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Wrapped in green, with an issue focusing on "Good Jobs and Green Communities," Durham-based Southern Exposure arrives to celebrate spring with their first issue in over a year. The magazine has always been direct, honest and generous. Money woes may have slowed them down a bit last year, but editor Chris Kromm says they're getting some help from the Independent Press Association.

In their first issue back on the racks, Southern Exposure announces their 12th annual Southern Journalism Awards, presented to reporters and newspapers in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Their Best of the Southern Press section also honors a Charlotte Observer series, "Deciding Desegregation." The Observer's articles exposed the easy fix, suggested in a lawsuit brought by a group of white parents, of concentrating poorer students in inner-city schools and calling the program "neighborhood schooling." Unfortunately, impoverished schools have higher teacher turnover rates, less parent involvement, and much less diversity. When students are bused out of district, intergration evens out racial disparities and class differences. One neighborhood school principal put it best: "How can we expect kids to go to the millennium if they've never left the park?"

With each story published, Southern Exposure offers a mini-history lesson on the setting of the story, and an after-the-fact update on the implications of the pieces. Each investigative reporting winner impacted his or her community and made a difference.

Boiling Point: A Journal of Social and Political Thought, published each month on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus with funds from student activities fees, is a really sharp, activist 'zine. It's quite a group effort, with a long list of contributing editors and writers. Most of the articles describe volatile political situations, on campus or the planet.

Boiling Point was wise a few months back to just let Max Powers go off. His Onion-like pieces-as-updates were hilarious. Dig up a copy of the January issue with his piece, "Poor Person Walks into Spartacus by Mistake." Calling itself "UNC's only progressive magazine," Boiling Point eagerly invites students and readers to help write, edit, publish and design future mags. It's a great opportunity in an open environment to go after issues of civil liberties, corporate welfare and violence against women.

Hey, what slumping economy? What print media drought? waxpoetics is truly an evangelical magazine. Their gutsy issue Number One (winter 2002) is just out. Their turf? Extreme, cool, literate record collecting. Especially jazz, blues, hip-hop and funk. waxpoetics offers great photos of cult record shops and deep interviews with DJs and session musician heroes, all with the theme "eyeballin' records" and "all about the beats." What other magazine has gorgeous full-color, high-quality photos of '50s album jackets or tiny-label, short-run 45s by obscure groups? But my favorite feature was a photo spread called "Somewhere on the East Coast," by Beth Flading. She shoots three pages of the back rooms of one dusty, cardboard boxy, floor-to-ceiling, shelf-creaking record mecca. You just know the place is now crawling with fans. Doesn't look like they have a Web site, much less a computer--just a lot of history, and lots of tunes.

More from the packed periodical table: McSweeney's #7 hits the racks this week. They first-printed only 15,000 copies, and already there are none left in Brooklyn. Best lit 'zine covers of the season: Brick, with their dynamic photograph by Deborah Luster from the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, and that postmod Southern belle Britney Spears taking over the front of Southern Cultures.

Find waxpoetics at wax poetics.com; Boiling Point at

www. unc.edu/student/orgs/boiling; Southern Exposure at www.southern studies.org.

More by John Valentine


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