Monthly Archives: April 2010

Meet Microcosm–A Buncha Questions for Portland Store Employee Rio Safari!

For this edition of Meet Microcosm we chat with the awesome Rio Safari who works out of the Portland Microcosm store and does the zine Homobody!

Q: You work at the Portland store. Tell us a little about the new location.

A: Totally! We’re going to be sharing a space in SE Portland with two fine printers we have worked with, Printed Matter and Eberhardt Press. Yup, a bookstore/publisher with printers in back–pretty rad. The walls are being painted bright colors and the windows look out toward Portland’s downtown.

Q: Any good Portland store stories from the time you were in the old location?

A: Well, there was the one time we took over the space next to us and Joe knocked a doorway out of the drywall solely with his mental powers. In terms of impressiveness, that’s right up there with fitting 13,000 zines and books into a 13’x9′ room.

Q: If somebody came in the Portland store and asked you for five of your favorite things the store carries what would they be, and why?
(1) The zine trike.  It’s used as an in-store display when immobile, but if people forget its true purpose, I will absolutely sit on the seat and ring the bell.
(2) Every drop of pink paint.  The can is labeled the color “Bunny Fluff”.
(3) Everything in our Espionage book section.
(4) Everything in our Circle A book section.
(5) That we have zines divided into “Fix Shit Up” or “Fuck Shit Up”.

Q: Last time I was at the Portland store the free box was totally insane. What’s in there these days?

A: Let’s see…a few bags of figurines, some costumes, a pair of pants, scrap wood, some books…and a lotta love.

Q: So all the rest of these questions, besides the last one and the One True Game are open-ended. Feel free to answer them and interpret them any way you’d like. We’re throwing out the rules but if you want to catch them while they fly past, that’s okay too. Alright, Rio, your zine just got in a fight and got called into the principal’s office. Rumor is Mean Principal Miller is talking suspension. Why?!

A: That Mean Principal Miller has only one thing in mind for my zine: he wants to co-opt it to better market “alternative” culture for the corporate subsidiary that runs the school! I get a suspension for non-compliance.

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Q: Who’s the boss? And why?!

A: I’d have to say that my boss is Amy Goodman, investigative journalist and host of Democracy Now!. She’s a compass to keep ya headed the right direction!

Q: Paper called and it wanted to say…

A: It made like origami and folded?

1. Give us one true sentence about things your zine might have in its pages and two untrue ones and let the reader guess which is true… Ads for losing belly fat. Ads for whitening teeth. Drawings of scruffy homos who don’t read ads.

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2. Give us one true sentence about what you like to do outside of Microcosm work and two untrue ones and let the reader guess which is true… I play banjo. I do competitive cross-country vegetable julienning. I hate cats and they hate me and also oh yeah the world is flat.

3. Give us one sentence about the zine community and two untrue ones and let the reader guess which is true…
The zine community is a shady network of miscreants and psychopaths. The zine community will turn you into a bomb-throwing radical. The zine community recruits.

Q: Your Microcosm co-worker Matt Gauck, as featured in episode one of this series, has just turned into a bird. Why?! Birds are the living descendants of my favorite creatures (dinos!). And Matt’s my favorite person to discuss vegan deserts with. Isn’t it obvious?

Q: Your Microcosm co-worker Joe Biel, as shall be featured in an episode of this series soonish, has turned into a bike. Why?! The Bielbike, which looks like Joe riding a bike, is actually a species of cyborg (check your D&D Monster Manual, kids). The flesh just gave in and turned into bike, too.

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Q: When I say “zinester” you say:
Well, again referencing my Dungeons & Dragons manual, the zinester class is a cross between bard and thief-acrobat. Skills include Work Aversion +3 and they get an extra saving throw for bad reviews.

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Q: When I say “comics” you say:
I can’t stop drawing them. I just finished one about Amazonian river dolphins and I’m making one about skeletons that put on shows at my local cometary.

Q: When I say “activism” you say:
Activism is finding the word you insert for “(Blank) Not Bombs”!

Q: Finally, back we’re back on dry land: What do you do for Microcosm and how did you and Microcosm become acquainted?

A: My business card says “shopkeeper.” So I try to keep the Portland Microcosm shop from, well, I just keep keeping it. An average day entails helping somebody find that one zine with the stuff, packing and biking an order, shelfreading and organizing, painting wood brighter colors than nature intended, coordinating volunteer tasks, and building perilous monuments of cardboard boxes to ready for our upcoming move.

I met Microcosm online (who says online dating doesn’t work out!) about, oh, six-ish years ago? And then I volunteered for Microcosm at Liberty Hall, oh, fourish years ago? As for today, let’s just say we make quite the couple.

Check out Rio’s zines here.

Meet Microcosm, Episode Three–Give Us Goods, The Sparky Taylor Interview!

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For this edition of the Meet Microcosm series, we talk to Sparky Taylor, who works out of Bloomington!

Q: So, since this Meet Microcosm thing is less about Microcosm than about the people who work here and the things they do outside of the job, give us the goods on your new side job…

A: Oh, well, it’s not really new, and it’s not a side job! My other job is working at a place called Rhino’s which is an all-ages club, and also an afterschool center for teenagers. I work for the afterschool programs and am in charge of a mural arts program, and a monthly zine called the Antagonist. I also assist with graphic design for the screenprinting program, and assist the youth radio program by working a five hour shift at the local radio station every Saturday. Altogether I generally work around 20 hours a week for Rhino’s, although sometimes I also work door at the shows on Friday nights. Plus I just signed on to assist the local alternative highschool’s yearbook staff. Whew!

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Q: One of the things we were really proud of you for was the art you did for the electric boxes. Please, as they say, give us the goods…

A: Oh, the city started letting local artists paint these big electrical boxes around town, so they let me do one! It has dinosaurs and a griffin on it. It was really intimidating to paint so close to busy traffic during the day, but the feedback was all positive. Oh, except one woman informed me the city didn’t allow graffiti and that I should stop.

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Q: Give us the goods about the Animal buttons that everyone loves so much…

A: I didn’t know people liked them. I sometimes make animal buttons, but not so much anymore. I could make some more if you really want me to.

The Give Us The Goods Bloomington Special Quiz
1. Favorite place to eat in Bloomington:
La Charreda… Mexican restaurant with big portions and giant sodas
2. Best show you’ve seen in Bloomington in the past year:
Ooh hard… umm… probably a tie between Built to Spill and the Mountain Goats. Oh wait and also the Elephant 6 Collective… oh and the show that was Deerhunter and No Age! Too many great shows!
3. Who’s your Bloomington Honorary Mayor?
I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything, so I appoint my cat Wade as honorary mayor.
4. Least favorite Bloomington resident? Most favorite Bloomington resident?
My least favorite resident is the random drunk guy that called me retarded the other day. My most favorite is probably my co-worker Danielle who teaches screenprinting with me at Rhino’s. She is totally my hero because she works so hard and devotes so much of her life to teaching art to kids. 5. Coolest animal in Bloomington? Uncoolest?
See #3. I am a total cat lady.

Q: Give us the goods! Give us the goods! What are your plans for nonMicrocosm art stuff and other project stuff in the next five years? Also, where can we find your stuff online? Give us the goods!

A: Maybe I should start a website! Recently I contributed a comic to Adventures in Menstruating #5, and also one to Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf #3. I got accepted into the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, but can’t afford to go. I’d still like to eventually go there though. Then I could spend two whole years drawing! I also love working with teenagers and plan to do that forever. I just have to figure out in what capacity. And, most importantly I just got a Stay Positive chest tattoo!

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Q: Finally, give us the goods on what you do daily for Microcosm…

A: I do the ordering of all the books and zines we carry. It’s a big job annoying the heck out of all those zine writers! I also list all of the new items on the website when they come in. That takes up pretty much all of my time, but if I have a few extra minutes, I like to help with proofing and layout, and if I’m feeling real wild, I might even clean something.

Meet Microcosm, Episode Two–Tell us! Tell us! The E. Chris Lynch interview!

For this installment of Meet Microcosm we talk to E. Chris Lynch about his animal sanctuary, turds covered in veganaise, and the nightmare of tabling zines on the Warped Tour.

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Q: Alright dude, let’s talk Deep Roots. For the unknowing reader, what’s the sanctuary all about? Tell us! Tell us!

A: The short answer: We are a sanctuary that focuses on animal and earth liberation. We also like to point out that humans are animals, too. We don’t care to fight for welfare (exploitation and killing are still exploitation and killing, even if the aesthetic and language are more appealing). And while we will work on animal rights issues in the form of legislation, ultimately we believe that rights dictated from an authoritarian body are not the equivalent of freedom. We need total liberation. A lofty goal, but we’re in it in the long run. In the meantime, we provide housing for survivors of animal exploitation (farm, lab, and domestic animals). These animals work at the sanctuary by serving as ambassadors of their species. We’ve found that once you meet animals like Mabel the chicken and you’ve seen what great personalities they have, it is a lot harder to justify killing them for our own selfish purposes.

Q: You do a lot of really cool events and feeds to support Deep Roots. Tell us!

A: The small group of us that run Deep Roots are all really dedicated to grassroots activism and that means staying close to our community. For that reason, we like to host lots of small fundraisers and community events. We have fairly regular vegan diners, where you can get diner food for $1 an item. We sometimes do themed diners. One that we’ve been trying to find a location for the past couple of months is a Twin Peaks themed diner. It will be a late night diner that only serves food found on Twin Peaks (mostly coffee and stacked donuts). Matt Gauck donated some awesome Laura Palmer patches that he made. We are really looking forward to that one.

We’ve had a couple of punk olympics–these are different each year, but events have included a soapbox derby, four-square tournament, downhill sack races, kickball tournament, 20-person tug-of-war, and other fun stuff. We always give out handmade trophies at the olympics. I think that’s my favorite part (the trophies have things like lions giving piggyback rides to bears or skulls with glowing eyes. Jerico is a trophy making champion.) We try to keep it fun. Activism should be fun and community building.

Q: Tell us, tell us… how would someone go about getting an animal to you guys? Also, tell us a little about the animals you’ve got right now. Bonus points for cute Osil stories. For that matter, tell us about Osil…

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A: Ah, yes. Osil is very cute. But let me get to your first question.

We don’t take drop offs. Although we have been around for a couple of years, we have a limited budget (and a very large mortgage), so our building process is slow and we have limited space. For that reason, we ask that people email or call 812-NOW-2-ACT and let us know the details of the animal(s) that you want to drop off. We want to know what type of animal, how many, and what situation they are coming from (factory farm, small farm, lab, puppy mill, hoarder, etc). We need to make sure that we have the space and the funds to properly care the animals. If we aren’t able to take them, we can help find someone who can.

As for stories, I’ve got lots. Everyone loves Mabel, so I’ll share a funny story about her and a bunch of pit bull puppies that were rescued from a dog fighting ring. The five puppies were a couple of months old and full of piss and vinegar. They were chasing each other around the yard while Tidbit (the oldest dog at the sanctuary) was walking around making sure they didn’t hurt each other. Mabel’s friend Harold had recently died so she was spending a lot more time around the dogs (who are terrified of her, by the way). So Mabel was walking around with Tidbit when all the puppies decided it would be fun to tackle her. Mabel didn’t like this idea so she decided to go somewhere that they puppies couldn’t reach. So she jumped on Tidbit’s back. I wish I had a picture of Tidbit’s face. She looked so worried. It was hilarious. The puppies got distracted and Mabel jumped back down, but I was in stitches.

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Osil is extra special to me because she was my inspiration for starting the sanctuary. I found her while spending a couple of months down in Chiapas. It was sunrise on my birthday and I was up early. I heard a yipping sound sound in the distance. I assumed one of the puppies that had been brought to us a few days before had wondered off and was lost. Being one who always responds to a distress call, I followed the yipping. I found a four-week-old Osil sitting in a ditch, covered in mud, and yipping at two turkeys. The Chiapanecos in the small village told us that they could not care for the puppies (who were strays from the woods… their mother is a sad story that I won’t share). So my friend and I decided that we would care for them for the remaining month that we were there and then take them back to the states. On our trip in to San Cristobal to get them some dewormer and formula, Osil peed in my lap. She was so embarrassed that she hid in my armpit for the rest of the trip. It was at that moment that I fell in love. There are lots of other fun stories about getting Osil back to the states, but I’ll save those. Damnit. Now I’m just thinking of lots of cute animal stories.

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As for other animals at the sanctuary, we have several cats (about half of which came from a shelter that was shut down for hoarding), Mabel the chicken, Baron the bunny, Tom the (blind) turtle, Osil, and Tidbit (the dogs). We are finishing up a waterfowl rehab center in the next month and we are starting construction on a small barn this Spring/Summer. So we will hopefully be taking on a lot more animals this year, including our introduction into the world of wild animal rehab and release. This will be a big year for us. It is like we are growing up into our big boy pants.

Tell us, tell us–Fill in the blank!
1. I’d rather eat (blank) than a big, pink, fat-drippin’ Easter ham.

A: Well, I’ve been quoted before as saying I would eat a turd if you covered it in veganaise. So I’ll go with that. A turd covered in veganaise.

2. If a wise, kindly, snowy-bearded wizard with crystal eyes showed up right now and was like, “Bro, you got your wish. I’m totally turning you into (blank, animal) right now” which animal would you choose to be?

A: First off, I would probably piss myself if I saw someone dropping such mad wizbombs. But I might go with vulture. I had the privilege of rehabbing a couple of vultures and they are fucking cool. Huge, badass birds that look a lot like skeksies. They can fly really high. They eat things that were already dead. And they are so ugly that nobody fucks with them or thinks, “awww, that’d make a good pet.” Oh, and their defense mechanism is to puke on you. Trust me, it is the foulest smelling vomit that you have ever smelled. And they warn you that they are going to puke on you by making a hissing noise that seriously sounds like they are sucking out your soul. They are the most metal animal ever.

3. My favorite vegan food is (blank). My favorite vegan food to cook is (blank).

A: I hate this question. It is so hard for me to choose. But I’ll go with a good vegan yellow thai curry with tofu and veggies. My favorite vegan food to cook is either donuts or chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. I make both of those quite a bit.

4. (blank) is a total animal rights superstar.

Peter Young. I still love his “apology” that he delivered to the court at his sentencing

5. You really need to read this (blank, book).

A: The Lifelong Activist by Hillary Rettig. I don’t agree with everything in the book, but I do think it made me a better organizer. And it helped me in a time when I was starting to feel powerless and burnt out. I’ve been reading All The Power by Mark Anderson. That one is really good, too, if you are feeling frustrated as an organizer. I also highly recommend Cavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon. That one doesn’t really have a lot of social import, but it is so good. Especially if you are a comics nerd. And if you haven’t read Watership Down, stop reading this stupid interview and go read that instead. Then come back and finish. If you aren’t already vegan, my partner says that Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a good one. I’ve been vegan for 13 years now, so I don’t really read many animal rights or animal lib books any more. Maybe I should.

Q: You went on Warped Tour for Microcosm. We hear it went really badly. Tell us about it…

A: I wrote a 3,000 word “summary” of all the things that went wrong at Warped Tour. I was asked by Staples (former Microcosm intern and Australian zinester rockstar) to write a shorter summary. I’m working on it. Look for his new zine, it will be in there. Right now, I like to focus on the things that went well and the things that could have gone well. If it weren’t for a vehicle that broke down every day, that trip would have been a lot of fun. Just Adam, me, and Osil. My favorite time on the trip were those few days that the tour went into Canada and we couldn’t. So we set up camp at a rest stop in the Poconos and wrote for two days straight. That was nice.

But have no illusion. There is nothing punk about Warped Tour. I think three examples can sum up the crowd:
1) a dude wearing a shirt that said “capitalist anarchist,”
2) two military dudes coming up to the table, seeing the sticker that reads “the greatest threat to freedom is following those in authority” (or something like that) and then flipping off the stickers and backing away,
3) a young woman flipping through all the buttons and then saying, “but these are all liberal.” She turned away and had some patch that was either pro-Republican or pro-Military. I don’t remember which.

Q: Tell us a little about what you do for Microcosm day in day out…

A: I don’t really have a set schedule or set tasks. I kind of do whatever other people don’t have time to do. The two things that I do every day are pack orders (all of us in Bloomington do this) and list the Zine of the Day. I’ll also read submissions, edit a book, write descriptions for new titles, design book covers, ship orders, organize BFF subscriptions, shelve books and zines, make buttons, staple zines, do stock inventory, communicate with authors, write collective policy, whatever I can do to help out. I like having a different schedule every day. It fits my ADHD behavior.

Q: Finally, what’s the “E” stand for? The panel here is guessing “Electronic,” “Elf,” “E.L.F.,” “Emo,” or “Evil.” Tell us the truth.

A: I say electronic, but whatever works for you. I’m a roller derby ref and coach and my name is Lord Seitan (Lord Chris P. Seitan, if you want the full name). So “Evil” is very fitting. It is actually my first initial, but I only share my given name with good friends. I prefer the gender neutrality of Chris. And everyone I’ve known with the same first name as me has proven to be an asshole. I try not to associate with the assholes.

Meet Microcosm: Episode One, Matt Gauck!

Welcome to Meet Microcosm, a new series where we interview members of our Portland, Bloomington, and Kansas staff and let you know who we are and what we’re all about. First up, Portland store employee and all-around awesome zinester and drawer Matt Gauck!

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Q: If my mom–who you’ve never met, as far I know–asked you the vague, mom-ish question, “So Matt what sort of stuff do you draw and who do you draw it for?” what would be your answer?

A: To tailor my answer for the “parent crowd,” I’d say I draw and paint a lot of CD covers, t-shirts for bands and various other businesses, and design logos sometimes. The subject matter depends on the organization or band; sometimes it’s very realistic, sometimes it’s simplistic and cute. Very much one or the other. I also tell parents that I
screenprint frequently, which is true, but I feel like it makes me seem more well-rounded, which is the best way to guarantee that parents will like me and offer to pay for my dinner.

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Q: You draw a lot of brutal vegan and animal rights stuff, which I really love. If a five-year-old Canadian kid asked you, “Mr. Gauck, why shouldn’t daddy grill steaks for me and mommy and my sister Leigh?” what would you say?

A: Man, a five-year-old? I suppose the easy answer would be to loan this kid a couple Cattle Decapitation CDs, maybe an Abnegation record… but, failing having these things on my person while meeting this kid, I’d go the “simple explanation” route. “Have you ever seen a cow before? Well, they’re very nice animals, and I think being nice to them in return is only fair, right? So, do you think it’s okay to hit them on the head to kill them and then cut them apart? And then EAT them?” Then we’d go visit a slaughterhouse and I think the transformation would be complete. Second stop would be a chicken facility.

Q: One thing I really like about your art is you have a lot of range. The stuff you do for your zine, Next Stop Adventure, varies widely from the stuff you do for bands (e.g. Mesrine) and book covers (e.g. Make a Zine) which varies widely from the paintings, etc. If my bearded 9th grade art teacher Mr. Long (who SUCKED) asked you, “What’s the hardest thing to draw and why?” what would you say?

A: Oh man, great question, especially for a sucky teacher. Well, honestly, the hardest thing for me to draw is any animal that’s mostly fur–like bears, wolves, raccoons, and anything in the dog/cat family. It’s because you can’t just draw the outline and have it look good; you have to draw all the fur which is so difficult to get the texture right. About six years ago I would’ve answered dead trees are hardest to draw, but that’s not true anymore, since I’ve drawn them for the last six years. The easiest thing to draw is old people’s faces, since they have so many wrinkles, it’s simple to “measure” the drawing correctly.

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Q: So if an activist kid came into the Microcosm store in Portland where you work and was like, “Dude, I heard you turned down the illo job for those sneaky fucks at the Center for Consumer Freedom, good work. Are there any other kind of jobs, maybe industry-specific jobs, you’d turn down from an ethical standpoint?” what would you say?

A: That’s such a tough situation sometimes, since the sketchiest, most crappy places seem to have the most money, and could pay me enough that I could visit New Zealand or somewhere fun. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing anything for any fast food company or any food-industry that sold meat. If I think that my art would help
sell meat or a lifestyle I’m against (alcohol, cigarettes, oil companies) then I wouldn’t do it. However, if some giant band asked me for artwork, and could pay me stupid amounts of money, even if the band sucked, I would do it. Not because I love money or something, but more because it would rule to travel around, buy food instead of
finding most of it, and finally fix my bike, all on some mainstream band’s dime. I guess this is all a theoretical question, though, since I have no idea how McDonald’s or Enron would get my contact info and think “we should hire that guy!”

Q: So if you were doing a panel at the Allied Media Conference this summer and the mediator asked you, “Please tell us a little about your zine… ” what would you say?

A: It’s a super positive bike/travel zine, which I know is well-worn territory, but I still think there’s a couple stories too funny not to tell. I aim for two things–to inspire readers to go on more trips to more places with less planning, and also to make people laugh, since being upbeat and capable of laughing things off is the only way you’ll get through having your bike break down, having a leaky tent, having to drink your pee (issue number 4! not out yet!)…

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Word Association! Answer fast!
1. Hot dog – dachshunds!
2. Elephant – stampede!
3. Lazy – the couch
4. Walnut – slingshot! (like, slingshot them at something)
5. Straight-edge – GO!

Q: Finally, if you were doing career day at a high school and one of the kids raised their hand and asked, “So, what do you do for Microcosm?” what would you say?

A: Official title: Box mover. That’s what I do best. Bike delivery guy, box picker-upper, mural painter, invoice emailer, in-store friend maker, and book shelf builder.

Check out more of Matt Gauck’s work at or stop by the Portland store and give him a high five.