May 252012
Celebrating Alphabet Creators and Faith Bringers

Yesterday, May 24th, was Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, an important holiday for Bulgarians and Macedonians, commemorating the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet and generally their culture.* Members of the Podkrepa Bulgarian and Macedonian Association celebrated the big holiday at the Podkrepa Hall in North Portland with a potluck and folk-dancing party. I learned about the event from the Northwest Balkan Events Google Group, where Kathy Fors, a member of both Kafana Klub and Krebsic Orkestar, posted the announcement. I showed up right at 7, and the Bulgarians made me feel […] Continue reading >

May 172012
Czech Theater Coming to Town...With Your Help

Join my new Ahoj PDX friend Kateřina Bohadlová on Wednesday, May 30th, at MacTarnahan’s Taproom for an evening of music and merriment to benefit a not-for-profit project of the Czech contemporary theater company Geisslers Hofcomoedianten. A founder of Geisslers, Kateřina is bringing the Prague-based troupe to Portland for dates from October 15th to 18th.  In addition to nightly performances of Moliere’s “The Miser” (see clip below) Geisslers Hofcomoedianten will also lead workshops with with students at PSU and Lewis & Clark College, exchange experiences with local artists, and meet with the community. For […] Continue reading >

May 052012
Portland, Central Europe

Central Europe came to Portland, Oregon, last week. In the span of five days, from Friday, April 27th, to Tuesday, May Day, I experienced at least 7 Central European countries and Russia without leaving the East Side of town. Who said there’s only one America? Stop 1: Serbia, Bosnia, and Thereabouts at Mississippi Pizza The Krebsic Orkestar is a 14-piece local brass band that plays about a gig a month at various venues around town. I don’t know much more about The Krebsic Orkestar,* other than it is the brainchild […] Continue reading >

Apr 192012
The New Outsiders

Richard Florida’s 2002 book "The Rise of the Creative Class", has become a landmark study on the ascendance and impact of creatives on the American economy. The Creative Class, a socioeconomic force comprising knowledge workers, artists, and creative professionals, drives economic development, innovation, and the growth of post-industrial cities.* Florida finds only mixed evidence on the impact of immigration on development and growth. Immigrant, What Is He Good For? Citing a plethora of sources, Florida first shows that not only has "[o]penness to entrepreneurial individuals from around the glove long […] Continue reading >

Feb 092012
You Must Go and Be Yourself: An Interview With Alina Simone

When I read "You Must Go and Win," I knew I not only had to review it on account of its subject matter’s relevance to American Robotnik, but also try to interview the author Alina Simone. We talked yesterday via Gmail Chat about Russia and Russianness, about music and writing, and about doing your own thing. The first question was hers, about my experience reading her memoir: "Are you scarred?" American Robotnik: In your New York Times T Style interview, you talk about growing up as an American kid and, later, […] Continue reading >

Jan 252012
Why Promoting Integration Beats Curbing Immigration

There has been no significant movement toward federal immigration reform since a bipartisan effort died in 2007, blocked by conservative opposition. But it has been the subject of a fever of legislation at the state level, and it could become an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. —In “Immigration and Emigration”, 1/19/2012 update, The New York Times That is as succinct a summary as it gets of the current status of the immigration reform process in the U.S. We’re stalled, folks, but may be hitting another turbulence soon. Regardless of the reform’s […] Continue reading >

Jan 042012
The Freedom of the Birds: An Interview With Petr Sís

Following up on my review of Peter Sís’s new book “The Conference of the Birds” and our conversation at his reading here in Portland, Oregon, I asked Peter about his experience as an émigré. We spoke via Skype on New Year’s Eve, I in Slovak, he in Czech; the interview below is an English translation and edit of my Czech and Slovak notes. *** American Robotnik: In your latest book, “The Conference of the Birds”, birds are the main characters searching for the king that will solve the world’s problems. What […] Continue reading >

Nov 112011
Cooking Slovak in America: An Interview With Lubos Brieda

Following up on my review of, I asked Ľuboš Brieda who runs that site a few questions about his experience as a Slovak transplant. *** American Robotnik: You started after beginning to miss the tasty Slovak home cooking in the U.S. and wanting to learn a few recipes. There’s a huge gap between learning to cook Slovak dishes and sharing the recipes on a website. What compelled you to take your craving for Slovak food  public? Ľuboš Brieda: You make it sound as if one day I […] Continue reading >

Nov 032011
The Central European Headcount

Because American Robotnik is by a Central European in America for Central Europeans in America, I wanted to get a better sense how many people might enjoy it. How many Central Europeans are there in the United States? The answer—somewhat easier to find than the one to “How many Central Europeans does it take to screw a light bulb?”—must start with defining a Central European: s/he is an individual born in Central Europe, living in the United States, as an illegal alien, a legal permanent resident, or a naturalized […] Continue reading >

Oct 262011
Slovak Cooking Delivers Delicious Morsels of Home

If you were to ask Ľuboš Brieda, “What’s cookin’?”, he’d most likely tell you the name of a Slovak dish you’ve never heard of. Which is precisely what his website Slovak Cooking remedies: This site is dedicated to the natural and wholesome lifestyle of our (Slovak) grandparents. It’s the lifestyle when food did not come shrink-wrapped, when flour was part of every pantry, and potatoes of every cellar. Join in, and try some Slovak dishes today. There is a bit of Slovakia in all of us! The website is simple: […] Continue reading >