Monthly Archives: March 2016

Vegan Italian Tattoo: An interview with Mama Tried author/artist Cecilia Granata

photo of cecilia granata drawingFor the longest time, Vegan Italian Tattoo was the working title of Cecilia Granata’s gorgeously illustrated cookbook of Italian classics made vegan. The final name of the book, Mama Tried: Traditional Italian Classics for the Screwed, Crude, Vegan, and Tattooed was a team effort, the rare collaborative title that really works. The end result is a spirited, fun cookbook that teaches you to cook real Italian food, cruelty-free. The book comes out officially in April, and the author took a break from her other work—including painting and tattooing—and answered some questions for the occasion:

1. Mama Tried combines vegan recipes with tattoo flash art. What gave you the idea to combine food and tattoos? What is the creative connection between them for you?
Originally the illustrations weren’t tattoo flash but regular drawings; at some point during the development of this project, I noticed how many carrots and broccoli tattoos I was getting to do at work. Because I was positioning myself as a Vegan Tattoo Artist, more and more people were interested in getting their animal rights piece done by me. I came to realize that these 2 worlds, tattoos and Veganism, are closer that it might seem, and decided to exploit this cute combo.

I think the edgy style of tattoos is able to convey a fresh appeal to the strong message of Veganism.

cecilia granata holding her hands in a heart shape2. Do you have a favorite recipe in the book? What do you most like to cook for special occasions? What do you eat when you’re tired and don’t have a lot of energy to make a fancy meal?
I think my favorite is Risotto giallo, or Risotto alla Milanese, just because it was the special thing that my grandma would make when I visited her; it’s one of the most typical dishes of the area where she lives. Also because I love saffron, which not only makes anything delicious but also fantastic to look at with all those shades of gold.

For special occasions I guess it depends on what’s the occasion and what season it is in…let’s just say that there is gonna be a lot of food: definitely few appetizers, a first and second course, fruits, dessert(s), coffee, and what we call “ammazzacaffe”, or “coffee killer”, which is usually a bitter liqueur or a sweeter one like limoncello.

When I need to eat in less than 5 minutes, I usually make an omelette with chickpeas flour: it’s quick, easy, delicious, nutritionally complete and I can just use whatever I have in the fridge right away, even if it’s just an onion.

cecilia granata mid-tattoo3. Do you have a favorite tattoo or type of tattoo that you do?
I have a pretty eclectic taste in general and tattoos don’t make an exception. I don’t like being stuck on one specific style or subject because I get bored easily and I also get psyched easily. If I had to pick, I guess I can never go wrong with animals, especially furry ones, mermaids or fancy lettering. I also enjoy silly tattoos and anything weird or grotesque. I am definitely not into geometrical or tribal tattoos because I have no patience, which is fundamental for such precise works.

4. What creative project is coming up next for you?
I am working on few different projects in parallel: a children’s book about the Devil, which as you can imagine, will probably never be published. I am also co-writing and drawing a book of Yoga for Kids with a very talented friend. And finally, but not really since I keep embracing new ideas, I am on this lifelong project of feminist tarots with another dear friend.

This has been an interview with Cecilia Granata, author of the vegan cookbook Mama Tried

Daily Cosmonaut #18: Artifacts of Hood River

IMG_0625On a rainy day in the year 2000 I received a phone call from a man desperately trying to convince me to let him come visit Microcosm’s warehouse. Microcosm’s warehouse at the time was a 12×6’ room in the basement of my home and doubled as my office. A little nervous, I agreed but made him wait in my living room while I grabbed everything. It would be difficult for both of us to fit in the Microcosm room without first removing my desk. Tom bought over 90% of the zines and books that I had in stock. He also asked about many things that I was sold out of. I had to literally reorder everything that week.


I figured that I’d never hear from him again but a month later he called, asking to come back. This time I let him join me in the Microcosm room. Despite being 6’7”, Tom did not bat an eye at having to crouch under the ceiling that I had built to be exactly 6’4” over my head, so I would only have to dodge the bare light bulbs. Tom again bought almost everything and this cycle continues sixteen years later. Only now he visits our store weekly and still leaves a lack of books in his wake.


You see, Tom refuses to use the Internet. Hell, he refuses to even look at a screen. He lives in a cabin in the woods without electricity or running water. His neighbor criticizes him for having a store-bought plastic cooler. Even as modern books couting has evolved into an Internet hunt, Tom has remained refreshingly analog, just like books. He claims that even Aaron Cometbus, a longtime holdout against using computers, finally gave in and expresses regret to Tom for doing so.

Tom is clearly inspired by the book hunt and his built a weekly routine of coming into the city every Wednesday and buying books. He constantly sends customers our way for an “authentic Portland experience” and brings us freshly picked huckleberries from the woods. Tom’s ethics and routines are a firm reminder of why we do the things that we do at Microcosm: to create resources for people who don’t have access to them otherwise so they can change their lives for the better. And while his bookstore, Artifacts in Hood River, has gradually been treated more and more like a gift shoppe for windsurfing tourists, we can still achieve our missions together. Perhaps it’s the perfect irony that Tom will never be able to read this love note.

Rampant Media Consumption! First 2016 edition

My Career as a Jerk movie cover art You all kept us busy the last three months! Normally things quiet way down after the holidays and by the beginning of February we’re left cleaning the office, catching up on administrative projects and long-term editorial stuff, and strategizing about the future. Not this year! We’ve been slammed with orders and with editorial work on exciting new books, and it’s been fabulous. As a result, though, it’s been a while since anyone had a minute to consume any media, much less report on it, much less blog about it.

We finally found a sec, though. So… here’s what we’ve been taking in!


I’ve been listening to Halsey and Marian Hill on repeat.

I caught up on the new season of Agent Carter—it’s a little more kitschy than last season, but fun anyway, and still well done.

In my favorite kind of news, Jessica Jones got picked up for a second season! I mean, of course it did, because it’s amazing, but it’s good to know.

I also finished listening to the audio book of Gone Girl. I wasn’t excited to read it because it seemed over-hyped, but I actually ​*loved*​ it, and actually hate that I saw the movie first and ruined the twist, because it probably would have blown me away. Also, I think Amy Elliot Dunne might be my gender-politics spirit animal.

This month I’ve been obsessed with watching 360 degree videos. Guyz, this is the future of technology. Check out this one or this one (it’s better if you’re using a mobile device). (ps. if you don’t know how it works, just click anywhere on the video and drag)

In not-360 obsession, one of my favorite songs got an amazing music video, although for the full effect you should listen to the song first, ​thenwatch the video.


Read: Libra by Don Delillo
Listened to: The Serial podcast


I reread Blake Nelson’s Girl, which I vividly remember finding at the library as a teenager. It totally holds up. Oh the 90s. I read up about the book’s history… it was serialized in Sassy, but first published as an adult novel because all the sex wasn’t deemed appropriate for teenagers. It wasn’t published as young adult until the late 2000s, when I guess the publishing world was ready to admit that teenagers have sex. It was interesting to watch the price fluctuate as well — in 1995 the adult fiction trade paperback was $14, but the YA reissue in 2007 was $11. If it came out today, it would have to be $9.95. And that is the story of how my nostalgic weekend reading turned into a work research project. Not to mention the story of our economy.


  • Found and liked:
  • Watched the new XFiles and Louis C.K.’s “Horace & Pete”
  • It had to happen, a Walking Dead coloring book


    My Career as a Jerk​ by Dave Markey​
    While mostly fascinating as a way of tracing the evolving fashion and motivations of the Circle Jerks as they struggle to ​remember their relevance in a changing world, this documentary is my favorite work by Markey (The Year Punk Broke). While most LA bands of the late 70s and early 80s broke up or went “crossover”​ metal​ by 1986, the Circle Jerks tried to stay their course…but never seemed quite sure what that was as they lost key musicians Roger Rogerson and Lucky Lehrer. Mostly memorable for footage of a​ 46​-year-old Greg Hetson dressed in Warped​-​Tour​-style​ ​baggy shorts and pulled up gym socks next to the ever-increasing lengths of Keith Morris’ dreadlocks ​as they ​threaten​ed to touch the floor​ while the band dropped staccato rhythms in favor of a slower hard punk style​. It feels like​ even when​ they can’t quite recall what they were angry about 30 years prior​ that the feelings remain in full force.

    ​Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
    As frustrating to read as it is informative, this is a look into one reporter’s life in Detroit as he tries to nail the mayor, city councilwoman, and various public service departments. There were numerous times where I wanted to throw the book against the wall in disgust: when he assaults his wife, when he makes fun of retarded people, his various awkward racial stereotypes, extensive stories about his own life that are pointless to the reader or narrative, and how he will tell you everyone’s race (unless they’re white) even when it does nothing to advance the narrative or fill in details about that character. Nonetheless, I powered through for the information. While much of the book seems committed to responding to the various criticisms of his work and leaving out details at times convenient to serving his story, it provides enough back and inside story about Detroit to understand how things reached the point of bankruptcy, destitution, and auto bailouts. I only wish that I could leave LeDuff behind and keep his reporting.

    The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
    While this book cannot hold a candle to Jon’s editorial masterpiece So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, it’s an illuminating look into the world of psychology and how little science really exists within it. In his classic style, Ronson befriends character after character, both those who work deep within the system and those who have been wronged by it. While my experiences with psychology have been mostly pleasant and I’ve had little reason to give it the side eye, looking at its limitations is always educational and informs action. While Ronson has a great way of making even the most serious subjects read as funny anecdotes, it never takes away from the actual substance of his message and what he has to get across to the reader.

  • Now recruiting: Spread the Teenage Rebellion!

    Spread the teenage rebellion!

    A postcard urging you to spread the Teenage Rebellion!
    Did you know that the Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court case was partially based on a student walk-out in Virginia? Or that 30,000 New York high school students went on strike for a week in 1950, marching on city hall each day to demand raises for their teachers? Or that high school students around the US regularly counter-protest (and troll) the Westboro Baptists?

    These are just a few of the stories in Dawson Barrett’s Teenage Rebels, a book of 1-page historical vignettes about teens who rallied around the causes that were important to them, created their own destinies, and changed the world!

    I know what you’re thinking – “I wish I had had a book like that when I was a teen, but now I’m grown.” Well, good news, Microcosm is making it easier to get just such a book into the hands of those who could use it.

    To help spread the rebellion, we’ve created bookplates, so you can easily donate a copy to your favorite teacher, your local library, or a teenage rebel!

    (Or, if you can’t think of anyone specific, we can help).

    To go for it, buy a copy of the book, using your own billing address and the shipping address of the person or organization you want it to go to.

    Just be sure to let us know in the order notes what you want us to write in the “To:” and (donated) “By:” fields in the bookplate.

    Thanks for spreading the rebellion!

    Daily Cosmonaut #17: Coloring Books To Challenge Paradigm

    coloringIt’s estimated that last year adult coloring books added $50M to publishing industry sales, creating a record sales year. But Microcosm sort of operates like that island in Lost where we hear only infrequent communications from the mainland and happily can focus on the kinds of things we want to say to the world rather than responding to every peculiar news cycle. And one day, under those conditions, we realized that the Cunt Coloring Book was constantly out of stock so we decided to produce The Vulva Coloring Book to be more factually accurate but also because the former was over 40 years old.


    Naturally, within a few weeks Elly had the idea to add post-structuralist theory to the book and it became The Post-Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book. Slowly, as we learned about the huge adult coloring book trend, the book became a way to challenge gender stereotypes and make commentary about how women are shamed about their bodies in so many ways and it can often be difficult to discuss these things.
    The book slowly became (as far as I understand it) a way to make fun of the inherent meaninglessness of post-structuralism in a way that could read as “authentic” to people who were actually familiar with it while challenging people’s conceptions of bodies and gender. And for once we happen to be synched up with the trends to get a few more inches on our agenda with this book!

    Manspressions, reviewed!

    We ask every intern who passes through our not-so-hallowed halls to choose a book and write a review of it. Adam Lujan, who’s been cheerfully and diligently applying himself to the mysteries of marketing data, climbing the mountain of learning effective product photography, and navigating the vast seas of spreadsheets that make up our publishing empire, chose a book near to our hearts… last year’s Manspressions: Decoding Men’s Behavior. Here’s his review!

    Adam reading ManspressionsJoe Biel and Elly Blue’s Manspressions offers a vital cultural message in a digestible, tongue-in-cheek way. The book – featuring clever and, at times, laugh out loud illustrations by Meggyn Pomerleau – is a dictionary of terms associated with men’s behaviors. Topics range from work to dating to everyday interactions; Manspressions covers it all.

    There’s mansgressions, mansclusion, manstalgia – to name a few. It’s an inventive, accurate assembly of terms meant to highlight and poke fun at the nuances of masculinity evident in everyday life. Its brilliance is in its simplicity. Taking behaviors and interactions many of us have faced – either performing or witnessing them – and exposing it in such a relatable fashion makes Manspressions successful and important.

    There’s something for everyone in this book. It can be a wake-up call for some – beware of frightening moments of “do I do that?” – or a solidarity battle-cry for others. Because masculinity is hegemonic, so widespread, seeping into every crack of society, it’s hard not to relate to or recognize at least some of the manspressions laid bare in this book.

    While Manspressions seeks to highlight these behaviors, to examine the eccentricities of masculinity, it’s all with good humor. And that’s what makes it so digestible – not to mention it’s a quick read and pocket-friendly. Biel and Blue understand the importance humor and self-awareness play in the long game of leveling out the gender playing field. And they also understand no one is perfect, no one is immune to performing these manspressions. As they so poignantly note, we’re all sometimes guilty of these displays of overt, toxic masculinity. And indeed it is quite toxic.

    Isn’t it troubling that half of the human race is imprisoned by a set of social rules and standards that reduce them to nothing more than emotionless, power-hungry, phallic-obsessed walking manspressions? What sort of world does that create? What sort of people does that create?

    Masculinity is the law of the land, it’s what pillars every major society on Earth – a patriarchy that roots itself deep in the world’s history. And that’s a beast of a system to dismantle or even examine. Recognizing it, laughing at it, and talking about it are all important first steps.

    Often, individuals feel powerless to make a difference. How could I, as just one person, change the world? Especially now – with a baffling presidential candidate discussing his penis size at a national debate and a record company and justice system supporting a rapist over his victim – the immensity of the task can be overwhelming and bleak. And it may seem small, it may seem inconsequential or simple, but the answer is merely to change your world, to make those changes in your life.

    Manspressions offers just that. It gives the terms, it gives the laughs, it opens up the conversation in a relatable way. It recognizes that we’re all products of the patriarchy and sometimes that seeps into how we behave. But there’s always hope, there’s always the possibility of change. And that is, as Biel and Blue put it, “priceless.”

    Daily Cosmonaut #16: Values v Money

    valuesI work twelve-hours almost every day, including weekends. Almost every time that I explain how little I earn to the people who see how hard I work, they are puzzled. How do I make it work? Why would I make these “compromises?” What if something happens to me? What am I going to do for retirement?


    It’s been a long time since publishing has been an industry that people pursue for money. But what the above (well intentioned) concerns don’t take into account is that there are far  more important things than money.


    To me publishing has always been about pursuing my values without compromise. It’s a way to give rise to voices that don’t get heard. It’s a way to challenge popular but stupid narratives. It’s a way that I don’t need to seek outside approval or funding to tell the world what I think is vitally important. And those values are so much more important to me than money that I’ve worked without any compensation at all during three different periods in Microcosm’s history. It was more important to continue to do this work than it was to get paid even though that meant that I had to work a second (and sometimes third) job to make that happen.
    These days, things are a bit more relaxed. I’ve been trying to take the weekends off with varying success. I recently have been quizzing people about what others do on vacation and everyone tells me a variation of “Impulsively do exactly what you want, when the muse strikes you.” But that’s what I do every day.

    Zinester’s Guide to Portland: A Low/No Budget Guide to the Rose City

    Billed as a “low/no budget guide to visiting and living in Portland, Oregon, the Zinester’s Guide to Portland breaks down the PDX grid by neighborhood with descriptions of good restaurants, thrift stores, bars, bridges, places to loiter, etc. (lots of etc.). The newly overhauled and illustrated fifth edition gets shoulder-deep into the history and local lore, providing a well-rounded argument as to why (fill in the blank) deserves your time. It also demystifies the TriMet public transportation system, bike events and culture, outdoorsy stuff, the public libraries—basically anything you need to know as the new kid in town. (Of which there seems to be tons; the Zinester’s Guide has been on Powell’s Books’ top 20 since 2006.) To the wrong eyes the book’s title might imply a guide to Portland zine culture, and indeed it originated in 2001 as a hand-stapled zine. But as editor Shawn Granton says in the introduction, the Zinester’s Guide is not just for zinesters, that “It’s always been about sharing the interesting and unique things that make Stumptown great, and also helping people get by that aren’t swimming in scads of money.” For those of us that can’t so much as dog-paddle most days, this is community at its mightiest.

    Daily Cosmonaut #15: Privilege, Disability, Intentions, & Resolution

    Last night I did an interview about Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life & Business with Asperger’s for New Noise Magazine that ran about 75 minutes. We talked about the motivations for Microcosm and quite a bit about how Asperger’s affected my life and compared stories about other people that we know with Asperger’s and how it affects them.


    It struck upon a thought that I’ve had for a while. As a person with Asperger’s I’ve often found myself upsetting people for reasons that I couldn’t understand. But the more that I learn about the incredible complexity of emotional communication, the more I realize how contextual it is. The average person has no idea what it’s like to navigate the world with a disability but even after I explain that what someone perceives as rudeness or insensitivity is a result of Asperger’s Syndrome rather than my own callousness, their feelings are still hurt. Their feelings are also real and valid. They don’t simply go away once someone can intellectually understand what caused them. I’ve learned the hard won lessons that more often than not, other people want to feel heard rather than to resolve whatever transgression has happened between us.
    And similarly, I’ve watched hundreds of people slowly learn the lesson that they can hurt someone’s feelings even if their intentions were good. Our intentions don’t change the harm that we can cause to other people. And given that my empathy is product of my intellect rather than a natural process transferred from the mirror neurons in my brain, this confuses me. But at least knowing this stuff helps tremendously as life moves on not to harm other people.

    Unearthing the East Bay’s Hidden Rock History: An interview with Cory M. Linstrum

    cory m lindstrum photo by dale stewartWe’re stoked to announce the official publication of
    the second volume in our Scene History series, Cory M. Linstrum’s The Rock & Roll of San Francisco’s East Bay, 1950-1980. Before the Lookout Records revolution put the Bay Area on the map for current generations, the East Bay was home to a thriving, influential, and diverse rock and punk scene. This little zine packs a whole lot of fascinating history for anyone curious about the roots of the music they’ve always loved, or about SF area history generally. It comes out March 15th, and Cory answered some questions for us over email.

    1. Why did you write the Rock & Roll of SF’s East Bay scene history?

    It was originally inspired by Joel Selvin’s book, San Francisco: The Musical History Tour. For anyone that hasn’t seen this, it’s like a tourist guidebook of locations specific to Bay Area rock ‘n’ roll: i.e. the sites of now-shuttered infamous nightclubs, historically significant recording studios, sites of a drug busts involving famous musicians, etc. Despite Selvin’s target audience being baby-boomers, it goes much deeper than your average Dead/Airplane/Quicksilver trivia. It’s not only San Francisco locations, either. It includes spots here in the East Bay: the house Metallica lived in before becoming world-famous, CCR’s “Cosmo’s Factory” rehearsal space, the vacant lot (now baseball field) that had a house Jimi Hendrix once lived in as a boy.

    It’s a fun book that I always thought would be rad if someone did an all-punk rock version of, in a sloppy fanzine format. I considered it myself, but, instead of the subject of significant locations, I settled on writing about my favorite local bands of multiple genres, operating in multiple decades, and the local record labels that released their music.

    cory m linstrum photo by forest loveThe Rock & Roll of SF’s East Bay was actually written in entirety before I learned of Microcosm’s scene history series. It began as a series of essays, one for each decade: 50s/60s/70s, that I intended to self-publish one segment at a time, in issues of the fanzine I edit, Savage Damage Digest. However, I ran out of space before I could even fit in the first installment. Then I got hip to Microcosm’s open call for submissions, which was exactly what I needed!

    2. What’s the most amazing/compelling/strange thing you learned while researching and writing it? What’s your favorite band or album from that era?

    One of the coolest things was learning the street addresses and approximate locations of some of these extinct recording studios and nightclubs. In hadn’t realized their proximity and closeness to places I casually pass by in my everyday routine. It’s pretty neat going down Alcatraz Avenue, along the Berkeley/Oakland border, knowing that such and such record was recorded in a specific building. Or passing through the intersection of Milvia Street and San Pablo Avenue, visualizing that our Good Vibrations location was once the original Longbranch Saloon! Of course this is expected in places like Los Angeles or New York City, cities known as entertainment hubs, but it’s pretty cool for little ol’ Berkeley.

    Since the advance and mail order copies of my Rock & Roll of SF’s East Bay have been circulating I’ve had some pleasant surprises: an invitation extended to me by a well-respected music historian and producer, to come by and peruse his archives and hear unreleased material by some of the bands I’ve written about. I was also thrilled to learn various members of the Jars, a Berkeley new-wave/punk group written about in the chapter on the 70s, had each been given copies to read—and enjoyed it. The band’s original vocalist, J.D. Buhl (who isn’t actually on either of the Jars records), contacted me. He made me aware of an entire alternate pre-history of this band. Now I’m privy to information I found nothing on during my research. It was a great surprise. We’ve since sat down together for an interview and I’ve heard the bands earliest, unreleased demos—which sound like an amazing merger of the Archies and the New York Dolls!

    Besides these punky-poppy, practically unheard, early Jars recordings, I’d have to say my favorite Berkeley punk record is “Back To Bataan”, the 1979 single by the Maids. It’s probably the gnarliest sounding record to come out of the East Bay’s original punk wave of the late seventies. Anyone listening to the Killed By Death bootleg record series knows this one. Curiously, as the Maids only made two live appearances during its brief lifetime, most of the local musicians active on this late-seventies circuit don’t remember them.

    3. Tell us more about you! What do you write / do / play / think about most?

    It’s always been about music, music, music. I listen to it non-stop, write about it, play it live, talk about it and dream about it—always have. I was the kid in 7th grade with a Hit Parader, Creem or Circus Magazine behind his history book. The first underground fanzine I discovered, back in ’83-’84, was Metal Rendezvous. Soon after that I discovered punk rock and a whole new world of fanzines opened up for me. I did various fanzines of my own in high school, then none for many years—I just read ‘em and took mental notes.

    I started writing and publishing again in 2010 with Savage Damage Digest. Its release schedule is inconsistent. With my “whenever-I-feel-like-it” attitude, I’m only four issues deep. Still, I keep busy. I just came off a ripping project that I’m really proud of: The Subtractions, a band from California’s Central Valley that existed ‘79/’80. I tracked them down and began interviewing its members for a story with Savage Damage Digest. In the process I discovered a set of tapes the band had recorded in 1980. I got ahold of them, listened to them, was blown away, restored them, transferred them, found a record deal and had an overall great time curating them for release with HoZac Records’ Archival Series (needless to say the band was thrilled and has since done a successful reunion show).

    Of course I’m also an avid reader and fan of film, as well as into skateboarding and electric guitars. My wife and I love to travel. We never hesitate to drag our kids onto an airplane or load them into the back seat of our car. I’ve also done bands off and on for the last 25 or so years. I’m currently doing one, but wouldn’t hesitate to bail out when the dive bars and personality clashes become an agonizing grind (call me non-dedicated).

    cory m linstrum photo by miles yost4. What’s your next project that you’re most excited about?

    At the moment I’ve got a story coming out in Ugly Things #41. It’s a short piece on 6IX, a mostly unknown band that released one Sly Stone-produced single in 1970. Following that is an interview with Boston punk band Unnatural Axe for the next issue of Human Being Lawnmower. I’m hoping to see both of these on the printed page very, very soon. Currently I’m wrapping an interview with (the previously mentioned) J.D. Buhl. He’s done a handful of cool releases, but his 1981 single, “Do Ya Blame Me,” is an awesome side of local poppy-new wave-punk. Sitting down and interviewing him was great fun and he opened a lot of doors for me regarding various local bands I’d only heard of, as they’d never released anything. This gave me some great reference points on these groups. My long term goal is to keep interviewing local musicians and writing about Bay Area punk rock.

    Check out our Scene History series zines + call for submissions here, and Cory’s new zine here!