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I've had a few people tell me that Microcosm has issues and shouldn't be representative of the zine world - too capitalist, sell-out, some personal issues with the founder.

Now being that I am on the other side of the world, and my main connection with zines is as a reader, I'm not aware of any of the context around Microcosm or their supposed controversy. As far as I know, they're one of the bigger zine distros, bit of a brand name, they've got tons of stuff, and the founder and his ex had big personal issues (as related in Brainscan).

Could someone fill me in? Someone once told me "you, MTV, and Microcosm are what's wrong with the DIY world" which amused, bemused, and confused me all at once.

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well if anything, Microcosm is as of now, the only place where you can buy Xerography Debt which i think is one of the most valuable resources for finding about other zines/distros/etc. there are a few other zines that you cant find anywhere and i did dig a few of the documentaries the micro people shot. but other than that if you can find a title anywhere else or direct from the source do that first. this topic is a mindfield but all i will say is that being chaotic neutral is the way to go, meaning this:
if you identify with the controversial aspects of this company personally, go with that and decide your course, but recognize that our community is a very small one and sometimes you gotta deal with people that you may not have on your holiday card list to get that cool zine-thingla that you've been looking for.

oh and tell that person who said that to you to fuck right off and die slow. with love of course.
How would any our past actions look with this kind of scrutiny?

We've all had messy relationships and done regrettable things in our younger days. I believe people can change and most often do. As someone who knows Joe, I can see that he has and is working on his issues. But, really it is not any of my business and I try to not get too involved for this reason.

If you want to make a statement by not buying from Microcosm, fine. But, can we please stop running this issue around and around? These are peoples lives and I think it is kind of sick how much some people are so invested.

Joe and all the people who have worked for Microcosm over the years have done some amazing things for zines and zinesters. Tremendous. First and foremost is paying many many zinesters for their zines and making zines collections into books. The positives that this company adds to the zine community is way way more than the negatives, no matter how you count them up.
Krissy PonyBoy Press said:
The positives that this company adds to the zine community is way way more than the negatives, no matter how you count them up.

it would be patently impossible for me to disagree more.

certainly this is a divisive issue. when joe was individually banned from the 2009 portland zine symposium (though microcosm was permitted to table, & did indeed table) & the 2009 organizers were presented with an eleventh-hour letter signed by certain members of the portland zine community who shall remain nameless (*cough*), demanding that joe be permitted to attend, in violation of alex's wishes, & in violation of the painstaking safer space policy the 2009 organizers had put into place, & in likely violation of alex's no contact order against joe, we saw what a divisive issue this could be.

but it's an error to suggest that it shouldn't be talked about, especially because it is perhaps "too personal". if joe didn't want people up in his business, maybe he shouldn't have been abusive & controlling to the people in his life. personally, i am disturbed by how "invested" some people are in protecting this guy who has done such incredibly shitty things & dodged all accounts at accountability, up to & including professional mediation. what's in it for you? i know what's in it for me, for joe to step up to the plate & be responsible for his actions: a zine community that doesn't let abusers get away with abuse, where all the d.i.y. community ideals microcosm claims to foster come to fruition in the form of someone actually being accountable to said community. i'm not going to apologize for caring about something like that, even as i recognize that it's perhaps an unattainable ideal. but what's in it for people who are so devoted to protecting joe from the consequences of his actions?
"but what's in it for people who are so devoted to protecting joe from the consequences of his actions?"

Maybe they don't want to get involved with the drama of his past relationship with his ex and they are able to separate whatever happened between the two of them from zine publishing? I personally didn't even know they dated or the drama until you kept bringing it up. I find your bringing up very personal relationship issues in a public zine forum that have nothing to do with zine publishing both unethical and kinda creepy. I'm all for criticisms of how a distro hasn't paid zinesters or run it's business unethically, but I feel someone's relationship problems really aren't my business and have a strong respect for the right to privacy.
Wow, is this still going on?

Can we agree that it's an unfortunately small community, that no one is 100% villain or victim, and that there are two sides to every story?
Sorry, I'm rather distant from the whole thing so all I have to go on is vague whispers. I was mainly curious as to what Microcosm and MTV had to do with each other - another source tells me they don't pay their contributors much but no one else seems to mention that?

Sarah Arr! said:
Wow, is this still going on?

Can we agree that it's an unfortunately small community, that no one is 100% villain or victim, and that there are two sides to every story?
dan, maybe you should re-read my rather lengthy post here about the ways that joe has used microcosm as a tool of abuse & control in his past relationships, making microcosm/zines extremely central to any & all attempts to hold joe accountable for his abusive behavior. joe has done things like withhold wages & health benefits from former microcosm employees (including alex) with whom he has had personal disagreements. these are the kinds of things i wouldn't want to support in, say, a bookstore or a coffeeshop. it's unethical, it's illegal, & it's the kind of thing people unionize over. why should i look the other way when it comes to a zine distro/publishing outfit?

alex is okay with, as she put it, "other people advocating" for her. i'm not talking about just a shitty break-up here--we've all had those. i am talking about serious issues of on-going abuse, stalker-ish behavior, & specifically, joe using his reputation within the zine scene & the microcosm business as both a shield to avoid criticism & responsibility, & a tool to extend the scope of his fucked up behavior. & that is just within his abusive relationships--there are also many issues specifically with the way he runs microcosm, treats employees/collective members, & handles zinesters. those issues have also been touched upon in this thread, but i don't see you addressing them. perhaps because things like joe making an executive decision to pack up & move a supposedly collective business halfway across the country because HE wants to move, costing several portland "collective members" their jobs (to name one example of many), are more difficult to brush under the rug as "personal problems," "an issue of privacy," etc?

i could go on with a critique of how fucked up it is to dismiss outing an abuser as "too personal" or a "privacy issue," but i'd probably be wasting my energy. i don't expect you to magically start agreeing with me about this. i just hope other people will read what i have written here & think twice about how best to satisfy their zine habits in a way that is accountable to survivors, though i am not so naive as to think that everyone cares about that sort of thing. if they did, we probably wouldn't have problems like abuse in the first place.
I don't buy zines from Microcosm because of the aforementioned personal issues with the founder and his ex. I realize there's more to Microcosm than two people, and I have enjoyed several Microcosm publications I've read via my local zine library, and their catalog is genuinely impressive, but I choose not to support them monetarily. I usually buy from individuals rather than distros and presses anyway.

Despite my misgivings about Microcosm, Tiara, that quote you included at the end of your first post is a pretty weird thing for someone to say. Was MTV ever DIY?
...I feel someone's relationship problems really aren't my business and have a strong respect for the right to privacy.

I think Joe kind of forfeited the right to privacy when he chose to emotionally abuse Alex, but hey, whatever. You saying Ciara is being "unethical" is fucking laughable, considering that you're completely dismissing ABUSE as something that should be ignored and swept under the rug because Microcosm publishes some cool books and shit. And people wonder why abuse survivors sometimes don't want to talk about it.
I just want to say, personally, it has nothing to do with them "publishing cool books and shit." I didn't even know about microcosm before this site. I just... the way it's presented, it comes across as drama. It's almost diminishing the subject for me. We're talking about ABUSE here and the way people are squabbling about it and start pointing fingers and name calling when it comes up, it really comes across as less important than what it is.
I don't think it should be discussed in this type of forum because people don't seem mature enough to handle it. I do think it should be discussed, though.

helenomicon said:
...I feel someone's relationship problems really aren't my business and have a strong respect for the right to privacy.

I think Joe kind of forfeited the right to privacy when he chose to emotionally abuse Alex, but hey, whatever. You saying Ciara is being "unethical" is fucking laughable, considering that you're completely dismissing ABUSE as something that should be ignored and swept under the rug because Microcosm publishes some cool books and shit. And people wonder why abuse survivors sometimes don't want to talk about it.
Wow, just read through page after page of what can only be considered gossip. I only know Joe a little bit but he's one of the nicest and most genuine people in the zine scene that I've met, though I guess I haven't tried to pry into the nuances of his personal life. And Microcosm rocks. Period.
helenomicon said:
I think Joe kind of forfeited the right to privacy when he chose to emotionally abuse Alex, but hey, whatever.

So you think it's fine for the public to openly discuss went on all your past relationships when you did something wrong? And to bring it up again and again in public forums and to try to get other people involved in the drama? Sorry, but yes, I find that unethical. I just would not feel comfortable being judge and juror when I couldn't possibly know all the details from both sides.

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