Archives August 2011

The Problem With Self Defense: Superheroes Part 2

Originally posted:
By: Peter Lampasona
Date: 19 August 2011
In the last installment of the Problem with Self Defense editorial series, I started to discuss the recent surge in discussion over the Real Life Superhero trend in New York. Last week, HBO aired a documentary called Superheroes following members of the recent phenomenon of private citizens dressing in costumes to engage in everything from from charity work to vigilante justice. Among the groups featured in the documentary is a make-shift team of Avengers who operate out of the New York boroughs known as the NY Initiative.
In part one of this two part series*, I discussed the charity work and general positive side of these adventurous cosplayers. But the obvious problem with trying to be a Real Life Superhero comes from the part where they have to be super.
*Editor’s note: Part one can be view here.
The practice of crimefighting, as the term is used by Real Life Superheroes, is the actual intervention by one of these masked vigilantes on a violent crime in progress. Crimefighting tactics can vary from reckless self-delusion to actions that can, themselves, be defined as violent crime.
A particularly active yet relatively sane neighborhood watch can film a criminal act, call the police, and submit the video as evidence. And, to be fair, a minority of Real Life Superheroes use this tactic. This is somewhat more sensible as the police are not omniscient, but are equipped and trained to handle potentially volatile incidents with a minimal of casualty on both sides.
Members of the NY Initiative have publicly expressed negative attitudes towards local police as justification for trying to perform jobs the police are much better suited for. The sentiment that the police are either spread too thin or just don’t care is a thin veil placed over what crime fighting really is: looking to start a fight with someone no one likes so they take the blame while the trouble seeker gets to simultaneously get out his aggressions and feel like he did a good deed.
I used to do the same thing as a maladjusted youth (going in to maladjusted adulthood) with surly drunks at public gatherings. And even though I was also intentionally putting myself in situations where someone with an itch to do something violent would appear to be the aggressor, it didn’t make me a hero so much as an asshole who would one day get shot going down that road.
The most egregious example of this danger seeking was featured both in the documentary and on multiple articles about the NY Initiative. It is a practice they refer to as “bait patrol.”
One member of the team, usually a woman known as T.S.A.F. or an openly gay man who goes by Zimmer, will intentionally dress like a victim. T.S.A.F. will dress provocatively with an exposed purse or Zimmer will assume another identity of a hilariously offensive gay stereotype. They will then walk the streets of Brooklyn at 3 A.M. hoping to have a run in with a mugger, rapist, or gay basher.
When this violent encounter comes, or so goes the plan as I was unable to confirm if they ever got their wish of being attacked, they signal the rest of the team who are riding a block away on skateboards to come to the rescue.
There are so many problems with this practice it’s upsetting to have to put it in print. First, if the real intent was to deter violent crime, the Superheroes would come out in full regalia, let everyone know they are there, and hopefully make anyone with the thought of committing a violent crime view the neighborhood being patrolled as too hard a target.
Bait patrols are not crime prevention. They are spoiling for a fight.
Whether or not the bait patrol is technically entrapment is up for debate. However, it is certainly violent vigilantism and even more demonstrably stupid.
How long does it take for a team of Superheroes to skateboard a city block? How long can the physically smallest and weakest member of the team, dressed in clothes that intentionally restrict movement and ability to protect oneself from harm, fend off an unknown number of potentially armed attackers without serious injury?
I’d wager the answer to those questions are two different numbers.
It seems purely a side note at this point, but the two common people used as bait are really bad at fighting. Not that any amount of martial skill can guarantee safety in the bait scenario, but what sparring video and open-mat accounts of their training exists indicate that T.S.A.F. and Zimmer are terrible at unarmed violence.
Though, the existence of open-mat accounts show that they’re not above trying to convince themselves that they are fighters for a few hours a week at various gyms.
That is where the worlds of Superheroes, “self defense,” and martial arts cross: the ass kicking fantasy.
Visualizing the physical destruction of generic evil doers to either right wrongs or feel like the world is a safer place is a smooth and sexy feeling. It is a feeling of control: that the hero is the one imposing his will on the situation rather than the bad guy. And, like all control, it is a fantasy.
In my career as a sports writer I have had the privilege of meeting and sometimes training with some of the best athletes on the planet. These people’s skill, physical prowess, and dedication have turned them into something that seems more than a mere human. And all those athletes are killed just as dead by two bullets in the chest and one in the head.
Even the most intelligent and practical means of self protection, which are almost always absent from self defense fantasy, are playing a numbers game. The best methods are all built around avoiding trouble or recognizing and quickly escaping from it. And, if someone takes the most sensible measures to avoid harm, there’s a better than average chance he will lead a safe and happy life, free of violence, until disease or old age eventually kills him.
Or he could be killed by a stray bullet from an incident too far away for him to have possibly observed.
If you are reading this article the odds are that you are alive. This also means that there is a chance, no matter how small, that at any given moment you can die. And so can anyone you know who is also alive.
Playing the odds is the best you can do. And no amount of costumed gallantry used to disguise impotent rage at this fact can change it. Certainly beating up some malnourished crack head feels awfully potent, but in the end there will always be more danger.
A watchful and protective community group is only working if it is deterring violent crime from happening in its neighborhood, not provoking it or trying to physically fight it.

The Problem With Self Defense: Superheroes Part 1

Originally posted:
By: Peter Lampasona     Date: 18 August 2011
Last week, HBO aired a documentary called Superheroes following members of the recent phenomenon of private citizens dressing in costumes to engage in everything from from charity work to vigilante justice. Among the groups featured in the documentary is a make-shift team of Avengers who operate out of the New York boroughs known as the NY Initiative.
Since the release of the documentary, the Real Life Superhero movement has become a hot topic for conversation among both the New York and martial arts communities. So much so that, when asked for a statement by US Combat Sports, a representative of the NY Initiative said that they were currently engaged in a “media blackout” because too many stories are about them and not the issues that they wish to bring to light.
In previous installments of the Problem with Self Defense editorial series, I’ve gone so far as to call everyone who trains in martial arts specifically for the purposes of the increasingly nebulous term “self defense” to be engaging in some degree of delusion. Whether that delusion is harmful or not tends to vary on the situation.
In the context of negatively evaluating delusions of seemingly average people, taking on those who dress up in full costume complete with alternate identity in order to participate in their neighborhood watch seems like dynamite fishing in the local pond.
But, perhaps to the surprise of long time readers, the actions of Real Life Superheroes are not all dangerous or pure fantasy. Those things that are bad ideas are monumentally bad for everyone involved and the natural conclusion of all the silliness attached to “self defense.” For once, though, I’d like to start with the positive.
In this two part article series I will be evaluating both the charitable and crime fighting efforts of Real Life Superheroes, as they seem to be separate and distinct pursuits. For part one, I will look at the charitable.
From what I’ve been able to glean, the majority of Real Life Superheroes spend their time in costume doing humanitarian efforts. This includes charity work, distributing supplies to the homeless, or even acting as a social link for drug addicts through simple conversation. Every example of purely humanitarian efforts, that is those not directly interacting with violent crime, both showcased in the documentary and what I’ve been able to find going on locally, are good things that help the community.
A common response to those positives Real Life Superheroes can have is to point out that none of these good deeds require a costume. But, for some people, they do.
New York City, as evidenced by the fact that 1/3 of all American films are set there, is an important place that sets the tone for the culture of the surrounding area. It’s also got so much going on that paying attention to any of the people or information outside of an individual’s immediate cone of concern can be very overwhelming. As a result, most New Yorkers in the southern part of the state are trained to focus on what’s in front of them and let the rest of the world just walk on by.
Playing long-distance psychological examiner to people you barely know is not as exact a science as most sports writers make it out to be. But, if someone needs to wear costume and become a different person in order to put in the effort to help his community as best as a private citizen can, at least someone’s putting in that effort.
The unfortunate side of Real Life Superheroes is the part that everyone thinks of first when they picture masked vigilantes. The physical act of crime fighting is where the whole practice starts to get insane. It also represents the terminal stop in the logic of the self defense crowd. More on that tomorrow in part two.


Nadra Enzi
Capt Black
(504) 214-3082
In real life superhero ( RLSH ) terms I’ve literally fought folks Phoenix Jones style; did crime prevention speeches like the retired Citizen Prime and made coalitions the way Silver Sentinel does.
Toss in regular food giveaways in the tradition of Life and my Good Citizens Supporting Good Cops effort and you pretty much have my RLSH menu.
The topic of what makes RLSH “real” rears its pointy head periodically, usually in the wake of national publicity.
I address this topic periodically so here’s the latest opinion:
There’s no pecking order among RLSH and extreme altruists ( X ALTS ). Those imposing them are limiting a limitless concept. Free people can express their vision of creative activism without bias.
It’s not a zero sum choice between crime fighting verses unconventional philanthropy.
The only choice is what kind of creative activism you select.
My choices to date include:
* Regularly buying food for the homeless at a Canal St. fast food restaurant off its dollar menu- remember, I’m saving my part of the world on a sneaker-string budget ( lol  ).
* Giving cold bottles of water to New Orleans Downtown Development District ( DDD ) street custodians and public safety rangers; police and hotel valets on scorching days.
* ( Along with two other concerned citizens ) pulling an abusive boyfriend off the woman and child in a stroller he’d struck until officers arrived.
* I’ve also stopped wto separate suicide attempts this year.
Which actions are more “real” than others?
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT BLACK promotes finding your ” super” through creative crime prevention; homeless outreach and political advocacy. ( 504) 214-3082

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Feeding the Ill

My wife sat hunched over her computer and beckoned me with her free hand.
“I just got an email from someone’s mom.  Her son can only eat Jevity and there’s a lapse in their insurance, so she’s looking for any cans she can scrounge up until they come through.  What do you think?”
“Perfect.”  I grinned, “Let’s feed him.”
Jevity is a liquid food substitute for people who cannot eat solid foods for whatever reasons.  I had this stuff pumped directly into my stomach via a feeding tube for several weeks while I was undergoing cancer treatment.  Unfortunately, this formula of food-in-a-can is quite expensive.  I was lucky in that my insurance company paid for it.  Others aren’t quite so fortunate.
When I had my feeding tube removed, I had a few extra cases of Jevity left over.  I decided that this would be a novel way to feed those who were not only in need of the rather expensive food, but are ill as well.  My wife and I locate cancer clinic and chemotherapy treatment centers and donate these cans—all adorned with the Rook symbol to those whose insurance doesn’t cover the food completely.
In this case, we had a specific person in mind.  He had been in an accident and is apparently dealing with a lifetime of living off of this particular liquid diet.  We loaded up a couple cases and ensured that her son will have something to nourish himself with until his insurance straightens things out.
It seems that there are many ways to provide food for those in need.

Old enough to Bleed

I get requests for gadgetry all the time. 90% of those requests are for some kind of weaponry. I understand this. The heroes in the comics are loaded to the gills with advanced artillery. Villains are as well. They even have whole armies of henchmen packing all sorts of lethal armament.
As a result, our young impressionable members feel that they need a flame thrower or micro grenade launcher or some sort of anti personnel tactical nuclear device. Of course you need that. The heroes in the comics have them.
“Why not me?” you ask.
As I said before, many of our members are young and impressionable. In fact, a vast majority of people asking for top rated fire power are teenagers. Yes that’s right. Children not old enough to buy beer or vote are asking me to build a flame thrower.
I am all for the right to bear arms. My father taught me to shoot a revolver when I was 11 years old. I can bulls-eye a dime with a 22 rifle at 20yards. And I can knock a squirrel out of oak tree with nothing more than a sling shot and a small pebble.
I can use these weapons because I understand them. I respect them. I, however, do not advocate carrying any of them in the field.
I know that some RLSH carry lethal weapons on patrol. I am not telling them not to. One of my team mates carries a lethal weapon in the field. He has training in how to use it. He has years of experience with fire arms. And he has a licensed permit to carry it.  Also, he is old enough to vote.
Anyone wishing to carry a weapon of any kind in the field should have a healthy respect and understanding for what it can do. They should be trained, licensed if necessary, and permitted to carry and use it by the local laws and regulations. If you are asking me to build something that cannot be bought at a specialty weapons shop or a traveling weapons show, then I must assume that it is probably not legal and you have little understanding of that weapon and its proper use.
My new policy for any type of lethal weapons will be “You’ll shoot you eye out kid.”
*Addendum* I wrote this blog on Saturday night just before patrol. Sunday morning I had an email from a person asking for me to build a flame thrower. Yep.
I won’t say who it was that asked so if he wants to keep his reputation he can just pretend it never happened and no one will know.


Nadra Enzi
Capt Black at 6:10am EASTERN Thursday 8/17/11 Capt Black will be discussing Flash Mobs; Rioting & Obama on the Bill Edward’s Show, Coastal Georgia’s leading conservative talk radio show. (912) 947-1290 is the call in number. Check it out early birds!!!
EQUATION FOR DEVASTATION: Social decline + prolonged economic suffering + a president whose delivery is seen as falling short of campaign rhetoric = potential riots easily overshadowing those following the first Rodney King verdict if we’re not very alert.
BTW, this isn’t Obama-bashing by a long shot!
This is an appeal for coalition building between police and the public, especially segments most vulnerable to seduction by thugs and political operatives to misbehave like European soccer hooligans! Episodes like this aren’t only wrong they also give government license to shred what’s left of the constitution in defense of law and order!
I hope none are naive enough to think that Obama ( or any sitting president ) wouldn’t crush preelection disturbances with a hand heavy as any assumed Third world dictators or communist premieres would use.
Black America’s social powder keg has been smoldering since the Bush era. The current Administration added jet fuel to these social embers. Whether they ignite remains with individuals involved and relationships ( hopefully ) in place throughout society.
I don’t want Black youth or anyone used as cannon fodder for thugs and political operatives.
Perceived lack of presidential follow through; misery and ( anti ) social networking can easily duplicate ” London riots ” in America if conditions deteriorate.
People seeing themselves as outcasts have little compunction about rioting.
Society ignores this fact at its peril!
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT BLACK promotes finding your ” super” through creative crime prevention; homeless outreach and political advocacy. ( 504) 214-3082

Being a Superhero Conquered All

How is it going, this is the ded beat, my story is an angry and strange tale so here we go,  I am in a Real Life Super Hero Metal band called Jack Havoc, we have been together for over ten years and grew up in Pahrump, Nevada right next to Las Vegas. After the Death of our Guitarist Joseph Merritt we all move up here to Sequim Washington. For years we wanted to be like Rock stars and did alot of drugs, we are now seven years clean and will never look back. well even two years after quitting drugs we still got drunk a lot and partied. One Night about 5 years ago we wer having a party and one of my band mates brought this guy from his work over, this guy has been known to get drunk and start fights. So when he is good and lit, he starts calling one of our old roommates a nark, he was asked to leave and refused he started calling us names, and One thing led to another my lead singer tried escorting him out and him and another of our friends made physical conatct with each other a hit to the face each i believe. The he started calling us faggots and ran out of the house and said he would be back with his friends. 20 minutes later they all showed up, it was a brutal street fight with weapons and such, i dont want to get into detail, but both paries were equally violent and niether of us should have fought. The cops showed up and they all split, in the altercation one of our girlfriends had given one of there friends phones , that was broken to the cops. That night we all went to the hospital, my bass player had 17 fractures in his face, and then we went home. Once we get in a fight were done and we always have dropped it later, not that we should have fought. The next day they called and said they wanted the phone back we said we did not have it, thay said well thats to bad, then hung up. Hours later we got a call from the cops and all there friends saying that the same guy whos phone got given to the cops, had his car severly vandalized with fire. Now im going to say this right here and i hope everyone knows this, We DID NOT nor would we ever endanger someones life by lighting fire to a car. Needless to say thes guys are pissed and think we did it, which i swear on everything i hold dear we did not. To this day we never have figured out, there has been speculation here and there, we still think they might have done it themselves to keep it on going. Anyway for 6 months after our fight they would flip us off call us names and yell at our friends and fans. Until finally about a half a year later we ran into one of them at a bar. He hit me then got arrested, Months later he told us if we dropped it it would be over, so we did. Wrong move on our part, anyway he even thanked me after the court day and said he was cool, but his friend still thinks we blew up his car. Flash forwad a year and a half later i run into that same dude at a casino and he wants to fight me again, now i felt so bad about how bad that street fight cause we fucked alot of ther guys up, that every time after i was always nice when they wanted to fight and a little scared. So i start working out, 6 months later the other guy comes into my work and flips out on me in front of customers, i tell him to get out before i call the cops, i run into these guys from time to time, mind you if i have one of my friends around… they wont say shit, after years and years it is only two asshole who are still pissed and they have singled out me and my band time and time again, trying to start shit. I thought about it and here i am 5 years later i am now in great shape, I have trained in si-lat from time to time, Not a lot at all, but enough to feel better about being prepared, and have done nothing wrong besides getting into that fight, which we are all guilty of, and am a new Man. So three days ago im driving with my guitarist and i see the Phone/Car guy flip me off two blocks awy, i pull over my car and said Fuck That, i walk two blocks toward him, as im walking he gets int his car to make it look like he was getting a weapon, i almost turned around but said to myself now or never. I marched right up to him. He says” whats up lets do this” and i said,” Im here to tell you if you take a swing at me or anyone i know, not only will i defend myself, but ill call the cops right after and have you arrested, and i will press charges, and your legal fees will never end”. He got right up into my face and said” ill punch you right now”. I said” then do it”. I was calm and and everything he said was just a scared, bitter, Revenge thirsty punks rants and raves, plus im sure if i would have called a cop he might get busted with what ever drugs were in his car. Also im kind of a big boy now, i dont think he realized that, So he says,” i already kicked your bands ass any way” got in his car and left, there was a lot more arguing between me and him that day but i think you get the point. The moral of the story is i stood up, like i told myself i would do and stared in to the crazy bastards eyes and said” You don’t scare me”. He will never touch me because now that im a super hero im not afraid to say i have the law on my side and you cant terrorize me, Phoenix Jones Taught me that, and for that i am forever greatful, Never let you, your friends, or your family feel like they are helpless make a stand, he will always flip me off and say what ever he wants, but he will never lay a hand on me or anyone i know, cause if he does, i will make sure he goes to jail, and everyone knows that being in jail Sucks ha ha ha. Well thanks for reading and i hope i inspire anyone to stand up and be there own super hero. WE DONT MAKE DEALS WITH TERRORISTS.                                                                                                  The Ded Beat

Superheroes Are The Next Level of Social Evolution

By the most basic definition, evolution is a change in response to the surrounding environment.
Superheroes are no different.
As society further degrades, as we witness people developing further disdain for their fellow man, we respond, in an attempt to make society survive. We are a response to the conditions surrounding us. This sort of change always starts out small. Like any successful mutation, it spreads.
This change is in response to mainly apathy. Apathy is a social disorder. It is rampant all across the world.
The concept of RLSH/X-Alt is spreading. We as a community are growing every day, new people are popping up every day and acting in their communities, in their neighborhoods. They are instigating change in their local environments. They are inciting a societal evolution.
If we see someone in need, we help. If we see someone suffering on the street, we bring them hope. If we see someone in danger, we save them. These are not social norms. Society has told us “it’s not our problem”. That it’s “their fault” whatever happened to that person, whether it being homeless, or just being mugged walking down the street.
This type of attitude, this social indoctrination has brought us to where we are now. It seems social degradation is at an all time high, whether it be homeless statistics or crime statistics. Everything seems to be at its worse possible.
But there is a response to that, a change to protect society, to save it, and humanity as a whole. It’s those few people, men, women and yes, children, who are instigating this change in response to what is going on around them.
This is how evolution works.
The creative activism of the “RLSH/X-Alt subculture” has exploded in recent years. A few years ago, there was maybe fifty heroes, all across the world. Now, there’s well over 300 in America alone. Groups and organizations are growing. Existing teams are expanding, new ones are being formed. More people are responding to this much needed change and acting. In turn they are encouraging others to act. In turn, those people are encouraging OTHERS to act. So on and so forth.
We are inspiring others to go out there and do something. This “superhero phenotype” is spreading. Society is slowly evolving, slowly changing for the better. It will take time, but it will happen.
Evolution is coming. We are the forefront of it.