Archives August 2010

The Real Life Super Hero Project

Originally posted:

Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

Even for as far back as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by superheroes, comic books and the world of alter-egos and visual characters. That very fascination has moulded who and what I am today. The mystery surrounding a secret identity just astounds me and if it were at all humanly possible – I wish superheroes actually existed. And I wish I could be one!
Cue fanfare, whilst I don my dark shades, slip into my all-black garb and let the wind blow through my hair!
Now, an avenue exists for like-minded freaks, The Real Life Super Hero Project exists to collate this unique subculture of genuine heroes.
Anonymous and selfless, they choose every day, to make a difference in the world around them. Whether it be feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, or cleaning up their neighborhoods, they save real lives in very real ways. These are not “kooks in costumes,” as they may seem at first glance. They are, simply put, a radical response… to a radical problem.
So who are these modern day heroes? They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members. They are artists, musicians, athletes, and yes, politicians. Their actions serve as reminders that as most giving today has become reactive—digital and removed, temporarily soothing our guilt and feelings of helplessness—we have blinded ourselves to simple principles and practice of compassion and goodwill.
Photographer Peter Tangen has earned the trust of this loose network, to visually document the genuine power of these individuals—and in the process, reveal the soul behind their endeavor.
At first, The Real Life Superhero Project was conceived as an avenue to shine some light on this new breed of activism and altruism, through a photographic installation to benefit the established organizations the superheroes believe in. But as more people were brought into the wholly volunteer project, largely through Tangen’s infectious enthusiasm, the scope and purpose expanded exponentially.
Now, what began as a gallery exhibit, has come to serve as the launching pad of something far greater—a living, breathing community that inspires people to become the positive forces for change we all can be. To become more active, more involved, more committed, and perhaps, a little super in the process.
Check out the website here for more info.

Positive Pessimism (Hope D.O.A. II)

The death of optimism seems more the result of a thousand cuts than one decisive blow! My crusade is to still promote being upbeat despite how downcast life experiences disproportionately become.
As mobile triage, I either stem the flow of motivation from aforementioned cuts or am busily walking wounded, succumbing to a stubborn refusal to succumb.
” Positive pessimism ” just popped in my head, a recurrent admission that rosy glasses aren’t needed to keep on keeping on while all around you is, stated undiplomatically, crap.
My real life superhero ( RLSH ) effort is a daily attempt expressing this notion to others as much as regular self-innoculation. Recession; family loss; shoving inert minds and associations out of ones personal orbit and more are pieces I maneuver ( as do you I suspect ) on this game board recently labeled positive pessimism while typing.
Whether our arc of life aims down hill or is on the upswing in a manner beyond immediate comprehension, as advocates of heroism the lions share of our effort has to be spent moving toward better days that even telescopic vision would be hard pressed to currently see.
Like many I wrestle with disgust; despair and more with a tenacity that would do Hulk Hogan proud. The villains in this real life plot are those manipulating prices; butchering opportunities and gleefully counting lives made miserable.
Whether we can ever contest them personally remains undetermined.
Our duty is to champion each other by first dragging champions from inside ourselves. Every past good deed and kind word was dress rehearsal for today’s bottomless bleakness. You’ve noticed that pessimism is carried along like uncomfortable luggage. I don’t deny its depressing presence, I’ve simply chosen to soldier on regardless- just like you!
Positive pessimism avoids the self-hypnosis of declaring the awful somehow appealing and reinterpreting bad things as magically good. Once called PMA or positive mental attitude, this method isn’t the one I’m currently promoting. As always, choose what works best for you.
I embrace current unpleasantness and carry it toward future joy. This is a work done by automatic pilot and delibate intention because when we, the heroism advocates, give up- who’s left?
Positive pessimism is the second stanza of my Hope D.O.A. theme because I strongly suggest we place despair in a chokehold and drag it along as we motivate others and ourselves. In this way, present pessimism and their origin eventually gives way to positivity needed to survive long odds.
That’s my theory for what it’s worth. Keep dreaming and making them real!
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK is a super rights activist promoting crime presentation and SELFdevelopment.

The Politics of Heroism

One person’s hero is another ones terrorist or extremist. Examples abound: Robert E. Lee supporters are countered by fans of Ulysses Grant regarding the American Civil War, also known as the War Between the States depending upon perspective.
Proponents of Malcolm X and even Dr. King are met with accusations that these men were agents of foreign powers or actively promoted civil unrest. Taking this topic to the real life superhero ( RLSH ) territory I regularly tread and parallels are obvious.
The first real world costumed crime fighter who harms a suspect will be simultaneously hailed and reviled! Imagine if Batman’s bone breaking exploits were real? He’d have the entire alphabet soup of law enforcement hot on his heels. Vigilante-flavored heroism is fun to read and watch but doesn’t play well in real life. Not hating on Batman y’all, just making a point. Whenever an activist with a fancy name and/or outfit can’t differentiate between fantasy and a life fantastic, he/she will find police and psychiatric officials waiting to do it for him. That’s why creative concerned citizens needs to be so careful about exercising creativity.
I use the RLSH example because to some an Al Sharpton is a hero as is a Glenn Beck to others.
Each engenders intense positive and negative reactions which must be taken into account, along with their contemporaries. Like RLSH, perceptions of national spokespersons run the spectrum from sublime to ridiculous. The general populace either revere or revile a veritable Who’s Who of big names and causes. Our job as heroism advocates is to recognize truly admirable people and moments regardless of pedigree. Being open to the best within us opens new doors for much needed mutual respect and personal growth.
Heroism is open to interpretation. Somebody out there actually finds the Ku Klux Klan heroic as do others impressed by the Black Panthers, old school and brand new. As a child of the 1970s and 80s I got to sample tons of factual and fictional heroic examples.
Watergate’s Deep Throat ( later revealed as FBI executive Mark Felt ) was a hero whose whistle blowing deposed a president who went too far with his powers. Service members from any era who threw themselves on grenades to save peers were heroes in my young eyes as were Vietnam protesters who risked imprisonment for standing up for their convictions.
Muhammad Ali, already a personal hero, was made even more so by his stance on the draft. He inspired me to resolve to do the same if a future conflict ran afoul of my morality. I wouldn’t run or hide. I’d simply face the government and fight whatever came my way. Heroism is rarely about doing what’s simple or consequence- free.
My heroes are of all colors; in both political parties; across every ideology and hail from every imaginable profession. I’ve sought the heroic my entire life and can’t think of better subject matter.
What makes someone stand up when everyone else is bowing down? Why don’t long odds intimidate some people? High achievers are living mirrors reflecting what awaits us when we finally escape the ordinary.
Toss in politics and heroism gets ugly as agenda-driven value judgments enter the picture. If it serves someone’s agenda to praise a given person his/her image will dominate the airwaves. The opposite holds true as well. That’s why heroism needs to be rigorously apolitical because anyone can be a hero instead of select members of certain ideologies.
The politics of heroism are messy and demand removal from any interests that don’t celebrate the highest human potential. Sadly, celebrating the highest human potential isn’t what politics often seems to promote these days.
A new politics of heroism is long overdue.
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK is a super rights activist who promotes crime prevention and self-development. .

Real Life Superheroes Gear Up With Ninja Throwing Stars, Ax Handles, ‘Stun Knuckles’

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. asked a simple question in their 2008 comic book (and 2010 movie) Kick-Ass: Why don’t fanboys actually suit up and try their hand at being superheroes? As it turns out, a bunch of fanboys are in fact suiting up. Hundreds of them. Face front, true believer.
Cosplay is nothing new. Its variant, Real Life Superheroes, are somewhat next-level. Check out, a message board where aspiring supes — costumed adventurers who describe themselves as doing “humanitarian work” or otherwise generically helping those in distress — can discuss tradecraft, assemble into makeshift Avengers and escalate misunderstandings into internet brawls ahead of the inevitable team-up.
Seriously. On this thread, for instance, a crimefighter called the Dark Ghostrallied his fellow champions of the innocent to find a seven-month old baby kidnapped in Tennessee. Amazonia, the Minuteman, Gadgetastic and the Sparrow pledged support. (As it turned out, the vigilante community didn’t need to get involved, as law enforcement found young Drake Boyd’s abductor in Florida.)
Now, obviously these dudes don’t have superpowers. But come on — neither does Batman. So like Batman, what they lack in meta-human ability, they make up for in weaponry.
Take, for instance, a Brooklyn team called the New York Initiative, profiled this week in New York Press. The four members of the Initiative –a reference to Tony Stark’s post-Civil War, pre-Secret Invasion efforts to put a superhero squad in each of the 50 states? — act like bodybuilders with a purpose. And then they pack (non-lethal) heat.
Initiative member Z brandishes “giant ax handles bound with duck tape” and a cane that doubles as a club. He’s also got — in reserve — a legally dubious arsenal that includes ninja throwing stars and what author Tea Krulos describes as “stun knuckles (that make a loud zapping sound), throwing knives and spiky hand guards that look like something Genghis Khan would brawl in.” A battle ax appears to be merely for display.
The team’s gadget whiz, who goes by the unfortunate name Victim, is testing out some polycarbonate squares for durability against knives. Because being a hero means you’re going to get stabbed.
Factoring out the body armor, it appears to be a fairly cost-effective approach to adventuring. Take Z’s stun knuckles. Zapping someone with 950,000 volts in the course of a single punch should run you around $50.
Plus, that is, whatever legal costs you incur after your supervillain sues you. Chances are your local municipality doesn’t look kindly on vigilantism, andless so on vigilantism armed with zappers. What’s more, courts haven’t been so keen on police use of non-lethal weapons like Tasers, and you’re sure not an officer of the law.
Speaking of the cops: According to Krulos’s piece, when the New York Initiative asks the police if they can set up a patrol by downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall, a member of New York’s finest tells them, “Naw, fuhgetabout that. You’ll get shot. The guys in this neighborhood, they’ll shoot you and no one will tell us who did it. There’s a strong ‘no snitching’ rule out here.” We know that in the comics as honor among thieves.
So, be careful out there, champions of right: Come strapped and stay on the right side of the law.
See Also:


Hope D.O.A.

When hope dies, everything is downhill from there.
I know about what I call ” Hope DOA ” from lengthy personal experience.  As a dreamer there are years when negative feedback often is the only external feedback some dreams get. My real life superhero (RLSH ) role in these scenarios isn’t handing out rose colored glasses. Far from it!
My role as a creative concerned citizen is offering as many tools; tips and ( when needed ) taunts to get someone fired up enough to become his/her own champion!
Combating Hope DOA isn’t about marketing how great I am. Beating this challenge revolves around how great the other person is- especially when all evidence screams to the contrary. The distance between who you want to be and your present condition can be decades long. I try to add a little momentum to someone’s self-development process. The Superhero Solution* ( * article by the same title ) tells us individuals are greater than low expectations and popular opinions about what is possible.
Promoting the Superhero Solution places each of us above Hope DOA. The liberated person seen in our minds eye awaits actual experience to finally become real. Staying consistent hastens the process but still doesn’t guarantee ease.
Hope D.O.A. is the tombstone our thoughts either build or demolish. I just try to help you push yours further off your mind. By the way, I’m far from an endless fountain of bubbly hope and joy. I just keep on dreaming forward until my dreams ( EVENTUALLY! ) come true.
Hope D.O.A. is one of the worst real life supervillains out there.
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK is a super rights activist promoting crime prevention and self-development via the Superhero Solution and other methods.

Body Building for Real Life Superheroes

Capt.-Black-Special1I’m a life long body weighter ( body weight exerciser ) who’s added weight work to my regimen. It seemed that there was potential inside crying out for even more development and lifting was the sure route. When you look at it that way what else could I do?
You can’t imagine the ” Is THAT me!?! ” reaction when looking at myself while in a bodybuilder pose after four months training with free weights!!! It’s an eye popper guaranteed to keep you lifting! Added motivation comes from the hope that real life superhero ( RLSH ) Movement members should look reasonably well in our outfits and body building makes even more sense! lol.
Physique inspirations include pulp fiction’s Doc Savage and Jim Brown; Carl Weathers; Michael Jai White and others.
My baseline physique was already good but extra bulk and definition are bonuses that lifters have known for generations.
As a mesomorph I have a naturally muscular build but the difference after adding some iron to your self-development diet is literally like night and day. Even on a Recession reduced calorie diet results still clearly show.
Weight lifting can be for strength ( obviously ) or body building for those seeking to change proportions. I wrestled with adding weights to my daily physical self-development because the whole narcissistic bodybuilder stereotype was a big turn off. I’m into wellness, i.e. the sum total of regular mind-body and spirit work.
I’d been around some bodybuilders in my 20s who were stuck on themselves enough to make me stick to bodyweight exercises, that and I was shy for a long time.
The same quiet inner voice that lead me to write; do public speaking; finally become a member of the real life superhero movement as Capt. Black and many other self expressions, told me to start body building. So here I write you, with amateur bodybuilder now on my resume.
Whether I’ll ever compete or be featured somewhere remains to be seen. I do know I’m exploring this avenue and am upgrading practices to get more out of myself.
There is so much within us to exploit to degrees that seem impossible. As times get tighter we need to become more creative in how we life and what we do.
One way I did so was transitioning from body weighter to body builder! RLSH like SuperHero and RazorHawk, among others, weight lift and know well the joy I describe.
*** Current pictures show body weight exercise results. New body building ones on the way!***
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK promotes wellness; crime prevention and self-development.

Picture Show: Real Life Super Heroes

Originally posted:
By Patrick James

Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

In the real world, no man can outrace a bullet. No woman commands storms with her mind. No one spins webs from his wrists or flies across continents or shoots lasers from his eyes. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t super heroes among us. Inside every human is the capacity to do something kind, brave, and strong for our fellow humans; some among us simply choose to do so in secret. In the spirit of the heroes who fill the pages of comic books, an unlikely assortment of men and women have been donning masks and costumes, and venturing into their respective neighborhoods to feed the hungry, comfort the sick, and protect the innocent.
The Real Life Super Hero Project is the photographer Peter Tangen’s attempt to document the work of these loosely affiliated individuals; it’s also a gallery exhibit designed to raise money for the causes with which these men and women are affiliated. Highlighting the people who do good under the secrecy of masks with no hope for personal gain, the Real Life Super Hero Project is a call for all of us to engage with and help those around us.
“Celebrate and honor them,” says Tangen. “And find the hero in all of us.”

Superheroes Anonymous Workshop

When? Thursday, September 2nd, 7-10 PM
Where? SpaceCraft: 355 Bedford Avenue @ S. 4th St in Brooklyn
Superheroes Anonymous Logo
Superheroes Anonymous will be holding a COSTUME WORKSHOP on Thursday, September 2nd, at the wonderful venue,Spacecraft Brooklyn! This event will help aspiring and active Real Life Superheroes develop anddesign superhero identities and realize their inner superhero. With the materials and skills of the SPACECRAFT team – we can create nearly anything to accompany your superhero uniform! It’s the perfect time to become acquainted with the work of SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS and to create a unique superhero costume that can never be bought in a store!
The price of admission is $20 and will include materials needed to turn a normal wardrobe into a fully functional SUPERHERO COSTUME! We will also be providing FREE BEER for those 21 and older.
Though we will be providing materials, participants must bring a BASE WARDROBE that they want to be modified. That means a basic shirt and pants (or spandex!) to be turned into a super-heroic uniform. For example: we can help you make a mask, design a cape or breastplate or sew cool designs and accessories onto your jeans or a shirt, but we won’t be able to provide the spandex shirts or motorcycle jackets.
PRICE: $20/person INCLUDES: Costume Materials & Unlimited Beer
DIRECTIONS: L train to Bedford Ave, walk South to S. 4th St.?
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]

Real World Superheroes of the Midwest

Originally posted:
Real World Superheroes of the Midwest
by Miss Cellania – August 19, 2010 – 10:33 AM
There are everyday folks who spend their free time anonymously helping their communities -anonymous because they are costumed superheroes! We already met some of these superheroes in the southern US; here are some who protect the cities of the Midwest.

Shadow Hare

Cincinnati. Ohio
Shadow Hare patrols the streets of Cincinnati and attends large public events to watch for crime in progress, sometimes even making citizen’s arrests. He is trained in martial arts and has occasionally been injured in the line of duty. The local police force doesn’t officially encourage Shadow Hare’s activities, as they don’t want a civilian to be hurt, but they don’t condemn his behavior, either. The masked man has inspired other Cincinnati costumed heroes who form the group Allegiance of Heroes. Shadow Hare says he was an abused child and grew up in foster homes and therefore wants to make his community a better place for others. He is often seen lending aid to the homeless in addition to fighting crime and injustice. See Shadow Hare in a news report at YouTube.


Rochester, Minnesota
Geist patrols the streets of Rochester and Minneapolis to deter crime and works with many charities. In 2007, he stepped in to help flood victims in St. Charles, Lewiston, Rushford and Stockton, Minnesota. Hisfavorite causes are Paws and Claws animal shelter and the Ronald McDonald House. Geist is a leader in the Great Lakes Heroes Guild.


Royal Oak, Michigan
Foxfire is a female superhero who promotes the use of the supernatural to fight crime and injustice. From her MySpace page:

I am dedicated to helping those in need, preserving our natural resources, and, most importantly, teaching anyone who will listen about the hidden world, the more interesting stuff that goes on beneath the surface of their humdrum little lives. My goal is to itegrate magic, mystery, wonder and awe back into the modern American’s psyche–which is, at most, a slim chance. Still, it must be done!

Doctor DiscorD

Indianapolis, Indiana
Doctor DiscorD is a member of the Justice Society of Justice, which began as a joke, “a sort of street theater”. The Doctor and his compatriots found there were real problems in the city that they could help alleviate, and the mission became serious. He works to protect the city of Indianapolis from crime, but wonders if the publicity that comes with being a superhero might inhibit a hero’s effectiveness.

Mr. Silent

Indianapolis, Indiana
Mr. Silent is Doctor DiscorD’s crimefighting partner and works to protect Indianapolis. He is an Asian superhero who wears a bowler hat and carries a cane. His name was born of his inherent shyness, but the mask enables him to take action when needed. When not fighting crime, Mr. Silent does what he can to help the homeless. See an interview with Mr. Silent at YouTube.


Minneapolis, Minnesota
Razorhawk refers to himself as a masked adventurer rather than a superhero because he has no supernatural powers. He does safety patrols in Minneapolis and his hometown of St. Anthony Village, Minnesota. Razorhawk is one of the leaders of the Great Lakes Heroes Guild. He spends a lot of his time working with various local charities.

Captain Jackson

Jackson, Michigan
Captain Jackson has been in the superhero business since 1999 as the leader of the Crimefighter Corps in Jackson, Michigan. He works with local authorities to instill civic pride and good citizenship. Keep up with Captain Jackson’s activities on his blog.

Queen of Hearts

Jackson, Michigan
The Queen of Hearts is a superhero compatriot of Captain Jackson. She works to fight domestic violence by teaching young people how to recognize and prevent it. Her favorite side projects are the Pleasant Lake Playground project and the Michigan Theatre.

The Watchman

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Watchman does safety patrols and charity work in Milwaukee, and is a member of the Great Lakes Heroes Guild. His sidekicks are the Watchdog and Wonder Boy, who sometimes appear at charity events. See a video of the Watchman in this post.
Coming soon: more real world superheroes of the US and around the world.

Real World Superheroes of the South

Originally posted:
Real World Superheroes of the South
by Miss Cellania – August 17, 2010 – 10:59 AM
Alternate universes and super powers may be limited to comic books, but costumed crusaders are everywhere in the real world. If they aren’t fighting crime, they’re doing good deeds, raising awareness, helping the downtrodden, setting an example, steering kids in the right direction, and generally making the world a better place, each in their own strange way. Here are a few that are based in the southern part of the United States.

Master Legend

Orlando, Florida
Master Legend goes on missions to find and help the homeless of Orlando. He began his superhero career in Winter Park, Florida. He works together with other Florida superheroes in both his missions and his music, as several heroes has formed a band called the Justice Force. The article The Legend of Master Legend was printed in Rolling Stone in 2008 and is reposted online at Real Life Superheroes. See a video featuring Master Legend at vimeo.

Danger Woman

Atlanta, Georgia
Danger Woman calls herself a “karaoke crimefighter”. She’s also a disability rights activist. Danger Woman is autistic and use her trusty microphone to give evil a headache with her singing. Her life and crusade against disaba-phobia (the fear of disabled people) is the subject of a documentary calledDisabled But Able to Rock! Watch the trailer at YouTube (warning: singing). You can keep up with Danger Woman’s activities through her MySpace blog.


Clearwater, Florida
Superhero may have a generic name, but he’s well known in Clearwater. A former professional wrestler, he roams the streets in his 1975 Corvette and helps stranded motorists. He also makes appearances to teach road safety and to raise money for various charities with a particular emphasis on helping the homeless.


Greensboro, North Carolina
There’s not a lot of information on Hardwire, except that he used to go by the name Point Guardian and he’s retired from the superhero scene. Hardwire appeared as himself in the 2008 movie Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero.

Daddy Man

Zachary, Louisiana
Daddy Man is a role model. His alternate identity is Ivy Butler of Zachary, Lousiana. He created the superhero persona first as an inspiration to his seven children, and became a hero to other children, then a role model for other fathers. You can keep up with Daddy Man’s activities on his blog. Butler is the subject of the book The Chronicles of Daddy Man. Hear what Daddy Man has to say at YouTube.


San Antonio, Texas
Enigma patrols San Antonio looking for any opportunity to do good. He posts his exploits at MySpace, where you can read about an incident earlier this year where he stopped a pair of car thieves. Enigma also lends his powers to environmental causes.

The Viper

Columbia, Tennessee
The Viper is a 20-year-old college student who dresses in green and patrols the streets of Columbia, Tennessee. The local police aren’t impressed, and in fact warned him against wearing a mask in public. The Viper says, “I am just a guy trying to do what’s right in tights.” Columbia citizens think it’s kind of neat to have a superhero in their small town.


Ocala, Florida
Amazonia has been working as a superhero since 2002, beginning in Lowell, Massachusetts and worked in both New York City and Ocala, Florida. She is now based in an “undisclosed location”. Amazonia patrols the streets looking for opportunities to help people and takes part in activities such as blood drives, helping the homeless, and environmental activism. Read more on her blog.

DC Guardian

Washington, DC
DC Guardian is part of the Capital City Super Squad, a group of nine superheroes who patrol Washington. An Air Force veteran, he hands out copies of the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights to remind everyone of what it means to be an American.


Tampa, Florida
KnightVigil also goes by the name Darian VanLansing, although that’s not his true identity. He is a Christian superhero who works to provide needed food and clothing to the children of migrant workersin Florida.

The Crimson Fist

Atlanta, Georgia
The Crimson Fist turned to his superhero practice after years of drugs and alcohol. By day he’s an IT programmer; by night he spends his time helping the homeless of Atlanta. He patrols the streets and hands out supplies such as bottled water and socks to those in need, using his own funds. He wishes he could do more:

“I think for the most part, it makes me feel good to do it, as selfish as it sounds. The biggest motivation is just helping people, it’s enjoyable to me,” he says. “And if it means a little sacrifice, I’m OK with that. Because if I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t feel whole.”