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Tea’s Weird Week: The Great Conservative Radio Host Extinction of 2021

Marc Bernier, a conservative Florida talk radio host, has had his voice silenced.

No, not by the Deep State or Big Tech. Marc Bernier is as dead as a doornail and the cause was COVID-19.

“I’m Mr. Anti-vaxx,” Bernier proudly told his listeners in Daytona Beach on WNDB. “Mr. Anti-vaxx” is one of five conservative radio hosts who have died of COVID in the last month or so, an event that I’ve dubbed the Great Conservative Radio Host Extinction of 2021.

These 5 conservative radio hosts have all died from COVID in the last month.

Dick Farrel (also 65 and from Florida– he worked at stations in Miami and Palm Beach as well as the Newsmax channel) bit the big one. Farrel called COVID the “scam-demic” and described Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “a power-tripping, lying freak.”

Nashville-based host Phil Valentine, 61, host of The Phil Valentine Show, has croaked off. He was the anti-vaxxer answer to “Weird Al,” one of his songs being “Vaxman,” a toe-tapping tune about the government holding people down and forcing them to get vaccinated in parody of The Beatles’ “Taxman.”

Valentine’s fellow Tennessean Jimmy DeYoung, 81, a radio preacher who was host of the nationally syndicated Prophecy Today, warned his flock that vaccines were “government control.” He probably didn’t prophesize his death from a disease that has a widely available, free vaccine.

The latest to shuffle off the mortal coil is Bob Enyart, pastor at the Denver Bible Church and host of the Real Science Radio show (which, as you can probably guess, is not based on real science)– he died earlier this month. This guy was a real piece of shit. As The Mercury News notes:

“On his old TV show, Bob Enyart Live, the host would ‘gleefully read obituaries of AIDS sufferers while cranking ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen.'” Well, guess what, Bob?

Hey I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

That is 5 radio hosts who told their listeners not to get the vaccine, not to wear a mask, not to listen to the “Nazis” in the government, the CDC, the Deep State, the whatever. All dead.

You would think that will make people say, hey, maybe I should get that vaccine so I don’t die. But it won’t change a damn thing– people just will not get vaccinated no matter what, even if everyone around them dies.

On the other hand, I’ve often thought of how we can stop the firehose of falsehoods and the epidemic spread of mis and dis information, lies, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, etc. Having hosts spreading misinformation die from coronavirus is not the solution I had in mind, but… there are now five less dangerous voices telling their audience to kill themselves. How high will the body count of the Great Conservative Radio Host Extinction of 2021 go?

Time, something these guys don’t have, will tell.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 E2, A Panel of Witches: Heidi Erickson talks to Lane Burns and Raechel Henderson, two of the workshop presenters at the Witches Faire, part of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference September 24-26. Tea and Heidi talk weird news about Real Life Superheroes, wooly mammoths, UFOs, and people going on some wild joyrides. Plus trivia from Miss Information and we close with a track from Puerto Wiccan (who will also be at the Witches Faire) called “Kryptonite.”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep02: A Panel of Witches (podbean.com)
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Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: What the Rougarou Do

Tea’s Weird Week, Season 3 starts today! Our previous two seasons were 13 episodes long, this time we’re doing ten episodes (but also a couple special episodes, like a holiday “Radio Krampus” special). This is our first autumnal season, so we got plenty to do and talk about– ghosts and monsters and much more. We’ll be recording live at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, September 24-26 and if you’re in the area hope to see you there: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)

We’re kicking things off this episode with a talk with Lyle Blackburn, a Texan author, musician, speaker, and narrator of documentary films for Small Town Monsters, a great independent production company that has created a series of documentaries on cryptozoology and other paranormal cases. Oh, and he’s also started his own line of handcrafted hot Monster Sauce!

Lyle Blackburn

Lyle has specialized in writing about cryptid cases from the South, documented in his books like Lizard Man: the True Story of the Bishopville Monster, Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire, and The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster, among others. That last title, about a Bigfoot-like creature stalking the Boggy Creek area of Arkansas, led Lyle to his first collaboration with Small Town Monsters. He’s since narrated several of their documentaries, include their new film, Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou. It’s out September 14. Here’s a trailer for the film:

As the trailer mentioned, the Rougarou is a tale of Cajun folklore from Louisiana. The word is derived from loup garou, the French word for “werewolf.” It’s said a curse can be placed on you that will transform you into a Rougarou under the moonlight in the Louisiana bayous. Some people have even claimed to have encountered this terrifying wolf creature.

Lyle told us more about the Rougarou legend, his work on the documentary, and the low down on some of the other projects he’s got going on, and let us know about a new destination on the Tea’s Weird Week bucketlist– the Rougarou Fest, which happens every fall (Oct. 22-24 this year) in Houma, Louisiana. It featues live music, delicious Cajun-style food, and they crown a Rougarou Queen– Oooooowooooo!

This episode also features me and Heidi Erickson trying to figure out this week’s weird news– people horsing around with Ivermectin, Christians Against Dinosaurs (“Big Paleo,” LOL), demons sending text messages, an expensive porno stash, and more. Plus original music by Android138, a new trivia question from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from Lyle’s hellbilly band, Ghoultown, “Night of No Tomorrows,” off their latest album, The Curse of El Dorado.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 Ep01: “What the Rougarou Do,” Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep01: What the Rougarou Do (podbean.com)
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art by David Beyer

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

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: The Story of the Great Roswell Debate of 2016

Mark O’ Connell (left) and Donald R. Schmitt at the Roswell Debate, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016. Photos by Wendy Schreier Photography.

In 2015 I was really hyped about the release of my second book, Monster Hunters: On the Trail with Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators (Chicago Review Press). Writing the book had been a blast– I had travelled around to meet investigators and go on Lake Monster and Bigfoot expeditions, went to a UFO conference, and spent several long nights trying to detect evidence of ghosts, among other adventures.

As I was thinking of book promotion, I had this light bulb moment– why not create an event that would showcase my work, fill a niche, and be hella fun? I could invite some of the people I had met while working on the book as guest speakers! I knew a ton of cool artists that could be vendors! I found a venue– the Irish Heritage and Cultural Center, located in an old (probably haunted) church that didn’t cost an insane amount to rent out. I was all in.

I started to assemble a line-up of speakers and turned to people I had met in my research like Noah Leigh (founder of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee) and Allison Jornlin (founder of American Ghost Walks) for suggestions on potential guest speakers. We had a good line-up of speakers on cryptozoology as well as ghost experts– but I wanted some UFO talks. Two of the suggestions were Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’ Connell.

While doing research for Monster Hunters, I had encountered Schmitt– I had seen him give a talk at the International UFO Congress in Arizona and realized I had probably read one of his books about the Roswell UFO crash in the 90s– as a teen I had been on a kick reading about UFOs, as teens tend to do. You might call Don “The Roswell Guy” as he’s written several books on the subject. I had no idea Schmitt was from Wisconsin and thought, wow, that’s cool, so I contacted him and he agreed to give a talk about Roswell.

I was also told that Wisconsin was home (at the time) to a writer named Mark O’ Connell, who had penned scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and was working on a biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, astronomer and pioneer of UFO studies. I thought, wow, that’s also cool, and I contacted him and he agreed to give a presentation on Wisconsin UFO cases. So now I had a great conference lineup of ghost researchers, Bigfooters, a Goatman expert, a panel that I was going to moderate, and the UFO talks and I started to post info about them online.

I got a polite email from Mark saying that he saw that Don was going to be at the event and that he did not really get along with him, so he wanted to prevent an awkward situation– for example putting them on a panel together. I didn’t find this to be too unusual– while working on Monster Hunters I had encountered many paranormal beefs. I spoke to a member of a ghost investigation group almost entirely composed of ex-members of a different group. I learned about Bigfooters who hated each other with a big, hairy passion. There are many rivalries in all the paranormal fields. I responded to Mark and told him that they would not cross paths. I still don’t know exactly what their dispute was about, but it had something to do with the J. Allen Hynek research (I think, don’t quote me on it).

The day of the conference was exhilarating and all kind of a blur. I was (at times literally) running around making sure things were running smoothly. We had a good crowd. There had not been any sort of paranormal themed conference in Milwaukee for over ten years and we got a good reception. Don was the last speaker of the day, and by this point I could take a breath and grab a beer (this is Wisconsin, where people drink anywhere and everywhere and the Irish Center’s bar was busy all day). I walked into the main room of the Irish Center to see how Don’s talk was going over. I looked up at the second floor balcony of the room, and noticed that Mark and his wife were sitting there, watching Don. Well, well, I thought. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Or something like that.

The after party was at Shaker’s Cigar Bar (probably haunted) and I sat down and had a drink with Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin’s brother and organizer of American Ghost Walks. Mike had really saved my ass that day, as I am all thumbs with technology, but he is a mix-master, so he got things up and running on the main stage. We somehow got on the topic of Don and Mark and Mike made the joke that they should get up on stage and debate each other. We laughed about it.

Inspired by the success of the 2015 event I decided to do the conference again and to GO BIG in 2016. I’m not ashamed now to say that I got in over my head. Too big, too fast. I decided to do a 2-day event, switching the location to facilities at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There was so much going on– 2 speaker rooms, a workshop room, a vendor floor, a livestreamed media table, a paranormal sound booth, there were guests like Loren Coleman and Katrina Weidman being flown in, a VIP dinner party, a film screening session. I knew the enormity of the task and began planning in September 2015, a bit over a year from the October 2016 event.

That’s me in the middle with cryptozoologist Loren Coleman (left) and paranormal investigator Katrina Weidman, MPC 2016 VIP dinner party.

The 2016 conference took over my life, I lost a shit ton of money that I didn’t have, and afterward I sank into a depression that stretched through the rest of that fall and winter. But I’m getting off track. I started lining up guests and emailed Don about returning as a guest speaker. His reply was quite intriguing and included this sentence: “I would be willing if it could also include a debate between me and Mark O’ Connell over Roswell.”

Whaaaaaaaat.

Of course I was into the idea. Conference programming can sometimes be dry and dull, so this was an exciting proposal. I also really believe that debate is a valuable skill and that society would be better off if more people learned how to think critically and present arguments. I emailed Mark and he said he was “very interested” as long as acceptable terms were established. Game on! Now I just needed to figure out how to properly run a debate.

After some searching I found David Henning, Director of Debate and Forensics at Lakeland College in Plymouth, Wisconsin. His credentials were impeccable and he was not involved at all in the world of paranormal research and as such was an impartial moderator.

David received, as many innocent people have over the years, a very strange email from me requesting help. I was thrilled when he replied that he was willing to establish debate rules and moderate. David gave me a couple of debate formats that might work and we agreed on one that would total 60 minutes with an additional 15 minutes for questions from the audience. Each speaker would have a 3-minute opening statement, followed by six topic questions with each speaker given 2-3 minutes response and alternating debaters given a 1 minute rebuttal.

David explained to me that “this format forces debaters to focus on word economy and clear, concise issue analysis.” (gavel cracks) Sounds good to me. The questions were to be shared ahead of time so the debaters could prepare. I’ve done a lot of non-fiction writing, everything from short blurbs to books, and a key ingredient is usually asking the right people the right questions, so I racked my brain on topics. But I had time, after discussion with all parties we determined it would fair to give the debaters questions one month before the debate to prepare. I put the debate aside and worked on the hundreds of other details of the conference that needed to be attended to.

Fast forward to September 2016, a month before the conference. I assemble the questions, like “Is it time for UFOlogy to move on from the Roswell event?” and “What impact has the Roswell Slides had on UFOlogy? Has it damaged credibility in the UFO field?” To explain that last question, Don had been involved in revealing photos that had been found on slides in a case that had been sitting in an attic for decades. One appeared to show an extra-terrestrial corpse, and the photo date was 1947, the same years as the alleged Roswell crash. Upon being revealed, researchers were able to deblur a placard in the image and discovered that the photo was of the mummified remains of a child that were on display at a museum.

The Roswell Slide

Don replied that he felt the questions were “slanted” against him. I replied that I was glad to talk to him about suggestions on changes to the wording, but he replied “Let’s go with what you have. No problems.” At this point I didn’t have time to ask twice– I was being bombarded with questions about the conference day and night.

My next message from Don said that in lieu of his 3-minute opening statement, he wants to show a video instead. This new twist was unusual, so I turned to David Henning for his opinion– he was the expert after all. David was inclined to reject the video idea entirely, but after some discussion was agreeable to it if all parties involved can view the video. Don wasn’t happy. When I told him David’s determination, he replied:

“Why don’t I send you all my answers as well? Is this a debate or a scripted reality show? I have participated in many debates through the years and have never been asked to provide my playbook before the game.”

This made me wonder what the hell does he have on video that was so secretive and important? Did he hire a private eye to tail Mark and capture some salacious indiscretion? Did he have actual film of the Roswell aliens? In any case, I had a sinking feeling that the debate was probably off.

After several days of back and forth, Don relented and sent me his video opening statement. I paused what I was working on to check out the video and it was… a clip from a George Carlin stand-up routine?! One of the classics where Carlin is angry and speaking out against the club we’re not a part of– the corporations, the fucking government. I use the F-bomb here because George uses a variation of it six times in this clip, but in the video Don gives me all the profanities are muted out. (Remember that detail.) You can see the exact clip right here (and yes I did title it “George Carlin Reveals the Secret Plot to Cover Up the Roswell UFO Crash.”)

I was quite baffled. This is what all the drama was about? I guess the video message was that “they” were covering up Roswell and that Mark was complicit in it? I can only speculate, but I think Don thought if he could surprise everyone with this clip that Carlin’s ranting would throw Mark off, unnerving him. Maybe in the same way chess master Bobby Fisher would try to throw his stoic Russian opponents off by demanding the room be rearranged, the lighting changed, and by making erratic movements on the chessboard.

As moderator, David was not happy with this twist as he thought Don was just trying to turn the debate into a “farce.” Mark was puzzled, but ok with the video, except for his concern that Don would swap the video out at the last second with something else and wondered if we had a killswitch in the event this happened. I assured him that we would be playing the video Don sent and wouldn’t allow him to switch it out.

As it turns out, Mark’s suspicion wasn’t unfounded. Right before the debate, Don approached Mike Huberty, who once again was helping us with A/V stuff, and handed him a jumpdrive, asking him to play the video on it as his opening statement. Mike knew something was up, and already had the original video cued up and ready to go, so he just played that. Afterward, Mike handed me the jumpdrive and explained what happened. The evidence sat in my pocket over the hectic weekend, but when it was all over, I popped the drive into my laptop to see what Don had intended to swap his ringer with. And it was…the exact same video, uncensored. It looked like Don’s secret plan was to try to rattle Mark with colorful fucking language.

The debate itself went well, I thought. After the strange video open, Mark and Don were both well-spoken, interesting, and followed David’s format, ceding to his gavel when time was up. After answering questions submitted by the audience, they shook hands and parted ways.

But you can make the determination of who had a better argument for yourself. Here’s an audio recording of the entire debate. It starts right after the two debaters were introduced: Tea‘s Weird Week Special: The Roswell Debate, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, 2016 (podbean.com)

The Roswell Debate concludes: Mark O’ Connell (left) shakes hands with Donald Schmitt. Debate moderator David Henning is in the middle. Photo by Wendy Schreier Photography.

It took me 5 years to write about this, I think, because I needed some distance from it. Personally, 2016 was a pretty bad, painful year for me. The whole conference was stressful, and trying to negotiate the Roswell Debate was part of that stress. I’m having a really good year in 2021, so I think that now I can reflect. Here’s my thoughts on the Roswell Debate years later…what a goddamn strange thing that was, from beginning to end! But I’m so glad it happened. It was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a debate between two guys who have made really interesting writing careers related to the topic of UFOs, so thank you Don and Mark for participating, and to David for answering my weird invitation to moderate. I will always remember it, fondly now, as a wild and crazy chapter of my life.

Post-script: Mark O’Connell’s book, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs came out in 2017. Donald Schmitt’s latest title in Roswell: The Ultimate Cold Case (co-authored with Thomas J. Carey).

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening Sept. 24-26 at various locations. There are no debates planned this year. More info can be found here: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)

The Tea’s Weird Week podcast returns with Season 3 next week! We’re kicking things off with an interview with Lyle Blackburn– author, musician, lecturer and narrator of the new documentary Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou.

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

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)


Tea’s Weird Week: Tune Your Air Guitars and set them to “Autumn”

Hello, this week I’m just listing some stuff I got going on this autumn, which I think of as the months of September, October, and November, my favorite time of year.

-Fall is, of course, a great time to take a ghost tour. I’m leading some of them for American Ghost Walks, including one tonight, Aug. 27, that is a benefit for the upcoming Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (more on that in a minute): americanghostwalks.com

-The Tea’s Weird Week podcast returns with season 3 September 10! Me, Heidi, Android138, and Miss Information return to talk about rougarous, witchcraft, and more. You can catch up on seasons 1 and 2 here: Tea’s Weird Week Podcast | (teakrulos.com)

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening September 24-26. Here’s a quick breakdown: September 24 is a Paranormal Party at Faklandia Brewing, the conference proper happens 10-5 September 25 at the Alverno College Bucyrus Center and includes speakers and vendors, that evening there will be some tours and September 26 is an Activities Day with events happening at different venues around town throughout the day.

After a virtual only event last year, we’re excited to be back. Thanks to an American Ghost Walks sponsorship, the main conference event, Paranormal Party, and some of our activities are all free events this year (some of the activities like our tours and Yoga in the Cemetery event require a paid ticket, but they are very fairly priced).

Check out the schedule and more info here: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)

-And hey, my birthday is the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (Sept. 25). If you want to show your appreciation for me still being alive, come hang out at the conference and/or buy one of my books: About the Author | (teakrulos.com)

-If you missed the announcement, I’m quite thrilled to be working with a talented production company led by Eric and Kim Hayden to develop my book American Madness into a documentary. I talk with them almost every day about the project and it’s going well. I’m going to spend the first week or so of October out in California to help set up some interviews in the San Francisco area and then Los Angeles. It’s been over a year since I’ve done any travel outside the state (I took a quick trip to Seattle in July 2020). Looking forward to the voyage and sharing developments on this project in the near future!

-In 2019 I wrote a TWW column titled “October is Mad Ghost Boo Biz” meaning that anyone associated with paranormal stuff has a pretty busy month. So when I’m back from California, there will be plenty to do– ghost tours, library appearances, podcast interviews, etc. There’s an “upcoming appearances” tab on my site here if you want to see me in person.

-I don’t usually hype articles I write before they’re published, but I got a good one that will be in the October Milwaukee Magazine about local horror hosts.

-November is a little less hectic, much of the time used to push through Milwaukee Krampusnacht (Dec. 5) details and prep for the release of my collection of short stories Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories & Sketches, official release date December 7 from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press.

It’s going to be a hell of a busy fall…but all really fantastic projects!

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Drunk in the Back of a Cab, Listening to Coast-to-Coast AM, 2017

This story was inspired by my appearance on Coast-to-Coast AM Friday night. I started writing this when it occurred in 2017, but I ditched the story…until now.

At 2AM, I locked the door to the Riverwest Public House and was alone in the bar. I was drinking whiskey and listening to The Damned, The Light at the End of the Tunnel compilation. I had first heard this album sometime in high school and remembered it one day at work and was like hey, great fucking album, and then started listening to it every night at closing time.

Closing the bar was a time of great peace for me– washing glassware, tossing bags of garbage in a pile by the door, stocking beer and bottles of booze, slowly walking the length of the bar, giving it a rub down with a bleach water soaked rag. Last step– have a drink and count out the drawer, then call a cab. I had just moved from Riverwest to Bay View.

The bars were closed and all of Milwaukee in a drunken sleep, so the taxi arrived quickly. I was a bit buzzed myself and crawled into the back seat.

“Do you mind if I listen to this?” The cab driver asked, gesturing to his radio dial. I heard the familiar voice of George Noory, primary host of Coast-to-Coast AM, the long running, gold standard of weird radio. I could hear Noory was discussing something extra-terrestrial related with a guest

“I don’t mind at all, I’m down with Coast-to-Coast,” I told the cabbie. He smiled and we headed to I-94.

I stared out the window as we crossed the Hoan Bridge. I always loved the view. I would say it’s beautiful, in an industrial way– cold and dark, no signs of life except the grinding and clunking of machinery. Blinking red lights and miles of pipes and smokestacks belching smog passed by as the Yellow Cab cruised over the mostly abandoned bridge. We were hit with a blast of the sewage scented lake, an acrid but familiar smell.

I could have told the cabbie that I, the bartender he had picked up, was in fact a guest on Coast-to-Coast a couple years prior. But I’m not the type of person that likes to walk around telling anyone and everyone about who I am. So instead me and the cabbie sat in silence, listening to the radio while I looked lovingly out the window at the rusty landscape passed below.

I love this strange city and my life in it. Noory continued his interview with some guy who is a UFO expert– someone who chose an odd path in life, a person who opened a door to a surreal dimension and never came back.

That’s what I love about life. You never know– that person standing in front of you in line at the grocery store might dress up in a homemade superhero costume at night to patrol the streets. The person sitting next to you on the bus could be a UFO expert…or a serial killer, I suppose. This cab driver– a novice conspiracy theorist?

And the person you might pick up in your taxi late one night might be a bartender who also happens to be a dude into a hell of a lot of weird shit named Tea Krulos.

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

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep13, Ask Us Anything!

Tea Krulos and Heidi Erickson answers questions submitted via social media– find out about frightening weird encounters we’ve had and our deepest secrets. Plus we share weird news– Mothman sighted at State Fair, the MyPillow guy goes full Captain Ahab, killer robots, and the Big Mac champ of Wisconsin (and the world). Miss Information reveals trivia answers (and our winner) and we close out with a track from Victor DeLorenzo‘s new album Spoken Drum, “Bow.” 

Thanks to our sound engineer Android138 and all of our guests this season. We’ll be back in September. 
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep13: Ask Us Anything! (season finale) (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Get in the (Talias)Van: New Book Tells Story of a “New Age Grifter”

Hello, another short column just to tell you about what’s going on in the latest Tea’s Weird Week podcast. When my book American Madness came out last year, one of the podcasts I appeared on was Failed State Update, hosted by author Joseph L. Flatley. He told me he was working on finishing a book about a cult for Feral House, publisher of American Madness.

That book, New Age Grifter: The True Story of Gabriel of Urantia and his Cosmic Family is out later this month. I was able to read a copy and it’s great. It’s a breezy read, but I mean that in a good way. Flatley tells the story in intriguing but concise chapters. The book is a dive into the cult surrounding Tony Delevin (Flatley discovered that he and Delevin share Pittsburgh roots) who is better known to his followers as Gabriel of Urantia. The cult’s name sounds like an phone service provider, Global Community Communications Alliance. They have a trippy hippy New Age look straight out of the 1960s/70s and live in a compound in Arizona.

Gabriel of Urantia aka “TaliasVan” (center, holding the guitar and cane) with his Bright & Morning Star Band

One important part of the GCCA is their music. Gabriel leads the cult jam band, TaliasVan & The Bright & Morning Star Band, who plays in a genre he calls “CosmoPop.” This how the door opened for Flatley– he was at a party with some friends, and someone busted out a video of TaliasVan & The Bright & Morning Star Band rockin’ away with their song “Energy Master.” It is…hmmm…well, check it out for yourself.

Ok, so what, there’s a New Age jam band somewhere in Arizona– what’s the big deal? Well, GCCA also checks all the boxes on the lists of signs of a destructive cult. Members are told to turn over financial assets when they join, they toil away at GCCA’s various business endeavors without being paid, cut off ties to friends and family, have their communications restricted, and seem to serve the purpose of fulfilling Gabriel of Urantia’s ego.

I had a chance to talk to Flatley about all this as well as his interviews with those who escaped the cult and his visit to the GCCA compound for the latest Tea’s Weird Week. And be sure to get a copy of his book, it’s a great read, especially if you have an interest in cults and insight into how they operate.

Find out more about the book and links to buy it: Joseph L. Flatley (lennyflatley.net)

Please Clap Dept.: I’m thrilled to say that initial work on adapting my book American Madness into a documentary has begun. I always knew it would translate well to a doc and talented producers Eric & Kim Hayden are passionate and working hard on the project, and I’m so happy that it’s happening. I’ll be giving regular updates along the way, but the first step took place a week ago with a long interview session with me, which we filmed at the the beautiful Lion’s Tooth bookstore here in Milwaukee.

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep12, Get in the (TaliasVan)

I interview Joseph L. Flatley, author of the new book New Age Grifter: The True Story of Gabriel of Urantia and His Cosmic Family. Me and Heidi share the week’s weird news, trivia from Miss Information, and we close with a new track from Chris Tishler off his new album Reach For The Sun titled “Wave To Me From The Shore.” An epic episode from start to finish!

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep12: Get in the (Talias)Van (podbean.com)
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Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: UFOs Over Long Lake, Part II

Last week, I shared pictures and a link to our Tea’s Weird Week podcast featuring interviews from UFO Daze at Benson’s Hide-A-Way in Dundee, WI. We got so much material we decided to split it into a two-parter.

I have one of those crazy busy weeks this week– good stuff (in fact, expect a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT in all caps sometime soon… UPDATE: the news is that book American Madness is being developed into a documentary. More details soon.) So this week I’m going to keep it brief and share a couple quick notes about this week’s episode.

  • This episode features a short interview with writer and director Mark Borchardt, who directed a documentary titled The Dundee Project, filmed over several years at UFO Daze. It’s a great look at the characters hanging around Benson’s Hide-A-Way. Mark is planning a possible Return to Dundee doc. I’ve known Mark a few years now (he participated in the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference) and I want to tell you a great memory of him.

    I was having a really down and out day, super stressed and all that– this was maybe 4 years ago or so, and I was sitting at a bus stop near Colectivo Coffee on Humboldt Boulevard. Mark came cruising around the corner and shouted out of his window: “Tea! Tea, keep the faith, man!” And was gone. It really made my day. I kept the faith.
  • Awesome track by our podcast sound engineer, Andrew aka Android 138, “EarthSkum.” He’s very talented. Everyone who participates in the podcast– Heidi, Miss Information, all of the talented musicians, artists, and guests, are just great. I’m lucky to know you all. Check out Andrew’s music: www.soundcloud.com/android138
  • Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is Sept.24-26. Do it: Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Returns Sept. 24-26, 2021 | Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (milwaukeeparacon.com)

    Tea’s Weird Week, S2 Ep11, UFOs Over Dundee: Part 2

    Tea talks to Mark Borchardt about his documentary, The Dundee Project, plus more interviews from UFO Daze at Benson’s Hideaway. Tea and Heidi talk about the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, Welch Klingons, the latest QAnon nuttiness, and more. Plus trivia from Miss Information and a dope new track by Android138, “EarthSkum.”

    Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep11: UFOs Over Long Lake, part 2 (podbean.com)
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Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: UFOs Over Long Lake

The Tea’s Weird Week podcast crew– myself, co-host Heidi, and sound engineer Andrew– took a short road trip to Dundee, Wisconsin to attend the 33rd annual “UFO Daze.” This is an extraterrestrial themed event at a bar called Benson’s Hide-a-Way, located on the shore of Long Lake. I loved it! This was a distinctly Wisconsin “Up North” type of UFO event– beer, brats, funny alien costumes, a tinfoil hat competition, an “Alien Juice” drink special, and people cruising on pontoons on Long Lake. In addition to locals, who were there for some day drinking fun, there was a good number of people we met who claim to have seen a UFO, been abducted by one, or even hail from a different planet themselves!

We were real happy with the trip, because one of our main goals with the podcast is to get out and see stuff like this.

The origins of UFO Daze trace back to sightings in the Dundee area– one theory speculates that there is “something” under Dundee Mountain– a hidden base? Bill Benson, proprietor of Benson’s Hide-A-Way, has spotted UFOs himself. A nearby marsh is where a mysterious crop circle was found.

When word got out that there was a podcast crew talking to people, we had no problem finding people who wanted to share their otherworldly encounters with us. In fact, we got so many interviews, we decided to turn this into a two-part podcast interview. Here are pictures we took and if you scroll to the end you’ll find a link to part one of this podcast adventure.

Andrew and Heidi in their new UFO Daze Ts interviewing some attendees.
This was an all ages event.
People enjoying UFO Daze
Benson’s Hide-A-Way is located right on the shore of Long Lake.
Me (left), Andrew (right), and special visitor (middle) inside Benson’s Hide-A-Way
Me and Heidi. Nanoo, nanoo.
Heidi kicking back in Benson’s novelty chair. “Keep Looking Up!” is the Benson motto.

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep 10: UFOs Over Long Lake, Part 1: Tea talks to Jess Rogge, host of The Rogge Report to help make sense of the Pentagon’s preliminary report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. Then hear Tea, Heidi, and Andrew’s interviews live at UFO Daze in Dundee. Heidi and Tea continue the discussion in the news segment, as well as reports on more conspiracy lasers, huffin’ toad venom, and an outbreak of vinegaroons in Texas! Plus Miss Information has an out-of-this-world trivia question, and we close with a track by Spud Bucket, “Fraction of a Reaction.”

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep10: UFOS Over Long Lake, part 1 (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Burn the Owl (Revisited)

Mid-July always reminds me of a certain mystery ritual involving a giant owl statue and the burning of a pesky entity named Dull Care. Every second weekend of July, the Bohemian Club kicks off their Midsummer encampment in the Bohemian Grove retreat. The Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco 1872. The original intent of the club was to foster art and culture in San Francisco, with most of the original members being writers, performers, and artists. It quickly grew into a status symbol, and the club began admitting men (it is a men only club) of means. Over it’s history, the Club has included several U.S. presidents and countless politicians, celebrities, CEOs, top brass military, musicians, and other movers and shakers.

Six years after the club was founded, one of the founding members, actor Henry Edwards, announced he was moving to New York. The club– about a hundred members at the the time, decided to have a going away camp out party for Edwards. An account of that first Midsummer Encampment, written by playwright Porter Garnett in 1908 says:

“The camp was without many comforts, but the campers were well supplied with the traditional Bohemian spirit– the factors of which are intellect, taste, conviviality, self-indulgence, and the joys of life. They were also provided with blankets to keep them warm and a generous supply of liquor for the same reason.”

Henry “Harry” Edwards in a photo circa 1871

The “Bohemians” enjoyed this outing so much that they made it an annual tradition. It is, what President (and Bohemian Club member) Herbert Hoover called “the greatest men’s party on earth.” The Club bought up a 2,700 acre plot in the redwood forest outside of Monte Rio, California and built cabins and other facilities. During the July summer encampment, which kicks off the second weekend of July, members enjoy theatrical performances, music, the great outdoors, and a lot of boozing and schmoozing. Oh yeah– they also kick the vacation off with a bizarre effigy burning ceremony in front of a giant statue of an owl.

In the 1880s, the Grove began what is called the Cremation of Care ceremony. It’s a piece of pageantry in which some of the club members dress as druids, recite poetic odes to the forest, then bring forward an effigy named “Dull Care” in front of the Great Owl of Bohemia statue. Dull Care is supposed to represent their worldly concerns that might get in the way of them being in party-mode. Dull Care mocks the Bohemians, but then the owl statue lights up and speaks! He instructs the priests to use a flame from a lamp at the base of the statue to destroy Dull Care. The Bohemians burn Dull Care, lots of cheering, fireworks, and drinks follow.

A photo of the Cremation of Care ceremony. Date unknown.

The reason we know about this secretive ritual (no press is allowed in) is from a series of undercover journalists who have infiltrated over the years from the 1970s to the 2000s.

In 2000, conspiracy peddler Alex Jones (of InfoWars) snuck into the Grove and recorded the Cremation of Care ceremony with a hidden camera. He cut this footage into a sensationalized “documentary” titled Dark Secrets: Inside the Bohemian Grove. In it he suggests that the ceremony is a satanic rite, the owl statue is Moloch, and the effigy might actually be a real person, who knows, maybe a child! And there’s your keystone of many conspiracies, from old anti-Semitic “blood libel” myths that said Jewish people used the blood of Christian children for rituals to modern QAnon nonsense about a Deep State cabal of pedophiles that get high off of adrenochrome they harvest from kids.

This Jones documentary influenced a person named Richard McCaslin to adopt a costumed persona, the Phantom Patriot, with a mission to raid the Bohemian Grove, “save the children,” and destroy the Great Owl statue. He was heavily armed when he snuck into the Grove the night of January 19, 2002. Here are pictures he took shortly before that date:

Things did not go as planned for the Phantom Patriot. You can read more on the history of the Bohemian Club (including what Oscar Wilde and Richard Nixon think of it), the strange, random life of Richard McCaslin, and the journey of the Phantom Patriot into the Bohemian Grove (in a chapter titled “Burn the Owl”) and what followed in my book American Madness.

For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week. I decided to have a Midsummer Encampment of my own and did a table read of sorts of the entire Cremation of Care ceremony with the help of some podcast host friends I made while promoting American Madness. I played the role of Priest One, while Aaron Franz (The Age of Transitions podcast, author of Revolve) voiced Priest Two. Dave Baker (Deep Cuts podcast, author of the new Everyone is Tulip graphic novel) acted (and sang!) the roles of Priest Three/ Great Owl of Bohemia, and Joseph L. Flatley (Failed State Update podcast, author of New Age Grifter, out next month from Feral House, publisher of American Madness) got the role of the sinister Dull Care.

We didn’t have the druid robes or the giant owl statue, but I think we brought that secret society swagger to the reading. Thanks guys! And begone, Dull Care! The episode also features a clip from an interview I did with Richard McCaslin from 2015 (not heard by anyone but me before) as well as the weird news segment with me and Heidi, a new trivia question from Miss Information and closes with a new track from snag., “Paradigm Shift.”

Listen to Tea’s Weird Week, S2 Ep09, Burn the Owl (Revisited) here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep09: Burn the Owl (Revisited) (podbean.com)
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SEE ALSO: Last summer I wrote a Tea’s Weird Week column (that appeared in a slightly different form as an article in Fortean Times) about how the Bohemian Grove summer encampment was called off for the first time in 142 years, as well as meet-ups for the Bilderberg Group and (probably) Skull & Bones: “Summer Plans are Cancelled for the New World Order.”

Get the full story of the Bohemian Grove and Richard McCaslin in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness here: Lion’s Tooth/ Bookshop.org/ Amazon

Tea’s Weird Week: My Top 5 Strange Places

For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week, I met up with and interviewed Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer and creator of the Long Days Travel website. She’s been all over the world to check out cool and unusual places and it got me to thinking about the strangest places I’ve been to. There’s a lot, but I picked out what I think are the top 5. Please note that “strange” doesn’t necessarily mean awesome and good or creepy and bad… just strange.

(1.) The Outpost (undisclosed location in Pahrump, Nevada)

My book American Madness follows the life of Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, a costumed, conspiracy believing commando. After serving prison time and parole, Richard eventually settled down and bought a home in Pahrump, Nevada. As I describe in a chapter of American Madness titled “Where the Heck is Pahrump?” the small desert town is sort of a magnet for odd characters– Art Bell, original host of Coast-to-Coast AM, lived there, as well as other famous eccentrics.

Richard found a good deal on a house, with one of the selling points being the large Quonset hut on the property, which he visualized as a low budget superhero headquarters/ training facility/ filming set/ Phantom Patriot museum that he named “the Outpost.” I visited the Outpost twice– I traveled to Pahrump in 2015, where we filmed an episode of his webshow, Phantom Patriot Retro Cinema (ep 02, “Assault on Area 51”) and I spent the weekend at his house in his guest bedroom. We also made a day trip to film near Area 51 and the Li’l Ale’ E’ Inn. That was the last time I saw Richard alive.

After Richard died, I returned to the Outpost in November 2019 to join a few of Richard’s friends and neighbors who gathered there to have a memorial and spread his ashes on the property. Just thinking about the whole story– meeting Richard, befriending him, visiting Pahrump and having a stressful filming day out in the desert, learning of his death– all of it is the strangest story I’ve experienced, mainly because I was a part of the story, too. It’s something I’ll never forget.

A photo I took of Richard’s Phantom Patriot costume display in the Outpost, 2015.

(2.) International Cryptozoology Museum (Portland, Maine)

My second book was titled Monster Hunters and it took me to all sorts of strange places– Bobby Mackey’s Music World (a haunted honky tonk), the Skunk Ape Research Center in Florida, the International UFO Congress conference in Arizona, Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, a Bigfoot expedition in Michigan, and more– so it’s hard to pick the best one for this list, but one of my strange and favorite visits was to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine in 2013, I visited on my birthday that year. The museum is curated by Loren Coleman, prolific author and one of the world’s leading and most well-known cryptozoologists. The museum is such a great collection of Sasquatch footprint casts, models of cryptids, rare documents, art, and other interesting items related to the study of unknown creatures. Since my visit, the museum has moved to a new location– time to make a trip to Maine sometime soon!

Website: cryptozoologymuseum.com

Me (left) and Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum, 2013.

(3.) The House on the Rock (Spring Green, Wisconsin)

I was reminded of just how strange this place is over the 4th of July weekend. I met my family in Spring Green, where they were having a holiday weekend, to take a trip through the wild fever dream that is the House on the Rock. I can’t really think of anything that compares to this– it is just one huge room after another filled with mind-boggling sights– a giant whale fighting a squid, the world’s largest carousel, which is going just a little too fast and has an automatic band with thumping bass drums adding to the mania– collections of weird guns and circus miniatures and so much more. When I interviewed Jenny Sanchez, it was also the first place she brought up for unusual destinations, she called the House, “the Disneyland of the unusual.”

I’ve been especially wanting to return since reading/ seeing it in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I wrote about the House on the Rock in brief in the “Legendary Places” chapter of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore.

Website: www.thehouseontherock.com

Just one of the many wild scenes in the House on the Rock. Taken July 4, 2021.

(4.) Survival Condos (undisclosed location in Kansas)

While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I arranged a tour of the Survival Condos, a state of the art underground bunker built in an old Atlas missile silo. Me and my friend Paul drove out there and spent about 3 hours checking the place out with building developer Larry Hall. The condos not only include the living units but a swimming pool, recreation areas, school, gym, a small grocery store, and a movie theater 14 floors underground. I wrote a chapter about the experience titled “Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous” and did a column/podcast episode revisiting that experience, which you can check out here: Tea’s Weird Week: Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous (Revisited) | (teakrulos.com)

Outside the Survival Condos blast doors, 2017.

(5.) Wasteland City (Mojave Desert)

Another experience I had while working on Apocalypse Any Day Now was attending Wasteland Weekend, which is a sort of Mad Max-Burning Man of the Damned-post-Apocalyptic festival. “Wasteland City” assembles in the Mojave Desert outside of California City for the week and the junk city includes its own FM radio station, post office, a Thunderdome for cage fighting, marketplace, casino, night clubs, and much more. It is a place that only appears for the duration of the 4-5 days of Wasteland Weekend, which takes place in late September. There are hundreds of Mad Max style cars and thousands dressed in post-Apocalyptic style garb. I even found work there writing short articles for the daily newsletter, The Wastelander, under my Wasteland name, Krulos the Terrible. I had such a fun time getting drinks at the Atomic Cafe and then wandering around Wasteland at night and checking stuff out. I definitely want to return– it’s not likely I will this year, but I’d like to make it a 2022 goal.

Website: www.wastelandweekend.com

Cool car on the grounds of Wasteland City at Wasteland Weekend, 2017.

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08, Long Days and Weird Weeks: I meet up with Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer who seeks out unique and unusual places to visit, which she documents on her site, Long Days Travel. We talked about strange destinations, bucket list, and travel tips. 

In the news segment, me and Heidi talk about another appearance by the Moorish Sovereign Citizens, the 2014 Slenderman case, the three UFO capitals of Wisconsin, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information and we bring it all back home by closing with a tribute to Milwaukee, “Good Land,” by The MilBillies

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08: Long Days, Weird Weeks (podbean.com)
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