Media Mix EDGING WEST: Back after a six-month hiatus, Edging West magazine is again poised to celebrate all the issues, politics and curiosities that define the American West. In the upcoming edition: a philosophical meditation on Anasazi solstice sites, stories on the growing Albanian refugee population in the Northwest and the repercussions of the Asian financial crisis on the West Coast, and a feature on "the Miss Exotic World old-time burlesque reunion that takes place in the Southern California desert."

Says Andrew Giarelli, Edging West's editor and publisher, "We still think we're the first smart, probing, irreverent magazine to cover the New West, the West that has once again become the battleground for American ideals...We're not a pretty-picture magazine, we're not full of recipes and feel-good articles. We want you to think about the West and sometimes laugh about it, too."

Indeed, the same magazine that engages some of the region's most provocative environmental issues is also more than happy to tell you to "watch for a guy touring the country this summer in a pink Cadillac with tens of thousands of women's undergarments." Who's driving, the ghost of Divine? No, it's a spokesman for the "Center for the Study of Culturogenic Disease, a research institute that studies how culturally conditioned practices, like wearing brassieres, affect health."

Giarelli launched Edging West in 1995 with $12,500. Of course, journalistic vision almost always has its bouts with creative financing, and his was no exception. At one point, Giarelli's brother-in-law, who owns a car dealership, donated a used Nissan Pathfinder to the cause.

"We drove it around the West for a while, publicizing the magazine," Giarelli laughs. "And then we liquidated it and put the money into the magazine. That got us through a bumpy period about a year and a half ago."

Since re-launching the magazine this summer, Giarelli is optimistic about its future, especially if more investors decide to participate in the success of such a forward-thinking publication.

"We don't treat the West as it has often been treated, which is as this sort of really isolated part of the country and world," Giarelli says. "As we enter the new millennium, the West is in a lot of ways a barometer of where America's going."

Look for Edging West at local newsstands, or send $15.95 for a six-issue subscription to: 2539 SW Spring Garden St., Portland, OR 97219.

KING'S RANSOM: In a stunning display of disingenuousness, Stephen "let-them-eat-pulp" King let fly in a recent Newsweek interview.

The September 21 issue states: "The idea of being Stephen King, World's Best-Selling Author, is an idea King says he could live without. 'I could see myself writing and just sticking the stuff in a drawer,' King abruptly declared..."I care about writing and making stuff up, because it's what I do and I love to do it." Surprising, but admirable, one might think.

...Until one paragraph later, in which the reporter writes: "Last year, King abruptly broke with his longtime publisher, Viking, after the company refused to meet his $18-million asking price for his next book."

Lest we judge the prolific page-churner too harshly, a friend points out to us that King deserves some credit for pulling this quote out of his ass: "In the great carnival of American culture, I'm the geek at the back of the midway biting the heads off chickens."

MEDIA HOAX ALERT: A couple of weeks ago, the desperate producers of KOLD-TV news filled some airtime with an unsubstantiated story about potty-mouthed Teletubby dolls. According to the report, a group of unnamed, unseen parents complained that the doll for Po--the red, youngest Teletubby--says words that sound like, "Faggot, faggot!" and "Bite my ass!" when his tummy is pressed.

The doll's real words are apparently "Faster, faster!" and something in Cantonese, but Po's lack of enunciation leaves room for doubt--especially if you're trying to hear something suspicious. (Managers at local toy stores say they've received no complaints, and hadn't heard about the misinterpretations.) It seems likely to us that somebody's having some childish fun at the expense of gullible television reporters. To which we can only say, "Again! Again!"

Media hoax or not, this wouldn't be the first time a talking toy created a stir. We fondly recall an incident during the late '80s in which all of South Carolina's "Baby Darling" dolls were reprogrammed to say, "Kill Mommy." We also point with pride at the efforts of the Barbie Liberation Front, who surgically switch the voice boxes of Barbies and G.I. Joes, and then replace them in stores, guerrilla style.

But our favorite tongue-tainted toy is one that, like Po, was intended to say something benign. It's the Pocahontas talking book, where you can push a button for each character to hear it speak its name. Except when you press the Pocahontas picture, the husky, breathy voice that comes out doesn't sound like "Pocahontas" at all. Instead, it sounds like she's in the throes of passion and moaning, "Ohhh, God!" To which we must once more respond, "Again! Again!"

BORDER BENEFIT: See what Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, and Demetria Martinez have done for the literary community lately at the benefit reading at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 24, at The Rialto Theater, 318 E. Congress St.

Good tales told well for an even better cause are the order of the evening, with proceeds earmarked for the Arizona Border Rights Project, which works to fight discrimination, harassment and abuse of authority at the border and beyond, and to promote respect for human and civil rights by agencies that enforce immigration laws. A booksigning will follow. (See "Reading for Rights" in this week's City Week calendar for more information.)

Works by painter Adriana Gallego also highlight the festivities. Tickets are $10, available in advance at Antigone Books, The Book Mark, and Borders Books, or at the door. Call Derechos Humanos at 770-1373 for more information. TW

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