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Tea’s Weird Week: Q D’ETAT! (And the Top Ten Frightening Conspiracy Theory Stories of 2020)

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I’ve spent years studying the dangers of conspiracy theory. It all started when I was contacted by a man named Richard McCaslin, who told me about his raid on a secret society retreat called the Bohemian Grove, dressed as his own superhero persona, the Phantom Patriot. Meeting Richard led me through the strange and often terrible world of Conspiracyland, documented in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness. At this time, conspiracy theorists were often lone wolfs. That’s evolved in recent years into conspiracy cult thinking– what we saw on January 6 at the Capitol, the event I refer to as the “Q d’etat,” was a full on army of conspiracy theorists.

As I was glued to my TV in shock, I thought about Richard, who is no longer with us. If he was, would we have seen him dressed in his Phantom Patriot costume marching through a haze of tear gas in the halls of the Capitol building with the rest of them? Perhaps. Even after years of interviewing him, I found Richard’s thinking unpredictable at times. I think he would have liked the idea of a “patriot revolution” raiding the Capitol, but then again Richard clearly wrote in his last testament that he was no fan of Trump, who he thought was a Reptilian alien, and he viewed QAnon as a government manufactured “psy-op” program. Richard was so deep in the bottomless rabbit hole that the conspiracies had conspiracies.

Despite the ridiculous theories that this violence was caused by hundreds of Antifa disguised in MAGA gear, anyone can see that this was the work of Trump’s cult, QAnon, and his street gangs like the Proud Boys, other Alt-Right, white supremacists, neo-confederates, and militia groups. The first person to breach the Capitol was a guy in a Q t-shirt. The guy we’re all sick of seeing, Jake Angeli, wearing a buffalo horn headdress, no shirt, and star-spangled facepaint, called himself the “QAnon Shaman.”

After the Q army was cleared, authorities found pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, guns, a noose hanging from gallows on the scene. Plans included hanging Mike Pence, assassinating Nancy Pelosi, and kidnapping members of Congress (some even carried flex cuffs to help capture hostages).

5 people died. Ashli Babbitt was an Air Force vet and QAnon believer who had tweeted she was going to be part of “the Storm”– QAnon lingo for a revolution. She said “nothing will stop us,” but was shot as she tried to climb through a doorway in the Capitol. Rosanne Boyland, another QAnon follower, was in the crowd waving the Gadsen “don’t tread on me” flag, but was trampled to death in the crowd. Benjamin Phillips told a reporter that the event “feels like the first day of the rest of our live,” but died of a stroke. And the death of Kevin Greeson was said to have been caused by him falling while trying to steal a painting, his taser landing in his crotch, zapping him until he had a heart attack. The truth of that story is disputed, but it will live on as part of Q d’etat lore.

Lastly, Officer Brian Sicknick died fro his injuries after the crowd beat him with a fire extinguisher. 60 some other officers were injured, proving that this crowd doesn’t care so much about “blue lives” as they do about disparaging black ones.

How did the hell did we get here? I think the first problem to look at is the growing conspiracy violence over the last year. The sad thing about writing this column was that finding ten stories to write about was not difficult at all. Any one of these stories should be frightening and disturbing. But taken together as a whole, it points to conspiracy theory being an out-of-control public health emergency, a problem that has continued to grow and escalated into the Q d’etat and the potential threats we are being warned about that could unfold over the next week. The FBI reports that extremists like the Boogaloo movement are planning violence surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Photo via the BBC.

Here are 10 stories of conspiracy violence that I followed in 2020 that paved the path to the Capitol insurrection.

1.) Trump’s normalization of conspiracy theory: The seeds of the scene we saw at the Capitol January 6 began with Trump making conspiracy part of his everyday language. He popularized phrases ripe with conspiracy like “witch hunt,” “fake news,” “hoax,” “Obamagate,” and “election fraud.” He gave a platform to conspiracy theorists and outlets and promoted conspiracy ideas from the ridiculous, trivial ones that bugged his ego (“energy efficient bulbs make my skin look orange”) to the ones that ended in bloodshed (“mass election fraud stole the election from me.”)
See more: “Firehose of Falsehood: An Autopsy of Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency (and Why It Will Haunt Us Moving Forward

2.) Crazy Train: Not an April Fool’s– on April 1 a man named Eduardo Moreno, a locomotive engineer, hijacked a train and derailed it in Los Angeles. His plan was to jump the train at the end of the tracks and crash it into the USNS Mercy hospital ship, which had recently arrived to help with overflow COVID patients. Moreno thought the ship was part of a New World Order police state takeover. He told authorities his goal was to “wake people up,” and said “you only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
See more: “Conspiracy Theory Trainwreck.”

A literal conspiracy trainwreck in Los Angeles, April 1, 2020.


3.) 5G Arsons: Conspiracies about 5G internet range from cancer and other illness from “5G radiation” to it being the cause or exacerbating COVID to government mind control programs. This has led to a string of arsons across Europe, burning down 5G towers (and towers misidentified as 5G ones) and internet service workers being harassed in the streets. Between spring and summer of 2020, there were hundreds of cell tower arsons in the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Canada, as well as in the U.S., where there was an arson in Oregon and a wave of damaged or disabled towers in Tennessee.

4.) Q Goes to Congress: QAnon has emerged as the biggest conspiracy threat we face, as evidenced by the Q d’etat. Leading up to that have been several stories of QAnon believers kidnapping or running people off the roads because they suspect they are “pedophiles.” All this makes it even more disturbing that Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon follower, was elected to Congress to represent Georgia. Her collegue, Lauren Boebert (of Colorado) has also played with QAnon ideas.

In her short time in office, Rep. Greene has already had an incredibly stupid career– she caused a shouting match in the first hour of her first day on the job for not wearing a mask on the floor; on her second day she said Georgia’s election results needed to be overturned…but just the presidential ones, you know, not the ones that elected her on the same Georgia ballot. Her most recent antic is announcing that she will be introducing articles of impeachment against Joe Biden… on January 21, his first full day in office. Good grief.

Rep. Boebert is facing calls to resign for both inciting the crowd (among other things, she tweeted out “This is 1776!”) and revealing that Speaker Pelosi had been removed from the chambers during the insurrection, seen as tipping off those who were looking to kidnap or assassinate her. Almost 100 candidates with QAnon beliefs ran for office in 2020.
See more: “Well, it Happened: Meet Your First QAnon Congressional Representative.”

QAnon conspiracy promoter and House rep Marjorie Greene of Georgia.

5.) Stupid Bay of Pigs: I think this May 4 story got glossed over in the craziness of spring 2020, but Operation: Gideon, or as it was soon nicknamed, “Stupid Bay of Pigs,” was an attempt by a private American company, Silvercorp USA, to send a team of American mercenaries and Venezuelan dissidents to overthrow the government of Venezuela. They hoped to be hailed as heroes and make some pretty sweet reward money.

They thought they could pull this off with 60 people. Needless to say everything went incredibly wrong and when the two fiberglass boats full of mercenaries arrived, 8 were shot dead and 17 captured while the rest scrambled their escape. One of the two Americans who led the way, was, you guessed it, into QAnon.

6.) Election Fraud Cop: The number one source amplifying election fraud conspiracies is of course Trump himself. Here’s just one example of where that rhetoric has led– in October, an ex-cop in Houston named Mark Aguirre decided he would become a detective vigilante, hunting down fraudulent ballots.

He began tailing what he viewed as a suspicious van for several days and became convinced that it was full of thousands of fake ballots. He eventually ran this vehicle off the road and pulled a gun on the driver, but when he opened the doors, he discovered…tools and spare parts for the man’s air-conditioning repair service. He’s an ex-cop for a reason. In 2002 he led a botched raid on a K-Mart parking lot, arresting 278 people, accusing them of being part of a street racing ring. The arrests led to millions of dollars in lawsuits for the city and Officer Aguirre was fired.

7.) Wolverine Watchmen: A gang of militia domestic terrorists calling themselves the Wolverine Watchmen actively plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. They went so far as to stake out Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home and made a plan to bring her to Wisconsin to placed under their own “trial.” Other ideas included storming the Michigan Capitol to take hostages, much like we saw attempted at the Q d’etat, and blowing up a bridge to distract law enforcement. Multiple members shared links to InfoWars, QAnon, and pandemic conspiracy theories on their social media.
See more: “A Militia of Phantom Patriots.”

8.) Anti-maskers: I’m just going to put this here. I regret to inform you this is just one of many dozens and dozens of terrible examples:


9.) The Nashville Christmas Bomber: As the details have been rolling in, we see a portrait of Anthony Quinn Warner, the suicide bomber who detonated an RV full of explosives in downtown Nashville as a conspiracy theorists who believed in Reptilian aliens, among other beliefs. It’s unclear what his exact motivation was or if his target was the AT&T center he parked next to, but his conspiracy believers are at least part of his mindset.

See more: “Nashville Bomber was a Conspiracy Believer, Reptilian ‘Hunter’

10.) COVID Anti-vaxxers: A story close to home, here– a pharmacist at a health center in Grafton, Steven Bradenburg, pulled the equivalent of about 570 COVID vaccine doses out of their refrigerated storage to purposely ruin them, because he believed the vaccines were dangerous and could alter human DNA. It’s clear from his divorce proceedings that he had taken a scary turn into doomsday prepping, believing the government has a plan to shut down the power grid to create an apocalyptic police state. This story is still unfolding, but it leads me to what I think the biggest conspiracy threats of 2021 are.

One, I think we’ll see more stories like the Q d’etat and the Wolverine Watchmen kidnapping plot. All of these Trump QAnon/Alt-Right/Militia/White Supremacists aren’t disappearing on January 20 and in fact, many will consider themselves to be at war with the Biden administration. Two, much like the Bradenburg cases, there’s going to be lots of anti-vaxx issues with the COVID vaccine. We finally got the cure, but will people skip it because they believe they’ll turn into a crocodile or be microchipped by Bill Gates? Will it continue to be sabotaged by anti-vaxxers? Is our country just too dumb and selfish to get past a pandemic?

We’ll see. I hope I’m wrong. Please be safe out there!


Please Clap Dept: Thanks to Emily McFarlan Miller, who did a great interview with me about American Madness and conspiracy threats for Religion News Service: “Conspiracy theories and the ‘American Madness’ that gripped the Capitol.”

I’m happy to present episode 1 of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast! I talk more about the ideas in this column, then me and Heidi Erickson review weird news about monoliths, killer squirrels, black holes, state dinosaurs, and the fate of the Hall of President’s Trumpbot. There’s also trivia by Quizmaster Miss Information, plus a new track by Sunspot, “Hold on for Your Life.” Original music and sound editing by Android138.

Listen here: teasweirdweek.podbean.com/e/teas-weird-week-episode-01-q-detat

Buy my books:
American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (e-book): https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1
Wisconsin Legends & Lore: www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Tea’s Weird Week: Big in 2021

What a crazy year it’s been, right?! I’m talking about 2021. Well, Tea’s Weird Week is back to take on this new year! As I get this column up and running again, I got a few things I’d like to share:

New art! A round of applause please for the beautiful new columnhead art by Addo Workman of Cut-it-Out Studios. I decided to switch out columnhead art every year, so Addo’s follows 2019’s design by my sister, Margot Lange, and 2020’s design by J.Jason Groschopf (you can see a version of that as the website banner). I love Addo’s cut paper style and it does look like a situation I’d get myself into! Check out Addo’s site here: www.cutitoutstudios.com

New! Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group and…PODCAST: One of my great joys of social media has been the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group, which I started a month or two ago. It’s become a clearinghouse of weird news, memes, music, pictures, monolith sightings, and more. It’s been great fun– we had a 2020 haiku contest, gave our 420th member the group nickname “Chronic the Hemphog” and voted on whether Anna should spend the night in a haunted hotel. Join the group HERE. I’m also glad to say a Tea’s Weird Week podcast is in production and will premiere in this column next week– I’ll save the details for then.

While You Were Gone: I’ve been devoted to conspiracy theory study (the theme of my latest book, American Madness), and several significant conspiracy theory stories unfolded while Tea’s Weird Week was on vacation, most notably the Nashville Bomber and the man who purposely destroyed COVID vaccines here in Wisconsin– both confirmed conspiracy believers.

And then there was what I’m dubbing the “Q d’etat,” the conspiracy mob raid on the Capitol building yesterday. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this, but as Vice reports “QAnon Led the Storming of the US Capitol.” This is all disturbing, crazy, frightening and I’ll be writing and talking about this on the podcast in more detail next week.

Kevin Spacey’s Murder Holiday Message: My very first column of 2020 was titled “Have a Happy Murder Holiday with Kevin Spacey,” in which I wrote about Spacey’s eerie tradition of recording a short, threatening holiday message in character as Frank Underwood from House of Cards for two Christmas Eves in a row. The big question was, would he return Christmas Eve 2020? Yes, he did. This year he changed it up, though, delivering a message about suicide prevention rather than he usual weird vague murder threats. Huh.

What I’m working on in 2021: 2020 was a development year for me, where I explored different book ideas. I came up with four ideas and one has been scrapped for parts, one back-burnered, one is in further development, and one is a go. The project in further development is one that I think I can do well with and will be very much in line with the previous books I’ve written. Sorry to be vague, but I don’t like to say anything until it’s officially signed up.

There is one writing project I can announce, though. (Working title) Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches will be out in 2022 from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. It’s a collection of short stories about a greasy spoon/pharmacy I worked at in my youth, stories about the regulars and my co-workers, along with some sketches I did while at work. I’m really happy with it and wrapping up the writing this month.

Please Clap Dept.: If you want to catch up on this column, the Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review e-book collects my columns from last year, available for $2.99/ free on Kindle Unlimited here: https://www.amazon.com/Teas-Weird-Week-2020-Review-ebook/dp/B08SGL97YJ/ref=sr_1_1 It’s on Goodreads HERE.

Over the holiday break, I was guest on two great podcasts. The Fantastic Story Society was a fun talk about the writing process: fantastic.libsyn.com/fantastic-story-society-ep-13-tea-krulos-richard-mccaslins-american-madness-the-dark-side-of-conspiracy-theory
And dear me, Deep Cuts did a 3-hour long podcast on Richard McCaslin/ American Madness!podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/phantom-patriot-deep-state-superhero/id1501739859?i=1000503306882

Thanks for joining me on the Tea’s Weird Week platforms in 2021. To quote Kevin Spacey, I’m dead serious.

Buy my books:
American Madness: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Wisconsin Legends & Lore: www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Nashville Bomber was a Conspiracy Believer, Reptilian “Hunter”

By Tea Krulos

In my book American Madness, I tell the story of Richard McCaslin who, after watching a documentary by Alex Jones (InfoWars), is inspired to adopt a superhero conspiracy commando persona, the Phantom Patriot, and raid a secret retreat called the Bohemian Grove. He was arrested and spent over six years in prison. Richard first contacted me when he was still on parole and we communicated his preferred way for the first year or so– good old fashioned letter writing. When I opened my second letter from Richard, I remember my eyeballs being overwhelmed because he had written out the key points of his beliefs about Reptilian aliens (you can find a scan of some pages of this letter at the end of this post). What the hell was this guy talking about?

The Reptilian theory suggests that a race of cold-blooded, shape-shifting lizard people has infiltrated the human race and that many of our world leaders are Reptilians in disguise. The father of this theory and it’s major proponent is British conspiracist David Icke. After he was released from prison, Richard became a devote follower of Icke, attending one of his 9-hour long lectures and reading his hefty volumes of conspiracy rants. When Richard took his own life, he left behind a document, outlining 21 final points he wanted to make. Much of it was calling out people he felt had wronged him or our society in general, but one of the few people he mentioned in a positive light was David Icke. As I detail in a chapter of American Madness titled “Reptoid Royalty,” Icke’s teachings were so profound to Richard that he abandoned his religious beliefs and he began to view the world as a place overrun by Reptilians.

Richard McCaslin protesting outside the White House as his character “Thoughtcrime” in 2011. Richard believed Obama as well as other presidents and world leaders were Reptilian aliens.

As details began to emerge about Anthony Quinn Warner, the suicide bomber who blew up an RV in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning, I immediately began to see things that reminded me of Richard McCaslin:

-Reptilians. Investigators found that Warner, who ran an IT service installing alarm systems, had “paranoia over 5G technology” and that “they also found writings that contained ramblings about assorted conspiracy theories, including the idea of shape-shifting reptilian creatures that appear in human form and attempt world domination.” It is also reported that Warner “hunted” extra-terrestrials in a nearby state park. Imagine going for an evening walk and encountering that guy with a shotgun and a net!

-Richard and Warner were unmarried, childless, loners, but described by people who encountered them as friendly, polite, helpful. Richard had no prior criminal record. Warner only had a marijuana charge from 1978.

-Both had recently lost family and had family troubles. Richard, an only child, had lost both his parents and then had an ugly dispute with his aunts and cousins over inheritance money before his Bohemian Grove raid. Warner had lost his father in 2011 (who was an employee of BellSouth, which merged with AT&T, so there’s another possible motive) and a brother and reportedly had a property dispute with his mother.

-Richard and Warner both had romantic failings. Warner had a girlfriend as of last year, who called police on him in August 2019 to tell them he was building bombs in his RV. The police subsequently told the FBI, and it appears both agencies let the threat slip by them.

-Unlike other acts of domestic terrorism, Richard and Warner didn’t have the goal of killing people like the Oklahoma City bombers or a mass shooter– the body count between the two of them is zero. Richard was hoping to free victims slated to be sacrificed in a ritual (Edgar Maddison Welch, the Pizzagate believer, raided a Washington DC pizzeria with a similar intent). Warner had a loudspeaker in his RV that warned people to evacuate the area, then gave a countdown, creepily interspersed with Petula Clark’s song “Downtown,” where she sings about how feelings of loneliness can be cured with a visit to the heart of the city where “things will be great.” His RV explosion significantly damaged an entire block of downtown Nashville and was heard for miles.

I think both Richard and Warner wanted a dramatic exit. You can read more about Richard’s death in American Madness, where you’ll find he was determined to send a last protest message. And Warner obviously wanted his horrifying death to be a spectacle, too. Just a few days before Christmas, a neighbor saw him at his mailbox and asked him if Santa was going to bring him anything good for Christmas.

“Oh yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me,” Warner replied. Days later, the shocked neighbor said he was “speechless” when he saw the new meaning to Warner’s words, a man the neighbor said was “quiet” and “raised no red flags.”

We don’t know for sure what Warner’s goal was, yet– he may have simply wanted attention by blowing himself up Christmas morning. But the fact that he parked his RV in front of an AT&T center mixed with his conspiracy beliefs makes it likely he had some kind of 5G theories. These conspiracies vary, but most say that 5G radiation causes sickness, cancer, and either causes or exacerbates COVID-19. Warner reportedly gave his car away to someone, telling them he had cancer. Maybe he blamed his exposure to 5G as an IT person? Other theories say it’s being used as a mind control weapon. Here again we encounter David Icke, who has promoted these theories, including on an appearance on the show London Real, which was viewed millions of times before being pulled by most platforms. All this has led to a string of 5G tower arson caused by conspiracy theorists across Europe.

I’m sad to say that this is the type of story we’re going to continue to see. Many conspiracy believers like QAnon and the followers of InfoWars are rallying and believe they are now at war with the Biden administration. We will see more Reptilian Hunters, Phantom Patriots, Wolverine Watchmen, QAnon Warriors, and election fraud conspiracy vigilantes. Conspiracy theory sounds goofy, but we’re seeing the dangerous consequences of it’s viral spread.

UPDATE Jan.2, 2021: Letters that Warner sent before his suicide bombing are now being received by people he knew. They are apparently filled with conspiracy, talking about 9/11, the moon landing, Reptilians, and question reality itself. Source: “Nashville bomber’s bizarre writings reveal belief in aliens and lizard people,” NewsChannel 5 Nashville

The following is three pages from the second letter I received from Richard McCaslin, dated Oct.25, 2010, in which he tries to explain the “Reptilian agenda” to me, based on the theories of David Icke. Here Richard writes “it’s going to get ‘weird’; but just bear with me.”

My book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Feral House) is available now:
Lion’s Tooth: www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
Quimby’s: www.quimbys.com/store/9655
Bookshop.org: bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Amazon: www.amazon.com/American-Madness-Conspiracy-Theories-Consciousness/dp/1627310967/

Tea’s Weird Week: Happy Trails

I’m not rich or famous (infamous, maybe), not really an amazing or even stable person. But one thing I’m very happy about– I’ve met a lot of interesting people in my life. I’ve freelanced hundreds of articles about musicians, artists, comedians, business owners, roller derby skaters, activists, and many other interesting people. I’ve penned 5 books now, most which have delved into social movements and subcultures and were based on interviews and getting “out in the field.” I’ve also met people through events I’ve organized, day jobs, and just “hanging out” in person and on the Internet. Some people have been friends for many years, others have joined me for a brief chapter of my life. I appreciate you.

Over the years, many people I considered friends have passed on, all gone too soon. It is harsh and sad when this happens. For my last column of the year, I just want to remember some really cool people I had the honor of meeting who passed on in 2020.

Scott Wolter

As Milwaukee Krampusnacht, a celebration of the tradition of Krampus got started in 2017, Scott (aka the Chicago Krampus) was one of the first to sign up. He was a great advocate and ambassador for the event and got several of his friends involved. I was immediately impressed with his amazing Krampus costume and his energy for the event. After talking with him I knew Krampusnacht would not just be a fun party, but a special cultural celebration.

Scott Wolter in his Krampus costume.

Scott told me he was excited that the Krampus tradition would carry on to a new generation and as such he was perfect to talk at our Kid’s Krampus Hour in 2018 and 2019. He told a room full of kids about the Krampus tradition while they worked on their own Krampus craft masks, then equally entertained adults as he crept around and posed for pictures.

He will be missed and remembered, always, but especially on December 5.

Scott’s personality naturally drew the camera to him and I think he’s the heart of the story in a nice segment Outdoor Wisconsin did on Milwaukee Krampusnacht:

Dale Pople aka “Superhero

He was as colorful and bold as a comic book and he had a hobby that matched– trying to help people out. I met Dale while working on my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement. Dale lived in Clearwater, Florida (I met him in San Diego) where he was a familiar sight driving around in his bright red Supermobile. He was dedicated to lending a helping hand, but his internal struggles became too much and he took his life. It was a terrible shock to the Real-life Superhero (RLSH) community, where he was seen as one of the best and a mentor.

Dale Pople aka Superhero.

You can read a longer obituary I wrote on Dale here: “Death of a Superhero

Richard McCaslin aka the “Phantom Patriot

Richard died in 2018, but he was very much on my mind this year, for two reasons– my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness was released this year after many years of work. It tells Richard’s life story, a tale of comic book superheroes and conspiracy theory, from beginning to tragic end.

Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, protesting in Las Vegas.

The second reason is 2020 has been an incredible, out-of-control period of conspiracy theory. A lot of people and ideas Richard told me about that seemed fringe and obscure are now part of our national conversation, discussed daily in the media. 2020 has been Richard’s year and I’ve often wondered what he would have made of all this.

You can read about Richard in American Madness and in a obituary I wrote here: “Richard McCaslin: An Obituary.”

Jason Cleereman

Jason was someone who was a part of a former life of mine. I worked as a cashier at the Brady Street Pharmacy for about ten years (roughly 2000-2009) and saw Jason often– he was regular who was usually in for lunch or to have coffee with a client. He worked as an immigration attorney.

Jason Cleereman at the Southside Organizing Center with his wife (right) and a friend.

During this time, I got a divorce. It was emotionally painful, as you can imagine, and one day Jason pulled me aside and told me he would help me file the paperwork and join me in court for free, all I had to do was pay the filing fees. He really helped me deal with something I didn’t want to deal with.

I’m not telling this story to make you think I’m special, in fact the point is the opposite– Jason did this sort of thing all the time. He worked pro bono or charged way below a normal fee to help people who were struggling.

He was shot in September in a road rage type of incident, which is terrifying and tragic as he leaves behind a wife and two kids. Edgar Mendez wrote an article on Jason for Urban Milwaukee which quotes an economics professor, Luz Sosa, who Jason helped gain citizenship and she says it best:
“He was a citizen of the world and helped everyone regardless of color, religion, or creed.”

We sure could use a lot more of that. What a terrible loss.

Sarah Kozar & Paul Setser

Sarah Kozar and Paul Setser were well known in Milwaukee’s music scene. I first encountered Sarah, the Accordion Queen of Milwaukee, when I was asked to draw a flyer for a benefit show she was headlining with her group Sixty Watt Sarah. I didn’t know what a Sixty Watt Sarah was and what to draw, so I went with a robot playing a ukulele while a mad scientist danced a Highland fling in the background. Later, I would meet Sarah and I have found memories of having beers with her a couple times at a bar called Riverhorse. She was fun and radiant.

Sarah Kozar, center, and Paul Setzer, right, both rocking accordions with the Riverwest Accordion Club.

I encountered Paul many times, starting in the late 90s. I first met him when we both had shows on Milwaukee’s pirate radio station, the Wireless Virus. My show had several names, but my favorite was “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” For awhile my show was directly before or after Paul’s show. I wrote an article on Danny Price & the Loose Change, one of many bands Setser had been in over the years for the Shepherd Express way back in 2008, sitting in on one of their practice sessions at Setser’s house. I think I quoted him in an article I wrote on Circle A, where he did sound, door, DJed, and performed. In addition to Circle A, I also saw him frequently at the Brady Street Pharmacy when I worked there, he was often in to get coffee and food at the counter, writing out set lists and other notes.

My friend Ellen C. Warren wrote a nice profile on Paul for the Riverwest Currents neighborhood newspaper in 2018. You can read it here: riverwestcurrents.org/2018/04/neighbor-spotlight-april-2018-paul-setser.html

On November 28, there was a funeral march in memory of Paul, Sarah, and a musician named Dave Bolyard (who I never had the opportunity to meet). It started at Quarter’s, where Paul worked and organized shows and walked to the Circle A. In true Riverwest fashion, the crowd of 100-200 people just took over the street, as musicians played on.

As I walked with the crowd, I thought about all the people I’ve known over the years that have died and about all the deaths this year from COVID. I thought about all the people who marched in the streets this year demanding change. 2020 has been a hell of a year.

Rest in peace, my friends. I’m so glad I got a chance to meet you. You will not be forgotten.

This is my last column for 2020. The column will return January 8, 2021. Happy holidays and thanks for reading my words in this extra weird and sometimes terrible year. Happy trails!

You can support me and get a holiday gift for your beloved weirdos by buying my books. You can get a signed copy of my book American Madness from Lion’s Tooth: lionstoothmke.square.site/product/American_Madness_product/623
Signed copies of my other 4 books can be found on the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Square store (scroll down to the “Tea’s Weird Week Gift Shop” section): milwaukee-para-con.square.site

Tea’s Weird Week: Trump’s Loser Christmas Carol (a Holiday Story for 2020)

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When I was a kid, I loved to play Mad Libs. When my parents would take me on a road trip I’d ask for nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc., and fill in the blanks. I also have a great memory of playing a game called The Merry Game of Fibber McGee and the Wistful Vista Mystery. Fibber McGee and Molly were a comedy duo with a popular radio show broadcast out of Chicago and this game with their namesake was published in 1940. I’m not sure where my parents got it, possibly from one of my grandparents or from a thrift store or rummage sale. I have fond memories of sitting at the kitchen table playing the game and laughing hysterically– there was a story in a booklet and you’d draw cards with random funny phrases on it to complete the sentences.

Both Mad Libs and the Fibber McGee game showed me how wonderfully fun, weird, and inappropriate words can be.

And so, when thinking of writing a special Tea’s Weird Week Christmas story, I decided to write a parody of A Christmas Carol with Mad Libs-style blanks. I posted my categories of word needs– some broad like “random noun,” other specific like “ridiculous word that starts with a G” to the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group, and the members delivered. The blanks they filled in are in bold— sometimes answers paired well with each other and I used two or more. I think this story is both a great play on a Christmas classic and the ridiculousness of the Trump administration. This was really a lot of fun, and I hope this becomes a Tea’s Weird Week tradition. There has been a lot of heavy news this year, so being able to cut loose with some stupid good fun was a great way to begin a wrap on my 2020 writing (next week’s column is my last until January.)

Oh, and a warning– this story contains profanity. Lots of strange, strange profanity.

Trump’s Loser Christmas Carol

The scene is a snowy Christmas Eve in Washington DC, in the year 2020. Trump, as usual, is sitting in the Oval Office, retweeting every conspiracy theory he can find. But what follows next will be a Christmas story for our times.

Act I

“Stephen, come in here as fast as a narwhal with it’s ankle on fire,” Donald Trump called out to the hallway outside the oval office. 
“You wanted to see me, sir?” Stephen Miller said, peeking into the doorway.
“Stephen, how many times have I told you, take off that ass wipe mask, you rat bastard.”
“Yes sir, Mr.Trump,” Miller said, removing his Klan hood. 
“Now what do you think of my Christmas Eve tweet– Merry-We-Won-The-War-On-Christmas, to all my favorite lemmings!” Trump said, waving his hands like a slow loris playing a glockenspiel
“What happened to my slogan idea, ‘Happy Buttplug Day, buddy?’” Miller pouted.
“Stephen, does it look like I have a broccoli tapdancing on my head? That’s the worst idea I ever heard. You’re fired! Get out and take this dollhouse with you, Trump said, pointing at the object on his desk. 
Miller hung his head. “Yes sir,” he said as he headed out the door. 

Macaroni head! Well, I’ll be greased n’ fried,” Trump growled. “I’m surrounded by a clown car of shit-flinging monkeys.”

Trump got up and walked down the hall toward the residency, admiring Melania’s decorations. This year she had really outdone herself, hanging roosters and lasers upside-down from the ceiling, stringing toilets and stethoscopes on the wall, while statues of Bruce Wayne holding Uranus frolicked in a fountain of pus. Beautiful!

“Finally, just me and FOX,” Trump said as he sat down in front of the TV with a big bowl of fried lutefisk and limberger cheese smothered in a garbage water sauce. 

“Good evening, it’s me, Sean Hannity, a man with the face of a flea, who is secretly a waterfall in disguise,” Hannity told the camera as the TV clicked on. “Later we’re going to talk about the radical left’s new plan to let smartwatches marry virgins, but first we’re getting a report that the Ghost of Richard Nixon claims President Trump will be visited by 3 ghosts this evening. Jerk faces! Ooh, that scares me more than a poopy pants meanie.”

Trump whipped out his phone and immediately began a tweet: “Ghosts? Sounds like a bunch of thumb-head losers! Go haunt someone else! Sad!” He suddenly felt a wave of post-COVID tiredness flow over him, so he leaned his head back, gently humming “WAP” by Cardi B (feat. Megan thee Stallion) as he drifted into sleep.

Act II

Trump felt a cold chill and blinked awake, squinting his eyes at an apparition floating in front of him. “Herman Cain, is that you? I thought you croaked off from that China flu!” 

“Truuuump. I’m here to warn you about your ways!” The Ghost of Cain moaned, shaking the soups and witches chained around him. 
“Bah, chucklefuck! You are a fake ghost, you know that?” Trump said angrily. “You may be an undigested bit of chocolate malt, a blot of chalupa, a crumb of chicken fries, a fragment of underdone McRibs. There’s more of secret sauce than grave about you, you hooplehead.”
“Wow, that’s maybe the most literary thing you’ve said in years,” Cain muttered. “Follow me, Trump so I can take you back through history…all the way back to March.” 

Trump felt himself tumbling through a void, ass over tit, and he screamed “fuckstick!” until he landed with a thud on his feet, standing next to the Ghost of Cain. 

“You loser ghost, we’re in the Oval Office! We could’ve just walked down the hall!” 
“Ah, but we also traveled through time,” Ghost of Cain said, holding up a finger peevishly. 
“Oh yeah, there’s past me! Hey handsome,” Trump said, trying to wave to his past self. Past Trump was leaning on his elbows on the desk and rubbing a macaroni through his hair while talking to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was standing in front of him.

“So you’re saying this virus gets absorbed through your spleen? Really?” Past Trump asked Fauci. “People got to walk around covering that up now?”
“Uhh. Well, sir, perhaps we can talk about anatomy…”
“Boring!” Past Trump said. Present Trump gave a thumbs up. “This science stuff is easy. We’ll just get people to take two Comets, drink a little Mr. Clean, and salute a patriotic brothel in the morning. Everything will be fine.” 
“Sir, I think it’s important that you encourage social distancing…” Fauci shrugged.

“You didn’t listen to him…and I died!” Ghost of Cain told Trump, pointing at him in accusation. 
“Yeah, yeah. Says you. You look pretty alive to me, I tell you. Get me out of here,” Trump scoffed. “And by the way, you’re fired.”

Act III

“What a dumb waste of time,” Trump said, settling back in his chair and grabbing the TV remote. “Time to watch more FOX. Oh look, my buddy Rudy is on,” he said, as an image of Rudy Giuliani appeared on the screen. He turned and stared wide-eyed at Trump, then lifted his arms out of the screen and crawled out like that creepy girl in The Ring

“Donnie! It’s me, Donald, the Ghost of Christmas Present!” Giuliani gasped as he crawled toward him.
“Rudy, I didn’t know you were dead! And what the hell is that crap dripping down your face? It looks like toddler snot.” 
“That’s my secret Cap, I’m always a little dead!” The Ghost of Giuliani said, wiggling his fingers at him. “That’s why they call me Rudy “Garfunkel Gumption” Giuliani! C’mon, let’s get fuckin’ spooky!” 

Trump found himself floating at the top of a room next to the Ghost of Giuliani. Below were tables filled with  people sorting and counting ballots and snacking on Rocky Mountain oysters

“Look at them– hard at working finding evidence of voter fraud! Like a team of well oiled alley cats!” Trump said, rubbing his toenail in glee.
“Actually, Donald that’s the big problem, presently, we got nothin’! Nothin’! They counted all these ballots and Biden gained votes!”  
“Really, Rudy? Well why don’t you go back to Four Seasons Total Landscaping and tell everyone about it and shove a rototiller in your armpit while you’re there.” 
“Donald, come on, I already got problems! I got caught on tape trying to pull a wrench and a skeleton out of my pants!”
“You’re fired, Rudy. Get me out of here.” 

Act IV

“Aren’t there supposed to be three of these dingbat ghosts? Where’s the third? Waste of time!” Trump said as he paced in his room. The door slowly squeaked open and he saw a glowing figure who stepped forward. It was a ghostly vision of his son, Donnie Jr., dressed in hunting attire, with a huge dead crustacean slung over his shoulders. 

“Daddy, look what I killed! I shot it in an expedition to the DMV.” 

“That’s great Donnie. Sadly, though, I think it also killed you and you’re the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. But that’s great, bet you can get some great ratings for that. So tell me about the future– do I win again in 2024? Is my face on Mount Rushmore?”
“No, dad.” 
“Well then, who is president– you or Ivanka? But most important, me– where is me?”
The Ghost of Donnie Jr. sighed sadly. “I’ll just show you.” 

They materialized in a dim hallway. Sad music bounced off the concrete walls. 
“What the hell is this place, Donnie Jr.?” 
The Ghost of Donnie Jr. got goosebumps, clenched, peed his pants, then pointed down the hall. “It’s prison, dad.”

Trump squinted at a cell and saw himself sitting in an orange jumpsuit, a single strand of hair covering his bowling ball-like head, wailing away on something in his hands. 
“What is that in my mouth, a horseradish?” 
“It’s a harmonica, dad. You’ve got nothing to do in here but learn the 12-bar blues. Me, Eric, and Ivanka get sent up, too, and we play the keytar, kalimba, and maracas in the Trump Family Jail Band. We score a minor hit with our song ‘I Traded a Pardon for a Bucket of Hawaiian Pizza.’” 

Trump frowned. “Pinche cabaron! Tell me, son– are these shadows of things that are like, a done deal or just, you know, like a fake news thing?”
“Sorry, dad.” 
“I hate you, Donnie Jr. I always have, you knuckle-sucking cretin. You’re fired.” 
“I hate you, too, you human paraquat,” Donnie Jr. said, putting a ghostly arm around Trump. “Spoilers–I’ll bring you a harmonica, dad,” Donnie Jr. replied as they disappeared into the ether. 

Act V

Trump materialized standing in front of his TV. Standing next to him was the Ghost of Richard Nixon. 

“Wow, my hero Tricky Dick Nixon. You look just like the dipshit I always thought you were.”
“Did you learn your lesson, Krusty the Clown? Ready to change your ways?” Ghost of Nixon asked.
“Are you kidding me, Jojo the Klownzilla?” Trump smirked. Ghost of Nixon raised his eyebrow at him as Trump put his arm around him and they walked toward the window together. “I’d rather shove a rabid donkey down my pants than learn any stupid lesson.” 

Trump spotted a young boy in a MAGA hat running by in the snow and threw open the window. 

“You there! What day is it today? 
“Today, sir?” The Boy replied. “Why, it’s Christmas Day, you trash!” 

“Amazing. Fantastic. Tell you what. Bill me for 25 cents, then run down the street, go to every  law office in town and get every lawyer you can find. We’re going to sue everyone– bigly– Charles Dickens, Santa Claus, Krampus, Frosty, Clarence, Ralphie, George Bailey, Tiny Tim, Emmet the Otter, the Elf on a Shelf, and all the readers of Tea’s Weird Week.

“Really? On Christmas?” Ghost of Nixon said, taken aback by his brazen villainy. 

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” Trump replied, squeezing a slight smile. “Merry We-Won-the-War-on-Christmas, lick my hole, and to all a good night!”

The End

My books are available wherever books are sold and make great holiday gifts for the lovable weirdos in your family. You can get signed copies of my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness from my friends at Lion’s Tooth (who, CONGRATS, are opening a brick and mortar store here in Milwaukee!) here: https://lionstoothmke.square.site/product/American_Madness_product/623

You can get signed copies of my other four books at my Square store here: https://milwaukee-para-con.square.site/

Tea’s Weird Week: Monolith

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I started a Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group and let me tell you it’s everything I hoped for and more. New members, both friends and strangers, are joining every day and sharing just straight up weird stuff they’ve found on the Internet. I love it! In just the last couple days people have posted articles about cat milk being turned to cheese, warnings about moose licking cars, strange banana art, D.B. Cooper, and much more. Join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/359809171918389

But the story of the week everyone is talking about is the mysterious monolith that was discovered out in the Utah desert. Workers from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources were doing a headcount of bighorn sheep when they saw something glimmering in the desert sun. After landing, they discovered a 12-foot tall smooth, shining monolith securely placed in a carefully cut base in the isolated red-rock canyon.

The Utah Monolith discovered last week.

The Utah Monolith is reminiscent of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey and there’s been speculation as to whether this is some kind of device from beyond this world? Is it a sign of everything we’ve been suspecting about 2020– that the world is doomed and extraterrestrials will finally reveal that they walk among us? Well, one thing Internet detectives (who scrutinized Google Earth) quickly determined is that this object has been sitting in the desert for at least five or more years, so it hasn’t landed here specifically for the craziness of 2020…though this was the year it was discovered.

Extraterrestrial road marker is one explanation, but I’d put forward some other theories– perhaps some Kubrik-wannabe indie filmmakers, or someone leaving it as a prank (kind of like the people who tied red balloons to sewer grates after It was released) or someone who just knew the thrill of creating a mystery monument. A couple other examples spring to mind:

The Georgia Guidestones, located in rural Georgia, are 19-foot tall tablets commissioned by an anonymous person or persons and lists ten guidelines for humanity in several languages. The farmland they sit on was also bought up anonymously. It’s been part of conspiracy lore ever since, especially due to the points on the stones that seem to talk about population control or eugenics. They were vandalized in 2008 with graffiti that read DEATH TO THE NEW WORLD ORDER.

The Georgia Guidestones

In Namibia an artist named Max Siedentopf has installed a sculpture at an undisclosed location in the Namib Desert. The piece, titled Toto Forever, features 6 outward facing speakers hooked up to an MP3 playing that is playing Toto’s 1982 earworm hit “Africa” on repeat, at least until the Namib Desert’s harsh conditions destroy it.

Toto Forever: “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you/
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do”

There’s already threats to remove the Utah Monolith– it’s in a remote location and the State of Utah isn’t especially keen on having to engage in rescue operations to save curious monolith-seekers. Whether this is the work of aliens or eccentric artists, a round of applause to whoever put another strange landmark on the map.

UPDATE, 12:26pm CST: Was the Utah Monolith a creation by minimalist sculptor John McCracken (who died in 2011)? His gallery seems to think…definitely, maybe: https://www.9news.com.au/world/utah-monolith-desert-mystery-solved-john-mccracken-sculptor-artist-2001-a-space-odyssey/0bae1a27-5bd2-451e-90a6-393928d9ed02

UPDATE, 11/29: After several people journeyed to visit the site, Utah Bureau of Land Management says the monolith has now vanished, but they are not the ones who took it. Did someone steal the ultimate 2020 souvenir or did it disappear into another dimension?
https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/28/us/utah-monolith-disappears-trnd/index.html

Zorth Watch: Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about how one Dr. Matthew A. Johnson had managed to combine a little from column A (a telepathic Bigfoot council) with column B (QAnon) to share a message from Zorth (a QAnon telepathic Bigfoot) that Trump would still be declared winner. Many people, including Trump himself, are still in denial about the election. I ended up channeling my own Bigfoot, Zaarg (it’s a long story, read my column here: “Zorth, I Will Kick Your Hairy Ass.”)

Well, I decided to take a look at Johnson’s Team Squatchin USA group, and yep, they are still at it. Here’s a post from Johnson to the group on Nov. 24:
“In the end, Trump wins. (Zorth, November 3, 2020)”

And here’s some actual responses in the comments:
“Trust God, Trust Zorth, Trust the Plan. WWG1WGA.” (“Trust the plan” is QAnon language, pure cognitive dissonance meaning you should believe in Q even if things aren’t going as predicted; “where we go one, we go all” or “WWG1WGA” is the oldest QAnon motto.)

“I trust in Zorth (thumbs up, praying hands, American flag emojis).”

All this is ridiculous, of course, so I was glad to see the entire group hadn’t gotten into the Q Kool-Aid. QAnon has proven to be a dangerous cult mentality, so I was glad to see some dissenting opinions in the comments, too:
“Zorth is a liar.”

“I had no idea there were so many nutbags on here. You idiots will believe absolutely anything. You’re giving us serious Sasquatch researchers a bad name.”

Ouch. Ouch, Zorth, ouch.

Please Clap Dept.: Check out this wonderful review of my book American Madness on the Book Self Blog HERE.

Please vote for me in the Shepherd Express “Best of” contest in the Milwaukee Author category: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020

You can buy American Madness on Bookshop.org or wherever books are sold: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963

If you’re looking for some fun podcast listening on your holiday, I recently made appearances on the Eye 94, CripesCast, and Strange Uncles podcasts (click titles for link).

Tea’s Weird Week: Firehose of Falsehood: An Autopsy of Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency (and Why it Will Haunt Us Moving Forward)

NEW: Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group, a place to share weird stuff: CLICK HERE


It’s fitting that Trump’s presidency is ending on election fraud conspiracies as his 2016 ambitions and every step of his presidency has been one big conspiracy conglomerate, a massive machine of misinformation, salacious rumors, and heavily biased, actual fake news sources. Here’s a tour of some of Trump’s greatest conspiracy hits, why conspiracy has been so beneficial to him, and how the orange stain will linger on long after he’s gone.

Birtherism: In my book American Madness, I wrote a chapter about Trump called “The InfoWars President,” which starts with Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, where he’s being mocked by Obama for his promotion of “Birtherism.” That conspiracy suggests Obama’s birth certificate is fake and that he was actually born in Kenya, thus making him ineligible to be U.S. president. Trump promoted the conspiracy relentlessly, but at the Correspondents Dinner everyone in the room was laughing at him. Trump’s former advisor, conspiracy guru Roger Stone, thinks that night is important in Trump’s plan to run for president.

InfoWars appearance: After launching his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump appears on the most notorious conspiracy-mongering show of all– The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars, at the suggestion of Roger Stone. Trump knew he could build a fringe alliance that would help bolster his base.

Tilting at Windmills: I think Trump probably believes some of the conspiracies he shares are true at gut level, but others he realizes are just a good form of attack. A great example of this is Trump’s seemingly bizarre campaign against wind turbines, or “windmills” as he calls them. The reality behind this is that Scotland built a windfarm near one of Trump’s golf courses, which he will forever be pissed off about because it “ruined the view.” So now he yammers on about wind turbines killing birds and causing cancer because he hates them for ruining his golf course.

Conspiracy Language: Trump quickly began to normalize language like “fake news” (any media that doesn’t shine him) and “witch hunt” (any allegation he’s committed a crime) as a way to deflect. He sometimes also uses language direct from conspiracy theorists, for example, the evil but hard to define “Deep State” that secretly rules the world.

Joe Scarborough Murder Theory: A specific example of Trump using conspiracies to attack his enemies (which is anyone who disagrees with him) is his madness in dealing with Joe Scarborough, former Florida House Rep and host of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Trump responded to criticisms from Scarborough by digging up an old conspiracy that suggests he killed an intern. You can read more in my column here: “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession.”

Social Media Summit: Trump’s “Social Media Summit” in July 2019 was who’s who of Internet trolls, conspiracy peddlers, and the far-right blogosphere. Throughout his presidency he’s platformed these people by re-Tweeting sources like Breitbart News, TheBlaze, and other far right sites to his tens of millions of followers.

QAnon: One of the most alarming stories of 2020 is the rise of QAnon, a conspiracy cult movement that believes that Trump is a Messiah figure who will vanquish an evil cabal of satanic pedophile Democrats that get high on adrenochrome harvested from people. Is this crazy? Yes. Do we have one QAnon believer now elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (and one who seems at least to be open to QAnon beliefs)? Also yes. (See also: “The Election Day Hangover That Won’t Quit“). Trump’s ego, of course, would never shut the idea of a cult dedicated to him down, so he’s tried to waffle on QAnon, saying he “didn’t know who they were” but also heard “they fight pedophilia very hard.”

There are several cases where QAnon believers have turned to violence. Two armed QAnon believers were arrested when they were discovered trying to deliver a Hummer full of fake ballots to a ballot-counting site in Philadelphia. QAnon will cheat and get arrested for Trump and maybe even die for him.

Obamagate: In January, I attended a Trump rally here in Milwaukee. I guess I wanted a look at the belly of the beast. One thing that puzzled me for a moment was Trump talking about Hillary Clinton and basking in the crowd chanting “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Had I time-traveled back to 2016? But then I realized that this was the major policy of the Trump Show– “Crooked Hillary” and the conspiracy that Obama had wiretapped and spied on the Trump campaign. Without his Bond villains, Trump has nothing to fall back on.

Demon Sperm Lady: ‘Nuff said on this one, but you can read more here: “Demon Sperm, Reptilians, and Alien DNA…Meet Trump’s Latest COVID Expert.”

Antifa: As civil unrest and rioting flooded the streets after the murder of George Floyd, Trump found a boogieman he could conjure up when he wanted to attack Democrat led cities and states and scare his constiuency– Antifa. Radical left Antifa warriors, dressed like ninjas, were everywhere– driving caravans of buses into small town America, filling up domestic flights dressed in black bloc gear, recruiting senior citizens to jam police scanners, and burning and looting across the country.

Election Fraud: And of course, what will be the last major Trump conspiracy– mass voter fraud. This is how he goes out– tweeting and babbling (along with his team) a firehose of falsehood, trying to override the truth. Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a statement that read, in part, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Which means, of course, Trump fired him.

Beyond January 20: More American Madness

Over 73 million people voted for Trump. A growing population out there believe that Democrats and other “radical left” figures are satanic pedophiles who get high off adrenochrome that they harvest from living people. And now these same people believe the election was “rigged” and stolen from their beloved leader.

These people are being riled up by bad actors like Alex Jones, who has led rallies in Phoenix, Austin, DC (at the “Million MAGA March”), and most recently, Atlanta, where he cruises around in his InfoWars armored vehicle, screaming through a bullhorn about how there will be a revolution like 1776.

Stewart Rhodes, leader of the militia Oath Keepers told media at the Million MAGA March that his group won’t “recognize Biden as legitimate” and “anything he signs into law we won’t recognize as legitimate. We’ll be very much like the founding fathers. We’ll end up nullifying and resisting.”

Trump’s people now believe they at war, and these people are angry, delusional, and heavily armed. Remember that just recently we learned about a plot by a militia/ domestic terrorism group (the Wolverine Watchmen) that was working on potential plots to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and possibly Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Trump’s Street War will continue on after he’s dragged out of the White House yelling “Rigged!”on January 20.

Please Clap (or vote as the case may be) Dept.: I’m nominated for the Shepherd Express 2020 “best of” contest in the “Milwaukee Author” category. The category was introduced in 2011 and since then historian John Gurda (The Making of Milwaukee) has won it 8 out of 9 years. Can Gurda be overthrown? I’ll get out there with a bullhorn like Alex Jones if I have to. Vote here: shepherdexpress.com/best-of-milwaukee/2020#/

You can buy my new book American Madness here: https://bookshop.org/books/american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-theories-hijacked-american-consciousness/9781627310963
Or wherever books are sold!

And you can find my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467143448

Tea’s Weird Week: Zorth, I Will Kick Your Hairy Ass (a Story of Bigfoot and QAnon)

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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.

Artist’s depiction of Zorth.

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

Tea’s Weird Week: The Election Day Hangover That Won’t Quit

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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.

“2020 Ride,” by Jon McNaughton. If this was a real scene, every bone in Trump’s body would be broken.

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/

Trumpers storm an election center in Detroit. AP Photo: Carlos Osorio

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.”

Marjorie Greene is a QAnon believer and House representative from Georgia.

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

Idiocracy: Tito Ortiz wearing a “Where We Go One, We Go All” QAnon tank top. Dare I say future President Ortiz?

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/

Tea’s Weird Week: Happy (Virtual) Halloween!

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This has been a busy week for me (as you can see by this week’s “Please Clap Dept.”) with writing, podcast interviews, ghost tours, etc. October is always the busiest month for me and especially the last week of the month, so I’m mostly just sharing Halloweeny links in this column.

First off, here’s a column I wrote last October, “October is Mad Ghost Boo Biz,” and last week’s column, “I Love Those Old Monster Movies,” both good reading on my eerie life.

Halloween, like everything else, is pretty much cancelled this year– it sucks, I know. I’m going to celebrate by watching some of those old monster movies, hopefully going for a walk in Forest Home Cemetery, leading ghost tours for American Ghost Walks, and I made a play list of creepy cool music– 101 songs (plus a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” by Basil Rathbone!) That’s 6 and a half hours worth of music for your stay-at-home Halloween party. I tried to get a good mix of classics, obscure, and a few bands I am friends or acquainted with. You can listen on Spotify here:
Tea’s Weird Week: 101 Songs of Halloween Party

Have a Happy Halloween, and of course VOTE. This election is not just about the McDonald Trump, but the local elections. Check your ballots– is someone who is a QAnon supporter on it? What about someone from the III%er militia or one of the Proud Boys or someone dangerous and terrible like Laura Loomer? There’s a lot of extremist candidates on ballots this year– vote the bastards out!

Please Clap Dept.: Busy week, I had a lot of great media opportunities:

* I was 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, 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/
* Last, I’ve never been on a baseball podcast before, but was glad to talk to Hall of Very Good to talk about the Pfister Hotel, where many MLB players have been haunted by ghosts: https://hallofverygood.libsyn.com/episode-255-tea-krulos

Buy my books American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness and a special Halloween treat, Wisconsin Legends & Lore.