Five Questions with Bill Brown of the Dreamwhip Zine!

Bill Brown is the man behind the wonderful Dreamwhip zine, a tender, funny, truth-telling look at American living. His adventures show an America snow-capped and heat-exhausted, half-asleep on highways and dreaming out diner windows. We caught up with him and this is what he had to say.

Q: If the President of the United States asked to you describe “the soul of Dreamwhip” in under 100 words, what would you say?

 
Alt text[Recording made by secret tape recorder in the Oval Office]. Nice place, Mr. President! And look at all these couches! Would you mind if I crashed on one tonight? [Inaudible]. Hah. I’m just kidding. Anyway, I know you’re busy, but I wonder if you’d like to check out my zine? [Inaudible]. Well, it’s sort of a book. [Inaudible]. Yes, I wrote it myself. [Inaudible]. Thanks, I try to write neatly. [Inaudible]. It’s mostly about wandering around and getting lost and feeling all the stuff you feel when you’re on the road. [Inaudible]. No, those aren’t kindergarten drawings. [Inaudible]. I drew them. [Inaudible]. Yes, I’m serious. [Tape ends].

Q: When’s the next Dreamwhip coming out?

 
I’m hoping to finish #15 in a couple months. It’s about a bike trip I took a couple years ago. For some reason, it’s taking me longer and longer to finish these things.
 
Q: What was the last book or zine you read? How’d you like it?
 
I’ve been reading the Chainbreaker Bike Book, which is amazing. I bought it after my rear axle broke and I wanted to fix my bike myself and not have to deal with the jerky mechanic at the bike shop near my house. Yes, it explains how to fix your bike, but it’s also about the joy of being self-sufficient, and the poetry of ball bearings and coaster brakes.

Q: Is print dead?

 
No way! The more everything goes online, the more I love printed things. I like holding them, and cramming them in my backpack. I like rifling through pages. I like the way printed stuff ages, or shows its age. Pages wrinkle and tear. Colors fade. That blog from 2000 looks exactly the same today as it did in 2000. But the zine you bought in 2000 is marked by the last 10 years of slow buses and black coffee.

Q: What sort of stuff (writing-wise, film-wise, travel-wise, life-wise, whatever-wise) do you have coming up in the future?

[Inaudible].


2010 MICROCOSM CATALOG JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

CATALOG COVER BY Alec Longstreth. Yeah, it’s nerdy.

We’re got our 2010 Publishing and Distribution Catalog printing! It’s  filled with published and distributed books, zines, videos, tshirts, patches, stickers, buttons, tshirts, posters, postcards–and everything else we do.

There will be tons of new stuff from Microcosm in 2010 and this is the first chance to get a glimpse of what we have planned. Right now we’re concerned with getting 2010 Catalogs in as many hands and places as possible. This is where we need your help!

Unlike major book publishers, we do not have a large budget for promotions and advertising. In fact, we don’t pay for many ads anywhere, even in publications or on websites we whole-heartedly support. In keeping our books cheap, we forgo the luxury of having a promotions department almost entirely.

So how do we get the word out about our books? Our existence is owed almost entirely to people like you telling your friends and spreading the Microcosm word.

If you’d like to help, please email your full name and full address and how many catalogs you think you can distribute.  catalogs@microcosmpublishing.com

Typically folks ask for 25, 50, or 100. It’s super easy to drop a stack of 50 each at your cool local coffeeshop and record store! Please don’t ask for more than you think you could pass out.

So…
1. Full Name
2. Full Address
3. How Many?

Thank you so much in advance for your help. We couldn’t do this without you, for real.

Get in touch with any questions and thanks again!

-Steven
steven@microcosmpublishing.com

Make Your Place Author Raleigh Briggs to Teach a Class This Weekend!

Raleigh Briggs, author of Make Your Place and other fine DIY publications, will be teaching a class on herbal home Alt textand body care at this weekend’s Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. The event, which takes place November 21st and 22nd at The Bamboo Grove on 134 SE Taylor Street, is billed as celebrating “the wealth of herbal and plant knowledge of our finest local Portland Plant People.”

Says Raleigh, her class, which takes place on Sunday from 5-6:15pm, will teach people to “use plant medicine to make a strong, clean, happy home and body.” She continues, “In this class, we’ll learn some basic preparations for herbal cleansers for your house and your body. I’ll provide some recipes, but we’ll also talk more broadly about how you can create your own formulas at home. This class is for folks who haven’t worked with DIY products before, and will probably be too basic for advanced and intermediate practitioners.”

Registration for the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering is $100 for both days, $60 for one. Other classes will include Colette Gardiner’s Magical Herbs for Healing and Protection, Women’s Health and Herbal Medicine by Dr. JJ Pursell, and Ben Pixie’s How To Raise Honeybees.

Go to PDX Plant Medicine.org for more info and to see the full schedule.

To read more about Make Your Place check out Amy Karol’s excellent blog right here. Raleigh’s book and zines can be found here.

The event runs from 10am-6:30pm daily.

Thanks Academia! Awesome Props for Zines in New Women’s Studies Journal!

The zine world got some awesome props recently in Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society (Autumn 2009, issue 1, vol. 35). Published by the University of Chicago Press, Signs‘ Jenna Freedman, a zine librarian at Barnard College, writes how if it weren’t for zines, notably Krissy Durden’s excellent fat positive publication Figure 8, she would’ve never thought to question fat prejudice and body image.

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Says Freedman, “Although some of the resources Durden quotes are online … since I had never done any research on fat power, I had never encountered them. I somewhat unquestionably believed that fat equals unhealthy until reading this zine.”

Freedman goes on to say that Figure 8, “[E]xpands the zine canon on oppression, making strong arguments against sizeism, something many young, skinny punks may not have thought much about previously.”

Durden writes about the issue, which focuses on feminist zines, on her blog, saying it is “good inspiration for anyone making a zine. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that zines can have an affect, especially when you can find anything on the internet in a second. But, there is nothing like having a zine to hold and read anywhere you are. It’s less distracting than the internet and a much more intimate experience between you and the writer. And, like with Jenna, it can get into someone’s hands who would have never sought out information on that subject.

See more info on Signs right here.

Vegan Migas Via Ben Snakepit!

We don’t generally post press we get but this one is waaay too awesome to pass up. Recently Megan from the Say It’s Not Soy blog came up with a vegan version of the traditional dish migas after being inspired by the Snakepit 2008 book! If you want to check out the blog in its entirety go to http://sayitsnotsoy.com/vegan-migas/ but here’s how Megan’s article looks…

What is Snakepit? Snakepit is a daily three-panel autobiographical comic done by Ben Snakepit (Austin, Tx based punk rocker). It is one of my favorite comics and one of the longest running autobiographical daily comics that I know of. Ben used to print them up in a quarterly zine but now they are published once a year as a book. I just got my copy of Snakepit 2008 in the mail this week and I wanted to do a recipe out of it. One of Ben’s favorite foods is migas and it is referenced in this years comic. I had no idea what the hell migas are prior to reading the book but I was interested in them since he spoke so highly of them. Turns out they are some type of Mexican egg dish; which is super easy to make vegan (hello tofu scramble). You can find out more about Snakepit here.

Vegan Migas
Prep time: 30 minutes
Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

    Tofu Base

  • 2 Tb Earth Balance,vegan butter
  • 1/2 bunch of Green Onions (chopped)
  • 12oz container of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 4oz can of Fire Roasted Mild Green Chilies (chopped)
  • 1 medium Tomato (chopped and seeded)

Instructions

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  1. Take all your dry spices and whisk them together in a bowl then set aside. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-low heat. Add earth balance and chopped green onions to your skillet once it is properly heated. Cook the green onions for a couple of minutes; make sure to stir them around.
  2. While you are cooking the onions, drain your tofu and pat it dry. After moisture is removed from the tofu place it in a medium sized bowl. Mash your tofu up with a fork and slowly add in spice mixture. Mash up tofu until the spices are well mixed in and the mixture is crumbly and void of large chunks.
  3. When your tofu mixture is ready to go then add it to your skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add in chopped mild green chilies and hot sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes then add in chopped tomatoes. After adding in the tomatoes cook for another 5 minutes. You want to make sure to add in the tomatoes last because they can easily get overcooked.
  4. Serve with salsa, beans, tortillas, and roasted potatoes (Tamale House Style; supposedly the best migas in Texas). You can also try chopping up some tortillas and adding then when you cook the green onion if you want to have tortillas in the migas. Also note that letting the vegan migas rest overnight in the fridge will bring out a fuller flavor. I like to cook my vegan migas and then enjoy them the next day; it’s worth the wait!
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Thanks Megan and Say It’s Not Soy!

Obsession/Profession: Interview with Zinester/Traveling Vegan Chef Joshua Ploeg

Microcosm’s Joe Biel recently interviewed In Search of the Lost Taste vegan cookbook author/zinester Joshua Ploeg for an upcoming book. Here’s an excerpt from the interview. See the rest of the interview in Biel’s Beyond Resistance and Community, a look at, as Biel says, “People who grew up punk and took it to other places than music,” out in 2010 on Garrett County Press.

Q: Can you talk about your background in punk and how that came about in your life? What was your childhood like that made punk attractive?

A: Sure! I was pretty open-minded about music as a kid, and punk was a part of the whole tapestry. My sister was a punk first, I always liked her music. The whole attitude and politics of it was great and pretty appealing. I seemed quiet and a bit odd but once you got me going I was hard to shut up. Thus, I liked all of the yammering that punk tends to do. And as with most young people, the aggressive music helped get the yayas out (and I had a lot of yayas). Reagan sucked. Idaho sucked. People picked on me a bit (I didn’t care) but the punks were always cool to me. Also later on there was some solid support for being queer in the punk/DIY scene, especially in Olympia, which needless to say I loved. 

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Yes, make ME GAY the center of attention, please! At first I was more of a metal/goth type and punk was appealing as a more left-wing but equally offensive variation. It was in the ’80s that I started digging the music and going to shows, which, hey! punk shows were a couple of bucks and metal ones were $15-20. Punk shows had a small room where you knew everyone, and a pit. Metal shows were at the coliseum with 20,000 assholes, security and a huge barricade. No contest. Punk had good attitude—like me, elitist and egalitarian, at the same time. Once I moved to Olympia and went to college, it was so easy to participate. I dove into going to shows, putting on shows, zines, and playing music; a fast progression ‘cuz of the way things
were in the ’90s: more emo and guilt! Love it! It made it easy to just do whatever I wanted.

Q: How did you get involved in travel chefery/cooking and authoring cookbooks? How do you feel you have evolved and developed that interest into adulthood?

A: The cooking started the first time I became vegan. I was hosting bands all the time and also loved having people over. I loved to eat and loved taste. Thus, it was incumbent
upon me to try to make the vegan food taste better. After much failure I finally began to succeed. Then one day Jeff
Bettger said, “I’d pay for food like this,” and I started a secret cafe in my house pretty much immediately. For this I would constantly research and experiment with different dishes and styles until I developed quite a repertoire and a lot of my own recipes. My friend Andy Gilligan convinced me to have a book group. I would work on my cookbook and he on a children’s book. He insisted I put the recipes together. Eventually I finished it and when this was done the only model to pedal it I had was touring, so I did that. But I didn’t have a car so I just took the Greyhound and Amtrak everywhere. The often dire circumstances of cooking with whatever was available in so many different kitchens and towns honed my skills and brought out whatever latent talents that I had to the point that it turned into
an obsession/profession. It developed into a passion from experience.

Q: It seems what’s most impressive about your work is that you transitioned very directly from touring
with your bands to touring alone with your knives. Was this choice conscious? In what ways were the skills you were employing a direct result of your experience with punk?

A: Yeah, it was the only way I knew how. I didn’t realize how novel it was until the touring was well underway. Promoters were like, “Oh, you’re coming down. What’s your new band? What do you mean ‘dinner party’?!” It was great ‘cuz it could happen anywhere, anytime, any night of the week! Easy to book.

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My punk touring experience was the whole thing of it. We would play at noon or at midnight—any time. In a club, barn, gazebo, hall, basement, vacant lot, church, garage, record store; anywhere! For punks, middle-aged types, kids, heshers, hippies; anyone! And with Lois Maffeo through Man Is the Bastard; any style! Van breaks down, skinheads show up, stay in collectives, squats, dirty-ass places, cars—great PA or no PA, power going out, getting electrocuted; Whatever the circumstances were, do it for the experience. Always some kind of thrill, good or bad. Even boredom is kind of exciting. All of that translated to the cooking in crazy kitchens, hauling huge bags of groceries for a mile or two, abundance or lack of gear or customers, shopping for groceries wherever possible until the ingredients are all there; if you can find them all! Hanging out waiting for stuff to happen; I was ready for that; it carried over in spades!

Q: What are you most excited about in your own future? What can we expect from you?

A: I’m excited about upcoming tours and doing some new things with food and recipe books. Combining all of the mediums we’ve discussed into the realm of recipes and live food events. The latest experiments this year in combining food and design were pretty cool. More of that to come. I’m stoked to go to more countries and really live up to these monikers like “The Traveling Chef” and “The Touring Chef.”

Zines versus The Internet

I read zines

We here at Microcosm often hear the question “has the internet killed zines?”  This implication assumes two things: 1) that print is dead or dying, and 2) that blogs fulfill the same role as zines have in the past.  While both of these assumption do have some degree of merit, I do not believe they are looking at the whole picture. 

My usual response to the death of print is that print is not dead; print as we know it may be dead.  The conglomeration and growing monopolies of large publishers and distributors is proving to be as unstable as the bloated, unrestrained capitalist system in which they exist.  But zines have never existed as a part of that system.  In fact, they have existed as an unapologetic opposition to that system.  So why would anyone assume that the fall of capitalist print would equate to the fall of zines?  

Although blogs do seem to fulfill a large part of the role of zines – to allow anyone, particularly those on the margins, to share their voice – they are something intrinsically different.  Zines exist within a certain subculture, one that the book Notes From Underground can do a far better job at explaining than I can.  While that subculture shares a lot in common with blogging (which is why you will see several zinesters with blogs), there is something different about the world of print.  Something that allows you to connect to your voice and the mode of expressing your voice in a way that blogs can’t do.  Zines allow you to speak passionately, but also to show that passion in the way you layout or construct each issue.  Zines also allow a physical connection between the writer and the reader.  This is not to say that zines are better than blogs.  It is just to say that they are different and will fill different roles for people.  Therefore, I do not believe that one will kill the other. 

Not only do I not buy into the idea that the internet has killed zines, but I believe it has done a lot to help further zine culture.  While my heart still lives with old zine distro catalogs, the internet has allowed zines to survive in a culture of instant gratification and next-day trends.  It was always true that anyone with a lot of time and a little amount of funds could start up a catalog zine distro, the same remains true now with the internet becoming easier and easier to personalize.  

The internet has also allowed zinesters to self-distro their materials to a broader audience.  This could be for the better or for the worse for zine distributors (such as Microcosm), but for zine culture, it seems to be an encouraging trend.  I would argue that it is unfortunate, though, that many seem to turn to the very impersonal distro-in-a-box sites such as Etsy, who seem to have no interest in culture, just profits.  

Zinesters have also been using the internet in other interesting ways.  The site We Make Zines has brought together zinesters from all over the place and given them a space to easily communicate with one another.  Visiting the site, you can find people sharing ideas, collaborating on projects together, distroing their zines, trading zines, teaching new zinesters tricks of the trade, organizing zine fairs, and all kinds of other stuff.  The internet has allowed the diaspora of zinesters to gather virtually.

All of this together seems to have introduced many new people to the world of zines and self-publishing.  Every month, between 40 and 100 new zines are submitted to Microcosm for distribution, and we know that is just a fraction of what is actually being produced.  We are also starting to see more submissions from outside of North America.  While we at Microcosm are always happy to see that so many people are expressing themselves and producing passionate material for the sake of getting it out of themselves and into the world, we aren’t able to take on all of this new material.  We see that as a good thing.  It means that zinesters must push their craft a little further to be noticed.  It means that zinesters don’t get stuck in a rut of what a zine looks like.  Instead, zinesters focus on creating something passionate, unique, and enthralling.  

So has the internet killed zines?  No.  If anything, it breathed new life into them.  Zines were here before the internet.  I believe they’ll be here after it, too.

Criminalizing Books

criminalizing books(re-posted because it’s important…)

The arrest of Hugh Farrell and Tiga Wertz is ridiculous and upsetting enough.  The two Bloomington, Indiana environmentalists were arrested back in April 2009 under a federal law that was created to target corrupt businesses, specifically the mafia.  But award-winning journalist Will Potter has found a piece of information that truly calls into question the ethics of these arrests.

While combing through the motion for Hugh’s $20,000 bail (keep in mind, they were arrested for conspiring to commit non-violent crimes – not even for committing them), Potter found an interesting justification for the high amount:

“The defendant has been observed advocating literature and materials which advocate anarchy, property destruction and violence, including ‘Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching’ or ‘Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook.’”

You may recognize these books from our catalog (here and here).  Potter is correct in stating that criminalizing anarchists is nothing new, but that this case has very significant social impact.  From Potter:

  • It reflects more wasted resources on surveillance of First Amendment activity. Why was Farrell being “observed” by law enforcement while allegedly “advocating literature” in the first place?
  • It is intended to punish people for their political beliefs. Even if it is true that Farrell was observed advocating literature and that the literature advocated “anarchy,” how does this relate to whether or not he’ll show up for his court date (which is what bail is all about)?
  • Criminalizing books has no place in a democracy. Make no mistake, that’s what this is about: criminalizing dissent. The government isn’t burning the books, and it isn’t saying it is illegal to own them, but prosecutors are saying that if you *do* own them or “advocate” them it reflects negatively on your character.

Ignore for a moment the horrifying implications of monitoring someone for a legal activity such as “advocating literature.”  A place where our reading material (or advocacy thereof) can be held against us in a court of law is certainly no democracy.  It intimidates the population into reading only titles that they hope fall off the radar of political dissent or subversiveness.  If we are unable to read dissenting opinions and form our own analysis, we do not live in an informed democracy, but rather some form of totalitarianism or fascism (mind you I don’t like using those terms lightly).

Potter concludes:

As with so many of the cases I write about on this site, this isn’t about threats to public safety, it isn’t about property destruction, it’s about demonizing people because of their political beliefs. Well, in this case, it’s not even about that: It’s about demonizing people because of their books.

A case must be built upon facts, not implications based upon what one reads.  If anything, this should serve as a call to read those books that are deemed dangerous.  Investigate with vigor those ideas which are deemed dangerous.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. [We suggest researching] why a government representative would actively censor them (in any form).  Follow the rabbit down the hole to see just where this case takes you.  Perhaps it’s true.  Books can be dangerous.  But only to those that care to maintain control over us.

For more info about this case:

Support Hugh and Tiga site

Mafia Law Used Against Environmentalists for Tree Sits, Civil Disobedience, Blog Post

Stop I-69

Image credit: Cliffard Harper from Reproduce and Revolt