Monthly Archives: December 2020
By Tea Krulos
In my book American Madness, I tell the story of Richard McCaslin who, after watching a documentary by Alex Jones (InfoWars), is inspired to adopt a superhero conspiracy commando persona, the Phantom Patriot, and raid a secret retreat called the Bohemian Grove. He was arrested and spent over six years in prison. Richard first contacted me when he was still on parole and we communicated his preferred way for the first year or so– good old fashioned letter writing. When I opened my second letter from Richard, I remember my eyeballs being overwhelmed because he had written out the key points of his beliefs about Reptilian aliens (you can find a scan of some pages of this letter at the end of this post). What the hell was this guy talking about?
The Reptilian theory suggests that a race of cold-blooded, shape-shifting lizard people has infiltrated the human race and that many of our world leaders are Reptilians in disguise. The father of this theory and it’s major proponent is British conspiracist David Icke. After he was released from prison, Richard became a devote follower of Icke, attending one of his 9-hour long lectures and reading his hefty volumes of conspiracy rants. When Richard took his own life, he left behind a document, outlining 21 final points he wanted to make. Much of it was calling out people he felt had wronged him or our society in general, but one of the few people he mentioned in a positive light was David Icke. As I detail in a chapter of American Madness titled “Reptoid Royalty,” Icke’s teachings were so profound to Richard that he abandoned his religious beliefs and he began to view the world as a place overrun by Reptilians.
As details began to emerge about Anthony Quinn Warner, the suicide bomber who blew up an RV in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning, I immediately began to see things that reminded me of Richard McCaslin:
-Reptilians. Investigators found that Warner, who ran an IT service installing alarm systems, had “paranoia over 5G technology” and that “they also found writings that contained ramblings about assorted conspiracy theories, including the idea of shape-shifting reptilian creatures that appear in human form and attempt world domination.” It is also reported that Warner “hunted” extra-terrestrials in a nearby state park. Imagine going for an evening walk and encountering that guy with a shotgun and a net!
-Richard and Warner were unmarried, childless, loners, but described by people who encountered them as friendly, polite, helpful. Richard had no prior criminal record. Warner only had a marijuana charge from 1978.
-Both had recently lost family and had family troubles. Richard, an only child, had lost both his parents and then had an ugly dispute with his aunts and cousins over inheritance money before his Bohemian Grove raid. Warner had lost his father in 2011 (who was an employee of BellSouth, which merged with AT&T, so there’s another possible motive) and a brother and reportedly had a property dispute with his mother.
-Richard and Warner both had romantic failings. Warner had a girlfriend as of last year, who called police on him in August 2019 to tell them he was building bombs in his RV. The police subsequently told the FBI, and it appears both agencies let the threat slip by them.
-Unlike other acts of domestic terrorism, Richard and Warner didn’t have the goal of killing people like the Oklahoma City bombers or a mass shooter– the body count between the two of them is zero. Richard was hoping to free victims slated to be sacrificed in a ritual (Edgar Maddison Welch, the Pizzagate believer, raided a Washington DC pizzeria with a similar intent). Warner had a loudspeaker in his RV that warned people to evacuate the area, then gave a countdown, creepily interspersed with Petula Clark’s song “Downtown,” where she sings about how feelings of loneliness can be cured with a visit to the heart of the city where “things will be great.” His RV explosion significantly damaged an entire block of downtown Nashville and was heard for miles.
I think both Richard and Warner wanted a dramatic exit. You can read more about Richard’s death in American Madness, where you’ll find he was determined to send a last protest message. And Warner obviously wanted his horrifying death to be a spectacle, too. Just a few days before Christmas, a neighbor saw him at his mailbox and asked him if Santa was going to bring him anything good for Christmas.
“Oh yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me,” Warner replied. Days later, the shocked neighbor said he was “speechless” when he saw the new meaning to Warner’s words, a man the neighbor said was “quiet” and “raised no red flags.”
We don’t know for sure what Warner’s goal was, yet– he may have simply wanted attention by blowing himself up Christmas morning. But the fact that he parked his RV in front of an AT&T center mixed with his conspiracy beliefs makes it likely he had some kind of 5G theories. These conspiracies vary, but most say that 5G radiation causes sickness, cancer, and either causes or exacerbates COVID-19. Warner reportedly gave his car away to someone, telling them he had cancer. Maybe he blamed his exposure to 5G as an IT person? Other theories say it’s being used as a mind control weapon. Here again we encounter David Icke, who has promoted these theories, including on an appearance on the show London Real, which was viewed millions of times before being pulled by most platforms. All this has led to a string of 5G tower arson caused by conspiracy theorists across Europe.
I’m sad to say that this is the type of story we’re going to continue to see. Many conspiracy believers like QAnon and the followers of InfoWars are rallying and believe they are now at war with the Biden administration. We will see more Reptilian Hunters, Phantom Patriots, Wolverine Watchmen, QAnon Warriors, and election fraud conspiracy vigilantes. Conspiracy theory sounds goofy, but we’re seeing the dangerous consequences of it’s viral spread.
UPDATE Jan.2, 2021: Letters that Warner sent before his suicide bombing are now being received by people he knew. They are apparently filled with conspiracy, talking about 9/11, the moon landing, Reptilians, and question reality itself. Source: “Nashville bomber’s bizarre writings reveal belief in aliens and lizard people,” NewsChannel 5 Nashville
The following is three pages from the second letter I received from Richard McCaslin, dated Oct.25, 2010, in which he tries to explain the “Reptilian agenda” to me, based on the theories of David Icke. Here Richard writes “it’s going to get ‘weird’; but just bear with me.”
My book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Feral House) is available now:
Lion’s Tooth: www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
I’m not rich or famous (infamous, maybe), not really an amazing or even stable person. But one thing I’m very happy about– I’ve met a lot of interesting people in my life. I’ve freelanced hundreds of articles about musicians, artists, comedians, business owners, roller derby skaters, activists, and many other interesting people. I’ve penned 5 books now, most which have delved into social movements and subcultures and were based on interviews and getting “out in the field.” I’ve also met people through events I’ve organized, day jobs, and just “hanging out” in person and on the Internet. Some people have been friends for many years, others have joined me for a brief chapter of my life. I appreciate you.
Over the years, many people I considered friends have passed on, all gone too soon. It is harsh and sad when this happens. For my last column of the year, I just want to remember some really cool people I had the honor of meeting who passed on in 2020.
As Milwaukee Krampusnacht, a celebration of the tradition of Krampus got started in 2017, Scott (aka the Chicago Krampus) was one of the first to sign up. He was a great advocate and ambassador for the event and got several of his friends involved. I was immediately impressed with his amazing Krampus costume and his energy for the event. After talking with him I knew Krampusnacht would not just be a fun party, but a special cultural celebration.
Scott told me he was excited that the Krampus tradition would carry on to a new generation and as such he was perfect to talk at our Kid’s Krampus Hour in 2018 and 2019. He told a room full of kids about the Krampus tradition while they worked on their own Krampus craft masks, then equally entertained adults as he crept around and posed for pictures.
He will be missed and remembered, always, but especially on December 5.
Scott’s personality naturally drew the camera to him and I think he’s the heart of the story in a nice segment Outdoor Wisconsin did on Milwaukee Krampusnacht:
Dale Pople aka “Superhero“
He was as colorful and bold as a comic book and he had a hobby that matched– trying to help people out. I met Dale while working on my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement. Dale lived in Clearwater, Florida (I met him in San Diego) where he was a familiar sight driving around in his bright red Supermobile. He was dedicated to lending a helping hand, but his internal struggles became too much and he took his life. It was a terrible shock to the Real-life Superhero (RLSH) community, where he was seen as one of the best and a mentor.
You can read a longer obituary I wrote on Dale here: “Death of a Superhero“
Richard McCaslin aka the “Phantom Patriot“
Richard died in 2018, but he was very much on my mind this year, for two reasons– my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness was released this year after many years of work. It tells Richard’s life story, a tale of comic book superheroes and conspiracy theory, from beginning to tragic end.
The second reason is 2020 has been an incredible, out-of-control period of conspiracy theory. A lot of people and ideas Richard told me about that seemed fringe and obscure are now part of our national conversation, discussed daily in the media. 2020 has been Richard’s year and I’ve often wondered what he would have made of all this.
You can read about Richard in American Madness and in a obituary I wrote here: “Richard McCaslin: An Obituary.”
Jason was someone who was a part of a former life of mine. I worked as a cashier at the Brady Street Pharmacy for about ten years (roughly 2000-2009) and saw Jason often– he was regular who was usually in for lunch or to have coffee with a client. He worked as an immigration attorney.
During this time, I got a divorce. It was emotionally painful, as you can imagine, and one day Jason pulled me aside and told me he would help me file the paperwork and join me in court for free, all I had to do was pay the filing fees. He really helped me deal with something I didn’t want to deal with.
I’m not telling this story to make you think I’m special, in fact the point is the opposite– Jason did this sort of thing all the time. He worked pro bono or charged way below a normal fee to help people who were struggling.
He was shot in September in a road rage type of incident, which is terrifying and tragic as he leaves behind a wife and two kids. Edgar Mendez wrote an article on Jason for Urban Milwaukee which quotes an economics professor, Luz Sosa, who Jason helped gain citizenship and she says it best:
“He was a citizen of the world and helped everyone regardless of color, religion, or creed.”
We sure could use a lot more of that. What a terrible loss.
Sarah Kozar & Paul Setser
Sarah Kozar and Paul Setser were well known in Milwaukee’s music scene. I first encountered Sarah, the Accordion Queen of Milwaukee, when I was asked to draw a flyer for a benefit show she was headlining with her group Sixty Watt Sarah. I didn’t know what a Sixty Watt Sarah was and what to draw, so I went with a robot playing a ukulele while a mad scientist danced a Highland fling in the background. Later, I would meet Sarah and I have found memories of having beers with her a couple times at a bar called Riverhorse. She was fun and radiant.
I encountered Paul many times, starting in the late 90s. I first met him when we both had shows on Milwaukee’s pirate radio station, the Wireless Virus. My show had several names, but my favorite was “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” For awhile my show was directly before or after Paul’s show. I wrote an article on Danny Price & the Loose Change, one of many bands Setser had been in over the years for the Shepherd Express way back in 2008, sitting in on one of their practice sessions at Setser’s house. I think I quoted him in an article I wrote on Circle A, where he did sound, door, DJed, and performed. In addition to Circle A, I also saw him frequently at the Brady Street Pharmacy when I worked there, he was often in to get coffee and food at the counter, writing out set lists and other notes.
My friend Ellen C. Warren wrote a nice profile on Paul for the Riverwest Currents neighborhood newspaper in 2018. You can read it here: riverwestcurrents.org/2018/04/neighbor-spotlight-april-2018-paul-setser.html
On November 28, there was a funeral march in memory of Paul, Sarah, and a musician named Dave Bolyard (who I never had the opportunity to meet). It started at Quarter’s, where Paul worked and organized shows and walked to the Circle A. In true Riverwest fashion, the crowd of 100-200 people just took over the street, as musicians played on.
As I walked with the crowd, I thought about all the people I’ve known over the years that have died and about all the deaths this year from COVID. I thought about all the people who marched in the streets this year demanding change. 2020 has been a hell of a year.
Rest in peace, my friends. I’m so glad I got a chance to meet you. You will not be forgotten.
This is my last column for 2020. The column will return January 8, 2021. Happy holidays and thanks for reading my words in this extra weird and sometimes terrible year. Happy trails!
You can support me and get a holiday gift for your beloved weirdos by buying my books. You can get a signed copy of my book American Madness from Lion’s Tooth: lionstoothmke.square.site/product/American_Madness_product/623
Signed copies of my other 4 books can be found on the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Square store (scroll down to the “Tea’s Weird Week Gift Shop” section): milwaukee-para-con.square.site
When I was a kid, I loved to play Mad Libs. When my parents would take me on a road trip I’d ask for nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc., and fill in the blanks. I also have a great memory of playing a game called The Merry Game of Fibber McGee and the Wistful Vista Mystery. Fibber McGee and Molly were a comedy duo with a popular radio show broadcast out of Chicago and this game with their namesake was published in 1940. I’m not sure where my parents got it, possibly from one of my grandparents or from a thrift store or rummage sale. I have fond memories of sitting at the kitchen table playing the game and laughing hysterically– there was a story in a booklet and you’d draw cards with random funny phrases on it to complete the sentences.
Both Mad Libs and the Fibber McGee game showed me how wonderfully fun, weird, and inappropriate words can be.
And so, when thinking of writing a special Tea’s Weird Week Christmas story, I decided to write a parody of A Christmas Carol with Mad Libs-style blanks. I posted my categories of word needs– some broad like “random noun,” other specific like “ridiculous word that starts with a G” to the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group, and the members delivered. The blanks they filled in are in bold— sometimes answers paired well with each other and I used two or more. I think this story is both a great play on a Christmas classic and the ridiculousness of the Trump administration. This was really a lot of fun, and I hope this becomes a Tea’s Weird Week tradition. There has been a lot of heavy news this year, so being able to cut loose with some stupid good fun was a great way to begin a wrap on my 2020 writing (next week’s column is my last until January.)
Oh, and a warning– this story contains profanity. Lots of strange, strange profanity.
Trump’s Loser Christmas Carol
The scene is a snowy Christmas Eve in Washington DC, in the year 2020. Trump, as usual, is sitting in the Oval Office, retweeting every conspiracy theory he can find. But what follows next will be a Christmas story for our times.
“Stephen, come in here as fast as a narwhal with it’s ankle on fire,” Donald Trump called out to the hallway outside the oval office.
“You wanted to see me, sir?” Stephen Miller said, peeking into the doorway.
“Stephen, how many times have I told you, take off that ass wipe mask, you rat bastard.”
“Yes sir, Mr.Trump,” Miller said, removing his Klan hood.
“Now what do you think of my Christmas Eve tweet– Merry-We-Won-The-War-On-Christmas, to all my favorite lemmings!” Trump said, waving his hands like a slow loris playing a glockenspiel.
“What happened to my slogan idea, ‘Happy Buttplug Day, buddy?’” Miller pouted.
“Stephen, does it look like I have a broccoli tapdancing on my head? That’s the worst idea I ever heard. You’re fired! Get out and take this dollhouse with you, Trump said, pointing at the object on his desk.
Miller hung his head. “Yes sir,” he said as he headed out the door.
“Macaroni head! Well, I’ll be greased n’ fried,” Trump growled. “I’m surrounded by a clown car of shit-flinging monkeys.”
Trump got up and walked down the hall toward the residency, admiring Melania’s decorations. This year she had really outdone herself, hanging roosters and lasers upside-down from the ceiling, stringing toilets and stethoscopes on the wall, while statues of Bruce Wayne holding Uranus frolicked in a fountain of pus. Beautiful!
“Finally, just me and FOX,” Trump said as he sat down in front of the TV with a big bowl of fried lutefisk and limberger cheese smothered in a garbage water sauce.
“Good evening, it’s me, Sean Hannity, a man with the face of a flea, who is secretly a waterfall in disguise,” Hannity told the camera as the TV clicked on. “Later we’re going to talk about the radical left’s new plan to let smartwatches marry virgins, but first we’re getting a report that the Ghost of Richard Nixon claims President Trump will be visited by 3 ghosts this evening. Jerk faces! Ooh, that scares me more than a poopy pants meanie.”
Trump whipped out his phone and immediately began a tweet: “Ghosts? Sounds like a bunch of thumb-head losers! Go haunt someone else! Sad!” He suddenly felt a wave of post-COVID tiredness flow over him, so he leaned his head back, gently humming “WAP” by Cardi B (feat. Megan thee Stallion) as he drifted into sleep.
Trump felt a cold chill and blinked awake, squinting his eyes at an apparition floating in front of him. “Herman Cain, is that you? I thought you croaked off from that China flu!”
“Truuuump. I’m here to warn you about your ways!” The Ghost of Cain moaned, shaking the soups and witches chained around him.
“Bah, chucklefuck! You are a fake ghost, you know that?” Trump said angrily. “You may be an undigested bit of chocolate malt, a blot of chalupa, a crumb of chicken fries, a fragment of underdone McRibs. There’s more of secret sauce than grave about you, you hooplehead.”
“Wow, that’s maybe the most literary thing you’ve said in years,” Cain muttered. “Follow me, Trump so I can take you back through history…all the way back to March.”
Trump felt himself tumbling through a void, ass over tit, and he screamed “fuckstick!” until he landed with a thud on his feet, standing next to the Ghost of Cain.
“You loser ghost, we’re in the Oval Office! We could’ve just walked down the hall!”
“Ah, but we also traveled through time,” Ghost of Cain said, holding up a finger peevishly.
“Oh yeah, there’s past me! Hey handsome,” Trump said, trying to wave to his past self. Past Trump was leaning on his elbows on the desk and rubbing a macaroni through his hair while talking to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was standing in front of him.
“So you’re saying this virus gets absorbed through your spleen? Really?” Past Trump asked Fauci. “People got to walk around covering that up now?”
“Uhh. Well, sir, perhaps we can talk about anatomy…”
“Boring!” Past Trump said. Present Trump gave a thumbs up. “This science stuff is easy. We’ll just get people to take two Comets, drink a little Mr. Clean, and salute a patriotic brothel in the morning. Everything will be fine.”
“Sir, I think it’s important that you encourage social distancing…” Fauci shrugged.
“You didn’t listen to him…and I died!” Ghost of Cain told Trump, pointing at him in accusation.
“Yeah, yeah. Says you. You look pretty alive to me, I tell you. Get me out of here,” Trump scoffed. “And by the way, you’re fired.”
“What a dumb waste of time,” Trump said, settling back in his chair and grabbing the TV remote. “Time to watch more FOX. Oh look, my buddy Rudy is on,” he said, as an image of Rudy Giuliani appeared on the screen. He turned and stared wide-eyed at Trump, then lifted his arms out of the screen and crawled out like that creepy girl in The Ring.
“Donnie! It’s me, Donald, the Ghost of Christmas Present!” Giuliani gasped as he crawled toward him.
“Rudy, I didn’t know you were dead! And what the hell is that crap dripping down your face? It looks like toddler snot.”
“That’s my secret Cap, I’m always a little dead!” The Ghost of Giuliani said, wiggling his fingers at him. “That’s why they call me Rudy “Garfunkel Gumption” Giuliani! C’mon, let’s get fuckin’ spooky!”
Trump found himself floating at the top of a room next to the Ghost of Giuliani. Below were tables filled with people sorting and counting ballots and snacking on Rocky Mountain oysters.
“Look at them– hard at working finding evidence of voter fraud! Like a team of well oiled alley cats!” Trump said, rubbing his toenail in glee.
“Actually, Donald that’s the big problem, presently, we got nothin’! Nothin’! They counted all these ballots and Biden gained votes!”
“Really, Rudy? Well why don’t you go back to Four Seasons Total Landscaping and tell everyone about it and shove a rototiller in your armpit while you’re there.”
“Donald, come on, I already got problems! I got caught on tape trying to pull a wrench and a skeleton out of my pants!”
“You’re fired, Rudy. Get me out of here.”
“Aren’t there supposed to be three of these dingbat ghosts? Where’s the third? Waste of time!” Trump said as he paced in his room. The door slowly squeaked open and he saw a glowing figure who stepped forward. It was a ghostly vision of his son, Donnie Jr., dressed in hunting attire, with a huge dead crustacean slung over his shoulders.
“Daddy, look what I killed! I shot it in an expedition to the DMV.”
“That’s great Donnie. Sadly, though, I think it also killed you and you’re the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. But that’s great, bet you can get some great ratings for that. So tell me about the future– do I win again in 2024? Is my face on Mount Rushmore?”
“Well then, who is president– you or Ivanka? But most important, me– where is me?”
The Ghost of Donnie Jr. sighed sadly. “I’ll just show you.”
They materialized in a dim hallway. Sad music bounced off the concrete walls.
“What the hell is this place, Donnie Jr.?”
The Ghost of Donnie Jr. got goosebumps, clenched, peed his pants, then pointed down the hall. “It’s prison, dad.”
Trump squinted at a cell and saw himself sitting in an orange jumpsuit, a single strand of hair covering his bowling ball-like head, wailing away on something in his hands.
“What is that in my mouth, a horseradish?”
“It’s a harmonica, dad. You’ve got nothing to do in here but learn the 12-bar blues. Me, Eric, and Ivanka get sent up, too, and we play the keytar, kalimba, and maracas in the Trump Family Jail Band. We score a minor hit with our song ‘I Traded a Pardon for a Bucket of Hawaiian Pizza.’”
Trump frowned. “Pinche cabaron! Tell me, son– are these shadows of things that are like, a done deal or just, you know, like a fake news thing?”
“I hate you, Donnie Jr. I always have, you knuckle-sucking cretin. You’re fired.”
“I hate you, too, you human paraquat,” Donnie Jr. said, putting a ghostly arm around Trump. “Spoilers–I’ll bring you a harmonica, dad,” Donnie Jr. replied as they disappeared into the ether.
Trump materialized standing in front of his TV. Standing next to him was the Ghost of Richard Nixon.
“Wow, my hero Tricky Dick Nixon. You look just like the dipshit I always thought you were.”
“Did you learn your lesson, Krusty the Clown? Ready to change your ways?” Ghost of Nixon asked.
“Are you kidding me, Jojo the Klownzilla?” Trump smirked. Ghost of Nixon raised his eyebrow at him as Trump put his arm around him and they walked toward the window together. “I’d rather shove a rabid donkey down my pants than learn any stupid lesson.”
Trump spotted a young boy in a MAGA hat running by in the snow and threw open the window.
“You there! What day is it today?
“Today, sir?” The Boy replied. “Why, it’s Christmas Day, you trash!”
“Amazing. Fantastic. Tell you what. Bill me for 25 cents, then run down the street, go to every law office in town and get every lawyer you can find. We’re going to sue everyone– bigly– Charles Dickens, Santa Claus, Krampus, Frosty, Clarence, Ralphie, George Bailey, Tiny Tim, Emmet the Otter, the Elf on a Shelf, and all the readers of Tea’s Weird Week.
“Really? On Christmas?” Ghost of Nixon said, taken aback by his brazen villainy.
“Abso-fucking-lutely,” Trump replied, squeezing a slight smile. “Merry We-Won-the-War-on-Christmas, lick my hole, and to all a good night!”
My books are available wherever books are sold and make great holiday gifts for the lovable weirdos in your family. You can get signed copies of my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness from my friends at Lion’s Tooth (who, CONGRATS, are opening a brick and mortar store here in Milwaukee!) here: https://lionstoothmke.square.site/product/American_Madness_product/623
You can get signed copies of my other four books at my Square store here: https://milwaukee-para-con.square.site/