Monthly Archives: January 2023

Tea’s Weird Week: Let’s Talk About the Dang Old Chicago Mothman

Hey, it’s the first Tea’s Weird Week column of 2023! I started this column in 2019 and kept up with it weekly for years, but this year I have many projects to work on, so this column will be sporadic and when I have time for it, but I’ll have a column atleast a couple times a month. Hopefully the TWW podcast will return soon, too.

I’ve not had any writing published this month, but I’ve got some articles lined up for the next few months for a variety of publications that I’m excited about. One is a project I’ve been working on over the last three years that is finally seeing the light of day, an article titled “The Chicago Mothman: Red-eyed Creatures and Green-eyed Monsters,” a two-part article that is the cover story for the February issue of Fortean Times, with the second part appearing in the March issue. In April, I will be packaging the article, as well as some “bonus material,” as an e-book.

When reports of a “Mothman” (also called the “Lake Michigan Mothman,” “Chicago Bat,” and “Chicago Phantom”) creature haunting the Chicago area began to circulate in 2016, I, of course, had a strong interest as my homebase of Milwaukee is just north of Chicagoland. As the story unfolded, I became more interested in what was going on behind the reports rather than the reports themselves. In 2020 I visualized writing a longform piece on the entire case and began interviewing people associated with the investigation. I ended up interviewing 12 people between January and May 2020. As you can see, the project soon had extra time for interviewing and the massive undertaking of transcribing the interviews (my least favorite and most time consuming aspect of writing) during pandemic quarantine. I’d work on transcribing for an hour, then doomscroll the news for a bit.

I thought I would be a good person to write this because even though I obviously have a strong interest in the paranormal, I think I’m good at viewing the field and the people involved in it objectively because I’m not deeply immersed in it. It is one of my interests, but one of many. I don’t belong to any paranormal teams or groups. I get invited to paranormal events and conferences once in awhile, but not often cause I got no “star power.” I don’t have a reality show where a nightvision camera follows me as I roll around on the ground screaming about ghosts and that’s what you need to succeed in that field.

Of the 12 people I interviewed about the Chicago Mothman case, I know some of them and some I don’t, but I didn’t have an agenda against anyone. I just wanted to report the story.

I worked on it and re-worked it. I struggled on how to present the story. At one time, I was inspired by the great Chicago oral historian and author Studs Terkel (1912-2008) to present the case as an oral history. Studs was best known for this style, where he would record stories from a wide array of people and compile them to tell a story of American life. He won the Pulitzer for The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two and his book Division Street is a classic oral history and examination of race, class, and everyday life in Chicago. In these volumes, Studs let the people do the talking while he used his skills quietly as an editor. Studs was one of Chicago’s most famous voices. I don’t know that Studs had any interest in the paranormal — but I think he would have at least humored this strange story as it spread across his beloved Chicagoland, from Oz Park to the lakeshore to O’Hare to the neighborhood of Little Village.

I decided to ditch the oral history format (though you’ll see an element of that in the e-book) because it’s a lot harder than it looks. I opted for a more traditional article presentation and sent it across the pond as a submission to Fortean Times, the great British magazine dedicated to all things weird.

Publishing is a funny business. Sometimes it moves really fast, other times it just goes on forever and a day. And so now, about 3-years after I began the project, I’m glad to say it’s done and in print. At least that’s what I hear, I haven’t received my copy as it takes time to ship from Jolly Old England, and I’m told extra time as a postal strike is going on over there.

Anyway, it’s done! I did it! But what exactly the hell is the Chicago Mothman? Unidentified creature? Aliens? Owl? Interdimensional beings? Demons? Internet hoax? I’ll let the investigators speak for themselves and let you puzzle on the mystery, as I have.

Please Clap Dept.:

Chicago Mothman: A History and Cultural Study of a Monster Case will be released as an e-book in April 2023, Tea Set Press. Cover art by Stinky Goblin Emporium.

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)

Everything I Wrote in 2022

Here’s a list of articles and TWW columns I wrote in 2022. I’ll be tracking what I wrote and all the books I’ve read in 2023.

JANUARY

  1. The Healing Power of Hula,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  2. The Secret: Milwaukee Has a Hidden Treasure,” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  3. Anime Milwaukee Returns, Feb. 11-13 at the Wisconsin Center,” Shepherd Express
  4. TWW: “Chosen One” to Cops: Take Me to Your Leader
  5. Arsonist Destroys Buses for Homeless Outreach, but the Community Steps in to Help,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  6. Hear Nineteen Thirteen’s New Single, ‘Cello and Drums Forever,'” Shepherd Express

    FEBRUARY
  7. Fishy Business,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  8. TWW: High on the Herzog
  9. This Living Statue Stepped in for the Bronze Fonz,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  10. Milwaukee Poet Kavon Cortez-Jones Returns to ‘Club Noir,'” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  11. TWW: Paranormal Real Estate Mogul
  12. Haunted Milwaukee- Tied House is Home to ‘The Lady of the Pub,'” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  13. TWW: Illuminati Super Bowl Party
  14. TWW: Famous Ghosts of Chicago

    MARCH
  15. Visibly Indigenous,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  16. Undercover Publication: Quirky 1981 Milwaukee history book is a rare gem,” Milwaukee Record
  17. How Lakefront Brewery’s Showing Support to Ukraine After Years of Selling Beer There,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  18. TWW: Hey, I Invented a Batman Villain Based on an Obscure Myth About Bingo
  19. TWW: Rollin’ with Baba Yaga
  20. TWW: Quest for the Weirdest Movies
  21. Inkgeeks Platform Connects Local Tattoo Community,” Shepherd Express

    APRIL
  22. Stopping the Slide,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  23. TWW: The World According to Gorb
  24. Zorro is Dead (Brady St. Pharmacy excerpt),” Nimbus Magazine
  25. TWW: Phantom Patriot Featured in New Primus “Conspiranoia” Video
  26. Rhinelander’s Hodag Store Robbed by…Carmen Sandiego?” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  27. TWW: There Are About 60 QAnon Candidates Running for Congress This Year
  28. TWW: Friday Happy Hour w/ Tea @ Lion’s Tooth
  29. TWW: Hello, I Must Be Going
  30. The Ghost of Al Capone,” American Ghost Walks Newsletter
  31. Ancient Aliens Lands at Pabst May 22,” Shepherd Express

    MAY
  32. TWW: New Podcast “The Superhero Complex” Examines the Phoenix Jones Story
  33. TWW: A Tale of Two Chupacabras
  34. Oddities & Curiosities Expo Celebrates the Strange and Macabre May 28 at the Wisconsin Center,” Shepherd Express
  35. TWW: You are Geraldo Rivera, high on ecstasy, looking at a UFO in the Bahamas
  36. TWW: Jurassic Lark? Are Dinosaur Deniers for Real?

    JUNE
  37. The Last Fisherman of Washington Island,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  38. TWW: Who Said It– Phantom Patriot or Marjorie Taylor Greene?
  39. Top 5 Milwaukee Haunted Brunch Spots,” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  40. TWW: The TWW podcast is back on for Season 5!
  41. Sinisterhood Podcast Stops in Milwaukee to Talk about Pfister Ghosts,” Shepherd Express

    JULY
  42. The Last Frame,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  43. TWW: Talking with Sinisterhood
  44. TWW: My Favorite Jann Goldberg Quotes
  45. 5 Takeaways From Our DNR Records Request on the Sturgeon Caviar Affair,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  46. TWW: Introducing Paranormal Road Trip
  47. TWW: Amberrose Hammond’s New Book Explores Mysterious Michigan

    AUGUST
  48. From Middle Earth to Marquette,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  49. The Other Vet Mental Health Crisis,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  50. Attention Spies: Beware of SafeHouse Spooks,” American Ghost Walks newsletter
  51. TWW: Alex Jones in His Own Hell
  52. TWW: The Chessboxer, Part 1
  53. TWW: The Chessboxer, Part 2

    SEPTEMBER
  54. Tea’s Weird Hiatus
  55. Awkward Nerd Book Fair Taps Into Nostalgia for Inaugural Event,” Shepherd Express
  56. Wanna Buy a Famous Tugboat?” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  57. Local and International Artists will be Inking at Milwaukee Tattoo Arts Festival,” Shepherd Express
  58. Sarah Kohlbeck Talks About ‘The S-Word,’ a Suicide Prevention Podcast,” Shepherd Express
  59. Horror Movie Recommendations from Ghost Hunters!” (contributor) American Ghost Walks Newsletter

    OCTOBER
  60. Fighting Fits,” Milwaukee Magazine (print)
  61. This Bay View Halloween House Has a ‘Beetlejuice’ Theme,” Milwaukee Magazine (web)
  62. TWW: The Story of Father Pellegrino Ernetti and his Time Travel Viewing “Chronovisor”
  63. Milwaukee Home Movie Day Archives and Celebrates Family History,” Shepherd Express
  64. TWW: Our Horror Host Doc, “I’m Your Host,” Won a Brico Forward Fund Award!

    NOVEMBER
  65. Scoot Your Way to Election Day with ‘Lime to the Polls,” Shepherd Express
  66. Erna Meets Krampus…Again!” American Ghost Walks Newsletter

    DECEMBER
  67. Tea’s Weird Year: Here’s What I Did in 2022 (and 12 Things I Want Myself to Remember) (also reprinted in “Lucky New Year 2023” zine)