These are "Reports from the Newsstand," my comments on the publications in our catalogue at We offer sample copies of our publications, not subscriptions. Each sample copy costs $2.59, well below newsstand cover prices (if the publication is available on your newsstand at all). A $2.00 shipping charge is added to each order. Publishers use to get their publications into the hands of potential subscribers.


Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Friday, December 30, 2005

THE UPLAND ALMANAC: Hunting the Game Bird

This morning, with the old year winding down, I've been taking a look at the new issue of The Upland Almanac, a substantial and well-designed quarterly magazine from Fairfax, VT about the joys of hunting upland game birds. My understanding is that upland game birds―grouse, pheasant, quail, doves and the like―are to be distinguished from waterfowl such as ducks and geese, and The Upland Almanac is about hunting the former. The atmosphere of the magazine is akin to a men's club or a country study, with a roaring fire, a hunting dog at your feet, lots of burnished wood, valuable old hunting prints on the walls and an elegant gun case by the window. A quick read through the pages of the new Winter 2005 issue shows that the trinity of concerns for the upland bird hunter are the birds and their habitats, the hunting dog and the proper shotgun. When all three come together and perform as they should, the upland hunter becomes a happy man indeed. (And I emphasize "man"; there's nary a woman in sight in the whole 96-page issue.) In its pages you'll find accounts of hunts for grouse, prairie chickens, quail, woodcock and band-tailed pigeons in a number of states. The hunting dog is a star of each of these articles, either for its prowess or ineptitude; these guys write about their deceased dogs with an affection that most fellows only have for old girlfriends or cars. There are several articles in the issue about training dogs and keeping them healthy, for a good hunting dog can represent an investment of several thousand dollars. Of great concern to upland hunters are declines in the populations of birds, due largely to the spread of housing, the destruction of habitats and the use of pesticides and herbicides. The decline in the numbers of pheasants bagged in Eastern states is startling: 1.3 million in Pennsylvania in 1972, 200,000 each year in the 1990s; 750,000 in Ohio in the 1950s, 235,000 each year now. The Upland Almanac also has a few articles on shooting clay pigeons, which is both a practice for the real thing and a sport in itself. The ads are for dog kennels, fancy shotguns, hunting lodges, artists who'll render your dog in oils, watercolors or acrylic, electronic training collars for the pooches and books on hunting. An annual subscription (four issues) to The Upland Almanac is $19.95; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

TRICYCLE: The Buddhist Review

Today we note the arrival in the newsstand of a magazine whose name fascinated me when I first came across it some months ago. It's Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, published by The Tricycle Foundation in New York City. While the name continues to mystify, I can now report that I've skimmed an issue of this handsome quarterly and have found its contents equally fascinating. The magazine is about being a Buddhist in contemporary America, or at least trying to apply Buddhist teachings and wisdom to the challenges of life in a frenetic and materialistic culture. This can get almost surreal. One article in the new Winter 2005 issue is about Andrew Black, a world-class poker player from Northern Ireland who left the game for five years to join a Buddhist organization in the United Kingdom, only to roar back to finish in the top five in the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He claims his Buddhist mindset helps him at the green felt table, though he acknowledges there are unresolved conflicts and contradictions in the situation. Politically, the magazine lists gently to the left. You'll find a report on the first Spiritual Activism Conference, held in Berkeley, CA last summer, in which various religious and spiritual figures tried to figure out a way to break "the monopoly on politico-religious discourse enjoyed by Christian fundamentalists in recent decades." While author Phil Catalfo complains that non-Judeo-Christian spiritual traditions didn't get enough exposure at the conference, he offers interesting suggestions on how Buddhist principles―conflict resolution, anger management, avoidance of demonization of opponents―can help those on the religious left organize and struggle more effectively. Helen Tworkov, the founding editor of Tricycle, contributes an interesting essay on the feminist movement and Buddhism. She starts it off with elements of a traditional "guide to good behavior":

* Put on an ever-smiling countenance.
* Do not move furniture and chairs noisily.
* Do not open doors with violence.
* Take pleasure in the practice of humility.
* Always strive to learn from everyone.
* Speak with moderation, gently.
* Express yourself with modesty.

Though Ms. Tworkov notes that these sound like "a set of guidelines for prim boarding-school girls of the 1940s," she reports that they are advice from the Buddhist sage Shantideva to his fellow monastics in eighth-century India. The obvious conflict for female Buddhists in 2005 America is that these imperatives represent―at least at one level―much that modern feminism seeks to overcome. Lastly, I must mention an interview with Buddhist scholar Mo Soeng, long-time co-director of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts, who rails (thoughtfully) against some trends in American Buddhism, such as the establishment of posh retreat centers run by celebrity monks who court media attention. "A lot of what goes on in Buddhism in America is about creating a personal story and an identity," he reports.
"Dharma centers can become social clubs that allow people to process an identity, allowing them to feel good about themselves for a short period of time. I meet people who tell me, 'I am a Theraveda person' or 'I am a Zen person.' But this is just another process of commodification, of packaging oneself… Yes, there is some connection to Buddhist practice, but underneath it all people don't really want to displace their personal and social identities or their inherited Judeo-Christian worldview." If you're interested in Buddhist philosophy and how it applies to contemporary Western life, Tricycle is a must-read. By the way, we've added a great cover from a prior issue of Tricycle to our little
gallery of favorite magazine covers: Take a look! An annual subscription (four issues) is $24.00 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

VEGETARIAN JOURNAL: For the Vegan Lifestyle

Filled with holiday cheer and food, and having had our fill of traveling, this morning we're happily back in the newsstand to welcome on board the Vegetarian Journal, a quarterly from the non-profit Vegetarian Resource Group. According to the magazine, this Baltimore-based organization "educates the public about vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, ethics and world hunger." While "vegetarian" is a vague term (some vegetarians eat fish, for instance), Vegetarian Journal espouses a "vegan" philosophy that's more structured and easy to define. According to Wikipedia, "veganism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from the use or ingestion of animal products and by avoidance of products that have been tested on animals." The on-line encyclopedia adds that "individuals become vegans for a number of reasons―to support animal rights, for health benefits, for moral, ethical, religious and/or spiritual reasons, for political reasons, and/or environmental concerns." Vegetarian Journal is a no-nonsense, ad-free magazine that primarily addresses its readers' needs for interesting recipes that reflect their vegan lifestyle. We've received a supply of Issue 4 for 2005, the last of the year, and it features informative articles and imaginative recipes on three broad themes: baked pastas, authentic Chinese cooking and whole-grain breads. The pasta article, for instance, contains a history of pasta (it probably came to Italy via Arab traders before Marco Polo was even born), followed by eight tasty-sounding recipes, including "smoky penne baked with eggplant and Portobello mushrooms in fire-roasted tomato sauce" and "Southwestern black bean lasagna," pictured on the magazine's cover. The Chinese food article, by Dr. Nancy Berkoff, is the result of her recent travels to northern China, and includes an account of a meal at a "T'ang Dynasty Feast," in which diners eat a variety of vegan dishes developed centuries ago by Buddhist monks that mimic roast pork, tangy fish, duck and goose using such ingredients as yams, taro root, tofu and beans. The dishes were created so that royalty and rich business people could practice Buddhism yet still eat in the gourmet style to which they were accustomed. (I still remember enjoying such a meal in a Buddhist monastery in Nha Trang, South Vietnam almost 40 years ago). The simple-to-prepare authentic recipes with the article include cabbage salad (cabbage, carrots, green peppers and fresh ginger) and stir-fried noodles. There's a short guide to vegan restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai. The magazine also includes a review of recent scientific papers related to vegetarianism, addressing such questions as the health benefits of a vegan diet and the effects of a raw-food diet on bone health. You'll also find an article on ways to use potatoes, a survey of how many young people are vegetarians (and how many of those are vegans), and a detailed one-week low-sodium vegan diet, also with many recipes. An annual subscription (four issues) to Vegetarian Journal is $20.00 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Street rollerblading is a culture even more than a sporting activity, according to Daily Bread Inline Skate Magazine, today's newbie in the catalogue. It's not an activity/culture that I know anything about, so I have to rely on Daily Bread, which has been around since 1993, for a take on what's happening. While we in the New York area have been seeing rollerblading on the six o'clock news as a novel way to commute in the absence of subways and buses, the major use of rollerblades by the young men who are subjects and fans of the magazine seems to be descending rather steep outdoor stairways via their railings, with serious physical penalties to be paid for leaving those railings too early (check out the cover). From the articles in the November 2005 issue―titled "The Anger Issue"―it's obvious that rollerblading, at least in terms of media coverage, has been in serious decline in recent years. There's an illuminating interview on the subject with Mark Shays, founder and president of an organization called ASA Events (its original name was the Aggressive Skaters Association). He recalls how ASA was founded in 1994 to promote rollerblading, aided financially by the makers of skates and ancillary equipment. Through the rest of the decade it created all sorts of rollerblading events and bargained successfully with the likes of ESPN to get them on television. But by 2001 ASA saw the handwriting on the wall and diversified to skateboarding and BMX racing, for which the cable sports networks still have a voracious appetite. Though Shays continues to work to include inline rollerblading stunts in his organization's shows, he admits it hurts: "It is impossible to calculate just how many dollars have been lost due to our insistence on keeping rollerblading involved." Shays blames the media's loss of interest in rollerblading on factors such as resentment from skateboarders to inline skating's meteoric but brief rise and, perhaps more tellingly, "many of the top [rollerblading] guys who used to go to the first multi-sport events acted like immature kids and the other sports' top pros began to stereotype all skaters as punks who never had to pay their dues." The issue also has a somewhat bitter interview with rollerblading pro Eric Schrijn, who at 25 is considered one of the grand old men of the sport (he's the guy pictured on the cover). Asked what he wants out of skating, he replies: "I guess I already got it; I'm an icon in this sport, I'm healthy, I've got some good homeboys, but I would like to actually be a part of this movement with mainstream TV and magazines… That's what I want from skating, for this shit to get respect and blow up, so we can get paid respectably. I make $600.00 a month from skating―it sucks―it feels like we are starving artists.” Daily Bread, published in San Diego, features lots of pictures of guys caught in the act of going down those frightening stairways all over the country. The magazine also uses extremely small type, so rollerblading, like carrots, must be good for the eyesight. Daily Bread is a wee bit defensive about the diminishing popularity of the rollerblading lifestyle and culture. From editor Justin Eisinger's opening editorial: "People everywhere fail to see the value of rollerbladers, at least here in America; which is the most f**ked up part of all… If you quit skating because someone told you it wasn't cool, f**k you. If you quit skating because you got a girlfriend, or went to school, or got a job or blah, blah, blah―F**K YOU." After all, it is the Anger Issue. Surprisingly, the ** are theirs, not ours. An annual subscription (12 issues) to Daily Bread Inline Skate Magazine is $21.95 from the publishers, and they'll throw in a "get blades" shirt; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59 (no shirt).

Thursday, December 22, 2005


As I wait excitedly for Santa to deliver my goodies, I'm hoping he gets his gift ideas from Electronic House, the newest magazine on the shelf. It's an electronic gadget lover's dream, filled with big screens, hidden speakers and home theater installations that must strike fear into the owners of the local multiplex. The basic philosophy of this monthly, published in Framingham, MA, is that just as one's house is wired for electricity, it should also be wired with the high-tech cables and electronic paraphernalia that bring music, computer connections, sophisticated lighting and mammoth-screen video images into virtually every room with the touch of a button or two. Some of the stuff in the December issue of Electronic House is frankly outrageous, such as an 80-inch high-definition plasma TV from Samsung, priced at $90,000 to $120,000―the magazine doesn't say what the extra $30 grand gets you. I guess when you're trudging off to the Toyota showroom, it's good to know there's a Lamborghini or Maybach out there waiting for you a few years down the road. A big deal in the world of electronic houses is hiding all the expensive stuff: wires in the walls, wireless devices, retractable screens, speakers that don't look like speakers. I liked the ad for speakers that are hidden in the ceiling; you activate a remote and they drop down at angles of 15, 30 or 45 degrees, and can then be rotated to any position. The issue features a number of articles describing whole-house installations, and it's apparent that it's preferable to build a new house with all that wiring in the walls instead of trying to retrofit an old Victorian manse. You'll also find a couple of lavishly illustrated spreads on home theater setups, rows of upholstered motorized seats and all. If high-tech home electronics is your thing―or if you just want to see what all the fuss is about―Electronic House is for you. An annual subscription (12 issues) is $29.95 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

SHIFT: At the Frontiers of Consciousness

We've received a new supply of the quarterly Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness, published by The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, CA. What's it about? That is not a simple question. The magazine states that IONS "explores the frontiers of consciousness to advance individual, social, and global transformation," adding, "our focus includes emerging paradigms, extended human capacities, and integral health and healing." If you like to pigeonhole, I guess that puts IONS and Shift in the New Age box, striving to find new solutions to old and seemingly insoluble problems. Shift issue #7, just received, is largely devoted to dealing with the biggest challenges in human civilization―poverty, ethnic conflict, religious tensions, diminishing resources―using what editor-in-chief Matthew Gilbert calls "social healing," which "goes beyond individual healing to the source of wounding in the collective." A major essay that follows, titled "Social Healing for a Fractured World," argues that traditional approaches have neglected the spiritual dimension of human life. For instance, "traditional diplomacy has generally focused on negotiated settlements that ignore festering resentments and thus do little to heal the underlying social wounds." The authors urge a holistic approach, one that heals individuals (suffering from trauma, shame and violence) and transforms social institutions at the same time. An essay on gender reconciliation claims that gender injustice and disharmony is rife in our own society, "including some of the most conscious organizations and spiritual communities." Further articles deal with race relations, peacemaking efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, and attempts to restore traditional healing customs within fractured American Indian communities. I was particularly intrigued by a report on social parapsychology, the study of collective psychic experiences, perhaps a key to understanding the rise and fall of social organizations, corporations, even civilizations. The author analyzes data from several years of an Internet study of precognition, in which hundreds of thousands of test subjects were asked to describe elements of a picture before it flashed on their computer screens. On the morning of September 9, 2001, a test subject wrote the following three "pre-descriptions" in a row:

airliner (seen from left-rear) against stormy cloud backdrop, flashes of streaky clouds, ovoids, two persons.
firstly a dragonfly? then a log [or] branch suggestive of Everglades, then a fast dynamic scene of falling between two tall buildings, past checkered patterns of windows.
first tall structure like an industrial chimney, then flashes of rounded crenulated form—peacock-like headdress of American Indian woman? then surface like volcanic ash plume or cauliflower.

But the author, IONS senior researcher Dr. Dean Radin, forms a very different conclusion than you might expect after he analyzes the mass of test responses just prior to the September 11 attacks: he finds test subjects in that short period used the fewest "terrorism" descriptions in the entire three years of answers in the database. His hypothesis: people deep in their unconscious knew trouble was brewing, and repressed those thoughts. Shift, published quarterly, is available on a few select newsstands and is sent to IONS members (basic membership is $55.00 a year); you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Monday, December 19, 2005

GRAND: The Doting Game

It's Grandparents Day at the newsstand as we mark the debut of Grand magazine. Now in its second year, Grand is aimed at the grandmothers and grandfathers of America. Think of it as a seniors magazine for seniors with a family focus. But I might be hasty in using the word "seniors"; Grand founder Christine Crosby notes in her editorial in the new December/January issue, just received in the newsstand, "Just a century ago, the average life span was only 47. Today, 47 is the average age of the first-time grandparent." The articles in the issue are crafted to the concerns and possibilities of people who dote on their grandchildren, such as the benefits of regular exercise (subtitled "Keep up with your grandkids"), various adventure trips you can share with your family and things you can collect that will interest the youngest generation (comic books, Lord of the Rings artifacts, video games). You'll find a whole section on suggestions for toys, clothing and other gifts for the kiddies. The magazine has a pair of senior celebrity profiles: actress Blythe Danner (mother of Gwyneth Paltrow) and singer Patti Page. An expert on philanthropy shares his thoughts on how those with substantial assets can create a private family foundation to involve the whole family in a spirit of giving to the community. Another article advises grandparents on how they can help grandchildren weather family crises―death, divorce, financial instability―at times when their parents might be unable to cope. There are a couple of reports at the end of the issue on the burgeoning movement for legal rights for grandparents, whose legal access to their grandchildren is not provided for in most states in the case of divorce and other messy situations. I was touched by an advice column authored by a psychotherapist (and grandmother 11 times over). A fellow wrote her that his mother showed little interest in his two-year-old son: "She's always too busy, and I am not exaggerating when I say her dog is higher on her list of priorities." The advice he gets makes sense: "Giving up trying to make her into a doting granny and accepting her for who she is, is your best hope." I suggest the fellow buy his mother a year's worth of Grand. An annual subscription (six issues) is $14.97 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Friday, December 16, 2005

MYSTERIES MAGAZINE: Tales of Strange Phenomena

Today marks the debut in the newsstand of Mysteries Magazine, a quarterly from Phantom Press Publications in Walpole, NH. This is not Ellery Queen-type mystery fiction; the magazine is an entertaining collage of stories about historical mysteries and unexplained phenomena. I've been looking through a recent issue. The early part of the magazine is replete with short articles about all sorts of recent discoveries, such as "T Rex Yields Useable Soft Tissue," "Hitler May Have Planned to Kidnap the Pope" and "Stonehenge's Quarry Identified." There's an interesting article about an outdoor sculpture at CIA headquarters that features a coded inscription. Apparently CIA experts have figured out 75% of the code on the "Kryptos Sculpture," and are working on the rest, and sculptor Jim Sanborn says he's surprised it's taking them so long. Mysteries Magazine also reports rumors that the sculpture might be featured in the plot of Dan Brown's yet-to-be-published new novel, The Solomon Key. I was intrigued by a short item that divers in Hawaii have found the wreck of an Imperial Japanese Navy underwater aircraft carrier. The huge 400-foot-submarine reportedly carried three fold-up bombers and a crew of 144, and was captured intact by U.S. forces a week after Japan's 1945 surrender, only to be scuttled by the Americans―along with four other top-secret Japanese submarines―"partly because Russian scientists were demanding access to them." Sounds like a good plot for a novel! There are a couple of feature stories about "automatic writing," in which a spirit entity dictates words to a medium who then writes them down. It's of course important that the medium not be capable of thinking up what he or she is writing. Both articles are by Michael Tymn, who is vice president of The Academy of Religion and Psychical Research. The first Tymn article is about Glastonbury Abbey in England, largely destroyed in the 16th century with the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1908 architect Frederick Bligh Bond was appointed director of excavations at Glastonbury Abbey. He made a lot of important discoveries, but in 1918 claimed that his excavations were the result of directions given him via automatic writing (in old English, Latin and a hybrid called "monk Latin") by the spirits of long-departed monks from the abbey. Bond was, of course, removed from his position and died in poverty in 1945. Tymn's second story is about Patience Worth, a 17th century Englishwomen who emigrated to the American colonies, only to be killed by Indians at the age of 44. She was contacted by some ladies in St. Louis in 1913 who were playing with a Ouija board, and over the next 24 years dictated about four million words, including books, plays and poems, to one of the women, an uneducated housewife, using all sorts of period language that amazed literary scholars. In this issue you'll also find a history of the fabled Hope Diamond, a profile of psychic-to-the-stars Kenny Kingston, and the cover story about a "castle" in Florida carved by a fellow out of coral between 1920 and 1940, possibly with the aid of paranormal powers. An annual subscription to Mysteries Magazine (four issues) is $21.00 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

SILENT SPORTS: Exercising the Upper Midwest

Pardon me if I'm a little winded―I've just been reading Silent Sports, an interesting new addition to the newsstand. The magazine is devoted to aerobic sports in the Upper Midwest: bicycling, running, paddling, in-line skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, backpacking and a few things I didn't know were sports (more about them later). The geographic areas covered are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, northern Illinois and northeast Iowa, though a lot of the well-written articles in the pages of Silent Sports will be of interest to participants in these kinds of activities around the country. The magazine starts out a recent issue with an editorial noting with glee that the $286 billion five-year transportation bill signed into law a few months ago by President Bush contains a great deal of funding for hiking and other recreational trails, $120 million alone for trails in the district of one powerful Minnesota congressman. "The bill," writes editor Joel Patenaude, "is good for highway builders but surprisingly also a boon for biking and hiking visionaries. The latter category of spending is what the tax protesting, sedentary crowd considers 'pork.' To the rest of us, it's an overdue but sound investment in the health of Americans. It's anti-pork pork, if you will―money meant to encourage us to exercise and trim the pork we'd otherwise carry around with us." One thing that's clear very early in this issue of Silent Sports is that these non-sedentary guys and girls get exercised whenever they perceive a threat to their turf from the non-silent sports. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are one example: an article decries Wisconsin state funds going to support the ATV industry, and another attacks a proposal in Michigan to allow disabled seniors to use ATVs anywhere on state-owned land. There's also a warning of a move in Wisconsin to expand hunting in state parks. Jeff Rennicke, author of ten books, writes elegantly and despairingly of a recent cigarette boat race (they're very loud, very big and very fast) around the otherwise serene Apostle Islands in western Lake Superior, which he notes with alarm was called the "First Annual Apostle Islands Poker Run" (the 50 participating boat drivers had to pick up playing cards at various points in the race to prove they had reached them). Silent Sports is filled with articles on trails in the region, especially scenic hiking trails and trails built on abandoned railroad lines; apparently the Upper Midwest is doing very well in the trails department. Editor Patenaude contributes an amusing account of his participation in the first marathon race run around Grand Island, located a half-mile from Michigan's Upper Peninsula in Lake Superior. Despite it being a July 30 event, he was urged to bring a fleece jacket (the weather is unpredictable) and to wear bells (to let the bears know he was coming). While he didn't see any bears, just their scat, "the bell was worth having if only to annoy my brother-in-law and running partner." I found an article on the art of "cyclocross," which involves a bicycle race where there are barriers and impassable hills that you have to carry your bicycle over and past; getting on and off the bicycle quickly is essential to success. Then there's roller skiing, which you do on paved trails and which involves skis with small air-filled tires front and back. Europe has an established roller ski race circuit, and a lot of snow skiers use roller skis in the fall to get in shape. I liked some of author Walter Meanwell's "roller skiing reminders," such as: "There are two kinds of roller skiers: those who have fallen and those who will… Take a phone: if you do fall but are still conscious, you can make a call from the ditch... If you choose to wave to motorists, use all five fingers." The back dozen pages of the 100-page issue contain many, many small-type listings of events throughout the region organized by sport. Silent Sports is published monthly in Waupaca, WI, and an annual subscription is $18.00 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Monday, December 12, 2005

GROWING EDGE INTERNATIONAL: Growing Good Things With Hydroponics

This morning we're learning about new ways to grow things as we welcome Growing Edge International to the newsstand. This bimonthly magazine is about hydroponics, the science and art of growing plants in a water and fertilizer solution―no soil involved. It's written for commercial and hobby operations alike. For a neophyte like myself, reading a sophisticated magazine on a complex subject like Growing Edge International for the first time is like starting War and Peace on page 202: you don't quite know what country you're in, what the rules are, what the acronyms mean. So a big thank-you to the Internet, where I quickly got up to speed on the basics of hydroponics. Work was being done on the subject as far back as the 17th century, but in the 1930s a fellow at the University of California transformed what had been laboratory experiments into commercial-scale operations and coined the term hydroponics (hydro is Greek for water, and ponos for labor, so it means "water working"). War is a great advancer of technology, and it was on rocky Pacific Islands during World War II that hydroponics was first used on a large scale to grow produce for soldiers to eat. With the development of cheap, strong and light plastics to channel the water and nutrients, hydroponics is now commonly used to produce tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables year-round, even in temperate climates. Most of the roses exported from Holland are grown using hydroponics! I'm looking through the November/December issue of Growing Edge International, published in Corvallis, OR. It's Vol. 17, No. 2, so the magazine has been around for a while. You know those hydroponics guys are onto something when you see a picture (right above the table of contents) of a 752-pound pumpkin that was grown with what's called "a hybrid hydroponic/aeroponic system" by a fellow at his home in North Pole, Alaska. What really got me interested was an article early in the issue about kids in an eighth-grade science class in Marblehead, MA, who've been running experiments in aquaponics, which is hydroponics with a fascinating twist: instead of adding fertilizers to the water supply, you put live fish in the system, and the plants are nourished from the nitrates created when the ammonia-laden fish waste is broken down by bacteria. A good introduction into commercial hydroponics is provided by the cover article, which details a startup operation in Loudoun County, VA called Endless Summer Harvest. An operation like this is expensive to create―greenhouses, heating systems, lighting installations, sophisticated computers to control the flow of nutrients, endless piping―but it produces scarce and invaluable products like salad greens for upscale markets, even in mid-winter. And by substituting nutrients in a water system for soil, you wind up with more produce per plant, free of soil-borne diseases, and the vegetables have a much longer shelf life because the clean roots go with the plants to the market. An annual subscription to Growing Edge International (six issues) is $26.95 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

URBAN LIVING MAGAZINE: More Than Entertainment

Today we're joined in the newsstand by Urban Living Magazine, an ambitious bimonthly published in Nashville, TN. It's grown in its two years from a local magazine to one aiming to be a national voice in the black community. A significant percentage of the black-oriented publications that have been created over the past few years focus almost exclusively on rap music and other forms of entertainment, but Urban Living co-owner David Keary has a broader goal for his baby: to present information and opinions about politics, drug use, education and other matters of interest to the urban black community―as well as entertainment news, interviews and profiles. He writes in the opening editorial in the October-November issue, just received here, "I am proud to have created an option for the urban culture to enlighten and educate themselves, not only on what they want to know, but what they need to know." The issue in hand reflects his vision: there's an article that argues that the Hurricane Katrina flood in New Orleans shows that race is a factor in who survives a national disaster, another about an alarming increase in HIV infections among black male college students in North Carolina, tips on saving gas and getting started in the stock market, an indictment of big-time college sports for its exploitation of student athletes, and a look at steroid use among high school athletes. There are also a number of entertainment profiles, including gospel music mogul Alvin Williams, hip-hop music executive Kevin Liles (the cover story), BET host Julissa Bermudez and recording artist Teairra Mari. The latter two are also featured in the new issue of Un Chin, reviewed here Tuesday; those young ladies (and their press agents) sure do get around! One major bone I have to pick with Urban Living is its unsigned opinion pieces. I couldn't find any bylines in the issue, aside from David Keary's previously quoted editorial, and that's okay if it's a story about saving for college or even one on hot new fashions. But when you come across an article like the one titled "Are White Republicans Ready for Black Republicans?" and read a sentence such as "Spiritually, I am sick and tired of the far left dividing and conquering America via our social, economic and ethnic differences," I sure as heck want to know who "I" is. My confusion mounted because in the previous article―the one on Hurricane Katrina, and also not bylined―the publication Socialist Worker was quoted as an authoritative source (sounds like that doggone not-to-be-trusted far left to me). An annual subscription to Urban Living Magazine (six issues) is $9.95 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

UN CHIN: Hot Contemporary Latin Culture

It's been a busy several days of publication debuts at the newsstand, and today it's the turn of Un Chín, a lush bimonthly with a distinctly Latin temperament. I can offer no definitive translation of the title, but some quick Internet research unearthed a page of slang from the Dominican Republic, including "When you only need a little amount of something, it is un chin and even smaller is un chin-chin." Whatever it means, New York-based Un Chín is filled with good-looking people, beautiful images and a caring, literate entry into what's best in contemporary Latin art and culture, with more than a touch of bling to make it all festive. The magazine's Web site reports "Un Chín's mission is to offer an alternative approach to documenting art, fashion, music, entertainment and current events" as well as "a unique perspective on the new mainstream―one that merges a Latin aesthetic and ingenuity with depth and style." We've received the new "Quixote issue" of Un Chín in the newsstand, named in honor of Miguel de Cervantes, whose novel Don Quixote was published 400 years ago. Windmills and other references to the immortal Spanish author and his fictional creation abound throughout the issue, beginning with editor-in-chief Ramon Veras-Breton's editorial, startlingly political in tone, who writes that current American foreign policy "evokes Cervantes' opening line as he refers to the town of La Mancha whose name he had no desire to recall. How dark a stain is our political agenda putting on our history?" But politics is pretty much forgotten as we journey through the 160-page issue, which introduces us to some of the hottest clubs in Manhattan, the pleasures of skiing in Chile, a bevy of the newest musical stars in Spain, Black Entertainment Television host Julissa Bermúdez and Los Angeles Lakers forward (and fledgling record-label executive) Lamar Odom. There's a feature on Teairra Mari, a new hip-hop artist, fantastically photographed by Pieter Henket, whose work you'll find throughout the issue, and another about "king of reggaeton" Tego Calderón. And pages and pages of beautiful people modeling beautiful clothes. It's a hot issue of a hot magazine. An annual subscription (six issues) to Un Chín is $20.00 from the publisher (and, believe it or not, with a sub they throw in a two-night hotel stay in Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Atlantic City or Puerto Vallarta, "no time share presentation or marketing gimmicks involved"). We can't compete with any of that, but for $2.59 we'll send you a sample copy.

Monday, December 05, 2005

ENTREPRENEUR: Small Investment, Big Return

As a struggling owner of a new business, am I pleased that Entrepreneur magazine has just joined the catalogue? Would a guy clinging to a splintered deck chair in the empty mid-Pacific not be overjoyed to find a shrink-wrapped catalogue of the latest in life preserver gear float by? (Now don't get logical on me; have you seen the plot holes in Hollywood movies lately?) I've been looking through a copy of the November issue of Entrepreneur, and am pleasantly surprised at what I find. When a magazine aims at supplying useful editorial material to the massive universe of small business people, it's gunning for a very wide range of people with just as great a diversity of products and services―and problems. You can't be too general, or the info isn't useful to anyone. You can't be too specific, or the 1% of people who you've made happy by solving all their problems are outweighed by the 99% who could care less about making widgets for golf carts. Entrepreneur, published in Irvine, CA, addresses this question by offering many short articles on a wide variety of topics, and some will invariably hit home to just about anyone reading an issue. A thread running through the magazine is its advocacy role for small businesses. Editorial director Rieva Lesonsky complains in an editorial that Congress has been balking at increasing support for Small Business Development Centers, which give advice to business people. The magazine also attacks recent Congressional legislation that largely eliminates small businesses from consideration in the awarding of contracts for Gulf Coast reconstruction. There are, of course, dozens of profiles of successful entrepreneurs, and you'll also find sections on tech gadgets, money concerns (such as finding investors, insurance and cutting taxes), and sales techniques. The back of the magazine is devoted to franchising opportunities and concerns. Between the covers you'll find advice on such topics as Web site design, decorating your office, buying a new computer flat screen and motivating your employees (and yourself) to act like owners. An annual subscription (12 issues) to Entrepreneur is an amazing $11.97; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Friday, December 02, 2005

ADVENTIST REVIEW: Serving the Faithful Since 1849

This week is the first in the newsstand for Adventist Review, which has been published since 1849. The masthead describes the publication as "the general paper of the Seventh-day Adventist Church" (it sure looks like a magazine to me). It's published 36 times a year by the church's busy Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, MD, and has a curious publishing schedule: every Thursday except the first Thursday of the month. The Seventh-day Adventists publish a lot of magazines, and several are already in the newsstand, including Vibrant Life, Message, Guide, Insight and Archaeological Diggings. Right now I'm looking at the November 10 issue of Adventist Review, which is squarely aimed at church members. The articles are almost all spiritual in nature, dealing with the individual's relationship with God and filled with quotations from scripture. In an interesting essay, a college professor recalls one of her graduate school classes in epidemiology. Each student was called upon to develop an interactive learning experience with the other students. Her classmates had no clue how to proceed, but her presentation wowed the professor, who demanded to know where she had picked up the teaching techniques. She told him it was from her years of classes at a Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath school―what in common Christian parlance is called "Sunday school"―which she reflects were successfully designed to encourage students to actively participate in their own spiritual development. She promised her professor that she would loan him some of the resource workbooks from the Sabbath school, but warned him that they would differ strongly with his views on evolution. The issue also carries a couple of interesting letters to the editor about an interview that the magazine recently ran with Rickey Smith, a Seventh-day Adventist who was also a contestant on "American Idol." They both asked what is apparently a very important question to church members: was Smith able to "keep the Sabbath" during his stint on the show? The interviewer, Kimberly Luste Maran, replied that while the question never came up during the interview, subsequent communications with Smith indicated that the show was rehearsed and taped on weekdays. An annual subscription to Adventist Review (36 issues) is $36.95 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.