Tea’s Weird Week: The TWW podcast is back on for Season 5!

I took a break from this column for the last two weeks– call it a summer break, I guess, I had other stuff to work on. But I’m back on track now and the Tea’s Weird Week podcast is also back for season 5. I’m so glad! Last month I got to see the full podcast crew– my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Andrew (FlatlineAudio138), and trivia master Miss Information at the Oddities & Curiosities Expo.

Fun times– you know we’re happy when we get to check out about of weird shit.

Some of the guests we’ve got scheduled for this season: Christie Wallace and Heather McKinney of the Sinisterhood podcast (they’re doing a live show in Milwaukee July 1!), John Borowski (Serial Killer Culture), Eric and Kim Hayden (American Madness doc), Jenny Sanchez (“Long Days Travel“), Chris Drosner (executive editor at Milwaukee Magazine and “Beer Baron” columnist), and Christopher House (Twisted Dreams Film Fest). I’m glad to say the last four people on that list are collaborating with me on projects– articles, a book, documentaries. That type of stuff.

This season we’re also hoping to get out of the studio and visit some local weird hot spots, plus we’ll have some fun music guests and you can win prize packs by participating in our weekly trivia question.

Our first episode for this season is live now. No special guest for this one– I talk about some of the columns I’ve written during our podcast break, then me and Heidi dive into the mass of weird news: horny Swedish garbage cans, Sarah Palin vs Santa Claus, the Amarillo Dogman, Polish LARPers, and sentient AI, plus trivia and a new track from our sound engineer FlatlineAudio138, “Alien Overdose.”

You can listen here: Tea’s Weird Week S5 ep01: The Wise Owl and the Monster in Human Skin (an AI fable) (podbean.com)
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Thanks for tuning in!

Podcast art by Tim Demeter

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My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Who Said It–Phantom Patriot or Marjorie Taylor Greene?

My book American Madness (2020, Feral House) tells the story of Richard McCaslin, who, inspired by conspiracy peddler Alex Jones, bought an arsenal of weapons, created a costumed persona– the Phantom Patriot (complete with a skull mask) raided a place called the Bohemian Grove in 2002, had a standoff with the cops, and went to jail. He died by suicide in 2018.

Sound crazy? Sure. But is it more so than supporting the armed Q d’etat of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in which 5 people died? That’s what Marjorie Taylor Greene (MTG), who represents Georgia in the House of Representatives, has done.

That’s my point of this column– when I originally met Richard in 2010, I thought he was the fringest of the fringe. Now, in the Trump era, I think he was somehow ahead of the curve, the zeitgeist. He was conspiracy hip before it was hip to be hip. Could Richard have been elected to Congress? In 2010 I would have laughed at that idea, but these days I think he’d be a shoo-in if he found the right district. Hey, MTG did it (and it looks likely she’ll win reelection this year).

Richard and MTG have some pretty big differences– Richard always despised Trump, for example, and he was suspicious of QAnon (the cult where MTG got her first boost). I think he was a true believer that wanted to help people by exposing the “Deep State,” while MTG is just a hatemonger. But still, they have similar ideas– they believe 9/11 conspiracy and hate Hillary. I don’t know if Richard would go for the Jewish space laser thing– probably. They’re so similar, that I thought I’d show you six quotes. Who said what? Answers are below.

One) “Bill Gates wants you to eat this fake meat that grows in a [petri dish] so you’ll probably get a little zap inside your body that’ll say ‘No, don’t eat a real cheeseburger, you need to eat the fake burger.’”

Two) “The Illuminati controlled CDC lies to the American public, 24/7. Just look at all the money being made on these shots right now… the microchips will definitely be in those shots. Anyone who refuses to get vaccinated will be ‘quarantined’ indefinitely in a FEMA residential center, a concentration camp.”

Three) “As far as our so-called ‘elected’ officials in Washington DC and California are concerned, the Luciferian Doctrine dictates their motives and actions, not the Constitution!”

Four) On the 2017 Mandalay Bay mass shooting in Las Vegas: “How do you get avid gun owners and people that support the Second Amendment to give up their guns and go along with anti-gun legislation? You make them scared, you make them victims and you change their mindset and then possibly you can pass anti-gun legislation. Is that what happened in Las Vegas? I don’t believe [mass shooter Stephen Paddock] pulled this off all by himself.”

Five) On the same 2017 shooting: “Most of the photos taken inside the hotel room look staged; especially the one supposedly showing Stephen Paddock dead on the floor…Paddock was/is obviously a Project Monarch patsy, who was used by the CIA, to get those 13 suitcases of guns and ammo up to the hotel room. Paddock was a high roller in Vegas, so nobody would question the excessive luggage. The motive for the massacre is simple…more gun restrictions, to effectively disarm the American people.”

Six) “Probably, in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore. Everyone will be gay or trans or non-conforming or whatever list of 50 or 60 options, which there are.”


ANSWERS!

One. This is a MJT quote from this week and the inspiration for this column. She said this on her “MTG Live” social media show, though in her exact quote she called it a “peach tree dish,” similarly to her botched attempt to call out “Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho.” Marjorie Taylor Greene warns of meat grown in a ‘peach tree dish’ while peddling Bill Gates conspiracy (yahoo.com)

Two. Letter to me from Richard, dated Oct. 25, 2010. He was talking about H1N1 and Swine Flu, but mentions there will be a pandemic with mandatory vaccines, an eerie prediction of COVID-19, which he didn’t live to see. He didn’t mention Bill Gates in this, but he did tell me he believed Gates vaccine charity programs in Africa were an attempt at microchipping and/ or genocide for population control.

Three. Letter to me from Richard, dated Dec. 23, 2010. It does sound like a variation on QAnon’s popular “Democrat/elite Satanic baby eating pedophile cabal.”

Four: That’s MJT in a video she posted 4 days after the shooting, on Oct. 5, 2017: (129) Marjorie Taylor Greene video – YouTube

Five: Email to me from Richard, Oct. 6, 2017, the day after MTG posted her video! As you can see, Richard and MJT’s “mass shooter hoax/ false flag” theories were very similar. This is one conspiracy I WISH had a grain of truth to it. When? When will the Deep State take all the guns? For that matter, when will they pass a piece of legislature that will put any sort of reasonable limit on gun purchase whatsoever? I’ve been hearing Obama or someone is “taking the guns” for a solid 14 years now. C’mon, Deep State– do it!

Six: Haaaa, I hope so! Better than a generation of stupid hateful bigots like MTG, who said this. I never heard Richard spout off homophobic shit. And at least he had a cool costume. Marjorie Taylor Greene says straight people will soon be extinct / LGBTQ Nation

Please Clap Dept.: I wrote a feature focusing on commercial fisherman Ken Koyen titled “The Last Fisherman of Washington Island,” for the June issue of Milwaukee Magazine. You can read it here: www.milwaukeemag.com/meet-the-last-fisherman-of-washington-island

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Jurassic Lark? Are Dinosaur Deniers for Real?

I see there’s another Jurassic Park movie out soon (June 9) to kick off summer blockbuster season, so I thought it was as good a time as any to talk about a special breed of conspiracy theorists sometimes called “dinosaur deniers.” Me and Heidi talked about this on the Tea’s Weird Week podcast after I joined a viral Facebook group called Christians Against Dinosaurs. There were quite a few laughs. The group says that “Big Paleo” is the force of greed that perpetuates the “Dino Lie” to eager “dinophiles” so they can rake in the big money selling phony fossils to museums.

But in scrolling through the group it was really difficult to determine if these people truly held these beliefs or if it was a master class of trolling. And if it was trollcraft, it seemed likely it had inadvertently attracted some people who do believe that dinosaurs never existed.

Their have been legit dinosaur deniers in the past, and the main talking points are either religious– fossils were fakes created by Satan to bolster evolution theories or some such, or are theories cherry picking hoaxes and scientific error.

While working on my book American Madness, Dr. Daniel White of University of Sydney was helpful in explaining the appeal of conspiracy belief. Here’s a quote from him in the book:

“Those ‘selling’ conspiracy theories are better at selling themselves as experts than their mainstream alternatives, as well as what their ‘research’ finds. Science is very self-doubting in its presentation; usually, a finding is put forward as something along the lines of ‘based on our findings we can predicte that the most likely explanation is…however, here are the limitations of our study.'”

Compare that to someone like Alex Jones slamming his fist on a desk screaming about how he has “irrefutable proof” of some “false flag” attack. A lot more confident!

American Madness also took me to the International Flat Earth Conference in Dallas. Although there obviously were some other media types there and maybe a couple of undercover “globehead” (that’s the term for dum dums that believe the world is ball shaped) gawkers, I can say that the majority of the roughly 500 people there were legit Flat Earthers, so dinosaur deniers is not far fetched by comparison.

But there are several examples of conspiracy movement hoaxes. Before the modern wave of Flat Earthers, there was a Canadian group in the 1970s called the Flat Earth Society, based out of Saint Thomas University, a satire group of poets and philosophy students. A more recent example is the Birds Aren’t Real, a group of jokers who say they believe birds are actually government surveillance robots. But these days, things are so fucking nuts, who can tell what is real and what isn’t?!

I read a good article about all this from 2015 titled “Poes, Trolls, and Dinosaur Deniers” for skeptic.com, written by a paleontologist named Dr. Donald Prothero. He warns of Poe’s Law, described in this passage:

This (the Christians Against Dinosaurs group) seems so over the top that it immediately struck me as another example of extreme satire and parody which are so common on the internet. Often referred to as a “Poe,” these satirical pieces are intended to mock the bizarre beliefs of many groups of people from the extreme political and religious fringes. According to RationalWiki, the idea was first coined by Nathan Poe in a 2005 post, and “Poe’s Law” is the “observation that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between parodies of fundamentalism or other extreme views and their genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane.”

He points out solid evidence that the Christian Against Dinosaurs group started, at least, as a joke, with admins tied to other satire sites. Kristin Auclair, who recorded videos for the group talking about dinosaur denial, claims on a post that her videos were “satire,” though like third-rate knock-offs of The Onion, it’s hard to see the satire because of Poe’s Law, which makes it pretty unfunny, in my opinion.

To add to the confusion, Christians Against Dinosaurs encouraged a protest against a Tucson McDonald’s that has a statue of a dinosaur outside it on Tanque Verde Road in August 2020. Someone inside the group encouraged people to call the franchise’s management and a “spokesperson” told the local Patch.com affiliate (one of several local media outlets to pick up the story) that “We’re fed up with everybody acting like the people of Tucson are imbeciles and we want to help.”

This was certainly more trolling, but as Dr. Prothero notes:

We are also in the tricky position demonstrated by all Poes: the crazies out there are so bizarre that it’s often impossible to tell a well-crafted parody from the real thing.

Yes, indeed.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: You are Geraldo Rivera, high on ecstasy, looking at a UFO in the Bahamas

You close your eyes. You open them– it is nighttime in the Bahamas. You’re not sure of the date. When you look in the rearview mirror, you confirm what you suspected all along: that you are, in fact, TV personality Geraldo Rivera. You touch your moustache and let out an exclamation, but it comes out sounding like an interdimensional horror choir– the multitude of voices all off key, in different octaves: “hO{Y sHiiii!!!iiit, I-I-I-I’M yOuuuuR hOwwsT,,,,,,gERAww{-do rIVeeeeRa.”

Yes, everyone knows you. The guy who said he was going to bust into Al Capone’s vault to uncover his incredible treasures (1986), only to find some dusty beer bottles, aka the Most Disappointing Moment on Television and the Beginning of the Age of Disenchantment. The guy who got his thumb bit by a KKK dude in Janesville (1992). The guy who started a riot on his show (1988) when he invited white supremacists, anti-racist skinheads, black and Jewish activists to share the stage. Gee, what could go wrong there? In the brawl that followed, you got your nose broken with a chair, but the ratings! The ratings! That’s how you did it in those days. Let’s see Sally Jessy start a race riot. Let’s see old man Donahue take on GG Allin (1992)! Not likely– if you want it done right, you need the man with the stash, the man with the plan, yours truly, Geraldo Rivera.

It wasn’t always that way, of course. There was time before all the sensationalistic crud. You put both hands on the wheel, your shoulders right back and smile as the palm trees whiz by and remember what should be the highlight of your career, the stuff you should be remembered for (but won’t). A flashback to 1972– you’re a young man, a reporter for Eyewitness News, and you bravely sneak into Willowbrook State School to uncover and break the story of the atrocities happening at this mental health facility. You win the fucking Peabody. John Lennon watched and was moved and you and him set up a benefit concert for the victims in Madison Square Garden. Geraldo Rivera, National Hero!

You decide to ride the crest of that wave and not the years of being a FOX flunkey that followed, the time you blamed a black kid’s murder on his hoodie, or accidentally gave away troop locations and got kicked out of Iraq. You lean over and open the glove box, unwrapping a plastic sandwich baggie. Inside are a few chalky white tablets. You pop one in your mouth, roll it on your tongue, then swallow, wiping your moustache, eyes on the road here in the beautiful Bahamas. Some time later– it’s hard to keep track, you feel your muscles melt in warmth, a sense of euphoria washing over you. I am the Walrus, I am the Geraldo Fucking Rivera, goo goo g’joob. You look up at the starry sky and then your head fills with a brilliant light when you realize your next big scoop– you need to travel to another planet and get punched in the face by an extraterrestrial. The ratings!

Just as you have this thought, you see something incredible in the tropical air. It’s something important– almost as important as seeing the ratings after your Murder: Live on Death Row special. It’s otherworldly. A glowing craft in the sky above you, over the island.

It looks like a great big North star, you think. It’s brighter than the North star is, and it’s right on the horizon there. You try to avoid it by steering around it, but it keeps following you.

You are transfixed, but you are suddenly sucked forward in time. It is 2022 and you’re trying to tell the story on the FOX show The Five, but your colleague Emily Compagno is chastising you for driving while high on ecstasy. Where’s your Peabody, Compagno? When was the last time a racist hit you across the face with a chair? When was the last time you took molly and came face-to-face with the very fabric of the Mysteries of the Universe? You are not Geraldo Rivera. But I am.

Source: “FOX News’ Geraldo Rivera claims he saw UFO while ‘stoned on ecstasy,'” nypost.com, May 18, 2022.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: A Tale of Two Chupacabras

There are two types of Chupacabras within you. Let’s discuss.

Well, actually, maybe I should back up. When my book Monster Hunters was released in 2015, I decided to celebrate by creating a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. We needed a snappy logo and I decided on a Chupacabra. But why– Chupacabras has no connection to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, right? It’s legend is found in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, and southern states like Texas and New Mexico.

I’ll tell you why. Chupacabras are 100% certified badass, that’s why. That’s it. Plus artist David Beyer had drawn an incredibly badass Chup for Monster Hunters, for a chapter titled “The Slaying of the Chupacabras,” so we recycled that art into the logo. I wanted to switch up art every year, so subsequent MPC Chup logos were designed by artists Catherine Palmeno (2016), Alex Groh (2017), Tim Demeter (2019- we skipped’18), and Estephanie Mendoza (2021- we had a virtual event in 2020, that year we had a Sasquatch/UFO designed by Margot Lange).

I happen to love the word, story, and imagery of CHUPACABRAS. In fact, I have a long delayed fiction that has a trio of Chupacabras in the storyline. I would love to work on that some day (but it won’t be some day soon).

The first Chupacabras reports can be traced back, specifically, to Puerto Rico (let’s call it Chupacabras puertoricanus). In his book Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore (University of New Mexico Press, 2011), researcher Benjamin Radford lays out a compelling case that the original Chupacabra case stems from a Puerto Rican woman who had just seen the movie Species (1995) and shortly after claimed to have seen a similar creature on her property. Like the creature in Species (which was designed by the great artist H.R. Giger), this monster was described is looking somewhat like a hunched over Grey alien with rows of long spines on it’s back; later depictions also included bat-like wings and fangs.

A Chupacabra sketch based on the first eyewitness account in Puerto Rico,

The news grew bat wings on the island and soon people were talking about US experiments gone wrong and the creature was blamed for reports of livestock allegedly found drained of their blood. Chupacabras translates to “goat-sucker.” As my TWW podcast co-host Heidi likes to say: “Chupacabras: they really get your goat.”

The second style of Chup comes from the Mexico-US border area (Chupacabras texmexus) some years later. These reports, it was quickly determined, were not of supernatural creatures, but rather of poor dogs, foxes, and coyotes suffering from bad cases of mange. Mange causes animals to lose their fur. Imagine driving under the moonlight on a rural road and your headlights happen upon this poor devil lurking on the side of the road:

A “Chupacabra” spotted on a golf course in South Carolina. The poor critter is a fox or coyote with mange.

The southern Chupacabra has taken on a life as it’s own and sometimes you’ll see a crossbreed of the two– a canine-like animal with spines down the back and extra-terrestrial black eyes. Ah, the life of a Chupacabra breeder.

So now, as we begin planning stages of Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2022, I asked artist Jill Zgorzelski to design this year’s logo. She asked if I was looking for the Puerto Rican or Southern version, and although our previous artists have gone with the Puerto Rican, I told her either is acceptable, because we need to let all Chupacabras into our hearts and minds. She’s going for the Southern fried version and I know she’ll do something great.

SEE ALSO: My book Monster Hunters is still available here: Monster Hunters | Chicago Review Press

Keep an eye out for the new art and Milwaukee Paranormal Conference updates on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Check out Jill Zgorzelski’s art page here: Jill C. Zgorzelski | Facebook

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: “The Superhero Complex” Podcast Examines the Phoenix Jones Story

It’s been almost ten years since my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real-life Superhero Movement (2013, Chicago Review Press) was published. Writing that remains one of the great adventures of my life. For years I worked my day job(s) and spent many nights on patrol with people who had adopted their own homemade superhero personas, a secretive subculture of Real Life Superheroes (RLSH). I went out on patrol or participated in RLSH events in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, New Bedford, Vancouver, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle. More on that last city in a moment.

During that process I met several people that I still consider to be friends today. I also learned how to write a book and a lot about the writing process in general. After many rejections from agents and publishers, I sold the book to Chicago Review Press in 2012. Since then, I’ve had five more books published. My book American Madness, which I think is my best, also spun out of this work (though it went in a very different direction). I’m currently working on what I hope will be books 7 and 8.

One of the most memorable moments of working on Heroes was a rather terrifying night I spent following RLSH Phoenix Jones in Seattle. I wrote two chapters about him: “Mr. Jones and Me” and “People Fighting and Pepper Spray and Superheroes and…I Don’t Know,” the last title a quote from someone on the phone with 911. Phoenix Jones, who claims he is a “perfect crimefighter” doesn’t like me, because when I described the “Pepper Spray Incident,” the total shitshow of him attempting to break up a fight (alluded to in that chapter title), he became upset that it wasn’t a flattering portrayal. I only wrote what I observed firsthand (though through a cloud of pepper spray, of course.) As I mentioned– it was a terrifying night. There were a couple moments that night where I thought my goose was cooked.

Now, a new podcast, The Superhero Complex, reported by David Weinberg (and produced by Novel for iHeartRadio) delves deep into the Phoenix Jones story. It’s highly recommended by me. In Heroes I largely just shared my experiences being out on patrol with Jones, but David digs into his past (Jones is an amazing bowler, it turns out), documents the falling out with his team, his arrests, and his misadventures in the years beyond when Heroes was published, so I learned a lot listening to it. It’s revelations about Phoenix Jones are interesting and, many times, disturbing.

The Superhero Complex has got a great mix of people weighing in on the Seattle story and this unusual subculture I was engrained in for many years– and still have some contact with.

I was interviewed for the podcast and am featured in a couple episodes so far. In episode one, “Out of the Shadows,” I talk briefly about the Bald Knobbers, a masked vigilante gang in the Ozarks from the late 1800s. The Knobbers started by hanging livestock thieves, but devolved into doling out punishment to unmarried couples living together and whipping people accused of “being ornery.” In episode four, “Under the Spotlight” I talk about the infamous “Pepper Spray Incident.”

The first episodes are out and you can listen to it here: www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-the-superhero-complex-94326228

Tea Krulos with Phoenix Jones on the streets of Seattle, October 2011. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

SEE ALSO: Heroes in the Night: Inside the Superhero Movement is still available here: www.ipgbook.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Hello, I Must Be Going

“I’ll stay a week or two, I’ll stay the summer through, but I am telling you…I must be going.” –Groucho Marx
“I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”— also Groucho Marx

I was late to coming around to the Internet and social media. I did not get my first email account until 2001. If you weren’t around then, that was pretty late to the game. I was traveling in 2001 to the West Coast and Australia, many of my friends had them, and I saw the value of having one for communication. Especially if I was stranded in Australia (which almost happened, but that’s another story.) I walked from Riverwest to the East Library to get 30 minutes of computer time once a week. Gadzooks, can you imagine? 30 minutes of screen time A WEEK.

I was slow to social media, too. My first social was a MySpace page for Wally Wurst, an anthropomorphic cigar chompin, appletini swilling sausage that was the mascot of an underground comic anthology I edited at the time, called Riverwurst Comics. I set that up, maybe 2003. I didn’t really want to join, but I saw the value of promoting the comic book online, so I’d post some jokes and info on where to buy the rag. I finally created my own profile, also on MySpace, round about 2006, I believe. Then I picked up a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram over the years. I recently set up a TikTok, but haven’t used it– I just can’t even.

Why the hesitation to the socials? I saw exactly everything I would hate about it in the tea leaves– the vile gangbang of unsolicited opinions, failure to recognize different perspectives, the cancel mobs, the threats and bullying by people hiding behind a screen, the moral piety, the lies, the insanity, the schadenfreude, the lack of context, and, of course, the straight up demented stupidity.

Of course there is a good side to it, too. It has helped me keep up with friends, old and new. I can see the cool things they are up to, and that makes me happy. It has helped me network. One time I needed a fog machine for an event, I made a post, and 30 seconds later someone told me they had one I could borrow. Nice work, team! It has helped me promote my books, events, and other work…sometimes.

Let me switch gears and talk about my writing. I would say a majority of it is meant to spotlight people, places, and things that I view in a positive light. Did you Doctor Who fans know that there’s a workshop, Dalek Asylum, that builds their own Daleks (the evil cyborgs in the show, if you’re not a Whovian)? I wrote about that. There’s a great DJ, DJ Bizzon, who wrote a guide on how to be a DJ. That’s pretty cool, I did an interview with him. Recently I wrote about projects to highlight Indigenous culture in Milwaukee. I learned a lot writing that, and it was an honor. Those are three examples of hundreds of articles I’ve written over the last 15 plus years. When I post these, a few friends like or share but they unfortunately don’t get the same attention as something negative.

Sometimes I write about things that happen in the world that are pretty heavy, but they happened and should be examined. A good example of that is my book American Madness. It is about the tragic turn a man named Richard McCaslin’s life took when he became wrapped up in conspiracy theories. I think it’s the most important thing I’ve written. It was a project not for the faint of heart. I put great care into these stories. These stories will take a toll on you.

It’s a rough, often thankless business. Yesterday, I solicited my Facebook friends for info on a tragic story here in Milwaukee that I was assigned to write about. A few people I don’t really know jumped my ass in the comments, lecturing me about… I don’t know– how it was “too soon” for me in particular to report the news, even though channels 12 and 58 have already reported it. These people don’t know me, I’m pretty sure they’ve not read anything I’ve ever wrote, let alone my recent works (writers are hopefully always evolving), and have no qualifications to give me a morality lesson.

“Anyone who thinks you’d tell some kind of predatory or sensationalistic story must not know you very well. Your approach and sensitivity is why I asked you to pick it up,” my editor replied to me when I explained what happened.

My editor knows me better than these people on Facebook– the type of “friends” that never ever ever never leave a positive comment or even a thumbs up, but appear out of thin air to argue with your friends in the comments or pedantically give a “well, actually.” It’s creepy and it was just kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back, as they say, on an already stressful week.

Facebook was the main social where I shared personal stuff. I decided to stay off Facebook for an undetermined amount of time, except for Messenger, which is where I communicate with friends and people I’m working on projects with. There’s a great Tea’s Weird Week group, that’ll probably be the first place I reappear, but for now the talented team of mods will do fine running the joint. I’ll post updates on my work on Twitter and Instagram, but probably not personal shit.

What shall I do without this social media world? You know, I miss seeing my friends. I’m kinda lonely these days, so I think I’ll hit them up and see if they want to meet up for a drink, or do something in the real world. If they think I’m a fuck-up, they can tell it to my face.

I’ll be back into the thicket of social media someday, when it feels right (and following a mass purge of the “friends” list) but for now…I must be going.

Follow me on: Substack//Twitter//Instagram

My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: Friday Happy Hour w/ Tea @Lion’s Tooth

Tea as in…Tea Krulos. Just a short column this week to tell you that I’ll be hanging out at my favorite store Lion’s Tooth tomorrow (Friday, April 22) from 5-7pm. Lion’s Tooth is an independent bookstore in Milwaukee and they’ve been selling quite a few copies of my last two titles, American Madness (published by Feral House, 2020, and Lion’s Tooth’s bestselling title to date) and Brady Street Pharmacy (VA Press, 2021). When they mentioned they were re-ordering copies, I suggested a simple Happy Hour hangout, so if anyone wanted a signed copy and get one.

It’s been a very long week filled with lots of writing work, so I’ll be glad just to sit at their bar and get a drink. I’ve reached into the Krulos Secret Stash for this happy hour– the first 5 people to stop in and buy a copy of American Madness will get this limited edition of a comic drawn by Richard McCaslin. This features one of his rarely seen autobiographical comics and a special introduction by me. Feral House did a run of these to tie in with book promotion. I’ve got a small stash of extra copies.

Also, the first 2 people to get a copy of Brady Street Pharmacy will get original sketches that appear in the book. I drew these on pieces of scrap paper with a ballpoint pen to pass the time while working at the Pharmacy. These two I’m giving away are of Pharmacy regulars “Filthy McNasty” (there’s a story about him in the book) and “The Pirate” (who is mentioned in brief).

So there ya go– you can support me, a really fantastic independent bookstore and independent publishers and get some rare items. You know I hate clichés, but I really will be saying TGIF tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

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My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Tea’s Weird Week: There Are About 60 QAnon Followers Running for Congress This Year

I regret to inform you that QAnon followers– about 60 of them– are on the campaign trail, hoping to get elected in this year’s midterms. Two years ago, I wrote a similar column in February 2020 titled “There Are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress.” That numbered ballooned to about 75 by Election Day. Most all of them lost, but two of them did worm their way in– Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.

Now, with a Midterm election this year, Media Matters for America has identified 60 QAnon candidate hopefuls running for Congress. They report that of the QAnon candidates, “Twelve are from Florida, nine are from California, six are from Texas, four are from Illinois, three each are from New York, New Jersey, and Arizona, two each are from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, Oregon, and Ohio, and there is one each from Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, Vermont, Iowa, Alaska, Georgia, and Colorado.”

You can see the full list with evidence of their Q-aligned posts here: Here are the QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2022 | Media Matters for America

Some notable campaigns:

– The aforementioned Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are running to hold onto their Congress seats in Georgia and Colorado. Over their two years in Congress they’ve been a consistent source of all sorts of attention for being anti-transgender, islamophobic, traitors, dumb, and just straight up psychotic. The latest from Greene is very much in line with her Pizzagate/ QAnon roots– squawking that “any senator voting to confirm [Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court] is pro-pedophile just like she is,” following a false QAnon narrative that Judge Jackson was lenient on pedophiles.

Ron Watkins. Watkins is seen as either being mostly or greatly responsible for spreading QAnon ideas. Watkins, an owner and moderator of the 8chan/8kun message boards (where he was known as CodeMonkeyZ), where Q’s mysterious drops were facilitated, is thought to be Q himself, or at the least someone who helped facilitate whoever it is, or more likely, was part of a collaboration between him and other people. He’s running for US Rep in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. SEE ALSO: HBO documentary Q: Into the Storm.

Those are the three most famous campaigns for this year. But what might be more dangerous is the lesser known, unwatched campaigns. After Marjorie Taylor Greene won her primary in a deep red district, I wrote a follow up column titled “Well, it Happened- Meet Your First QAnon Congressional Representative,” in which I said:

“I can’t help but feel that a terrible door has been opened with Greene. It’s tempting to downplay her win– she’s just 1 of 435 members of the House of Representatives, but what is going to follow? An entire QAnon caucus? A task force to investigate Democrats for imprisoning “mole children?” A Flat Earth Party? It seems like any batshit crazy bad idea is possible right now.”

Sadly, I still don’t think that’s far-fetched. Please be sure to vote!

Please Clap Dept.: The TWW podcast is on spring break, but I was guest for a second time on the great Fascinating Nouns podcast. You can check it out here: fascinatingnouns.com/tea-krulos

My book American Madness can be bought at: Lion’s Tooth//Bookshop.org//Amazon
And please rate/ review on GoodreadsAmazon, and/or share on social media. I appreciate the support.

Tea’s Weird Week: Phantom Patriot Featured in New Primus “Conspiranoia” Video

Primus has released their first new track in 5 years. It’s titled “Conspiranoia,” and it has some connections to my book American Madness. My book is about Richard McCaslin, who styled himself as a conspiracy commando called the Phantom Patriot. Inspired by Alex Jones, McCaslin fashioned himself a superhero costume and heavily armed himself. He raided a place in the forests of North California called the Bohemian Grove in 2002. Conspiracy says that the world’s most rich and powerful men sacrifice people in a Satanic ritual in front of a giant statue of an owl within the Grove. Richard had a standoff with the police and was arrested.

Richard McCaslin in his Phantom Patriot costume, shortly before his 2002 raid on the Bohemian Grove.

Les Claypool, bassist and singer for Primus, has a ranch close to the Grove in Occidental, California. Richard’s arrest did not become a huge story, but it was picked up by a couple of California newspapers. Claypool, who read the news stories and was inspired to write a song titled “Phantom Patriot,” which appeared on his solo 2006 album Of Whales and Woe album.

I thought it would be pretty great if I could interview Claypool about this, so I doggedly emailed his talent agency until they agreed to set up a short phone interview with him. He was understandably nervous talking about Richard (“is this a stable individual, would you say?” was the first thing he said to me), as he didn’t want to face violent retaliation. Richard originally liked the “Phantom Patriot” song (he described it as a “modern day folksong”) but, like everything, it soon entered the web of the conspiracy when he saw symbolism in the accompanying video (which, Claypool explained to me, had nothing to do with him– it was just a piece of animation that paired nicely with the track). Richard took his own life in 2018.

When I saw the title of the new Primus song, I remembered a quote from Claypool, which appears on page 98 of American Madness, where Claypool describes the Bohemian Grove:

“…there’s all this mystery of what happens in the Grove with the Bohemian Club, it’s a collection of the elite as well as a bunch of artists,” Claypool explained. “Actually, my old music teacher was a trombonist for the Bohemian Club way back in the day. But there is this mystery, and a bit of conspiranoia as to what goes on there and some of it is fairly extreme.”

After American Madness came out, I did try to email Claypool’s talent agency a couple times to get a copy of the book to him, but got no reply. Les, if you’re reading this, I’d love to send you a book. But maybe he ended up reading it anyhow…

When I saw the link to the video, I set aside 11 minutes 38 seconds to give it a good look. I really love it, it’s a great prog rock that sails the seas of cheese of an epic subject– the ridiculous but sad Conspiracy World.

We meet Lloyd Boyd, conspiranoid who launches himself into the sky in a lawn chair to prove the earth is flat. Ridiculous, huh? Well, no, a Flat Earther named “Mad Mike” Hughes did die in 2020 after launching himself into the skies above Barstow with a rocket for the same goal. What about Marion Barrion, contrarian, who puts cat urine in her eyes, garlic cloves in her nose, and taping dryer sheets to her head to ward off COVID? Not far fetched at all, especially considering the President of the United States of America recommended injecting bleach. That’s the real problem– not the Lloyd Boyds and the Marion Barrions with their tin foil hats, but the people like Trump and Alex Jones who exploit and profit off of their mentalities.

The video goes into a beautiful tapestry of conspiracy classics– Bigfoot, black helicopters, chemtrails, and gay frogs. Many of these topics are discussed in American Madness. My eyes widened at the 4:21 mark, where we see a quick flash of the Great Owl of Bohemia statue in the Grove.

The Great Owl art that appears in the “Conspiranoia” video.

At the 6:23 there is great conspiracy mega-list– some real, some invented for comic effect, some– who knows? It’s hard to tell what are real beliefs and what are jokes these days. Different images flash on rows of TVs, and then at the 8:45 mark, there he is– the Phantom Patriot (same photo as above). Personally, I’m thrilled to see the Phantom Patriot acknowledged. Richard, however, would have dismissed this as some kind of government psy-op program to hide the truth, part of the mass web of conspiracy orchestrated against him. Here’s the video:

I’ll give Primus the last word on this one: “Be wary of conspiranoia/ as purveyors, abound/ for an open mind too open/ spills its contents on the ground.” I couldn’t agree more. That describes exactly what happened to Richard McCaslin.

American Madness is currently being developed into a documentary and this month director Eric Hayden is filming a recreation of the Phantom Patriot’s raid into the Bohemian Grove. I’ve seen pictures of the recreation of Richard’s costume and it is a spot on duplication, down to the last stitch. I’m very excited to see his final footage.

Here is my request, if you’re reading this. Buy a copy of American Madness: Lion’s Tooth//Bookshop.org//Amazon
And please rate/ review on Goodreads, Amazon, and/or share on social media. I appreciate the support.

SEE ALSO: I wrote about the Bohemian Grove shutting down their summer encampment for the first time in 142 years (because of COVID) here: Tea’s Weird Week: Summer Plans are Canceled for the New World Order | (teakrulos.com)

Please Clap Dept.: My article from the March Milwaukee Magazine, “Visibly Indigenous,” is now online. It was a great honor to write: How Milwaukee’s Native Community Is Working to Be Un-Erased (milwaukeemag.com)

Tea’s Weird Week, S4 ep10: The Big French Fry Perfume Beaver Fever Tiger Nuggets Corpse DJ Oregon Trail Charles Darwin Diary Mystery Finale: Me and Heidi talk weird news, trivia answers, closing track by The LOL, “Six Feet Under the Dance Floor.” Fun times!
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week S4 ep10: The Big French Fry Perfume Beaver Fever Tiger Nuggets Corpse DJ Oregon Trail Charles Darwin Diary Mystery Finale (podbean.com)
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