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Tea’s Weird Week: Burn the Owl (Revisited)

Mid-July always reminds me of a certain mystery ritual involving a giant owl statue and the burning of a pesky entity named Dull Care. Every second weekend of July, the Bohemian Club kicks off their Midsummer encampment in the Bohemian Grove retreat. The Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco 1872. The original intent of the club was to foster art and culture in San Francisco, with most of the original members being writers, performers, and artists. It quickly grew into a status symbol, and the club began admitting men (it is a men only club) of means. Over it’s history, the Club has included several U.S. presidents and countless politicians, celebrities, CEOs, top brass military, musicians, and other movers and shakers.

Six years after the club was founded, one of the founding members, actor Henry Edwards, announced he was moving to New York. The club– about a hundred members at the the time, decided to have a going away camp out party for Edwards. An account of that first Midsummer Encampment, written by playwright Porter Garnett in 1908 says:

“The camp was without many comforts, but the campers were well supplied with the traditional Bohemian spirit– the factors of which are intellect, taste, conviviality, self-indulgence, and the joys of life. They were also provided with blankets to keep them warm and a generous supply of liquor for the same reason.”

Henry “Harry” Edwards in a photo circa 1871

The “Bohemians” enjoyed this outing so much that they made it an annual tradition. It is, what President (and Bohemian Club member) Herbert Hoover called “the greatest men’s party on earth.” The Club bought up a 2,700 acre plot in the redwood forest outside of Monte Rio, California and built cabins and other facilities. During the July summer encampment, which kicks off the second weekend of July, members enjoy theatrical performances, music, the great outdoors, and a lot of boozing and schmoozing. Oh yeah– they also kick the vacation off with a bizarre effigy burning ceremony in front of a giant statue of an owl.

In the 1880s, the Grove began what is called the Cremation of Care ceremony. It’s a piece of pageantry in which some of the club members dress as druids, recite poetic odes to the forest, then bring forward an effigy named “Dull Care” in front of the Great Owl of Bohemia statue. Dull Care is supposed to represent their worldly concerns that might get in the way of them being in party-mode. Dull Care mocks the Bohemians, but then the owl statue lights up and speaks! He instructs the priests to use a flame from a lamp at the base of the statue to destroy Dull Care. The Bohemians burn Dull Care, lots of cheering, fireworks, and drinks follow.

A photo of the Cremation of Care ceremony. Date unknown.

The reason we know about this secretive ritual (no press is allowed in) is from a series of undercover journalists who have infiltrated over the years from the 1970s to the 2000s.

In 2000, conspiracy peddler Alex Jones (of InfoWars) snuck into the Grove and recorded the Cremation of Care ceremony with a hidden camera. He cut this footage into a sensationalized “documentary” titled Dark Secrets: Inside the Bohemian Grove. In it he suggests that the ceremony is a satanic rite, the owl statue is Moloch, and the effigy might actually be a real person, who knows, maybe a child! And there’s your keystone of many conspiracies, from old anti-Semitic “blood libel” myths that said Jewish people used the blood of Christian children for rituals to modern QAnon nonsense about a Deep State cabal of pedophiles that get high off of adrenochrome they harvest from kids.

This Jones documentary influenced a person named Richard McCaslin to adopt a costumed persona, the Phantom Patriot, with a mission to raid the Bohemian Grove, “save the children,” and destroy the Great Owl statue. He was heavily armed when he snuck into the Grove the night of January 19, 2002. Here are pictures he took shortly before that date:

Things did not go as planned for the Phantom Patriot. You can read more on the history of the Bohemian Club (including what Oscar Wilde and Richard Nixon think of it), the strange, random life of Richard McCaslin, and the journey of the Phantom Patriot into the Bohemian Grove (in a chapter titled “Burn the Owl”) and what followed in my book American Madness.

For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week. I decided to have a Midsummer Encampment of my own and did a table read of sorts of the entire Cremation of Care ceremony with the help of some podcast host friends I made while promoting American Madness. I played the role of Priest One, while Aaron Franz (The Age of Transitions podcast, author of Revolve) voiced Priest Two. Dave Baker (Deep Cuts podcast, author of the new Everyone is Tulip graphic novel) acted (and sang!) the roles of Priest Three/ Great Owl of Bohemia, and Joseph L. Flatley (Failed State Update podcast, author of New Age Grifter, out next month from Feral House, publisher of American Madness) got the role of the sinister Dull Care.

We didn’t have the druid robes or the giant owl statue, but I think we brought that secret society swagger to the reading. Thanks guys! And begone, Dull Care! The episode also features a clip from an interview I did with Richard McCaslin from 2015 (not heard by anyone but me before) as well as the weird news segment with me and Heidi, a new trivia question from Miss Information and closes with a new track from snag., “Paradigm Shift.”

Listen to Tea’s Weird Week, S2 Ep09, Burn the Owl (Revisited) here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep09: Burn the Owl (Revisited) (podbean.com)
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SEE ALSO: Last summer I wrote a Tea’s Weird Week column (that appeared in a slightly different form as an article in Fortean Times) about how the Bohemian Grove summer encampment was called off for the first time in 142 years, as well as meet-ups for the Bilderberg Group and (probably) Skull & Bones: “Summer Plans are Cancelled for the New World Order.”

Get the full story of the Bohemian Grove and Richard McCaslin in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness here: Lion’s Tooth/ Bookshop.org/ Amazon

Tea’s Weird Week: Hold on to Your Buttocks, TWW Podcast Season 2 is About to Shake Down

There’s many things I like about the Tea’s Weird Week podcast, but one reason it is dear to me is that it’s been a part of my social time, a chance to talk to cool, interesting people, some I’ve known a long time, others I’ve just met. After wanting to do a podcast for years, the pandemic downtime finally caught up to me and like a million billion other people, I got that podcast rolling. TWW has a great crew– my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Android138, and trivia host Miss Information. We did a 13 episode inaugural season that ran January through April. Like a lot of things I do, it was a case of building an airplane while flying it, but I think it turned out well.

Episode 6 art (by David Beyer)– the TWW crew as furries.

In season one, we had some really fun original music by Android138 and other music guests, an interesting array of interviews with people like writer and UFO podcaster Ryan Sprague, the yodeling dominatrix Manuela Horn, Lake Monster expert Scott Mardis, and Patch O’Furr, a furry investigative journalist, just to name a few. We also did things like an episode based on audio from my 2017 tour of the Luxury Survival Condos.

I love having a weekly discussion with Heidi for the Tea’s Weird Week News segment about topical stories and classic strange cases; a couple people won big answering Miss Information’s trivia, and we closed out each episode with a track by an awesome indie band. I guess the podcast follows a sort of weirdo late night show format– opening monologue/interview, weird news talk, bonus skit stuff (like some of the music bits and the “Comedy Roast of Zorth“), trivia question, song. We try to have fun and inform you about the very weird world around us.

You can listen to the entire season on your preferred platform choice– find the episode list and links to all platforms here: Tea’s Weird Week Podcast | (teakrulos.com)

We’re working on a new 13 episode season 2 (summer season) right now and we’ve got a lot of great stuff going. I’m going to tell you about the first 3 episodes we got in production and some of the ideas we have beyond that.

(S2, EP01.) Hodag vs. Snallygaster. We love local lore at Tea’s Weird Week. Many small towns across the country have some story about a monster that lurks in the woods, stalks a creepy country lane, or swims in the local pond. We talk with the proprietors of the Hodag Store in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and the American Snallygaster Museum in Frederick County, Maryland about their homespun monsters. (airs 5/21)

(S2, EP02.) The Marvelous Miss Fit. I met Miss Fit– bodybuilder, charity fundraiser, and Real-life Superhero star of The Adventures of Miss Fit while working on my book Heroes in the Night. A stereotype of Real-life Superheroes is that they are dorky, delusional Batman-wannabe white dudes. Miss Fit bench-presses that idea, then body-slams it, then puts it in a headlock. She’s just rad, is what I’m saying. (airs 5/28)

(S2, EP03.) Lost in the Schroeder’s Books Vortex. Imagine a bookstore that looks like something out of an episode of Hoarders, run by a mysterious and eccentric woman, a hodgepodge tsunami of books ranging from the worthless to the priceless. Well, you’ll have to imagine because the West Allis, Wisconsin Fire Department shut Schroeder’s Books and Music down years ago, but we get one last look as the store is being cleared out and remember the sights and smells of the store, plus a dramatic reading of some of the store’s Yelp reviews. (airs 6/4)

After that I’m not sure what order these might appear, but we have episode ideas in the works that include interviewing Nick Redfern about his new book, a visit to our friends at Dead by Dawn Dead & Breakfast in Manitowoc, a Bohemian Grove episode, and much more, plus some great music and intriguing trivia.

After that, we’ll take a short summer vacation and then season 3 will really be all out because it will be our fall season– lots going on. As I wrote in a 2019 Tea’s Weird Week column, “October is Mad Boo-Business.” We’ll be recording live from some events, doing our own live events, some ghost investigating.

You can see me and Heidi do the news segment live in the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group (and hopefully I’ve figured out how to hook Streamyard to YouTube), we’re going live this Friday, May 14, 5pm CST for S2, ep01.

Tune in!


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Richard McCaslin: An Obituary

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Richard McCaslin died two years ago today. I wrote about his life in detail in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness. I realized he never received an obituary. I wrote one for him here. 

RICHARD WILSON MCCASLIN was born to Ned and Elsie McCaslin on June 20, 1964 in Zanesville, Ohio. He was a Marine, Real-Life Superhero, stuntman, activist, and artist. Richard developed a passion for superhero comics when he was a kid and this interest in comic book mythology would shape the direction of his life. Richard was an honors student in high school and after he graduated, he served with the United States Marine Corps from 1982 to 1985, and was honorably discharged.

After he returned home, Richard bounced between Zanesville and wandering the country for several years, looking for a career that would utilize his talents and creative power. His hobbies included illustrating his own comic adventures and designing costumes based off his favorite characters– photos of him in these costumes appeared in comic book letters pages and in the quintessential magazine devoted to comic news, Wizard. In 1987, he attended the Kim Kahana Stunt School in Chatsworth, California, hoping to find a career in stuntwork. Nothing panned out in that field at first, but in 1996 and 97, he got to play one of his childhood heroes, Batman, in a stunt show at Six Flags Astroworld (in Houston).

Around this same time in the late 90s and early 2000s, Richard went through a tough time, losing both his parents and struggling to make connections and a career. He moved to Austin, where he created his own superhero persona, the Phantom Patriot, and moved briefly to Carson City before he stormed a place called the Bohemian Grove in California. He had seen a video created by conspiracy theory peddler Alex Jones (of InfoWars) that suggested a cabal of powerful men were sacrificing people, possibly children, in front of a statue of an owl inside of the retreat.

Richard was arrested at the Bohemian Grove and charged with five felonies. After his raid, Richard was called “crazy” and a “domestic terrorist,” but I’d like to note that he acted on faulty information and believed he would be rescuing people that were in danger. There were multiple times inside the Bohemian Grove that he could have shot someone, but he didn’t. Richard spent about 6 and a half years in prison, where he channeled his creative side by drawing a comic book that included an autobiographical account of his Bohemian Grove raid.  

Upon his parole ending in 2011, Richard exercised his free speech rights by conducting peaceful protests, including a tour where he traveled coast-to-coast, protesting and seeing the country through his eyes. He conducted a protest in front of the Bohemian Club (which owns the Bohemian Grove) in downtown San Francisco in 2012. He moved to Las Vegas and then out to Pahrump, Nevada, where he finally settled down in a place he could call home. He lived a quiet life there, working with Las Vegas Motion Pictures to produce videos that showcased his creative talents, and regularly traveled to Las Vegas to protest and, of course, buy comic books. 

His videos can be seen on his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTSuMTR4SI1AZyEBt8WGIfA

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I think it’s fair to say that the people that Richard befriended didn’t agree with or necessarily even understand his views. But no one that met him will forget him, and he made our lives more interesting and gave us plenty to think about. Few people got to see the side of Richard that was a caring, concerned, loyal friend. 

In October of 2018 Richard traveled from Pahrump to Washington DC, choosing to take his life in his truck, parked outside of a Freemason temple. He died October 15. A small memorial took place on his property with friends and neighbors in November 2019. I hope Richard has found peace from the things that troubled him in his voyage here on Earth.

–Tea Krulos
Author, American Madness: The True Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness 

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A Militia of Phantom Patriots

Cambria, Wisconsin, population 767, has “no bank, no grocery store and no stoplight,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. For big city livin’ like that, you have to drive 25 minutes to Beaver Dam. Being Wisconsin, it does of course have a bar, which is called The Dump.

It’s out here on a property surrounded by cornfields that five domestic terrorists, militia members who called themselves the Wolverine Watchmen, met on July 10-12 to engage in “firearms training and other combat drills,” according to an affidavit by the FBI. They also attempted to built IEDs out of “black powder, balloons, a fuse, and BBs for shrapnel,” but they failed to detonate.

They property owner is a man named Michael H. Jung. His Twitter bio reads:
Belong to both Oath Keepers and III%ers. We are here to honor our countries [sic] Constitution and keep it the law of Our Country. What about you? MAGA Trump Patriot.

Michael Jung’s Twitter profile pic.

Both the groups Jung lists are militias. The Three Percenters get their name from the supposed fact that only 3% of America’s population fought against the British in the Revolutionary War. The Oath Keepers are named after the oath order to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Both groups view themselves as Revolutionaries fighting against a tyrannical government. They fly the “don’t tread on me” Gadsen flag, and the 13-star flag Betsy Ross flag.

The training session in Cambria was for a failed attempt to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who according to one of the Wolverine Watchmen, was a “tyrant bitch.” A couple of the members were identified in pictures from the massive pandemic protests at the Michigan Capitol building in April and May. Hundreds of armed people were there to protest COVID lockdown measures, which they said violated their freedom.

The FBI affidavit reveals that the Wolverine Watchmen had been forming a plan for months to kidnap Governor Whitmer and take her to “a secure location in Wisconsin for ‘trial.'” The location wasn’t identified, but perhaps it was to be Jung’s property in Cambria.

One of the militia’s ideas called for rallying “200 men” to storm the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing to take hostages, including the Governor. In another plan, they plotted to kidnap her from her vacation home and spent time staking it out twice in the last couple months. They planned to blow up a bridge to distract law enforcement and bomb police cars with Molotov cocktails. 13 men involved with the plot were arrested on federal and state charges.

The Wolverine Watchmen were all Trump fans and perceived him to be a fan of them– after all, as the lockdown protests were taking place Trump tweeted out “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The assembled militias saw that as validation. Trump also often showed his disdain for Governor Whitmer, sometimes refusing to say her name and referring to her as “that woman from Michigan.” Trump tweeted out that in regards to the militias, the Governor should “talk to them, make a deal,” nevermind the fact that some of these protesters were calling for her to be lynched and beheaded.

Here’s another thing about the Wolverine Watchmen: they were conspiracy theorists. Reviewing the Twitter feed of Michael Jung, the property owner in Cambria, we find the full gamut of 2020 conspiracies between February and his last tweet in August 25– lots of posts sharing anti-vaxxer media, a few posts celebrating QAnon (including a video titled “We are Q. The Plan to Save the World.”) as well as posts about 5G (a “direct energy weapon system”), voter fraud, FEMA camps, the fake “plandemic,” and references to Democratic governors being “tyrants.”

Other Wolverine Watchmen posted conspiracy media as well. Eric Molitor posted conspiracy theories related to QAnon, Peter Musico, ranted on YouTube about the “Deep State,” and shared links to Owen Shroyer, an InfoWars host, while Joseph Morrison shared anti-vaxxer theories and also encouraged his Twitter followers to tune into InfoWars, run by conspiracy peddler extremist Alex Jones. And that’s just what we know so far.

Musico, Molitor, and Morrison on the bottom row all shared conspiracy theories on their social media.

Jones and InfoWars often pop up in conspiracy driven plots– in my book American Madness, I detail how the influence of Alex Jones led a man named Richard McCaslin to heavily arm himself and raid a private retreat of powerful men called the Bohemian Grove back in 2002. He believed he would find satanic sacrifices taking place there. McCaslin viewed himself much like the Wolverine Watchmen probably do, not as domestic terrorists, but as patriots (McCaslin even dubbed himself the “Phantom Patriot”), fighting in a Revolutionary War.

Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot after his arrest in 2002.

The story repeated again in 2016 when a man named Edgar Maddison Welch saw a video on InfoWars about the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which led to his raid on the Washington DC pizzeria Comet Ping Pong. A wave of violence inspired by QAnon beliefs has risen under the Trump administration. 

Alex Jones, by the way, denounced McCaslin’s Bohemian Grove raid after it happened, saying that it sounded “crazy,” even though he was the inspiration. That’s a pattern of denial and disassociation he’s followed ever since, and sorry, Wolverine Watchmen, that includes you. On a recent show, Jones said the whole scheme was a “false flag” by the “Deep State.” In his words:

Well, we knew it was coming. I predicted over and over again, the last few months, it’s not a hard prediction, that they’d engage in a provocateur setup or a false flag against Democrat Party officials, to make them look like victims when they launch incredible tyranny.

Trump, the Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief,  is culpable in this. His presidency has normalized conspiracy belief about the pandemic, alleged voter fraud, and civil unrest. He knows the value of misinformation and fear-mongering– that’s his true Art of the Deal.

This has not been the first incident of armed conspiracy theorists on the march recently– last month I wrote a column where I reported on two armed men heading to Kenosha (to potentially shoot protesters) that were arrested at a hotel. They were part of the 417 Second Amendment Militia. An examination of one of their Facebook pages again turned up lots of posts about the “COVID hoax,” voter fraud, and conspiracies about Trump’s favorite enemies. A disturbing report from Minneapolis, meanwhile, has shown that a private security firm is hiring mercenaries to “make sure the Antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites,” though there’s no evidence such a plan exists.

Taking to Twitter to comment on the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer, Trump once again chose not to condemn right wing extremists, but called out “Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs.”

The real threat to safety of people’s lives, as these cases show, are white supremacists and conspiracy-inspired militia groups like the Wolverine Watchmen. And no matter the results in November, expect to see more plots like this one. If Trump loses, they will consider themselves at war. If he wins, they will be emboldened.

Tea Krulos is the author of American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

Sources

Read the FBI affidavit in the militia plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer,” Detroit Free Press

Residents shocked band of men trained in Cambria for governor kidnapping plot,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ Accused of Targeting Michigan Guv Spooked Their Neighbors,” Daily Beast

Michael H. Jung Twitter page: https://twitter.com/climer6699 [accessed Oct. 10, 2020]

Plot to kidnap Michigan governor has ties to Wisconsin,” CBS 58

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones: Alleged kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer a ‘false flag’ by the ‘deep state,'” Media Matters for America

Tea’s Weird Week: Would-be Kenosha Shooters were into Conspiracy Theory; ‘Q revealed?‘” teakrulos.com

Former Special Forces sought by business group to guard polling sites in Minnesota, company says,” Star Tribune

Tea’s Weird Week: Ask Tea Anything (conspiracy edition)

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What a week! American Madness official release date was Tuesday and it’s been so great to see the book featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as well as an excerpt on Literary Hub. Most exciting of all is seeing people posting pictures of their copies of the book and telling me that they’re starting to read it.

For my column this week I decided to solicit my social media for conspiracy questions. Here’s a few of them. I’ll be doing another “ask me anything” column in a couple months, titled “American Madness–spoilers edition” after people get a chance to read the whole story.

Who is the Phantom Patriot_

First up, not a question, but a comment I got on Twitter that I want to talk about:

Tea this book foreshadows what we are living in right now and especially applicable to another Phantom Patriot in 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed protesters in Kenosha. –Sleepersound

Yes, Tuesday was an absolutely horrifying night in Kenosha (about 40 miles to the south of where I live, Milwaukee) after a militia member killed two people and severely injured a third. Kyle Rittenhouse, spotted in the front row of a Trump rally in January, thought he was fighting for justice and the American way, much like the main subject of my book, Richard McCaslin (aka the Phantom Patriot) did. McCaslin heavily armed himself and raided a place called the Bohemian Grove in 2002 (but didn’t kill anyone).

Also of note– the leader of the Kenosha Guard (a sort of ad hoc militia that organized an event page encouraging armed citizens to show up in Kenosha) sent the police chief a letter proudly noting that the group had been reported on by InfoWars, Alex Jones’ media site. Jones was an inspiration to McCaslin and several others who have committed violent acts over the years.

Have you ever heard a true ends to the means on the flat earth theory? I’m not a believer in many conspiracy theories–but I can understand why someone would when presented the outcome.–Addo

That’s something I was curious to find out when I attended a flat earth conference last November, which I write about in a chapter of American Madness titled “The War Against Science.” If it had been discovered that the world was flat, why cover it up? Science is always evolving with new data, readjusting when they find a theory to be wrong, so what is the gain in the alleged lie?

Flat Earthers say it’s all because of greed from NASA. They started out wanting to explore space in earnest, but when they discovered the truth, they needed to maintain the lie to get paid. They couldn’t get their massive annual budget ($22.6 billion) for space exploration if there is no space beyond the dome covering the earth.  So there you go, follow the money…follow it to the end of the earth.

Any thoughts on the whole “hitler got to Argentina” thing? (Yes, I use a lower-case spelling of his name intentionally)— Shane

Shane, I’ve read about a few Nazi conspiracies– the escape to Argentina in a U-boat, the alleged hidden base in Antarctica, the UFO program. I really like reading classic conspiracy stuff like this and the JFK assassination (even if I don’t believe it). In this case, I think it’s well proven that Hitler died in Germany. One piece of solid evidence was an analysis matching his teeth to those found in the remains in his bunker: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/21/hitler-teeth-test-dispels-myths-nazi-leaders-survival/627831002/

What are the main tenants of the Q “movement?”— Samwell

QAnon beliefs are always morphing and spinning new ideas, but the core belief is that an evil cabal of Democrats, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and other liberal villains are secretly running a satanic child sex trafficking ring, engaging in cannibalism, and harvesting adrenochrome from victims to get high on. The believe a secret informant calling themselves “Q” is leaking information on Trump’s secret plan to bring this cabal down, a period of reckoning called “The Storm” which will lead to a “Great Awakening” of the truth. It’s very cult-like in it’s cognitive dissonance.

Other terms to be wary of– the QAnon motto “where we go one, we go all” (wwg1wga) and #SavetheChildren, a hashtag they’ve sadly hijacked, infiltrating the actual problem of sex trafficking with Q nonsense.

Are more groups like QAnon who have been found making up things going to become more commonplace? What do you think would happen to their followers if they were shown who was behind it? –Discordia

Discordia, I’m afraid both parts of this answer are painful. First, yes, I do think QAnon and other groups will continue to grow, especially in this time of madness. A QAnon believer, Marjorie Greene, is most likely going to be elected to Congress and there are a couple other candidates who have a shot. Trump himself said he liked QAnon because “I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.” When that type of legitimacy is given to a group like this, it emboldens them and makes it easier to recruit new members. I think it’ll be easy for similar groups to gain traction.

To the second question, I think that “Q” is most likely a troll or combination of trolls, but sadly even if there was solid evidence of this you could present to Q followers, they will dismiss it. You might lose a few believers, but the core group will say anything you try to present to them is a “deepfake,” “fake news,” or a “hoax.”

It’s frustrating– as I discuss in American Madness, once you go down that rabbit hole, it’s really hard to come back from it.


For more ways you can support me and my book, please see this entry: “American Madness is Out Now!

Purchase from Lion’s Tooth for a signed, inscribed copy, a bonus comic zine, Lion’s Tooth swag, a “this machine kills fascists” sharpie from Feral House, and access to in-person and online events with me! Right here: https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/

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Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.

 

American Madness is Out Now!

Today, August 25, is the official release date of my new book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness, out NOW from Feral House. It’s been a long, strange road to get here. This all started when I was introduced to a conspiracy theorist/ self-styled superhero named Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, who was pushed down a rabbit hole by Alex Jones. A stranger than fiction exploration of Conspiracy World followed for several years. Now the book is out and I’m so glad I can share the whole thing with you.

Two nice pieces for me on release day– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s book editor Jim Higgins interviewed me for this article, which gives an overview of the book:
American Madness details how conspiracy theories took over one troubled man’s life

And Literary Hub published an excerpt, a chapter about how Richard first discovered a man who would change the course of his life: Alex Jones:
How Do Celebrity Conspiracy Theories Become Who They Are? Tea Krulos on Richard McCaslin and the Origins of Alex Jones

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Here are some simple ways you can help me make the book a success (and great ways to support any author you like):

Order the book: This is the most obvious way to support me, especially now in the book’s early release. My first recommendation is ordering it through Lion’s Tooth (just click on the names of these sites to go right to the book), a great independent bookseller. I live close to them, so I’m able to stop by and inscribe copies for you. In fact, I’ll be there in a couple days to get more copies signed, so order today and fill out the “note to seller” if you want it inscribed. Plus they include a bonus comic book and swag, and an exclusive in-person (socially distanced) event September 5 at X-ray Arcade and an online event with me September 10.

Quimby’s is also an awesome place to order from and Bookshop.org puts your money in the hands of independent bookstores. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, too.

Reviews: Leaving reviews on any site is helpful, even if you didn’t buy the book there. It takes about 50 reviews before you get bumped into a better algorithm and your book pops up more as suggested reading. The big ones are Amazon and Goodreads.

Library New Material Request: I love libraries and it’s a thrill to know my title is available. Most librarians are happy to hear suggestions and a lot of libraries have a “new material request” form you can find on their website or can ask for.

Social Media: Sharing the book/ links helps get the title to people outside my social circle. Sharing anywhere and old fashioned word of mouth is appreciated!

Thank you for your support! I hope you enjoy my new book AMERICAN MADNESS.

–Tea Krulos

August 25, 2020

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Goodreads Giveaway for my New Book AMERICAN MADNESS!

My publisher Feral House is doing a free book giveaway on Goodreads! To enter (and for more info on the book), just click on this link (and please add the book to your “to-read” list): https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/309615-american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-th
The contest is open through Aug.10, so enter now! Information on best places to order a copy are below.

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Here are your best options for ordering American Madness:

Lion’s Tooth is a wonderful bookseller located here in Milwaukee. When you order through them, you get a free conspiracy themed comic book and some other swag, plus you can get the book signed and personalized by me– just leave a note who you want it made out to in the “notes to seller” box upon check-out.  https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/

Bookshop.org is a great alternative to Amazon because they direct your money to independent booksellers instead of padding Jeff Bezos’ pockets– he has about $180 billion dollars, so he doesn’t need your cash.
https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963

-But, if you insist, yes, the book is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble or wherever books are sold.

Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.

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Tea’s Weird Week: A Strange Little Land

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One great thrill about organizing events like the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference and Milwaukee Krampusnacht is all the fantastic vendors I’ve met. I’ve always been proud of our vendor floors– very talented crafters of all sorts.

You can imagine how my eyes bugged out when I saw the work of Koko Van Boxtel, the proprietor of Strange Little Lands and her beautiful dioramas depicting “high strangeness” aka actual cases of the paranormal studies, like alien abductions, cattle mutilations, and cryptozoological cases like Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, and Mothman. Other scenes depict folklore like Krampus and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow or macabre history like the witch trials.

Every single one is fun to look at. Like any skilled dioramist, in Koko’s work, the devil is in the details– things you might not see at first or third glance, but you’ll find them eventually.

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Encounter with the Flatwoods Monster, an entity that was reported in West Virginia in 1952.

These are beautiful, unique items and very fairly priced. Check out the Strange Little Lands Etsy page here: www.etsy.com/shop/StrangeLittleLands

Bigfoot

I know who that is– it’s the damn Bigfoot!

There’s a scene  that I’ve thought about and studied (via interviews and police reports) a lot in my upcoming book American Madness. I dropped Koko a line to see if she might be interested in being commissioned to create a diorama of it and was thrilled when she replied the she would.

Bohemian Grove, January 20, 2002. That’s when police got a call a “man with a gun” call from inside of the secret retreat, located in northern California in the redwood forest. When they arrived, they were surprised to find a man named Richard McCaslin, heavily armed and wearing an odd homemade costume, a superhero persona he had created called the Phantom Patriot. He had conducted this costumed raid because he had believed a conspiracy theory that the world’s most elite men were committing child sacrifices in front of a 40-foot statue of an owl inside.

You can read all about it in my book– it’s a pretty wild story that led to me researching other aspects of conspiracy culture and how it’s become so prevalent in our lives.

My friend Stephen Vincent Anderson came over and we did a video shoot in my back yard. I’m really lucky to know so many talented people. We cut together this promo video. I think it turned out great, it gives you a short peek into the story:

Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.

Now Koko’s diorama is on display in my office, along with other souvenirs from my various book projects over the years, a bizarre moment of history neatly documented in a Strange Little Land.

Here’s some details and behind-the-scenes photos of the diorama that Koko sent me.

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Koko with her beautiful Bohemian Grove diorama creation.

SEE ALSO: More on the Bohemian Grove: last week I wrote about the retreat and other secret societies having their summer plans cancelled: https://teakrulos.com/2020/07/16/teas-weird-week-summer-plans-are-canceled-for-the-new-world-order/

Congrats, friend! Dept.: Like I said, I’m lucky to have talented, creative friends– Hillarie Higgins has a blog titled Brain Wars! and has just published The Bank Doesn’t Care if Your House is Haunted: A Ghostly Storybook, a fun and spooky collection of writing and art. Check it out, you can get a copy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/833639063/the-bank-doesnt-care-if-your-house-is?ref=shop_home_active_1&pro=1

My upcoming book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness, is a wild ride through the Bohemian Grove and conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Lion’s Tooth: CLICK HERE Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Summer Plans are Canceled for the New World Order

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By now we’ve come to terms with our favorite street fests, concerts, and sports being canceled because of the pandemic. But what about the Globalist New World Order Deep State Illuminati Secret Rulers of the World? Some conspiracy theorists say that the “powers that be” hoaxed the COVID-19 pandemic for their own nefarious plots, laughing evilly as the “sheeple” sit at home watching “fake news.” That means they’re free to carry on as they please, right?

As it turns out, it seems that secret society summer get-togethers have fallen apart, too. 

The most striking example is the cancellation of the annual “Summer Encampment” at the Bohemian Grove, the redwoods retreat for the Bohemian Club, whose members have included the world’s most powerful men.

The Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco in 1872 to help foster the arts, but evolved into a club to mix entertainment with wealth and power. The club spends two weeks every July in the Bohemian Grove, where they hold a bizarre mock sacrifice “Cremation of Care” ceremony in front of a statue of an owl to kick off a vacation of live music, theatrical performances, recreation and partying, and daily “Lakeside Talk” speeches given by members and guests.  

I write in-depth about the history of the Bohemian Club and how it became a conspiracy theory classic in my upcoming book, American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Aug.25, Feral House). 

This is the first July the Grove will sit empty since the Club started their summer tradition in 1878. 

“Major events, including…the Bohemian Grove encampment in Monte Rio, were cancelled,” reports The Press Democrat on July events being cancelled in Sonoma County, where the newspaper is based out of and the hidden retreat is located.

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Illustration of the Great Owl of Bohemia in the Bohemian Grove by David Beyer.

Another organization with a long history of conspiracy rumors is the “Bilderberg Group,” used to reference attendees of the annual Bilderberg Meeting, which first took place in 1954 to improve relations between the U.S. and Europe. Bilderberg gets their name from their first meeting place, the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeck, in the Netherlands. Like the Bohemian Grove, the conspiracies have spun out of a large number of people in positions of power meeting in secrecy– Bilderberg meetings have about 150 invite-only guests and press isn’t allowed in. 

Despite the lore surrounding the group’s secrecy, they do have a website, where they announced “THE MEETING 2020 IS POSTPONED.” More interesting is the site’s FAQ, where they address things like not letting media cover their meeting– a press conference on the eve of the meeting was held into the 90s, when they were cancelled “due to a lack of interest,” they say. Here’s another interesting answer on the FAQ:

Why does Bilderberg attract criticism from certain groups and individuals? 

The Bilderberg Meetings have often been the target of anti-globalization protests and various conspiracy theorists have expressed wild allegations about the purpose of the gatherings. While these claims lack any and all merit, we regret to see that many continue to flourish online and in social media groups.

A similar private group, the Trilateral Commission, also has a reputation for conspiracy. Founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller, the group meets to work on relations between North America, Europe, and Japan. The commission’s website lists events for 2019, but not 2020.

Skull and Bones, a secret society at Yale, won’t be in their “Tomb” house this summer. They’d probably be off for the summer anyway, but Yale’s website ensures that “all in-person, campus-based programming is cancelled for summer 2020.”

Skull and Bones is like the junior version of the Bohemian Grove– a select few are chosen each year to be “Bonesman,” who are then initiated in a strange ritual. Former Bonesmen include many politicians, corporate leaders, and other people in high levels of power. In 2004 Bonesmen George W. Bush and John Kerry ran against each other.

Skull and Bones were most recently on the conspiracy radar because they have their own secret number: 322. Conspiracists like the followers of QAnon recognized this and were naturally alarmed when they saw the number reported in COVID cases– 322 additional cases, you say? Another report of 322 cases?! Cases rising on March 22 aka 3/22, you say? This has Skull and Bones written all over it!

Skull and Bones might not be lurking on the Yale campus, but the club still might make use of their own private Deer Island, located in the Saint Lawrence River. The 50-acre island was established as a retreat and gifted to Skull and Bones sometime around 1949. In the glory days, the retreat was well maintained and had several buildings, tennis courts, and softball fields, but a lack of budgeting and motivation has led most of the island to fall to ruin, except for a lodge called The Ledges, located on the shore, which the club uses as a party house. Gawker found pictures from Deer Island from 2008 that shows the club engaging in the secret ritual of…uh, getting butt-wasted

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The Ledges lodge on Skull and Bones Deer Island retreat.

If they’re doing any strange secret rituals out there, hopefully they’ll remember to socially distance.

SEE ALSO: You can’t visit these conspiracy hotspots this summer…(or for most of us, ever) but you can fool your friends into thinking you’re at the Bohemian Grove, Skull and Crossbones Tomb, Area 51 and other hotspots with Zoom backgrounds I created here: https://teakrulos.com/2020/06/12/teas-weird-week-freak-out-your-next-zoom-call-with-these-conspiracy-inspired-backgrounds/

Project COUCHSURF: Last month I wrote about my new hobby of sifting through declassified files in the CIA Virtual Reading Room, reading about UFOs, mind control programs, all that fun stuff.

To tie into this column I searched for files on the Bohemian Grove. Mostly I found scraps of related documents–letters and memos from the CIA to politicians that mention going to the Grove in passing. There’s correspondence addressed to Herbert Hoover in the Grove from CIA director Allen W. Dulles from July 1954. I also found a 1971 cable to Henry Kissinger reporting on messages and mail he received while on vacation, including a phone call from Zsa Zsa Gabor, a letter from Hubert Humphrey “saying sorry wasn’t able to come to party,” and an invite to the Grove.

The most significant item I found is a document of “proposed remarks” for CIA director William H. Webster for his “Lakeside Talk,” on July 22, 1988 at the Grove. It includes a 22-page draft for the speech, a candid dialog about the spy business. Page 11 has a chunk redacted and the entirety of page 12 is stamped “Page Denied.”

My upcoming book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness, is a wild ride through the Bohemian Grove and conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Lion’s Tooth: CLICK HERE Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

 

“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Freak Out Your Next Zoom Call with These Conspiracy Inspired Backgrounds

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The stay at home order has been lifted in many places, and businesses are slowly opening, however, Zoom is going to be the preferred method of meeting for some time to come. At your next conference call why not give your colleagues…something to think about with these Zoom backgrounds I’ve created for you. Impress your friends, give your enemies a shiver of paranoia.

Most of these classic conspiracy spots are places I explore in my upcoming book (more info and a book trailer at the bottom of this post) American Madness. Now you can enter these mysterious locales from the safety of your couch. Tell ’em the Illuminati Tea Krulos sent ya!

BohoZoom

Here’s a photo of the Bohemian Grove, a secret society retreat deep in the redwood forest in northern California. It’s owned by the Bohemian Club, it’s members a who’s who of the world’s most powerful men. To the left, you’ll see a crude statue of an owl, where a strange ritual called the “Cremation of Care” is performed. The first chapter of American Madness explores the grove– it’s history, membership, and strange secrets. A Zoom background is much safer than trying to visit in person– you’ll be quickly arrested for trespassing.

SkullandBonesZoom

Hello, I’m calling you from outside the Skull and Bones “Tomb.” This is a legendary Yale University fraternity that has existed since 1832. It’s like the junior version of the Bohemian Grove and it’s members have including several presidents, corporate leaders, members of the CIA, and other powerful people. There was a spotlight on the institution in 2004 when former “Bonesmen” George W. Bush and John Kerry ran against each other, guaranteeing a Bonesman would become president.

Skull & Bones has an kooky ooky initiation ritual inside this windowless building, located on the Yale campus. Sure, you could use a color photo of this place, but it looks better in black and white.

HAARPzoom

This anxiety-inducing background is the antenna array of the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), located up in the wilds of Alaska. It was started in the 1990s as a joint effort by the military and the University of Alaska to study the ionosphere. Because of the military’s involvement, conspiracy theories quickly spun that they were weaponizing weather or attempting mass mind control.

Area51Zoom

Here’s the front gates of Area 51, one of the world’s most famous conspiracy sites (I visited– well, I saw the outside of it, while working on American Madness). It’s where the government has supposedly stashed UFOs and extra-terrestrial bodies and got a lot of attention last year with a viral “Raid Area 51–They Can’t Stop Us All” Facebook page.

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Here’s a background of a more contemprary conspiracy, a scene from a “lockdown protest” where people think COVID-19 is “fake news.” But uh-oh, what’s that protester pointing at?

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

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“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

 

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.