Miscellanous Blog 01

It seems that victims, the poor, and the defeated always hail themselves as good guys while the victorious, the rich, and the ones in power are usually considered the villains.
Our world has finite resources (be they fuel, money, or whatever) and anyone who seeks to gather those resources for themselves or their chosen group are considered bad by the weak who have their resources taken from them.
It’s all perspective.
The only person that I can think of at this moment that I think of as an actual chaos-causing villain would be Julian Assange (sp?) of the Wiki-Leaks bit. That was a seriously awesome shit stirring that he caused.
Dictators, while nearly always considered villainous, are really just super successful, workaholics. What higher echelon of government or industry is not full of sociopaths? They all are – they must be, simply because sociopaths are best suited for survival. Nature doesn’t give two shits for terms like hero or villain.

The Case of the Crack-Head Car-Wash

By Citizen Smoke
Warning — I’m Used to Writing Short Stories! This Will Be Long!
So, for the past month or so I’ve been trying to do some off-and-on surveillance of a nearby carwash in town. It’s one of the DIY types where there are several open-ended bays with machines and hoses in them; a roof, a couple walls, some drains… that kinda thing. I had noticed this group of guys that hung around the carwash — same 3 to 5 fellas, no cars, sat around all afternoon/evening/night long sometimes. They dressed the typical “banger” look, that “thug” aesthetic so popular today in poor communities. I even watched as a few cars would pull in, talk to one of these people, then pull out, no car washing. I was suspicious.
Hobo Harry On The Case
So, I started watching. I’d take note of who was there whenever I passed (which I did at least once a day). About two or three times a week, I’ve been dressing up in my “hobo” outfit, rubbing some dirt into my face and arms and hands and such, and meandering the area. Sometimes I parked about 10 blocks away and walked over, usually I’d walk from my house to a nearby low-income area and then wander down 6 blocks. My outfit for these instances includes worn out shoes which I place a piece of landscaping bark in so that I consistently have a realistic limp in my right leg and an excuse for the crappy old walking stick.
I mumble and fidget to myself when I dress like this, so I seem less approachable. I use my best Southern-poor accent when I spare change some people I’m sure won’t give it to me and was offered a swipe of some gin instead one time. I’ve even been eyed by passing patrol cars and had one officer (I didn’t recognize him) tell me that I couldn’t “sleep on that bench” when I stopped for an equipment check. I totally had this character down. I lack any useful camera, though, so everything had to be either remembered and jotted down out of sight, or just written on my arm while I pretended to scratch at it. I got times, dates, plate numbers, descriptions… I was building a little personal file of scratched down data.
Calling It In
A couple times I was sure I’d seen something off happening, walked to the McDonalds down the block, got some water (for show), went into the restroom and called in a “suspicious activity” report anonymously (citing “fear of life and limb” just in case). Three times I called in, three times the police show up and spend some time checking things out, but no arrests. Once I even watched Grady (one of the K-9 unit animal officers) sniff about, to no avail.
I was flustered, to say the least. I thought it must be more involved, some kind of two-step or three-step process. Go to the carwash, give them the location, go to your location, hand over the money and get your drugs from the fellow in the next car over on your way out. Something all “Cloak & Dagger” like that. Smarter than street-slinging, but only just. I thought “well I’ll just have to park inconspicuously and tail someone to find out”. I never seemed to get anything from that, either. I won’t bore you with the completely stupid amounts of time I spent watching people just sit in front of a TV.
My resolve wavered.
Time to Clean the Smo-Car!
Finally, today, after leaving early from work (because I can), I decided to wash my car. This was the test , plan-clothed, normal old me. I’d seen them there this afternoon, it was just about quitting time, and only a couple cars were washing. I was sure that I’d be able to get something definitive this time. What they were selling, maybe the process, a good look at the players.
I pull in, rattle some quarters toward the machine, as the one in the white cap and blue coat walks up to me. My nerves flashed a little as he approached, crazy little thoughts bouncing through my head… “Will he offer me crack? Probably just pot. Or will it be ambiguous and I’ll have to ask if he has something? Some ‘sup? you party?’ kind of thing? Shit, what if he recognizes me as the hobo? Will he try to kick my ass or something? I’ll play it off like I’m trying to scam people. I wonder if I should have gotten more quarters.” All kinds of silly shit. Then he talks to me…
Moment of Truth
“Hey man, you wanna get your car washed?”
“… excuse me?” I reply, baffled.
“Want us to wash your car man? Only three bucks and we get you right, shine that Mitsubishi up real good,” he pitches.
“Wait… I’m coming to a do-it-yourself carwash, and you’re offering to sell me the service of washing it for me?”
“Yeah, man! Cheaper then them automatic ones and we do a better job. We got shimmies and shit, too.”
“… so… so this is why you guys are always hanging out here?”
“Yeah, man. The ‘conomy is all messed up! We gotta get some money somewhere, know-wud-ahm-sayin’?” he replies with youthful slang.
Psychologically, this throws me down and knocks the wind out of me. I’ve been suspicious and watchful as these kids — these decent little kids — are out here trying to make a buck while the nation gets so poor that people who used to look down their noses at this guy are now grateful they even have a job. He’s an entrepreneur at the most basic level, and he smells strongly of chemicals and wax.
“Well … well fuck… um, yeah, sure man. Here. Here, just have all these quarters and have at it. I’m going to pick up a six pack.”
The shame burst against my forehead like a balloon, shreds of embarrassment falling through my cerebral cortex. I’d just wasted about a month. “Wait,” I thought to myself… “it could be that they’re doing this, but maybe they sell on the side, too.” I turn around and watch as they quickly start lathering up my little four-cylinder with the soap-brush. They’re smiling and chattering away, completely ignoring me. I realize I must be standing there like Beaver Cleaver or Gomer Pyle, a look on my face that says something incredibly midwestern and white like “Well gol-lee! Heck and tarnation!” Really… this can’t be for real. What the hell was I thinking?
I think it’s time I move on to more important things than this car wash. If it’s even remotely got anything to do with drugs, I’m not going to fix it, and there are bigger fish to fry. I also think it’s time I remember to base my choices more on actual observation, instead of looking to see what I want to see. I wanted to make a difference so badly, I saw what I assumed to be drug dealers.
Well, at least now I can move on to doing good somewhere, instead of playing the hobo when I don’t need to. So it goes.

Reaching out

By Agent Null
So, as I have already written about, I went out on my first patrol with Zetaman earlier. While we were doing our thing, we were talking (what? You think we did everything in a gallows silence?), and we discussed ideas, plans for the future, and so on.
But it all came back to the same topic: How do we better present ourselves in a way that demonstrates to the public that we are not just doing this as some sort of childish live-action role playing or for the “lulz”? How can we as members of the RLS subculture prove that we can be more than just silly brats in costume acting out wish-fulfillment fantasy?
Well…I have come to find what I believe to be the answer. It was right in front of my face the whole time, as luck would have it:
Look, very few are going to like what I’m going to have to say here, as it flies into the face of what we know as convention. But then all truths begin as blasphemies. And as I am not a stranger to being strung up for the sin of telling the truth (and not making it funny) with regards to this subculture, I’ve no problems outlining the ways in which this subculture needs to change.
First of all, we need to get away from the comic book mindset that helped create us. As loathe as I am to point this out, comic books are not real. The situations, societies, and attitudes that shape the world of superhero fiction simply does not apply in the real world. Here, in the world where we live, there are very few true heroes just as there are a scarce amount of truly evil villains. In this world, black and white are simply colours; they are not moral absolutes. Calling ourselves ANYTHING other than “Real Life Superheroes” would be a huge step in the right direction.
Second of all, we need to be more transparent. Think about it: you decide to become a costumed crusader. Now, during the course of making this decision, you decide to set up a webpage and forum in an effort to reach out to other like-minded individuals. And then, you make the forum private, with membership upon approval. Sooo…doesn’t that defeat your purpose? If you TRULY want to help the public, you would not set up a place for discussion that they cannot read and discourse with you. To even entertain the notion suggests something to hide. And most likely, they will believe that you are hiding that face that you really haven’t done anything of note, nor will you ever. Judging from what I’ve read on those forums, I also believe this to be the case. Also, if you are the type who is sensitive to any flames you may receive from the public you are trying to reach out to (and you will), perhaps this is not the line of work for you after all.
Third, we need to be more exclusive. Look, one of the biggest issues within this subculture stems primarily from an appalling lack of standards. Are we really that desperate for validation that we should accept anybody who comes along with a MySpace profile and a few good (if mainly false) tales of derring-do? I should truly hope not. I hate to go back to this, but in one discussion I had, I pointed out that our subculture would even accept John Wayne Gacy if his icon pic was of him in his clown costume and he claimed to “destroy evil”. I still believe this to be the case. On this same topic, if one of us is shown to be less than they claim to be and it can be proven beyond all doubt, then they should be cast out from the subculture altogether if they will not explain or justify themselves. No other society would allow people of this nature to remain with them. Why should we?
Fourth, we need to be honest about ourselves. This goes toward transparency, but it still bears mention nevertheless. Look, I do not believe a majority of those within this group are as active in fighting crime as they would have us believe, if they are at all. If one fights crime in the manner in which these people claim to, and they have not been killed or arrested for vigilantism then fantastic. More power to them. But prove it. Show some documentation, whether it be a police report or a newspaper article or a link to a news broadcast. If one cannot, they should either be silent about it, or they should not be surprised when such claims fall under heavy investigation and scrutiny. The basic rule should apply: proof or it didn’t happen.
Fifth, while I understand the affectation towards maintaining a secret identity while on the job, the fact remains- YOU ARE NOT YOUR CODENAME. At the end of my day for example, I’m not Agent Null. I am me. Agent Null is nothing more than a symbol I gave myself. Anyone can be Agent Null.
Sixth, I know goes back to point #4. But here it is: If you actually are fighting crime, busting drug dealers and muggers and the like, and this can be proven; once again I say that’s fantastic…But you have changed NOTHING. Zip, Zilch, Zero. How is that, you ask? It, like so many other answers I present here, is quite simple. You change nothing because not once have you managed to combat the REASONS crimes occur. In fact, I have a crisp clean sheet of paper with President Lincoln’s mugshot printed on it that says you never once gave that any real thought. You know something guys? The internet is a fantastic place, full of magic, wonder and knowledge. Perhaps if you devoted even a half hour of the time you would normally use to talk about which non-existant spells to use while fighting demons that aren’t there or which piece of armour would look cooler on your MySpace profile to looking at the real sociological motivations behind crime, you would be so much more effective at PREVENTING crime from happening in the first place. Now, I am not so naive as to assume that we can prevent future crimes from occuring merely by dint of our efforts in tackling real issues (for once). But you know, in the end, that is a more noble end than simply beating up criminals.
Seventh, we need to be active in the cities we live in. By this, I do not simply mean we need to be constantly patrolling the streets in search of ciminals to thwart. Far from it. Instead, we need to show EVERYONE from the rich to the poor, the old to the young, that we care about them and want to be able to succeed on their own. We need to be present in soup kitchens or other charities. We need to be seen handing out necessary survival items to those who lack them. We need to be the first to lead drives to aid those who have suffered losses. If we have first aid and cpr training, we need to teach others to do the same thing. If we are martial artists, we need to teach others to protect themselves. We need to not selfishly hoard our abilities to sate our own ego. We need to demonstrate and teach those abilities to those who wish to learn them.
And finally, we need to be proactive in the above methods. Sitting here and debating these topics will get us nowhere. What I have stated here is nothing less than the whole truth of the matter. The more we sit here and debate the points to death, the less we are out there, doing what needs doing.
And the less we are out there, the closer we creep to carving our epitath as a punchline in pop culture history.