Pulp Suction

With the crimson, rust, and amber leaves soon giving way to Old-Grouchy-Man Winter, I find myself looking for a warm, well-lit place to prop up my head. Coffee-News Coffee-News has lured me in before to its seemingly-endless racks of printed pulp, but on this day, I've finally realized what an amazing selection of magazines surround me! Titles which push, with their very names, the boundaries of popular culture and stimulate internal conversation also create a great opportunity to sip an adult-contemporary beverage.The brightest cover sucks me in first -- a blaze-orange, oversized rag called "Public Fear". The articles focus on the social impact of architecture and the urban environment on society, like "Arson and Public Works in Bombay", and "The Exhaustion of Space at the Scene of the Crime " -- intriguing subjects I'd never have thought about prior. "Paranoia -- The Conspiracy Reader " strikes a similar vein, albeit with a much more cynical approach, addressing the theory that AIDS may have been created by our government as an ethno-specific bio-weapon for genocidal ends. Also, the article "Spooking of a UFO Researcher" may confirm your lingering notions of other intelligent life in space. A perfect fit for living in Idaho.The Sci-Fi section buzzes with intellect nearby, beckoning. "Space and Time" proudly presents its 30th anniversary issue. Low budget as the mag may be, its six fairly-involved stories hint at luxurious fantasies in distant dimensions. "Strange Magazine" takes itself very seriously, despite reliance on UFO abduction tales, Grim Reaper encounters, and strange animal sightings as fodder. One such sighting was of miniature squid-like organisms which live in the oil pits inside Detroit auto factories. Sounds like a Frank Zappa lyric, eh?A spaced-out-looking Mark Hamill graces the cover of "Star Wars Insider". Also: turn to page 15 for a peek at prequel Yoda (from the new "Star Wars "movie in the works). The interview with Nigerian/English dancer Femi Taylor about her role as Oola -- Jabba the Hut's slave dancer, actually proves quite interesting, especially the writer's reference to her as a symbol of an unconquerable human spirit in the face of oppression. Deep. I probably won't be able to shake the mental image of repressive types as enormous space-slugs.The zaniest, most off beat magazine in the entire joint has got to be "Jack Magazine -- Nothing for Something". This totally hilarious piece never really describes a purpose or rationale for existing; it simply launches right into blow-off film reviews, imitation ads and graphic gimmicks. The legitimate ads employ a retro/Warhol-type aesthetic, but like "Saturday Night Live," it's fun to experience advertisement spoofs. A very funny thing, yes. Worth $4.95? Maybe.Advertisement-nausea proliferates in the fashion-vehicles like "Mondo Uomo", which is chock-full of pouting people in Giorgio Armani suits. This super-glossy sports more stark, black-and-white images than an Ansel Adams family album. If you're into fashion research and design for "serious" people, this bimonthly shines. Enough with the mundane, already. Next stop: world news. "South", published by Global News Network, actually looks a lot like "Time Magazine". The cover story, "India and Pakistan -- From Partition to Partnership," proves an interesting read, with an optimistic spin on the two countries' emergence from war and poverty. Although primarily business-oriented, "South" thoroughly covers important issues like AIDS and environmental destruction. "Russian Life" details (in English) Moscow's 850th birthday, along with many other up-to-date cultural accounts. One such fascinating story came from two Americans traveling through Central Siberia. Their description of the Altai sounds much like central Idaho, with fewer mountains and a much longer Winter. On a more art-driven agenda, South Asian Publications' colorful glossy, "Rungh", tingles the palate. The pieces on the British-Indian band Cornershop and the new Hindu paintings of Shelly Bahl intrigue while they inform. This issue's guide of six other Asian-American magazines seems rather selfless for "Rungh", perhaps rooted in Eastern philosophy's emphasis on selflessness. The small section centered around sexuality and gender concerns includes not only the best-selling gay and lesbian magazine, "Out", but also less-circulated publications. This issue of "Out", by the way, has a fashion feature casting an Ed Grimly-looking model with broken egg on his head, tossing a cat in the air -- an absolutely hilarious take on the fashion machine. The lesbian-focused publication "Curve" is overwhelmingly music-oriented in this particular issue. An interview with Ani Difranco's funky bassist, Sara Lee, sheds light on her work with Gang of Four and the Indigo Girls. The magazine has some good writing and few ads, despite being a surprisingly thin and rather narrow edit of what could otherwise be powerful social commentary.The selection of musical literature in Coffee-News astounds the mind. Electronic, folk, educational, popular, international -- you name it, it's there. "Strings" magazine covers viola hero Yuri Bashmet in its latest issue. It also profiles violin masters from The Dave Mathews Band's Boyd Tinsley to Clarence Gatemouth Brown in a wide-spanning spectrum of enthusiasm. "Fingerstyle Quarterly's" latest features transcripts from master late-night guitar man Kevin Eubanks' recent, critically-acclaimed jazz release, "Live At Bradley's". This highly-specialized journal pushes modern music's extremes through raw, note-wrenching talent.The fold-out, 'zine-like "Night", not surprisingly, focuses on the nocturnal life through photos and interviews of semi-underground artists, musicians and club-crawlers of New York City. The highlight of this issue is an interview with Dave Davies of the Kinks about a sudden, "ethereal karmic experience" he had in a hotel room. Punk culture thrives in "Flipside", in the form of band reviews, ads and interviews. Featured in this issue are the Demolition Doll Rods, a band of ex-strippers originally from Madison, Wis., who play their shows wearing popsicles as bras. "Flipside" is thick and relatively inexpensive. Austin, Texas' "Pop Culture Press" reads surprisingly like such music industry juggernauts as "Rolling Stone" and "Spin", unfortunately. Their interview with some subculture interests, like Survival Research Laboratories, gets them slightly off that hook, however. Grateful Dead-specialized magazine "Relix" survives post-Jerry Garcia, to everyone's surprise. The colorful, photo-laden publication now focuses on other popular touring bands, like Widespread Panic, as well as some of the places they play, such as the Wetlands Preserve in New York. Many literary magazines, containing fiction and poetry by lesser-known authors, can be found in the news racks, with names like "Folio, Glimmer Train", and "Rosebud". For those explorers of the underground press needing somewhere to crash for a short minutes only, check into "Chicago's Spelunker Flophouse". About 20 authors of powerful short stories and poems make this an intense, if quick, read. In "First Intensity #9", a hilarious short story by X.J. Kennedy called "That First Fine Careless Rapture," about a boy's catastrophic first date with his dream girl, left me slapping the table and wheezing in laughter. Six crazed, manic paintings by William S. Burroughs also grace this issue. "JeJune: America Eats Its Young "steps forward as an artsy, avant garde 'zine with no shame about using foul language. The latest issue belches forth an interview with Lydia Lunch and a wonderful poem, coined from a "Time magazine" article, "The Rebel of Ruby Ridge."Concerning "Issues and action in communities of color," count on "Third Force" to take a stand. The protest of the U.S. Navy's target-bombing of the beautiful Caribbean island of Vieques, and an in-depth commentary of how the protest against Nike factory conditions has failed to engage African Americans are two important, current problems not explored elsewhere. Along similar lines, "Race and Class "offers a more intellectual commentary on "Third World" liberation efforts. "Perma Culture", an international journal, exposes and expands upon concepts first developed by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in the '70s in Tasmania. Rooftop gardening, organic farming and other recipes for sustainability abound in this "Ecotopia"-like manual. A quite unusual yet fascinating journal, "Terra Nova", concentrates on the relationship of nature and culture. This issue includes a CD and features essays on the relationship between nature and music. The editorial surprisingly refutes music as a "universal language." This month's version of the famous "Natural History "should be noted, even though it's a rather mainstream publication. While it usually concentrates on archeology, unique cultures and biology, this issue concentrates on the world's street children. It exposes the everyday struggles of Brazilian, Mongolian, Bosnian and, yes, American kids forced to make a living on their own, invoking more guilt than all the Sally Struthers commercials ever aired.


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