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Tea’s Weird Week: Alex Jones in His Own Hell

I first began to learn about Alex Jones in 2010. Through an odd twist of events, I was introduced to a man named Richard McCaslin, a conspiracy theorist who attempted to raid a club for the rich and powerful in the redwood forest of California called the Bohemian Grove. Richard was the Patient Zero of someone who listened to Jones and took his bloviating seriously. On Jan. 20, 2002, he was arrested in the Bohemian Grove, wearing a superhero costume with a rubber skull mask and heavily armed.

100% of Richard’s decision to go on his raid was from watching a “documentary” Jones had produced called Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove, which suggested human sacrifice– maybe even children– was happening inside the Grove. It followed the Jones Method– a pinch of truth, a lot of speculation, some far-fetched interpretation, and a scary Satanic, baby-killing, New World Order cabal of those in power. I detailed Richard’s spiral down the rabbit hole and Jones’s influence over him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked America’s Consciousness. Richard died by suicide in 2018. I believe conspiracy theory is what pushed him over the edge, and the first domino was Alex Jones.

Two things repeated after Richard’s raid– first, Alex Jones and Info Wars would pop up regularly like a bad penny as a motivator in other cases of extremist violence.

To mention just a few: Byron Williams, who had a shootout with California Highway Patrol on I-580 in 2010 and was an avid listener of Jones. He  was on his way to shoot up the offices of organizations associated with conspiracy boogeyman George Soros.

In 2011 Oscar Ortega-Hernandez did a drive-by shooting of the White House. He was influenced by the Jones directed “documentary” The Obama Deception.

Starting the year after that, there was a league of Info Wars followers who harassed and sent death threats to Sandy Hook survivors online, by phone, on the street and at their homes as Jones promoted theories that they were “crisis actors.” That’s how a total of $49.3 million was awarded to Sandy Hook parents this week. And that’s just the beginning. 

He also promoted Pizzagate conspiracy, which led to a raid of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria by Edgar Maddison Welch, armed with an AR-15, in 2016. Like Richard McCaslin, Welch was hoping to save human trafficking victims after watching the Pizzagate theory he saw laid out in an Info Wars video.

The second thing that repeated is Jones’s pattern of attempting to weasel out of responsibility every time he incited someone. It started with McCaslin– when asked to comment on his case, Jones said he thought McCaslin “sounded insane,” yet Dark Secrets not only gave McCaslin a clear motivation, but Jones stands outside the Grove at the end of the doc to tell people driving instructions to get there. And on January 6 (he was there as an organizer) he riled the mob up with his bullhorn, but when the shit hit the fan and people started beating cops to death– you guessed it, he tucked tail and ran.

And now, after years of dodging the court for the many cases surrounding his lawsuits from the Sandy Hook families, Jones is finally cornered. What a circus this week has been! Jones is in his own personal hell– trapped in a courtroom confronted with the truth and little chance to bloviate and spin it like he can on his rambling, 4-hour long daily radio show. He actually has to shut up and listen and his words here have real consequences.

The wildest revelation came this week when the attorneys for Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis revealed that Jones’s defense had mistakenly sent two years of data off his phone, and that this clearly pointed out that Jones is guilty of multiple counts of perjury. Jones tried to file for a mistrial. The judge said “nah.” Now the January 6 Committee is attempting to get access to that data to see how big his role exactly was in the J6 Q d’etat.

The jury awarded the victims $4.1 million, and then an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages.

That’s a good start, but not enough. A billion dollars isn’t enough.

Here’s what I hope. I hope there’s a string of trials that goes on the rest of his life, where he gets sued over and over– 4 million here, 40 million there– by everyone he’s ever slandered and that he slowly loses all of his ill-gotten money. I hope he has to sit there and hear every one of of his victims give testimony about how he stoked his fanbase to terrorize them, and all the terrible things he’s caused.

I hope it’s long and excruciating- but sadly it’ll never, ever be as painful as what those families and other Jones victims had to go through. 

My book American Madness can be found here: American Madness : Feral House

I skipped this column a couple weeks (too busy) so let me plug our last two TWW podcast episodes:
In S5E6 I talked to Milwaukee author, musician and art witch Molly Roberts, author of the new book Art Magick: How to Become an Art Witch and Unlock Your Creative Power plus weird news, trivia, and a track from Molly’s band Tigernite, “Witch”: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep 06: Art Magick with Molly Roberts (podbean.com)

In S5E7 I interviewed Chris Drosner, one of my editors at Milwaukee Magazine and author of the “Beer Baron” column, weird news, trivia, and “League Play, a new track by Rum Revere: Tea’s Weird Week, S5ep07: Weird Beers (podbean.com)

They’re also available on these platforms: Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Tea’s Weird Week: Amberrose Hammond’s New Book Explores Mysterious Michigan

This week on the Tea’s Weird Week podcast, I talked with Michigan researcher and author Amberrose Hammond. As discussed in last week’s TWW column/podcast, I’m co-authoring a project with my friend, travel writer Jenny Sanchez called Paranormal Road Trip. As such, I’m checking out work by authors who have written about local paranormal hot spots you can visit to find out what legendary places need to be included in our guide.

Amberrose is author of Ghosts and Legends of Michigan’s West Coast, Wicked Grand Rapids, and she has a new book coming out titled Mysterious Michigan: The Lonely Ghost of Minnie Quay, the Marvelous Manifestations of Farmer Riley, the Devil in Detroit More. It’s release date is August 29 from the History Press (the same publisher of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore).

I had a great time talking with Amberrose about some haunted locations as well as lore like Detroit’s legend of the Nain Rouge, a devilish imp and omen of disaster, and the urban legend of the Melonheads (which was probably perpetuated by one of Amberrose’s mischievous friends).

If you’re a legend tripping crossing through Michigan or just a fan of storytelling, I recommend checking out Amberrose’s work. You can find a link to the TWW episode below, and be sure to check out Amberrose’s website, which has a pre-order link to her new book: Home | Amberrose Hammond

She also co-hosts the Ghostly Talk podcast, also recommended, which you can find here: Ghostly Talk Radio

Tea’s Weird Week S5, ep05: Amberrose Hammond’s Mysterious Michigan
Tea talks to Amberrose Hammond about her upcoming book, Mysterious Michigan. Tea and Heidi discuss weird news about Ukranian mutant super soldiers and more, trivia and a track from Sunspot’s new album, The Strangest Frequency, “We’ll Be Seeing You Again.”

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep05: Amberrose Hammond’s Mysterious Michigan (podbean.com)
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Tea’s Weird Week: Introducing Paranormal Road Trip

I currently have around 3 books in the development process. I’ll tell you about one of them, cause it’s movin’ along: Paranormal Road Trip, which will be a fun travel guide to haunted locations you can visit, monster museums, and other eerie attractions across the country. This is rare in that this is the first book I am co-authoring with someone else. Jenny Sanchez is a wonderful travel writer from Denver. She works in the travel industry, has her own travel blog/platform (Long Days Travel) and contributes to Atlas Obscura. We met when she visited Milwaukee and we hit it off.

Paranormal Road Trip authors Jenny Sanchez and Tea Krulos at Milwaukee’s famously haunted Pfister Hotel.

We’ve been working on this project for a little bit, so far compiling entries onto shared Google docs, meeting up on Zoom to talk once in awhile. It’s a big project, but we’re working at a slow but steady pace, looking up entries to get all the information, insider tips, and of course the spooky stuff. Jenny’s been working on some Mountain and West Coast states, I’ve been focusing on the Midwest and New England.

It’s a fun project. We’ve got a book proposal, so wish us luck in landing this with the right publisher, so we can get this guide into your hands! We’ll keep you posted.

Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep04: Paranormal Road Trip
I talk with Jenny about her travels this year to Idaho and Saint Louis to visit paranormal hotspots and quirky attractions. Then me and Heidi talk about a flurry of squatchy news– Coyote Peterson finds an alleged sasquatch skull, Oklahoma man says he murdered his Bigfoot controlling fishing partner, a classic Wisconsin sighting and more. Plus trivia and we close out with a track from Pretty Frankenstein, “In Mirrors.”

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep04: Paranormal Road Trip (and Bigfoot news) (podbean.com)
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Tea’s Weird Week: My Favorite Jann Goldberg Quotes

I’m sad to say I lost another friend this year. It’s been a rough one for losing creative, wonderful people. I met Jann Goldberg right at the beginning of working on my second book, Monster Hunters: On the Trail with Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (2015, Chicago Review Press). I was looking for a local ghost investigation team to follow around and found the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee (PIM). I liked everyone I met in that group, but I especially hit it off with Jann. She was really into nerd culture and she was hilarious– easily could have pursued a career in stand up.

I was especially amused by how by how crass and vulgar her humor was. She reminded me of my beloved co-worker Mo ( I wrote about her in my Brady Street Pharmacy book) who made swearing an artform. As such, Jann had some of the most colorful quotes in Monster Hunters. Here’s my favorites.

L-R: Razorhawk, Tea Krulos, Jann Goldberg. Photo by Wendy Schreier Photography.

On her language:

“My sister used to work with me and they used to call us the sailor sisters because of our filthy mouths and shit, but I mean that’s just how we were raised. My mom says ‘God I hate it when people don’t know how to fucking swear,’” she told me, laughing.

Although her feelings on her team later changed, I remember thinking how great this quote was, about being part of a team:

“It’s like a fifteen-hour-a-week job you pay for instead of get money,” Jann told me, letting out a short laugh. “This isn’t a paying job. You travel together, sleep on hotel floors together, you’re eating in crappy restaurants, investigating bat-infested, rat-infested shitholes. In the middle of the night you’re looped up, buzzed on caffeine, talking about your marriage and your kids and all this shit. Honestly, with the exception of my parents and husband, I’m tighter with these guys than anyone else in my family. It’s just…really a different thing.”

This quote was about the trouble the team had when talking to people whose homes had been visited by other investigation teams that would tell them they probably had a case of demons:

“If you’re a group like ours that goes into a place after these groups that have already been there and told all this bullshit and you have a family that’s scared– there was some group that told a family they had a portal to hell in their house—that is shit you have to deal with. And I mean, shame on them for believing it, but you don’t know what someone’s mental condition and for them to go in and say this, it’s like what are you doing?!”

On one of her teammates not being familiar with Yom Kippur:

“Jesus Christ. Haven’t you seen Fiddler on the fucking Roof?” she retorted. “Anti-Semitic, misogynist assholes,” Jann huffed, turning to me. “Be sure to write that down and quote me on it in the book.”

On me joining PIM on one of their investigations of the notoriously haunted Bobby Mackey’s Music World:

“Investigating Bobby Mackey’s this early in your paranormal career is like losing your virginity to Jenna Jameson,” Jann told me shortly before I headed toward Wilder, Kentucky.

When I wrote the epilog to the book, I revisited several people I had written about. But who to give last word to? I decided it had to be Jann. I wrote about her then recent return to Bobby Mackey’s (with a different group) and ended the book with this:

“It was fun this time. That weird thing only happened with my stomach once,” Jann told me. But why would she return again and again to a place where she had such frightening experiences? That was an easy question, she told me.

“To find some fucking answers.”

Tea’s Weird Week S5 ep03: Butterfly Sanctuary Conspiracy Attack

This episode has a short audio clip from one of my interviews with Jann, plus I talked to Eric and Kim Hayden, producers of the American Madness documentary adaptation about their recent trip to shoot interviews at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Who would be insane enough to come up with a theory that this beautiful sanctuary is really a front for drug and child sex trafficking? Oh right, QAnon.

Plus me and my co-host Heidi Erickson talk about the Georgia Guidestones (I’ll also have a column on that next week) and the CERN Large Hadron Collider and the Mandela Effect. There’s also trivia from Miss Information and a banger from Mini Meltdowns, “Super Blue.”
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep03: Butterfly Sanctuary Conspiracy Attack (podbean.com)
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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)

Tea’s Weird Week: Talking with Sinisterhood

As a freelance writer, I’ve worked with several Milwaukee-based publications over the years. Most of the feature writing I do these days is for Milwaukee Magazine— I’ve written something for almost issue this year. I also contribute to the Shepherd Express. Most of the work I do for the Shep currently is event previews. If I see an event or if they cross paths with something in my wheelhouse, I give it a short write-up.

I’m really glad they sent me a press release for the Sinisterhood podcast tour with a stop in Milwaukee (tonight) cause they definitely talk about some of my favorite things: true crime, cults, and the paranormal. The show is hosted by Dallas-based comedians and friends Christie Wallace and Heather McKinney and they are currently on tour, including a stop here in Milwaukee tonight.

I did an interview with Christie and Heather for the Shepherd write-up and also featured the audio in this week’s TWW episode. We talked about their inspirations, weird Dallas, and the famously haunted Pfister Hotel (which they’ll be discussing live tonight).

Sinisterhood is definitely on my listening list now. If you dig Tea’s Weird Week I think you’ll really enjoy the show, too. Check it out at: www.sinisterhood.com

SEE ALSO: I wrote this 2018 article on the Pfister ghosts for Milwaukee Record: “If the ghost shows again, we are all going to fight together”: The Pfister Hotel All-Star Ghost Team (milwaukeerecord.com)

Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep02: Talking with Sinisterhood
In addition to talking with Sinisterhood, me and Heidi discuss weird news like a human tasting burger, CIA cafeteria woes, bird vomit, and more. Plus trivia and the dance track of the summer, “Juice Demon” by Lavish Waste. Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep02: Talking with Sinisterhood (podbean.com)
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Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

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)

Tea’s Weird Week: The TWW podcast is back on for Season 5!

I took a break from this column for the last two weeks– call it a summer break, I guess, I had other stuff to work on. But I’m back on track now and the Tea’s Weird Week podcast is also back for season 5. I’m so glad! Last month I got to see the full podcast crew– my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Andrew (FlatlineAudio138), and trivia master Miss Information at the Oddities & Curiosities Expo.

Fun times– you know we’re happy when we get to check out about of weird shit.

Some of the guests we’ve got scheduled for this season: Christie Wallace and Heather McKinney of the Sinisterhood podcast (they’re doing a live show in Milwaukee July 1!), John Borowski (Serial Killer Culture), Eric and Kim Hayden (American Madness doc), Jenny Sanchez (“Long Days Travel“), Chris Drosner (executive editor at Milwaukee Magazine and “Beer Baron” columnist), and Christopher House (Twisted Dreams Film Fest). I’m glad to say the last four people on that list are collaborating with me on projects– articles, a book, documentaries. That type of stuff.

This season we’re also hoping to get out of the studio and visit some local weird hot spots, plus we’ll have some fun music guests and you can win prize packs by participating in our weekly trivia question.

Our first episode for this season is live now. No special guest for this one– I talk about some of the columns I’ve written during our podcast break, then me and Heidi dive into the mass of weird news: horny Swedish garbage cans, Sarah Palin vs Santa Claus, the Amarillo Dogman, Polish LARPers, and sentient AI, plus trivia and a new track from our sound engineer FlatlineAudio138, “Alien Overdose.”

You can listen here: Tea’s Weird Week S5 ep01: The Wise Owl and the Monster in Human Skin (an AI fable) (podbean.com)
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Thanks for tuning in!

Podcast art by Tim Demeter

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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)

Tea’s Weird Week: Who Said It–Phantom Patriot or Marjorie Taylor Greene?

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.”


ANSWERS!

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

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

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)

Tea’s Weird Week: Jurassic Lark? Are Dinosaur Deniers for Real?

I see there’s another Jurassic Park movie out soon (June 9) to kick off summer blockbuster season, so I thought it was as good a time as any to talk about a special breed of conspiracy theorists sometimes called “dinosaur deniers.” Me and Heidi talked about this on the Tea’s Weird Week podcast after I joined a viral Facebook group called Christians Against Dinosaurs. There were quite a few laughs. The group says that “Big Paleo” is the force of greed that perpetuates the “Dino Lie” to eager “dinophiles” so they can rake in the big money selling phony fossils to museums.

But in scrolling through the group it was really difficult to determine if these people truly held these beliefs or if it was a master class of trolling. And if it was trollcraft, it seemed likely it had inadvertently attracted some people who do believe that dinosaurs never existed.

Their have been legit dinosaur deniers in the past, and the main talking points are either religious– fossils were fakes created by Satan to bolster evolution theories or some such, or are theories cherry picking hoaxes and scientific error.

While working on my book American Madness, Dr. Daniel White of University of Sydney was helpful in explaining the appeal of conspiracy belief. Here’s a quote from him in the book:

“Those ‘selling’ conspiracy theories are better at selling themselves as experts than their mainstream alternatives, as well as what their ‘research’ finds. Science is very self-doubting in its presentation; usually, a finding is put forward as something along the lines of ‘based on our findings we can predicte that the most likely explanation is…however, here are the limitations of our study.'”

Compare that to someone like Alex Jones slamming his fist on a desk screaming about how he has “irrefutable proof” of some “false flag” attack. A lot more confident!

American Madness also took me to the International Flat Earth Conference in Dallas. Although there obviously were some other media types there and maybe a couple of undercover “globehead” (that’s the term for dum dums that believe the world is ball shaped) gawkers, I can say that the majority of the roughly 500 people there were legit Flat Earthers, so dinosaur deniers is not far fetched by comparison.

But there are several examples of conspiracy movement hoaxes. Before the modern wave of Flat Earthers, there was a Canadian group in the 1970s called the Flat Earth Society, based out of Saint Thomas University, a satire group of poets and philosophy students. A more recent example is the Birds Aren’t Real, a group of jokers who say they believe birds are actually government surveillance robots. But these days, things are so fucking nuts, who can tell what is real and what isn’t?!

I read a good article about all this from 2015 titled “Poes, Trolls, and Dinosaur Deniers” for skeptic.com, written by a paleontologist named Dr. Donald Prothero. He warns of Poe’s Law, described in this passage:

This (the Christians Against Dinosaurs group) seems so over the top that it immediately struck me as another example of extreme satire and parody which are so common on the internet. Often referred to as a “Poe,” these satirical pieces are intended to mock the bizarre beliefs of many groups of people from the extreme political and religious fringes. According to RationalWiki, the idea was first coined by Nathan Poe in a 2005 post, and “Poe’s Law” is the “observation that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between parodies of fundamentalism or other extreme views and their genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane.”

He points out solid evidence that the Christian Against Dinosaurs group started, at least, as a joke, with admins tied to other satire sites. Kristin Auclair, who recorded videos for the group talking about dinosaur denial, claims on a post that her videos were “satire,” though like third-rate knock-offs of The Onion, it’s hard to see the satire because of Poe’s Law, which makes it pretty unfunny, in my opinion.

To add to the confusion, Christians Against Dinosaurs encouraged a protest against a Tucson McDonald’s that has a statue of a dinosaur outside it on Tanque Verde Road in August 2020. Someone inside the group encouraged people to call the franchise’s management and a “spokesperson” told the local Patch.com affiliate (one of several local media outlets to pick up the story) that “We’re fed up with everybody acting like the people of Tucson are imbeciles and we want to help.”

This was certainly more trolling, but as Dr. Prothero notes:

We are also in the tricky position demonstrated by all Poes: the crazies out there are so bizarre that it’s often impossible to tell a well-crafted parody from the real thing.

Yes, indeed.

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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)

Tea’s Weird Week: A Tale of Two Chupacabras

There are two types of Chupacabras within you. Let’s discuss.

Well, actually, maybe I should back up. When my book Monster Hunters was released in 2015, I decided to celebrate by creating a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. We needed a snappy logo and I decided on a Chupacabra. But why– Chupacabras has no connection to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, right? It’s legend is found in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, and southern states like Texas and New Mexico.

I’ll tell you why. Chupacabras are 100% certified badass, that’s why. That’s it. Plus artist David Beyer had drawn an incredibly badass Chup for Monster Hunters, for a chapter titled “The Slaying of the Chupacabras,” so we recycled that art into the logo. I wanted to switch up art every year, so subsequent MPC Chup logos were designed by artists Catherine Palmeno (2016), Alex Groh (2017), Tim Demeter (2019- we skipped’18), and Estephanie Mendoza (2021- we had a virtual event in 2020, that year we had a Sasquatch/UFO designed by Margot Lange).

I happen to love the word, story, and imagery of CHUPACABRAS. In fact, I have a long delayed fiction that has a trio of Chupacabras in the storyline. I would love to work on that some day (but it won’t be some day soon).

The first Chupacabras reports can be traced back, specifically, to Puerto Rico (let’s call it Chupacabras puertoricanus). In his book Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore (University of New Mexico Press, 2011), researcher Benjamin Radford lays out a compelling case that the original Chupacabra case stems from a Puerto Rican woman who had just seen the movie Species (1995) and shortly after claimed to have seen a similar creature on her property. Like the creature in Species (which was designed by the great artist H.R. Giger), this monster was described is looking somewhat like a hunched over Grey alien with rows of long spines on it’s back; later depictions also included bat-like wings and fangs.

A Chupacabra sketch based on the first eyewitness account in Puerto Rico,

The news grew bat wings on the island and soon people were talking about US experiments gone wrong and the creature was blamed for reports of livestock allegedly found drained of their blood. Chupacabras translates to “goat-sucker.” As my TWW podcast co-host Heidi likes to say: “Chupacabras: they really get your goat.”

The second style of Chup comes from the Mexico-US border area (Chupacabras texmexus) some years later. These reports, it was quickly determined, were not of supernatural creatures, but rather of poor dogs, foxes, and coyotes suffering from bad cases of mange. Mange causes animals to lose their fur. Imagine driving under the moonlight on a rural road and your headlights happen upon this poor devil lurking on the side of the road:

A “Chupacabra” spotted on a golf course in South Carolina. The poor critter is a fox or coyote with mange.

The southern Chupacabra has taken on a life as it’s own and sometimes you’ll see a crossbreed of the two– a canine-like animal with spines down the back and extra-terrestrial black eyes. Ah, the life of a Chupacabra breeder.

So now, as we begin planning stages of Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2022, I asked artist Jill Zgorzelski to design this year’s logo. She asked if I was looking for the Puerto Rican or Southern version, and although our previous artists have gone with the Puerto Rican, I told her either is acceptable, because we need to let all Chupacabras into our hearts and minds. She’s going for the Southern fried version and I know she’ll do something great.

SEE ALSO: My book Monster Hunters is still available here: Monster Hunters | Chicago Review Press

Keep an eye out for the new art and Milwaukee Paranormal Conference updates on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Check out Jill Zgorzelski’s art page here: Jill C. Zgorzelski | Facebook

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

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)

Tea’s Weird Week: “The Superhero Complex” Podcast Examines the Phoenix Jones Story

It’s been almost ten years since my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real-life Superhero Movement (2013, Chicago Review Press) was published. Writing that remains one of the great adventures of my life. For years I worked my day job(s) and spent many nights on patrol with people who had adopted their own homemade superhero personas, a secretive subculture of Real Life Superheroes (RLSH). I went out on patrol or participated in RLSH events in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, New Bedford, Vancouver, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle. More on that last city in a moment.

During that process I met several people that I still consider to be friends today. I also learned how to write a book and a lot about the writing process in general. After many rejections from agents and publishers, I sold the book to Chicago Review Press in 2012. Since then, I’ve had five more books published. My book American Madness, which I think is my best, also spun out of this work (though it went in a very different direction). I’m currently working on what I hope will be books 7 and 8.

One of the most memorable moments of working on Heroes was a rather terrifying night I spent following RLSH Phoenix Jones in Seattle. I wrote two chapters about him: “Mr. Jones and Me” and “People Fighting and Pepper Spray and Superheroes and…I Don’t Know,” the last title a quote from someone on the phone with 911. Phoenix Jones, who claims he is a “perfect crimefighter” doesn’t like me, because when I described the “Pepper Spray Incident,” the total shitshow of him attempting to break up a fight (alluded to in that chapter title), he became upset that it wasn’t a flattering portrayal. I only wrote what I observed firsthand (though through a cloud of pepper spray, of course.) As I mentioned– it was a terrifying night. There were a couple moments that night where I thought my goose was cooked.

Now, a new podcast, The Superhero Complex, reported by David Weinberg (and produced by Novel for iHeartRadio) delves deep into the Phoenix Jones story. It’s highly recommended by me. In Heroes I largely just shared my experiences being out on patrol with Jones, but David digs into his past (Jones is an amazing bowler, it turns out), documents the falling out with his team, his arrests, and his misadventures in the years beyond when Heroes was published, so I learned a lot listening to it. It’s revelations about Phoenix Jones are interesting and, many times, disturbing.

The Superhero Complex has got a great mix of people weighing in on the Seattle story and this unusual subculture I was engrained in for many years– and still have some contact with.

I was interviewed for the podcast and am featured in a couple episodes so far. In episode one, “Out of the Shadows,” I talk briefly about the Bald Knobbers, a masked vigilante gang in the Ozarks from the late 1800s. The Knobbers started by hanging livestock thieves, but devolved into doling out punishment to unmarried couples living together and whipping people accused of “being ornery.” In episode four, “Under the Spotlight” I talk about the infamous “Pepper Spray Incident.”

The first episodes are out and you can listen to it here: www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-the-superhero-complex-94326228

Tea Krulos with Phoenix Jones on the streets of Seattle, October 2011. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

SEE ALSO: Heroes in the Night: Inside the Superhero Movement is still available here: www.ipgbook.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

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)