way that gives
    you control over your responses to a chaotic and changing world,
    read this book. — Nina Utne

    AUTOBIOGRAPHY At the End of Ridge Road
    by Joseph Bruchac (Milkweed Editions, $14). Prolific
    author/storyteller Bruchac writes about his life, the people who
    have mattered most to him, and the places he’s known, from the
    Adirondack woods of his Abenaki ancestors to West Africa, where he
    and his wife worked in the ’60s. Throughout, Bruchac calmly conveys
    a sense of healthy engagement with the world, the
    interconnectedness of all things, and the importance of both
    rootedness and taking a long view. — Chris Dodge

    PHILOSOPHY The Real Meaning of Life
    edited by David Seaman (New World Library, $14). Type ‘What is the
    meaning of life?’ into a search engine and you might find yourself
    overwhelmed. As a procrastinating college freshman, Seaman did just
    that and collected the responses, ranging from the flippant to the
    profound, into this perusable collection. — Jessica

    SPIRITUALITY Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia:
    How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with
    by Rob Brezsny (Frog, $19). Brezsny,
    creator of the widely syndicated alt-weekly column Free Will
    Astrology, defines pronoia as the understanding that the universe
    is inherently friendly. While it may seem naive to put your faith
    in optimism these days, Brezsny’s new book offers up a convincing
    argument for leaving cynicism and despair behind. Filled with
    Dionysian manifestos, guerrilla oracles, love letters, and
    primordial gossip, this wild, wise, and subversive book — which is
    also part collaborative workbook — is a must read for those who
    want to live a more imaginative and free life. — Karen


    ALT-COUNTRY Live from Austin, TX by
    Sun Volt (New West). Watching Jay Farrar’s alt-country quartet
    stomp through a set on PBS’s Austin City Limits right on
    the heels of their 1995 debut, Trace, one can’t help but
    think about Monk at the Village Vanguard or the Grateful Dead at
    Fillmore East. The storied studio at KLRU-TV, where 30 seasons have
    been taped so far, demands reverence from musicians and music
    lovers alike, and Sun Volt honors the occasion by delivering a
    simple, 16-song set that is stripped of pretension and manages to
    be both raucous and reflective. — David Schimke

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    FOLK Let Em Run by The Bills (Red
    House). It’s hard not to like a band that trots out the lyric ‘Mr.
    Russell cherished idle time / Insouciance was his only crime.’ But
    the members of this Canadian quintet don’t let their highfalutin’
    thoughts get in the way of their down-home music, a graceful,
    rootsy blend fueled by instruments like the accordion, fiddle, and
    mandolin. This is pickin’ music for thinkin’ folks. — Keith

    POP Waiting for the Sirens’ Call by
    New Order (Warner Bros.). The band that created the template for
    legions of technodance artists is still showing them how it’s done.
    The funny thing is, New Order isn’t as slavish to its machines as
    many of its acolytes: Good old guitars and real drums add a bit of
    humanity to shimmering walls of synths, setting up the cool-warm
    dynamic that drives this gorgeous music. — K.G.

    BLUES Motivational Speaker by Alvin
    Youngblood Hart (Artemis). Whether he’s channeling Jimi in wailing,
    chugging blues rock or exploring his own country blues roots, Hart
    is a musical force of nature with a relentless adventurous streak.
    This album rocks harder than his previous ones, but it goes down
    just as easy. — K.G.

    TRANCE Seadrum/House of Sun by the
    Boredoms (Vice). The music of this ever-evolving Japanese
    collective has sometimes been chaotically noisy, but it seems that
    a day at the beach mellowed them and inspired ‘Seadrum,’ a
    20-minute blissed-out soundscape. Towering washes of sound and
    intense cascades of rhythm make it a backing track for summer
    daydreams. ‘House of Sun’ continues in a more sedate, drumless vein
    for the perfect cooldown. — K.G.

    POP The Forgotten Arm by Aimee Mann
    (SuperEgo). A short-story writer trapped in the body of a pop
    artist, Mann creates Katherine Mansfield-like minidramas that tread
    the uneasy line between beauty and sickness. They would be dreary
    if they weren’t so fascinating, and her sweetly melodic music
    enhances every turn of the plot. This thematic album tells the tale
    of (guess what!) two troubled lovers in a noirish, emotionally
    charged world. — K.G.


    DENDROLOGY Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the
    by Joan Maloof (University of Georgia Press,
    $24.95). Interpolating her observations about the natural world
    with words by poet Rainer Rilke, biologist Maloof examines forest
    ecology, often from the perspective of mast and microfauna on the
    forest floor — weevils that inhabit acorns, snails that live in
    rich debris below trees, and parasitic wasps that dwell on a
    species of leafminer found only on the American holly. Clearly, to
    know such details intimately is to care about them. — Chris

    FINANCE A Devil’s Dictionary of
    by Nicholas Von Hoffman (Nation Books, $25).
    With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Von Hoffman, a columnist for
    the New York Observer, defines the vocabulary, phrases,
    companies, and characters of our evolved business culture. Entries
    range from ‘abacus’ to ‘dead-end job’ to ‘William Henry Gates III’
    to ‘option overhang’ and ‘swaption.’ This is a valuable primer that
    will engage both capitalists and anti-capitalists alike. —
    Jessica Coulter

    WORLD HISTORY Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral
    History of a Nuclear Disaster
    by Svetlana Alexievich,
    translated by Keith Gessen (Dalkey Archive, $22.95). The upcoming
    20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster will no doubt attract
    the sort of intense yet fleeting media attention the Bhopal
    remembrance recently received, but as Ukrainian journalist
    Alexievich’s haunting collection of testimonials makes clear, the
    nuclear tragedy has been — and will continue to be — an unholy
    burden that millions of Ukranians, Russians, and Belarussians must
    bear. — Anjula Razdan

    LANGUAGE Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad
    by Ruth Wajnryb (Free Press, $18). Why the
    *$@&*% did it take so long for someone to publish a good book
    on bad words? Australian lexicographer Wajnryb has a lot of fun
    exploring foul language, a subject that has long been ignored in
    academic communities. The serious student of swearing can now parse
    the subtle difference between obscenity and profanity, and the more
    casual curser gets help choosing the appropriate vulgarity for any
    situation. Bonus: a chapter on being foul in any language. Let the
    creative cursing begin! — Laine Bergeson

    PHOTOGRAPHY Shots: An American Photographer’s
    Journal 1967-1972
    by David Fenton (Earth Aware
    Editions, $29.95). A cop on horseback, chasing down a flag burner
    in Central Park; peaceniks dancing naked in the U.S. Capitol’s
    Reflecting Pool; the Chicago 7 on trial; Abbie Hoffman preaching
    peace; the Weathermen and the Black Panthers fearlessly, and
    sometimes recklessly, raging against the machine. These
    black-and-white memories, captured on the frontlines and behind the
    scenes by a teenager who dropped out of Bronx High School to work
    as a photographer for the Liberation News Service (‘the Associated
    Press of the antiwar movement’), remind us how dangerous it is, and
    how good it can feel, to poke power in the eye. — David

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    WILDLIFE CONSERVATION The Back Road to Crazy:
    Stories from the Field
    edited by Jennifer Bove
    (University of Utah Press, $19.95). Much romanticized and therefore
    misunderstood, conservation fieldwork is brought down to earth in
    this piquant collection of essays. Bove has compiled inspiring,
    trying, sometimes tragic, and often disgusting tales from field
    researchers who work to preserve natural habitats around the world.
    Definitely to be read outdoors, wearing boots, with the smell of
    skunk lingering in the air. — Jessica Coulter

    GASTRONOMICA Angry Trout Cafe Notebook: Friends,
    Recipes, and the Culture of Sustainability
    by George
    Wilkes (Northwind Sailing, $26.95). In Grand Marais, Minnesota, on
    the shores of Lake Superior, there are some very angry trout. The
    humans who fry them up, however, are conscientious, clever, and
    positively delightful. So too is this new book by the proprietor of
    the Angry Trout Cafe. An ode to sustainability, the book offers
    great tips on how to run an organic business. Plus: A decade’s
    worth of the cafe’s newspaper ads will have you laughing, crying,
    and looking for an outline of Elvis in your next fish sandwich.
    Recipes included. — Laine Bergeson

    MEMOIR The Art of Teaching by Jay
    Parini (Oxford University Press, $17.95). Declaring the college
    classroom one of the few places left where young people can
    ‘confront their own best selves,’ Parini, an English professor at
    Middlebury College, shares his quiet wisdom on guiding students
    toward the pleasures of critical thinking. Equal parts memoir,
    essay, and practical advice, Parini’s handbook for the writer who
    teaches is a gentle, elegant tribute to those who turn the life of
    the mind into a performance art. — Jeremiah Creedon

    POETRY In the Dark by Ruth Stone
    (Copper Canyon, $22). An aging poet’s failing eyesight informs this
    collection of 94 new poems, some of which recall the spirit of
    Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Dark but not hopeless, they spring
    from Stone’s lucid inner vision, which is straightforward, musical,
    and defiant: ‘My life is wild with slippery paper. . . . And I’m
    less lonely anymore.’ — Chris Dodge


    JAZZ Far Side of Here by the Brooklyn
    Sax Quartet (Omnitone). You won’t even miss the bass and drums as
    these four horns bob and weave and play with the abandon of
    children — albeit very smart, well-trained children. Whether
    they’re rendering their own songs or songs by Dizzy Gillespie and
    Billy Strayhorn, the musicians get deep inside the compositions and
    blow their way out with melody, harmony, and rhythm. — Keith

    JAZZ Mountain Passages by Dave Douglas
    (Greenleaf). This always adventurous trumpeter played an especially
    sweet gig at Italy’s Sound of the Dolomites festival in 2003:
    Performers and audience hiked to a scenic Alpine vantage point,
    where Douglas and his band played music he composed for the
    occasion. The result is this expansive suite of songs that skirts
    the sublime. — K.G.

    ROCK/POP Prom by Amy Ray (Daemon). The
    grittier half of the Indigo Girls looks through the lens of her
    high school days and comes up with a vivid glimpse of life at any
    stage. Her candid, heartfelt takes on growing up Southern, gay, and
    rebellious come alive in folk songs delivered with punk-rock
    attitude. — K.G.

    ROCK/POP Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet
    by John Doe (Yep Roc). Doe’s post-X music making has been spotty —
    hey, it’s hard to match punk band X’s excellence — but here he
    delivers a particularly strong helping of roots-rock with the help
    of collaborators like Dave Alvin, Grant Lee Phillips, Neko Case,
    and Kristin Hersh. Bob Dylan counts himself among Doe’s admirers,
    and these well-crafted songs show why. — K.G.

    FOLK Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time
    by various artists (Rounder). ‘Stars’ is an
    amusing misnomer — you won’t be seeing these artists at the Super
    Bowl halftime show anytime soon — but that of course is part of
    the appeal of old-time music: These musicians are playing purely
    for the love of it. From fiddle numbers to sacred harp choirs, from
    fast picking to slow keening, this is an excellent survey of the
    state of the old-time scene. — K.G.

    FOLK Memory Against Forgetting by
    Casey Neill (AK Press). Coffeehouses are overrun with
    Celtic-influenced singer-songwriters, but Neill uses the Irish
    angle only as a springboard for his soul-searing songs about smoke
    jumpers, Jesus freaks, cod fishermen, molybdenum miners, and more.
    He takes the guy-with-a-guitar approach to a higher level and pulls
    you up with him. — K.G.

    HAITIAN Rasin Kreyol by Emeline Michel
    (Times Square Records). It’s a gift just to hear contemporary
    musical expressions from Haiti, but these songs of love and
    struggle are especially soulful and poignant. Michel sings with
    sweet strength — of her Congolese ancestors and of fighting to
    survive — backed by frenetic drums and a trumpet that recalls
    legendary South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela. —


    DVD Argentina: Hope in Hard Times
    (Bullfrog Films). In early 2002, as their country reeled from an
    economic crisis induced by the International Monetary Fund,
    Argentinians responded with an explosion of creative grassroots
    solutions to their sudden poverty. Popular assemblies sprang up in
    every neighborhood. Laid-off workers took over shuttered factories.
    Citizens opened barter markets and dug up parks and boulevards to
    grow food. Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young’s film is an important
    record of this inspiring episode in the global struggle against
    corporate domination. — Leif Utne

    The Good Business
    Books on socially responsible management

    If you want to start and run a socially responsible business, a
    new crop of business books penned by CEOs who have done some things
    right, and a few things wrong, may help. But what’s most compelling
    about these books is that the writers all had the courage to be
    candid about their journeys.

    Gary Erickson, CEO of Clif Bar Inc. and author of
    Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and
    (Jossey-Bass, $24.95), tells how he walked
    away from a $120 million offer to buy his company when he realized
    that he was letting fear and conventional business wisdom trump his
    commitment to everything he had built and loved. Clif Bar’s
    corporate culture and its success are an eclectic reflection of
    Erickson’s multifaceted life as a cyclist, musician, world
    traveler, mountain climber, wilderness guide, and entrepreneur.

    Tom Gegax, co-founder of Tires Plus, says he was ‘cocksure’
    until he was leveled by cancer, a divorce, and a major cash crunch.
    By the Seat of Your Pants: The No-Nonsense Business
    Management Guide
    (Expert, $47) details how Gegax
    learned to build strong teams and manage proactively, rather than
    in a crisis-driven mode. When the company was eventually sold, its
    annual revenues were over $200 million and Gegax — whose business
    card read ‘Head Coach’ — was widely celebrated for combining
    hard-nosed efficiency with a caring environment for both employees
    and customers.

    Marc Lesser, an ordained Zen priest and the former CEO of Brush
    Dance, which publishes greeting cards, journals, and calendars,
    began his business career as a draft horse farmer and bread baker
    at Zen centers. His book, Z.B.A.: The Zen of Business
    (New World Library, $14.95), is billed
    as a guide to how Zen practice can transform your business and your
    life. Writes Lesser: ‘The real risk in business is the same as in
    Zen practice: to be completely yourself; to move beyond ideas of
    success and failure; to act with complete determination and
    decisiveness; to live with complete openness, flexibility, and
    humility; to vow and act in a way that does good and avoids harm;
    not to get caught by your own desires; and to be present for
    whatever happens next.’ — Nina Utne

    Utne Weeder


    SOCIOLOGY American Mania: When More Is Not
    by Peter C. Whybrow (Norton, $24.95).
    Overworked, anxious, and dissatisfied — we’re no longer happy
    living the American Dream. Instead, argues psychiatrist Whybrow,
    we’re collectively suffering from American mania. And it’s genetic.
    This fascinating and important book will change the way you think
    about American life. — Karen Olson

    FILM Gods and Monsters: Movers, Shakers, and Other
    Casualties of the Hollywood Machine
    by Peter Biskind
    (Nation Books, $15.95). Depressed by last year’s sorry slate of
    movies? Perk up by delving into this incisive and entertaining
    collection of essays on Hollywood’s past three decades by Biskind,
    a former radical journalist, film critic, and executive editor at
    Premiere magazine. — Anjula Razdan

    ADVENTURE TRAVEL Out There: In the Wild in a Wired
    by Ted Kerasote (Voyageur, $16.95). Canoe along a
    remote river in Canada’s Northwest Territories, encountering
    grizzlies, muskoxen, gyrfalcons, even other humans. Cope with black
    flies and frequent rain. Feel permeable. Come to terms with a
    travel companion who has insisted on bringing — and using — a
    satellite phone. Here’s vicarious travel at its best, with nary a
    wasted word. — Chris Dodge


    BLUES The Truth by Precious Bryant
    (Terminus). Sit down on Bryant’s Georgia front porch as she gets
    out her guitar and tells you all about it. Some of these songs are
    renditions of old radio blues favorites from her youth; others are
    originals cut from the same sort of cloth. Her folky fingerpicking
    style and lived-in, nuanced vocals will keep you on that porch for
    a spell. — Keith Goetzman

    ROCK Grandaddy: Below the Radio by
    various artists (Ultra). This disc is a strange animal, released
    under the band Grandaddy’s name but with only one Grandaddy song.
    The rest is an idiosyncratic collection of songs picked by the
    group’s frontman, Jason Lytle, with all the earnestness of a music
    freak showing you his album collection. His offbeat tastes
    encompass some of the best unsung indie rock of the past few years.

    JAZZ The Peace Between Our Companies
    by Happy Apple (Sunnyside). Like Medeski, Martin & Wood, and
    the Bad Plus — with whom it shares a drummer — Happy Apple has a
    freewheeling, borderless approach to music that’s called jazz only
    because it doesn’t really fit anywhere else. The trio’s headlong
    improvisational runs at pop, rock, and funk are fresh and often
    daring. — K.G.

    CLASSICAL Chants, Hymns and Dances
    composed by Georges Gurdjieff and Vassilis Tsabropoulos, and
    performed by Anja Lechner and Vassilis Tsabropoulos (ECM). These
    darkly beautiful piano-cello duets, calming and deep, echo the folk
    songs of Armenia, Turkey, and Greece, the composers’ homelands.
    It’s the first time the mystic Gurdjieff’s works have been arranged
    for cello and piano, and helpful liner notes may prompt further
    study. — C.D.

    CLASSICAL Crossing Bridges by Mark
    O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio (Omac). The violinist and
    composer, a veteran explorer of the link between the back hollers
    and the concert hall, revisits the music he composed for his
    Appalachian Waltz and Appalachian Journey discs with Yo-Yo Ma and
    Edgar Meyer. His new cohorts, Natalie Haas on cello and Carol Cook
    on viola, are whip-smart players who bring a graceful touch to his
    vivid Americana. — K.G.


    ZINES Rocket Queen #2. Penned by an
    anonymous stripper in Asheville, North Carolina, this trenchant and
    observant zine looks at the state of sex work in America. At turns
    philosophical and deeply personal, Rocket Queen leaves no illusions
    about the career of taking one’s clothes off for money. Whether she
    is chastising those ‘rich dykes . . . who act worse than the male
    customers’ or being painfully honest about the male clients
    (‘lonely, lonely men’), you’ve never heard another media voice like
    it. Available for $1.50 from Rocket Queen #2, Box 64, Asheville, NC
    28802. — Laine Bergeson

    PHOTOGRAPHY Meetings by Paul Shambroom
    (Chris Boot Ltd., $49.95). Unposed and up close, Shambroom’s photos
    of democracy in action — or inaction — promote both giggles and
    groans. Bored stares, Mountain Dew bottles, and miniature flags
    show what real political engagement looks like. — Jessica

    Utne Weeder

    Author Photo
    By Staff


    JAZZ:Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux (Rounder). This jazz chanteuse more than lives up to all the Billie Holiday comparisons with a gem of an album that simmers with seductive talent. Peyroux mines material from the finest songwriters–W.C. Handy, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan–and delivers it in an unforced and creamily mellifluous voice. — Keith Goetzman

    CLASSICAL:Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone (Sony Classical). Morricone’s film scores pretty much define the phrase “cinematic sweep,” and Ma, a longtime fan of the composer, traverses their emotional swells with just the right mix of reverence and fresh attitude. — K.G.

    POP:Spooked by Robyn Hitchcock (Yep Roc). In his own bent way, British singer-songwriter Hitchcock is a sweetheart, a big believer in love in all its heartbreaking glory. But don’t go thinking he’s gotten too mushy–as soon as he delivers a straight-up sentiment like “Everybody Needs Love,” he follows with a left-field ditty like “We’re Gonna Live in the Trees.” Acoustic-music stalwarts Gillian Welch and David Rawlings produced and play on this spare but striking album. — K.G.

    POP:The Great Destroyer by Low (Sub Pop). Low’s tempos have typically ranged from lethargic to narcotic, so it’s a surprise to hear the Duluth, Minnesota, trio deliver indie pop that verges on upbeat. But it’s the excellence of these songs that’s more salient; they’re full of melodic and lyrical entry points and that big, buzzing bottom end we’ve come to expect from the group. — K.G.

    METAL:Miss Machine by Dillinger Escape Plan (Relapse). With the force of an orchestra, the intensity of a garage band, and the intimacy and virtuosity of a jazz combo, Dillinger Escape Plan plays metal as brutal as it is smart. Supporting their experimental contortions with an uncompromising backbone of heavy guitar, these rogue preachers of mathcore have created soulful cacophony using an audacious blend of chaos and composition. — Brendan Themes


    AUTOBIOGRAPHY:Truck of Fools by Carlos Liscano (Vanderbilt University Press). As a young man in the ’70s and ’80s, Uruguayan poet Liscano survived 13 years of political imprisonment, beginning with nearly six months of systematic brutal torture. Here, Liscano writes eloquently of the psychology of torture and of staying alive, sustained by a “primitive sense of dignity” that somehow transcended pain. His account testifies both to human depravity and to its counterpoise, deep courage. — Chris Dodge

    ESSAYS:The Bones of the Earth by Howard Mansfield (Shoemaker & Hoard). In witty essays that recall both Thoreau’s Walden and Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, Mansfield ruminates on American history by unpacking our connection to the landscape–the trees, dirt, a variety of sticks and stones. In “Asphalt, Mon Amour,” for example, we learn that a pre-presidential Woodrow Wilson wanted to ban cars, that asphalt was used by ancient civilizations as caulk, and that the America Road Builders’ Association had its own official prayer. — Harry Sheff

    COMIC BOOK:Upton Sinclair’sThe Jungle Adapted by Peter Kuper (Nantier Beall Minoustchine). Every panel of this haunting adaptation of Sinclair’s classic expose of the meatpacking industry is infused with Kuper’s fiery political sensibility and his lush stencil-cut illustrations. Originally published in 1991, this hard-to-find work by the prolific comic-book artist has just been reissued. — Anjula Razdan


    DVD:Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (Docurama). A deeply philosophical and inspirational portrait of growth, flow, balance, and change, Rivers and Tides follows British sculptor Goldsworthy as he battles the elements–wind, tides, gravity–and engineers structures of surprising beauty from sticks, stones, leaves, ice, and other natural materials found on site. — C.D.

    DVD:The Fourth World War (Big Noise Films). By turns inspiring and gut-wrenchingly saddening, this film is a brutal visual portrayal of a decade of activism for global justice and the resulting increase in state violence that has met it. Narrators Michael Franti and Suheir Hammad lead a whirlwind tour of globalization hot spots–from the Chiapas uprising in 1994 to more recent protests in South Africa, Argentina, South Korea, Genoa, Quebec, and the West Bank. — Leif Utne

    Utne Weeder


    GLOBAL Protest: Songs of Struggle and Resistance
    from Around the World
    by various artists (Ellipsis
    Arts). The earnest title hints at didactic dullness, but this
    compilation surprises with songs that stand strong on their musical
    merits as well as their progressive ideals. There are skanky reggae
    grooves, a Franco-Celtic choral number, a Passover ditty with a
    twist, and righteous Afropop — all in the service of peace,
    justice, and getting down. — Keith Goetzman

    LATIN Street Signs by Ozomatli
    (Concord Records). Equally adept at spitting Latin and hip-hop
    flavors, this multilingual L.A. sextet puts urban multiculturalism
    and social justice into a high-powered blender. Galvanizing and
    uplifting, the group’s groove is as powerful as its namesake, the
    Aztec god of dance. — Brendan Themes

    POP Pop ? Paris: Rock ‘n’ Roll and Mini
    by various artists (Sunnyside). Some of the
    songs on this absurdly catchy compilation of bubblegum French pop
    from the 1960s are Frenchified Anglo hits (‘Hush,’ ‘Paint It
    Black’), while others are unknown to most statesiders but
    fascinating for their sunny exuberance. — K.G.

    CLASSICAL In the Nursery by various
    artists (Virgin). Tiny nappers and parents alike will appreciate
    this compilation of classical pieces chosen for their
    infant-friendliness. The omnipresent Mozart is here, of course, as
    are Bach and Dvor??k and lesser lights such as Faur?, Britten, and
    Scarlatti. The pieces are soothing but not cloying, a fine aural
    introduction to the classics. — K.G.

    CAJUN Gitane Cajun by BeauSoleil with
    Michael Doucet (Vanguard). BeauSoleil is at its best when it sticks
    to rootsy, rustic fare, letting the guitar, accordion, and fiddles
    work their Cajun magic. That’s the approach on this album, a joyous
    and Spanish-moss-draped affair that slowly builds heat like a
    steamy bayou morning. — K.G.

    PIANO Road Movies composed by John
    Adams and performed by Rolf Himd, Nicolas Hodges, Leila Josefowicz,
    and John Novacek (Nonesuch). Ranging from spare and spacy to
    tempestuous, these new recordings of five piano works composed from
    1977 to 2001 are a good introduction to the Pulitzer Prize-winning
    Adams for those with mixed feelings about the ‘doodly doodly’
    arpeggios they’ve heard from Philip Glass. — Chris

    NATIVE AMERICAN Rezonate by Northern
    Cree (Canyon). These powwow songs recorded live in Saddle Lake,
    Alberta, may raise the hairs on your arms. The spirited
    call-and-response voices and steady heartbeat drumming seem to
    spring at once from the immediate moment and a timeless place. —


    ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY Greenpeace: How a Group of
    Ecologists, Journalists and Visionaries Changed the
    by Rex Weyler (Rodale, U.S. and U.K.; New
    Society, Canada, $24.95). Journalist Weyler, who helped found
    Greenpeace, recounts the organization’s gripping early history,
    including an account of the group’s North Pacific antiwhaling
    campaigns — one of the great modern high-seas adventure tales. —
    Leif Utne

    CULTURAL HISTORY Kings & Queens: Queers at the
    by David Boyer (Soft Skull Press, $24.95). If
    you were the dorky, bookish dreamer in high school, you probably
    still believe you are. Kings and Queens is a book for that eternal
    teen — queer or not — who lives inside every adult. The book uses
    stories and great vintage photos of prom — that odd, formal moment
    when high school recognizes itself for the pageant it is — to
    highlight teen awkwardness. (And you don’t need to be queer to have
    experienced that.) — Laine Bergeson

    GRAPHIC NOVEL The Swimmer with a Rope in His Teeth:
    A Shadow Fable
    by Jeanne E. Shaffer, adapted and
    illustrated by Howard Cruse (Prometheus, $14). An idealistic boy
    decides to reach out to a land of woe in this provocative,
    allegorical tale that shines light on a world in which
    fearmongering and violence exist unnecessarily. —

    POETRY Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by
    Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, $14). Out of short prose segments with
    the gravity of poetry, avant-garde poet Rankine assembles a very
    direct and moving meditation on Americans and death. A friend’s
    cancer, accounts of Rankine’s dreams, 9/11, documents about the
    African AIDS crisis, and many other elements flow together like the
    motifs in the slow movement of a Beethoven symphony. — Jon


    CALENDAR Wishes & Dreams: 2005
    by Nikki McClure
    Exemplary cut-paper artist McClure presents a year of verbs —
    embark, invest, fortify, trust, find, realize — in this graceful
    wall calendar that’s not really intended for keeping appointments.

    CAF? UTNE: Join a discussion with Greenpeace author Rex Weyler
    as he makes a guest appearance in the Environment forum, November
    8-19, at www.utne.com/cafe

    Utne Weeder


    BRAZIL Ouro Negro by various artists
    (Adventure). This two-disc set is an ear-opening tribute to the
    music of 78-year-old Brazilian-born composer-arranger Moacir
    Santos. A cast of big Brazilian names, including Gilberto Gil and
    Milton Nascimento, celebrates Santos’ knack for creating vibrant
    big-band numbers that meld Latino, African, and jazz influences. —
    Keith Goetzman

    BLUES Stories Under Nails by Ben
    Weaver (Fugawee Bird). Weaver’s been hanging out in America’s
    forgotten corners, crafting these musical postcards that recall a
    rural Tom Waits, or Greg Brown in his dark, bluesy moments. He’s
    like that spooky old guy who lives in a trailer but tells amazing
    stories. — K.G.

    JAZZ Exponentially Monk by John Stetch
    (Justin Time). Stetch has been making jazz insiders sit up and take
    notice with his solo piano series. This third and final
    installment, in which he tackles the music of kindred free spirit
    Thelonious Monk, is bold and vital jazz for the 21st century, with
    hair-raising runs and mind-boggling deconstructions that would make
    Monk proud. — K.G.

    POP Underachievers Please Try Harder
    by Camera Obscura (Merge). The British would call their music twee,
    and some listeners might find it pretentious, but this Scottish
    band will win you over with its disarming tales of romance and
    introspection. Imagine the diaries of a geeky, lovesick teen set to
    jangly pop, or Belle and Sebastian infused with Morrissey’s snarky
    sense of humor. — K.G.

    MADAGASCAR Tarika: 10 Beasts, Ghosts & Dancing
    with History
    by Tarika (Artemis). This female-led
    roots band is so popular in its home country that a mobile phone,
    instant coffee, and hairdressing salons have been named after one
    of their songs. If you liked Johnny Clegg & Savuka or Malathini
    & the Mahotella Queens, you’ll enjoy this joyous, exuberant
    10-year retrospective. — Chris Dodge

    AVANT-GARDE Defixiones: Will and
    by Diamanda Galas (Mute). A transhuman
    voice of lamentation and anger, Galas uses her vocal chords and
    piano as political instruments in this two-disc recording that
    commemorates victims of the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek genocides
    of 1914-23. Difficult, worthwhile, and likely to frighten. —

    FOLK Slash and Burn by Stephan Smith
    (Artemis Records). Who says protest music is dead? Smith’s song
    ‘The Bell,’ recorded in 2002 with Pete Seeger and DJ Spooky, became
    an anthem of the U.S. peace movement last year. ‘You Ain’t a
    Cowboy,’ a scathing critique of President Bush and the first single
    released off Slash and Burn, may not be played by Clear Channel
    anytime soon, but it’s already setting download records. —
    Leif Utne


    POLITICS How to Be President: What to Do and Where
    to Go Once You’re in Office
    by Stephen P. Williams
    (Chronicle Books, $9.95). If you suddenly find yourself the
    occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, grab this book. Not only does
    it explain how to handle the codes that launch a nuclear strike
    (most chief executives keep them in their wallets), it also lists
    your personal perks (they include a toothbrush cup embossed with
    the presidential seal) and tells you how to get after-hours snacks
    and where to find an ATM in the White House. — Jon

    BUILDING Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter
    by Lloyd Kahn (Shelter Publications, $26.95). Ever dream about
    building your own nest? This fascinating book will spur your
    imagination with its pictures and plans of houses made from
    bottles, telephone poles, driftwood, and mud. International in
    scope, it’s also a group portrait of people who like to live
    lightly on the land, whether it’s in a yurt, a treehouse, or a
    converted bread van. — Chris Dodge

    PSYCHOLOGY The Roots of War and Terror
    by Anthony Stevens (Continuum, $24.95). Drawing on evolutionary
    psychology and the insights of Carl Jung, Stevens argues that our
    darkest impulses are the natural product of our primate brains. The
    result is a disturbing look into what really motivates us to make
    war and a call for deeper self-awareness at a time when age-old
    instincts, coupled with modern weapons, could be the ruin of us
    all. — Jeremiah Creedon

    COMICS/ILLUSTRATION Scrapbook: Uncollected Work
    by Adrian Tomine (Drawn and Quarterly,
    $24.95). Tomine’s graphics have a ‘way with words’ that most prose
    would envy. Scrapbook traces Tomine’s progression as an artist —
    from the haunting comics he drew in the early 1990s to his more
    recent movie illustrations for The New Yorker — and includes
    previously unpublished sketches that are delightful. My favorite:
    the working sketch of ‘tough looking older guy with sweater tied
    around shoulders.’ — Laine Bergeson


    ELECTION ISSUES American Voice 2004
    David Morris, of the nonprofit research organization Institute for
    Local Self-Reliance, lays out in meticulous detail the liberal and
    conservative takes on a slew of issues being debated this election
    year — from medical malpractice to military privatization to the
    minimum wage. Despite Morris’ liberal credentials, the site has
    received praise from several conservative Web sites for its fair
    presentation of the issues. — Leif Utne

    Utne Weeder


    ELECTRONICA Tres Cosas by Juana Molina
    (Domino). With a woozily fascinating voice and an off-kilter sense
    of composition, this Argentine songwriter-guitarist is one of the
    bright lights of the electronic music scene. Equally adept with
    acoustic guitar and looping/ sampling devices, the former TV
    actress constructs and deconstructs her spacey songs with cool
    aplomb. — Keith Goetzman

    POP The Duel by Allison Moorer (Sugar
    Hill). Moorer takes a detour away from alt country, adding some
    guitar muscle, a lick of soul, and some bare-it-all songwriting.
    The net effect is an album that digs deeper for emotion and comes
    up with a ton. — K.G.

    FOLK Plow to the End of the Row by
    Adrienne Young & Little Sadie (Addie Bell). Gillian Welch and
    Alison Krauss have some upstart competition in this down-home
    singer/songwriter, who has crafted a roots album with an organic
    yet expansive feel. With a few traditional tunes and her
    old-sounding new songs, Young touches on love, war, reincarnation,
    and much more while keeping listeners’ feet tapping. —

    Just Like There’s Nothin’ to It by
    Steve Forbert (Koch). Forbert’s been plying the folk-pop world long
    enough to have learned some keen songwriting tricks, and his
    hesitating, raspy delivery has taken on a smokier timbre with the
    years. So when he delivers a line like ‘The waitress in the coffee
    was quite polite,’ the mundane takes a turn toward the magical. —

    ETHIOPIAN ?thiopiques 17 by Tlahoun
    G?ss?ss? (Buda Musique). Imagine the steadiest, coolest Motown
    rhythms, then add James Brown horn riffs and soulful, anguished
    vocals in Amharic and Oromo, and you have these early-’70s
    recordings of pan-Ethiopian pop star G?ss?ss? — the 17th in a
    series of Ethiopian pop anthologies. — Chris Dodge

    CLASSICAL Fr?d?r?c Chopin Nocturnes by
    Philip Hii (GSP). This uncommonly beautiful solo guitar music — 11
    of Chopin’s 21 nocturnes arranged and exquisitely performed by Hii
    — is a gift to the spirit. Without knowing otherwise, one might
    think Chopin wrote for guitar rather than piano. —

    SCANDINAVIAN Frigg by Frigg
    (Northside). This group’s buoyant folk instrumentals often sound
    like those of JPP, the great Finnish fiddle ensemble — and three
    Frigg members are in fact progeny of the J?rvel? clan that founded
    JPP. But the young J?rvel?s also do their own thing by consorting
    with Norwegian hardanger fiddles and American roots instruments
    such as Dobro and mandolin. The resulting north-south fusion is
    irresistible. — K.G.


    POLITICS Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical
    by Laura Flanders (Verso, $22). Quick: Which
    Bushwoman wrote a lesbian-themed romance novel? You’ll learn that
    and more in this funny expos? of the women surrounding George W.
    Bush. Flanders’ detailed personal and career histories of six women
    appointed to the Bush administration (plus Lynne Cheney and Laura
    Bush) offer sharp insight into political history, hypocrisy, and
    opportunism, revealing how the women in question benefited from the
    policies they now oppose. — Michelle Lee

    ORNITHOLOGY The Music of Wild Birds
    illustrated and adapted by Judy Pelikan (Algonquin, $18.95). Bird
    song expressed in musical notation and accompanied by written
    descriptions might seem like a novel idea, but this newly
    illustrated book is adapted from F. Schuyler Mathews’ 1904 Field
    Book of Wild Birds and Their Music. It focuses on 50 birds commonly
    found in New Hampshire, from silver-tongued thrushes to squawking,
    muttering grackles and cowbirds. — Chris Dodge

    ESSAYS Now Go Home: Wilderness, Belonging, and the
    Crosscut Saw
    by Ana Maria Spagna (Oregon State
    University Press, $17.95). If you’ve ever longed for a life in the
    woods, these witty and beautifully written essays — from an L.A.
    suburban girl turned itinerant trail crew worker — will sweep away
    any easy romantic ideals. With good stories and emotional grit,
    Spagna’s insights into work, community, environment, and love offer
    a deeper perspective on the nature of romance. — Karen

    POPULAR HISTORY The Executioner Always Chops Twice:
    Ghastly Blunders on the Scaffold
    by Geoffrey Abbott
    (St. Martin’s, $17.95). Reading Executioner is like watching a car
    wreck — you can’t tear your eyes away even though you feel wrong
    for staring. Recounting the history of early executions, from
    burning felons at the stake to boiling them in oil, the book is
    both macabre and tender. The book’s biggest virtue: Its gory detail
    might make even the staunchest supporter of capital punishment
    rethink the position. — Laine Bergeson

    YOGA The Tibetan Book of Yoga: Ancient Buddhist
    Teachings on the Philosophy and Practice of Yoga
    Geshe Michael Roach (Doubleday, $15.95). Yoga is about the
    transformation of consciousness, though its current popularity
    seems to focus more on sleek outfits and bodily perfection. Roach,
    the first American to receive the traditional Tibetan title of
    Geshe — or master of Buddhist learning — explicates the ancient
    Tibetan practice of Heart Yoga, a half-hour routine that focuses on
    opening our hearts to love. Fortunately for those of us who also
    want a healthy body and thin thighs, the book makes it clear that
    the physical follows the spiritual. — Nina Utne

    Utne Weeder


    SERBIAN Balkan Brass Fest by Boban
    Markovic Orkestar (Piranha). In this gypsy-filled corner of Europe,
    brass bands aren’t relegated to parades and football games but are
    woven into the very fabric of life. Markovic’s wildly energetic
    compositions put all Sousa comparisons to rest, as he and his
    dozen-strong band show listeners a honking good time. — Keith

    ROCK So Much for the City by the
    Thrills (Virgin). It’s hard to place the Thrills — are they a
    cross between the Beach Boys and Big Star or Wilco and the Flaming
    Lips? Their good-vibe music so gracefully spans genres and eras
    that when the string section unexpectedly gives way to a
    marvelously distorted electric guitar solo, you just follow their
    laid-back California attitude and go with it. — K.G.

    POP Feels Like Home by Norah Jones
    (Blue Note). She could have faded into obscurity after the runaway
    success of ‘Come Away with Me,’ but Jones maintains her momentum
    with a batch of fresh songs — most by her bassist, Lee Alexander
    — that showcase her sultry phrasing and smart pop-jazz
    sensibility. This music is organic, roomy, and welcoming. —

    CUBAN Classic Meets Cuba by the Klazz
    Brothers and Cuba Percussion (Sony Classical). Setting famous
    classical melodies to a Latin beat reeks of marketing crossover
    gimmickry, but these German and Cuban musicians pull off the fusion
    so adeptly you’ll be too busy dancing the mambo to care. —

    JAZZ Strange Liberation by Dave
    Douglas (Bluebird). Douglas seems to thrive on collaboration, and
    guest guitarist Bill Frisell proves an especially potent catalyst
    on this album, prodding the trumpeter to great heights as a
    bandleader and player. The result? An all-over-the-place post-bop
    sound that is relentlessly engaging and expansive. —

    EASTERN EUROPEAN Music of Eastern
    by Harmonia (Traditional Crossroads). Those
    who enjoy both plaintive melodies and frenetic toe-tapping should
    like the music of Harmonia, a band made up of first- and
    second-generation immigrant musicians from Croatia, Hungary,
    Ukraine, and Slovakia who met — where else? — in Cleveland. —
    Chris Dodge

    FOLK Deeper Waters by Robin and Linda
    Williams (Red House Records). Traditional without being stodgy,
    sentimental without being saccharine, the Williamses have carved
    out a sweet spot on the roots-music landscape. This is their best
    album since 1998’s Devil of a Dream, with their trademark harmonies
    conjuring a rural America that is equal parts hope and trouble. —


    ESSAYS/POETRY Long Life: Essays and Other
    by Mary Oliver (Da Capo, $22). Oliver writes
    in praise of slowness, offering ‘little alleluias’ that examine the
    beauty and strangeness of the physical world. Whether she’s
    considering spiders, rain, or the books of Emerson and Hawthorne,
    Oliver communicates ‘gladness vivacious enough to disarrange the
    sorrows of the world into something better.’ — C.D.

    POLITICS AND RELIGION Catholics, Politics &
    Public Policy: Beyond Left and Right
    by Clarke E.
    Cochran and David Carroll Cochran (Orbis, $24). In an election year
    that has reduced the possibility of faith-based political values to
    angry conservative screeds against gay marriage and ‘partial-birth’
    abortion, two political scientists reveal a broader agenda at work
    in Catholicism, including environmental protection, a more just
    economy, a stronger civic life — and even walkable neighborhoods.
    Jay Walljasper

    WRITING The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on
    the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination
    by Ursula
    K. Le Guin (Shambhala Publications, $16.95). There’s something so
    beautifully clear about Le Guin’s writing that you may not see the
    fierce intelligence that lies coiled like a dragon just beneath its
    serene surface. Ranging from looks at Tolkien and Woolf to
    practical advice for fellow writers, Le Guin’s collection is, in
    the end, a loving tribute to the story maker’s old and mysterious
    craft. — Jeremiah Creedon

    a Small Group of Pioneers Is Teaching Social Responsibility to Big
    Business, and Why Big Business Is Listening
    Jeffrey Hollender and Stephen Fenichell (Basic Books, $26). If
    you’re interested in both inspiring and cautionary tales about how
    business intersects with social change, this sweeping study of the
    history and promise of the socially responsible business movement
    will give you plenty of grist. Hollender’s own company, Seventh
    Generation, is one of a handful of mission-driven businesses that
    have managed to stay independent — though not without some
    misadventures, which he describes candidly. — Nina

    Utne Weeder


    POPThe Evening of My Best Day by
    Rickie Lee Jones (V2). The enigmatic beatnik chanteuse is back with
    an album that manages to be both searingly topical and endearingly
    musical — no easy task. Sentiments such as ‘time to take the
    country back’ and ‘tell somebody what happened in the USA’ add an
    occasional well-placed punch to Jones’ swinging jazzbo sound. —
    Keith Goetzman

    Chutes Too Narrow by the Shins Sub Pop). Here’s hoping
    the hype that’s been swirling about these New Mexico auteurs
    doesn’t distract them from their quest for the perfect pop song.
    Their music carries a whiff of ’60s psychedelia and ’80s alt rock,
    but their sound is undeniably now and catchier than the flu. —

    JAMAICACedric Im Brooks and the Light of
    (Honest Jons). Brooks is a relentlessly creative
    saxophonist who in the ’70s fronted a group playing an expansive
    jazz-reggae hybrid inspired by Sun Ra, Hugh Masekela, and Fela
    Kuti. These resurrected recordings, previously the province of
    reggae freaks and record-store geeks, exude a deep Rastafarian joy
    and an adventurous musical spirit. — K.G.

    FOLKGreg Brown: The Essential Greg
    (Red House). Let me put it to you straight: This ‘best
    of’ album confirms the soulful Iowa singer-songwriter as one of the
    truly great musicians of our time. His quirky, profound songs and
    rootsy musicianship make him the peer of Lucinda Williams, U2,
    Johnny Cash, Lauryn Hill, Moby, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan.
    Jay Walljasper

    SOULI Can’t Stop by Al Green (Blue
    Note). Some might call it a throwback, but in these days of
    overslick R&B, Green’s classic Memphis soul style is a welcome
    relief. Green reunited with Willie Mitchell, the Hi Records
    president who produced his big hits, to summon a sound that still
    resonates. — K.G.

    JAZZBlood Sutra by Vijay Iyer (Artist
    House). This young Indian American pianist knows his Ellington as
    well as his Monk, and his vibrant music deftly bridges the pre- and
    post-bop worlds while adding a fresh Asian twist. Recently
    relocated to New York from L.A., Iyer is an intellectual yet
    passionate player to look out for. — K.G.


    IRAQTwilight of Empire: Responses to
    edited by Mark Levine, Viggo Mortensen, and Pilar
    Perez (Perceval Press, $14.95). Exposing the brutality and chaos of
    life in ‘liberated’ Iraq, this collection of essays and poems,
    woven together by journal entries from Code Pink co-founder Jodie
    Evans, reveals the true winners of the U.S.-led war — American
    corporations. Yet the power and passion of truth telling make for a
    work of beauty and hope. — Nina Utne

    PREGNANCYA Bun in the Oven: The REAL Guide
    to Pregnancy
    by Kaz Cooke (Ten Speed Press, $16.95). For
    down-to-earth advice on becoming a new mom, you can’t beat Cooke’s
    witty new book. All the nitty-gritty details about both mom’s and
    baby’s health are well organized in reassuring week-by-week
    chapters. Bonus: If you’re a wee bit nervous about having a little
    one, Cooke’s Australian sense of humor will help keep you laughing.
    Karen Olson

    COOKBOOKRAW by Charlie Trotter and
    Roxanne Klein (Ten Speed Press, $35). Tired of dodging dinner
    invites from your vegan friends? Help has arrived. A clear sign the
    raw-food movement is heading mainstream, this beautifully
    photographed cookbook by famed chefs Trotter and Klein elevates
    juicing, blending, dehydrating, and marinating to an art form —
    proving to vegan foodies everywhere that there is life beyond stir
    fry. — Anjula Razdan

    SPIRITUALITYZig Zag Zen: Buddhism and
    , edited by Allan Hunt Badiner and Alex Grey
    (Chronicle Books, $24.95). A fearless exploration of the common
    grounds and conflicts between drug-induced altered states and the
    ‘natural high’ of Buddhist meditation. Contributions by Buddhist
    teachers, clinical researchers, and spiritual seekers cover a wide
    range of opinion and experience on the uses and abuses, relevance
    and irrelevance of chemicals in the quest for enlightenment. —
    Jon Spayde

    CIVIL WARThese Honored Dead: How the Story
    of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory
    by Thomas A. Desjardin
    (Da Capo, $26). Desjardin shines a harsh but brilliant light on the
    flawed reinterpretation of America’s most misunderstood piece of
    history, demonstrating in exquisite detail how our collective
    desire for a glorious past has turned our understanding of
    Gettysburg into a sad charade. — Craig Cox


    . Although it’s seldom noticed in the mainstream
    media, there’s a transportation revolution rolling across America.
    From Tacoma to Phoenix to Houston to North Carolina, cities and
    states are working on the railroad. Rail Magazine offers
    detailed information and the latest photos on new light rail,
    commuter rail, and high-speed inter-city rail projects. $40/yr. (4
    issues) from the Community Transportation Association of America,
    1341 G St. NW, 10th floor, Washington, DC 20005. — Jay


    You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the
    by Katharine Harmon (Princeton Architectural
    Press, $19.95). This colorful compendium of maps — by artists,
    children, hikers, and others — proves even cartography can be
    creative. Maps from a canine point of view, maps made of sticks or
    carved in stone, maps of concepts, the human body, and fictional
    places — they all make sense in a wonderful way that renders ‘up
    north’ and ‘down south’ thoroughly pass?. — Chris

    Utne Weeder


    MONEY The Soul of Money: Transforming Your
    Relationship with Money and Life
    by Lynne Twist with
    Teresa Barker (Norton, $25.95). Money is our own invention — a
    monster that has come to define us and our well-being. ‘When you
    let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need,’ says
    Twist, ‘it frees you to make a difference with what you have.’
    Sound airy-fairy? Twist’s experience in raising over $150 million
    in individual contributions to charitable causes gives her plenty
    of credibility and lots of stories. — Nina Utne

    PHOTOGRAPHY My Family Album: Thirty Years of Primate
    by Frans de Waal (University of
    California Press, $29.95). Primatologist de Waal’s striking images
    of bonobos, chimpanzees, and other primates show that humans aren’t
    the only species to empathize, use tools, play, make eye contact,
    smile and frown, kiss, have sex in the missionary position, engage
    in power struggles, ask favors, create alliances, make peace, and
    seek altered states of consciousness. — Chris Dodge

    VISIONARIES Twelve Years and Thirteen Days:
    Remembering Paul and Sheila Wellstone
    by Terry
    Gydesen (University of Minnesota Press, $24.95). The moving story
    of Paul and Sheila Wellstone’s joint political career as told in
    photos. Seeing them in small-town diners, at senior citizen
    centers, on their battered old campaign bus, and at victory
    rallies, we are reminded how much of their success as progressive
    champions was rooted in a connection with everyday citizens. — Jay

    MUSIC CRITICISM Milk It!: Collected Musings on the
    Alternative Music Explosion of the ’90s
    by Jim
    DeRogatis (Da Capo Press, $17.95). Starting with Nirvana’s 1991
    album Nevermind (what else?), Chicago Sun-Times pop music critic
    DeRogatis crafts a lively, opinionated account of the birth (and
    subsequent mainstreaming) of the alternative rock scene of the
    1990s, including choice bits on Courtney Love, Woodstock ’94, and
    the 90 best albums of the past decade. — Anjula Razdan


    ROCK Just an American Boy by Steve
    Earle (Artemis). Acclaimed for his brilliant songwriting and smart,
    gutsy political views, Earle may be underrated as a performer. This
    live two-CD set, the sound track to a new documentary film, should
    set the record straight with its rockin’ energy and wry on-stage
    commentary. — Jay Walljasper

    CLASSICAL Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg
    by Andr?s Schiff (ECM New Series). If
    Beethoven is coffee, Bach is tea, soothing even as it invigorates.
    And pianist Schiff serves up a big cup of one of the composer’s
    finest blends. He plays this technically complex but richly
    textured work with gusto and — this is the trick — seeming ease,
    traversing even its crossed-hands passages with poetic abandon. —
    Keith Goetzman

    POP Want One by Rufus Wainwright
    (Dreamworks). Channeling the metrosexual muse for all it’s worth,
    Wainwright makes a dramatic and ambitious album with operatic
    flourishes, string and brass sections, and elastic melodies that
    let the troubled young swain flex his vocal muscles. ‘Is there
    anyone else who’s too in love with beauty?’ he sings. We can only
    hope so. — K.G.

    POLKA Let’s Polka ‘Round by Jimmy
    Sturr and His Orchestra (Rounder). We live in an era when roots
    music from every corner of the world is prized by sophisticated
    music fans as precious cultural treasures. So it’s odd that polka
    — the musical expression of Central European immigrants and their
    descendants, from New York State to Texas to Manitoba — is given
    so little respect. Versatile showman Sturr is out to change that
    with this energetic, polished, and downright fun CD. He’s far from
    hip, but makes up for it with a toe-tapping authenticity earned
    from decades of playing in taverns and VFW halls as well as the
    Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall. — J.W.

    FOLK Le Bleu by Justin King (Not Your
    Average) This finger-style guitar virtuoso’s third self-issued
    album is something to behold. King’s rich blend of percussive
    harmonic effects, funky bass lines, and open tunings stretches the
    limits of the acoustic guitar in the tradition of the late master
    Michael Hedges. — Leif Utne

    AFRICA Mariama by Pape & Cheikh
    (Real World). Papa Amadou Fall (Pape) and Cheikhou Couli-baly
    (Cheikh) combine their Senegalese sounds with folk-rock elements,
    achieving a politically and spiritually conscious blend. Pape
    usually takes the lead with his rich, husky voice, but it’s a
    female guest singer — the intense, exuberant Mamy — who makes the
    title track such a standout. — K.G.

    ROCK Chain Gang of Love by the
    Raveonettes (Columbia). This male-female Danish duo is delightfully
    derivative, taking cues from surf instrumentalists, rockabilly
    bands, punkers, girl groups, and 1950s rebel culture. Their debut
    EP was one-dimensional, but this full-length album, recorded
    entirely in B flat major, finds Sune Rose Wager and Sharin Foo
    breaking in their leathers and revving their songwriting engines.
    — K.G.

    KLEZMER AND BLUEGRASS Margot Leverett and the
    Klezmer Mountain Boys
    (Traditional Crossroads).
    That’s right, klezmer and bluegrass. Clarinetist Leverett assembles
    enormously talented players from both worlds to explore the
    similarities between these seemingly disparate musics. The
    resulting ‘Jewish, high lonesome sound,’ in the words of the liner
    notes, is sometimes foot-stomping, sometimes mournful, but always
    illuminating. — K.G.


    (www.wordspy.com). Read about
    the Lake Wobegon effect, salad dodgers, tornado bait, and other
    recently coined words and phrases appearing in the media on this
    usefully organized Web site. It’s just the ticket for fans of
    Gareth Branwyn’s ‘Jargon Watch’ column in Wired or anyone
    interested in the flexuous English language. — Chris Dodge

    POLITICS Daily Misleader
    Intended as a resource for journalists, the Daily Misleader tracks
    and fact-checks misleading public statements made by the President
    and members of his administration. It’s hosted by the capable folks
    at MoveOn.org and written and edited by veteran political analyst
    Robert Borosage of Campaign for America’s Future. — Leif Utne

    Best calendars for 2004

    Best Almanac One World Almanac (New
    Internationalist, $23.95). Exquisite photography, elegant design,
    and portable.

    Best Astrological Guide We’Moon’04
    (Mother Tongue Ink, $16.95). The leading moon calendar, datebook,
    and daily guide to natural rhythms for womyn.

    Best Humor The Far Side Calendar by
    Gary Larson (Andrews McMeel, $12.99). My kids fight me for this

    Most Beautiful Greenpeace: Stepping Lightly on the
    (Workman, $11.95). Reminds us why we care. All
    royalties go to Greenpeace. — Eric Utne

    Calendars courtesy of Small Changes, a Seattle-based

    Utne Weeder

    JAZZ Paris and London 1937-1948 by
    Django Reinhardt (JSP). Fans of the great gypsy swing guitarist are
    used to hearing their hero on scratchy recordings, but this four-CD
    set cleans up material from Django’s most fertile period. It
    captures Django and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France as they
    shape the face of European jazz even as war rages around them. —
    Keith Goetzman

    COUNTRY Growl by Ray Wylie Hubbard
    (Philo). The legendary Texas troubadour serves up a slice of modern
    downhome life, full of biblical allusions and honky-tonk funk.
    Imagine Lucinda Williams, Warren Zevon, and bluesman Lightnin’
    Hopkins jamming at a barbeque. — Jay Walljasper

    SPACE ROCK Sumday by Grandaddy (V2).
    If Mad Max were a beach movie, this would be the perfect sound
    track-an operatic vision of sci-fi dystopia infused with pure pop.
    Famous for songs about alcoholic robots and post-industrial decay,
    Grandaddy has a mechanized optimism that captures the sheer joy of
    setting out on a road trip. — Anjula Razdan

    POP Give Up by the Postal Service (Sub
    Pop). Machine-made beats, electronic keyboards, and vocals with a
    geeky edge are strangely touching in the Postal Service’s
    postmodern hands. The band — really just two musicians, Ben
    Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello — performs disarmingly earnest
    ditties in which passing thoughts become pop meditations. —

    POP/CLASSICAL True Love Waits: Christopher O’Riley
    Plays Radiohead
    (Odyssey). O’Riley, a classical
    pianist, steps out of his tuxedo to transcribe the music of pop
    wunderkinds Radiohead, and the result is a recording that quietly
    smashes boundaries while revealing Radiohead’s compositional
    excellence. Stripped of their sonic frippery and hazy vocals, these
    songs emerge as masterpieces of melody. — K.G.


    NATIVE AMERICAN A Little History of My Forest Life:
    An Indian-White Autobiography
    by Eliza Morrison,
    edited by Victoria Brehm (Ladyslipper Press, $19.95). Morrison
    lived in 19th-century Wisconsin, where she bore 10 children, hauled
    packs through snow, rowed on Lake Superior, and negotiated even
    trickier waters between two worlds-that of her Ojibwe mother and
    the larger Euro-American society. Victoria Brehm brings her story
    to light by using the letters Morrison wrote to a wealthy Chicago
    family for whom she cooked each summer on their visit to the boreal
    woods. — Chris Dodge

    HUMOR The Thurber Letters edited by
    Harrison Kinney with Rosemary A. Thurber (Simon & Schuster,
    $35). Thurber’s infamous droll and dark wit romps through this
    titillating collection of letters, which spans almost 50 years and
    includes dispatches to a bevy of lovers, New Yorker colleagues like
    E.B. White and Roger Angell, and many others. — Anjula

    THE GOOD LIFE Take Back Your Time
    edited by John de Graaf (Berrett-Koehler, $15.95). Americans work
    almost two months longer each year than Europeans, and it is
    beginning to create problems throughout our society, from family
    life to political participation. That’s the eloquent message of
    Juliet Schor, David Korten, Vicki Robin, and dozens of other
    essayists in this smart anthology, published as part of the first
    annual Take Back Your Time Day, October 24 this year. — Jay

    HISTORY Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the
    Modern World
    by James Burke (Simon & Schuster,
    $24). In this ‘six degrees of separation’ exercise for historians,
    Burke offers 25 tales of serendipity and calculation that
    miraculously explain some of the more noteworthy developments of
    modern life. You’ll discover how the 1804 U.S. invasion of Tripoli
    eventually led to the invention of fish sticks and why contact
    lenses were made possible by the Boston Tea Party in this
    fascinating argument for the power of coincidence. — Craig

    RELATIONSHIPS Unmarried to Each Other
    by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller (Marlowe & Company,
    $16.95). A must-read for anyone wanting to shack up, this
    thoughtful, practical book by the founders of the Alternatives to
    Marriage Project offers guidance and questions to ponder regarding
    cohabitation-from legal and financial protections to domestic
    partner health benefits to parenting without a marriage license. —
    Karen Olson


    ARTS Central Europe Review
    (www.ce-review.org). Based
    in Prague, this English-language Webzine provides a comprehensive
    picture of the artistic and cultural landscape in the former
    communist bloc. A wealth of music, book, and film reviews-including
    recent articles that profile Russian rocker Boris Grebenshchikov
    and round up this year’s 16th annual Finale Festival of Czech
    Films-make this site essential reading for Slavophiles the world
    over. — Leif Utne

    Utne Weeder


    CHINESE POP The Edge of Heaven: Gary Lucas Plays
    Mid-Century Chinese Pop
    by Gary Lucas (Indigo). New
    York scenester Lucas, whose electric guitar playing can be arty and
    cacophonous, goes mostly acoustic and delivers a gorgeous set of
    songs by two actress-singers, Bai Kwong and Chow Hsuan, who
    serenaded Chinese audiences in the 1940s. With melodies that have
    the ring of standards, these songs are likely to find a place in
    your memory. ?Keith Goetzman

    FOLK-ROCK Rise Above by Oysterband
    (Omnium). Long one of the U.K.?s best roots-based acts, the Oysters
    create anthemic music in which the guitar-bass-drum sound meets the
    pipes-fiddle-cello sound. The songs here are their best in years,
    especially the hopelessly catchy ?Uncommercial Song,? which takes a
    sly slap at the music-as-product mentality. Buy it now.

    BRAZIL Natural by Celso Fonseca (Six
    Degrees). Classic bossa nova lives on thanks to Fonseca, who sings
    like a gentle breeze bringing the first kiss of coolness on a long,
    hot day?with the promise of more to come. ?Jay

    POP Crossing Jordan by various artists
    (Sony). Sound track albums are seldom more than repackaged music,
    but studio executives occasionally throw money at talented people
    and come up with something fresh. That?s the case here, as producer
    T-Bone Burnett enlists Richard Thompson, Cassandra Wilson, Joe
    Henry, and others to record unexpected cover songs, like Wilson?s
    redemptive ?The Sky Cries Mary,? Vic Chesnutt?s reflective ?Buckets
    of Rain,? and the Holmes Brothers? soul-soaked ?Trouble.?

    NOVA SCOTIA Cape Breton Tradition by
    Buddy McMaster (Rounder). Situated musically in between bluegrass
    country and Celtic lands, NovaScotia boasts its own proud fiddle
    traditions?beautifully on show here in the hands of 79-year-old
    McMaster. His playing is at once intimate and lively, like a
    reunion with an old friend. ?J.W.

    FOLK-CLASSICAL Coming Down from Red
    by Peter Ostroushko (Red House).
    Violinist-mandolinist-composer Ostroushko is something of a
    contemporary Aaron Copland, tracing a musical arc from Celtic
    Europe to the American West. He wrote these pieces for five
    consecutive guest appearances on Garrison Keillor?s A Prairie
    Home Companion
    , and their rich tone and expansive spirit are
    irresistibly moving. ?K.G.


    ACTIVISM War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding
    Your Support from the Military
    by Ed Hedemann (War
    Resisters League, $15). For those who?ve paid federal taxes with
    revulsion and a sense of complicity in state-sanctioned killing,
    this revised and expanded fifth edition lays out a civilly
    disobedient alternative and profiles 19 people with the moral
    courage to live their convictions. ?Chris Dodge

    ECSTATIC LIVING The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers
    and the Cult of Human Power
    by Travis Hugh Culley
    (Villard, $19.95). Culley?s harrowing portrayal of life as a
    Chicago bike messenger, at times poignant and terrifying, captures
    all the jock-strap camaraderie and stubborn anarchism of this
    fearless profession. It?s likely to encourage a few fair-weather
    bicyclists to run a red light or two?but don?t forget to wear your
    helmet. ?Craig Cox

    SPANISH LITERATURE Forbidden Territory and Realms of
    Strife: The Memoirs of Juan Goytisolo
    by Juan
    Goytisolo (Verso, $25). Goytisolo?s novels are fierce dissections
    of the brutalities that lie beneath the picturesque surface of his
    native Spain. Homosexual, ex-communist, admirer of Islamic
    culture?the 67-year-old Goytisolo is everything the Franco regime
    despised, and this absorbing memoir tells the story of his
    political and artistic battles. ?Jon Spayde

    HEALTH Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights,
    and the New War on the Poor
    by Paul Farmer
    (University of California, $27.50). Farmer, a medical
    anthropologist, argues that the world?s rich countries inflict a
    kind of ?structural violence? on the poor, and mass illness is only
    one of the tragic results. With President Bush pledging billions to
    address the AIDS epidemic in Africa, it?s crucial that we confront
    the link Farmer reveals between social inequality and disease.
    ?Jeremiah Creedon

    SMALL TOWNS Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A
    Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town?s Fight to
    by Bill Kauffman (Henry Holt, $22). You can
    go home again, announces a former Washington political insider and
    novelist who defied all expectations by moving back to Batavia, New
    York. Wry accounts of small town life, including the fortunes of
    the minor league Batavia Muckdogs, are blended in with a sharp
    critique about how so-called progress messes up perfectly nice
    places like Batavia. ?Jay Walljasper


    HENRY DAVID THOREAU Thoreau, Walden, and the
    ) is an excellent source for writings by and about
    the Concord contrarian whose views are as compelling today as in
    the mid-19th century. No one?s words about politics are more fiery,
    and no one?s descriptions of autumn leaves are more precisely
    beautiful. ?Chris Dodge

    GLOBAL FEAST 1 Giant Leap by Duncan
    Bridgeman and Jamie Catto and various artists (Palm Pictures).
    Armed with little more than a laptop computer, a couple of
    microphones, and a digital camera, British musician-filmmakers
    Bridgeman and Catto traveled to 25 countries, collaborating with
    musicians like Michael Franti, Neneh Cherry, Michael Stipe, and
    Baba Maal?as well as artists and philosophers like Kurt Vonnegut,
    Brian Eno, and Ram Dass. The result is this amazing
    album/documentary DVD, a veritable multicultural feast for the eyes
    and ears. ?Leif Utne

    Utne Weeder


    ROCK Throwing Muses by Throwing Muses
    (4AD). Back before the success of the Donnas and Sleater-Kinney,
    Throwing Muses made alt-rock inroads for women with their swirling,
    tense, and beautiful music. The reunited unit sounds as vital as
    ?Keith Goetzman

    HIP-HOP Electric Circus by Common
    (MCA). Common rises above the rap din with a wildly sprawling album
    that owes as much to the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix as to Public
    Enemy and Run-DMC. With guests including Prince, Common bounces
    between genres with infectious abandon and at one point even does
    the unthinkable?he breaks into song.

    FOLK Evolver by The Mammals (Humble
    Abode). Unconcerned by boundaries, the Mammals traverse East
    Village folk, Tin Pan Alley, string band, and contemporary roots
    music with giddy ease. There?s some good DNA in the band?Tao
    Rodriguez-Seeger is the grandson of Pete Seeger?but the Mammals are
    clearly their own animals as they spin folk music forward.

    AFRICAN The Rough Guide to Highlife by
    various artists (World Music Network). The infectious,
    guitar-driven rhythms of Highlife music were the sunny sound track
    for newly independent nations in West Africa in the 1960s and can
    still infuse hearts with optimism and feet with happy dance
    ?Jay Walljasper

    KIDS Not Naptime by Justin Roberts
    (Hear Diagonally; www.heardiag onally.com). A Chicago songwriter
    whose folk-rock compositions manage a nice balance between silly
    fun and the real stuff of kids? lives, Roberts has a great voice
    (think James Taylor with a dash of the blues) and appealing
    tunes?crucial to any parent who might hear each of these songs
    80,000 times.

    BRAZILIAN Tribalistas by Arnaldo
    Antunes, Carlinhos Brown, and Marisa Monte (Phonomotor/EMI).
    Already one of the year?s great pop albums in any language.
    Tribalistas is a top-tier collaboration by three Brazilian
    stars. Spanning styles from samba to soul, bossa nova to rock,
    these songs are inescapably catchy and passionately sung,
    especially by the bewitching Marisa Monte.
    ?Keith Goetzman


    CULTS Inside Out: A Memoir of Entering &
    Breaking Out of a Minneapolis Political Cult
    Alexandra Stein (North Star Press, $16.95). Stein describes in
    vivid detail her 10-year struggle with a bizarre 1980s cult of
    Marxist revolutionaries that caught her imagination but ultimately
    stole her soul. A remarkable case study of psychological
    engineering, Stein?s odyssey from committed radical to cult
    prisoner is a chilling reminder of the treachery that sometimes
    lurks within revolutionary movements.
    ?Craig Cox

    EASTERN THOUGHT The Laws of Change: I Ching and the
    Philosophy of Life
    by Jack M. Balkin (Schocken,
    $32.50). The 3,000-year-old Chinese Book of Changes is more than a
    portable oracle for ancient fortune-tellers; it may be the best
    interactive device ever invented for teaching its users how to live
    more wisely. Balkin?s modern update is both a superb introduction
    to this literary classic and a highly practical guide to applying
    its enigmatic insights to everyday affairs.
    ?Jeremiah Creedon

    GRAPHIC NOVEL Persepolis: The Story of a
    by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, $17.95).
    Depicting life through the eyes of a precocious girl, this powerful
    visual account of growing up in Iran during the ?cultural
    revolution? of the 1980s will bring tears and laughter, and put a
    face on such concepts as repression, nationalism, and choice.
    ?Chris Dodge

    CYBERPUNK NOVEL Down and Out in the Magic
    by Cory Doctorow (Tor Books, $22.95,
    www.craphound.com). Canadian media activist Doctorow?s debut novel
    is a wonderful romp through a dystopian (at least to me) future in
    which humans have eliminated scarcity, cured death, and replaced
    money with a complex reputation management system. The first book
    published under the Creative Commons license, a new legal structure
    designed by anti-copyright advocates to be more flexible than the
    traditional all-or-nothing copyright system, Down and Out is
    available both in bookstores and for free over the Internet.
    ?Leif Utne

    PERSONAL GROWTH Instinct for Freedom: Finding
    Liberation Through Living
    by Alan Clements (New World
    Library, $22.95). I have been reading this book slowly, chapter by
    chapter early in the morning and then musing all day about what
    freedom, love, and courage mean to me. I am heartened by Clements?
    unsparing honesty about his own struggles with the gray areas of
    morality and spirituality in his work as a Buddhist teacher in
    Burma, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.
    ?Nina Utne

    CULINARY HISTORY The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy edited by Alan
    Davidson withHelen Saberi (Ten Speed Press, $24.95). Did you know
    red peppercorns make some birds tipsy? Or that a huge feud over how
    to cook porridge broke out in 19th-century Norway? Foodies,
    historians, and cultural observers alike will love this brainy
    collection of essays culled from 20 years of Petits Propos
    Culinaires, a little British mag that enjoys a cult
    ?Anjula Razdan


    ART ZINES Proof An unpredictable mix
    of visionary art, neosurrealism, dada, and dusty bits of cultural
    lore (the history of the 3-D camera, the symbolism of the lamb),
    Proof is plenty hip; but it trades irony for memory, magic, and
    idiosyncratic spirituality. Subscriptions: $25 (4 issues) to Neil
    Martinson, 530 Divisadero, P.M.B. #164, San Francisco, CA
    ?Jon Spayde

    Utne Weeder


    Jazz: These Are the Vistas by theBad
    Plus (Columbia). This refreshingly raucous ?power piano trio? has
    already grabbed the ears of adventurous jazzbos by tossing out the
    rulebook?and much of the songbook. They brilliantly rework Nirvana,
    Blondie, and Aphex Twin songs in between hard-charging originals.
    ?Keith Goetzman

    Pop: Travelogue by Joni Mitchell
    (Nonesuch). Mitchell is bailing out of the music business, finally
    weary of the ?starmaker machinery? she famously derided. But she
    leaves behind a gem of a swan song, an orchestra-backed trip
    through 22 numbers spanning her career. Mitchell?s cocoa-rich voice
    outshines every other instrument. Is it too late for her to
    reconsider? ?K.G.

    Rock: Red Devil Dawn by Crooked
    Fingers (Merge). A Poe-like lyrical landscape?full of vultures, bad
    men, and tears running down mountainsides?has a strange beauty in
    Crooked Fingers? hands. Eric Bachmann?s gritty, sonorous voice
    delivers these vignettes with a warm dignity, and the band?s
    surging music lifts the soul. ?K.G.

    Soundtrack: Punch-Drunk Love by Jon
    Brion (Nonesuch). By turns spooky and soaring, Jon Brion?s gorgeous
    score for P.T. Anderson?s recent film riffs on everything from
    Hawaiian love ballads to Indian classical music to circus tunes,
    proving just how engaging and creative movie music can be when it
    trades swelling sentimentality for honest idiosyncrasy. John
    Williams, eat your heart out. ?Anjula Razdan

    Bluegrass: Bayou Bluegrass by Jim
    Smoak & The Louisiana Honeydrippers (Arhoolie). A forgotten
    classic from 1961, this Cajun-accented bluegrass band knocks you
    out with hot banjo, soulful fiddle, and rousing vocals. ?Jay

    Country Rock: Rainy Day Music by the
    Jayhawks (Lost Highway). Come April, birds sing, buds burst, and
    the Jayhawks uncork their prettiest album to date. Rutabaga-sweet
    harmonies overlay Gary Louris? chiming guitar in these intricately
    crafted songs, conveying sorrow and yearning cut through with hope
    and joy. ?Keith Goetzman


    The Southwest: Off the Map by Chellis
    Glendinning (Shambhala, $21.95). A rambling conversation between
    the author and a Latino farmer in the New Mexico badlands is the
    unlikely vehicle for this remarkable exploration into the soul of
    place, boundaries, and personal and political imperialism.
    ?Craig Cox

    Religion: 25 Years in the Garden by
    Jeanette Stokes (Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the
    South, $18). A Presbyterian minister radicalized by hitting the
    stained-glass ceiling that limits many women religious leaders,
    Jeanette Stokes is also an elegant essayist whose writings
    chronicle a lifetime of spiritual activism. ?Jacqueline

    Cultural Radicals: Against the Machine: The Hidden
    Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual
    by Nicols Fox (Island Press, $25). History is
    often narrated as the tale of one technological triumph after
    another, but literature and the arts, thank goodness, often tell
    another story. From William Blake to the Arts and Crafts movement
    to Rachel Carson, this lively book celebrates those who question
    whether new and complicated machinery always represents a step
    forward. ?Jay Walljasper

    Poetry: Sweetwater Ranch: New Poems by
    Noel Peattie (Regent Press, $12.95). A deep breath of calm, the
    poems of septuagenarian Noel Peattie, a retired librarian who
    published the small press review Sipapu for 25 years, observe quiet
    moments, probe dark corners, and sparkle frequently with lively
    insight, puckish humor, and idiosyncratic punctuation. ?Chris

    Everyday Life: Mountain Upside Down and Other
    by John Toren (Nodin Press, $16.95). Whether
    he?s holding forth on the exotic beauty of the Iberian peninsula,
    the history of films, or what really makes Monet tick, Toren, an
    erstwhile teacher and wilderness guide, luxuriates in piquant
    digressions that celebrate the mundane?everything from bingo to the
    perfect bruschetta to collecting the morning mail. ?Anjula

    New Science: Linked: The New Science of
    by Albert-L?szl? Barab?si (Perseus, $26).
    Surveying the sprawling new field of network theory, the University
    of Notre Dame physics professor uncovers striking similarities
    between all networks?from bacterial colonies to multinational
    conglomerates, social circles to the Internet. ?Leif


    Globalization: The Virtual Empowerment

    Goof off, play a video game, and learn about globalization all at
    the same time. Global Arcade?s games and quizzes challenge you to
    figure out how to deal with the complexity of the global economy.
    ?Sara V. Buckwitz

    Gentrification Boom: The Sound of
    is a feature-length documentary video, both
    inspirational and cautionary, about San Franciscans who organized
    to resist eviction from the multiethnic Mission District
    neighborhood when Internet upstarts invaded. ($23 postpaid from
    Mountain Eye Media, Box 1167, Black Mountain, NC 28711;
    ?Chris Dodge

    Utne Weeder

    The Unfinished Twentieth Century by Jonathan Schell (Verso, $19).
    Lost amid the collapse of Communism and the rise of fundamentalism
    is the fact that some 30,000 nuclear weapons still threaten the
    planet, writes Schell, whose compelling exploration of the culture
    of extermination and the politics of proliferation frames the
    nuclear debate in terms stark enough to rouse even the most
    politically ambivalent reader.
    –Craig Cox

    Body of Clay, Soul of Fire by Matthew Welch (Afton Historical
    Society Press, $75, softcover $39). With stunning photographs,
    Welch’s book depicts the art and life of Richard Bresnahan, who,
    after studying in Japan and achieving the title Master Potter,
    returned to rural Minnesota, built the preeminent wood-fire kiln in
    America, and created an artistic community among the monks of St.
    John’s University. His example of living in harmony with the earth,
    the economy, and his art has inspired me to reexamine my own
    creative life.
    –Mark Odegard

    The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult
    Times by Pema Chödrön (Shambhala, $21.95). Pema Chödrön’s radical
    words of Tibetan Buddhist wisdom unlock doors and shine warm light
    into the darkness of human cynicism and despair. Imagine if just
    for today–and then for the rest of our lives–we dared encourage
    each other to open our hearts, cultivate mindful awareness,
    practice honesty and compassion, share joy, and forgive.
    –Chris Dodge

    Gandhi by Peter Rühe (Phaidon, $39.95). An inspiring photographic
    biography of the great peacemaker and seeker of justice that
    captures him amid the historical drama of hunger strikes and mass
    rallies but also in the everyday moments: reading the newspaper,
    taking a walk, talking with friends.
    –Jay Walljasper

    The Joy of Knitting by Lisa R. Myers (Running Press, $18.95). With
    a gentle, graduated approach to fiber history and patterns, this
    slim book welcomes the reader into the growing subculture of yarn
    lovers. Author Myers is out to bust old-lady stereotypes about
    knitters, and she does–without succumbing to the temptation to
    paint them instead as rad rebels waving needles. An honest book for
    honest folk.
    –Andy Steiner

    My Story As Told by Water by David James Duncan (Sierra Club Books,
    $24.95). This no-holds-barred collection of intimate and honest
    rants, prayers, and fish stories is a deeply American reflection on
    wilderness and life on earth. If you love rivers, or even if they
    only occasionally capture your imagination, read this book of
    essays from the writer best known for his novels The River Why and
    The Brothers K.
    –Karen Olson

    The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues by Susan
    Griffin (Broadway Books, $24.95). The word courtesan may seem
    antiquated, but courtesans themselves, as portrayed by Susan
    Griffin, are more alluring than ever. Rising from poverty and
    adversity, sustained by wit, will, and a passion for life, they
    shared an ability to sense and seize the moment, to break societal
    boundaries, and to emit ‘the siren call of transformation.’ Myself,
    I’m contemplating jettisoning my titles of chair and CEO in favor
    of Courtesan.
    –Nina Utne

    On Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (and Other Secret-Flix of
    Cinemaroc) by J. Hoberman (Granary Books/Hips Road, $29.95). Madcap
    gay film pioneer Jack Smith’s lighthearted 1963 epic of polysexual
    perversity, Flaming Creatures, is the most scandalous movie ever
    made in America. The battle over banning it reached the Supreme
    Court. In this detailed, sumptuous book, Village Voice critic
    Hoberman evokes a world of delirious, courageous queer creativity
    in the dangerous years before Stonewall.
    –Jon Spayde

    Utne Weeder

    God at the Edge: Searching for the Divine in Uncomfortable
    and Unexpected Places by Niles Elliot Goldstein (Bell Tower, $22).
    In this sometimes wrenching spiritual travelogue, Goldstein
    journeys from the Bronx to Kathmandu, from Kazakhstan to Alaska’s
    Kenai Peninsula in search of something he’s never quite sure he
    wants to find: an uncluttered path.
    –Craig Cox

    Eccentric Islands: Travels Real and Imaginary by Bill
    Holm (Milkweed Editions, $21.95). Peopled with Icelandic
    poet-farmers and one-handed Malagasy musicians, these joyful essays
    praise the unquenchable human spirit and suggest that isolation
    upon islands may be positively beatific.
    –Chris Dodge

    Other Traditions by John Ashbery (Harvard University,
    $22.95). In his 1989ñ90 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Pulitzer
    Prizeñwinning poet John Ashbery details his relationship with six
    minor poets, including John Clare and Laura Riding–the more
    obscure talents he turns to when his poetic mind needs
    –Nicole Duclos

    One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter by
    Julene Bair (Mid-List, $16). In lyrical essays about love, the
    stars, family, dirt, and how home always remains our center of
    gravity, Bair–who was raised on the high plains of western
    Kansas–has created an achingly beautiful elegy for American farm
    –Karen Olson

    Dr. Janson’s New Vitamin Revolution by Michael Janson,
    M.D. (Avery, $15.95). Confused about which vitamins to take, how
    much, and when? Janson gives a clear view of the confusing world of
    supplements, offering professional advice in terms you can
    –Mark Odegard

    The Same Ax, Twice: Restoration and Renewal in a Throwaway
    by Howard Mansfield (University Press of New England, $26).
    A lyrical and lively examination of the human instinct to preserve
    what’s best in life–a favorite old tool, a cherished building, our
    sense of community–told mostly through stories of fascinating
    Americans who have integrated pieces of the past into the present
    and future.
    –Jay Walljasper

    Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell
    (Harmony Books, $20). Mitchell’s supple, energetic rendition
    highlights both the beauty and the practicality of the ancient
    Hindu classic, whose insights into the nature of the cosmos go hand
    in hand with sound advice on living with style through difficult
    –Jeremiah Creedon

    Packinghouse Daughter by Cheri Register (Minnesota
    Historical Society, $24.95). Register, daughter of a millwright,
    recounts the historic 1959 strike by her father’s union against the
    Wilson & Co. meatpacking plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota,
    blending it with the story of her painful break from a
    working-class childhood. Her Ph.D. stands for ‘packinghouse
    daughter,’ she explains.
    –Andy Steiner

    Published on Nov 1, 2000


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