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Tea’s Weird Week: Watch Out for the Phrase “Do Your Own Research”

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Let me tell you a little bit about Young Krulos– when I was 18, I graduated high school, then I moved out of mom and dad’s. I moved to Milwaukee’s east side into a house full of roommates, got a string of jobs like washing dishes, telemarketing, and cashiering. I lived a carefree life. I didn’t have much money or even wanted much… I dined on Ramen noodle packs, and frozen pizzas. Not having much money, I spent many days hanging out at the East and Central libraries. I would spend hours browsing and reading books, magazines, CDs, and videos.

A lot of times I’d be on some random kick– I’d be reading all the books I could find about comic book history or UFO case studies or famous gangsters of the 1920s…whatever struck my interest. I guess you could say I was “doing my own research,” so I understand the appeal.

“Do your own research.” That’s a phrase I ran into a lot while working on my book American Madness, which is about conspiracy theory culture, and it’s a term I’ve heard many times in the last few months. It kind of makes my eyes roll and my skin crawl when I hear it now.

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Over the course of working on American Madness, I was told I should “research”  9/11 and vaccines and flat earth theory and other stuff I’ll just let you read about in the book.

I have mixed feelings about conspiracy theory, depending on the topic. Some of it, like UFO cases and the JFK assassination, I find to be really interesting. Stuff like the moon landing hoax or Jimi Hendrix faking his death and becoming Morgan Freeman, are just goofy and amusing. Theories like the Sandy Hook shooting being fake are pretty disgusting. There’s a fine line that’s hard to navigate sometimes.

I think my irritation with “do your own research” was already there, but blew up with all the COVID-19 theories from an internet army of people who were suddenly “researchers.” Someone on Facebook told me I was dumb for believing the pandemic was a real threat. This person had “researched,” they said, and their findings was that the “plandemic” was fake.

Really? Did you? Did you do this research in a lab? Did you have it published in a peer-reviewed journal? Or did you just watch something floating around YouTube?

Ok, let me take a breath here. I’m not saying you need a PhD to educate yourself. We should all strive to be better informed. Media literacy is more important than ever.

Fake news is a real problem in 2020. Conspiracy sites, foreign interests (like Russia), bots, data mining, deep fakes, far right sites–some that have deceptive, Orwellian names ( justthenews.com, for example is definitely not “just the news”) have formed a tidal wave of misinformation. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people want media literacy. They’d rather follow their “hunch,” like Trump does, and find faulty resources that support their idea that the world is flat, or that vaccines cause autism, or that Democrats have imprisoned “mole children” under Central Park.

Here’s some things we should ask ourselves when searching for information:

  • What source is this and is it credible? Is it “fake news”–not the type that Trump yammers on about because they report information that hurts his ego, but heavily skewed, conspiracy peddling, Photoshop fear-mongering sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, FOX, OANN, etc.?
  • Who authored it and when was it written? I periodically see people mourning the recent loss of Gene Wilder on Facebook– but he died in 2016.
  • What sources are provided for the article you’re reading or the video you’re watching? Some outlets use an echo chamber– they might use articles on their own site or other similar bad sources for information.
  • Is this source heavily biased, an opinion piece, or a satire site? It’s hard to tell these days if we’re looking at the New York Times or The Onion.
  • Am I looking for the truth, or am I just looking to have my opinion validated? Research follows facts, not emotion.
  • Appeal to authority is a misunderstood logical fallacy. It says that a claim isn’t necessarily true just because an expert says it is without other evidence. It doesn’t mean all authority figures are wrong, it just means that they aren’t always right. Appeal to false authority is using evidence from someone who claims they are an authority on a subject when they are not.
  • Who pays for the site the source comes from? Are they owned by a non-profit, or a special interest group? Those are things to consider. Do they fund their site by selling scam products (ahem, Alex Jones)? Are they really owned by George Soros, or is that something you saw someone say on Reddit?

Doing your own research can be a fun and rewarding thing, a way to understand life better. Just be careful where you get your information from.

Freelance Dept.: I interviewed members of Antifa for local paper the Shepherd Express this week: https://shepherdexpress.com/news/features/what-is-antifa/

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 HEREIt’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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Follow me on:
Facebook//Twitter//Instagram//YouTube

“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: American Madness Book Trailer!

Today is the premiere of a book trailer for my upcoming book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (out August 25 from Feral House). This writing has been quite a fascinating and crazy journey for me. It started with my interest in documenting the life story of an eccentric individual named Richard McCaslin, whose life was a winding path through comic book superheroes, conspiracy theory, and the pursuit of a skewed American dream. The story evolved into something much bigger and now, in this insane year 2020, I can’t help but think the publication date is perfect timing.

Many of the people I wrote about in American Madness— Alex Jones, David Icke, QAnon, Anti-vaxxers, Roger Stone, and, of course, the “InfoWars President” himself, Donald Trump (and his Obama conspiracy obsession)– have all been in the news this year.

Here’s a quick peek at the world I entered:

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

Big thanks to all involved in helping me create the video! Lyle Blackburn lent his voice to narrate the trailer. Lyle is an all around cool guy– he narrates the Small Town Monsters documentary series, is in a cool band called Ghoultown, and has written several books on Southern cryptozoology case studies, his latest being the upcoming Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire.

Android138 provided music for the soundtrack, I knew his creeping horror style, which he calls “#DoomBap” would be perfect– listen to more to his tracks and slip into a paranoid conspiracy world of your own on his Soundcloud page. Stephen Vincent Anderson is my wonderfully creative friend who it all together, check out SVA Photo & Video on Facebook and Vimeo.

Thanks to my publisher Feral House and to Milwaukee Record and Cult of Weird for sharing the video.

Here’s 4 ways you can help me make this book a success:
-Pre-order the book. My preferred pre-order link for you is: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963 (you can also pre-order from Boswell Book Company and on Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites)
-Add the book to your shelf on Goodreads.
-Share the book trailer, pre-order link, or this blog post on social media. “Word of mouth” is helpful.
-Most libraries are receptive to suggestions on new books and many have a “material request form” on their website.

Here’s more book info:

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American Madness: The Story of The Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness will be out August 25, 2020 from Feral House.

The mainstream news media struggles to understand the power of social media while conspiracy advocates, malicious political movements, and even foreign governments have long understood how to harness the power of fear and the fear of power into lucrative outlets for outrage and money. But what happens when the harbingers of “inside knowledge” go too far?

Author Tea Krulos tells the story of one man, Richard McCaslin, who’s fractured thinking made him the ideal consumer of even the most arcane of conspiracy theories. Acting on the daily rants of Alex Jones and his ilk, McCaslin takes matters into his own hands to stop the unseen powers behind the world’s disasters who congregate at conspiracy world’s Mecca- The Bohemian Grove. It all goes wrong with terrible consequences for the man who styled himself-The Phantom Patriot.

McCaslin is not alone, as conspiracy-driven political action has bubbled its way up from the margins of society to the White House. It’s no longer a lone deranged kook convinced of getting secret messages from a cereal box, now its slick videos and well-funded outrage campaigns ready to peddle the latest innuendos and lies in hopes of harnessing the chaos for political gain. What is the long term effect on people who believe these barely believable stories? Who benefits, and who pays the price? Krulos investigates and explains the power of conspiracy and the resulting shared madness on the American psyche.

Tea Krulos is a Milwaukee-based writer who documents the underground world of fringe sub-cultures. His previous books, Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers and Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Super Hero Movement explored the driving beliefs and lives of the people who choose to reject accepted reality and substitute their own.

Pre-order link: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Ask Tea Anything (Pandemic Edition)

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Tea’s Weird Week started as an outlet to write about whatever I wanted to once a week, engage readers, and promote stuff I’m working on– books, articles, events. In this year of crazy 2020, I’ve mostly been writing about “conspiracy theories in the news.” I have a book out in August titled American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness and quite a few people I wrote about have big in 2020: Alex Jones (most recently for leading an anti-quarantine protest in Austin), David Icke (“5G is Coronavirus”), Roger Stone (“Bill Gates is Coronavirus”), QAnon, and Anti-vaxxers have all been in the news this month.

There are new conspiracy stories in the news every day, but I thought I would take a break from analyzing them this week and answer my friend’s questions, solicited through social media. Here’s answers about anti-quarantine protests, doomsday bunkers, cryptozoology, and more.

Real talk. I know you’re all about the absurd and crazy shit. I just gotta know because I care about you- are you planning on going to one of these wingnut anti-stay-at-home/ pro-plague rallies to document? Because, if so, please be safe friend. This is obviously not an encouragement to go be a journalist at one of those. I’m just saying, if you do, be safe as fuck. Also please live long enough to get your own Netflix special because I know you’re capable of that.–Concerned

First, thanks for caring about me. Your message has reminded me that I should be spending some of my spare time messaging people to check in.

Here’s the thing– I really enjoy writing about things that I am enjoy and am genuinely interested in. I have become friends with a lot of people I write about. But sometimes I like getting out of my comfort zone and want to observe something I don’t understand up close. Some examples of this would be attending one of Bob Larson’s “exorcism seminars” for my book Monster Hunters, attending an anti-vaxxer rally and flat earth conference for my book American Madness and most recently, attending a Trump rally (in January, I wrote it up for the Shepherd Express.)

I’m going to sit this one out. I’m processing enough crazy stuff as it is. Watching a bunch of MAGA-hat wearin,’ Gadsen flag wavin’, 2A militia types, anti-vaxxers, etc. shouting about how they demand haircuts just ain’t doing it for me. As far as a Netflix special– as long as I don’t end up getting eaten by a tiger, I’m in!

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Joshua A. Bickel took this iconic photo, which is sure to be used in future texts about this era.

Any thoughts on those fallout type shelters/bunkers at the moment? Or if you know if people are using theirs in the face of pandemic? Just curious and interested in what qualifies those who own space in one to activate its use. –Aims

I think Aims is referring to the Survival Condos, which I toured with my friend Paul while working on a chapter (“Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous”) for my book Apocalypse Any Day Now. Built into an old Atlas missile silo in Kansas (with more being developed), the building featured several condo units (all sold) and recreation levels.

One thing we were told is that the condo owners had access whenever they wanted. There had recently been a football watching party, and owners would sometimes “vacation” there. As such, it’s possible that the owners could ride out the entire pandemic there if they wanted, and it certainly would be the ultimate quarantine.

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Tea at the Luxury Survival Condos in Kansas.

What’s one conspiracy that most others find false; but, you kinda believe in?— Mando

I’m skeptical about most conspiracies, but I think it’s worth noting that some stuff that seems like conspiracy later turns out to be true. I talk about a few of those in American Madness, the CIA’s Project MK-ultra (a mind control program) being one one quick example. The most believable conspiracy to me is that there has been some kind of UFO cover-up. I don’t mean necessarily extra-terrestrial, but some secret program. There’s just so many compelling UFO cases, I think something is going on. The truth is out there (winking emoticon).

What was really normal, too normal, about one of your subjects that you researched?–Addo

I really love those moments. In my book Heroes in the Night I shared a funny story about how me and Real Life Superhero The Watchman got lost and couldn’t find his car in a parking garage. It was humorously mundane. A lot of Real Life Superheroes were pretty normal outside of their secret lifestyle, as were a lot of paranormal investigators.

One of the major stories I tell in American Madness is that of conspiracist Richard McCaslin. He told me some of the most wild ideas I’ve ever heard– Reptilian aliens secretly controlling our world, Satanists eating babies, all sorts of crazy and terrible things.

Meeting him in person several times, I found I got along with him pretty well and he was friendly and could be oddly normal. I visited him at his house and I remember walking into his kitchen to find him drinking orange juice and laughing as he watched some baby jackrabbits chase each other around his yard in what seemed like a game of tag. It was the first time he said “you gotta see this!” and wasn’t referring to some Illuminati code he had cracked.

Do you have a favorite cryptid?— Matt …and have you ever had a personal experience with one or saw one?— Lynn

If you don’t know, cryptids are creatures studied in cryptozoology. I’ve not had a cryptid encounter myself, but while working on Monster Hunters, I did go on expeditions looking for Sasquatch, a Lake Monster (“Champ” of Lake Champlain), a Skunk Ape, went to the Mothman Festival, and took a ride down Bray Road looking for the Beast. It was all really fun and interesting, I love cryptozoology. I’m working on a writing project about Mothman. I love ’em all, but because of this project, I’m going to declare Mothman as my favorite cryptid, a close second would be Chupacabras.

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Me and Jim Sherman of Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization out in the woods of Michigan on the trail of the Sasquatch.

Would you want to have a really scary experience (alien abduction, possession, angry ghost) just to prove to yourself that it was real? What, if any, would be “too much”?— Judy

When faced with a tough question like this, I try to break it down. On the one hand, it would be pretty intensely transformative to have an experience like that, to witness a deep mystery of the universe. On the other hand, most people wouldn’t believe me anyway, and I know of several cases where people experienced stuff like this (or thought they did) and it damaged them forever. Final conclusion: I’d rather keep it a mystery. I enjoy not knowing.

Of all the people/things you interviewed or investigated was there any thing that you felt you were getting too deep into, or anything that you felt was getting too dangerous or did you fear for your life?— Gregory

The one things that stands out is the crazy night I spent on patrol with Real-Life Superhero Phoenix Jones while working on my book Heroes in the Night. He had pepper-sprayed a group of people that were fighting and they got angry and attacked us. I got punched in the face. At one point it looked like they were trying to get a gun. Then they tried to run us down with an SUV. “I hope this was worth it, cause now you’re going to get murdered,” was definitely a thought that crossed my mind as I was running from the angry, pepper-spray soaked mob. Other experiences– investigating Bobby Mackey’s, a notoriously haunted bar, and diving into some of the conspiracy stuff, has produced frightening moments, but nothing like that.

Thank you all for your questions! I’ll do another “ask me anything” to tie into the release of American Madness in late August or early September– pre-order info below!

Please Clap Dept.: I’ll leave you with some positive vibes– here’s an article I wrote for Milwaukee Magazine on a social distancing nightly dance party: “This Riverwest Neighborhood Dances Every Night at 8.”

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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: CLICK HERE

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

Follow me on:
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Having just returned from the grocery store during an official pandemic, I’m reminded to highly recommend Apocalypse Any Day Now, from Tea Krulos, who went way down the doomsday prepper rabbit hole. Fun and unfortunately highly relevant. Do it.” — Brent Gohde, Cedar Block/ Science Strikes Back

Tea’s Weird Week: Conspiracy Theory Trainwreck

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Yesterday, a man named Eduardo Moreno, a locomotive engineer from San Pedro, drove a train at full speed toward the Port of Los Angeles. He was holding a safety flare in the train’s cab as the train burst through a series of barriers. Moreno was hoping for an action movie like stunt where the train would jump the rails at the end of the track and fly through the air and crash into the nearby docked USNS Mercy hospital ship, which had recently arrived to help with hospital overflow from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Scene of the trainwreck.

The train skidded out in a gravel lot, about 250 yards from the ship. No one was injured, though there was a “substantial amount of fuel oil” that needed to be cleaned up. Moreno was immediately arrested and charged with “train-wrecking,” which has a sentence of up to 20 years.

Moreno 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.” It’s not known yet exactly what Moreno was hoping to wake people up to, other than he believed the Mercy was part of a plot for a “government takeover.” Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are thick and heavy and often revolve around the virus being a bio-weapon or a hoax, designed to implement a Deep State coup followed by martial law.

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The Mercy in the Port of Los Angeles

This story is familiar to me. I have a new book coming out in August titled American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Feral House). American Madness tells the story of a man named Richard McCaslin, who styled himself as a conspiracy commando and called himself the Phantom Patriot. Heavily influenced by Alex Jones (of InfoWars), Richard raided a secret society retreat called the Bohemian Grove in 2002, where he was arrested. He was hoping to “wake people up” to the alleged human sacrifices going on there. My book tells his story, but it also follows a pattern. Richard was the first one who took drastic action after listening to the words of Alex Jones (and others of his ilk) but not the last.

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Richard McCaslin in his Phantom Patriot costume.

Some other conspiracy theorists who have snapped include Byron Williams, aka the I-580 Shooter, who had a shoot out with the California Highway Patrol after he was pulled over on his way to shoot up charities associated with liberal boogeyman George Soros in 2010. Oscar Ortega pulled up to the White House in 2011 and fired shots at it after seeing an Alex Jones documentary titled The Obama Deception. Jared and Amanda Miller, InfoWars fans, killed three people and themselves in a Las Vegas shooting spree.

In 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch, armed himself and raided a Washington DC pizzeria named Comet Ping Pong. Like McCaslin and Moreno, Welch was hoping to “wake people up” to a Democrats child sex trafficking ring being run out of the restaurant’s basement. That same year, two Georgia men named Michael Mancil and James Dryden Jr. were arrested in a plot to drive to Alaska and sabotage the HAARP facility, based on a conspiracy that says it’s a government brainwashing facility.

Was Moreno inspired to drive his crazy train by Alex Jones? We don’t know yet. But I doubt he came up with this theory out of the blue. Someone put the idea in his ear and I don’t think it was Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper. Like a bad penny, InfoWars is the one who usually shows up in these cases.

Source: “Man charged with intentionally derailing train near hospital ship Mercy over coronavirus concerns,” Los Angeles Times

Update, April 4: Moreno has been denied bail and will be arraigned May 7. It looks like a probable influence on him was QAnon, who have been spreading conspiracies about the Mercy. QAnon is saying the Mercy will be shipping COVID-19 patients to Guantanamo Bay as well as other theories that the disease is a bio-weapon designed by China and/or Bill Gates to discredit Trump. But they’ve also said the virus is a hoax to implement martial law. Let’s not forget that about two dozen of these people have campaigns running for Congress this year: https://teakrulos.com/2020/02/13/teas-weird-week-there-are-two-dozen-members-of-qanon-running-for-congress/

Source: “Coronavirus conspiracy theorists are too nuts even for a zombie-apocalypse movie scenario,” Daily Kos

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

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“Journalist Tea Krulos has made a curious and enlightening career out of examining groups of people with odd beliefs.” — Skeptical Inquirer


Oh yeah, and don’t forget that our president is a conspiracy theorist! This week’s #TrumpConspiracyCounter 2020 (now at 177 clicks) column talks about Trump’s theory that there is a face mask black market. Read it here:
https://teakrulos.com/2020/04/01/trumpconspiracycounter-april-1/


This Saturday have some social distancing quarantine fun and play Tea’s Weird Week Trivia! You can win copies of my book, books from my library, and goofy fun prizes like bigfoot socks, shark hologram bookmarks, and more. It’s at 5pm central via Facebook Live video: www.facebook.com/theTeaKrulos 

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Tea’s Weird Week: Notes From the Quarantine, Part 1

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What a time– I hope everyone is doing ok and hanging in there. A majority of my friends are artists, musicians, writers, teachers, small business owners, service industry workers or some combination thereof– all hit hard by the COVID-19 quarantine that has shut down daily life as we know it. People are stuck at home, worrying about making ends meet. I’ve also seen some inspiring acts of people caring for each other and supporting each other as a community.

I don’t have anything profound to say other than I’m wishing you all well. This is a crazy crazy time but I know that readers of Tea’s Weird Week are creative and resourceful and we’ll make it through. For this column, I just want to share some stuff I’ve been into the last few days.

Listening:

–I saw this shared somewhere, and this is my favorite new site: Radio Garden. It allows you to drag a cursor around a globe and click on livestreams of radio stations around the world. Listen to broadcasts in Kalamazoo or Amsterdam or Cape Town. I don’t know, there’s just something nice about hearing that other people are out there in the world and hear what they’re currently talking about and rocking out to.

–Feral House (publisher of my upcoming book American Madness) did a podcast episode interviewing Aton Edwards of director of the International Prepardness Network. Insightful with good tips. Listen here: https://feralhouse.podbean.com/e/special-episode-march-14-2020-preparedness-now-pandemic-prep-w-aton-edwards/

–I’ve been listening to the daily CNN podcast Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction. It’s a short listen with episodes 7-15 minutes in length. Great to listen to while during tasks around the house. If you’ve followed this column you know there is a metric shit ton of misinfo out there, so a dose of factual reporting feels great.

Watching:

I think it’s really cool that everyone from the Dropkick Murphys to the Paris Opera are offering free streaming performances. Lots more of these are popping up, so do some online searching for your favorite artists/ genres and I’m sure you’ll find something. I watched the Murphs live in Boston and enjoyed it. It’s not different than concert video footage, but there was a little bit of excitement that they were live, doing it for their fans, who were watching live with you around the world.

Other virtual events include movie watch parties via Facebook and other platforms and having an online happy hour on-nomi (Japanese: “online drinking”) party on video conferencing sites like Zoom. My friends have been doing this and I can’t wait to join in.

Another way of taking a look at the world while stuck at home is taking a virtual tour of museums. I haven’t checked these out yet, but I will be next week. I’m planning on deliberatly scheduling them like I would normally do something (like write “check out the Lourve, 5pm Tuesday” on my calendar.)

Mental Floss has a listicle of 12 online museum tours here: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/75809/12-world-class-museums-you-can-visit-online

Writing:

This might be a shocker, but I didn’t get into writing to be rich or famous. It’s something I love to do and it’s therapeutic for me. It is sometimes all I got. This is a good time for you to try it out and work on your writing ideas, even if it’s something that never gets published. On Friday the 13th I started a “Plague Diary” in an empty notebook I had stashed away in a desk drawer. I haven’t done much journaling in life (usually too busy chasing someone else’s story) but I thought now was a good time to spend some time each day writing down some of my emotions, thoughts, and anything else that crosses my mind– I had a strange dream that my grandfather was still alive and hosting a quarantine party, for example.

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This journaling might lead to something (I’ll probably share some excerpts from the journal in this column in the future), or we might all hit the sunny streets when this is all over and it’ll be forgotten. But it might be of interest to look at this 10, 20 years from now and remember the COVID-19 days of 2020. Writing is my way of making sense of things. For you, it might be creating art or music. I hope you are not spending all of your time worrying and have something to like this to offer some balance.

Reading:

It’s a good time to catch up on your reading list. I’ve got a stack of books I’m cruising through. I also read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” Pandemic dystopia reading probably isn’t for everyone at this time, but I like to take a deep dive into things so I’ll be reading more stuff along these lines.

My friends at Lion’s Tooth are doing an online fundraiser toward getting a brick and mortar location and they’re offering pledge levels for receiving a subscription package of cool zines and books. In light of the quarantine, they’re offering to send off your first subscription package right away. I can’t think of anything better than a surprise package of good reading material right now. Check out their Indiegogo for more info here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-milwaukee-s-newest-bookstore#/

Here’s links to two of my Tea’s Weird Week reading lists, all titles on them recommended:

Fall Reading List / Winter Reading List (I’m working on a Spring one now).

Of course, I would be poor at self-promotion if I didn’t plug my own books for quarantine reading. I’ve lost some work so buying a book (or buying me a coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/TeaKrulos) is very much appreciated. Now is a good time to read Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers which talks about prepping and apocalyptic visions and I also have a collection of the Tea’s Weird Week columns I wrote in 2019 as a Kindle e-book ($1.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited) Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review.

Stay tuned because tomorrow I’ll be offering a FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST here at teakrulos.com for copies of my books!

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Conspiracy News

As always, click the highlighted links to see my source material. I’m still following conspiracy theory news (I can’t help it, old habits) and as you can imagine, there is a tidal wave of conspiracy, fear, paranoia, and anger crashing in. (See my last column, “M-M-M-My Corona” for some examples). The COVID-19 shutdown has caused people to snap. Witness the defiant dumbness of Kid Rock, who refused to close his bar or the total Twitter meltdown from former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke Jr., who urged people to defy orders to stay home and tied the pandemic to conspiracy boogeyman George Soros.

I’ve seen a couple puzzling posts floating around saying “Anti-vaxxers sure are quiet right now” and “where is Alex Jones in all this?” Umm– no they are not and believe me, he’s as loud and shrill as ever. Alex Jones, along with televangelist Jim Bakker were both ordered to stop trying to sell phony coronavirus cures. Bakker had a bogus silver solution and Jones made the claim that his special Anti-coronavirus toothpaste “kills the whole SARS-corona virus family at point-blank range.” New punk/metal band name: Alex Jones and the Anti-coronavirus Toothpaste Sham.

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Celebrity gossip columnist turned QAnon theorist Liz Crokin.

I also discovered the craziest coronavirus conspiracy theorist of all time, Liz Crokin. Crokin used to be a celebrity gossip columnist (her specialty was celebrity breakups) until she had some serious medical issues. Afterward, she became known as a feverish Trump supporter and QAnon advocate. QAnon believes that Trump is secretly working on a program called “The Storm” which will round up a Democrat-Satanic-Pedophile ring. Her recent theories related to the pandemic:

–Coronavirus is a cover story so the military can round up and make mass arrests of the Deep State unnoticed.

–Beloved actor Tom Hanks is an example of this pedophile ring which is why the story leaked that he had COVID-19. (Note: he’s since quickly recovered, so it wasn’t a very good cover story, apparently. But then she said that the virus was real and celebrities like Hanks and Idris Alba were contracting it from drinking adrenochrome.

–She also tweeted “I grow my own cultured mud scrubs in my backyard, but right now it’s probably best to not wash your hands at all- skin mites and oil are all you need to combat this bacteria.” Yick. Thankfully, her Twitter account was suspended.

I think I’ve been on the Internet too long.

Please Clap Dept.: Thank you, Cult of Weird, for including my upcoming book American Madness on this list of “5 Upcoming Weird Books You Can Pre-order Right Now” at: https://www.cultofweird.com/books/upcoming-weird-books-2020/

The #TrumpConsiracyCounter is taking a quarantine break, but will be back next week. 

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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: CLICK HERE

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Having just returned from the grocery store during an official pandemic, I’m reminded to highly recommend Apocalypse Any Day Now, from Tea Krulos, who went way down the doomsday prepper rabbit hole. Fun and unfortunately highly relevant. Do it.” — Brent Gohde, Cedar Block/ Science Strikes Back

The Four Most Frightening Things That Have Happened to me While Working on Books

(In Chronological Order) 1. The Pepper Spray Incident

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That’s me in the background, keeping an eye on Phoenix Jones on the streets of Seattle. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

Date: Oct. 9, 2011 Book and relevant chapter: Heroes in the Night, Chapter 13: “People Fighting and Superheroes and Pepper Spray and…I Don’t Know”

Oh boy. In 2011 I was starting to do a wrap on Heroes in the Night. I felt the book was lacking a good action sequence, and I sure did get that when I paid a visit to Real Life Superhero Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement. I joined Phoenix out on patrol for two nights. On the second night, we saw a fight break out in a parking lot underneath a freeway ramp. Phoenix broke it up by pepper spraying the combatants (Russians, it turned out) and all hell broke loose. In the terrifying 15 minutes or so that followed, Phoenix got hit over the head repeatedly with a high heel shoe, I was punched in the face by a pepper spray soaked Russian, an attempt was made to run us over with a SUV, and at one point I was certain the angry party was searching for a gun to shoot at us. The police showed up and placed Phoenix Jones under arrest and by the next day major news networks around the world had picked up on the story. As the squad car drove off with Phoenix Jones, I realized that my hands were shaking uncontrollably from the adrenaline overdose.

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Here’s a photo of the Wall of Faces room I took in Bobby Mackey’s basement, where the strange incidents occurred.

2. Bobby Mackey’s Music World Date: Sept. 22-23, 2013 Book and relevant chapter: Monster Hunters, Chapter 14: “The Case of the Haunted Honky-Tonk”

This episode has a lot of back story to it. First there is the lore of the place itself (Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky), which is long yarn to begin with. Like any good ghost story, I found the legend has been exaggerated and embellished over time, but some of the gruesome past is also based in fact. The next thing to consider is that the group I followed, the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, had already done an eventful investigation at the location. I don’t want to spoil too much of the chapter, but one group member had an eerie encounter I witnessed where she had some sort of paralysis or possession and apparently experienced some temporary blindness. Added to the other frightening experiences the group had and the creepy atmosphere in general, it made for a strange and scary night.

squatch watch 048 3. Isabella Date: July 10-11, 2014 Book and relevant chapter: Monster Hunters, Chapter 9: “Squishes”

My second strange night while working on Monster Hunters happened while I was camping out with Jim Sherman of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) at a farm in central Michigan named “Isabella.” The couple who owned the farm had a number of weird experiences and had contacted BFRO. Jim had been out there to investigate and recorded some strange vocalizations. I wasn’t sure what to think. The last night of the trip I was scared out of my wits by a bloodcurdling screech outside of my tent. I slowly unzipped the tent door, certain I would be face-to-face with an aggressive Bigfoot. Later analysis of the screech (caught on Jim’s audio recorder) determined it was an angry coyote, but I didn’t know that at the time. To make the night even weirder, Jim and I observed an odd light bouncing around the night sky. What was it? I don’t know, but it was quite unlike anything I had seen before.

4. Crashing the Phantom Patriot’s ATV

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The ATV shortly before I crashed it.

Date: May 22, 2015 Book and relevant chapter: Yet to be titled future book

Wow, where to begin on this one. Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot is a Real Life Superhero, conspiracy theorist, former stuntman, felon, comic book artist, political protestor, and guerrilla filmmaker. I’ve been in contact with him for almost 5 years and have slowly been working on a book about his life and the people, sub-cultures, and conspiracy theories his life has intersected with. I knew I needed to get down to his home environment (Pahrump, Nevada) to get some material, so I recently went down to visit him. While I was there, he asked if I would act in a short superheroes vs. conspiracy film he was writing and directing. Sure, I said. One of the scenes called for me driving his ATV down a desert embankment, and although my first take went smoothly, on the second take I hit a rut and crashed the ATV. I thought for sure I had broken my leg and maybe fractured several other body parts, but after slowly moving around, I found I was still in one piece. That was pretty frightening, but hey, I lived to see another day, right?