In recent diss tracks by Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly, both rappers lay down the claim that MGK is named after a gun. But he is in fact named after a historical poser, George Kelly Barnes, aka “Machine Gun Kelly” (1895-1954) who robbed, bootlegged, and kidnapped in the golden age of gangsters in the 1920s and 30s. His contemporaries were the Dillinger gang, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Ma Barker Gang.
MGK was unique in this line-up because he was essentially a fabrication of his wife, Kathryn Kelly. George was Kathryn’s 4th husband, with her 3rd husband having a mysterious death– he had allegedly killed himself and left a suicide note…despite being illiterate. She met George while they were both working in the bootleg biz and he was reportedly kind of a hayseed. She thought he needed a new image so she bought him a machine gun and gave him his new nickname before he even had a chance to fire the thing. Then she started a whisper campaign in underworld hangouts telling fabricated stories of how fierce, tough, and brazen the big bad Machine Gun Kelly was. Total bullshit. As a calling card, she gave people bullet casings as souvenirs.
George and Kathryn began a life of crime with bank robbing, but their spree quickly ended when they kidnapped wealthy oil tycoon Charles F. Urschel in 1933, receiving a ransom of $200,00 (about 3.8 million today). That was also their undoing– they were arrested a couple months later. George famously was reported as yelling “Don’t shoot, G-men!” as the FBI raided the farm the Kellys were hiding out at. The scene became a nice piece of propaganda for the FBI who portrayed it as tough lawmen bringing down a cowardly defeated criminal.
Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger and Babyface Nelson were all ambushed and shot in 1934. Even old Ma Barker with a tommy gun in her hands in a shoot out with the FBI in 1935. MGK, though, spent the rest of his life as a model prisoner. His fellow inmates called him “Pop Gun Kelly” to make fun of his overblown tough guy legend. This is rap battle gold!
Ok, Em, check out this flow. Feel free to drop these verses:
This looks like a job for me/ cause I’m Dillinger and you’re MG/ my wanted poster says 10k/but yours is just 3Gs/ this just makes me sneeze
No? Ok, let me try again.
You dude you got me totally laugh-a-lin/ do you even know how to hold that gun?/why don’t you go ask Kathyrn/ Bonnie and Clyde each got shot hundreds of times*/ while you were in Alcatraz calmly peeling limes
*although this number was likely exaggerated. But six G-men did shoot them repeatedly.
One more, for the Killshot!
Yo MGK/ where’d you learn to kidnap?/ You should be shouting ‘Don’t shoot G-men!’/ instead of trying to rap/ the FBI took you out in one minute flat/ you are about as gangster as the Cat in the Hat
Monday, September 24: Cull Your Collection (CBLDF Benefit), Vennture Brew Co., 5519 W. North Avenue, 6:30-8:30pm
I will be attending this event, hosted by the fine folks at the Comic Book Panel and will be selling copies of my book Heroes in the Night. All proceeds will be given to the night’s cause, supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization that has helped protect First Amendment rights of comic creators, publishers, and retailers since 1986 (Milwaukee tie-in: the organization was founded by Kitchen Sink Press president Denis Kitchen. You can read my 2003 interview with Denis here: https://riverwestcurrents.org/2003/07/the-compelling-art-of-denis-kitchen.html )
Members of the Comic Book Panel will also be selling from their collections to benefit the cause.
Saturday, Oct. 6: Sci-Fi Family Day, Discovery World, 500 N.Harbor Dr., 10am-4pm
This fun annual event has a great round-up of groups that celebrate a variety of fandoms, including Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Lego groups, comic creators, and much more. I’ll be tabling with Milwaukee Paranormal Conference/ Milwaukee Krampusnacht and will have copies of my books Heroes in the Night and Monster Hunters.
I’m also leading Third Ward Ghost Walks here in Milwaukee. The next one is this Sat., Sept. 8 and starting next week, they are every Fri and Sat. Check out the Milwaukee Ghosts page for more details: https://www.facebook.com/milwaukeeghosts/
Hello, hope everyone’s been having a good summer. Just wanted to give an update on my next book. It’ll be out in early 2019 and has an official title change. I had titled it THE END, but after discussions with my publisher (Chicago Review Press), it was changed to APOCALYPSE ANY DAY NOW. I have seen cover art and it looks pretty great, but won’t be available to share for a little while. I’ll have an official cover reveal here on the blog when I’m able.
After turning the manuscript in, I went through the next step with my editor Jerry, line edits. Going through notes on the book reminded me of all the crazy moments I had working on it, but as it turns out I don’t need the manuscript in front of me to remind me of impending end-of-the-world-doom, I run into reminders all the time.
First, it really cracked me up to read again about fears of the Blood Moon Prophecy on July 27– the longest total lunar eclipse this century. Cool moment in astronomy or end times? Former, it turns out. I wrote in Apocalypse Any Day Now about the hype around the supposed Blood Moon doomsday on September 27, 2015. Prognosticators then were convinced then that the Blood Moon tetrad of 2014-2015 was lining up the apocalypse like a slot machine. The world kept turning and it looks like every future Blood Moon will stoke some kind of end days fears (but probably diminishing returns as more and more pass). Another blood moon tetrad will roll out in 2033-34, so be prepared.
Another oddball story is the case of Milwaukee Sheriff candidate and Doomsday preacher Richard Schmidt, who is on the ballot here for an election this Tuesday. Even if you’re not from Milwaukee, it’s likely you’ve heard of cowboy hat wearin,’ venom spewin’ former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, rabid Trump supporter, FOX News media personality, and overseer of a prison horrorhouse where 7 inmates died from harsh treatment in 2016-2017 before he resigned. As it turns out, acting Sheriff Schmidt isn’t such a great replacement.
When he’s not touting his degrees from unaccredited fundamentalist colleges, Schmidt likes to spend time behind the pulpit, preaching fire, brimstone, and end times. As I discovered while working on my book, many doomsday predictors turn to the Book of Daniel to try to make mathematical equations to find the Apocalypse date, and they’ve been predicting and failing at this for hundreds of years now. Schmidt’s dissertation paper was an examination on his theory of why the Rapture is taking so long to happen, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.
Schmidt operates Prophecy Focus Ministry, and travels the Midwest preaching sermons with titles like “The Apocalyptic, One-world System” in which he argues that the European Union could be the ten-nation confederacy that aligns with the Anti-Christ during the end times.
Did I mention there’s an election on Tuesday? If you live in Milwaukee, please vote and vote anti-Apocalypse! I need the world to keep rolling until early Spring or all my work on this book will be for naught.
It’s been a few months since I’ve had anything published. I’ve been overworked with other things, but fortunately, that’s about to change and I’ll be working a lot more on writing.
I was able to write up a lead A & E piece for the Shepherd Express recently that explores a trend of arcade themed bars here in Milwaukee. You can read it here: https://shepherdexpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/ae-feature/back-to-the-future-80s-arcade-bars-are-a-new-favorite/
I also finished a draft of a chapter for an anthology book about Milwaukee that will be out next year on 4/14 Milwaukee Day.
It’s good to be back.
I just wanted to mention a couple published pieces I’ve had this month.
First, I’m sad to report that my friend Damien Jones passed away. He was a great guy that participated in a couple of my projects over the years. I wrote about him as a Neighbor Spotlight for the Riverwest Currents. Here’s a link: https://riverwestcurrents.org/2018/03/neighbor-spotlight-damien-jones.html
I’m thrilled that I have an article in this month’s Doctor Who Magazine (#523). I’ve been a fan of the show since I was kid, eagerly tuning into PBS each week to watch. I wrote an article on a local group called Dalek Asylum Milwaukee, who made an attempt to assemble the most Daleks (the cyborg enemies of the Doctor) in one place.
My nerd cred is way up.
The trouble with all the books I’ve written so far is that there is never enough time and budget to do everything I’d like to. A great case in point is not getting to the four corners region of New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Colorado to meet a man named JC Johnson and his cryptid research team Crypto 4 Corners in person.
I had a chance to talk to JC by phone and e-mail several times and he shared with me his videos and writings about his investigation in the field, looking into reports of Sasquatch, Dogmen, Skinwalkers, Thunderbirds, living dinosaurs, and something he dubbed “the Night Stalker.” It all sounded real creepy (especially the stories about Skinwalkers) and of course I was way into it. I enjoyed talking to JC and we went so far as to pick some dates I might join him and C4C on a field expedition.
C4C was a colorful looking group that looked like a cryptid hunting militia. What I found interesting was that they were one a very few cryptid groups that were ethnically diverse. I described their look in my book Monster Hunters:
“With their camo fatigues, generous supply of firearms, and a few heavily tattooed members, C4C looks like a zombie apocalypse survival team straight out of The Walking Dead.”
I was really excited to meet the team, but I simply ran out of time before my deadline, and couldn’t make it. I did write a couple of pages (pages 222-224) about the team in my Monster Hunters chapter “The Accidental Werewolf Chronicler,” which originally had the working title “Werewolves and Skinwalkers.”
The thing I liked most about JC was that he was a true adventurer. What a great thing to be!
JC with Crypto 4 Corners teammate Leonard Dan.
Well, here we are. I watched the Doomsday Clock announcement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists live this morning. The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock the Bulletin uses to illustrate if we’re moving closer or further from global annihilation (aka Midnight). Not surprisingly, it moved forward this year from 2.5 to 2 minutes to Midnight.
Among reasons cited were nuclear escalations in North Korea, Russia, and Iran as well as Trump’s loose rhetoric in talking about nukes (such as bragging about the size of his nuclear button), and a step backward in addressing climate change. You can read the Bulletin’s 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement here: https://thebulletin.org/2018-doomsday-clock-statement
Here’s some key milestones in the Doomsday Clock’s history:
1945: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists formed.
1947: Bulletin debutes the Doomsday Clock
1953: 2 minutes to Midnight: The invention of the H-bomb brought the clock the closest it’s ever been to Midnight…until we returned to that time today.
1984: 3 minutes to Midnight. The clock hovered close to Midnight throughout the “mutually assured destruction” days of the Cold War.
1991: With the Cold War over, the clock reached it’s furthest position away from 12 in 1991 at 17 minutes to Midnight.
2016: the Bulletin revealed that things didn’t look so great. The minutehand had crept forward to 3 to Midnight, the first time since the 1984 Cold War days. It was, as the Bulletin noted, “not good news.”
2017: With President Trump in office a mere few days, the Bulleting moved the clock forward to 2.5 minutes to Midnight, the first time in history the Bulletin utilized a half second. Among other reasons, the decision was based on fiery rhetoric from Trump and other politicians and world leaders.
2018: 2 minutes to Midnight. “You need to demand action,” the Bulletin stated today. “It is not yet midnight, and we have moved back from the brink in the past.”
My new book has a working title of The End and is out early next year from Chicago Review Press.
I’m glad to say I am a contributing author to a new sociological study of paranormal topics titled The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History. It’s a book “demonstrating the value of serious academic inquiry into supernatural beliefs and practices—from ghosts, vampirism, cryptozoology, and dark tourism to tarot cards, fortunetelling, voodoo, and alien abduction.” Sounds pretty groovy to me. It will be out in July from Temple University Press. The anthology is edited by professor Dennis Waskul of Minnesota State University and professor Marc Eaton of Ripon College. I’d like to thank them for their infinite patience in helping edit my contribution (Chapter 10: Cryptozoology: The Hunt for Hidden Animals and Monsters) into a coherent, well sourced study. This is my first bit of writing that’s less man-on-the-street and more man-in-a-tweed-coat-with-elbow-patches-smoking-a-pipe-in-a-library. I’m excited to see the published book this summer!
More book info from the publisher:
In the twenty-first century, as in centuries past, stories of the supernatural thrill and terrify us. But despite their popularity, scholars often dismiss such beliefs in the uncanny as inconsequential, or even embarrassing. The editors and contributors to The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History have made a concerted effort to understand encounters with ghosts and the supernatural that have remain present and flourished. Featuring folkloric researchers examining the cultural value of such beliefs and practices, sociologists who acknowledge the social and historical value of the supernatural, and enthusiasts of the mystical and uncanny, this volume includes a variety of experts and interested observers using first-hand ethnographic experiences and historical records.
The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History seeks to understand the socio-cultural and socio-historical contexts of the supernatural. This volume takes the supernatural as real because belief in it has fundamentally shaped human history. It continues to inform people’s interpretations, actions, and identities on a daily basis. The supernatural is an indelible part of our social world that deserves sincere scholarly attention.
Contributors include: Janet Baldwin, I’Nasah Crockett, William Ryan Force, Rachael Ironside, Tea Krulos, Joseph Laycock, Stephen L. Muzzatti, Scott Scribner, Emma Smith, Jeannie Banks Thomas, and the editors.
2017 was overall a good year for me. Sure there were some rough spots, but here at Krulos Command Center we don’t dwell on missed shots or miserable wretches you sometimes cross paths with. We focus on the WINNING.
The End: I’m wrapping up my third book for Chicago Review Press, which has the working title The End: A Journey Through America’s Apocalypse Culture. The deadline was pushed back a bit cause I just needed more time. The fun part of 2017 was finishing necessary travel for the book, that’s always a fun part. I went to Zombie Con in Missouri with Zombie Squad in June, an Escape the Woods survival camp in Ohio in July with my friend Alex, took a road trip to Kansas to tour the Survival Condos with my friend Paul, then journeyed alone to the Mojave Desert to check out the greatest party at the end of the world, Wasteland Weekend. I’m now working hard to wrap the book up.
Another great thing to come out of this project is The Apocalypse Blog Book Club. When I noticed that the current political climate led to a jump in sales for George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, I thought I should read up on dystopian novels. I try to immerse myself in whatever subject I’m writing on– I read a lot of superhero comics while working on Heroes in the Night and ghost stories when I was in the Monster Hunters zone. Then I decided instead of reading these titles alone, I should start a book club. We now have 173 members from around the world in our Facebook group, we host in-person discussion on titles at the Riverwest Public House and Boswell Book Company carries our selections. You can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/
Art Curator: I kind of unexpectedly fell into the role of curating the Riverwest Public House’s gallery wall. It’s been a lot of fun. We opened with a group show in April called “SAD! 100 Days of Trump,” and since then I’ve tried to reflect the diversity of art and artists in the neighborhood with solo and group shows– comic strip art, tattoo flash art, abstract paintings, photographs, prints, paintings, and installations. You can currently check an awesome installation/ display of photographs from Joe Brusky and the Overpass Light Brigade (through Jan.25).
Events: The third annual Milwaukee Paranormal Conference took place this year, along with related events the weekend of Oct.13-15. I have mixed feelings on how the event went, but I think I learned a lot on what worked and what didn’t. Milwaukee Krampusnacht was a huge hit for year one and we’ll be back with a great event in 2018.
Freelancing: I didn’t do as much freelancing as I have in years past as I was too busy with everything else. But I did contribute articles to the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee Record, M magazine, Rust magazine, and Riverwest Currents. I also contributed to and helped develop a column series for Alcoholmanac called “The New Brew City,” co-authored by Heidi Erickson, which explored some of the new breweries in town.
Personal: My family is doing well and I was glad to see an appearance of a new family member– my adorable niece Baby Gemma. I enjoyed the holidays with my family and my roommate, Lee.
The best thing that happened to me in 2017 was meeting a wonderful person, my girlfriend Kate. We were introduced by our mutual mystical friend, Skully. We developed a beautiful friendship and talking to Kate became my favorite pastime. She’s extremely smart and has been very helpful in helping me visualize potential and how to reorganize to get there. We’ve had some great adventures together already– we investigated the haunted Old Baraboo Inn, did a 30-day hot yoga challenge, started boxing/kickboxing class, rocked Milwaukee Krampusnacht, and created our own crafting company, Fox & Bear. And we got plenty of big ideas for 2018!
I hope you have a good year, my friends, and remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Be excellent to each other and…PARTY ON, DUDES!”
I attended a camping, training, and competition called Escape the Woods July 21-23 at Camp Lazarus in Delaware, Ohio. The weekend was led by Creek Stewart, survival instructor, author of survival guides, and star of the Weather Channel’s Fat Guys in the Woods and a new show called SOS: How to Survive. He’s the owner and lead instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor Survival School in Indiana and curates the Apocabox, a subscription service of survival supplies.
After a long ride from Milwaukee, me and my colleague Alex arrived at the Escape the Woods campsite just after noon. We registered with Todd, Escape the Woods COO (Chief Outdoors Officer) and set up camp. We had an orientation meeting and met the instructors. There were about 15 participants and around a dozen instructors. We were told this was a low number compared to past events, but it was good for us as we got plenty of one-on-one training. After orientation, we went to our first “pod” which was a firemaking one. Creek led this one and showed a variety of ways to start fires with tinder and igniters like a solar lens, steel and flint, and a ferro stick, which is this steel rod you scrape to get sparks. He even showed us how to scrape a guitar pick for tinder to ignite.
Our next pod was on water filtration and purification and was led by Jim Conley (and family) of Conley Backwoods Skills & Adventures. He showed various ways to build water filters from nature and different ways to boil water and purify. We also carved a hook to hang containers from a tripod above a fire.
This was our camp. We shared our circle with an Escape the Woods enthusiast from Michigan and a nice couple from Texas.
Alex chilling with his rocket stove that cooked things in like, one minute.
Saturday was a pretty intense training day. It started off with a knot tying pod, led by this gentleman (I forgot his name) and a guy named Jim Moore. I discovered I am pretty bad at tying knots.
One interesting guest instructor was Chet Snouffer of Leading Edge Boomerangs, 12 time National boomerang throwing champ, 3 time World Individual Champ, 6 time World Team Champ, former president of the US Boomerang Association. He had us take turns throwing boomerangs and throwing sticks (those are for hunting and aren’t supposed to come back.) He also busted out a jam on the didgeridoo.
Back to a quick fire pod, Creek demonstrated how to make a fire using a pump drill, which is a great way to make a fire if you want to get really frustrated.
He also showed how to make cordage using natural fibers. We twisted some rope together and here he is showing the group a useful hemp-like plant called dogbane.
Mike Jackson led a medic pod, talking about tourniquets and other emergency medical procedures.
Stephen Kinney and company led the next pod, which was about constructing traps and snares. Here he and Alex are setting a figure 4 trap, which when baited will squish an animal.
Here he’s demonstrating a simple snare. An animal steps in a loop and is caught hanging from a sapling (we used snow depth measure sticks for the pod).
Art Dawes of PA Wilderness Skills led the shelter building pod, showing how to make simple structures out of natural materials or with just a tarp.
I think he’s saying “here’s your new home!”
Back to fire pod to learn how to make a fire using a bow drill with Creek. It took a lot of elbow grease, but I did it!
Sunday was the competition day! Teams of two got points for completing tasks and extra points for placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd as well as extra points if they chose a challenge, which could be good or bad (60 second head start was a good one, doing a task while wearing gloves was a bad one). The first challenge was bayoneting wood down and starting a fire with a ferro stick, and it needed to be a strong enough fire to burn through the paracord stretched above it. Me and Alex completed, but didn’t place.
Next challenge– building a tripod, a fire, and hanging a container with our hook about the fire and getting 8 oz of water to a boil within 20 minutes. We were real close, real real close, but the water wasn’t quite at a boil when they called time.
Our next challenge was building a tarp structure, duplicating a model, down to the knots and all. Alex calmly and confidentially put this together while I assisted. We would have gotten FIRST, but two of the knots were not the same ones on the model so we had to retie them. By the time they were retied, we were third.
Collection of tarp structures.
This next challenge was hard and we didn’t complete. You had to tie together a rope and catch an ammo box with a hook, then open it and hit a target with a slingshot.
Last challenge was setting a figure 4 trap, a snare, making cordage with toliet paper to carry a jug back to the finish line. We completed. After there was an award meeting. Our tent neighbor from Michigan won first place, and got a nice trophy knife and a pack filled with various survival supplies. Me and Alex hit the road to head towards home.
This was a really great experience. All the instructors were knowledgeable and made us feel welcome. I learned some new things and had fun.
You can find more info and upcoming events at: www.escapethewoods.com
Tea Krulos is currently working on a book with the working title The End. Provided, of course, that the world still exists by publication date.