Author Archives: teakrulos

Tea’s Weird Week: Good Weird, Bad Weird

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I love weird stuff, I mean that should be pretty obvious. Check out the title of this column. But what is “weird?” That’s something I’ve been thinking about lately…”good weird,” the topics I enjoy learning about, researching, talking about…and “bad weird,” for example racist conspiracy theories, scam artists, people that are disrespectful and creepy.

There’s a couple things that have pushed this to the front of my mind. One, I started a Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group. Thankfully, we haven’t had the types of problems discussed in this column, but it sure is interesting to see how other people define “weird.” It’s so great to see people think of the group to post stories they run across– weird science, food, music, art, Zillow listings, pop culture, paranormal, conspiracy, and so much more. I would define some of these stories as not weird but just straight up gross or stupidity or politics as usual, but you know what? Weird is in the eye of the beholder.

The second thing that’s got me on about this is infiltration into the fields of good weird by the forces of bad weird. Last week the Tea’s Weird Week column and podcast talked to Patch O’Furr, a furry fandom reporter who uncovered an Alt-Right furry presence (bad weird) into the furry fandom (good weird). Since the January 6 Insurrection, I’ve talked to a range of media about my conspiracy research for my book American Madness and that’s because QAnon and other dangerous conspiracy beliefs have been creeping in everywhere, not just in the MAGA hordes. They’ve popped up in places as varied as UFO and other paranormal studies, the yoga and wellness communities, church groups, and punk rock scenes.

Here’s a few examples that spring to mind, in my opinion:

Good Weird: Sharing local lore of ghost stories and urban legends around a campfire. The best!
Bad Weird: Predatory psychics who prey on the grieving, claiming they can communicate with their deceased loved ones…as long as the money keeps rolling in. Also, shows like 3 Bros and a Ghost (not the actual title) that fabricate and exploit.

Good Weird: UFO reports and case studies– check out the column I wrote a few weeks ago, about a clause for UFO disclosure slipped into the last COVID relief bill. I love stories like that. The truth is out there!
Bad weird: Racist pseudoarchaeology “ancient aliens” theories that suggest cultures like the Mayans and ancient Egyptians were too “primitive” to create their famous monuments and therefore needed help from E.T.s. “Walk Like an Egyptian” outta here with that shit! Also, in this week’s Tea’s Weird Week podcast, my guests Jess Rogge and Shane Mields agreed with me that “Reptilians” are always an immediate red flag.

Good weird: Bigfoot.
Bad weird: QAnon Bigfoot. I’ve made a lot of jokes about this (and see this week’s podcast for a comedy special on the topic), because it is painfully ridiculous. But QAnon is a dangerous, destructive cult. Just look at the Jan.6 “Q d’etat” as the most explosive example.

Good weird: True crime case studies. I’m a total sucker for true crime documentaries.
Bad Weird: That line people cross when they idolize serial killers. Good, interesting documentary, sure. New role model? Uhhh…no.

It’s something to keep in mind on your path into weird topics. There’s always been problematic areas in the weird, but I’m now certainly more cognizant of this when I’m looking at people and their ideas. Ok, cool, you’re a Bigfooter. But are you a Bigfooter Bigfooter or a QAnon Bigfooter?

What are your examples of good weird or bad weird? Share in the comments on this post!

Tea’s Weird Week episode 07: I talk more about “Good Weird, Bad Weird,” with my guest panel Jess Rogge (The Rogge Report) and Shane Mields (Strange Uncles Podcast). Me and Heidi talk about paranormal investigation ethics, And yes, the legend finally had it coming…the Comedy Roast of Zorth, featuring comedians Addie Blanchard, Matthew Filipowicz, Dana Ehrmann, Greg Bach, and…Zaarg.

Plus a new trivia question and we close out the show remembering Damien Jones, who passed away in 2018, with his band Astral/Subastral‘s live performance of “To Those in Amber.” The song was recorded in 2017 as part of the Riverwest Sessions (follow on Facebook and YouTube).
Listen here: teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-07-good-weird-bad-weird/
Or on: Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Cast
NEW MERCH (including Comedy Roast of Zorth design!) www.teepublic.com/user/tea-s-weird-week

Please Clap Dept.: I had a great interview with Ryan Sprague for his Somewhere in the Skies podcast. You can watch our interview about my book American Madness and conspiracy culture below.

My latest books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1

Tea’s Weird Week: How a Dogged Reporter Sniffed Out an Alt-Right Furry Infiltration

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My first impressions of furries– people that dress up as cartoon animal characters of their own invention, known as “fursonas” were from the media pieces I saw in the late 90s and early 2000s, which were overall pretty unkind. Vanity Fair and MTV did hit pieces on furries and an infamous episode of CSI that used the fandom as a plot only added to their sordid reputation. At best these portrayals were mocking, mean, and depicted furries as being just a weird sex fetish. At worst they implied that adults dressed as cartoonish animals equated pedophilia, bestiality, or both.

Last year, I conducted a “2020 Furry Fandom” survey of 275 furries, and in a question that asked what they felt the biggest misconception of the subculture was, almost 100% answered that they felt that they were viewed as a fetish community or were mainly about sex. 

Sex between consenting adults dressed as foxes, tigers, hyenas, cats, coyotes, leopards, and other animals is a thing, as well as art depicting it (just Google “furry erotic art” if you want a NSFW eyefull), but it isn’t what the fandom is all about– furries are about art and music and socializing at conventions and just having fun celebrating their love of anthropomorphic animals. 

Media and thus the public in general has perhaps started to come around from early harsh takes with articles like “Inside the misunderstood culture of Furries,”( a CNN headline) and the stigma has dissipated a bit. Perhaps the best example of this is Anthrocon, a furry convention that takes place in Pittsburgh every year (except during the pandemic, of course). Anthrocon is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest events, attracting thousands of “furs” from around the world each year, who bring tourist money with them. Anthrocon started in 1997 and moved to Pittsburgh in 2005, steadily growing there, with 2019 attendance being 9,358 furry fans and included a parade of over 2,000 people in “fursuits,” which is what furry costumes are called. 

The city has embraced the subculture with a big, hairy hug– local businesses put up signs and banners and issue specials for their furry customers. And the furries reciprocate– when word got out that one of the convention’s favorite eating spots, Fernando’s Downtown Cafe (owner Fernando DeCarvalho changes the sign to read “Furnando’s Furryland Cafe” during the convention) had hit hard financial times and was likely to close, furries from around the world crowd-funded over $23,000 to save the business.

The “Furry fandom” as it’s usually referred, has roots that can be traced to sci-fi conventions in California in the 1980s. In his book Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture, author (and furry) Joe Strike does an excellent job researching the roots of the furry breed. Fans of anthropomorphic animal comics and cartoons began hosting “furry parties” in hotel rooms at the conventions where they watched cartoons, passed around comic books and drew illustrations of each other or themselves as cartoon animals. There was a strong enough interest that the first furry themed convention, ConFurence, took place at a Holiday Inn in Costa Mesa, California in January 1989. 65 people attended, but attendance doubled the next year and continued to grow. As the fandom grew and spread around the world, more conferences began to appear. 

Some of the noteworthy furry gatherings today include Midwest FurFest, held in Chicago, which has become the biggest fur convention (11,019 in 2019), closely followed by the aforementioned Anthrocon in Pittsburgh and several conventions with attendance in the 4,000-5,000 range in Reno, Atlanta, Dallas, San Jose, and Orlando. Outside the states, Berlin’s Eurofurence drew 3,412 furs from Germany and beyond in 2019,  and other conferences take place in Sweden, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Russia– truly a global phenomenon. 

With such a large following– multiple sources estimate the world fur population to be about 1 million– different philosophies about the fur life have emerged. 

In the early 2000s for example, there were a group of furries who called themselves the “Burned Furs.” They were sick of media portrayals of furries as sex freaks, so they launched a sort of moral movement to “clean house” and attempt to remove any whiff of erotica from the scene. Imagine being confronted by a group of people dressed as dogs, foxes, and giant mice for selling artwork depicting anthropomorphic otter men in flagrante delicto— get that stuff out of here!

“(The Burned Furs) organized and they were like ‘we are against degeneracy’– they were very puritanical about all that, like ‘we are going to cleanse and return it back to normal people,’” explained Patch O’Furr, the fursona of a reporter who runs the site Dogpatch Press. “Well, what is normal? The thing is, (furries) are not normal people– we don’t want to be conformists. We’re not here to get careers, we’re here to make our own stuff that people are making themselves that has the sex, drugs, rock and roll, all that kind of freedom, it’s DIY. So the whole DIY fandom was pinned against an internal conformist reactionary movement–the Burned Furs. It sort of blew up in the 90s and it fell apart because of infighting, backstabbing each other and they just disappeared.” 

Patch’s furry news site, Dogpatch Press, promises “fluff pieces every week,” but that tagline is a misleading understatement because Patch routinely uncovers hard news and sometimes dark and terrifying stories in the furry fandom. He’s the furry equivalent of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who busted open Watergate for The Washington Post.

When I saw this car-crash gawking headline from Newsweek: “Neo-Nazi Furries are Trump’s Latest and Most Puzzling Alt-Right Supporter,” I knew I would have to find an expert to explain to me just what the hell was going on. Patch was absolutely the dog for the job.

Dogpatch Press editor Patch O’Furr

Patch at first had a mild interest in furries. He was an animator and he encountered them at a convention. He loved cartoons, weird stuff, and subcultures, so he appreciated the scene. He moved from the east coast to San Francisco and his interest grew in 2011 when he saw that a gay bar in his neighborhood, The Eagle, was hosting a furry party night. He decided to attend.

“I realized ‘oh my God, these guys I ran into in the 90s, they’re having a party down the street from me, a dance party!’ I was like ‘this is crazy, this is too crazy and weird, and it sounds fun,’” Patch recalled. “I was like ‘I don’t know if I’m going to fit in, but I will just go check it out.’ I showed up and it blew my mind, because it’s like here are these six foot tall, fully costumed cartoon characters that you can touch, and they were dancing and shit and it was wild– music, the drinks were flowing. I was like ‘holy shit!’”

Patch decided the fur life was for him, so he started working on his fursona–a scrappy dog with star-shaped shades, suspenders, and costumes ranging from punk rocker to man-on-the-street reporter. He started blogging about furries on LiveJournal, but decided to try to build an audience and launched Dogpatch Press in 2012. He started becoming active in the scene, going to conventions and posting reports. He also helps organize a league of furries– usually a couple hundred that participates in San Francisco’s annual pride parade.

Furries in San Francisco’s Pride Parade.

But in December 2014, Patch found himself unraveling a terrible story, a dark turn from his usual stories of colorful furry fun. At the Midwest FurFest, a chemical attack was unleashed on the furries. 

“Somebody went up to the 10th floor of the hotel and dropped a bunch of chlorine powder, like concentrated chlorine pool chemicals, it might have been activated with something like sprinkling some bleach on it or something, so that it made some sort of chlorine gas. I’m not sure– they botched the testing, which is a big part of the story,” Patch said. “19 people went to the hospital with burns to the lungs, some people were pretty seriously harmed for a long time– out of work for a year, that type of thing. Nobody died, I think everyone recovered, but it was bad. This was at midnight, so you had thousands of people evacuated out onto the street from whatever they were doing, they had just come out of parties and there’s fire trucks everywhere, everyone is freaking out, people are really afraid, they didn’t even know what was going on. So besides 19 people going to the hospital, it had like, a psychological effect.”

And then, to add insult to injury, the media rolled in. 

“(They were) like, look at these weird silly people, and it was like comedy to some of them. Like there was a news anchor that was reporting on it and on air someone whispers in her ear what these people are like– ‘oh they wear animal costumes, psst psst psst,’  and she suddenly broke down in the middle of reporting this serious story and ran out off the set laughing,” Patch said bitterly. He’s referring to Mika Brezezinski, reporting on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “A lot of people were like ‘look at these fucking media assholes, just once again treating us like a laughing stock during this really serious moment.’”

Afterward, Patch set to work trying to figure out who the perpetrator was, interviewing convention staff and doing detective work on potential suspects. Although he doesn’t have hard evidence, he’s pretty confident he tracked down who it was, a guy known as the “Confederate Fursuiter,” a red, white, and blue fox or coyote with the stars and bars emblazoned in his fur along the entire back of his costume.

“The Confederate Fursuiter.” Photo via Dogpatch Press.

“This guy had a long felony record, he was jailed for a kind of chemical attack on a bank, and he was very dedicated as a troll inside of the community,” Patch explained. He found that he also worked as a lifeguard, a possible lead to where the chlorine chemicals came from. And he had connections to Alt-Right groups. “He had actually been detained by the police, so from everything that I’ve seen I would be really surprised if this guy was not the guy. It could be the case that he was part of several people, but I kind of doubt it, I think it was just this guy acting alone.”

The incident showed Patch that there were dark forces infiltrating the furry community.

“There were these bad actors that were using this subculture, this was the same time that Gamergate was starting to be a thing, this was like the proto Alt-Right, they were encouraged in these online spaces,” Patch said. “I started looking into it in 2016, writing a little bit about what Trump could mean to society in general and also to marginalized people– this is going to be bad for LGBT people, I started writing about that.”

Patch’s work shows the importance of subculture insider media– without Patch’s exposes, the Alt-furry presence would have probably festered silently, a rumor whispered about on conference floors instead of shared in a report. The Midwest FurFest chemical attack was really just a warm-up for Patch’s next big story– the Rocky Mountain Fur Con and their Alt-Right furry fiasco.

In April 2017, Patch busted an explosive story wide open. He discovered that the Rocky Mountain Fur Con in Denver was being run by members who identified as “Alt-Furries.” The most infamous of these groups was the Furry Raiders, led by Foxler Nightfire (Patch says “Foxler” is a mashup of “fox” and “Hitler”) of Fort Collins, a fox fursona in Nazi uniform, sporting an odd symbol of cuteness and hate: the pawstika, exactly what it sounds like– a paw print replacing the swastika in the armband of the Nazi Party. Patch says he estimates that there are currently about a hundred to two hundred Alt-Furries operating in 5 or 6 organized groups, but might be diminishing because of infighting.

Foxler Nightfire. Photo via a 2017 post on his Twitter.

In my Furry Fandom Survey, one of the questions asked if furries were familiar with Alt-Furries and if they had encountered them at conventions or other events. Several said “no,” but a majority said that they were familiar with Alt-Furries or Nazifurs and had encountered them online or in person.

“Unfortunately, yes, I’m aware of this group, I’ve been fortunate enough not to encounter them too much, but I do keep aware of them so that I know which people in the fandom to avoid,” answered a furry. 

Several others said they had encountered the Alt-Furries muzzle-to-muzzle. 

“They’re insufferable,” another furry replied. “I’m glad to see several of the worst ones have been told to leave and never return. Bigotry is not a valid expression.” A furry who was a volunteer at the Alamo City Furry Invasion event answered that they had found someone had left Alt-Furry literature “scattered on table.” Others said they had spotted them at conventions or “furmeets.” But most commonly, people said they had argued with or been harassed by them online. 

“The encounters used to be constant online, forever grateful I enabled the Alt-Furry block lists,” replied one of the survey respondents. 

“I wrote an expose about the Nazis invading the convention in Denver, the Rocky Mountain Fur Con. I had gotten into that because people had seen my writing and they said ‘we should talk to Patch, because he seems like he should be able to help us.’” Patch said. “These were people local to Denver and they said they were going to stage a walkout if they didn’t stop these Nazis from coming, because the people running the convention were in cahoots with the Nazis, it was just like a 7 layer shit cake– just drama and scandal. I wrote about it and it blew up and the convention shut down 12 hours after I published. I was going to publish this so it was out there and then the staff were going to demand things, and walk off if they didn’t get their demands, but they shut down first.”

There was backlash. Patch said Alt-Furries targeted CaliFur, the next big convention after the cancelled Denver convention, calling the hotel to try to get them to shut the convention down. One of the people making the calls was an organizer of the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, according to Patch. A similar round came when a new “no Nazis allowed” furry convention started up to replace Rocky Mountain Fur Con, called DenFur. Alt-Furries “tried  to book all the hotel rooms to fraud the convention so it would start up and have nobody paying– all these rooms would be booked and then nobody would show, that was their fraud scheme,” Patch told me.

The Alt-Furries seem to have been beaten back in the years since the Denver fiasco and Patch explained that they are “burning embers buried underneath. They are still there, still plotting stuff.” 

A major blow to the Alt-Furries was when one of their leaders, the aforementioned Foxler Nightfire, was arrested in 2019 for allegations he had sex with a minor at a furry convention in 2015. That’s a story that Patch continues to cover on Dogpatch Press.  

Alt-Furries might seem baffling, but hate groups have long tried to infiltrate subcultures and social movements. They see these disenfranchised people who are outside of society as potential recruits. Neo-nazis hijacked the skinhead aesthetic and have long creeped around punk, metal, and neo-folk scenes.  Recently, the yoga and wellness community have had a QAnon problem. So it makes sense then that the Alt-Right, which tries to portray itself as a hip, funny movement based on memes and trolling would attempt to put on a fursuit and sneak into the furry subculture.

In 2019 Alt-Right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos posted on his Telegram account (he had been banned from Twitter) a picture of a snow leopard fursuit and a ticket to Midwest FurFest, but once the event organizers were notified, he was banned from the event. 

In my 2020 Furry Fandom survey, one of the multiple choice questions was “Which of these, in your opinion, is the right response to Alt-Furies?” The strongest response, with 50.18% was “They should be confronted and banned from conventions,” followed by “ignore them, they can be debated if needed” at 24.54% and 21.97% answered “I don’t care” or “none of these answers.” 

1.47% (4 respondents) answered that they were Alt-Furries. 

One response to the invasion of Alt-Furries is yes, you guessed it: Antifa Furries. A person who identifies as Antifa I interviewed for a Shepherd Express article told me that any time in history you find fascism gathering in the streets, people will show up to confront them. As it turns out, that confrontation might involve both parties dressed as dogs and foxes. An Anti-fascist Furries group created patches and other work that read “Nazi Furs Fuck Off” (ala the Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” By the way, Patch did a great interview with Jello Biafra and discovered his fursona would be the lamprey eel on the cover of his band Lard’s The Power of Lard album). Another design shows the Antifa symbol of the three arrows of the Iron Front shooting over a paw. 

From the Anti-Fascist Furries Twitter page.

The fight carries on, the fur continues to fly. And Dogpatch Press will be there to report it.

Dogpatch Press can be found at: dogpatch.press and on social media.

Tea’s Weird Week, episode 06: Tea talks more with Patch O’Furr on his introduction to the furry fandom and some of the major stories he’s dug up, then Tea and Heidi share weird news: Flat Earthers…in space? Scottish Bigfoot? Football energy rituals? New cave paintings discovered in Tanzania and the guy who says he made a guitar out of his uncle’s skeleton- fact or faked? Plus trivia, cryptid poll results, and we close out with a track by Avian Invasion, “Carnival of Animals.” And check out original art of the Tea’s Weird Week staff’s fursonas by David Beyer below!

Listen here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-06-how-a-dogged-reporter-sniffed-out-an-alt-right-furry-infiltration/
Or on: Podbean//Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Check out my books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1

Tea’s Weird Week: Ask a Yodeling Dominatrix

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Manuela Horn is a woman of many titles. She’s known as the “Austrian Amazon” for her height (6’2″ flatfooted) the “Queen of Oktoberfest” for headlining as an Oktoberfest hostess around the world, and my favorite, the personality that has gained Manuela the most notoriety– the “Yodeling Dominatrix,” an act that shows off her ability to crack a whip and carry a tune at the same time. Manuela says she developed her yodeling talents when she was 12 and practiced while on long family road trips through Austria.

In 2009 she yodeled her way onto the stage of America’s Got Talent, where she knocked the socks off of judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and David Hasselhoff. You can witness her performance here:

The Yodeling Dominatrix appears on Americas got Talent 2009 from Manuela Horn on Vimeo.

Manuela has mixed her comedy and music abilities to perform with several theatrical groups, but one of her longest running associations is with Teatro Zinzanni, a dinner and theater show that’s based out of the Seattle area. They opened new shows in San Francisco and Chicago and Manuela was sent to the Midwest to perform at the new show located in the Cambria Hotel in Chicago’s Theatre District. But just as the show was starting to get rolling, the pandemic brought the curtain down. Like so many performers around the world, Manuela found herself without a live audience, so she headed home to Graz, Austria.

At home she’s found time for other projects. Manuela’s music is super fun and all gimmicks aside, she’s a great yodeler and singer. She’s been learning to master the accordion, and even participated in a special accordion performance with Puddle’s Pity Party and “Weird Al” Yankovic. She also recorded one of the kinkiest holiday albums of all time– The Naughty Christmas Album. Yodel-lay-hee-OW!

I recently spoke to Manuela to talk about her career and asked her some Valentine’s Day advice. An excerpt of the interview follows, you can hear the whole interview on this week’s Tea’s Weird Week podcast.

Tea: Is Valentine’s Day celebrated in Austria?

Manuela: It is, but it’s not as highlighted or how would you say– celebrated– as you would do in America, like in America at school you would bring cards and stuff– we don’t do that. But our industry is trying to push all the chocolates and flowers on to the guys to surprise the girls or whatever love you share, you give your love something in that direction. But it is on our calendar.

Tea: Is yodeling romantic? Is it sexy?

Manuela: Oh my God, like I said if someone pokes the right spot I would say you go (gives an orgasmic sounding yodel)! If you haven’t heard that in the bedroom, you’ve been with the wrong lover. (laughs)

Tea: What advice do you have for people who are lonely and want romance this year?

Manuela: Especially in this pandemic! I guess left hand and right hand– give them some love, lotion those hands. Be good to yourself, I would say go out there and find someone but with the pandemic it’s me, myself, and I think– fuck it, order yourself some flowers and chocolate and champagne. You don’t have to share it, this year you can drink and eat it all by yourself. Man that’s– look on the bright side!

Tea: Is there a romantic phrase in German you can teach us?

Manuela: How about…Mein schnuckiputzi ich hab dich lieb.
Tea: (Tries to say it but fumbles)
Manuela: Very close. But it means something like my pumpkin, I love you very much.

Tea: Awww that’s great. I’m going to make a Valentine card that says that.

Manuela: Yeah, Snuckiputzi is a great word. Ooh, maybe I need to write a song now!

You can find Manuela on social media and her website, www.manuelahorn.com

Tea’s Weird Week episode 05: Tea talks to Manuela Horn in a cheeky interview about her career that includes demonstrations of her yodeling ability. Tea and Heidi discuss weird news including a fetus who is about to drop an album, a French orgy bust, reality manipulating technology, and the many lives of Mothman. Miss Information reveals our first trivia winner and we close out with a special Valentine’s Day treat: Manuela Horn’s yodelfied version of “Tainted Love.”

Listen here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-05-ask-a-yodeling-dominatrix/
For more podcast platforms we’re on, check out the Tea’s Weird Week page: https://teakrulos.com/teas-weird-week-podcast-4/

Check out my books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1

Tea’s Weird Week: Meet Mayoral Candidate Bluuuuuuuue Deeeeemon Juniorrrrr!

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My Tea’s Weird Week podcast co-host Heidi Erickson brought this weird news item to my attention and I sure do love it. We talked about it on episode 2, but I wanted to delve deeper into this story of a colorful candidate in Mexico City’s mayoral race…luchador champion Blue Demon Junior.

Lucha libre is the popular form of wrestling from Mexico that features luchadores (feminine: luchadoras), who often (but not exclusively) have mysterious, masked personas. The thrill of lucha libre has since spread around the world. Even here in the frozen tundras of Milwaukee we have a wrestling/ variety show called Mondo Lucha! as well as a lucha libre themed speakeasy style tequila bar (Mucha Lucha Milwaukee— unclear if they are still open).

Blue Demon was one of the original luchador legends. His first match as Blue Demon was in 1948 and was perhaps second in popularity only to luchador El Santo. Like El Santo, he also starred in a series of action movies from 1961 to 1979. Blue Demon died in 2000 and was buried in his signature silver and blue mask, but the legacy wasn’t over– before he died, he announced his persona would continue with his “adopted son,” Blue Demon Junior.

The original Blue Demon on the cover of a lucha libre magazine, date unknown.

Blue Demon Junior has also had an accomplished career. He started wrestling in 1996 with Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide. In 2008 he became the first Mexican wrestler to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and many championship wins followed. But now, Blue Demon Junior is throwing down in a different ring– the political one.

Signing legislature and body slamming punks…Blue Demon Junior.

Mexican elections allow running under a nickname or alias, so “Blue Demon Junior” will appear on the ballot. Like many luchadores, Blue Demon Junior keeps his identity a secret, so if he wins he says he will reveal his identity to the proper authorities, but not the public-at-large. He’s running as a candidate for the Redes Sociales Progresistas (Progressive Social Networks) party, as are two other luchador colleagues, Tinieblas and Caristico. That means that potentially three districts of Mexico City would be governed by progressive luchadores.

Tinieblas (left) and Caristico are also running for office this year.

Blue Demon Junior is the most well known and iconic of the three, not just because of the Blue Demon legacy and his impressive career, but his celebrity power. The Disney Channel recently announced the luchador will star in show called Ultra Violet & Blue Demon, in which a magical lucha libre mask creates superhero Ultra Violet, who is then mentored by her uncle Blue Demon Junior.

Ultra Violet & Blue Demon was announced by Disney Channel last month.

This story was a thrill for me because it reminded me of research for my book Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real-life Superhero Movement— where I share the inspiring adventures of Mexico City’s “social luchadors,” a small movement of activists who appeared between the 1980s-early 2000s. The most well known was Super Barrio, a character created to rally protest marchers behind issues like fair housing and worker’s rights. The documentary Super Amigos (2007) documented several other social luchador campaigns, including Super Animal, who along with his sidekick Super Animalito, rallied for animal rights. They particularly targeted the cruel practice of bullfighting and were arrested after entering the ring to challenge matadors to fight them instead of the bulls. Super Gay fought for gay rights, and Ecologista Universal tried to raise awareness for the destruction of the environment.

The People’s Hero: Super Barrio at a protest march in Mexico City.

The documentary also told the story of Fray Tormenta, a priest who became a luchador to fund the orphanages he ran. He was a man of the cloth and the spandex, and yes, the movie Nacho Libre is loosely based on his story. Although retired, he still delivers sermons in his luchador mask and like Blue Demon, he passed his persona on to a Fray Tormenta Junior.

As for Blue Demon Junior, it’ll be interesting to see what he will bust out in his campaign and how much will be “kayfabe” (a word from wrestling that describes a staged performance) and what will be genuine politics. Candidates are allowed to campaign in Mexico City until June 2, followed by a vote on June 6, 2021. It’s a campaign I’ll certainly keep my eye on.

Check out Blue Demon Junior in action in this video of his 2009 NWA World Heavyweight Championship title bout win over wrestler Joey Ryan.

Tea’s Weird Week podcast, episode 04: I talk more about Blue Demon Junior and wrestling politics with Crystal Schmidt, who has “a wrestling podcast for people that don’t like loud noises,” called Wrestling Public Radio. Special guest Mistaloo Meff stops by to drop a track inspired by this week’s episode, “Mucha Lucha: Close Encounters of the Weird Kind.” Then me and Heidi Erickson discuss whether Marjorie Taylor Greene would be a fun neighbor, the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass, a 7-foot telepathic mantis sighting, Chucky on the loose in Texas, edible racecars, and Lizzie Borden’s bed and breakfast.

Plus your last chance to play trivia with Miss Information before our big prize drawing next week and we close out with a track from Yaiza Magdalena–The Awara Lady, “Mala Mujer,” from her upcoming album. Original music and sound editing by Android 138.

Yes these fabulous prizes– a Mothman print by Mendoza Illustration, a copy of The Galleon CD by CHIEF, a Blue Demon luchador mask, a Tea’s Weird Week coffee mug, signed copies of my books American Madness and Apocalypse Any Day Now can all be yours. Send the answers to the trivia questions in our first four episodes to teasweirdweek@gmail.com for our drawing next week!

Listen here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-04-luchador-blue-demon-junior-runs-for-mayor/
Also available on: Player FM//Spotify//Soundcloud//Sticher

This week’s podcast guest, Crystal Schmidt, with one of her favorite wrestlers– Mick Foley.

Check out my books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1

Tea’s Weird Week: Countdown to UFO Disclosure

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On December 21, Congress approved a COVID relief bill. It was a monster 5,593-page piece of legislation, which lawmakers only had a few hours to peruse before voting. The most talked about part of the bill was the meager $600 sum for those unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. But the bill also included funding for vaccine distribution and COVID testing, supplemented unemployment and the Paycheck Protection Program and extended the federal eviction moratorium.

And, buried, deep within it’s pages– a 180-day deadline for UFO (or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, a term used to try to avoid the stigma of the little green men term “UFO”) disclosure. It’s not uncommon for members of Congress to roll out the pork barrel in a big bill like this to get government funding for local projects that benefit their constituents (or lobbyists), but who had slipped in the demand for UFO disclosure? And what might we expect to see? Fortunately, I knew just the guy to talk to– author, podcast host and UFO journalist Ryan Sprague.

Still from a Department of Defense video of UFO released in 2017.

“I never thought I’d see the day this would happen, let alone in a COVID-19 relief bill. It’s been crazy,” Ryan told me. I recently spoke to Ryan for an upcoming episode of his podcast Somewhere in the Skies (he wrote a book of the same name– both are highly recommended if you’re interested in UFOs) to talk about my book American Madness, and I used the opportunity to ask some questions of my own.

Among his other projects, Ryan writes for a fairly new site called The Debrief. It isn’t specifically a UFO site, though that is one of the subjects they cover. The Debrief “covers everything from disruptive technology to emerging science, defense, aerospace, and even UFOs so that’s kind of where I came in, I’m kind of their UFO guy on the beat, covering everything to do with that,” Ryan explains. The Debrief are the ones who first broke the COVID bill/UFO disclosure story, and their reporting was quickly picked up by other media outlets.

“The story actually traces back to the 2017 New York Times article that went viral with finding out the Pentagon had a secret UFO program and that they were investigating UFOs, primarily military witness accounts,” Ryan says. “That’s when we got those three videos, gun camera footage of these UFOs that our pilots in the skies were seeing. It was a whirlwind from there– we found out that these were official Department of Defense videos that were leaked to the public by Christopher Mellon, who is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and also a former staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

Mellon began working with the former head of that secret UFO program (officially named the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program), Luis Elizondo, to study the phenomenon. They briefed members of Congress on their findings, including Senators Marco Rubio, Mark Warner, and (then Senator) Kamala Harris.

“They said we have to do something about UFOs- you guys have to take this seriously,” Ryan says. “Along with this bill being passed it was announced maybe six months ago that the Pentagon was creating a UFO task force– that’s where this bill comes in. Whatever this task force finds, they have 180 days to give a declassified release to the public.”

Ryan was also helpful in clarifying a story where media outlets have tried to connect stories A and B, which are unrelated– headlines have proclaimed that the CIA is releasing it’s UFO files, suggesting this is part of the recent disclosure clause, however, this is old news– most of these documents have been available for a decade. A key source of being able to read these files is John Greenewald’s site The Black Vault, where Greenewald has worked tirelessly to obtain files via the Freedom of Information Act.

What results can we expect to see when this 180-day deadline arrives? Will it be something truly revelatory, or just more highly redacted dead ends?

Ryan says he’s trying to be an optimist when it comes to the UFO disclosure, “but I’m also a realist and I think this is going to be kind of a let down for the really pro-UFO people, cause honestly in my opinion I don’t think the government knows much on what they’re dealing with, I think they’re just as much in the dark as a lot of citizens. They might know a little more, but I think they are just as mystified as we are as to what pilots are seeing and what people are reporting.”

Ryan also says he got discouraging words when he recently tried talking about the deadline to a Pentagon spokesperson.

“I asked, ‘what are we going to get from this thing? Anything?’ And the answer I got was ‘it’s all going to be classified.’ So I’m not holding out much hope that we’re going to get much out of it in terms of smoking gun information like what crashed in Roswell or are there 20 alien races living among us on earth,” Ryan laughs. But he adds “we might get some interesting cases of drones or more cases of military pilots who saw something they couldn’t explain. Who knows we have a whole new administration in the white house who are a lot more open to this topic, so maybe we’ll get more than we ever got, but I’m remaining hesitant and skeptical until it actually happens.”

Check out Ryan’s site for links to his book, podcast, case files, and more at: www.somewhereintheskies.com and follow The Debrief, as they’ll be on the frontline of this story at thedebrief.org.

Tea’s Weird Week episode 03: Hear my full interview with Ryan Sprague about the UFO disclosure story. Then Me and Heidi share weird news: “My Way” killings, monkey labor problems, a proposed Bigfoot hunting season, hubby’s dream numbers win big, our robot overlord Sophia, a scream hotline, and special guest Mandy Cappleman sings a song from 1652 that’s a total gas. 

Plus trivia, a QAnon vs Flat Earthers poll, and we close out with the track “Algorithm Nation 1814” by Guerilla Ghost featuring the master MC of weirdness Kool Keith.

Listen right here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-03-countdown-to-ufo-disclosure/

Buy my books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1

Tea’s Weird Week: The Orange Stain

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If you’ve ever heated up some leftover spaghetti in a plastic Tupperware container in the microwave, you know that you then forever have this kinda gross orangish-red stain on the container. It looks like the sauce has fused permanently into the plastic. You give it a scrub down, maybe throw it in the dishwasher– and it somehow looks even worse.

I’m just so sick of Trump– his stupid face, his ridiculous ego, his stupid family, his Orwellian cabinet, his Alt-Right flunkies like Stephen Miller, “Sloppy Steve” Bannon, Roger Stone, etc., his dumb, dangerous rhetoric, his xenophobia and racism, and perhaps most of all, his reckless spewing of misinformation and conspiracy-mongering, which has been proven to be fatal.

I wrote about Trump a lot in this column in 2020. It was an election year, my book about conspiracy theory, American Madness, was published, and so I wanted to share my observations about the conspiracy epidemic. I wish I could tell you this is the last time I’ll be writing I’ll be writing about the Orange One, but I know the repercussions of Trump will be felt for years, probably even generations. There is a lot to dissect and examine to try to figure out just how in the flying fuck we got here. The MAGA crowd will try to play forward the myth that he was a great hero, like the depiction in that stupid MAGA flag of Trump’s face grafted onto Rambo’s body. Others will compare him to dictators like Hitler and Mussolini, or cult-leaders like Manson and Jim Jones.

To the latter, just look at his own cult, QAnon, the driving force behind January 6’s Q d’etat, and his violent street gang, the Proud Boys (who were also present at the coup, along with Alex Jones, assorted white supremacists, militias, and uh…a Chuck Norris look-alike, Britney Spear’s ex-boyfriend, the guitarist from Iced Earth, among other seditionists.)

My comparison? Well, I’m not above making an absurd argument in absurd times. In 2019 I wrote a column titled “A Theory About Vampires, Zombies, Killer Clowns…and Donald J. Trump” which attempted to tie the Trump presidency into a trend of films like It and Joker. That’s how I view Trump: a killer clown– stupid, crazy, dangerous, with heavy facepaint.

I’m excited to take a break about talking about Trump for awhile. I’m sure he’ll be back in the future, but the columns I have planned over the next month or so are going to feature people I find interesting and inspiring, delightfully unusual.

Maybe this is my way of trying to spray down the orange stain.

Tea’s Weird Week podcast episode 2! I talk more about the orange stain, then me and my co-anchor Heidi Erickson talk about our favorite weird news this week, including a QAnon Bigfoot named Zorth, the exciting mayoral campaign of luchador Blue Demon Junior, mystical cats, elephant dung gin, and the popularity of sea shanties on TikTok (and to give us an example of one, special guest Chris Tischler of Chief sings us “Soon May the Wellermen Come.”) Plus Miss Information’s trivia question (send answer to teasweirdweek@gmail.com to be entered in monthly prize drawing) and a great new collaborative track from Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies of Leisure and LUXI, “Basement Show.” Original music and sound editing by Android138.

Listen here: https://teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-2-the-orange-stain/
Also available on: Player FM//Spotify//Soundcloud//Sticher

Check out my latest books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousnessbookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review 
(e-book, $2.99/free on KU)https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1
Wisconsin Legends & Lorewww.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Tea’s Weird Week: Q D’ETAT! (And the Top Ten Frightening Conspiracy Theory Stories of 2020)

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I’ve spent years studying the dangers of conspiracy theory. It all started when I was contacted by a man named Richard McCaslin, who told me about his raid on a secret society retreat called the Bohemian Grove, dressed as his own superhero persona, the Phantom Patriot. Meeting Richard led me through the strange and often terrible world of Conspiracyland, documented in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness. At this time, conspiracy theorists were often lone wolfs. That’s evolved in recent years into conspiracy cult thinking– what we saw on January 6 at the Capitol, the event I refer to as the “Q d’etat,” was a full on army of conspiracy theorists.

As I was glued to my TV in shock, I thought about Richard, who is no longer with us. If he was, would we have seen him dressed in his Phantom Patriot costume marching through a haze of tear gas in the halls of the Capitol building with the rest of them? Perhaps. Even after years of interviewing him, I found Richard’s thinking unpredictable at times. I think he would have liked the idea of a “patriot revolution” raiding the Capitol, but then again Richard clearly wrote in his last testament that he was no fan of Trump, who he thought was a Reptilian alien, and he viewed QAnon as a government manufactured “psy-op” program. Richard was so deep in the bottomless rabbit hole that the conspiracies had conspiracies.

Despite the ridiculous theories that this violence was caused by hundreds of Antifa disguised in MAGA gear, anyone can see that this was the work of Trump’s cult, QAnon, and his street gangs like the Proud Boys, other Alt-Right, white supremacists, neo-confederates, and militia groups. The first person to breach the Capitol was a guy in a Q t-shirt. The guy we’re all sick of seeing, Jake Angeli, wearing a buffalo horn headdress, no shirt, and star-spangled facepaint, called himself the “QAnon Shaman.”

After the Q army was cleared, authorities found pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, guns, a noose hanging from gallows on the scene. Plans included hanging Mike Pence, assassinating Nancy Pelosi, and kidnapping members of Congress (some even carried flex cuffs to help capture hostages).

5 people died. Ashli Babbitt was an Air Force vet and QAnon believer who had tweeted she was going to be part of “the Storm”– QAnon lingo for a revolution. She said “nothing will stop us,” but was shot as she tried to climb through a doorway in the Capitol. Rosanne Boyland, another QAnon follower, was in the crowd waving the Gadsen “don’t tread on me” flag, but was trampled to death in the crowd. Benjamin Phillips told a reporter that the event “feels like the first day of the rest of our live,” but died of a stroke. And the death of Kevin Greeson was said to have been caused by him falling while trying to steal a painting, his taser landing in his crotch, zapping him until he had a heart attack. The truth of that story is disputed, but it will live on as part of Q d’etat lore.

Lastly, Officer Brian Sicknick died fro his injuries after the crowd beat him with a fire extinguisher. 60 some other officers were injured, proving that this crowd doesn’t care so much about “blue lives” as they do about disparaging black ones.

How did the hell did we get here? I think the first problem to look at is the growing conspiracy violence over the last year. The sad thing about writing this column was that finding ten stories to write about was not difficult at all. Any one of these stories should be frightening and disturbing. But taken together as a whole, it points to conspiracy theory being an out-of-control public health emergency, a problem that has continued to grow and escalated into the Q d’etat and the potential threats we are being warned about that could unfold over the next week. The FBI reports that extremists like the Boogaloo movement are planning violence surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Photo via the BBC.

Here are 10 stories of conspiracy violence that I followed in 2020 that paved the path to the Capitol insurrection.

1.) Trump’s normalization of conspiracy theory: The seeds of the scene we saw at the Capitol January 6 began with Trump making conspiracy part of his everyday language. He popularized phrases ripe with conspiracy like “witch hunt,” “fake news,” “hoax,” “Obamagate,” and “election fraud.” He gave a platform to conspiracy theorists and outlets and promoted conspiracy ideas from the ridiculous, trivial ones that bugged his ego (“energy efficient bulbs make my skin look orange”) to the ones that ended in bloodshed (“mass election fraud stole the election from me.”)
See more: “Firehose of Falsehood: An Autopsy of Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency (and Why It Will Haunt Us Moving Forward

2.) Crazy Train: Not an April Fool’s– on April 1 a man named Eduardo Moreno, a locomotive engineer, hijacked a train and derailed it in Los Angeles. His plan was to jump the train at the end of the tracks and crash it into the USNS Mercy hospital ship, which had recently arrived to help with overflow COVID patients. Moreno thought the ship was part of a New World Order police state takeover. He told authorities his goal was to “wake people up,” and said “you only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
See more: “Conspiracy Theory Trainwreck.”

A literal conspiracy trainwreck in Los Angeles, April 1, 2020.


3.) 5G Arsons: Conspiracies about 5G internet range from cancer and other illness from “5G radiation” to it being the cause or exacerbating COVID to government mind control programs. This has led to a string of arsons across Europe, burning down 5G towers (and towers misidentified as 5G ones) and internet service workers being harassed in the streets. Between spring and summer of 2020, there were hundreds of cell tower arsons in the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Canada, as well as in the U.S., where there was an arson in Oregon and a wave of damaged or disabled towers in Tennessee.

4.) Q Goes to Congress: QAnon has emerged as the biggest conspiracy threat we face, as evidenced by the Q d’etat. Leading up to that have been several stories of QAnon believers kidnapping or running people off the roads because they suspect they are “pedophiles.” All this makes it even more disturbing that Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon follower, was elected to Congress to represent Georgia. Her collegue, Lauren Boebert (of Colorado) has also played with QAnon ideas.

In her short time in office, Rep. Greene has already had an incredibly stupid career– she caused a shouting match in the first hour of her first day on the job for not wearing a mask on the floor; on her second day she said Georgia’s election results needed to be overturned…but just the presidential ones, you know, not the ones that elected her on the same Georgia ballot. Her most recent antic is announcing that she will be introducing articles of impeachment against Joe Biden… on January 21, his first full day in office. Good grief.

Rep. Boebert is facing calls to resign for both inciting the crowd (among other things, she tweeted out “This is 1776!”) and revealing that Speaker Pelosi had been removed from the chambers during the insurrection, seen as tipping off those who were looking to kidnap or assassinate her. Almost 100 candidates with QAnon beliefs ran for office in 2020.
See more: “Well, it Happened: Meet Your First QAnon Congressional Representative.”

QAnon conspiracy promoter and House rep Marjorie Greene of Georgia.

5.) Stupid Bay of Pigs: I think this May 4 story got glossed over in the craziness of spring 2020, but Operation: Gideon, or as it was soon nicknamed, “Stupid Bay of Pigs,” was an attempt by a private American company, Silvercorp USA, to send a team of American mercenaries and Venezuelan dissidents to overthrow the government of Venezuela. They hoped to be hailed as heroes and make some pretty sweet reward money.

They thought they could pull this off with 60 people. Needless to say everything went incredibly wrong and when the two fiberglass boats full of mercenaries arrived, 8 were shot dead and 17 captured while the rest scrambled their escape. One of the two Americans who led the way, was, you guessed it, into QAnon.

6.) Election Fraud Cop: The number one source amplifying election fraud conspiracies is of course Trump himself. Here’s just one example of where that rhetoric has led– in October, an ex-cop in Houston named Mark Aguirre decided he would become a detective vigilante, hunting down fraudulent ballots.

He began tailing what he viewed as a suspicious van for several days and became convinced that it was full of thousands of fake ballots. He eventually ran this vehicle off the road and pulled a gun on the driver, but when he opened the doors, he discovered…tools and spare parts for the man’s air-conditioning repair service. He’s an ex-cop for a reason. In 2002 he led a botched raid on a K-Mart parking lot, arresting 278 people, accusing them of being part of a street racing ring. The arrests led to millions of dollars in lawsuits for the city and Officer Aguirre was fired.

7.) Wolverine Watchmen: A gang of militia domestic terrorists calling themselves the Wolverine Watchmen actively plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. They went so far as to stake out Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home and made a plan to bring her to Wisconsin to placed under their own “trial.” Other ideas included storming the Michigan Capitol to take hostages, much like we saw attempted at the Q d’etat, and blowing up a bridge to distract law enforcement. Multiple members shared links to InfoWars, QAnon, and pandemic conspiracy theories on their social media.
See more: “A Militia of Phantom Patriots.”

8.) Anti-maskers: I’m just going to put this here. I regret to inform you this is just one of many dozens and dozens of terrible examples:


9.) The Nashville Christmas Bomber: As the details have been rolling in, we see a portrait of Anthony Quinn Warner, the suicide bomber who detonated an RV full of explosives in downtown Nashville as a conspiracy theorists who believed in Reptilian aliens, among other beliefs. It’s unclear what his exact motivation was or if his target was the AT&T center he parked next to, but his conspiracy believers are at least part of his mindset.

See more: “Nashville Bomber was a Conspiracy Believer, Reptilian ‘Hunter’

10.) COVID Anti-vaxxers: A story close to home, here– a pharmacist at a health center in Grafton, Steven Bradenburg, pulled the equivalent of about 570 COVID vaccine doses out of their refrigerated storage to purposely ruin them, because he believed the vaccines were dangerous and could alter human DNA. It’s clear from his divorce proceedings that he had taken a scary turn into doomsday prepping, believing the government has a plan to shut down the power grid to create an apocalyptic police state. This story is still unfolding, but it leads me to what I think the biggest conspiracy threats of 2021 are.

One, I think we’ll see more stories like the Q d’etat and the Wolverine Watchmen kidnapping plot. All of these Trump QAnon/Alt-Right/Militia/White Supremacists aren’t disappearing on January 20 and in fact, many will consider themselves to be at war with the Biden administration. Two, much like the Bradenburg cases, there’s going to be lots of anti-vaxx issues with the COVID vaccine. We finally got the cure, but will people skip it because they believe they’ll turn into a crocodile or be microchipped by Bill Gates? Will it continue to be sabotaged by anti-vaxxers? Is our country just too dumb and selfish to get past a pandemic?

We’ll see. I hope I’m wrong. Please be safe out there!


Please Clap Dept: Thanks to Emily McFarlan Miller, who did a great interview with me about American Madness and conspiracy threats for Religion News Service: “Conspiracy theories and the ‘American Madness’ that gripped the Capitol.”

I’m happy to present episode 1 of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast! I talk more about the ideas in this column, then me and Heidi Erickson review weird news about monoliths, killer squirrels, black holes, state dinosaurs, and the fate of the Hall of President’s Trumpbot. There’s also trivia by Quizmaster Miss Information, plus a new track by Sunspot, “Hold on for Your Life.” Original music and sound editing by Android138.

Listen here: teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-01-q-detat

Buy my books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1
Wisconsin Legends & Lore: www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Tea’s Weird Week: Big in 2021

What a crazy year it’s been, right?! I’m talking about 2021. Well, Tea’s Weird Week is back to take on this new year! As I get this column up and running again, I got a few things I’d like to share:

New art! A round of applause please for the beautiful new columnhead art by Addo Workman of Cut-it-Out Studios. I decided to switch out columnhead art every year, so Addo’s follows 2019’s design by my sister, Margot Lange, and 2020’s design by J.Jason Groschopf (you can see a version of that as the website banner). I love Addo’s cut paper style and it does look like a situation I’d get myself into! Check out Addo’s site here: www.cutitoutstudios.com

New! Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group and…PODCAST: One of my great joys of social media has been the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group, which I started a month or two ago. It’s become a clearinghouse of weird news, memes, music, pictures, monolith sightings, and more. It’s been great fun– we had a 2020 haiku contest, gave our 420th member the group nickname “Chronic the Hemphog” and voted on whether Anna should spend the night in a haunted hotel. Join the group HERE. I’m also glad to say a Tea’s Weird Week podcast is in production and will premiere in this column next week– I’ll save the details for then.

While You Were Gone: I’ve been devoted to conspiracy theory study (the theme of my latest book, American Madness), and several significant conspiracy theory stories unfolded while Tea’s Weird Week was on vacation, most notably the Nashville Bomber and the man who purposely destroyed COVID vaccines here in Wisconsin– both confirmed conspiracy believers.

And then there was what I’m dubbing the “Q d’etat,” the conspiracy mob raid on the Capitol building yesterday. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this, but as Vice reports “QAnon Led the Storming of the US Capitol.” This is all disturbing, crazy, frightening and I’ll be writing and talking about this on the podcast in more detail next week.

Kevin Spacey’s Murder Holiday Message: My very first column of 2020 was titled “Have a Happy Murder Holiday with Kevin Spacey,” in which I wrote about Spacey’s eerie tradition of recording a short, threatening holiday message in character as Frank Underwood from House of Cards for two Christmas Eves in a row. The big question was, would he return Christmas Eve 2020? Yes, he did. This year he changed it up, though, delivering a message about suicide prevention rather than he usual weird vague murder threats. Huh.

What I’m working on in 2021: 2020 was a development year for me, where I explored different book ideas. I came up with four ideas and one has been scrapped for parts, one back-burnered, one is in further development, and one is a go. The project in further development is one that I think I can do well with and will be very much in line with the previous books I’ve written. Sorry to be vague, but I don’t like to say anything until it’s officially signed up.

There is one writing project I can announce, though. (Working title) Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches will be out in 2022 from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. It’s a collection of short stories about a greasy spoon/pharmacy I worked at in my youth, stories about the regulars and my co-workers, along with some sketches I did while at work. I’m really happy with it and wrapping up the writing this month.

Please Clap Dept.: If you want to catch up on this column, the Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review e-book collects my columns from last year, available for $2.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited here: https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1 It’s on Goodreads HERE.

Over the holiday break, I was guest on two great podcasts. The Fantastic Story Society was a fun talk about the writing process: fantastic.libsyn.com/fantastic-story-society-ep-13-tea-krulos-richard-mccaslins-american-madness-the-dark-side-of-conspiracy-theory
And dear me, Deep Cuts did a 3-hour long podcast on Richard McCaslin/ American Madness!podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/phantom-patriot-deep-state-superhero/id1501739859?i=1000503306882

Thanks for joining me on the Tea’s Weird Week platforms in 2021. To quote Kevin Spacey, I’m dead serious.

Buy my books:
American Madness: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Wisconsin Legends & Lore: www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Nashville Bomber was a Conspiracy Believer, Reptilian “Hunter”

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.

Richard McCaslin protesting outside the White House as his character “Thoughtcrime” in 2011. Richard believed Obama as well as other presidents and world leaders were Reptilian aliens.

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#/
Quimby’s: www.quimbys.com/store/9655
Bookshop.org: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Amazon: www.amazon.com/American-Madness-Conspiracy-Theories-Consciousness/dp/1627310967/

Tea’s Weird Week: Happy Trails

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.

Scott Wolter

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 Wolter in his Krampus costume.

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.

Dale Pople aka Superhero.

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.

Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, protesting in Las Vegas.

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 Cleereman

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.

Jason Cleereman at the Southside Organizing Center with his wife (right) and a friend.

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.

Sarah Kozar, center, and Paul Setzer, right, both rocking accordions with the Riverwest Accordion Club.

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