Monthly Archives: August 2022

Tea’s Weird Week: The Chessboxer, Part 2

Last week I wrote about how my wheels were spinning thinking about what my second book might be (it eventually was an exploration of paranormal investigators titled Monster Hunters). One concept I had was learning to be a chessboxer. Chessboxing is a sport invented in the early 2000s that intersperses rounds of chess and boxing. You can win by knockout, checkmate, or by points from punches and captured pieces. In “The Chessboxer, Part 1,” I talked about hiring a chess coach, Aqeel.

My follow up is going to be short. I’m extremely burnt out this week, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to explain why.

In looking for a place to train as a boxer, I found a unique spot here in Milwaukee, it’s called the Ace Boxing Club. It’s not a state-of-the-art MMA facility, but more like an old garage with well worn equipment. It was mostly perfect. I wrote about the gym for an article in the Shepherd Express back in 2012. I sometimes look back at old stuff I’ve written and cringe to various degrees, but I actually love this one. It’s a solid profile on a place with a lot of heart: Ace Boxing Club and the Porter Legacy – Shepherd Express

Photo inside Ace Boxing Club from the Shepherd Express

I trained at Ace in the ring, I trained with Aqeel on the chessboard, but then something happened: I sold my second book. I now had a big project to work on and between that and trying to balance everything else in my crazy life (a struggle I still have ten years later) the lessons began to be skipped and the idea faded away. That’s too bad. I really enjoyed that period of my life. Maybe I’ll try to bring it back and The Chessboxer will live again.

We skipped the TWW podcast this week cause I was too busy. We’ll be back next week.

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 Chessboxer, Part 1

In 2012, I sold my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement. I was riding pretty high on that one. Writing has its ups and downs. It’s a hard biz. But that moment in 2012 will always be an up.

And, of course, my immediate thoughts were: what next? Eventually my second book would be Monster Hunters, an exploration of the world of paranormal investigators. But before that was established, I had a few other ideas on Tea Krulos’ Second Book.

One idea was what would become American Madness, which ended up being my 4th book. My publisher at the time (Chicago Review Press) was not very keen on it, and in hindsight I’m really glad for that because the story was nowhere near complete at that time. So I put that project on the backburner.

Another idea I had was looking into writing a biography of the Violent Femmes. I don’t really ever want to be stuck writing about one genre or idea, so a music bio seemed like a good idea. Plus the Femmes were incubated, much like me, in this weird city called Milwaukee. Around that time I had written a short article on OG Femmes drummer Victor DeLorenzo’s current band Nineteen Thirteen. He’s a very cool guy, so I thought I might start there. But Chicago Review Press wasn’t keen on that idea, either. Editors!

I also had an idea for a book that would explore the relationship between humans and shark, working title “Man Bites Shark.” I envisioned writing about things like the shark fin soup industry, the impact Jaws had on society, the story of the guy who got bit by a shark but advocates for their conservancy, etc.

One day, and this was a real weird moment for me, I went with my sisters to the mall and was killing time wandering around Barnes & Noble looking at displays, seeing what was out there. A book caught my eye and I started flipping through it. This book was exactly like my idea, down to the chapter breakdowns and everything, it was uncanny. Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks by Juliet Eilperin is a great book, but it’s not mine!

And then there was another idea I had– CHESSBOXING.

I don’t know how I had heard of it, but chessboxing is an unusual sport that began in Berlin in 2003 and developed a following there as well as London. It spread to India, Russia, and other countries. There are American chessboxers but my impression is not a real huge following here. Anyway, as the name suggests, the sport intersperses rounds of boxing with rounds of chess. A player can win by knock out, checkmate, or point evaluation on punches landed and chess pieces captured.

Chessboxers in action.

What I imagined writing was admittedly a bit of stunt journalism– I would train to become a chessboxer with the goal of participating in at least one match and write about the experience. You know, “My Journey as a Chessboxer and Blah Blah Blah.” It appealed to me because it seemed like a great challenge to be sharp physically and mentally. I was sure there would be some kind of journey there to write about.

I had a big problem, though– I had zero experience boxing and only a rudimentary understanding of chess. I knew how the pieces moved, but had no concept of strategy, endgame, or anything else. I tried picking up a book on improving your game, but it read kind of like instructions to putting together something from IKEA. I decided instead to put a classified ad in a community newspaper I’ve written for, the Riverwest Currents, soliciting a chess coach. I got a response.

I don’t know what I expected, but Aqeel was a large, bald, black guy in a Rascal scooter, always dressed in a bright Hawaiian shirt. He told me he played “street chess” and that the first lesson was free. He taught me a move called the “Fool’s Mate” during that first lesson in which you unleash checkmate in a few short moves to your unexpecting opponent. I told him he was hired.

He lived in an apartment downtown, so twice a week for several months I took a bus there so we could hang out in his living room for a lesson. He had a constant stream of visitors who would drop by to give him food or ask to borrow $5 til Friday.

He was usually a good natured, jolly type of person. He was always commenting on my chess moves, either to psych me out or to offer a clue I was making a bad move. Some examples:

(On why I would sacrifice my knight): Well, like my mom used to say, sometimes you need to bring ass to get ass.

You make that move, you’re going to be badder than Michael Jackson (and not bad in a good way).

(After making a bold move) You wanna go there? Well then, in the words of Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on!

Other things I remember– he was an interesting person, for sure. He made an incredible homemade honey lemonade and he showed me YouTube videos of ambient sound that he said helped open his pineal gland.

Aqeel was teaching me some moves on the board, but now I needed to learn how to box.

Next Week: Ding ding ding!

Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep08: Twisted Dreams
Tea talks to Christopher House about the upcoming Twisted Dreams Film Festival, a horror showcase here in Milwaukee. Then Tea and Heidi talk weird news about J.R.R. Tolkien, Predator vs Children of the Corn, “de-extinction” of the Tasmanian Tiger, a Jesus Christ simulator game, and QAnon’s latest cancer-curing contraption. Plus trivia and a closing track by The Unitaskers, “Philodendron.”
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep08: Talkin’ Twisted Dreams (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

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: Alex Jones in His Own Hell

I first began to learn about Alex Jones in 2010. Through an odd twist of events, I was introduced to a man named Richard McCaslin, a conspiracy theorist who attempted to raid a club for the rich and powerful in the redwood forest of California called the Bohemian Grove. Richard was the Patient Zero of someone who listened to Jones and took his bloviating seriously. On Jan. 20, 2002, he was arrested in the Bohemian Grove, wearing a superhero costume with a rubber skull mask and heavily armed.

100% of Richard’s decision to go on his raid was from watching a “documentary” Jones had produced called Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove, which suggested human sacrifice– maybe even children– was happening inside the Grove. It followed the Jones Method– a pinch of truth, a lot of speculation, some far-fetched interpretation, and a scary Satanic, baby-killing, New World Order cabal of those in power. I detailed Richard’s spiral down the rabbit hole and Jones’s influence over him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked America’s Consciousness. Richard died by suicide in 2018. I believe conspiracy theory is what pushed him over the edge, and the first domino was Alex Jones.

Two things repeated after Richard’s raid– first, Alex Jones and Info Wars would pop up regularly like a bad penny as a motivator in other cases of extremist violence.

To mention just a few: Byron Williams, who had a shootout with California Highway Patrol on I-580 in 2010 and was an avid listener of Jones. He  was on his way to shoot up the offices of organizations associated with conspiracy boogeyman George Soros.

In 2011 Oscar Ortega-Hernandez did a drive-by shooting of the White House. He was influenced by the Jones directed “documentary” The Obama Deception.

Starting the year after that, there was a league of Info Wars followers who harassed and sent death threats to Sandy Hook survivors online, by phone, on the street and at their homes as Jones promoted theories that they were “crisis actors.” That’s how a total of $49.3 million was awarded to Sandy Hook parents this week. And that’s just the beginning. 

He also promoted Pizzagate conspiracy, which led to a raid of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria by Edgar Maddison Welch, armed with an AR-15, in 2016. Like Richard McCaslin, Welch was hoping to save human trafficking victims after watching the Pizzagate theory he saw laid out in an Info Wars video.

The second thing that repeated is Jones’s pattern of attempting to weasel out of responsibility every time he incited someone. It started with McCaslin– when asked to comment on his case, Jones said he thought McCaslin “sounded insane,” yet Dark Secrets not only gave McCaslin a clear motivation, but Jones stands outside the Grove at the end of the doc to tell people driving instructions to get there. And on January 6 (he was there as an organizer) he riled the mob up with his bullhorn, but when the shit hit the fan and people started beating cops to death– you guessed it, he tucked tail and ran.

And now, after years of dodging the court for the many cases surrounding his lawsuits from the Sandy Hook families, Jones is finally cornered. What a circus this week has been! Jones is in his own personal hell– trapped in a courtroom confronted with the truth and little chance to bloviate and spin it like he can on his rambling, 4-hour long daily radio show. He actually has to shut up and listen and his words here have real consequences.

The wildest revelation came this week when the attorneys for Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis revealed that Jones’s defense had mistakenly sent two years of data off his phone, and that this clearly pointed out that Jones is guilty of multiple counts of perjury. Jones tried to file for a mistrial. The judge said “nah.” Now the January 6 Committee is attempting to get access to that data to see how big his role exactly was in the J6 Q d’etat.

The jury awarded the victims $4.1 million, and then an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages.

That’s a good start, but not enough. A billion dollars isn’t enough.

Here’s what I hope. I hope there’s a string of trials that goes on the rest of his life, where he gets sued over and over– 4 million here, 40 million there– by everyone he’s ever slandered and that he slowly loses all of his ill-gotten money. I hope he has to sit there and hear every one of of his victims give testimony about how he stoked his fanbase to terrorize them, and all the terrible things he’s caused.

I hope it’s long and excruciating- but sadly it’ll never, ever be as painful as what those families and other Jones victims had to go through. 

My book American Madness can be found here: American Madness : Feral House

I skipped this column a couple weeks (too busy) so let me plug our last two TWW podcast episodes:
In S5E6 I talked to Milwaukee author, musician and art witch Molly Roberts, author of the new book Art Magick: How to Become an Art Witch and Unlock Your Creative Power plus weird news, trivia, and a track from Molly’s band Tigernite, “Witch”: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep 06: Art Magick with Molly Roberts (podbean.com)

In S5E7 I interviewed Chris Drosner, one of my editors at Milwaukee Magazine and author of the “Beer Baron” column, weird news, trivia, and “League Play, a new track by Rum Revere: Tea’s Weird Week, S5ep07: Weird Beers (podbean.com)

They’re also available on these platforms: Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts