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Random Gem: Desert Oracle

Posted on May. 16, 2017 by Joel Webb

One of the great perks of working at a library is having random gems come across my desk in the course of the workday. A book, movie, or magazine that I would have never sought out will catch my eye and send me down a new rabbit hole or lead me to a new favorite author, photographer, director, magazine, etc.

Desert Oracle was one such random gem that came across my desk. It is a quarterly magazine published out of Joshua Tree which celebrates the deserts of the west and the strange people and creatures that inhabit them. Ken Layne, the magazine’s editor, used to run a well-known politics blog, but fled the online political scene to return to a quieter life in the Mojave Desert. Inspired by the desert guidebooks of the 1960s and 1970s, his self-published 5x7 inch magazine (really more of a zine than a magazine) covers a lot of ground (literally) in its brief forty pages: desert eccentrics, flora and fauna, local history, Native American culture, urban legends (Desert Sasquatch, UFO lore), desert art (Robert Zappanti), and oddball locations (Zzyzx, Mojave Phone Booth). I’ve always loved the surrealness and beauty of deserts and this magazine is wonderfully genuine expression of the spirit of the desert.