A gripping and fascinating read – this is the author’s own story. And Joe Biel is not just an author – he’s a survivor of alcoholic reality, the do-it-yourself punk lifestyle, the owner and founder of Microcosm Publishing and a person with Asperger’s syndrome. A heavy load, indeed, but this wonderful book is filled with some very high highs and some despairing lows.
For someone who has endured a great deal of turmoil (not of his own doing, either at the hands of others and his disease), Biel tells the story in a very matter-of-fact, lighthearted way because the gist of this is: one way or another, triumph over tragedy even if it’s with your own endless devotion to working at it. And work he did, starting Microcosm as both a punk label and ‘zine. Not all the tales are sad; some downright hilarious moments of typical adolescent punk fuck-ups and foibles are part of the stew, but the most powerful moment comes when he tries to convey his pain at being mocked, especially by his then-girlfriend – he says to her “when you make fun of things that you know I value, it makes me feel bad” and her reply was “I’m so sorry. I had no idea that it hurt your feelings. You don’t seem to have feelings.” As he put it, “the results were staggering”, but right there you can see what he endured before he was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is also a story of how to create, fumble, get up and keep moving forward in the realm of running your own business. I’ve read many things published by Microcosm over the last few years and they’ve made me a fan. So do stop and take the time to read Joe Biel’s Good Trouble. It will make you give pause to think.
Good Trouble is available now