My book American Madness (2020, Feral House) tells the story of Richard McCaslin, who, inspired by conspiracy peddler Alex Jones, bought an arsenal of weapons, created a costumed persona– the Phantom Patriot (complete with a skull mask) raided a place called the Bohemian Grove in 2002, had a standoff with the cops, and went to jail. He died by suicide in 2018.
Sound crazy? Sure. But is it more so than supporting the armed Q d’etat of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in which 5 people died? That’s what Marjorie Taylor Greene (MTG), who represents Georgia in the House of Representatives, has done.
That’s my point of this column– when I originally met Richard in 2010, I thought he was the fringest of the fringe. Now, in the Trump era, I think he was somehow ahead of the curve, the zeitgeist. He was conspiracy hip before it was hip to be hip. Could Richard have been elected to Congress? In 2010 I would have laughed at that idea, but these days I think he’d be a shoo-in if he found the right district. Hey, MTG did it (and it looks likely she’ll win reelection this year).
Richard and MTG have some pretty big differences– Richard always despised Trump, for example, and he was suspicious of QAnon (the cult where MTG got her first boost). I think he was a true believer that wanted to help people by exposing the “Deep State,” while MTG is just a hatemonger. But still, they have similar ideas– they believe 9/11 conspiracy and hate Hillary. I don’t know if Richard would go for the Jewish space laser thing– probably. They’re so similar, that I thought I’d show you six quotes. Who said what? Answers are below.
One) “Bill Gates wants you to eat this fake meat that grows in a [petri dish] so you’ll probably get a little zap inside your body that’ll say ‘No, don’t eat a real cheeseburger, you need to eat the fake burger.’”
Two) “The Illuminati controlled CDC lies to the American public, 24/7. Just look at all the money being made on these shots right now… the microchips will definitely be in those shots. Anyone who refuses to get vaccinated will be ‘quarantined’ indefinitely in a FEMA residential center, a concentration camp.”
Three) “As far as our so-called ‘elected’ officials in Washington DC and California are concerned, the Luciferian Doctrine dictates their motives and actions, not the Constitution!”
Four) On the 2017 Mandalay Bay mass shooting in Las Vegas: “How do you get avid gun owners and people that support the Second Amendment to give up their guns and go along with anti-gun legislation? You make them scared, you make them victims and you change their mindset and then possibly you can pass anti-gun legislation. Is that what happened in Las Vegas? I don’t believe [mass shooter Stephen Paddock] pulled this off all by himself.”
Five) On the same 2017 shooting: “Most of the photos taken inside the hotel room look staged; especially the one supposedly showing Stephen Paddock dead on the floor…Paddock was/is obviously a Project Monarch patsy, who was used by the CIA, to get those 13 suitcases of guns and ammo up to the hotel room. Paddock was a high roller in Vegas, so nobody would question the excessive luggage. The motive for the massacre is simple…more gun restrictions, to effectively disarm the American people.”
Six) “Probably, in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore. Everyone will be gay or trans or non-conforming or whatever list of 50 or 60 options, which there are.”
One. This is a MJT quote from this week and the inspiration for this column. She said this on her “MTG Live” social media show, though in her exact quote she called it a “peach tree dish,” similarly to her botched attempt to call out “Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho.” Marjorie Taylor Greene warns of meat grown in a ‘peach tree dish’ while peddling Bill Gates conspiracy (yahoo.com)
Two. Letter to me from Richard, dated Oct. 25, 2010. He was talking about H1N1 and Swine Flu, but mentions there will be a pandemic with mandatory vaccines, an eerie prediction of COVID-19, which he didn’t live to see. He didn’t mention Bill Gates in this, but he did tell me he believed Gates vaccine charity programs in Africa were an attempt at microchipping and/ or genocide for population control.
Three. Letter to me from Richard, dated Dec. 23, 2010. It does sound like a variation on QAnon’s popular “Democrat/elite Satanic baby eating pedophile cabal.”
Four: That’s MJT in a video she posted 4 days after the shooting, on Oct. 5, 2017: (129) Marjorie Taylor Greene video – YouTube
Five: Email to me from Richard, Oct. 6, 2017, the day after MTG posted her video! As you can see, Richard and MJT’s “mass shooter hoax/ false flag” theories were very similar. This is one conspiracy I WISH had a grain of truth to it. When? When will the Deep State take all the guns? For that matter, when will they pass a piece of legislature that will put any sort of reasonable limit on gun purchase whatsoever? I’ve been hearing Obama or someone is “taking the guns” for a solid 14 years now. C’mon, Deep State– do it!
Six: Haaaa, I hope so! Better than a generation of stupid hateful bigots like MTG, who said this. I never heard Richard spout off homophobic shit. And at least he had a cool costume. Marjorie Taylor Greene says straight people will soon be extinct / LGBTQ Nation
Please Clap Dept.: I wrote a feature focusing on commercial fisherman Ken Koyen titled “The Last Fisherman of Washington Island,” for the June issue of Milwaukee Magazine. You can read it here: www.milwaukeemag.com/meet-the-last-fisherman-of-washington-island
My latest books are:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)
I regret to inform you that QAnon followers– about 60 of them– are on the campaign trail, hoping to get elected in this year’s midterms. Two years ago, I wrote a similar column in February 2020 titled “There Are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress.” That numbered ballooned to about 75 by Election Day. Most all of them lost, but two of them did worm their way in– Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.
Now, with a Midterm election this year, Media Matters for America has identified 60 QAnon candidate hopefuls running for Congress. They report that of the QAnon candidates, “Twelve are from Florida, nine are from California, six are from Texas, four are from Illinois, three each are from New York, New Jersey, and Arizona, two each are from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, Oregon, and Ohio, and there is one each from Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, Vermont, Iowa, Alaska, Georgia, and Colorado.”
You can see the full list with evidence of their Q-aligned posts here: Here are the QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2022 | Media Matters for America
Some notable campaigns:
– The aforementioned Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are running to hold onto their Congress seats in Georgia and Colorado. Over their two years in Congress they’ve been a consistent source of all sorts of attention for being anti-transgender, islamophobic, traitors, dumb, and just straight up psychotic. The latest from Greene is very much in line with her Pizzagate/ QAnon roots– squawking that “any senator voting to confirm [Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court] is pro-pedophile just like she is,” following a false QAnon narrative that Judge Jackson was lenient on pedophiles.
– Ron Watkins. Watkins is seen as either being mostly or greatly responsible for spreading QAnon ideas. Watkins, an owner and moderator of the 8chan/8kun message boards (where he was known as CodeMonkeyZ), where Q’s mysterious drops were facilitated, is thought to be Q himself, or at the least someone who helped facilitate whoever it is, or more likely, was part of a collaboration between him and other people. He’s running for US Rep in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. SEE ALSO: HBO documentary Q: Into the Storm.
Those are the three most famous campaigns for this year. But what might be more dangerous is the lesser known, unwatched campaigns. After Marjorie Taylor Greene won her primary in a deep red district, I wrote a follow up column titled “Well, it Happened- Meet Your First QAnon Congressional Representative,” in which I said:
“I can’t help but feel that a terrible door has been opened with Greene. It’s tempting to downplay her win– she’s just 1 of 435 members of the House of Representatives, but what is going to follow? An entire QAnon caucus? A task force to investigate Democrats for imprisoning “mole children?” A Flat Earth Party? It seems like any batshit crazy bad idea is possible right now.”
Sadly, I still don’t think that’s far-fetched. Please be sure to vote!
Please Clap Dept.: The TWW podcast is on spring break, but I was guest for a second time on the great Fascinating Nouns podcast. You can check it out here: fascinatingnouns.com/tea-krulos
A lot of court cases caught my interest over the last week or two. Me and Heidi discuss some of them in the latest episode of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast. Here’s a run down:
– Kyle Rittenhouse case. As of this writing, the jury is still deliberating on what Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 people (and injured a third) in August 2020 in Kenosha. I’ve had an interest in this case since it happened. I wrote a Milwaukee Press Club award winning article on the “citizen journalists” who caught the shootings on video: How Citizen Journalists Captured the Chaos in Kenosha (milwaukeemag.com)
As well as a short follow up during the trial: Citizen Journalists Footage Plays Key Role at Kyle Rittenhouse Trial (milwaukeemag.com)
[UPDATE: Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all 5 felony counts]
–Alex Jones meets consequences. A Connecticut judge found Jones to be liable for damages, in the latest ruling on cases filed by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Jones promoted that the tragedy was a “false flag” and that the grieving parents were “crises actors.” My book American Madness talks about Jones and Sandy Hook and the terrible influence Jones has on people. The jury will now decide how much Jones will face in damages.
-The QAnon Shaman. Sentenced to 41 months, Jacob Chansley probably got a longer sentence than other participants because his image was plastered all over the place. It was hard to ignore the shirtless guy wearing a horned headdress, facepaint, and carrying a spear. Another participant in the Q d’etat, Jennifer Leigh Ryan, who bragged that she wouldn’t go to jail because she was “white, with blond hair and a good job” got sentenced to 2 months in the slammer.
-Super creep Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress after he ignored a deposition to appear before a House committee looking into the January 6 insurrection. He’s facing a charge for contempt and another for refusal to produce documents. He could face 30 days and a year in jail respectively as well as fines up to $100,000.
-Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured and had his committee assignments stripped by Congress after he shared an anime video that photoshopped his image onto a character slashing his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s head with a sword and then attacking Joe Biden. As I said in one of my first columns of this year, the Orange Stain will remain for a long time.
Hey, I know who can get these dingdongs out of prison! The Ex-presidentiables! (Yes, this is a new painting by Jon McNaughton, subject of a TWW column from last year titled Tea’s Weird Week: Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings | (teakrulos.com) )
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel. Me and Heidi discuss some of the above mentioned cases and other weird news, trivia by Miss Information, and we close with a track by Creepy Little Things, “Mind Games.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel (podbean.com)
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Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
Last year, I wrote a column titled “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day.” Still a solid theory that I stand by. Back in April 2020 I was talking about the QAnon theory that “mole children” were being held captive in tunnels under Central Park. Today I bring you a disturbing number of stories of conspiracy theory madness…all from just the last couple of weeks. Ready? Yeah, neither am I.
1.) Hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dallas because they believed JFK Jr. would appear to them. (via The Dallas Morning News)
If you missed this one, hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dealey Plaza in Dallas (where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963) on November 2. They believed that JFK Jr. (President Kennedy’s son, who died in a plane crash in 1999) would appear there, revealing he was alive. JFK Jr. has been part of QAnon canon since their early days– they believe he faked his death and has been in hiding, secretly helping Trump and may even be “Q” himself.
This gathering believed JFK Jr. would appear, talk about how Trump would be reinstated as president, but then being a messiah-like figure that transcends politics Trump would hand the presidency to JFK Jr., who would make disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn the Veep. When JFK Jr. failed to appear at noon as prophesized, they said he would appear like the Great Pumpkin at Midnight. Or maybe in disguise at a Rolling Stones concert that was happening that evening. But the story didn’t end there…
2.) A QAnon sect appears to be starting a cult compound in Dallas. (via Vice)
As if point one wasn’t strange enough, it appears a contingent of those QAnon believers never left Dallas.
Last weekend, a large group led by QAnon influencer Michael Brian Protzman (and his parrot) returned to Dealey Plaza. There, the group lined up single file as Protzman brought them to him, one by one, to point out an “Illuminati symbol” aka something pyramid-shaped. This seems kind of like a baptism ritual. Then the group arranged themselves in a giant Q in the park. Much of the group has been staying at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas since November 2, where they hold meetings in the hotel conference room.
“In videos of the meeting shared online, Protzman talks about the Rolling Stones concert he attended [note- the concert happened the night JFK Jr. was supposed to appear in Dealey Plaza] with members of the group, and claims that Michael Jackson, John F. Kennedy Jr., Elvis, and Prince were all at the concert and were in fact playing the music on stage, disguised as the Rolling Stones. He also claims that R&B singer Aaliyah, who died in 2001, was one of the backup singers.”
So many questions. Which Rolling Stone was Prince portraying? I mean Elvis, who would be 86, must be Keith Richards? But QAnon believes that Richards was portrayed by JFK Jr. himself. What happened to the real Rolling Stones? Didn’t the Stones sing a song called “Sympathy for the Devil”– and Satanic Panic Q fans are ok with that?
Anyway, none of this is the most fucked part of the story– a rapper called “Pryme Minister” has “offered the use of a property near the city that could act as a permanent headquarters for the group, calling it “the promised land.”
Wow, that sounds like it’ll end well.
3.) An update on the Vancouver Masonic Lodge. (via North Shore News)
Shout out to Vancouver friends Steve and Erin who sent articles on this. On March 30, a Vancouver man named Benjamin Kohlman drove around Vancouver, setting three Masonic lodges on fire. He was back in court this week. The North Shore News reports:
“The court heard Nov. 8 that Benjamin Kohlman, 43, who has drug addiction problems, was hearing voices that told him to burn the buildings because the Masons were engaged in mind control of other people…The damages to the buildings were $500,000, $2.1 million and $34,000 to $43,000, respectively, the court heard.”
4.) Aaron Fucking Rodgers. I’m just going to leave you with this Milwaukee Record headline: “Aaron Rodgers outs himself as delusional, pathetic, stupid person in rambling interview.”
5.) Conspiracy candidates to watch out for. Conspiracy theorists should concern us all as conspiracy peddlers are actively running for (and sometimes winning) public office and setting policy. In 2020 there were over 70 QAnon aligned candidates who ran for Congress. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were elected. In the upcoming 2022 midterm and 2024 elections, expect more. There’s some “big names” who might be throwing their hat in. One is Ron Watkins, 8kun administrator and suspected fabricator of posts by “Q” (or at least someone who had a major role in creating QAnon). He’s running for a congressional district in Arizona (via the Arizona Mirror). And then there’s Trump’s conspiracy guru, Roger Stone. Stone has threatened that he’ll run for Governor of Florida if Gov. DeSantis decides to run as an opponent of Trump in 2024 (via CBS Miami). What’s next? A Congressional Committee to look into adrenochrome? A Flat Earth Party? It seems entirely possible.
6.) Conspiracy believers say Travis Scott concert deaths were part of “Satanic” ritual. After the tragedy of the concert deaths in Houston (which now total 9 after another person died of their injuries), theories started to spring up that the deaths were actually some kind of Satanic blood libel sacrifice to Moloch. Evidence cited was a stage catwalk that looked like an inverted cross, fiery visual effects, and hip hop’s alleged association with the Illuminati.
Sadly, as someone in the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group pointed out, these were sacrifices– to the almighty buck. They knew there was no way to safely do security for 50,000 people, but they packed them in anyway because they were greedy. No Illuminati or Reptilians needed when you have run-of-the-mill shitty, greedy people on the job.
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep08: Things are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas: Me and Heidi discuss these conspiracy stories and more weird news, trivia from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from our sound engineer, Android138, “WrongTown (Sex Appeal).”
A tragic accident that resulted in death could have been avoided if the crew on the film Rust were listened to. Alec Baldwin, a producer as well as star on the film, fired a prop gun and a live round from the gun killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and critically injured director Joel Souza. The Union workers had warned of unsafe conditions on the set and specifically the prop gun, which had not functioned properly in previous takes. Some workers quit over safety concerns, other Union workers were removed and non-union workers brought in to replace them. It’s unknown how a prop gun with a live round made it’s way on set– the investigation is still in process. I immediately knew that this would become conspiracy lore, and that was correct– I’ve since seen a variety of QAnon theories, with one even pinning a piece of yarn to Alec Baldwin’s role in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October. Because, well…it’s October. How did I know this was insta-conspiracy material? Well, here’s the main reasons:
1. Baldwin is Already a QAnon Villain
QAnon believes there is an evil cabal of Satanic pedophiles out there and all you have to do to be put on this shit list is to be an opponent of Trump. There is a “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” going on here– anyone that knew Jeffrey Epstein (except Trump himself, of course), associated with Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, etc. etc. is part of the conspiracy. But Alec Baldwin is one step beyond that– he is, in Trump’s squinty eyes, an actual enemy. Enraged by Baldwin’s doofy impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live, Trump used his Twitter platform to frequently attack SNL and Baldwin in particular.
In 2017, Trump tweeted that SNL was “very unfair and should be looked into.” In 2019 he tweeted that the “Federal Election Commission and/or FCC” should investigate the show because it spent “all of their time knocking the same person (me) over & over.” In 2019 he also tweeted:
“Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!”
Again, to be clear, the President of These United States was all bent out of shape and spending an inordinate amount of time talking about this:
2. Trump Helped Normalize Spreading Conspiracies About His Enemies to His QAnon Followers
With Roger Stone (a self-described “dirty trickster”) as his spiritual guru, Trump quickly repeated the benefits of conspiracy theory as a weapon of choice in his campaign. It wasn’t the first time– Trump was the loudest and most famous voice that pushed the racist Birtherism conspiracies about President Obama. Many people still believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii (as per his birth certificate). After beating down the vast field of Republican runners leading up to the 2016 election with silly nicknames, in the final stretch he knew he needed to “go hard” against the remaining few left standing. That’s when he implied that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination. Look, I despise Ted Cruz and thoroughly enjoy laughing about the conspiracy that he’s the Zodiac Killer, but the reality is that he’s not the Zodiac Killer and his father wasn’t involved in the JFK assassination, and the fact that Trump just got away with saying that without any repercussions is pretty insane.
If we lived in a normal timeline, that (along with him openly mocking a person with a disability, being racist, bragging about sexually assaulting women, etc.) would have ended his campaign. But one of the worst things about the Trump presidency is that it normalized conspiracies, misinformation, name-calling, narcissism, and labelled actual media as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” He got away with it by utilizing a “firehose of falsehoods” i.e. he was spouting out so much crazy stuff, it was hard to pin down one thing or another because minutes later he was saying something else equal to or more crazy.
Cruz was far from the only target. When Trump got butt hurt over watching pundit Joe Scarborough’s show, (Morning Joe, MSNBC) he dug up a conspiracy hit piece that he had murdered an employee in 2001 and left her dead body in a campaign office even though he was out of town. (See my column, “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession“). And these are just a couple examples– I haven’t even mentioned Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, “Obamagate,” or the 2020 election.
3. The World is Chaos and That’s Something Conspiracists Can’t Wrap Their Head Around
Conspiracists don’t believe in coincidence. They think everything is a well designed plot, especially if there is an unknown element.
Take for example the murder of Seth Rich. Rich was a staff member of the Democratic National Committee. He was shot twice in the back and died just after 4am while walking home from a bar. Police believe it was an attempted robbery. Oh, but they didn’t take his wallet! Attempted– maybe something scared off the robber(s) but we don’t know because it’s an unsolved case. A feeding frenzy of conspiracy, from InfoWars to FOX News quickly spun a story that Rich was the one who sent DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and thus was murdered as part of the Clinton Body Count– the theory that Bill and Hill have left a pile of corpses behind them to rival Mickey and Mallory Knox as they’ve killed their way into power. I like to think of them cranking death metal and jumping out of bushes to personally stab the shit out of their enemies.
When I watched the report on the Alec Baldwin shooting on CNN, I was like, well this is definitely going to be a conspiracy because the reporting was uncertain. The anchor said “this is an accident as far as we know” and “we don’t know how such a tragic accident could happen.” That’s the difference between journalists and conspiracy peddlers. Journalists (good ones, anyway) need to wait for the facts. They can speculate, but they need to wait for investigations, reports, documentation. Those aren’t available immediately. Conspiracists, on the other hand, can pretend to know everything instantly– isn’t it suspicious how a prop gun could fire a lethal round? That’s because it’s a cover up– FACT.
Was this accidental shooting tragic and something that could have been avoided? Yes. Did it happen because Alec Baldwin was engaged in some kind of blood libel secret murder? NO.
You can read more about the tragic toll of conspiracy thinking in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness a book by Tea Krulos (bookshop.org)
Over the summer I was contacted by a filmmaker named Eric Hayden, who had heard me on a podcast (Rumor Flies) talking about my book, American Madness. He got a copy and read it and then messaged me, asking if I’d thought about adapting the book into a documentary. I told him I had always believed that the book would adapt well into that format.
There were a couple things that made me want to work with Eric (and his wife, Kim).
One was that he had read the book and understood it. That might seem like a low bar, but over the past ten years or so I’ve talked to plenty of reality show jokers and other people with film projects who want me in on something they’re developing who haven’t read my stuff. At best they are wasting my time (and their own). At worst, they are hoping that I hand over my research and/or contacts to a fringe group of people for little to nothing in return. Eric was offering to have me be involved each step of the way, something very much appreciated by me.
Second– Eric’s background is not in documentary filming but mostly video effects (though he does have directing and writing credits), however in looking at his impressive resume it was clear to me that he built his career by being hard-working, innovative, and talented. Some of the films he’s worked on include Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, Deadwood: The Movie (Eric’s team was nominated for a video effects Emmy for that one), and many more. Most recently, he’s been a video effects supervisor on The Orville.
So after some discussion, we agreed to start working on this documentary with myself, Kim and Eric producing, Eric directing, and me helping set up interviews. The first day of shooting was July 31 and was an extended interview with me here in Milwaukee. Since then, we’ve been working slowly but steadily to arrange interviews, dig up materials, and plan the direction of the documentary. We’re in contact almost every day– today, for example, me and Eric have been texting about how the tragic death on the set of a movie starring Alec Baldwin is ripe for a quickly developing conspiracy around it.
Earlier this month, we decided to spend a few days interviewing in Northern California and LA. It was a great, productive trip. Here’s some notes on what we did. If you don’t know what the Bohemian Grove or Richard McCaslin is, you should read my book American Madness.
I arrived in San Francisco on October 7 and spent the next day, Friday, relaxing. I met my friend Elizabeth for lunch, she had moved from Milwaukee to San Francisco many years ago. Saturday, Oct. 9 was the longest day of shooting interviews. We started out by talking to “Anonymous Grove Valet,” someone who had worked in one of the Bohemian Grove camps for over ten summers as a “valet,” an all purpose job of cooking, pouring drinks, cleaning, helping with luggage, etc. We wanted to find out what this person did or did not see in the Grove and what the clientele was like.
From there we headed to Superhero Desserts (1449 Webster St.) in Alameda, a bakery operated by Real-life Superhero members of the California Initiative. I first met Rock N Roll and Night Bug ten years ago at an RLSH event called HOPE in 2011. Def some of the favorite people I’ve met in that movement, I’ve several times cited them as doing the RLSH the “right” way. And so cool that they’ve opened their bakery business, a portion of proceeds going to their food/supply handouts to the unhoused. Rock and Bug also met Richard McCaslin in passing a couple times. It was great to see them and my only regret, as always, was not having more time.
From Superhero Desserts, we ventured further north to visit Mary Moore. Mary is a longtime activist and one of the founders of the Bohemian Grove Action Network. For decades, she helped organize a group of activists who gathered outside the gates of the Bohemian Grove every summer to protest. BGAN was also key in sneaking undercover reporters into the Grove and extracting documents and pictures out (by Grove employees). I interviewed her by phone for American Madness, but slowly cruising up a windy, narrow mountain road to visit her cottages in the Redwood forest was quite an experience. Now in her 80s, Mary showed us around her incredible collection of research and I’m so glad we got to visit and get an interview with her. Mary lives just a few miles down the road from the Grove, so we of course had to visit. We didn’t attempt to trespass, but shot some footage in the area.
The next day, on Sunday, we interviewed Don Eichelberger, another BGAN founder, in front of the Bohemian Club in downtown San Francisco, then began the long drive down to the Los Angeles area. Once there, the Haydens were incredibly hospitable towards me, letting me stay in their guest room. We shot an interview with Dave Baker and Andrew Price, comic book writers and hosts of the Deep Cuts podcast, who were able to give insight on comic book aesthetics and conspiracy problems (they are currently unrolling a massive Deep Cuts series on QAnon, listen here: deepcutspod.com). We had another meeting, then I flew home.
There’s still much to do on the documentary, including work on reenactments and interviews in other cities. For now, we’re catching up on the many hours of interviews that were already filmed. I’ll update periodically as production moves forward. And next week I’ll talk about ANOTHER (but smaller scoped) documentary short project I’m working on about local horror hosts. Fun stuff!
Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep 05: Denver Airport Conspiracy: On my way home from California, I transferred at Denver International, a notorious hub of conspiracy. I spoke to my Denver friend Jenny Sanchez (Long Days Travel) about how these conspiracies spun. Me and my co-host Heidi Erickson discussed weird news about the Not Deer, an unemployed wizard, the country’s fattest pumpkin, the Zodiac Killer, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information, and we close out with a track by Jon Henry, “Chicken Little.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week S3 ep05: Denver Airport Conspiracy (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
Last week, I shared pictures and a link to our Tea’s Weird Week podcast featuring interviews from UFO Daze at Benson’s Hide-A-Way in Dundee, WI. We got so much material we decided to split it into a two-parter.
I have one of those crazy busy weeks this week– good stuff (in fact, expect a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT in all caps sometime soon… UPDATE: the news is that book American Madness is being developed into a documentary. More details soon.) So this week I’m going to keep it brief and share a couple quick notes about this week’s episode.
- This episode features a short interview with writer and director Mark Borchardt, who directed a documentary titled The Dundee Project, filmed over several years at UFO Daze. It’s a great look at the characters hanging around Benson’s Hide-A-Way. Mark is planning a possible Return to Dundee doc. I’ve known Mark a few years now (he participated in the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference) and I want to tell you a great memory of him.
I was having a really down and out day, super stressed and all that– this was maybe 4 years ago or so, and I was sitting at a bus stop near Colectivo Coffee on Humboldt Boulevard. Mark came cruising around the corner and shouted out of his window: “Tea! Tea, keep the faith, man!” And was gone. It really made my day. I kept the faith.
- Awesome track by our podcast sound engineer, Andrew aka Android 138, “EarthSkum.” He’s very talented. Everyone who participates in the podcast– Heidi, Miss Information, all of the talented musicians, artists, and guests, are just great. I’m lucky to know you all. Check out Andrew’s music: www.soundcloud.com/android138
- Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is Sept.24-26. Do it: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)
Tea’s Weird Week, S2 Ep11, UFOs Over Dundee: Part 2
Tea talks to Mark Borchardt about his documentary, The Dundee Project, plus more interviews from UFO Daze at Benson’s Hideaway. Tea and Heidi talk about the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, Welch Klingons, the latest QAnon nuttiness, and more. Plus trivia from Miss Information and a dope new track by Android138, “EarthSkum.”
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep11: UFOs Over Long Lake, part 2 (podbean.com)
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Check out my latest books:
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
I like to think I got my finger on the pulse of all things weird, but none of us are omnipresent weird, so I was boggled and amazed by the story of the Love Has Won cult, which I had not heard of. I missed their appearance on Dr. Phil last year (along with every episode of the show). This is why I value the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group so much– it’s become a great clearinghouse for sharing weird news and I, of course, love every second of it.
Let’s start with this scene– May 23, 2020. A man named Alex Whitten was found “naked and dehydrated with cactus needles in his feet wandering through the desert north of Crestone (Colorado, a small mecca of Buddhist and Hindu temples, New Age and other spiritual centers). He appeared to be hallucinating,” according to an in-depth article on gurumag.com titled “Crestone Cult Love Has Won Leaves Man to Die in Desert.”
Whitten’s wife said that he “brainwashed” himself watching livestreams from Love Has Won. Whitten was so compelled by the group’s message– that the “Mother God” was living in human form in Colorado, that he abandoned his wife and two kids in Ohio and flew West. But he did something to piss off the Mother God and her group, because days later he was drugged and left exposed in the San Luis Valley. Fortunately, a family-led search party found him. A core member of Love Has Won’s response to the incident: “We are not Alex’s babysitter…we are here for God, not whores that desert God.”
Last week, on April 28, seven members of Love Has Won were arrested and charged with “abuse of a corpse,” after the mummified remains of the group’s leader, Amy Carlson, aka “Mother God,” aka “Mom,” aka “Mama G,” were found in a trailer in Crestone. The corpse was reportedly “mummified,” slowly decomposing, wrapped in a sleeping bag, and adorned with Christmas tree lights, glitter around her eyes. Well, where her eyes used to be– they were missing. Her followers say she has now “ascended” and that “First Contact” is imminent. The group is ranked into the “Galactic Federation of Light Team” and the “First Contact Ground Crew,” both here to initiate and age of love. One of the members described the cult’s critics as “void engineers,” which is my new favorite term.
The mugshots of the 7 disciples arrested have a kind of Manson family vibe to them, or as Tea’s Weird Week group member Billy suggested, “some Midsommar-meets-Leatherface type of White Nonsense.” Well…
So many questions. How did she die? Where are the eyeballs? Where did these cult members come from? I don’t know the answers to all these and there’s a lot to take in with the story. I did fall down a little bit of a rabbit hole on this one, so I’ll share a few notes on some things that I found and how some of this relates to the Great Age of American Madness.
Who is Love Has Won?
“Among the teachings of Love Has Won is that Carlson is the 534th avatar of God on earth, and that she has revoked the free will of humanity as a failed experiment,” Raw Story reports. In past lives Amy Carlson says she has been Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, and Marilyn Monroe. Not bad! She says her father is disgraced ex-president-turned-angry-blogger Donald Trump (or in his past life he was her father in her past life I think is more accurate–maybe.) This incarnation of Mother God was born in 1975 in Kansas.
What if God was one of of us? as Joan Osbourne once sang. Well, looks she spent some time managing a McDonald’s and bouncing around between Colorado, Texas, and Florida. There is a “Father God”– actually, there’s been a few over the years. Father Gods come and go. The latest Father God (aka Jason Gilbert Castillo), has a criminal record including child neglect, criminal mischief, two DWIs, trespassing, and breaking and entering.
Love Has Won, which describes itself as a “non-profit charity spiritual institution” includes conspiracy in their teachings. They talk about Reptilians and other extra-terrestrials, and they promote many beliefs that mirror QAnon, but in a more “crunchy” variation. You have your far-right, MAGA hat sporting Q followers, and then there’s this more New Agey version that leads to things like parts of the yoga and wellness community (sometimes inadvertently) peddling the same “Deep State cabal of satanic cannibal pedophiles” and other conspiracy ideas. It’s QAnon in downward dog position.
Another way to see the two sides of the same coin is the way far right conspiracy sites like InfoWars and dippy “wellness” sites like Goop and Moon Juice market the same health supplements, albeit very differently. Both InfoWars and Goop sell products based on cordyceps mushrooms, for example, but Goop markets it as “Sun Potion,” while InfoWars uses it in a coffee blend called “Wake Up America Immune Support.” Maca, which boosts libido, is used by Moon Juice as “Sex Powder,” InfoWars calls it a “Super Male Vitality” supplement. It’s classic marketing– the generic grocery store sells a can just stamped BEANS, Trader Joe’s has a colorful label for “100% organic artisan red beans.” Same shit, different pile.
Love Has Won developed their following– possibly thousands of people– in the same way most cult groups do nowadays– YouTube, Facebook live, and other streaming videos. This is the same way the modern Flat Earther and the QAnon movement gained traction. Random observation– I noticed that there’s a strong contingency of young Australian stoners in Love Has Won. They host a live YouTube show called “United Nations,” there’s also a “DAILY ENERGY UPDATE” show on Love Has Won’s YouTube page. People are hungry for something meaningful in their lives and YouTube becomes the vacuum cleaner of lost souls.
To make money, Love Has Won has offered services like “5-D astrology” (between this and QAnon always saying that Trump was playing “5-D chess,” I got to say I’m kinda over the 5th dimension these days) which will “help those on an Ascension path obtain a deeper understanding of themselves…done through the higher 5-D consciousness perspective.” Ok. They also perform “etheric surgeries” to remove “inorganic material,” over Skype, which sounds to me like just a rebranding of reiki. Love Has Won’s website also sold various candles and supplements, “Plasma Healing Spray,” “Gaia’s Salt Soak,” and a “Mother of of All Creation Divine Trait Oracle Deck” ($44.44) which includes cards with Carlson’s face photoshopped onto a classic depiction of Jesus Christ, and an Egyptian pyramid, and other mystical locations.
Another way the group makes money is classic cult 101– shake every dime out of your followers. Hand it over– trust funds, car titles, social security and disability checks, checking and savings accounts. Love Has Won checks every box to being a cult– according to ex-members, they were sleep deprived, had their food rationed, were verbally abused, and if they pissed off Mama G, they were sent to “Desolation Row,” a barren part of the woods on their property, where they had to fend for themselves. One member, Vice discovered, was berated and punished when he brought Mama G meatballs instead of chicken parmesan. Big mistake, God did not order the meatballs! Remember, Mother God said there is no free will– only her will.
God Loves Vodka
Part of this cruel punishment from Mother God might have stemmed from the fact that she has a vodka problem that transformed her from zen-platitude-spewing-guru to rage drunk pretty quickly. In fact, members believe that the amount of alcohol that she consumed was proof that she was otherworldly as a normal human couldn’t consume as much alcohol as she did and survive. One ex-member says that he saw Mother God drink 24 shots of tequila in a row. Another former member (an ex-Father God) said that starting around dinner time she drank a steady stream of highball glasses filled with vodka with a splash of water on top and would transform into a completely different and awful person.
Here’s a video from the Love Has Won YouTube page, listed as being recorded December 16, 2019. It’s an excruciating 10:25 long video where Mother God attempts to tell a story of how she discovered angels were communicating with her. It’s immediately obvious that everyone in the video is completely stoned out of their fucking gourd. You can even tell the people off camera are stoned. Mother God, drinking out of a copper cup (probably vodka), attempts to tell a story (at the pace of someone extremely fucked up) of how she was watching The Wizard of Oz on TBS, when she was captivated by a bumper segment of the screening that asked trivia about the film. Via this trivia, angels revealed that she was “the Holy Grail.” At least I think that’s what she’s trying to say–?:
Other videos show her inebriated, shaking a cat and yelling at it, calling it a “bitch” (her favorite insults are “bitch,” “banshee,” and “whore”) and some other not quite profound videos featuring her saying (or screaming) things about her critics like “yeah bitch, carry on with your banshee fucking self. Fff, what a whore.” and “My own life workers BATTLE ME! Serving love and bringing in a new paradigm you fucking dick whores. You’re about to get it!” and “you just fucking got me on the–fucking motherfucker. Fucking wow.”
Robin Williams is Standing By
Love Has Won’s website (which is down, but a YouTuber called Sepulcher Geist, who lost a co-worker to the cult, has a pretty hilarious video tour of the site HERE) says that one of their etheric surgery staff is none other than Robin Williams. Yes, Mrs. Doubtfire Robin Williams. Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Hook, Patch Adams, etc., etc.,etc. beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams. The website says that on the day he died (Aug.11, 2014), Williams appeared in Mother God’s bedroom, told her he had been murdered, and that he is also Archangel Zadkiel, and that he wanted to be part of Mom’s team. Side note: notice how these mystic figures like to have Z names. But this story is making our QAnon Bigfoot friend Zorth look tame by comparison. In 2017, according to the Love Has Won website, Robin Williams finally got the props he deserves and was awarded as “Etheric Ambassador of the Ascension of Planet Earth=Heart” by Mother God. Nanoo nanoo!
To quote the Mother God, “fucking wow.”
I’m interested to follow this story and hear more details as cults have long fascinated me. But I want to say that beyond the jokes and morbid curiosity I’ve dropped in this column, I sincerely do hope some of these people are able to reconnect with their families and friends, many who I’m sure are destroyed with worry. It’s easy to understand why– cults like Heaven’s Gate and the followers of Jim Jones ended up killing themselves.
I understand the appeal a cult like this must have– the world is a sucking black hole of awfulness, a world of “void engineers,” I get it. Imagine finding a group that will act as your family of “love,” that will give you direction and a home, that will cure that loneliness. It all sounds beautiful til “Mama G” gets mad at you and strands you naked in the desert for forgetting her chicken parmesan… or you’re being asked to help hide a corpse.
Good luck out there.
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Back in April I wrote a column titled “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day.” It’s a theory I still stand by.
While doing the media and virtual appearance rounds for my book American Madness this fall, people asked what the wildest or craziest conspiracy I encountered was. That was a moving goal post, I’d reply, every time I thought I’d found the most outlandish theory I’d discover that nope, the rabbit hole keeps going. Reptilians, Flat Earth theory, and Pizzagate were all thought to be the peak while working on the book, but the ruthless onslaught of 2020 conspiracies loomed ahead.
Before I continue on, let me preference the rest of this column by saying I’ve met many Bigfooters (people who research and investigate Bigfoot sightings) over the years. While working on my book Monster Hunters, I had a fun and wild adventure exploring the woods of Michigan with Bigfooter Jim Sherman of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO). I’ve met several since. Bigfooters range in personality from very cool, very interesting people (which thankfully describes all the ones I’ve met) to total assholes to somewhere between. But now I’m sad to report that the joy of Bigfooting, or at least a small corner of it, has been struck by the foul cancer of QAnon.
So, it’s late at night, I should be asleep, but I’m doomscrolling Facebook when I stumble across a video titled “Zorth Says That President Trump Wins in the End” in a group I’m apparently a member of called Team Squatchin USA. This group has over 14,000 members.
There are two Kruloses in my head. One says do not watch this damn video, go to bed and the other says do it. watch this damn video. Do it.
I watched it.
Here’s what I learned:
– A man named Dr. Matthew A. Johnson (aka “Dr. J”) says that he is “the 13,” an ambassador to humanity for a council of 12 Xanue (aka Bigfoot Forest People, Sasquatch, etc.) and communicates mostly with the head of council, Zorth, through telepathy.
-Zorth has been telling Dr. J repeatedly that “in the end, Trump wins” and that Zorth has “adamantly insisted” that Dr. J share this message with the world (via YouTube). Here’s a message from Dr. J to the Team Squatchin USA group:
ZORTH is adamant about me passing on the following message that he shared with me a week ago: The Xanue are able to see into the future via a limited manner via multiple possible time lines. ZORTH wants everyone to know that in the majority of the possible time lines, President Trump wins his reelection bid. I DID NOT want to post this but ZORTH strongly insisted that I post it now.
Heavy is the head that wears Zorth’s will.
-Like Trump, Dr. J apparently has no concept of how the vote count happened and the split between in-person (which leaned Trump and were counted first) and mail-in/early voting (which leaned Biden and were counted later). “All of a sudden they miraculously find all these votes overnight.” Incorrect.
-In one of several Xanue/ Trump endorsement videos Dr. J shows footage of a popular QAnon propaganda “documentary” titled Q- The Plan to Save the World. Many of Dr. J’s posts parrot election fraud conspiracy language. QAnon is going to be facing an identity crisis and they, much like Trump himself, are currently in the “denial” phase.
– Is this guy for real? Yes, I’m afraid so. And judging by the many pro-Trump, pro-Zorth comments on Johnson’s videos on Facebook and YouTube, so are his followers. Why on earth would they believe such a shaggy Sasquatch story? Because Dr. J has “done his own research” and written two self-published books and created a whole bunch of YouTube videos. What more evidence do you need?
Look, researching and investigating Bigfoot is one thing. Saying that a wizened council of Bigfoots endorsing an awful person who lost the election and is in a delusional downward spiral about it is another. We need to fight back against conspiracies about the pandemic, civil unrest, and election fraud.
Biden won the election and Trump is attempting a coup like a fascist banana republic wannabe dictator. There is no credible evidence of election fraud. Trump’s hollow lawsuits are all being shut down due to lack of evidence. The only reason Trump won’t concede is ego alone.
Here’s something I haven’t revealed until this column– yes, it’s true, I also have the ability to communicate telepathically with the Sasquatch– prove that I can’t. I happen to be in contact with a rival council of 12 known as the Xerox and their spokesquatch, Zaarg.
And…oh my, here it is. Zaarg says they have an urgent message I must relay. An important message. Zaarg says:
Zorth, I will kick ya hairy arse, ya traitor. Y’ll look like a mangy bearskin roog when I’m done with ya, boy-o, mark me foocking words. [Zaarg is also an Irish bare-knuckle boxer] I will take on all 12 of ya Xanue foocks with one hand tied behind me back, ya foocking liars. Ya deserve to have yer arses shaved and painted orange like the Trump baboons ya are, make no mistake!
Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!
I’m a candidate for Milwaukee author in the Shepherd Express annual best of. You can read the rules and vote here: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020
My book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness is out now. It explores a wide range of conspiracies, (but doesn’t explore the Bigfoot-Q connection.)
You can find it on Bookshop.org here: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Hello from Battleground Wisconsin. What a fucking week! As I mentioned on Facebook, I ran myself pretty hard all of October– promoting my book American Madness, a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, socially distanced ghost tours, freelance writing, plotting, planning. I was busy and it was great, but by Election Day I was ready to wrap up in blankets, drink a lot of whiskey, and see where this batshit crazy year would take us next. And what a day to drink copious amounts of whiskey it was! As of this writing, nothing is official yet and in 2020 anything can happen, but here’s my early takeaways from the election.
The Good: It looks like Trump will be voted out of office–unless he pulls off some crazy dirty trick (and we know if nothing else, he’s masterful at dirty tricks). And of course angels might intervene. That’s the case Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White makes here:
Trump out of office is good news, a start, but there’s is a lot of damage to repair. We’ll talk about that in a moment. First, more good news– progressive candidates representing marginalized people won campaigns across the country. These include Cori Bush, the first black woman to represent Missouri in the House, and the reelection of all 4 members of “The Squad.” Several LGBT candidates made historic victories, including Sarah McBride of Delaware, the first transgender state senator, and Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, the first gay latinx/black congressmen.
The Bad: 68,943,879 (and counting) million people voted for Trump. Here in my home, Wisconsin Biden won 1,632,542 to Trump’s 1,610,007 (as of this writing), less than 20,000 votes. I just can’t wrap my head around this. Anything less than Trump losing in a major landslide is a failure of our society, in my opinion.
The aftereffect of Trump will be long-lasting– you’ll see some immediate examples when we get to “The Ugly” section of this post. The Trump presidency will be studied for generations. Most puzzling will be how such a large population stuck to this terrible person so loyally and so willingly voted against their own interests. Why did 69 million Americans vote for a racist, sexist, conspiracy theorist conman reality star goof? After everything that happened over the last four years, how can they still see him in a positive light? I will never understand.
Here’s what I mean, visualized. This is Trump supporter Jon McNaughton’s latest masterpiece, “2020 Ride.” I wrote about McNaughton’s art in a column from February titled “Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings.” Here McNaughton says he is showing Trump as a cowboy hero, successfully taming all of the issues of 2020.
I don’t see that in this painting, though. I see a sad, hateful man dressed like a clown, riding a beast that he himself created in the sunset of his presidency. But I guess art is subjective.
The cognitive dissonance in Trump supporters is just staggering. As just one example, compare Pro-Trumpers at a polling station in Detroit chanting “stop the vote!” while Pro-Trumpers in Phoenix are chanting “count the vote!”
Well, which is it? It depends, of course, on what favors Trump, democracy be damned. Conspiracy theories about election fraud, stoked by Trump himself, are in full swing. No, there isn’t hundreds of thousands of dead people voting. That’s easily fact checked: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/11/04/fact-check-no-fraud-wisconsin-overnight-vote-spike/6167188002/
The Ugly: Along with new progressive candidates, we also elected the fringest of the fringe right-wingers, like QAnon believers. The most major of these is Marjorie Greene, a QAnon believer from Georgia who won a House seat. I wrote more about her here: “Well, it Happened-Meet Your First QAnon Represenative.”
But she wasn’t alone– Lauren Boebert also won a House seat in Colorado. Boebert has made comments supporting QAnon in the past, saying QAnon was “motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger,” but has since disavowed the conspiracy cult. She owns a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, called Shooters Grill, where the staff are encouraged to open-carry.
Another QAnon believer who ran successfully is MMA fighter Tito Ortiz, who won a seat on Huntington Beach, California’s City Council. Ortiz sold QAnon themed athletic wear on his website and ran on the campaign slogan “Make Huntington Beach Safe Again.” MMA site Bloody Elbow has the disturbing details here: https://www.bloodyelbow.com/2020/11/4/21549515/ufc-pioneer-qanon-supporter-tito-ortiz-elected-huntington-beach-city-council-mma-politics
Also heading to Congress is Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. He’s disavowed QAnon, but takes talking points from their playbook, talking about a cabal of sex slave traffickers. As the Charlotte Observer notes:
“Cawthorn’s rise to prominence has already been mired in scandal, as he’s faced accusations of ties to white supremacy, sexual misconduct, racism and lying about his record.”
Even if Trump is gone, an orange stain will remain.
Read more about how we got to this crazy time in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.
* I discussed American Madness on the CripesCast, with the very funny Charlie Berens (Manitowoc Minute): https://cripescast.podbean.com/e/episode-19-tea-krulos
* I joined the guys on Lumpen Radio’s Eye 94 book show, which includes some American Madness excerpts read by Shanna Van Volt, giving it a nice conspiracy jazz lounge tone: https://www.mixcloud.com/lumpenradio/eye-94-10-29-2020-tea-kroulos-conspiracies-and-qanon/
* I was part of a written roundtable discussion on misinformation for LitHub with authors Renata Salecl and Jonathan Berman. You can read it here: https://lithub.com/the-misinformation-superhighway-a-roundtable-on-the-rise-of-the-great-american-conspiracy/