Saturday, June 26, 2010


I think first heard about the “Night Rider book” as it’s usually referred to, in Vancouver from Knight Owl while cruising around in the Thana-van. What I was hearing was that an individual had written a guide book to be a real life superhero…in 1980.

I talked with Zimmer about this book again when I was in NYC, and of course both times I discussed it, I realized that it was important to me to read this book.
I finally got a chance to read it a couple days ago. Reading a copy is a rare opportunity, and some details on the book will tell you why.

-The book actually titled “How to be a Super-hero” by The Night Rider, was published in 1980 by GEM Enterprises with a PO Box in Morgantown, WV listed as the address. Judging from the lay out, style, and typos my guess is that this enterprise was a name Night Rider used to self publish the book himself or with a small group of people. This sort of thing is easy to do now with Lulu and other sites, but was significantly more difficult back then- you had to commit to a certain print run for you book- ranging from a very small one to a few thousand.
----> Point being: No one but Night Rider and his publishing partners know how many copies of this book were printed.

-Fun Fact: Night Rider’s book was published two years before the David Hasselhoff/ talking car TV show Knight Rider aired in 1982.

- The only known copy of this book is in the special collections department of the Michigan State University Library. It can’t be checked out or even taken out of the small reading room in the special collections.

Tracking it down took an international RLSH effort- Toronto based detective Wolf located the book and then RLSH worked together and got Blue Lightning to go to the library, convinced the librarians that he needed to photocopy the entire book (they usually allow only 5 pages copied for copyright reasons) for scholarly reasons. They agreed and he photocopied the whole thing- the book is only 54 pages- and then scanned the pages.

Night Rider provides chapters on physical and mental training (mostly “visualize yourself as the person you want to be" type techniques) a chapter on selecting an effective “uniform,” a chapter on weapons- mostly talking about different ninja weapons; nunchucks, bo, sai, tonfa, manriki-gusari, etc.
I think the most interesting is the last chapter, titled “More True Stories of Real-life Superheroes.” Yes, Night Rider uses this term a few times in his book, 30 years ago!

According to Night Rider, he was not alone out there and gives short accounts of the Phantom Avenger and Ms. Mystery.

The Phantom Avenger, he says, swung into action after a friend of he and his wife came to them for shelter from her abusive husband. The book gives an account of what happened next.

Betty(woman being beaten)'s husband pulled up the driveway and exited his car, an expensive white Continental. As he opened his front door, Jim(aka the Phantom Avenger!)hit him with a flying tackle that carried them both into the living room. Betty's husband looked up at Jim and cried, "Who are you?

"I'm the Phantom Avenger and I'm going to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget!"
With that, Jim hit his opponent with a terrific right that sent him sprawling over the coffee table. Pouncing on him, he raised him up to his feet by gripping the man's throat.

He tried unsuccessfully to fight back, but The Phantom Avenger was too much for him. A flurry of blows knocked the wifebeater across the room, each one hitting the mark. His mouth was bubbling red.

"You like slapping women around, eh?", the Phantom Avenger asked. "Well, get this. If you try to get at Betty at June and Jim's house or anywhere else, I'll be back to give you a real sample of what I can do"

Night Rider said the Phantom Avenger continued his quest:

And occasionally, a drunken and violent wifebeater is found tied to a tree with a sign around his neck:

Up next is Ms. Mystery, who in a similar fashion decided to bring street justice to her boss. Ms. Mystery’s secret identity worked as a secretary, and her and her fellow secretaries were being assaulted at the workplace by their sexist boss and his horny hands.

She called the boss and without revealing who she was told him to meet her in the office, luring him with a sexy, suggestive voice. When he arrived, she was dressed in a disguise, hit him in the shins with her nunchucks and handcuffed him to his desk, leaving a note in the typewriter:


It is unclear as to whether she operated as Ms. Mystery outside of that incident.

Although these stories are interesting, nothing supports these stories except Night Rider’s book, so we have to take his word. Two other people he mentions, however, do have a lot of documentation: Curtis Sliwa and The Fox.

Night Rider talks about Curtis Sliwa and his first organization, the Magnificent 13. This group did street and subway patrols together in a group. Membership rapidly expanded and Sliwa renamed the group the Guardian Angels, identified by their red berets and jackets. At first the Angels faced some controversy, and occasionally still do, but have been recognized and awarded by a few mayors of New York City, American presidents, and other world leaders. They have chapters in 140 cities in 14 countries. Sliwa is still active with the group.

The Fox was an environmental activist at the very beginning of the environmental movement, before the term came into use. The name is clever in its simplicity- The Fox became active after seeing pollution, mostly unregulated, damaging the Fox River. Zorro also translates as “fox,” and The Fox became a Robin Hood or Zorro figure, especially to environmentalists.

The Fox was an environmental science teacher and lived on a farm in northern Illinois. His first action as The Fox was trying to plug up a sewage drain that was pouring waste from a soap factory into the Fox River. The Fox returned to see if the drain had been unplugged. It had. He describes the scene in his autobiography, Raising Kane: The Fox Chronicles.

"Before me lay a mini-disaster. Bank-to-bank soap curds filled the water from the dam back to the sewer. Looking into the pool, my heart sank.

"Floating upside down, with their orange legs relaxed in death, was the mallard hen and all of her baby ducks. The shock of seeing such carnage gave way to sorrow and then rage. Wading into the glop, I saw one tiny duckling’s foot feebly kick. Scooping it up and stripping soap waste off its partly fuzzy body, I tried to open its little beak and blow breath into its lungs. The little body went limp in my hand as the final spark of life flickered out. Everything got blurry as tears of sorrow and anger rolled down my cheeks."

The Fox decided to fight back against companies like this with direct action. When companies were polluting the air, he would put caps on their smokestacks or leave dead skunks by the doorway to the factory. In one case he walked into the reception area of a company and dumped several gallons of their chemical onto the carpet of the floor. At one point, he held a mock funeral for the Fox River. He fought back with signs, delivering sewage, plugging up drains and pipes, and dead skunks. He left messages at all of these scenes, signed with his calling card- the word FOX with a cartoon fox face peering through the “O.”

At one point, he held a mock funeral for the Fox River. He caught the ear of Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko*, who wrote about The Fox several times, leading to wider media interest.
The Fox died in 2001,at age 70, and his supporters held a memorial service on the banks of the Fox River.

If The Fox were around today, do you think he might dump gallons of oil in the offices of BP? And do you think most people would view him as a hero?
Bumper sticker of a supporter of The Fox.

*Royko first wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times, until Rupert Murdoch bought the paper in 1984. Royko said he would never work for Murdoch and moved to the Chicago Tribune. He is quoted as saying, "No self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in a Murdoch paper."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

HERO PROFILE #34: Angle Grinder Man


Operated out of: England

Armed with
: angle grinder

Activities: Angle Grinder Man, upset at heavy handed parking laws, cut the boot (usually called a clamp in the States) off of stranded motorist's vehicles as well as dismantling traffic cameras.

"This is the voice-mail of Angle Grinder Man, the world's first wheel-clamp and speed-camera superhero vigilante! I am out cleaning the streets of bureaucratic vermin! Good, honest, decent folk can leave me a message after the grinding noise – with God's help, we shall prevail!" –Angle Grinder Man’s voice mail message

“There are not enough car parking spaces for people. We got no public transport to speak of. It’s a complete joke and yet instead of us suing the government and the councils for shambolic mismanagement, we allow them to take back money from us, the very people they have let down.” - from a magazine interview

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 19 Riverwest Patrol

The Watchman on Center Street

I've been hearing some ugly stories about people getting mugged the last couple weeks here in Riverwest, including someone I know getting held up at gunpoint. Because of this your local real life superheroes want to get out on the street more often.

I joined The Watchman out on patrol Saturday night. My downstairs neighbor was having a birthday party/ ping pong tournament/ heavy metal bonfire, so I slipped out of the party and into the Watchmanmobile. The Watchman had fashioned a new mask- a combination of an older one and red fabric. The trouble with the old one was that it was too hot- didn't breath properly and also reduced hearing capability. We checked out Reservoir Park, walking to the top of the hill and back down the bike path.

I brought my longboard along, so on occasion I cruised on ahead a block, or skated around the block, keeping in touch with Watchman by walkie-talkie.

As we turned a corner, we saw the doorman of the Riverhorse Tavern hanging around outside the front door. He saw us and nodded and said-
"What up, Watchman."

It was very quiet on the streets, which is very, very odd. The weather was hot, so usually you see groups of people walking around or hanging out on porches. We did see some of that and some backyard parties, but not a lot. Even Center Street seemed kind of dead. There was a show going on at Stonefly Brewing Company,and some bad karaoke coming out of House of Frank-N-Stein. Other than that not much, not even the steady foot traffic between Riverhorse Tavern and Mad Planet.

We patrolled in a kind of circle form- Weil to Booth and Hadley to Meinecke.

The only incident we encountered was three drunk dudes, across the street from Riverhorse. One of them was really enthusiastic to see Watchman. He asked Watchman what the "W" on his chest stood for, then said something like-
"Hell yeah dude, that's what we need- some vigilantes out there!"
As they continued walking down the street one of them threw a beer bottle, shattering it in the middle of Center Street.

Why do people do crap like that?

We weren't sure if we should dodge traffic and clean up the glass or tail the inebriated bottle smashers. We decided to follow and see where they went and if they were heading toward more trouble. On the next block they got in their car and headed home. They were gone before we could see a plate.
Hopefully the driver was the sober one and they headed home instead continuing on elsewhere.

At this point I cruised off on my longboard.

Watchman returned to the scene of the crime and removed the beer bottle neck and large pieces of glass and handed them to the doorman at Stonefly Brewing Company to recycle.

Blackbird wasn't able to make it out, although I know Bird has been patrolling Riverwest recently, doing late night solo patrols.

Another patrol is being planned for sometime in the next couple weeks.

PS- I wrote about Watchman and other RLSH parents in my third column over at FORCES OF GEEK, titled "Super Parents."

The author hanging ten on the longboard

Thursday, June 17, 2010

HERO PROFILE #33: Superbarrio


Operated out of: Mexico City

Activities: Starting in 1987, Superbarrio used his image for rallying people for political demonstrations, drawing attention to labor, housing, and immigration issues. He declared himself a candidate in the 1996 US presidential election, one of his platforms being to "abolish the border patrol and Drug Enforcement Agency" which he felt would “deal a blow to international drug trafficking.”

Street cred: It is reported that followers built a “giant lifelike replica” statue of him sometime around 1997. At the statue unveiling, the crowd chanted “You see him! You feel him! Superbarrio is here!”

Quote:"I opened my eyes and found myself as you see me with a voice telling me, 'You are Superbarrio.' I can't stop a plane or a train single-handed, but I can keep a family from being evicted."
Superbarrio leads a rally at the US/Mexico border at Ciudad Juarez
Superbarrio with political author/linguist/ philosopher Noam Chomsky

Friday, June 11, 2010


Reposting my own message:

Milwaukee's Real Life Superheroes, The Watchman and Blackbird will be patrolling the neighborhood with writer Tea Krulos (hey-that's me), next Saturday, June 19.

We want you to join us, and you don't even have to wear a superhero costume! We're basically looking for people to walk around the neighborhood with us, observing and reporting and helping anyone that might need it.

You are invited to join us, either by joining our group or walking or riding bikes in your own group. Looking for people who'll be hanging out on their porches to act as checkpoints.

Pass it on!

Open to any ideas as well. Contact me here or at

More reading on this:

Ask Tea Krulos

At forum a lot of people are posting threads where you can ask any question, with the poster then answering the questions. Since a lot of you are not on the forum- here is a chance to ask me any question, which I will try to answer to the best of my ability in the comments section below.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The LONGBOARD- A perfect patrolling vehicle

At first, I thought a perfect RLSH vehicle might be a bullet proof motorcycle equipped with net launchers and a grappling hook gun.

After hitting the street with the NYI (see previous entry), I think it's something much simpler- a piece of wood and four wheels.
A longboard differs from a regular skateboard in that it's designed for riding instead of hot dogging and doing tricks. The boards and wheels are bigger.

The advantages are many-
1. They are light enough to carry and run with, if you have to.
2. They can cruise through areas larger vehicles can't access.
3. They are easy to jump off of in case you have to spring into action.
4. They give you street cred.
5. In a worse case scenario in which you lose or destroy the board (which is hard to do- they're pretty sturdy) while it does suck, a longboard is a cheap vehicle in comparison to a car or even a good bicycle.

and of course-
6. It's hella fun.

Some things to keep in mind:

1. Learning to ride a board is like everything else- you slowly improve with practice. You have to suck it up and not be embarrassed of your lack of skill. Find a park, a parking lot, or a quiet street and practice riding around, and hope the neighbors peeking out their windows aren't laughing too hard.

2. Riding with someone who knows how is always helpful.

3. Wear protective gear. No, not a stun baton- pads. Consider it part of your new look. As someone who currently has two skinned knees, two skinned elbows, and a sore wrist, I am telling you that you can save a lot of hurt immediately and down the road wearing proper knee and elbow pads as well as hand and wrist guards. A helmet is a good idea, too.

4. Obey traffic laws. Your area may have specific laws about skating, so check into it. If you're skating at night, it may be wise to pick up a flashing light like bicyclists wear. It may blow your cover of darkness, but it will allow cars to see you. That might be the difference between you being Batman or...The Pancake.

5. Have fun, check out your local skate shop, hang out with other skateboarders.

Recommended style:
The one I got was a surfboard style and really long. It cost about 60 bucks or so on eBay. Although I like the style, it is a bit stiff for patrolling. The NYI guys had awesome compact longboards (similar to the one pictured) and those run about 150-200 bucks. It's worth the investment.
Look around online, or even better, check out your local skateboard shop where you can see them in person and probably even take them for a test run.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Please note- this is writing in a raw form. It mostly is just my notes written in a coherent form. There is a lot to be expanded on, but this is a basic run down of my New York experience.


After getting off a bus from La Guardia, I transferred twice on the subway, entering the mad rush of New York City. I got off on a stop in Brooklyn and the streets below me on the subway platform looked kind of rough.

I found the apartment building that housed the New York Initiative (NYI), a small but very dedicated group of crime fighters. After sending a text, I was greeted by Zimmer. Zimmer is the President of the Heroes Network forum, one of two major RLSH online meeting spots. I met him in September at the Superheroes Anonymous 3 conference, although I didn’t talk to him extensively there- there were a lot of people in attendance.

After unloading my gear, Zimmer and I jumped on a subway to head to NYC Resistor, self described as:
“ (A) hacker collective with a shared space located in downtown Brooklyn. We meet regularly to share knowledge, hack on projects together, and build community.”
Zimmer has a lot of involvement with hackers, and has spoken about RLSHs at two different hacker conventions, including one in Austria.

“I think hackers and RLSHs have a lot in common in what they do, but a lot of people in this community probably don’t see that.” Zimmer told me as we walked up to the collective, housed on the third floor in a giant warehouse.
It was “craft night” at the collective, and was also open to the public to use free wi-fi. That’s the main reason we’re here- internet service in the NYI building is kind of dodgy, a lot of times you have to sit in the hall of the apartment building to get it.

We returned to the NYI neighborhood and get some food at the Crown Fried Chicken restaurant located directly below the subway platform. The outside of the building is weighed down heavily by giant loopy graffiti. Inside the small space, I ordered fried chicken from a very stern looking man, peering at me warily through a small square in the bullet proof glass.
Crowd Fried Chicken

We brought the food to the roof of the NYI building, which looks just like a set from a Batman movie. It has great views of Brooklyn, and in the distance, the skyline of Manhattan. The NYI has actually used the roof top for sparring matches, adding to the adventurous mystique of the setting.
NYI rooftop

A documentary crew has been working to get footage of the NYI, and have sent some documentaries for suggested viewing, so we watch one of those and then Zimmer sets up on air mattress on the floor of his room for me to crash on. The rest is good- it was a long day of airplane, bus, subway, subway, walking, subway, subway. I kicked back, listening to the noisy Brooklyn traffic on the hot street below.

Friday morning I met NYI team member Tsaf briefly on her way out to work. She is short and muscular and has a very calm, intelligent face. I did not see too much of her over the weekend. My understanding is that she is a somewhat private person, so I don’t want to ramble on too much. I know she is an important part of the team and is trained in the Zen arts and has known her roommates/ team mates Z and Lucid for some time. There is a meaning behind her name, same with Z (and I would guess Lucid- Zimmer is actually a part of his real birth name) but again, these things have personal meanings so if they want to share those stories publicly; I’ll leave it up to them.

Tour of NYI
The NYI is unique in that they are a team of crime fighters that actually lives together- most other “teams” don’t even live in the same city.
Zimmer and I were catching up on the internet in the hallway when Z showed up, longboard in hand. Z wasn’t wearing his mask, of course, and it’s always interesting to see what someone looks like without their mask on for the first time after months of communication online with a masked avatar. In this case, Z looks a lot like I expected, although I thought maybe he might have broken teeth or some wicked scar. Not the case.
The man known as Z

Z gave me a tour of the apartment, which includes a small, narrow bathroom, a small kitchen, and three bedrooms. Tsaf has her own, so does Zimmer- furnished with a desk and huge piles of books everywhere, many on computers and computer programs.
Z and Lucid share a room with two mattresses on the floor, although Lucid often stays elsewhere- he sometimes will be gone a week straight. Their room also has a boxing bag set up on and stand and a weight set. The four also share the apartment with Lucy, a kitten they found on the street, barely alive but now healthy, purring and rubbing up against body armor.

The center of the apartment is the living room, and this is where you realize that the NYI’s lifestyle revolves around what they do. Many other people I’ve talked to keep their masks and gear in their closet, or a trunk under their bed, or in a makeshift HQ in the basement. In the NYI living room, though, almost everything is related to what they do, all arranged in a very compact space.

A dry erase board lists some NYI goals for the next year (example: contact Death’s Head Moth about getting more butcher mail- a stab proof, lightweight chainmail.) A map of the subway system, the periodic table of elements, and a mirror also hangs on the wall- the mirror has a quote written on a piece of paper attached to it that reads “what can be broken, must be broken.”

There are a number of shelving units in the living room, and no couch, just a collection of chairs. One rack holds arm gauntlets, gloves, a heavy cop flashlight, sunglasses, walkie- talkies, binoculars, batons, and a battle ax. Some metal wire crates are set up as bookshelves with a number of graphic novels, DVDs, and crime fighting and martial art books, with two sheathed katanas lying on top. There is a workbench and shelves near by containing a mess of tools, building materials and body armor. A mannequin head holds Z’s mask, glaring empty eyed and surveying the room. A “NYI ledger of expenses” lies next to it.
Shelf of gear

The perimeter of the room is lined with dried, upside down roses. The sole window in the room looks down on a tiny square of a courtyard, surrounded on all sides by the towering apartments.

Z shows off the NYI collection of weapons, however 99 percent of this collection can’t be used on the streets of New York. He hands me a collection of blunt weapons stored in an umbrella rack of pain- a couple of giant ax handles that can be used as clubs, as well as a simple every day cane. He shows me a pair of stun knuckles, that make a loud zapping sound, and a pair of spiky medieval looking hand guards. They are from China, and look like something Genghis Khan would use to brawl.

A package on the floor has been shipped out by Victim from Washington state. Victim acts as the group’s gadgeteer and he sent them a sampling of polycarbonate squares to test their durability against a variety of weapons. Z shows a panel with a few minor dents in it- the poly carbonate has withstood and NYI attack against it using a variety of knives and blunt instruments.

Show and Tell
When Zimmer and I were at the NYC Resistor the day before, one of the people there mentioned the next evening would feature an inaugural “Show and Tell” night. Zimmer, Z, and I took the subway over and attended to take part.
Zimmer had compared his type of movie to The Matrix and Z’s as Fight Club. I usually don’t use movies as metaphors to people, but in this case I think that description seems to fit it. Both Z and Zimmer have a subversive quality to them, Zimmer modeling himself as a cyber rebel, and Z as a mysterious underground fighter. Their difference in approach leads them to not always seeing eye to eye, but such is the case with many team mates.

At NYC Resistor, fifteen or so people had gathered, showing off things like a portable UV light and a self balancing unicycle (which I later tried and nearly died on). Zimmer took the stage and demonstrated his “North star non lethal backpack.” The Northstar is a powerful but compact LED light, clasped to the chest with backpack straps. The light is blinding and used to daze attackers. When he demonstrates it outside, it illuminates the sky like a batsignal and shines on buildings like a spotlight. The power source is batteries in the bottom of the small backpack, which also contains a first aid kit, CPR mask, and handcuffs. Zimmer also explains the premise of the NYI, and then calls Z up.
Zimmer at NYC Resistor

Z says he has armor “like a poor man’s Iron Man” and shows off his arm bracers, made of stainless steel and leather and held together with truck ties. He then puts on his new mask, to the gasps of some of the audience members. He turns on a LED light attached to the side of it. The mask does have some resemblances to the alien of Predator, prompting one audience member to ask if he also had a missile launcher built into the shoulder.

“Yes I do.” Z joked. The two had drawn the curiosity of the audience. One guy approached them afterwards and said he’d like to be involved in tech support. Another young woman pulled them into a back room to do an impromptu interview for her podcast on Do-it-Yourself culture called "Electric Sheep."
(Note- will post a link to podcast when it’s available)
Distinguished guest lecturer Z

Suspicious Characters
After getting off the subway, we’re stopped by the cops. I’m carrying a metal, beat up, spray painted suitcase and the cops tell me to place it on the hood of the car and open it slowly. I do and the cops paw at Z’s arm bracers inside.
“Skateboard pads.” Z tells them, which the cops accept at face value. One of the officers is a perfect stereotype of a NYC officer- short and plump, Irish looking features, completely sarcastic, and acts like whatever we’re telling him must be a lie. The other officer is of Middle Eastern descent and trying to be a good cop- warning us about the dangers of the neighborhood we’re in.
“Let me ask- yous guys got any drugs onya?” One of the officers asks. We say no, but they collect our IDs and pat all three of us down anyhow.
“You look just like a buddy of mine.” The white cop says. “That guy loves ta smoke weed.” I shrug my shoulders.
The cops say bluntly they pulled over because we were white, specifically saying “skin color.” The only reason for whitey to be in this neighborhood, they say in so many words- is to buy drugs, and if that isn’t our game we had no reason to be there. The cops are surprised when Z and Zimmer point out that they live a block away.
“In fact we’re trying to do something kind of like a community block watch or safety patrol.” Zimmer says.
“Block watch?!” The white cop says “Naw, furgetabout that- the guys in this neighborhood, they’ll shoot you and no one will know who did it.” They talk about the “no snitching” street rule so prevalent in areas like this.
After the police let us go, with more warnings about the neighborhood, we walk towards NYI. We encounter a large group of people watching Avatar in their small driveway on a TV outside. They are clearly no fans of the police and talk to Z and Zimmer about the police hassling people for no reason.
It’s not the first time the two have been stopped by the police- Z was stopped in a late night walk through the park. Another time, the NYI has out on patrol. Zimmer was talking to Staf through an earpiece. He stopped in an abandoned lot to urinate, and as he exited, he ran into the NYPD. The cops thought he was a lookout for graffiti artists, and asked who he was talking to. Zimmer pulled an idea from the HUH?! File and told them he was listening to a Spanish podcast and was mouthing the words. The cops carried on.
Zimmer demonstrates the Northstar

Attempted Bait Patrol
Z bounces from foot to foot, he ducks and weaves and releases a barrage onto his punching bag- Left! Left! Right! Left! Right! Left! Right! Working the bag, delivering haymakers to the sternum and solar plexus. He keeps swinging as he loudly plays some heavy tracks on a stereo from a group called Penthouse(aka 50 Tons of Black Terror) his fists connecting so hard that he leaves deep marks on his hand. Elsewhere in the apartment Tsaf is meditating and Zimmer is assembling his gear and getting into his jeans with built in knee pads and calve high canvas shoes, along with his signature shirt that has the binary code for the letter “Z” down the side.
This is what psyching up for a patrol is like for the NYI. As Z begins strapping on his arm bracers, knee, shin, and ankle guards, I ask what he is feeling as his puts on his gear to get ready to go out on patrol.

“I depends who is around. I know you’ve seen other people do this before. It’s almost like a holy, sacred feeling for me.” He says. After his leg and arm gear, he puts on a vest of butcher mail and a lightweight bullet proof vest, then covers these up with a brown leather sleeveless zip up.

After an hour or so of preparation, the team is ready to go out for a “bait patrol.” The way it usually works is that Z skates ahead first on a longboard. Next is the bait (described as the “nucleus” of the patrol) usually Tsaf or Zimmer. In tonight’s case it is Tsaf, wearing a bright white dress, heavy eye makeup and carrying a bulky purse. The bait walks, trying to lure predators looking for someone vulnerable and is followed about a block behind by someone else. Zimmer is that person tonight. Lucid, who is missing tonight, would act as a runner, skating back and forth between the group. Tsaf is watching for Z, Zimmer is watching for Tsaf, and Lucid would be watching everyone. Communication is vital- all parties are connected by phone.

It looks good on paper, but we encounter some problems. First, I’m trying to keep up with Z, but my board is much slower than his speedy compact longboard. I also have trouble taking the first corner we encounter, raising concerns about Krulos and his board. Although the board rolls fine on the laid back, wide avenues of Riverwest, it is getting more scrutiny in Brooklyn.

Z asks Zimmer to get a pliers so we can loosen the trucks on my board. Everyone is on edge about the break in momentum. After it’s determined the board can hang, we set off again in formation. There is trouble again, though, the phones aren’t working properly and the parties can’t hear each other. There is much frustration all around, and Z decides to call the patrol off.

This may sound like a failure, but I have much respect for the decision. If things aren’t going right and you have a bad premonition of the direction something is going, I think the best thing you can do is call things off before they get worse.
Zimmer decides to walk around for awhile solo. Back at NYI, Z is obviously not pleased but remains calm and fries up burgers for us.


I got a better chance to ride the board Saturday, joining Z as he made several stops on errands throughout Brooklyn. We stopped in Williamsburg, a recently gentrified part of Brooklyn, skated around and got hotdogs from a street vendor. We also stopped at Z’s skateboard shop where he got his board and gear. I got to try out a pretty sweet board that I totally would have bought if I had the funds.
We stopped at Z’s day job [DELETED] and then skated to the bar where Lucid works security and where Z and Lucid spend a lot of time hanging out. Pretty cool place, good people hanging out and a small venue in back where bands play. Reminds me of one my fav places to catch music here in Milwaukee, the Cactus Club.

It’s here I met Lucid for the first time. Very tough looking, built guy but very friendly. I talked to him a bit about the book he was reading Born To Run. Shoes
We ate a bunch of tater tots, checked out one of the bands, and played pool. After a couple hours, Z asked if I wanted to skate around a bit and so we hit the pavement.
After awhile, we spotted an intoxicated young woman stumbling and tripping over her high heels walking down a somewhat abandoned street.

“Let’s do an impromptu bait patrol. You fall behind and I’ll skate ahead.” And so we followed the woman for several blocks, trying to be inconspicuous. I hung way back and gave Z a thumbs up periodically. The woman got to the bus she was stumbling toward.
We skated back to the bar, but Lucid had already left, so we took the subway back. The subway was crowded with an intoxicated group of people singing and clapping loudly.

Washington Square Park

On Sunday, the main event was a meet up in the afternoon at Washington Square Park, where Dark Guardian invited people to meet for the first time and discuss ways to organize group patrols.

Dark Guardian led a well publicized effort to confront drug dealers hanging out in the corners of the park. He actively approached the dealers and told the dealers to leave the park, first alone and then joined by varying sizes of other RLSH joining him. The dealers responded angrily, some left and some didn’t, one flashed a gun in his waistband to the group.

Today, these shadowy corners of the park are closed off to construction. It is a warm but cloudy afternoon, bringing in occasional rain to the park, where a Science fest is going on. The meet up spot is by the giant arch gateway of the park, guarded by two statues of George Washington.
Dark Guardian is joined by a fellow named Mike, who lives in Manhattan and works security at clubs, he’s interested in the whole concept, but hasn’t adopted a code name or persona.
Mike, The Conundrum, Dark Guardian

Next to show up is The Conundrum, of New Jersey. Conundrum is dressed plainscloth- jeans, glasses, and a t-shirt advertising the punk band Bad Religion. His costume is a modified gray hoodie with holes cut for goggles with gives him the appearance of a steampunk frog. He is going to med school, is interested in charity work and occasionally patrols New Jersey. Patrolling alone unnerves him at times. Jersey can be a rough place, and he recalls a fitting homemade street sign that read “whatever you’re looking for- you passed it.”

Hunter and Blue
appear. Hunter (note- not to be confused with another RLSH of the same name)is tall and intense looking. He wears a mask identical to The Comedian's (of Watchmen), causing him to sweat quite a bit and is chomping and puffing on a big honking cigar.
“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” He says to Dark Guardian, and introduces himself.
Blue is thin, wearing a suit with a blue tie and tinted spectacles. He occasionally checks in with someone via iPhone and says he’s interested in the meet up because it seems like a “worthwhile endeavor.”
I had never heard of the pair before, so I can’t speculate more about them. Zimmer showed up a little while longer after dealing with the subways mangled F line.

Several other people were supposed to show but couldn’t make it, including Phantom Zero, Nyx, Champion, and others- Life was also out of town.

After Hunter, Blue, and Mike parted ways we headed to a diner. Zimmer, Dark Guardian, The Conundrum and I grabbed a window street and discussed a variety of topics including the nutritional value of pizza while people rushed by on the busy Manhattan streets next to us.
Zimmer, Conundrum, Dark Guardian

After lunch me and Zimmer went back to Washington Square Park to meet up with one of his friends, and the three of us headed back to NYI, where we chilled out watching a movie and playing video games. I tried to sleep early for the traveling ahead the next day.
Hopefully Dark Guardian will be successful in his quest to unite a large group of people in NYC to work together.


Although at times the NYI sounds almost like a militia of borderline vigilantes, my experience visiting with them reveals something more shocking- they are everyday people just trying to live their life. Some of them have had rough, even criminal backgrounds, but that was then and now they are trying to give back by protecting whoever needs their help. They have normal day jobs, friends, and enjoy life in New York.
“There’s a lack of decency in the world. That’s something we’re about- we’re not trying to just be bad ass dudes. We’re trying to be decent people.” Z says.

I left a note thanking the NYI for their hospitality.
I passed by a church near the NYI House on my way to the subway station to head to the airport. A menacing barbed wire fence surrounded the back end of the building, where a sign announced they offered free meals every afternoon. A large pile of trash had accumulated on the corner. Inside the fence, under the church’s sign, the marqee announced in block letters:

Monday, June 7, 2010

New York, New York

I am excited to write about my last few days in New York, but I had some emotionally draining personal stuff waiting for me when I returned to Milwaukee today.

I really like to use a quote from Australian bandit Ned Kelly when I find myself in a seemingly bad situation. After a long run from the police (including a shoot out between them and his gang, dressed in homemade suits of armor) they finally caught him. Right before he was to be hanged they asked if he had any last words. Ned Kelly shrugged his shoulders and said:

"Such is life."

Anyways- tomorrow I have nothing planned so I am going to sit down and write about the entire New York trip, including pictures.

Australian bandit Ned Kelly somehow got worked into this post.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

HERO PROFILE #32: The Conundrum

[Heroes of NYC]

Aka: Conor Drums

Operates out of: New Jersey

Activities: patrols, participating in Captain Ozone's Green Power Rally July 31

Quote: "I believe that we can turn our 'publicity stunts' into downright 'global action.' All we need is to join hands, and stop the squabbling."

Author's Notes: Dark Guardian organized an informal meeting of RLSH today at Washington Square Park. A lot of people couldn't make it, but about six people showed up, including The Conundrum. I didn't talk to him long, but I joined him, Zimmer, and Dark Guardian for lunch.

I have wanted to write more, but I've been busy cruising Brooklyn by skateboard and subway, also internet here is dodgy, plus writing often requires more elbow room for me (I like to pace, swear, throw things, and cook while I'm writing) so I will have to wait until I return home tomorrow to write a more coherent entry.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

HERO PROFILE #31: Dark Guardian

[Heroes of NYC]

Operates out of: NYC

Training: Dark Guardian works as a martial arts instructor

Operates: DG is also an Administrator of

Quote: "I am here to show the world there are people that care to make a difference, people that will stand against what is wrong in our society, stand up to the bad guys, help those in need, and change the world for the better...

I work to help make a difference by doing civic activities, crime fighting, charity work, safety patrols, hospital visits, school talks, distributing wanted and missing person fliers, helping the homeless, community clean ups, and more. My main objective is to inspire others. There is a hero in everyone and if we would let it shine we would live a much nicer place."

Authors notes: Having a great time in NYC- meeting up with Dark Guardian and others tomorrow, hopefully will have more time to write this afternoon.

Friday, June 4, 2010


((Profile Retconned 03/10/11))
[Introducing: X-ALTS]

Formerly known as: Z (See also "Z-2")

Operates out of: Brooklyn

Team affiliation: New York Initiative

Quote: "Justice is God. And we all know She moves through all things."

Author's notes: In the NYI's Brooklyn headquarters right now, where I've been admiring their assembled gear, skateboards, working space, library, and samples of polycarbonate samples sent by their gadgeteer, Victim.
Hitting the street later, hoping to do a more substantial blog tomorrow afternoon.

: Read an entry about Z/ Zero Here:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

HERO PROFILE #29: Zimmer

[Heroes of NYC]

Operates out of: Brooklyn

Group affiliation
: New York Initiative

Resume piece
: President of the Heroes Network

Author's Notes: I'm actually sitting next to Zimmer right now at NYCResistor in Brooklyn, a giant computer lab/workshop space. Just got in not long ago after navigating through a series of buses and subways. It's been great getting a sensory overload of people crowded all over Brooklyn with Zimmer guiding the way. Meeting the rest of the New York Initiative later on.

That's all I have to report so far.

No! Sleep! 'Til BROOKLYN!

That's a picture of me on the streets of Manhattan the last time I was in New York- the year was 1996 and I had just graduated High School. As you can see I dressed more "business casual" back then.

Ready for New York!
Here's what I'm bringing:

-A longboard- despite majorly biting it while riding this downhill a week or two ago, I can still hang ten on it alright.

-My laptop,(named Pepper Potts- yes, I know I'm a dork)

-print outs of subway maps

-Two small notepads and pens

- A digital camera

-A digital voice recorder (in case I do any formal interviewing)

-clothes, a toothbrush

-And as we learned from A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe, the most important thing- a towel

stay tuned...will be trying to do blog posts AND New York Hero Profiles daily

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Let me talk about some fun stuff first, starting with a check in with some of my friend's creative endeavors, as well as my own.

*Peter Tangen- the 20/20 show airs tonight and you can see some of Peter's portrait, poster, and group shot photos both at 20/20's site and his site, told you they were awesome! There is also a short video about the project on the site:

*Amber Gant- got her comic rolling at with updates on Mondays and Thursdays...that makes her the hardest working woman in the RLSH comic drawing biz!

////////////BREAKING NEWS////////////////

*As you may recall, French photojournalist Pierre-Elie de Pibrac will be doing a coast to coast tour of the U.S. this summer, photographing RLSHs as he goes. He'll be crashing at my place at the end of July to capture some local RLSH as they participate in a 24 hour bicycle race.

Pierre-Elie has just informed me that he has been given the green light to return to the US in September (or October) to film a documentary about RLSH. Not only that, he has asked yours truly to help in some sort of advisory role for the project, which we'll talk more about in July.

If you haven't contacted Pierre-Elie, you should. If you've tried and haven't gotten a response, try again.

I think this could be a good opportunity, 52 minutes is nothing to sneeze at, and there is enough foreign media depicting Americans as fathead selfish greedbags, so let's give them something positive to ooo la la about!

*ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT: Writing for my book will be done in a first draft by JULY 1, 2010. All that means is that an entire draft of the book will be done. It's still not sold and the editing process can be long and tedious.
There are 17 Chapters (I count the intro as a chapter). I have 8 of these chapters finished, and they are in the hands of a variety of people, reading them to offer feedback.

I have 5 more chapters that are looking pretty solid, but need more work.

The last 4 chapters are what I'll be concentrating on at the end of the month. One of these chapters will include my trip to New York City this week ( the way- will try to do daily blogs from NYC, much like I did from Vancouver)as well as a secret event.


I think Zetaman is a great guy. I got to meet him at the SA3 conference and while I was there got to see him swing into action as he helped a woman carry an overflowing burden of laundry. That may seem like nothing- not exactly something you'd depict on the cover of a comic book- but the simple fact is she was struggling to carry the laundry, and Zetaman helped her.

I think Zetaman is sometimes criticized for embracing media attention or projects, but I think he has been effective in channeling this for fund raising- he recently raised $750 for March of Dimes, and I think that's amazing- the most I've ever raised is 5 bucks for some Girl Scout cookies.

Not only that, Zetaman has been helpful with my writing, consenting to interviews, and reading over a chapter I thought he could offer insight on, which he did.

And so I was not happy when I found out that vandals had slashed his tires and left a note with the ROACH logo on it. Besides the property damage, it sucks big time to know some creeper was lurking around your house. Zetaman writes about the incident HERE.
Zetaman- awesome guy- don't slash his tires. Photo by Tea Krulos.

I am an unusual creature in that I also happen to know and like several members of ROACH and have inside communication with them. I met the four most active members at their "Seattle Headquarters"- a hot dog restaurant. Agent Beryllium has also been helpful with my writing, also reviewing a chapter for me and offering her insight.

That's not to say I agree with ROACH views, necessarily (or all RLSH views for that matter) but I like to be open minded with who I talk to.

So before people get hysterical, let me tell you what I know about ROACH. And let me tell you, I don't say things publicly unless I'm sure I know what I'm talking about.

1. The active ROACH members didn't have knowledge of this. The actual, active ROACH members are The Potentate, Agent Beryllium, Aluminum Chef,and Fatal Phyllo. Poop Knife, Lord Malignance, Malvado, and Overlord are not members of ROACH. All these people were confused by early, vague reports of the incident.

2. ROACH doesn't have any members in Portland (Zetaman's home)

3. ROACH has stated several times that they are a satirical organization and do not support real world violence and I believe slashing tires is not their style.

4. I also know that ROACH, besides making jokes about him in the past, also has thought Zetaman was a decent guy and appreciated his level headed responses to them. Having met both parties, I actually think Zeta and the ROACHs* would actually get along pretty well if they met in person.

5. In my opinion, you can't pick and choose what ROACH says. If you believe a comic book style threat The Potentate makes, then you are obligated to believe that he actually, literally has a smoldering volcano for a head.
ROACH- likes joking around, hot dogs. Photo by Fatal Phyllo.

This unfortunate attack on Zetaman's property was most likely carried out by d-bags armed with the following- an online article or episode of Real Adventures of Zetaman, a phone book,an unsatisfactory life, and a printer to print off the ROACH graphic they found online.

A lot of people do stupid, cowardly stuff in other people's name and I hope Portland's finest nab whoever did this.
The ROACH logo- easily right clickable

UPDATE: Official ROACH response HERE

* Zeta and the ROACHs would be a pretty excellent name for a David Bowie style band.