Shazam! Real-life superheroes to the rescue

Originally posted:
By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News     November 20, 2011

By day, they are regular folks with full-time jobs, bills to pay and mouths to feed.
By night, they are masked and sometimes-caped crusaders, who troll the streets looking to help the needy, stamp out crime and fulfil their comic-book inspired dreams.
But lately the mostly anonymous members of the so-called Real Life Superheroes movement (known as RLSH) in Canada and the U.S. have been feeling a bit of angst and more than a little misunderstood after a bout of bad publicity.
First, there was the arrest last month of Seattle’s high-profile crime fighter Phoenix Jones (whose real name is Ben Fodor) over an alleged assault. Jones, who wears a black-and-gold uniform complete with Batman-like fake abs, says he unleashed a canister of pepper spray to break up a fight.
Then last week, Canadians learned about a group of B.C. teens who posed as underaged girls online, lured men into encounters and then confronted them at designated meeting spots in Batman and Flash costumes while video cameras rolled. Police immediately rebuked the sting operations, saying the teens put themselves at risk.
“I’m sorry if I am being cautious, but you do understand … we are in a fragile state because a few of us have been seen as, well, vigilantes or worse,” said Ark, a Toronto-based superhero in an email.
“Media is a powerful thing, and I honestly don’t want you or any other kind of reporter dragging the Canadian RLSH down.”
Members of the movement, which was the subject of an HBO documentary earlier this year, insist their mission is simple: to do good deeds and inspire others to do the same. That includes participating in neighbourhood patrols, working with charities and helping the homeless.
Sure, their costumes are gimmicky, but the shtick sticks in people’s minds and draws attention to their causes, they say. Vigilantism, they insist, is not condoned.
“They’re not vigilantes. They’re not doing anything against the law. They may be using unusual methods, but they’re using symbolism to market good deeds,” said Peter Tangen, a Hollywood movie poster photographer who has done photo shoots with dozens of real life superheroes across the U.S.
There are more than 600 people worldwide listed as members on the website Most are based in the United States.
They include New York City’s Dark Guardian, who flushes out drug dealers in Washington Square Park; red-white-and-blue-uniformed DC Guardian, who patrols the nation’s capital while dispensing copies of the U.S. Constitution; Super Hero in Clearwater, Florida, who drives around in a Corvette Stingray and helps stranded motorists; and Urban Avenger, who breaks up fights outside bars in San Diego.
There are at least a handful of real-life superheroes scattered across Canada. In Vancouver, there’s Thanatos, a married 63 year-old ex-U.S. military officer and self-proclaimed “comic book geek,” who is named after the Greek god of death.
Thanatos, who works in the death industry – he declined to say what he does exactly – says he acts as an extra set of eyes and ears for the police in the Downtown Eastside and also hands out food, blankets and socks to the homeless every month.
He cuts a creepy look, dressed in a black trench coat, black and green skull mask and flattened Australian bush hat. The getup, he admits, can freak out some people.
But accompanying each care package is a slip of paper bearing the words “Thanatos – Real Life Superhero” on one side and “Friend” on the other.
“They know they have a friend out there, even if it’s a crazy guy with a mask,” he said.
Toronto’s Ark is a 26-year-old guitar-playing security guard, who says he feels compelled to jump in to help the “less fortunate, the troubled and the weak.”
“I, for some reason, care for the unfortunate, and I don’t tolerate people who take advantage of other people,” he said.
Though he has broken up fights over the years, Ark says he’s “not really a crime fighter. I don’t go out of my way to find trouble.” He prefers walking around handing out sandwiches and coffee to the needy.
His uniform is simple – “I don’t dress to impress,” he says – consisting of black tactical pants, black tactical jacket, black military hat and partial face mask.
He also wears a bulletand stab-proof vest and brings along his “tactical hard knuckles and soft padded gloves” – for “deterrent” purposes.
One of the newer members to the movement is exreservist Crimson Canuck, a married, 24-year-old father, in Windsor, Ont., who works as a telephone technician.
He says he was drawn to the movement out of a desire to make the city better. “I don’t want my daughter to be afraid to go downtown,” he says.
Crimson Canuck, whose outfit consists of a crimson shirt, red tie, black vest, grey slacks, combat boots, black fedora and partial face mask, recently blogged about his first-ever downtown street patrol.
Before he left the door, his wife “called me a fool and made sure I brought mace, in case things got hairy,” he wrote.
But things didn’t get hairy. In fact, it was a quiet night.
“No action,” he wrote. “Not even a car alarm.”
He ended the night instead by grabbing some food from McDonald’s and sharing some of it with a homeless man in a wheelchair.
“I’ve done my share of bad things,” he wrote. “But now might be a good time to make up for it all. I’m not a clean-cut good guy. I’m just a guy who wants to do good.”

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Vancouver's masked superhero: Thanatos

Originally posted:
by Adrian Mack on July 19, 2011 at 6:05 PM
Thanataos, aka the Dark Avenger, patrols the Downtown Eastside in a Rorschach-like uniform topped off with a creepy green and black skull mask. He hands out water, energy bars, peanut butter, blankets, and other necessities to those in need, and leaves behind a card inscribed with the motto “I do what I can, when I can…” He’s a pretty pragmatic real life superhero.
Like any masked avenger, Thanatos also keeps his real identity secret, although filmmaker Michael McNamara got a rare glimpse behind the mask when he was filming Thanatos for the “Real Life Superheroes” episode of Fanboy Confessional, airing Wednesday night (July 20), on SPACE.
“We were in Vancouver for probably the hottest days last summer,” the Toronto-based director tells the Straight, “and he was out delivering water and energy bars during the day, and at night he was bringing the bundles of blankets and food and stuff, and it was really, really, really hot. And he ultimately revealed himself to us. But we’re all sworn to secrecy.”
McNamara adds that it still took a long while for Thanatos to finally fold. He says that the Vietnam vet is “incredibly fit” for a man in his 60s. “He can take care of himself. My whole crew was wilting, and he was ready to go,” he says.
Thanatos is an oddly noble figure, well known to the police and the locals of the DTES. As he tells McNamara in the show, “If hell has a street address, it’d be Main and Hastings… This is the real world.” He finances his superhero work out of his own pocket. “He’s not poor, but he’s certainly by no means upper middle class,” McNamara says. “Like a lot of people involved in these kinds of fandoms, they make a choice about what they’re going to do with their disposable income, and so he actively chooses to augment his persona and come up with the raw materials he needs to help out.”
In contrast to McNamara’s other subject in the “Real Life Superheroes” episode of the six-part series, there’s a genuine gravity to Thanatos. DC’s Guardian, on the other hand, is a well-meaning but somewhat goofy patriot who stalks the Mall of the US capitol sharing his fuzzy all-American values with anyone who happens to get in his way. It’s reassuring to hear that he’s more innocent than delusional.
“People like DC do have a sense of humour about what they do,” says McNamara, chuckling. “And they do realize that what they do borders on obsession.” He knows of what he speaks. McNamara is a proud fanboy himself, being a lifelong record collector (and friend of Allan Zweig, who made the slightly disturbing documentary Vinyl about what you might call pathological record collectors). Indeed, the overriding impression left by the Fanboy Confessionalseries is that the nerds really have inherited the earth, and that it’s not a bad thing at all.“You can come home from work and you can veg in front of the television, or you can come home from work and make a ray gun,” as one LARPer (live action role-player) told McNamara. “There’s something really cool about that,” he says, “and it’s the same way with the cosplayers. The girls are learning skills like how to sew, and leather studding, and bead work, and they’re building communities, and trading these things around, and getting involved, and they’re getting out in the world, and doing cool things. It’s a way to get out of your parent’s basement. It’s a completely different kind of fandom now. There’s a kind of sharing going on that’s quite vital.”
The show is also quite thought provoking. Thea Munster, who pioneered the Zombie Walk in Toronto, tells McNamara in the “Horror” episode that “North American culture has no celebration of death.” Suddenly, something that seems silly becomes surprisingly profound.
Laughs McNamara, “It’s very deep for a zombie!”

Real-Life Superheroes Fight City Crime … In Costume

Originally posted:
Copy of show
From Spiderman to Wonder Woman, comic book superheroes have been symbols of cool for generations of Americans. Many have fantasized about being a superhero, or at least dressed the part in a Halloween costume. But members of a movement known as Real Life Superheroes actually take on personas and hit the streets – in costume – to fight real crime. Host Michel Martin speaks with two anonymous characters, who go by the names Phoenix Jones and DC’s Guardian, about their efforts to help the police protect communities.
Copyright © 2011 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.
I’m Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News.
Coming up, my weekly Can I Just Tell You commentary. But first, we just heard about the revival of the Black Panther comic book hero. Now we talk about an effort to bring superheroes to your neighborhood. They call themselves Real Life Superheroes. They are a group of people, adults, who aren’t just fantasizing about being superheroes, they’re actually taking on the personas. And you can see where this might sound a bit strange. So we wanted to know more about this. We’ve invited two so-called superheroes to talk about what they do and why they do it.
Phoenix Jones is from Seattle, Washington. He joins us from KUOW. And DC’s Guardian is based in our nation’s capital, as you might expect from the name. But he happens to be on the West Coast today, where we caught up with him. And he joined us from NPR West.
Welcome to you both. Thank you so much for joining us.
Mr. PHOENIX JONES (Superhero): Well, thank you, ma’am. It’s a pleasure to be with you today.
DC’S GUARDIAN (Superhero): Yes, I agree.
MARTIN: Now, I understand that each of you doesn’t like to talk about your other lives very much. You don’t like to put the focus on your individual identities. But I do think people would like to know how this got started.
So, Phoenix, why don’t you start? How did you get started on this?
Mr. JONES: I used to do a – like, a little bar patrol where I drop people off at the bar, and then since I was already going to have to wait for them, I decided to break up bar fights. After I’d been breaking up bar fights for a little bit, I stopped because people started recognizing me. My face was pretty out there, and I didn’t feel very comfortable.
You know, a little time went by, and I had a son. And we were at Wild Waves, and we were playing in the water. And we leave and we were running back to my car, and he falls in this glass right by my car because someone had broken in my car and broke the window. And his knee is cut open, and he’s bleeding really badly. And I’m trying to stop the bleeding, and I see a guy run across the street with a camera phone. And I’m, like, perfect. He’ll call, you know, call the cops.
So I said, call 9-1-1. I need help. And he said, I can’t. And I said why? He said, it’ll ruin my YouTube clip. And it wasn’t till I was able to get help another way that we were able to get help, and it really disturbed me.
MARTIN: But, wait, how did you go from that story, which a lot of people, I think, can relate to – which is a terrible story, by the way, and I’m sorry that happened to you – to wearing a costume and deciding you were going to actually do patrols?
Mr. JONES: You know, I know that sounds like a large leap, but what happened is I’m cleaning my car up from the glass, and I found a rock inside a mask that they had used to smash my window. And I left the mask in my glove box. And a couple weeks later, I’m at a bar doing what I normally do, driving people to the bar, dropping them off and waiting for them. And a friend of mine gets assaulted outside the bar.
And there’s about 70 people watching, and the guy who did it had a whole lot of friends there. And I didn’t want to just walk up and be, like, hey, you shouldn’t do that, because I knew people would see my face. So I opened up my glove box to call 9-1-1 to get my phone out and saw the mask, put on the mask and kind of made a commotion and chased the person a little bit. And the police showed up, and they were able to arrest him. And that’s kind of how Phoenix Jones was born right there, but it was originally from the break-in, is where I got the mask.
MARTIN: Hmm. Interesting. How about DC, what about you? How did this get started for you?
DC’s GUARDIAN: There was a show several years ago called “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” And I was asked to try out for it, because I was a comic book geek, if you couldn’t tell. And that led to the creation of Skiffytown League of Heroes. But my role with the RLSH, or the Real Life Super Heroes, began when my name started to get out. I was associated with the RLSH, and I decided that if I’m going to be associated, I was going to take an active role in it. So…
MARTIN: And so what do you do? Do you patrol? What do you do?
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, actually, in Washington, D.C., I would patrol around the National Mall, behind the Capitol area. There’s a lot of very bad crime areas in Washington, D.C. And what I noticed was everybody wanted somebody else to do it. They were waiting for the police to do it. They were waiting for somebody else to come in. And like Phoenix Jones, I saw apathy.
And so I teamed up with a gentleman who was already there, called Captain Prospect, and we would do patrols. We would hand out flyers for missing persons. We would look at the drug scene. We got involved. We didn’t do anything more than 30 years ago what a normal citizen would’ve done, but it took to dress up in costume to get people’s attention to the problems at hand.
MARTIN: Yeah. Well, tell me about the costume in your case. I mean, Phoenix was telling his story, but why do you wear a costume?
MARTIN: And I can hear that, by the way, that for people who are wondering what that sound is, you’re both in costume now right?
DC’s GUARDIAN: Yes ma’am.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: So that’s kind of what we’re hearing, just for people who are wondering what that sound is that we’re hearing. Their costumes is probably a little bulky. I think one of you, at least, perhaps wears a bulletproof vest. Do I have that right.
(Soundbite of laughter)
DC’s GUARDIAN: Yes ma’am.
DC’s GUARDIAN: And. Yeah…
MARTIN: Makes sense. So DC, tell me, tell me your story.
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, my I collared a uniform, my military background. But my uniform is designed so that nobody can see my skin, because as an American, it shouldn’t matter what color I am. I am simply an American. And when I help people, they don’t know if it’s two days later and somebody else needs help. It could be me that they’re helping. What I’m trying to do is create somebody who doesn’t want the recognition, but can be anybody if they walk across – or going down the street.
MARTIN: Well, to that point though, we understand that the police in your respective jurisdictions are not always enamored of this idea…
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: …of – they think do I have that right? I mean am I being kind of…
DC’s GUARDIAN: Oh, yes ma’am. And…
Mr. JONES: It’s like more than (unintelligible).
DC’s GUARDIAN: Phoenix has a lot more confrontations. I don’t want to say that in a bad light, but he runs across them a lot more than I do. But we both work with the police as best we can. And I put my best foot forward, because if I’m doing things that are illegal, I’m almost self-defeating.
MARTIN: Well, Phoenix, tell me you story about this. You laughed when I said the police aren’t actually in love with this idea. In fact, there’s a clip of you patrolling in one area where you are trying to restrain a person who you believe has been drinking to excess to keep him from getting into his car – not physically restrain him, but keep him from getting into his car. And when the police arrive on the scene, they are not pleased. And so I’ve seen this on, sort of, YouTube. So talk to me about that, your relationship with law enforcement.
Mr. JONES: Originally, you know, I did a lot of patrols at night, and I was pretty much undiscovered. And I broke up a night fight underneath a bridge here in Seattle and ended up getting hurt in the process. So when the police came and I had one person subdued and I had called the police, they immediately needed to know, you know, who I am, what I’m doing. And when I told them, I pulled out the newspaper the next day, and it said, you know, masked crime fighter attacks Seattle in costume nerdery(ph). And from there it was pretty much, you know, everywhere. It traveled pretty quickly at that point.
MARTIN: But do you have any martial arts training or have any self-defense training, Phoenix?
Mr. JONES: Yeah. I have two different black belts. In my regular life I’m a professional fighter with a lot of wins.
MARTIN: What, like mixed martial arts?
Mr. JONES: Yes ma’am. Uh-huh.
Mr. JONES: So…
MARTIN: And DC, what about you? You’re a veteran and presumably, self-defense training. Do you also have martial arts training?
DC’s GUARDIAN: Yes ma’am. I’ve actually have about 20 to 25 years-plus of martial arts and a lot of military training. And I think for Phoenix and I, it’s not necessarily the ability to beat somebody up, anybody can do that, but it’s to defuse the situation so that nobody’s getting hurt.
MARTIN: If you’re just joining us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin. We’re talking with two gentlemen who have actually taken on the persona of superheroes. They actually patrol in their communities, try to intervene in situations and fight crime. And they’re not alone. We just happen to be talking to two of them. They go by the names of Phoenix Jones and DC’s Guardian. And Phoenix is in Seattle and DC’s Guardian happens to be on the West Coast today, but he mainly works in the Washington, D.C. area.
But to that point, I mentioned as earlier that you’re not the only people who are doing the right now. But there are some who would argue – and you kind of all know each other and you seem to have a loose confederation called the Real Live Superheroes – but some people would say why not just going into law enforcement where you can get paid to do this and get insurance…
DC’s GUARDIAN: If I could address this.
DC’s GUARDIAN: If I could address this first, Phoenix. People go into the first responders, the police, the fire, the EMT and that’s a wonderful career to do, but not everybody has to do that to step in and make a difference. And what we do is try to show people it’s okay to protect your neighborhood.
MARTIN: Okay, Phoenix, what about you? Why not just go in to law enforcement?
Mr. JONES: You know, I 100 percent agree with what DC said to start with. The other part I would elaborate, and this is more of a personal note, is that I’m an African-American man, and being that, a lot of other African-American people have I would say a strange relationship with how they view police. And I think if I became one I would be less effective. And a good story of that is a man found my Facebook and texted me and said, I have warrants and I wanted to be turned in. I assaulted the cop and I ran away. And knowing cops, I’m very nervous about turning myself in because I don’t want to be assaulted. Is there any way that you would turn me in? And I thought it was a setup, but I met him and I actually turned him in. And he wanted me to do it because he knew that I was like him. That’s what he said. He said you’re one of us. It gives a different angle for people.
MARTIN: Can I just ask you though, and I hope I can ask this without being perceived as being disrespectful because I don’t intend to be. But the thing for a lot of people thing for a lot of people it is the costume. A lot of people just think why are grownups dressing up in costumes?
Mr. JONES: I actually started off with no costumes and that’s why I love this question. Originally, I just had like I said, the ski mask from the robbery that happened in to car and I would just be wearing jeans and I would take whatever shirt I was wearing and just, you know, if I saw a crime walk around the building, take the shirt off, throw the ski mask on, stop crime. And the cops would roll up and pull guns on me and force me on the floor every time.
MARTIN: And you’re shocked by this because?
Mr. JONES: Well, I’m not. I look like a robber. But now I’m Phoenix Jones and I’m a symbol. When cops pull up to a situation I’m in, they may not like me but they start off every conversation with: okay Phoenix, what’s happening now.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. JONES: There’s not a gun pulled. It is nothing like that. They know who I am.
MARTIN: DC, what about you? People will say what’s up with the costume? You’re too grown for that.
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, you know, and we’re not saying everybody needs to wear a costume. But take your own life, for example. Down your street can you really tell what the street looks like day-to-day? You pass things every day and after a certain point you tend to disregard it. And so the costume, when I walk down the street, the whole street is looking at me. It brings a spotlight to a situation. When I help homeless, doing it without a costume is absolutely wonderful but other people never seem to notice that anymore. It becomes just another image on the side of the road. When you see me walking down the street helping a homeless, you’re looking to see what I am and what I’m doing, but then the bigger picture is the homeless on the street.
And the same thing for crime. Walking down the street and just behind the Capitol, two drug dealers – they’re doing it in broad daylight. But I come walking down the street, everybody stops. And when I’m talking to them the whole neighborhood is watching what’s going on. You know, evil doesn’t like light and that’s what the costume helped bring. It brings a light into the situation.
MARTIN: What would you like us to learn from your experience. And DC, you want to start and then Phoenix, you can pick up?
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, we all bring something different to the table, but every table is different. My fight in Washington, D.C. is different than Phoenix’s. And so people think that we’re polar opposites, but we’re not really. We’re fighting the same war. We just have different battles to win the war.
MARTIN: Well, why do you say that people think you’re polar opposites?
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, because I am a little more noticeable and a little more above board because, in Washington, D.C. we have what, Secret Service, FBI, local law enforcement. My fights have to be a little more recognizable. Phoenix, who has a lot different drug situations, gang situations, he’s a little more in the shadows, but we’re still fighting the same war. It’s just different battlegrounds.
MARTIN: And, but can I forgive me, I just feel like I have to ask, there are people who just think you’re crazy. That you’re just going to subject yourself…
DC’s GUARDIAN: And that’s fine. No, and that’s fine.
MARTIN: You’re going to subject yourself to being hurt.
MARTIN: I’m guessing law enforcement, that’s one of the reasons they sometimes encourage people not to get involved because…
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, but…
MARTIN: …they’re afraid you’re going to get hurt and it’s going to add another situation. They just think you’re crazy.
DC’s GUARDIAN: If we don’t do it, who is going to?
DC’s GUARDIAN: You know, at what point do you stand up, draw the line in the sand and say not this time?
Mr. JONES: Yes.
DC’s GUARDIAN: And if we don’t step up, what are our kids learning? If we cannot stand up and protect our community, who will?
Mr. JONES: I agree.
MARTIN: Phoenix, what about you? Your final thought?
Mr. JONES: On patrol now, I’ve been stabbed once, I’ve had my nose broken. I recently got punched with a key. I’ve been hit with a baseball bat. I’ve been held at gunpoint. And you know what happened during all those incidences? The citizen who didn’t come out there wearing a bulletproof vest and wearing armor didn’t get hurt. So if I have to take a little bit of punishment to make sure that my citizens don’t get hurt, I guess I have to.
DC’s GUARDIAN: Well, and having said that, there are a lot of RSH’s who do a lot of charity work and they don’t do anything but charity work. Everybody brings something to the table and it’s time that people started bringing their gifts to the table and stand up and do their part.
MARTIN: Phoenix Jones and DC’s Guardian are the names that these two men use who are a part of the Real Life Superheroes movement.
Phoenix Jones joined us from Seattle’s KUOW. DC’s Guardian joined us from NPR West. If you’d like to see pictures of them in uniform, log on to, click on the Programs page and then on TELL ME MORE.
Gentlemen, thank you both so much for joining us.
DC GUARDIAN: Thanks you very much and I hope to be back in D.C. as soon as I can.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. JONES: Thank you again for having me on. Phoenix out.
(Soundbite of music)
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Costumed crusaders taking it to the streets

Originally posted:
But Real Life Superheroes don’t have superpowers and most don’t fight crime

Photo by Theodore James

Photo by Theodore James

By Jim Gold
Crusaders costumed in tights, capes, cowls and other accoutrements are turning up with surprising regularity in American cities to fight what they consider their biggest enemy: public apathy.
They call themselves superheroes and, with names like Dark Guardian, Red Dragon and Viper, they might be right at home on the pages of comic books. But unlike their ink-and-paper counterparts, they can’t fly, vanish into thin air or outrun a speeding locomotive. And they usually are armed with nothing more than good intentions — and maybe a camera and cell phone.

The Vigilante Spider, who has spent 11 years performing acts of goodness around San Diego, is a member of the Real Life Superheroes. The group has nearly 60 members, who don tights, cloaks and cowls to spread the message that ‘everybody can make a difference.’ Here he’s shown in a new documentary, “Superheroes.”

For the most part, they don’t really fight crime either. Most take on missions to help the homeless, raise money for charity or just lend an ear so someone in trouble knows they care.
“There’s a hero in everybody,” said Dark Guardian, who has patrolled the streets of New York for eight years, resplendent in a blue bulletproof and stab-proof vest with “DG” on the chest.  “Everybody can make a difference; we are just a drastic example of what people can do.”
Many costumed do-gooders are loosely aligned under the Real Life Superheroes banner. The group’s website lists nearly 60 members, complete with profiles and portraits. But there appear to be a lot of sidekicks and other prospects waiting in the wings: Nearly 800 contributors participate in its forums, planning meet-ups, exchanging tips on the best gadgets to carry in a utility belt and even consulting an unofficial manual offering guidance on issues such as hero health and legal considerations.
A broken nose for his troubles
A few have crossed the line into real superhero territory — with painful results. That’s what apparently happened to “Phoenix Jones, Guardian of Seattle,” after he became an international media sensation with a run of publicity that included a Jan. 7 appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” A week later, Jones said his nose was broken when he was kicked in the face while trying to break up a street fight between two men, Seattle’s KOMO-TV reported.
The masks and the occasional ventures into real world crime fighting make police understandably nervous.
Masked people at crime scenes is a recipe for disaster, Seattle police Detective Jeff Kappel said, noting that officers often arrive at chaotic scenes where they must quickly sort out suspects from victims and bystanders.
“Put yourself in our shoes,” he said. “… We don’t know who we’re dealing with when we show up.”
And police Lt. Troy Potts of Columbia, Tenn., where police last summer ran off a crusader known as Viper by warning him that he was violating an ordinance barring adults from wearing masks in public, said there are better ways to fight crime.
“Be the best witness you can be,” he said. “Get tag numbers, get a good look at the (criminal’s) face, hair, eye color, tattoos — anything like that will benefit police tremendously.”
A superhero to police would be a person who gives officers a statement and is willing to show up in court later to testify, they said.
But Dark Guardian says cops on the beat aren’t always averse to a small assist.
Routing bad guys with a bullhorn and lights
He said officers didn’t do a thing when he and a dozen others entered New York City’s Washington Square in 2009 with a bullhorn, lights and cameras to confront around 20 drug dealers. One of the bad guys briefly flashed a gun, he said, but the commotion quickly caused the crooks to melt away into the night.
“The cockroaches wanted to get away from their light,” said Peter Tangen, a professional photographer who has followed the crusaders on their rounds for years and whose pictures and interviews are featured on a super hero websitehe runs.
But tense confrontations or physical altercations are “a rare exception” to the costumed crusader rule, said Tangen, who also served as consulting producer on the full-length documentary film “Superheroes,” which debuted last month at the Slamdance film festival in Park City, Utah, and may be released at theaters nationally in July.
“Superheroes” film director Michael Barnett and producer Theodore James followed superheroes on patrol for more than a year.
Barnett said the two thought they might find “eccentric people in costumes” when they started. Instead, they found “courageous, altruistic people,” some with little resources of their own, trying to do something, he said.
“A lot of people feel powerless during stressful times,” Barnett said. “Any little help inspires. That is our film.”
Small victories over evil
Often that help means small victories over evil.
“I don’t go out there with the purpose of beating up bad guys,” said Zetaman, a Portland, Ore., resident who dons a blue-and-black ensemble with a big “Z” emblazoned on his chest before heading out on patrols, which usually entail handing out food, blankets and other supplies to the city’s homeless. “I do stuff that anyone can do.”
The Vigilante Spider of San Diego told the Real Life Super Hero Project that despite his name he relies on bright lights and the element of surprise to stop violence and the spread of graffiti.
It’s difficult to broadly characterize those who disguise themselves to do good. They come from all walks of life, inhabit all sorts of body types and range in age from 6 to over 60. Many share a love of comic books and superhero movies, and a passion for bringing superhero virtues of trustworthiness, bravery, and selflessness to the real world. Some are willing to reveal their real identities, and some agreed to talk if they were identified only by their aliases.
Among them:

  • Dark Guardian, otherwise known as Chris Pollak, 26, a martial arts instructor who lives on Staten Island. He said a horrific crime and apathetic bystanders inspired him to don his superhero duds.

The crime was the notorious case of Kitty Genovese, 28, who was sexually assaulted and murdered in a 35-minute attack as she tried to walk from her car to her apartment at 3 a.m., March 13, 1964, in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. Media accounts, later disputed, said that none of the 38 witnesses to the assault did anything to stop it or called police.

“There’s a hero in everybody,” said Dark Guardian, aka Chris Pollak of Staten Island, N.Y.

Though many members of the Real Life Superheroes were born long after the incident, they are well aware of the story and some, like Mr. Xtreme in San Diego, commemorate the case on their costumes.
“We do not want to let things like that repeat itself,” Dark Guardian said.

  • Zetaman (32-year-old Illya King, to his family and friends), who created the Real Life Superheroes website, said his role springs from his desire to make a difference in his community. He described how he and other costumed crusaders recently helped one family of eight they found living on Portland streets.

“They just needed to coast through until the dad got his disability check,” he said, explaining that the family was afraid they’d be split up if they went to a homeless shelter.  “We gave them jackets and backpacks so they could hang out at the airport, looking like they were waiting for a flight.”
The family made it through the rough patch and is now living in an apartment, he said.
In an example of his charitable deeds, Zetaman is putting together the Heroic 100 PDX team to participate in a March of Dimes fundraising walkathon called “March for Babies” on April 30 in Portland, Ore

  • D.C.’s Guardian, who describes himself as a “Mayberry kind of guy,” referring to the bucolic North Carolina setting of “The Andy Griffith Show” of the 1960s.

D.C.’s Guardian, who does not reveal his real identity but acknowledged he works in national defense, said he brings real life and military experience to his role, which he considers part educational and part inspirational. He can often be found on the Washington, D.C., Mall talking to tourists about the Constitution when he’s not working on behalf of various charities.
As for fighting crime, D.C.’s Guardian said he doesn’t go “looking to get into a situation,”  He has, however, called 911 and talked people out of pushing each other around on occasion.

 Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

Soundwave, 10, and Jetstorm, 6, are among the youngest real Life Superheroes fighting apathy and trying to inspire people to help others.

  • 10-year-old Soundwave and her 6-year-old brother Jetstorm, the youngest superheroes found and who live in the Washington, D.C. area.

Soundwave told that they were inspired by adult crusader D.C.’s Guardian.
“I saw that he was helping people and I wanted to do the same,” said Soundwave, who has been dressing up and doing good deeds for three years.
She also admits to a fondness for the DC Comics character Hawkgirl, who she says shows women can be strong and take care of themselves.
Soundwave raises money for Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization providing food and medicine through emergency relief and community development programs.
“Even a penny or two at a time can make a big difference,” she said.
Among other things, she has participated in a cystic fibrosis minimarathon, distributed food to war veterans and handed out information about blood drives, sometimes serving alongside her brother. Soundwave said she considers performing such public service a privilege.
“To be an American means to be free and do whatever you can to help people,” she said.

  • Thanatos, 62, probably the oldest member of the Real Life Superheroes. The Vancouver, Canada, resident’s heroic acts mainly involve helping the homeless on gritty Hastings Street.

Thanatos, who is married and has a daughter, says he’s been patrolling for three years, inspired by his youthful readings of comic books — the Green Lantern and Batman were particular favorites — and pulp fiction. He posts videos of his patrols on his YouTube channel.
“I’ve wanted to be a superhero all my life,” he said. “I grew up with comic books, they teach morals, ethics, and the good guy always wins.”

Thanatos says the homeless he encounters in Vancouver, Canada, ‘remember me.’

He said he chose the name Thanatos — a minor figure in Greek mythology who personified “death” — as his persona because street people told him that was all they had to look forward to. His costume consists of a skull mask, gloves, black overcoat, black shirt and pants, crossbones tie, and different forms of body armor, including a bulletproof and stab-resistant vest.
“Some can’t remember their social worker or doctors, but they remember me,” he said. “The costume gets the attention of the homeless and lets them know somebody cares.”
While the Real Life Superheroes acknowledge that, even collectively, their do-gooding can barely scratch the surface when it comes to making a difference in their respective cities, many say they put on their suits in hopes of creating a multiplier effect.
For example, Thanatos told the story of an immigrant couple who ended up on the streets and were afraid to talk to strangers. But when he approached them in his outlandish death-head costume, he said, they were happy to talk.
He then wrote about the encounter in his MySpace blog, which was read by someone who sought them out and gave them jobs.
“It wasn’t just something I did, it was a combination,” he said. “I want to inspire people to say ‘I can do something too.'”
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© 2011 Reprints

Who Was That Masked Man? Real-Life Superhero Visits Classes at Helix High!

Originally posted:

Photo by Tea Krulos

Photo by Tea Krulos

By Genevieve Suzuki
DCs Guardian is a real life superhero—whose red, white and blue character founded the Skiffytown League of Heroes. As told by Milwaukee-based blog Heroes in the Night, Guardian recently paid a visit to Helix Charter High School, and impressed students and teachers.
“I asked pointed questions about what influences they surround themselves with,” Guardian recalled telling students. “I also talked about their responsibilities: to learn, to be apart of their family, their community and nation. How it takes involvement in being a friend, a son or daughter and even a citizen. It was not all rosy, straight talk about good and bad things that happen.”
The masked man based on Captain America lives in the Washington metro area but spends half the year in Southern California. He doesn’t tell his real name, but his Skiffytown League does real good—organizing community events and aids such groups as Make-A-Wish, The Joyful Heart Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Army Fisher Houses and the Autism Research Institute.
According to a blog that follows real life superheroes, DC Guardian’s mission is to “roam the streets of Washington D.C. with copies of the nation’s Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Explaining to passers-by the importance of their nation’s democracy, DC’s Guardian never reveals his face. He says the reason behind this is to allow black, white, Asian or Hispanic people to see themselves behind the mask.”
While he and his league may be comically costumed, the volunteer work they do is actually quite serious.
Guardian told Heroes that a Helix English teacher found him while she was researching an upcoming class topic—the study of comic books and their influence on reading and personal character development. Although Guardian had only planned to talk to one class, he wound up spending the whole day there, talking to several more classes.
“They had really gone above and beyond to look out for me,” Guardian told Heroes. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Looks like Helix has at least one superhero on its side: “I was honored to be asked there and I would return in a heartbeat if asked again. It gave me much more than I think I gave them.”

Your foundation and peer pressure. . .

We are all surrounded by peer pressure each and every day. . .wether it’s good or bad boils down to your perspective. . .and that peer pressure interacts with your foundation. . .now. . .what do I mean by foundation. . .it’s something like this. . .what lines in the sand do you have. . .what lines won’t you cross. . .what rules won’t you break. . .i often ask what are your three basic rules. . .or the three tenants of your foundation. . .there could be more. . .but you get the idea. . .what do you stand for personnally. . .okay. . .you’ve got what foundation means for this conversation. . .now back to peer pressure. . .peer pressure. . .or influence. . .comes from friends. . .family. . .tv. . .moives. . .books. . .everything that you see. . .touch. . .talk to or listen to. . .everything you surround yourself with. . .question number one. . .do you watch horror movies. . .if the answer is yes. . .write down for yourself. . .what three things. . .positive things. . .do they add to your life. . .do they build upon your foundation. . .or do they take away from your foundation. . . it’s an example. . .not everything in your life adds to your foundation. . .that’s okay. . .but does it take away from it. . .regardless of your age. . .do you have friends that add to or take away from your foundation. . .nothing exists in a vacuume. . .what you surround yourself with affects who and what you are. . .only you can decide if it’s a positive or negative influence. . .so. . .back to question number one. . .what positive things do you receive from horror movies. . .now take it to other areas of your life. . .friends. . .hobbies. . .etc. . . question number two. . .what is your foundation. . .what three things do you hold sacred. . .and. . .does your life support those three things. . .honestly. . .we are all human and we fail sometimes. . .it’s okay. . .but we should strive to support those things we believe in. . .so. . .back to the question. . .what are your three foundations. . .and does your life support them. . .if you are living your life because of peer pressure that does not support your foundation. . .you should talk to anyone. . .that you respect. . .who has some age on them. . .ask them how it turns out. . .nine times out of ten. . .they would probably say you are heading for a fall. . .peer pressure type friends in your life will bail as soon as you disagree with them. . .or when times get tough. . .those types will not usually back you up when you really need them. . .those that support your foundation will probably support you as a friend through thick and thin. . .their called life long friends. . .the kind you can agrue with and come back later and go out to a movie with. . .they will help keep you straight. . .and they will be there when you really need them. . .fame will only last so long. . .being in the click will only last so long. . .build your foundation and surround yourself with those things that support it. . .you may lose friends. . .but if they are going against your foundation. . .if you keep them. . .you’re going to find the cost to yourself personnally is going to be very great. . .you will. . .over time gain and lose many friends. . .regardless of why. . .it’s called life. . .and it’s okay. . .when you have the ability to choose. . .choose those friends and things that add to your foundation. . .not chip away at it. . .life is tough enough. . .you’ve got to work at it to enjoy it. . .make decisions according to your foundation. . .not because it’s the easy way. . .stand your ground when it goes against you. . .and support those that are in line with your own foundation. . .whatever that is. . .if you have a solid foundation. . .most anything that comes into your life will be affected by you. . .not the other way around. . .but it takes work. . .and effort. . .don’t lose hope or faith in yourself. . .it will see you through most any storm. . .

just a note. . .

Welcome to my blog. . .i often ask questions. . .they are meant to make you think. . .to look seriously at your worldview. . .there are no right or wrong answers. . .in this world there is a tendancy to go along with the pack just because. . .well. . .i beleive that we are and need to be accountable for our own actions. . .and if that is the case. . .we should know why we beleive what we beleive. . .and be able to express it to others. . .no one is better than anyone else. . .but it is up to us to become the best ourselves we can be. . .people watch and learn from you every day. . .i only ask you think and talk about what they are learning. . .most of it is done without a word being said. . .thanks for stopping by. . .

Pepsi goes RLSH

Originally posted:
How To: Be a Real Life Superhero (With or Without the Cape)
By Rebecca McQuigg Rigal of GOOD
So you want to make the world a better place? Maybe start with your block, or your neighborhood. Maybe start with an awesome costume. You don’t need superhuman powers or otherworldly resources to be a Real Life Superhero, just plenty of passion and a taste for the theatrical. We recently spoke with DC’s Guardian, about what it takes to be a costumed crusader for good. He had these six tips for making the world a better place, one neighborhood at a time.
1) Know what you stand for. It’s not a prerequisite to don tights or a mask, but every Superhero builds an identity around good morals and values.  Likewise, you’ll need a cause (or several) for which to crusade. Look around your community for actions groups that need help.
2) Identify your weapons. And we’re talking personal skills here, not nunchucks.  After identifying a cause, ask yourself what you can bring to the table to help fulfill that need. Take stock of your interests and find a way to donate your time and talents in ways that will be compatible with your lifestyle.
3) Dress for the fight. While it doesn’t take spandex to be a Superhero, always come prepared for the task. Whether the job entails managing logistics for a fundraiser, educating local youth, or just showing up to the right place at the right time with the right supplies, you’ll want to be known as a responsible and accountable crusader.
4) Don’t get mistaken for the bad guy. Real Life Superheroes can be activists, volunteers, educators, or neighborhood safety patrollers, but in order to establish an identity as a community crusader for long-term success, you’ll have to work closely with local citizens, civic leaders, and law enforcement. Collaboration and communication are key.
5) Don’t break the law. Never go above the law, and always stands firm behind your actions. As DC’s Guardian says, “If you can’t stand up and say ‘I did this!’ you shouldn’t be doing it.”
6) Be humble. There’s no such thing as a self-serving superhero, in real life or otherwise.
DC’s Guardian is prominent figure in the RLSH community and President of Skiffytown League of Heroes – a national network of original superhero characters dedicated to performing acts of community service.