Monthly Archives: December 2010

Building a Cookie Tin Banjo with How & Why!

I’m a banjo enthusiast. That’s something I’ve made peace with. But building a banjo? I never thought I’d be capable of managing a hacksaw while keeping my jugular intact, let alone make a scrappy instrument that sounds rad! While editing How & Why, our latest DIY guide for the next apocalypse, Matte Resist’s instructions for building musical instruments gave me the push to try it out myself—and build a fretless banjo from a cookie tin.

Cookies plus banjos. It wasn’t a hard sell for me.

I bought an old cookie tin with a 9” diameter for $1. It provides a sturdy base to hold the neck (along with the tension of the strings) while being a good carrier of sweet tunes. Bigger equals louder. Then I cut a slot for the neck with a box cutter (see below) on what would be at the bottom of the tin’s side—that way, I can still take off the lid when the banjo’s done!

Diagram 1

Want to learn to construct your own banjo f or just a few bucks? Pick up your own copy of How and Why!

How & Why

OUT NOW! “I dream of a better world,” writes zinester and How and Why author Matte Resist in the intro to his new book. He continues, “To me DIY culture is about grabbing a little piece of that dream.” What follows over the course of the next 281 pages is Matte doing what all dreamers must do—waking up from his dream, opening his eyes, and confronting what roadblocks and hurdles lie between him and his goal. Matte does this by laying down chapter upon chapter of blueprints for a better world. A sequel to our do-it-yourself handbook Making Stuff and Doing Things, How and Why gives us detailed, engaging, easy-to-use info on bicycles, home and garage, gardening, educating children, musical instruments, and the all-inclusive “everything else” section. If you dream of taking back your life and building a better world, How and Why might be your new best friend.


Hey Portland!

The Microcosm Publishing zine store is throwing a book reading for author Andrej Grubacic on December 11th, at 7pm! Grubacic is in town for the Portland Anarchist Bookfair happening on the same day and will be reading selections from his new book on PM Press, Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! Essays After Yugoslavia!

From PM Press: “Grubacic is a dissident from the Balkans. A radical historian and sociologist, he is the co-author of Wobblies and Zapatistas and editor of The Staughton Lynd Reader. A fellow traveler of Zapatista-inspired direct action movements, in particular Peoples’ Global Action, and a co-founder of Global Balkans Network and Balkan Z Magazine, he is a visiting professor of sociology at the University of San Francisco.”

Also, the Microcosm store now has a full-scale coffee counter courtesy of Currier Coffee Roasters! ( ). Coffee is $1.50 for 12 oz cups, or $2 for 20 oz. The beans are ground in a hand-crank press and the coffee is French pressed. Zines and coffee go hand in hand and now folks that come to our readings can have a piping hot beverage just in time for the pre-winter!

Microcosm has CAWFEE! from Cantankerous Titles on Vimeo.


Andrej Grubacic reading Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! Essays After Yugoslavia!

December 11th, 7pm, free

Microcosm Publishing zine and book store

636 SE 11th

Portland, OR



Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! Is the first book written from the radical left perspective on the topic of Yugoslav space after the dismantling of the country. In this collection of essays, commentaries and interviews, written between 2002 and 2010, Andrej Grubacic speaks about the politics of balkanization—about the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, neoliberal structural adjustment, humanitarian intervention, supervised independence of Kosovo, occupation of Bosnia, and other episodes of Power which he situates in the long historical context of colonialism, conquest and intervention.

But he also tells the story of the balkanization of politics, of the Balkans seen from below. A space of bogumils—those medieval heretics who fought against Crusades and churches—and a place of anti-Ottoman resistance; a home to hajduks and klefti, pirates and rebels; a refuge of feminists and socialists, of anti-fascists and partisans; of new social movements of occupied and recovered factories; a place of dreamers of all sorts struggling both against provincial “peninsularity” as well as against occupations, foreign interventions and that process which is now, in a strange inversion of history, often described by that fashionable term, “balkanization.”

For Grubacic, political activist and radical sociologist, Yugoslavia was never just a country—it was an idea. Like the Balkans itself, it was a project of inter-ethnic co-existence, a trans-ethnic and pluricultural space of many diverse worlds. Political ideas of inter-ethnic cooperation and mutual aid as we had known them in Yugoslavia were destroyed by the beginning of the 1990s—disappeared in the combined madness of ethno-nationalist hysteria and humanitarian imperialism. This remarkable collection chronicles political experiences of the author who is himself a Yugoslav, a man without a country; but also, as an anarchist, a man without a state. This book is an important reading for those on the Left who are struggling to understand the intertwined legacy of inter-ethnic conflict and inter-ethnic solidarity in contemporary, post-Yugoslav history.


“These thoughtful essays offer us a vivid picture of the Balkans experience from the inside, with its richness and complexity, tragedy and hope, and lessons from which we can all draw inspiration and insight.”
—Noam Chomsky, MIT

“The history of Yugoslavia is of global relevance, and there’s no one better placed to reveal, share, and analyse it than Andrej Grubacic. From the struggle of the Roma to the liberating possibilities of ‘federalism from below,’ this collection of essays is required and radical reading.”
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

“This book of essays shows a deep grasp of Yugoslav history and social theory. It is a groundbreaking book, representing a bold departure from existing ideas, and an imaginative view to how a just society in the Balkans might be constructed.”
—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

“I cannot think of another work that even tries to accomplish what Andrej Grubacic has artfully undertaken in this volume. Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! is the first radical account of Yugoslav history after Yugoslavia, surveying this complex history with imagination and insight. Grubacic’s book provides essential information and perspective for all those interested in the recent history of this part of the world.”
—Michael Albert, author of Parecon

“Andrej Grubacic is a rare genuine authority on the recent history and politics of the Balkans. I have known him for a decade, have followed and read his work with profit, and corresponded with him on matters which I found difficult in doing my own writing in this field.”
—Edward S. Herman Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Product Details:

Author: Andrej Grubacic
Introduction by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-302-4
Published: November 2010
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 272
Subjects: History-Yugoslavia, Politics

Edible Secrets

OUT NOW! What do top-secret CIA assassination plots, Black Panther arrests, and Reaganomics have in common? Food, of course! Michael Hoerger and Mia Partlow collect, contextualize and graphically narrate declassified government documents with food as a theme! Over 500,000 declassified memos, debriefings and transcripts were combed to uncover some of the most important and iconic people and narratives from US history. Providing a voyeuristic insight into the US government, these documents are like reality TV for politicos and foodies: Assassinations by milkshake, subliminal popcorn cravings, Reagan’s love of hydroponics, and what could be Fred Hampton’s most radical action—giving ice cream to small children. Illustrated throughout by Nate Powell.

Meet Microcosm, Episode Nine, Meet Dylan GW!

For this, the ongoing Meet Microcosm blog series, we talk to Bloomington collective member Dylan GW. So without further adieu meet Dylan!

Q: What kind of stuff are you doing outside of Microcosm?

A: Well, I’m just getting adjusted to life in Bloomington again. I grew up here, but I went to college in St. Paul, Minnesota for a year. I moved back here during the summer. It was sort of an accident, but I’m happy with it. College was crazy! It was nothing like American Pie, but it was a weird adventure. I lived in dorm with about 100 other freshmen, and they were largely the only people I interacted with the whole time I was there. My college was about the same size as my high school, and it did kind of feel like living in a high school. It was my first time really living in a big city and my first time living in a place where my accent was considered “southern” by a lot of people I met. The winter was long and cold. I watched a lot of movies and read a lot of zines. The whole thing freaked me out. I’m glad to be home.

More recently I’ve been busy getting set up here. I recently moved into a new house. I’ve kept all my stuff in a couple duffel bags for the last 6 months and it was really nice to finally unpack. I’ve started doing creative projects again, which is really exciting. Some housemates and I started a band, the first band I’ve ever been in and I’ve just finished working on my first zine. I’m stoked!

I have a few hobbies. I read for pleasure. I play a lot of Tetris. That may not seem like a hobby to you, but when you’ve dedicated as much of your precious time here on earth to Tetris as I have, it becomes a hobby. I play games on the computer, board and role-playing varieties. A major interest of mine is ravioli and other stuffed pastas. I am very interested in finding new things to put in pasta. What else could one fill a ravioli with? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out.

Alt text

Q: What’s your favorite zine, and why?

A: Let me just start this off by saying that it’s so hard to pick a favorite zine! There are so many great zines out there. But if I have to pick a favorite, I’ll pick Nuns I’ve Known by Prunella Vulgaris. Nuns I’ve Known was one of the first zines that I ever read. It’s short, it’s well written and it has a nice hand made cover–you can tell that the author really put time into it. It’s about a very specific topic, it’s literally a list of nuns that the author has known, yet it’s super interesting to read. To me, it’s a perfect example of what makes the zine medium unique: information or writing with merit that would never otherwise get published that, thanks to zine culture, gets distributed to a large audience.

Q: If you had to evacuate your home, what are the five things you’d take with you if you could only take five?

A: Is it assumed that I’m wearing pants? I only wear pants when I absolutely have to so I probably wouldn’t be wearing them when the hypothetical emergency occurred. So I’d need to take them as one of the five items. The first item, probably. Then I’d take my laptop. It contains my tunes, my jams and my video games, so it’s pretty crucial. I’d take a copy of God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut–it’s my favorite book. Then my stuffed penguin, Pengi. Finally, I’d need a light jacket. It’s getting pretty chilly out there.

Alt text

Word Association
1) Explosion.
2) Realism.
Keepin’ it
3) Television.
Star Trek!
4) Fun.
I’m against it.
5) American.
John Cougar Mellencamp

Q: You’re based out of the Bloomington office. What’s your idea of a good day in Bloomington?

A: It would be late May or early June–The college students are gone. The town is peaceful. Sleep in late, but not too late. Walk into town to get some coffee. Read or play Tetris in the coffee shop until your friends also show up at the coffee shop, which they will. It’s pretty much guaranteed. If it’s warm enough, get a group together and go swimming in the limestone quarries or in Lake Monroe. Then go eat some pizza before going to whatever awesome thing is going on that night starts. Remember to stay up late.

Alt text

Q: What are your five favorite things about Bloomington? As well as the five things you like the least…

1 I love the size of the town. I can walk or bike to anywhere I would ever want to go.
2 Bloomington has everything that a big city has, pretty much. Except for an Ikea.
3 Bloomington has a great music scene, Boxcar Books, an awesome radical book store and a tight-knit, friendly punk/radical community.
4 The food! Bloomington has such good food! We have so many different kinds of ethnic restaurants and so many different choices when it comes to pizza. Disclaimer: We do have an Italian food problem here.
5 It’s beautiful here! Lots and lots of trees, cool old limestone buildings and cute little houses (with cheap rent).

1 Every fall, 40,000 morons move here and spend all their free time drinking, puking and breaking things.
2 Bloomington is so small that you can’t really leave your house without seeing someone you know. It can be a problem if you sometimes don’t feel like talking to people.
3 In Indiana, under 21 folks can’t go in bars at all. Which means that every show in a bar is 21+. That’s a lot of shows.
4 It’s really tough to get jobs in Bloomington. With all the college students, competition for even minimum-wage jobs is pretty stiff.
5 For some reason, developers keep building gigantic ugly high-rises here. It seems like a bad idea, like there aren’t enough people to fill them because they usually sit half empty. They must turn a profit, though, because more keep getting built!

Alt text

Q: Finally, what do you do for Microcosm day in, day out?

A: Well my specific job duty is shipping–I put labels on all of the packages, fill out customs forms and email customers if there is a problem with their order. I also pack orders–all of us do that in Bloomington. If there’s time left over in the day after packing and shipping I do whatever needs to get done, usually organizing, stapling zines or proofreading new stuff.