Tea’s Weird Week kicks off 2022 with a story of yet another person pushed over the edge by conspiracy theory. And thanks to Tim Demeter for designing the 2022 TWW masthead. You can see more of his work at Quixotronic.
I’m back for 2022! The first column of the new year is a good place to introduce myself to new readers. I’m a freelance journalist and author of six non-fiction books. I like to write about a wide range of topics, but am maybe most known for writing about strange subcultures and social movements, and conspiracy, paranormal, and folklore. I love weird shit. I live in Milwaukee.
Plenty of weird stuff has happened over the last month or two over since TWW went on break. But one story in particular caught my eye because when I saw it my thought was oh shit, here’s yet another guy that reminds me of Richard McCaslin. Richard was the main subject of my book American Madness. He fell into a conspiracy rabbit hole, raided a secret society camp called the Bohemian Grove in 2002 and eventually took his own life. That’s the short version, you can find my book here: American Madness | (teakrulos.com)
Since then there’s been many other examples of stories like Richard– the Pizzagate Raider (Edgar Maddison Welch), the Nashville Bomber (Anthony Quinn Warner), the Mason Lodge Arsonist (Benjamin Kohlman), and I would say even the Jan. 6 Q d’etat are similar stories.
Here’s the scene of the latest– December 8, a limousine crashes through the fences of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Matthew Ray Hancock, 36, is the driver and proceeds to do some donuts in the limo in a parking lot before driving onto a plane ramp to cruise by several airplanes, stopping near a parked jet. Employees confront him and see that he’s wearing a clown mask.
“I’ve got a fucking bomb! I’m going to blow this place up!” Hancock tells the employees.
Police showed up and quickly arrested Hancock. He asked them to refer to him as “the Chosen One,” and told them his plan was to hijack a jet and fly it to Area 51, the legendary secret Nevada base which is alleged to be a repository of extra-terrestrials and their technology. It’s a classic pillar of conspiracy theory and Hancock says he wanted to go there to “look for aliens.” Whatever goes down there, it is true that an unmarked plane with the call JANET leaves McCarran daily to fly employees to Area 51. In 2019, there was a viral “Raid Area 51” Facebook event, which suggested that a large number of people could overtake the base and see the hidden ETs inside, however, only a small crowd actually showed up and gathered peacefully outside the gates.
Hancock had a homemade bomb of sorts in his limo– an oxygen tank and fire extinguisher tethered together on a piece of wood with some other pieces of metal, decorated with Christmas tree lights. When questioned, Hancock also made the claims that he had a high level security clearance, was also a member of the mob, and that someone owed him millions of dollars.
Police charged him with misdemeanor trespassing, and felonies for making a terrorist threat and dispersal with a hoax. I will be keeping tabs on any developments in this story.
Please Clap Dept.: Over the break I was a guest on the Shorewood Library podcast, Shorewood Stacks. I love libraries! Great conversation, mostly about my book American Madness. You can listen here: Episode 5 American Madness: An Interview with Tea Krulos (podbean.com)
Tea’s Weird Week podcast, S4 Ep01: Our guest Zelia Edgar talks about her first book, Just Another Tin Foil Hat Presents, which is a collection of classic paranormal case studies out now. Zelia told us about the mysterious lore of Platteville, the Loveland Frogmen, and Wisconsin’s favorite UFO story– Joe Simonton and his space pancakes.
Then me and Heidi talk about our January travels and discuss Matthew Ray Hancock’s limo ride, escaped lab monkeys, and a “Trump prophetess” who visited heaven and saw John Wayne filming a new cowboy flick. Plus new trivia from Miss Information and we close out with a bangin’ track, “Bigfoot, Take the Wheel,” by IfIHadAHiFi.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness
“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.
Tune in here every Friday for Tea’s Weird Week.
Today starts my 3-day vacation, where I’ll be doing nothing but laying in a hammock drinking pina coladas. Just kidding. I will be doing some kicking back at the Moonlight Retreat, but I’ll also be taking a red pen to a couple manuscripts and leading a ghostlore workshop.
Being somewhat in vacation mode (and looking forward to fall), for today’s column I thought it would be appropriate to round up of some stories I’ve studied this summer. I’m working on finishing up a book about conspiracy theory (American Madness) and 2019 has been a helluva year for it. This summer in particular feels like the one where we collectively lost our damn minds. [I included links to further reading.]
Here’s my top 5 Summer of Conspiracy stories:
(1.) Storm Area 51: I wrote about the viral “Storm Area 51” event in this column a few weeks ago. Now there’s going to be a 3-day “Alien Stock” music fest, already drawing comparisons to the disastrous Fyre Festival. As I wrote before, I’ve been through the area and Rachel, the town the fest is happening in, has a population of 58 people, no infrastructure, no shelter, no nothing– the nearest gas station is 50 miles away! Not the best place for an EDM festival. [USA Today]
(2.) QAnon Vigilante: One of my editors sent this article to me and I’m surprised I haven’t seen it more in the news cycle. Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, who was head of the Gambino crime family and spent most of his life avoiding death, had his ass capped by a vigilante conspiracy theorist named Anthony Comello, inspired by QAnon. I’ll be dissecting the story more in my book. [New York Times]
(3.) Flight of the Flat Earther. After aborting his mission last weekend, Flat Earther and rocketeer “Mad” Mike Hughes is set to blast 5,000 feet into the stratosphere in his homemade rocket tomorrow, which reads “Research Flat Earth” on the side and was funded by a hook-up dating app called Hud. The attempt will be filmed for an upcoming show called Homemade Astronauts for the Science Channel, which sounds fun. At first I was completely confused as to how launching 5,000 feet in the air could prove anything about Flat Earth as we have planes, hot air balloons, and hang gliders that can rise higher than that, but then I realized this is more about publicity. It’s not the journey, it’s how you get there. [Space.com]
(4.) V is for…Anti-vaxxer? This year’s San Diego Comic Con featured an appearance by a large group of protesters dressed as V, the character from V for Vendetta in a protest appearance made popular by Anonymous. A couple months earlier, the same (or similar) group protested outside of Disneyland for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, dressed as Star Wars characters. [respectfulinsolence.com]
(5.) Epstein Suicide Conspiracy. The most interesting news story of the last week for me was the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. It was just crazy to see conspiracies explode and proliferate online within minutes of his death being reported. Because Epstein had some connection to both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, the theories were partisan– Trump had him rubbed out or the Clintons had him whacked (to fit the Clinton Body Count theory) or a Deep State cabal did. I even saw theories that Epstein made a getaway, leaving a dead hobo’s body in his place (a theory spread by the band Foster the People, among others, who tweeted “Epstein’s on a private plane to somewhere in the middle east getting prepped for plastic surgery right now”). [NBC News]
Alright, enough conspiracy– I’m off to the Moonlight Retreat. Have a good weekend!
My favorite barbershop is Jose’s. Sad to hear of namesake Jose Ortiz’s death. Here’s an “Off the Cuff” I wrote on him for the Shepherd Express back in 2008, after someone suggested I stop in and talk to him because he was an interesting person. Indeed he was.: https://shepherdexpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/off-the-cuff/barber-extraordinaire
My latest book is Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers. You can find it here: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/ApocalypseAnyDayNow