The expatriated Al Burian reflects on a year spent living in Berlin, Germany. His wildly free-range topics include: freedom, happiness, animal liberty, Aristotle, modern dentistry, riots as rituals, uncomfortable proximity to drunken teenagers, and how to best color co-ordinate an outfit that includes a Black Flag T-shirt and a baby stroller. Plus: “when you realize the freedom,” an illustrated essay by Anne Elizabeth Moore. “Burian is one of our generation’s great storytellers, a wily and insightful observer of the human condition,” says Davy Rothbart of Found magazine, and this zine is “the best one yet,” says Al. Who are we to argue?
Here at Microcosm we have massive love for all-things Bill Brown. Over the last few years we’ve put out a few of the guy’s releases and just, like, two seconds ago we published his incredibly awesome compilation of Dream Whip issues 1-10. (You can get that here.) A couple days ago we talked to Bill about bikes, food, zines, and much more!
Q: For people who are totally new to the zine what can they expect from the new anthology?
Q: You’ve got a rep as a travelin’ man. Are you going to be doing any events or touring behind the new one?
A: That’s what I’m hoping. I’d like to go on a big, long tour this summer. If you know anyone who wants to include a zine reading at their next birthday party or barbecue, please let me know.
Q: I first found out about your stuff after someone gave me a copy of one of your DVDs for Christmas. Got any new films coming out?
A: Someone gave you my DVD as a Christmas present?! Man! I hope you thought it was an okay gift (Editor’s note: “It was! Definitely!”). Anyway, for a really long time now I’ve been working on a movie about 9/11 memorials. I’ve been visiting as many of them as I can. I like the ones that are in out-of-the-way places best: Dodge City, Kansas; Belen, New Mexico; the one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is a replica of the Twin Towers with holes cut out of it where the planes hit.
Q: Besides the new anthology have you got any projects coming out you wanna tell us about?
A: I’ve been working on a bike project with Sabine Gruffat. It’s a participatory audio tour that you can do while you’re riding your bike. It’s called Bike Box. here’s a link.
Food: Not Bombs
Fuel: french fry grease
Q: Finally, if your zine was a three course meal what would it be?
A: It’d be a 3-course TV dinner that you find in the freezer section of an IGA supermarket in some little town in Idaho. It expired a long time ago, but you buy it anyway, because it’s the only one that’s got a lentil loaf, a slice of vegan corn bread, and green beans. You take it over to the 7-11 and you ask the cute girl at the register if you can heat it up in the microwave and she smiles and asks you where you’re from. You grab a napkin and a plastic fork, and you walk over to the woods at the far end of the strip mall parking lot. Then you dig around in your backpack for the can of beer you stashed away for an occasion like this one, and you watch the light fade and the fireflies flash up in the tree tops.
At long last it’s the new issue of Microcosm’s continuing CIA zine series! For the tenth anniversary issue, we get an intimate, never-seen-before examination of the life and death of Lee Harvey Oswald. Where other would-be Oswald biographies focus on the immediate events leading up to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, here we have a full and panoramic look at Oswald’s short, conflicted, adventure-filled life. Using exclusive info and newly declassified documents, CIAMSFU #6 puts into perspective a richly-detailed version of the Oswald story, from birth in 1939 to his historic televised assassination. This is Lee Harvey Oswald the husband, the son, the brother—a man whose personality profile differs wildly from the “Lee as lone-wingnut” theory crafted by the Warren Commission. Much of this info is seen here for the first time in print—info that does much to humanize the controversial and polarizing man. As the zine states, the most interesting parts of Oswald’s tale are what’s missing in the storytelling of previous versions. Packed with interview text featuring figures as close to Oswald as his wife and mother, CIAMSFU #6 shows us Lee as a confused Marxist, an employee, a soldier, a lover, a people person, a trouble-starter, a world traveler, a show-off, even a “real cutie.” This is a zine that tells us that while the events are from the past, the topics discussed are still heavily relevant. The tactics used by the government in this story are still being employed to this day; the lies and the propaganda are still being forced on us and will be so until we educate, fight, and change our way of thinking. Shocking, humanizing—whatever you take away from it—this is the most fascinating and fast-moving CIA zine to date. A great addition to this well-loved series.