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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.

Tea’s Weird Week: I Love Those Old Monster Movies

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I got the idea for this week’s column from the Vice Presidential debate. One of the star performances was not from Mike Pence or Kamala Harris, but the housefly that landed and sat on Pence’s head. I got some much needed laughs when I looked to social media and found that my feeds had been filled with fly memes. I saw a few people posting references to David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly (starring Jeff Goldblum) but I thought I would join in by sharing an image from one of my favorites, the classic 1958 Fly, which featured the great Vincent Price in the cast.

The Fly (1958)

This classic film and others from this era have a dear place in my heart, because I grew up on them. You see, my parents were very strict about what I could watch as a kid. I was their firstborn, they were very religous and they wanted to protect me from a 1980s world gone made, from things controversial or provocative, from hearing words like “fucknut” or seeing sex parts. My options were limited, mostly to cinema pre-1970, give or take, or Disney films.

As such, as other kids were developing screen idols in 80s celebrities, mine were the likes of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, and all of their creepy peers.

My favorites were the classic Universal stuff like Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Wolfman, Godzilla movies, and other classic monster and sci-fi like The Blob, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and many more. If it’s black and white and features monsters, aliens, ghosts, etc., chances are I’ve seen it.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

In addition to horror and sci-fi, I also watched a lot of old comedy (the Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello) and mystery and noir (I especially liked Humphrey Bogart and anything by Hitchcock). At the time it was somewhat frustrating because on the playground, the guys would tell me how they had witnessed actual exposed boobs in movies like Porky’s or had seen someone cut in half with a chainsaw in a Friday the 13th movie and I’d be like…uh, yeah but have you dudes seen King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)?

The Wolfman (1941)

My parents were strict even about seeing PG movies when I was younger. If I really wanted to see a movie, like say, Ghostbusters, or Gremlins, and lobbied them succesfully, I would wait until it was out on video, they would watch it by themselves, then the next night I could watch it with them but they would fast-forward through scenes with swear words of anything suggestive.

That means I wouldn’t get lines like “yes sir, it’s true. This man has no dick,” from Ghostbusters until years later, when I re-watched with friends.

Night of the Living Dead, 1968

Looking back on it, I’m glad though– I feel like I probably got at least a couple of college film history classes in before I even turned 14. And to me, Halloween will always mean old black and white monster movies. What’s your favorite classic horror/sci-fi? Share in the comments!

Godzilla 1954

You can buy my book American Madness from Lion’s Tooth, Quimby’s, Bookshop.org and wherever books are sold. I had the great pleasure this week to talk about the book with Quimby’s Bookstore. We had fun talking about the book and played some conspiracy trivia–see how well you would have fared! You can catch it here:


And just in time for Halloween, you can get signed copies of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore from the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference Square shop: https://milwaukee-para-con.square.site/product/wisconsin-legends-lore-by-tea-krulos-signed-and-inscribed-/44?cs=true

Tea’s Weird Week: Crazy Uncle Trump: “I don’t know that, and neither do you”

I was really hoping to be moving toward writing about Halloweeny shit instead of conspiracy shit this week, but NO. Let me rephrase that: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Trump had a town hall thing last night (he refused a virtual debate, leading to rival Trump and Biden town halls) and I didn’t think he could possibly appear to be more of a dangerous idiot than he did at the last debate, but welcome to 2020 where everything you know is wrong and the hellmouth continues to open! It was a great night for deranged conspiracies and a bad night for…well, the entire planet, really.

To recap:

QAnon: When asked about QAnon, Trump did his usual “deny but don’t reject” dance. You might recall this from the debate where Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, then gave a perceived shout out to the Proud Boys, then claimed he “didn’t know” who the Proud Boys were. Moderator Savannah Guthrie, of NBC News, explained what QAnon was in a nutshell– the belief in a Democrat satanic pedophile ring (she didn’t mention their idea that Democrats get high on adrenochrome, though) and asked Trump if he would denounce them. The response:

Trump: I know nothing about QAnon.
Guthrie: I just told you.

Trump: You told me, but what you say doesn’t necessarily make it fact, I hate to say that. I know nothing about it, I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard, but I know nothing about it.
Guthrie: They believe it is a satanic cult run by the DNC!

Trump: [rambles about how vicious Antifa is]…I just don’t know about QAnon.
Guthrie: You do know!

Trump: I don’t know!…Let me tell you, what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that.
Guthrie: Ok, but there’s not a satanic pedophile–
Trump: I know nothing about that
Guthrie: You know nothing about that?!
Trump: No, I have know idea and neither do you know that [sic].

Trump still doesn’t know who QAnon is! Well, he knows they fight pedophilia “very hard.” That’s funny because, as I noted in a previous column Trump said at an August 20th press conference that he didn’t know who QAnon was other than “I understand they like me very much.”

It’s been almost 2 months– you couldn’t get an intern to hop on Google to see what all this bullshit was about? The real answer is that Trump is a liar– he very well knows who QAnon is and a cult devoted to him is appealing to his massive ego.

The “Biden Killed Seal Team 6 Theory”: This week Trump retweeted a QAnon account twice that had posted a baseless theory that the Navy SEAL 6 team mistakenly killed Osama Bin Laden’s body double in 2011 and rather than say “oops,” Obama and Biden had the whole team assassinated to cover up the mistake. Yes, THIS IS FUCKING CRAZY. It led to this beautiful town hall exchange, when Guthrie brought it up:

Trump: That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody and that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don’t take a position.
Guthrie: I don’t get that. You’re the president. You’re not someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.

Thank you, Savannah Guthrie, for doing your job and calling Trump out and not letting him try to steamroll you.

Obamagate/Voter Fraud: Trump mentions his Obamagate theory and talks about voter fraud.

Trump:”When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can and they happen to have my name on it, I’m not happy about it.”
Guthrie: There is in fact no evidence of widespread fraud and you are sowing doubt in our democracy.
When Guthrie added that the FBI director noted their was no evidence of mass voter fraud, Trump replied, “Oh really, then he’s not doing a very good job.”

What else– oh yeah, he refused to answer whether he tested for COVID the day of the debate, he misrepresented a study, saying 85% of people who get COVID were wearing masks (FALSE), said he’s second only to Lincoln in helping African-Americans and on and on blah blah bullshit.

FAKE NEWS! But wait, there’s more! Early this morning, Trump tweeted out a post from the Babylon Bee, a satirical site that’s a wannabe version of The Onion. The post said Twitter had shut down to slow the spread of negative news. “Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night,” Trump tweeted.

Well, he’s right– this has never, ever, neverever been done in history. If you are voting for Trump, there is nothing I can say to you, you are too far gone. I just hope you put some serious thought into where your own mind and soul are.

And if you don’t think conspiracy thinking is dangerous, I invite you to read two pieces I wrote this week.

Richard McCaslin: An Obituary,” is about a person I met who descended into conspiracy theory. As the title suggests, he died. I wrote about him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

A Militia of Phantom Patriots” discusses how conspiracy theory was a factor in the Wolverine Watchmen militia terrorists and their plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (and possibly Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, as we now know).

My book American Madness is a guide to Conspiracyland (buy it at Bookshop.org or wherever books are sold). Speaking of crazy uncles (I am one, myself!) I talked with the guys on the Strange Uncles podcast about my book to kick off their fourth season. They say: “American Madness is probably one of the best books we’ve read in awhile…highly recommended.” Thanks, Uncles! You can listen here: https://strangeuncles.podbean.com/e/strange-uncles-s4e1-interview-with-american-madness-author-tea-krulos/

Also, I’m doing a virtual event with the fantastic Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago on this Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30pm. I’ll be talking American Madness and doing some conspiracy theory trivia for some cool prizes. It’s free and streaming live on their YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/QuimbysBookstore
Check out the fantastic prizes HERE.

Tea’s Weird Week: Fall 2020 Reading List (Non-Fiction)

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It’s been awhile since I posted a reading list (last one was in January) so I’m taking a break from conspiracy theory this week to talk about 3 titles I’ve read recently and 3 I hope to read soon, all non-fiction titles. Any time is a great time to read, but I suppose I have a particularly romantic vision of reading in fall. Tomorrow is my birthday– I don’t have any strange birthday adventures planned, but I do plan on reading and relaxing a bit. Click on the highlighted titles below to find links to them at Bookshop.org.

Read it, loved it

The Rise of Real-life Superheroes (And The Fall of Everything Else) by Peter Nowak

When I first heard about this book, I was a bit like “well, been there, done that,” as I wrote a book about Real-Life Superheroes in 2013 titled Heroes in the Night. I’m glad I read the book– Nowak does a first rate job telling this story. There’s some familiar names and history to those who know RLSH, but Nowak explored some fresh angles as well. I really enjoyed reading about a Superman tulpa, African interpretations of superheroes, and really great material on the Guardian Angels, as well as reading about teams I never got around to meeting.

Nowak presents an engaging book that explores comic book (and vigilante) history and ends up on street level with the Real-Life Superheroes in San Diego, Chicago, Orlando and beyond. It’s an accurate portrait of a fascinating, colorful, and timely subculture.

Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism by Seyward Darby

In American Madness, I wrote about the history and evolution of conspiracy theory, using a man named Richard McCaslin’s life story to talk about these themes. Darby has written an excellent book that tells the story of three women and their lives in the white power/ Alt-Right movements, and by extension a history and examination of who these people are. I read the entire book with much interest– it moves along without getting bogged down but is also informative. It’s frightening and disturbing– but it’s something we need to be informed on.

Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Made by Steve Miller

Someday you’ll find out why I’m reading up on Juggalos, but for now I’ll just say that this is a good portrait of the Insane Clown Posse and their following, and very much my style– honest but not condescending, a great story of outsiders banding together. Will you be “down with the clown” after the book? Maybe.

Throw on the “To-Read” Pile

Earth A.D. The Poisoning of the American Landscape and the Communities That Fought Back by Michael Lee Nirenberg

One reason I was thrilled to have American Madness published with Feral House is that all of the books in their catalog are interesting, if not completely fascinating. Nirenberg’s book, about citizens that live in toxic zones fighting back, came out around the same time as mine and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump by Edwin L. Battistella

Edwin interviewed me for his website, Literary Ashland and after I was introduced to him I found he had written this book which looks like a fun history of insulting Presidents, including that polyester cockwomble bawbag fucknugget leather-faced shit-tobbaganist Trump (those insults were all lifted from Scottish Twitter, btw)

Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire by Lyle Blackburn

Blackburn narrated my book trailer for American Madness (you can see it at the end of this post) and is just a cool guy– he’s in a hellbilly band called Ghoultown, narrates documentaries for Small Town Monsters, and has authored several books about cryptozoology cases of the south– I’ve read his books on the Beast of Boggy Creek and the Bishopville Lizard Man, which were both great, so I’m looking forward to Sinister Swamps. You can find it on his website: lyleblackburn.com

Oh yeah, please do read my book, too: American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness has been getting great reviews and is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop.org

Tea’s Weird Week: Demon Sperm, Reptilians, and Alien DNA…Meet Trump’s Latest COVID Expert

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In January I attempted an ambitious project called #TrumpConspiracyCounter, which would document every Trump promotion of a conspiracy theory or theorist. I settled into a routine a couple times a week of Google searches and sifting through Trump’s non-stop tweets. However, when the pandemic struck, I found myself feeling a bit like Lucy and Ethel in the I Love Lucy episode where they’re trying to keep up with a chocolate factory conveyor on high speed, shoving candy in their pockets and mouths.

Overwhelmed, I left the conspiracy counter at #236 at the end of April, but had learned a lot about who Trump was promoting and getting information from. I still follow and write about his conspiracy promotion (“Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession,” for example).

One of Trump’s most frequently retweeted “news” sites, I observed, was Breitbart News, who have often promoted conspiracies and hate. This week a Breitbart video of a “White Coat Summit” on the stairs of the Supreme Court of a group calling themselves America’s Frontline Doctors went viral, getting roughly 13 million views before social media platforms began to pull it.

The summit was organized by the Tea Party Patriots, and the video featured a group calling themselves America’s Frontline Doctors who spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump retweeted it to his millions of followers and later described it as “very impressive.”  In the speech, one of the group’s doctors, Dr. Stella Immanuel, states that hydroxychloroquine cures COVID and that there isn’t a need to wear masks. Immanuel is a registered physician in Houston, where she runs a practice next door to her church, Fire Power Ministries.

Immanuel

Dr. Stella Immanuel surrounded by other members of America’s Frontline Doctors on the steps to the Supreme Court.

Don’t always trust someone wearing a lab coat. You can buy them from American Science & Surplus for $23.65.

Among Dr. Immanuel’s beliefs:

  • “Alien DNA” is being used in today’s medical field.
  • Dr. Immanuel teaches in her seminars that miscarriages and medical issues like infertility, impotence, and cysts, are a result of “astral sex” from “spirit husbands (or incubus)” or “spirit wives (or succubus),” which are sex demons that seduce you with their powers and bang you in a “sleep world.” Immanuel says that cysts and fibroid tumors are a result of demon sperm, which can also impregnate you to create li’l demons.
  • Reptilians or “lizard people” (a group of sinister extra-terrestrials) have infiltrated our government disguised as humans. Please see a chapter of my new book American Madness titled “Reptoid Royalty.”
  • Dr. Immanuel says that vaccines are a secret plot to microchip people, a classic anti-vaxxer line.
  • Also, the government is developing a vaccine to prevent people from “becoming religious.”
  • She believes Dr. Fauci and CNN (the whole organization?) are secretly taking hydroxychloroquine and she has challenged them to deliver urine samples to her to analyze if they dispute her claim.

Ivory and Ash Grey Photo DIY Influencer Minimalist Facebook Cover

Reptilians? “Night husbands?” Secret microchip vaccines?

Wowwwwww-weeGizmodo reports that the rest of America’s Frontline Doctors include a bitcoin hustler, Tea Party members, and someone who went on a rant about George Soros conspiracies on FOX.

These COVID conspiracies, pushed by groups like QAnon and spread through media like this video and the conspiracy doc Plandemic (which was seen 8 million times in May before being pulled from YouTube and social media sites) show how dangerous conspiracy theory can be. They give people the falsely comforting idea that COVID isn’t a real threat and therefore, they shouldn’t bother socially distancing or wearing a mask.

When the press pushed Trump on Immanuel’s beliefs at the end of a press conference on Tuesday, Trump did as Trump does– he deflected the question, shut down the conference, and booked it the fuck outta there. Trump’s propaganda machine– Rush Limbaugh and FOX’s Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham picked up the defense and were soon hard at work at the sticky situation of trying to spin demon jizz to their viewers–but the stain remains.

This story shows the Trump media ecosystem in full orchestra– trash sites like Breitbart News and InfoWars launch some crazy fake story, QAnon and “patriot” groups help spread it, Trump retweets it himself, then it gets kicked up to the hucksters at FOX who promote it and call legit journalists and fact-checkers who dispute it as “fake news.”

As for Immanuel, she’s not happy that social media is removing the video. In fact, she says God is going to crash Facebook because of it in this tweet (I left original word errors intact):

Hello Facebook put back my profile page and videos up or your computers with start crashing til you do. You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name.

Absolutely incredible. Disinformation is killing America.

SEE ALSO: Don’t forget that these type of people aren’t just shooting viral videos, some of them are running for office in the 2020 election: “Trump Inspired QAnon Followers, Proud Boys, Gun Nuts, Racists, all Have 2020 Campaigns” 

Please Clap Dept.: I got advance copies of my book American Madness (out Aug. 25, Feral House)! Among the things in this column discussed more in depth in the book: Trump, Reptilians, Anti-vaxxers, extra-terrestrials, InfoWars, and QAnon. You can pre-order: Lion’s Tooth: CLICK HERE Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

You can enter a Goodreads Giveaway for a FREE COPY here!: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/309615-american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-th

AmMadstack

Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.

Tea’s Weird Week: Summer Plans are Canceled for the New World Order

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By now we’ve come to terms with our favorite street fests, concerts, and sports being canceled because of the pandemic. But what about the Globalist New World Order Deep State Illuminati Secret Rulers of the World? Some conspiracy theorists say that the “powers that be” hoaxed the COVID-19 pandemic for their own nefarious plots, laughing evilly as the “sheeple” sit at home watching “fake news.” That means they’re free to carry on as they please, right?

As it turns out, it seems that secret society summer get-togethers have fallen apart, too. 

The most striking example is the cancellation of the annual “Summer Encampment” at the Bohemian Grove, the redwoods retreat for the Bohemian Club, whose members have included the world’s most powerful men.

The Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco in 1872 to help foster the arts, but evolved into a club to mix entertainment with wealth and power. The club spends two weeks every July in the Bohemian Grove, where they hold a bizarre mock sacrifice “Cremation of Care” ceremony in front of a statue of an owl to kick off a vacation of live music, theatrical performances, recreation and partying, and daily “Lakeside Talk” speeches given by members and guests.  

I write in-depth about the history of the Bohemian Club and how it became a conspiracy theory classic in my upcoming book, American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (Aug.25, Feral House). 

This is the first July the Grove will sit empty since the Club started their summer tradition in 1878. 

“Major events, including…the Bohemian Grove encampment in Monte Rio, were cancelled,” reports The Press Democrat on July events being cancelled in Sonoma County, where the newspaper is based out of and the hidden retreat is located.

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Illustration of the Great Owl of Bohemia in the Bohemian Grove by David Beyer.

Another organization with a long history of conspiracy rumors is the “Bilderberg Group,” used to reference attendees of the annual Bilderberg Meeting, which first took place in 1954 to improve relations between the U.S. and Europe. Bilderberg gets their name from their first meeting place, the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeck, in the Netherlands. Like the Bohemian Grove, the conspiracies have spun out of a large number of people in positions of power meeting in secrecy– Bilderberg meetings have about 150 invite-only guests and press isn’t allowed in. 

Despite the lore surrounding the group’s secrecy, they do have a website, where they announced “THE MEETING 2020 IS POSTPONED.” More interesting is the site’s FAQ, where they address things like not letting media cover their meeting– a press conference on the eve of the meeting was held into the 90s, when they were cancelled “due to a lack of interest,” they say. Here’s another interesting answer on the FAQ:

Why does Bilderberg attract criticism from certain groups and individuals? 

The Bilderberg Meetings have often been the target of anti-globalization protests and various conspiracy theorists have expressed wild allegations about the purpose of the gatherings. While these claims lack any and all merit, we regret to see that many continue to flourish online and in social media groups.

A similar private group, the Trilateral Commission, also has a reputation for conspiracy. Founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller, the group meets to work on relations between North America, Europe, and Japan. The commission’s website lists events for 2019, but not 2020.

Skull and Bones, a secret society at Yale, won’t be in their “Tomb” house this summer. They’d probably be off for the summer anyway, but Yale’s website ensures that “all in-person, campus-based programming is cancelled for summer 2020.”

Skull and Bones is like the junior version of the Bohemian Grove– a select few are chosen each year to be “Bonesman,” who are then initiated in a strange ritual. Former Bonesmen include many politicians, corporate leaders, and other people in high levels of power. In 2004 Bonesmen George W. Bush and John Kerry ran against each other.

Skull and Bones were most recently on the conspiracy radar because they have their own secret number: 322. Conspiracists like the followers of QAnon recognized this and were naturally alarmed when they saw the number reported in COVID cases– 322 additional cases, you say? Another report of 322 cases?! Cases rising on March 22 aka 3/22, you say? This has Skull and Bones written all over it!

Skull and Bones might not be lurking on the Yale campus, but the club still might make use of their own private Deer Island, located in the Saint Lawrence River. The 50-acre island was established as a retreat and gifted to Skull and Bones sometime around 1949. In the glory days, the retreat was well maintained and had several buildings, tennis courts, and softball fields, but a lack of budgeting and motivation has led most of the island to fall to ruin, except for a lodge called The Ledges, located on the shore, which the club uses as a party house. Gawker found pictures from Deer Island from 2008 that shows the club engaging in the secret ritual of…uh, getting butt-wasted

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The Ledges lodge on Skull and Bones Deer Island retreat.

If they’re doing any strange secret rituals out there, hopefully they’ll remember to socially distance.

SEE ALSO: You can’t visit these conspiracy hotspots this summer…(or for most of us, ever) but you can fool your friends into thinking you’re at the Bohemian Grove, Skull and Crossbones Tomb, Area 51 and other hotspots with Zoom backgrounds I created here: https://teakrulos.com/2020/06/12/teas-weird-week-freak-out-your-next-zoom-call-with-these-conspiracy-inspired-backgrounds/

Project COUCHSURF: Last month I wrote about my new hobby of sifting through declassified files in the CIA Virtual Reading Room, reading about UFOs, mind control programs, all that fun stuff.

To tie into this column I searched for files on the Bohemian Grove. Mostly I found scraps of related documents–letters and memos from the CIA to politicians that mention going to the Grove in passing. There’s correspondence addressed to Herbert Hoover in the Grove from CIA director Allen W. Dulles from July 1954. I also found a 1971 cable to Henry Kissinger reporting on messages and mail he received while on vacation, including a phone call from Zsa Zsa Gabor, a letter from Hubert Humphrey “saying sorry wasn’t able to come to party,” and an invite to the Grove.

The most significant item I found is a document of “proposed remarks” for CIA director William H. Webster for his “Lakeside Talk,” on July 22, 1988 at the Grove. It includes a 22-page draft for the speech, a candid dialog about the spy business. Page 11 has a chunk redacted and the entirety of page 12 is stamped “Page Denied.”

My upcoming book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness, is a wild ride through the Bohemian Grove and conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Lion’s Tooth: CLICK HERE Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

 

“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.

 

Tea’s Weird Week: One Year of Keepin’ it Weird (and Top 5 Columns)

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Retro 2019 columnhead

My first Tea’s Weird Week column, “Parallax and Cthulhu Power Zones” was published almost a year ago on June 28, 2019. I started the column because I wanted to connect with readers, promote projects I’m working on (mostly books I’m writing), write about topics I’m interested in (some of which might be featured in future books), and to have a small weekly writing deadline.

In that first column I wrote a year ago, I talked about a book I had recently read (Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood) while finishing up some research on my upcoming book, American Madness. I also discussed how I had just learned about “Cthulhu Power Zones” (I’ll let you read the column on that one). Since then, I’ve written the column weekly (minus a couple weeks off in December for the holidays). Some of the topics have included ghost stories, Real Life-Superheroes, lots on conspiracy theory, quarantine journals, Internet hoaxes, CIA UFO files, as well as an occasional life reflection.

I collected all the columns I wrote in 2019 into an e-book: Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review which you can get for the low, low cost of $1.99 (or free on Kindle Unlimited): CLICK HERE

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Here are my 5 favorite or most noteworthy columns from the last 12 months:

1.) Best working theory: “A Theory About Vampires, Zombies, Killer Clowns…and Donald J. Trump” (Sept. 5, 2019). A brief examination of politics and horror movies, this column got a nice boost when it was reprinted (in a slightly different form) in Fortean Times, the best magazine dedicated to all weird things.

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2.) Scariest shit: “There are Two Dozen Members of QAnon Running for Congress” (Feb. 13, 2020). QAnon has been running candidates across several states. In February the number totaled about 24, but I’m sad to say that number has doubled. This column got a lot of reads and  I followed up in another column “Trump Inspired QAnon Followers, Proud Boys, Gun Nuts, Racists, all Have 2020 Campaigns” (May 8, 2020).

3.) Fun stuff: “9 Music Conspiracies and Urban Legends”(Oct.10, 2019) I love hearing about music/Hollywood urban legends and talked about the classics in this column and a sequel: “Now That’s What I Call Music Conspiracy Vol.2” (Nov. 8, 2019). A spin-off, about the conspiracy theory genre of flat earth hip hop (or “flat hop”) “The Top 7 Flattest of the Flat Earth Hip Hop Songs” (Feb. 6, 2020) totally bombed though. “I watched like one minute before I had to turn it off,” one of my friends wrote, after watching one of the presented music videos. “I couldn’t get past the headline,” wrote another. Well, excuuuuuuuze me for my “flatsmacking!” 😉

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4.) Most read/ second best working theory: “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 times more batshit crazy every day” (April 9, 2020). This column had the most views, including quite a few from across Europe. It featured bits on the QAnon “mole children” theory, 5G towers being burned over conspiracy theories, and a bit on the Wisconsin elections. This was during peak pandemic boredom, or maybe lots of people were googling “batshit crazy.”

5.) Tie between two columns:  I really loved “Ask Tea Anything (Pandemic Edition)” (April 23, 2020), I think because I was lonely during the pandemic, so it was nice to interact with people even if it was just answering questions in a column. I also really loved the concept for “Freak Out Your Next Zoom Call With These Conspiracy Inspired Backgrounds” (June 12, 2020) where I just created some Zoom backgrounds based on well known conspiracy sites, like this one from Area 51:

Area51Zoom

Thank you for reading over the last year. Who knows what other weird stuff 2020 is going to throw at us (nervous laughter)– but I look forward to writing it up!

Next week: I’m taking a trip for 4th of July weekend, so I’ll be reporting live from the road.

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

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“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Watch Out for the Phrase “Do Your Own Research”

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Let me tell you a little bit about Young Krulos– when I was 18, I graduated high school, then I moved out of mom and dad’s. I moved to Milwaukee’s east side into a house full of roommates, got a string of jobs like washing dishes, telemarketing, and cashiering. I lived a carefree life. I didn’t have much money or even wanted much… I dined on Ramen noodle packs, and frozen pizzas. Not having much money, I spent many days hanging out at the East and Central libraries. I would spend hours browsing and reading books, magazines, CDs, and videos.

A lot of times I’d be on some random kick– I’d be reading all the books I could find about comic book history or UFO case studies or famous gangsters of the 1920s…whatever struck my interest. I guess you could say I was “doing my own research,” so I understand the appeal.

“Do your own research.” That’s a phrase I ran into a lot while working on my book American Madness, which is about conspiracy theory culture, and it’s a term I’ve heard many times in the last few months. It kind of makes my eyes roll and my skin crawl when I hear it now.

FlatEarthBoard

Over the course of working on American Madness, I was told I should “research”  9/11 and vaccines and flat earth theory and other stuff I’ll just let you read about in the book.

I have mixed feelings about conspiracy theory, depending on the topic. Some of it, like UFO cases and the JFK assassination, I find to be really interesting. Stuff like the moon landing hoax or Jimi Hendrix faking his death and becoming Morgan Freeman, are just goofy and amusing. Theories like the Sandy Hook shooting being fake are pretty disgusting. There’s a fine line that’s hard to navigate sometimes.

I think my irritation with “do your own research” was already there, but blew up with all the COVID-19 theories from an internet army of people who were suddenly “researchers.” Someone on Facebook told me I was dumb for believing the pandemic was a real threat. This person had “researched,” they said, and their findings was that the “plandemic” was fake.

Really? Did you? Did you do this research in a lab? Did you have it published in a peer-reviewed journal? Or did you just watch something floating around YouTube?

Ok, let me take a breath here. I’m not saying you need a PhD to educate yourself. We should all strive to be better informed. Media literacy is more important than ever.

Fake news is a real problem in 2020. Conspiracy sites, foreign interests (like Russia), bots, data mining, deep fakes, far right sites–some that have deceptive, Orwellian names ( justthenews.com, for example is definitely not “just the news”) have formed a tidal wave of misinformation. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people want media literacy. They’d rather follow their “hunch,” like Trump does, and find faulty resources that support their idea that the world is flat, or that vaccines cause autism, or that Democrats have imprisoned “mole children” under Central Park.

Here’s some things we should ask ourselves when searching for information:

  • What source is this and is it credible? Is it “fake news”–not the type that Trump yammers on about because they report information that hurts his ego, but heavily skewed, conspiracy peddling, Photoshop fear-mongering sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, FOX, OANN, etc.?
  • Who authored it and when was it written? I periodically see people mourning the recent loss of Gene Wilder on Facebook– but he died in 2016.
  • What sources are provided for the article you’re reading or the video you’re watching? Some outlets use an echo chamber– they might use articles on their own site or other similar bad sources for information.
  • Is this source heavily biased, an opinion piece, or a satire site? It’s hard to tell these days if we’re looking at the New York Times or The Onion.
  • Am I looking for the truth, or am I just looking to have my opinion validated? Research follows facts, not emotion.
  • Appeal to authority is a misunderstood logical fallacy. It says that a claim isn’t necessarily true just because an expert says it is without other evidence. It doesn’t mean all authority figures are wrong, it just means that they aren’t always right. Appeal to false authority is using evidence from someone who claims they are an authority on a subject when they are not.
  • Who pays for the site the source comes from? Are they owned by a non-profit, or a special interest group? Those are things to consider. Do they fund their site by selling scam products (ahem, Alex Jones)? Are they really owned by George Soros, or is that something you saw someone say on Reddit?

Doing your own research can be a fun and rewarding thing, a way to understand life better. Just be careful where you get your information from.

Freelance Dept.: I interviewed members of Antifa for local paper the Shepherd Express this week: https://shepherdexpress.com/news/features/what-is-antifa/

My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HEREIt’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

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Follow me on:
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“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.

Tea’s Weird Week: Freak Out Your Next Zoom Call with These Conspiracy Inspired Backgrounds

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The stay at home order has been lifted in many places, and businesses are slowly opening, however, Zoom is going to be the preferred method of meeting for some time to come. At your next conference call why not give your colleagues…something to think about with these Zoom backgrounds I’ve created for you. Impress your friends, give your enemies a shiver of paranoia.

Most of these classic conspiracy spots are places I explore in my upcoming book (more info and a book trailer at the bottom of this post) American Madness. Now you can enter these mysterious locales from the safety of your couch. Tell ’em the Illuminati Tea Krulos sent ya!

BohoZoom

Here’s a photo of the Bohemian Grove, a secret society retreat deep in the redwood forest in northern California. It’s owned by the Bohemian Club, it’s members a who’s who of the world’s most powerful men. To the left, you’ll see a crude statue of an owl, where a strange ritual called the “Cremation of Care” is performed. The first chapter of American Madness explores the grove– it’s history, membership, and strange secrets. A Zoom background is much safer than trying to visit in person– you’ll be quickly arrested for trespassing.

SkullandBonesZoom

Hello, I’m calling you from outside the Skull and Bones “Tomb.” This is a legendary Yale University fraternity that has existed since 1832. It’s like the junior version of the Bohemian Grove and it’s members have including several presidents, corporate leaders, members of the CIA, and other powerful people. There was a spotlight on the institution in 2004 when former “Bonesmen” George W. Bush and John Kerry ran against each other, guaranteeing a Bonesman would become president.

Skull & Bones has an kooky ooky initiation ritual inside this windowless building, located on the Yale campus. Sure, you could use a color photo of this place, but it looks better in black and white.

HAARPzoom

This anxiety-inducing background is the antenna array of the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), located up in the wilds of Alaska. It was started in the 1990s as a joint effort by the military and the University of Alaska to study the ionosphere. Because of the military’s involvement, conspiracy theories quickly spun that they were weaponizing weather or attempting mass mind control.

Area51Zoom

Here’s the front gates of Area 51, one of the world’s most famous conspiracy sites (I visited– well, I saw the outside of it, while working on American Madness). It’s where the government has supposedly stashed UFOs and extra-terrestrial bodies and got a lot of attention last year with a viral “Raid Area 51–They Can’t Stop Us All” Facebook page.

COVIDprotestZoom

Here’s a background of a more contemprary conspiracy, a scene from a “lockdown protest” where people think COVID-19 is “fake news.” But uh-oh, what’s that protester pointing at?

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

Follow me on:
Facebook//Twitter//Instagram//YouTube

“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

 

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.

 

 

Tea’s Weird Week: Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession

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Memorial Day weekend— a chance to enjoy relaxation, grill out, and remember those who have sacrificed their lives fighting for our country. Or if you’re President Trump, a time to spend golfing and then spiraling into a tweetrage hurling insults, threats, and conspiracy theories. Can you imagine Obama or Bush acting like this? They’d be led out of the White House in a straitjacket, but we’re so used to this that it’s just another crazy day, another Trump meltdown.

Trump has been trying to push three big conspiracies this month of May– he’s continued to spin his mail-in ballot fraud theory (which this week prompted Twitter to finally slap warnings on his tweets), as well as continuing to tweet about “Obamagate,” a theory so convoluted that even Trump can’t explain it. Here’s an exchange between him and a reporter after he he went on a tweetfit about it on Mother’s Day (maybe it’s just holidays that get his conspiracy hype pumped up). After a reporter from the Washington Post asked him to explain what “Obamagate” was, Trump responded:

Uh, Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time. It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and it’s a disgrace that it happened, and if you look at what’s gone on, and if you look at now, all this information that’s being released — and from what I understand, that’s only the beginning — some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.

Uh, ok, thanks for the clear answer on that. When the reporter tried to follow up and asked again what exactly the crime was that he was referring to, Trump snapped:

You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.

And then there is the “Joe Scarborough Cold Case” conspiracy.

Trump hates Joe Scarborough, the former Florida Republican Congressman turned talk show host (Trump calls him “Psycho Joe”), his wife and co-host Mika Brezinzski, and their show Morning Joe (MSNBC).

Ooh, does he hate them! They show clips of him doing and saying stupid things…They say he isn’t doing a good job responding to this damn pandemic where 100,000 people have died…Fake news! He’s tried bashing their ratings and calling them crazy and making some shitty comment about Mika bleeding from a facelift, but it isn’t enough– he wants to burn them, badly, his heart overflowing with hate.

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Then Trump remembers something dirty and disgusting– wasn’t there a conspiracy theory from the early 2000s, something about Scarborough murdering an intern and then resigning? There was (and I’m sad to say it was liberals who originally pushed it). Scarborough had an employee (not an intern) named Lori Klausutis, 28, a constituent services coordinator who worked in Scarborough’s office. In 2001, she was found dead on the floor, near a desk.

But it isn’t, as Trump insists, a “cold case.”

AP Fact Check reports:

An autopsy revealed that Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition and a coroner concluded she passed out and hit her head as she fell. The coroner said the head injury caused the death, but she wasn’t struck by another person. The death occurred a month after Scarborough announced he was leaving office. Scarborough was in Washington when Klausutis died.

Source: AP Fact Check: Scarborough staffer death not a “mystery”

Like any conspiracy that grows legs, there are some straws to grasp at. Scarborough was getting a divorce and people whispered that he must have been having an affair with Klausutis (there’s no evidence or even allegations of this) and murdered her (though he was in DC at the time, not Florida, so he would have needed to hire a hit).

Then there was the medical examiner, Michael Berkland. He added fuel to the conspiracy story in 2012 when he stopped paying for a storage facility and a creepy scene at Uncle Bob’s Storage was revealed:

Lungs, hearts, tissue samples and 10 brains were found Aug. 22 in a storage container at Uncle Bob’s Storage that Berkland was renting, according to Pensacola police. There were body parts from more than 100 people found in the air conditioned unit.

They were stored in formaldehyde in plastic containers, specimen cups, trash bags and one part even in a 32-ounce Styrofoam cup from a convenience store, according to police. Some of the containers were cracked and leaking.

Source: “Man Charged After More Than 100 Body Parts Found in Storage Container,” ABC News, 2012.

Yikes! But that doesn’t mean that Berkland’s autopsy report was untrue. The investigation found no reason to dispute it.

Trump can’t pass up an opportunity to smear an enemy, as he has many times before (I write about this in a chapter of my upcoming book American Madness) so he takes this half baked theory and shoots it out via Twitter. A recent article in The Atlantic summed it up well:

When someone holds him accountable—when someone calls him out for his incompetence and ethical wrongdoing—conspiracy theories often become his weapon of choice. At such moments, conspiracy theories are fine, but conspiracy theories with the added element of cruelty are even better.
–Peter Wehner, “The Malignant Cruelty of Donald Trump,” The Atlantic

This is what the real “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is. He tweeted about the conspiracy six different days this month (so far):

May 4:“Concast” should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough. I know him and Crazy Mika well, used them beautifully in the last Election, dumped them nicely, and will state on the record that he is “nuts”. Besides, bad ratings!

May 12: When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!

May 23: A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida…and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!

May 24: A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story!

May 26: The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking…
…about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?

May 27: Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case. He knows what is happening!

This is all especially cruel because Lori Klausutis was a real person, with a family. Her husband, Timothy Klausutis, wrote a heartbreaking letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. It reads, in part:

I have mourned my wife every day since her passing. I have tried to honor her memory and our marriage. As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.

You can read the entire letter here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/business/letter-to-twitter-ceo.html

Twitter had a generic response, but they did for the first time flag two of Trump’s tweets (untrue statements about voter fraud). Trump, of course, had a melt down about this and today is signing an executive order against social media companies.

Meanwhile, during all this, thousands more people have died from COVID-19. This is why having a Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief is dangerous: he will ignore everything else to bring you down. If you criticize him, he will label you an “enemy of the people” and spread any lie he can find to try to smear you. These are dark times.

SEE ALSO: My first column of the year, which was about the Kevin Spacey murder conspiracy; also my column from a couple weeks ago about candidates playing the Trump conspiracy playbook to run for office.

Project COUCHSURF: Last week I wrote about my new hobby of spending a couple hours a week in the CIA Virtual Reading Room. This week I read some interesting files on a wave of UFO sightings in Europe and Africa in 1952 (same year as a well known UFO sighting in Washington DC). They were in the CIA’s UFOS: Fact or Fiction? collection.

#TrumpConspiracyCounter: As you can see from this column, May has been a thick month of Trump spreading conspiracy. I’m working on updating the #TrumpConspiracyCounter for this month and will have a report out next week. Needless to say, the number has seen a huge jump.

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My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HERE

It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

Follow me on:
Facebook//Twitter//Instagram//YouTube

“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.