An archive gallery of images from Real Life Superheroes.org (before the big crash).
An archive gallery of images from Real Life Superheroes.org (before the big crash).
It saddens me to announce that Real Life Superheroes will be shutting down.
I have struggled to keep it running since taking it over a year and a half ago. At that time, I knew it would be difficult for me to handle the responsibilities alone due to my busy life, and lack of knowledge and experience in running websites. I was counting on being able to find help and assembling an admin staff to assist me. Sadly, that did not happen. Few people had any interest in helping, and those who did lacked the ability.
The site has had its share of difficulties in that time, not the least of which was a complete crash which would have been prevented by an able administrator. With those troubles came a loss in stability in the site itself and the people who have used it. With all of this in mind, the decision has been made to shut it down.
It will remain up through January in order to give users time to save their content.
My name is Tea Krulos and I’m a freelance writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was introduced to the Real Life Super Hero(RLSH) story in late February, 2009. As a lifelong fan of comic books and unusual and unique people and subcultures, I was immediately hooked.
I was determined to find a local RLSH if there was one and found The Watchman, a man who dons a red rubber mask, suit, and trenchcoat and patrols the streets of Milwaukee. I had a long, fascinating interview with him in person one night and determined that the short magazine piece I had successfully pitched did not scratch the surface of the story and decided to write a book. After a few months I also established this blog- both the book and the blog are titled Heroes in the Night.
My book is based on extensive research, interviewing, and field work. I have traveled to meet RLSH in Minneapolis, Rochester (Minnesota), Brooklyn, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, San Diego, New Bedford (Massachusetts) , and Washington DC, as well as meeting regularly with the Milwaukee crew.
I have been quoted as an expert on the subject in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People magazine, Seattle Weekly, Scientific American, io9.com, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and dozens of other newspapers, magazines, websites around the world. I’ve also made appearances on a dozen radio shows and have been filmed for three different RLSH documentaries.
I have written articles on the subject for Milwaukee magazine, the Boston Phoenix, New York Press, Forces of Geek, Riverwest Currents, and Delayed Gratification.
Heroes in the Night will be available JUNE 2012!
I’ve been thinking about something and I figure that it’s a pretty good time to talk about it since there aren’t any recent incidents and it’s unlikely that anyone will think I’m singling them out and trying to lay blame when I’m truly not. I don’t like to blame. I like to overlook unfortunate choices and, at worst, forgive mistakes.
Okay, here’s what I wanted to say: We are more powerful than we often realize. I mean, what is power? It’s influence. And whether we like it or not, people often listen to us. Why? Because they look up to us and they sometimes think we know something that they don’t or mistakenly believe we’re better people than them. We call ourselves Real-Life Superheroes and while I’m not saying it’s a lie, it is a term with a bit of exaggeration at times. But our optimistic civilian friends believe it. The media at times believes it. And I believe it of most of you.
So when we speak and act, it’s important that we do it well and wisely. When I represent myself as Geist, I know that I’m no longer the schlep who drags his butt out of bed and goes into work with too little sleep and sweats under pressure and screws up royally sometimes.
No, when I’m Geist, whether online or on the streets, I need to be a whole lot better than that. I have to be kind, polite and at the top of my game. Because people look to me, for whatever reason and I no longer just represent me, but what I say or do could reflect on all of the other RLSHs and terribly damage their reputations as a group as their choices could terribly damage mine.
So when we assume the identity of our individual and unique heroic counterparts, consider that to a degree, we represent each other as well as ourselves. I’ve screwed up on the streets and made every effort not to repeat any incident that had poor results. I’ve said things online in both public and private forums that I later regretted and found to be less than worthy of the voice of a Real-Life Superhero.
But over the years, as I continue doing this, I think I’m also learning little by little what not to say, what comment to delete, what argument not to participate in, and when not to disappoint those who believe I’m a better person than maybe I really am without the mask.
I know the media is watching us, waiting for us to falter, our civilian fans are looking to us with hope and our RLSH brothers and sisters are expecting us to be as solid and worthy of respect as they are.
As a Real-Life Superhero, we don’t just represent ourselves. We represent each other.
And if it’s never crossed your mind before, a lot of RLSHs have wondered aloud if as a group, we might be a paragraph in a history book someday. How do you want to be remembered?
Originally posted: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/canada/superheroes-and-angels-welcome-new-citizens-arrest-laws-147695.html
PARLIAMENT HILL—Caped crusaders can rest a little easier after Justice Minister Rob Nicholson tabled a bill to simplify and clarify citizen’s arrest laws on Tuesday.
Then again, Canada’s own real-life superheroes are more inclined to hand out blankets and teach school kids than take out drug dealers, so maybe it won’t matter much.
But store owners in Toronto’s Chinatown will be relieved. Long-standing grievances about shoplifters not getting serious police attention reached a breaking point for shopkeeper David Chen in May 2009 when he chased down and detained a thief who’d stolen plants from his Lucky Moose market earlier that day.
But because the crime was not in progress, Chen’s citizen’s arrest was illegal and his subsequent trial for assault and forcible confinement inspired NDP MP Olivia Chow to table a private member’s bill to overhaul citizen’s arrest legislation.
The Liberals tabled a similar bill, and the government eventually introduced its own version that died when the election was called. Now it’s back, and Chow said the new version is in line with what she wanted to see.
“I’m glad that my old private member’s bill, my Lucky Moose bill, has finally become the government bill,” Chow said Tuesday.
Chen, who was eventually acquitted, also welcomed the changes.
“If the law changes it will be good for so many people, any small business like me can have more power to protect our stuff,” said Chen. “We can do more.”
Nicholson seems to agree. He said Tuesday citizens trying to protect themselves or their property shouldn’t be afraid of becoming criminals themselves.
“Canadians want to know that they are able to protect themselves against criminal acts and that the justice system is behind them, not against them,” he said.
But 15 years ago in Toronto, he grabbed a machete from home and faced off with a group of kids, some armed with guns, who were terrorizing a shopkeeper. His efforts got him and the kids arrested, but it didn’t dampen his hope to make a difference.
“I have always believed in stepping in. … It was a little aggressive but I was afraid for my friends in the store.”
Like others, Thanatos, (named for a Greek demon of death) said Canada’s complicated citizen’s arrests laws left him uncertain about taking certain actions when he eventually donned a costume and took to the desperate streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
But he never considered being a vigilante, a position others interested in citizens’ arrests echoed.
“You don’t want vigilantes—you don’t want that. You have a justice system, maybe it is flawed and overcrowded, but it is working. People taking the law in their own hands doesn’t work well.”
He points to the case of three Chilliwack, B.C., teenagers who became entangled in controversy last week for their efforts to lure sexual predators into the open and YouTube the encounters.
The teens posed as underage girls online to lure predators, then filmed the face-to-face encounters while dressed as Batman and Flash.
Thanatos said the teens took incredible risks unwisely. “Sexual predators are probably one of the more dangerous breeds of criminals,” he said.
Predators can lose their jobs, families, and standing in the community if exposed. “That could be enough to drive someone to do something extremely violent.”
Canada’s other prominent real-life superhero (RLSH), Anonyman in Saskatchewan, also focuses on surveillance and public awareness.
According to Peter Tangen, a photographer who launched the Real Life Super Hero Project and helped arrange interviews with Thanatos and Anonyman, most RLSHs are best described as activists who use costumes as a way to brand good deeds and draw attention to their causes.
While Thanatos and Anonyman follow a non-confrontational path now, focusing on surveillance and aid to the needy, Canadian chapters of the Guardian Angels had hoped to start a more direct grassroots crime prevention movement. But there too, complicated citizen’s arrest laws were not the deciding factor that has kept the angels from taking off.
Greg Silver heads up the Calgary chapter of the group. Although the angels remain more active in the United States and other countries, their red berets are rarely seen on Canadian streets.
The group works on a variety of actions but is best known for its patrols and efforts to encourage citizens to confront crime where it happens, going so far as to stop criminal activity and make citizen’s arrests.
“Everybody likes the fact that we are out there, but nobody wants to put themselves in danger. Nobody wants to step in,” said Silver, explaining the limited presence of angels in Canada.
Currently, there are only a handful of active angels in Canada, he said. Calls to other Canadian chapters listed on GuardianAngels.org went unanswered, with some numbers now defunct.
GuardianAngelsCanada.org, the purported Canadian website for the group, is now a Japanese dating site, the domain name apparently having been repurchased.
Silver said the group has found it near impossible to recruit members willing to go on patrol.
“You kind of make a target out of yourselves,” he offered as explanation.
Dave Schroeder, the group’s Canadian coordinator, said there are a core group of angels active in Canada but patrols have declined due to a lack of people.
“While most people we encounter say ‘what a great idea’… it seems that very few people decide to really make that commitment and do what it takes to get out there.”
But citizens have a right to stop crime he said, welcoming improved citizen’s arrest legislation.
“Bottom line is, if more people understood that Canadian citizens are born with the right to assist someone in trouble, and use reasonable force to do so, [they can] make a citizen’s arrest.”
Silver said the group was warned by a lawyer that they could be liable for actions taken on private property, even in the case of a rape, under current laws.
But like Canada’s masked crusaders, the angels also discourage vigilante activity, saying their efforts focus on legal actions and supporting the police.
Victor Kwong, a media relations officer with the Toronto Police Service, said the group was not welcome in Toronto, in part because they were crossing a vague boundary between citizens and a quasi-policing group.
Citizen’s arrests are happening in Toronto regardless, he said, but mainly by security guards trained in relevant laws. Outside the high-profile case at the Lucky Moose, the average Joe rarely makes a citizen’s arrest, he said.
While citizen’s arrests are one way people can help police, it certainly isn’t the only way he said.
“You can call police, be a good witness,” he said.
That means not sharing your observations until you talk to police he said, noting that people’s memories get tainted when they discuss what they saw with others who add their own variations and embellishments.
Originally posted: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Shazam+Real+life+superheroes+rescue/5740438/story.html
By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News November 20, 2011
Do you think superheroes exist? No?
But in America a real subculture of so called heroes do exist. There are men and women wearing costumes, adopting pseudonyms and doing good deeds. The Real Life Superheroes. They act anonymous and selfless and try to make Americas streets a bit more secure and the world a bit better.
They bridge the gap between the fantastic and the practical.
They combat crime, hand out supplies to the homeless, comforting the sick or just cleaning up their neighborhood.
Of course The Real Life Superheroes have no supernatural power. They have tear gas, taser, a bit of self-defense and the will to change something.
But who are these modern heroes? Everyone could be one of them. They are every kind of people – clerical assistants, doctors, streetworker, politicians or ex-junkies. It is irrespective of the sex, the profession, the status or what ever.
Their actions serve as reminders. People have blinded themselves to simple principles and goodwill. They lost their readiness to help others.
The different Superheroes focus on different actions and locations.
Terrifica for example is roaming the streets, clubs and bars of New York. She got her tear gas, mobile phone and camera with her and. The thirty year old woman with blond hair and red battle dress wants to defend young woman against violation of men. In case of doubt she uses her camera to be able to proof the criminal act.
Geist acts in Minnesota. He is there where the police just no longer get. He appears out of the blue, doing good deeds and disappears again. He helps the homeless, victims of violence and homeless animals.
Thantos is a sixty two years old Superhero helping drug addicted people in the streets of Vancouver. He shares out blankets, clothes and food wearing a green mask, a black trench coat and a tie with skulls.
The Real Life Superhero Project first should make people recognize this new breed of activism and altruism. But more and more people get interested and the scope and purpose expanded very fast.
Due to the financial crisis many people lost a lot of money, their jobs and even their homes. Their desire for security increases.
In the middle of instability and political uncertainty those heroes offer a bit stability to the people. There are those benefactors in disguise who dispread optimism and confidence through their brave. That is – as it seems – what America needs right now.
It started as a gallery exhibit but it became the base of something much greater. The Real Life Superhero Project is a living community which inspires the general public to be part of the positive flow to change something in the world we all have to live in.
Thereby they could become more active, more involved, stronger and a little bit more “super”.
Their gain is to help the poor and underdogs and to make other people help too.
The Real Life Superheroes have a website where they explain the world who they are, what they do and what they want. At the end there is that one sentence we all should keep in mind. “And hopefully, you will come to realize that it doesn’t take a cape to go out and help someone, just the desire to become an active force in your own life, and see how that can affect others.”
So, do you think superheroes really exist? It doesn’t matter how we call them it’s about what they do. We all are able to be a kind of superhero. So why don’t we start?
Today there are twenty nine of those Real Life Superheroes in America. Maybe even tomorrow there will be more.
Let’s find the hero in all of us.
I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those who do not know me. I am The Watchman. I am a husband, father, brother, and son. I am a man who cares about humanity and the world around him. For years, I have been what is commonly called a Real Life Superhero (RLSH), and now, I have become the administrator of this website. With this change, there will be other changes made over time, though the spirit in which this site was created will remain.
The man formerly known as Zetaman, after retiring as a RLSH, passed this site on to me. More recently, he completely removed himself from this site. He believes there are too many bad feelings between him and others to remain, feeling that it would hinder the growth of this site and the RLSH sub-culture as a whole.
The RLSH sub-culture is fluid. It is always changing. It is always in motion, even when it seems to be standing still. There are many people who feel we have not gotten anywhere. However, in many ways, we are much different than we were just a few short years ago. Some of these changes have been for the better, while others have been for the worse. Still, we continue on, searching for a better world and a brighter tomorrow.
2011 was predicted by some to be “The Year of the Superheroes”. I do not believe that, and frankly, would have been disappointed had that been the case. The phrase implies the reaching of the peak, and typically, peaks are followed by decline. I do not believe we have yet reached the peak. No, I believe we are still far from it. We have a great deal of potential yet to be uncovered. What we lack is unity.
There are many different kinds of RLSHs. There are crime-fighters, social activists, charity warriors, environmentalists, social commentators, and those who try it all. Some embrace the superhero terms and imagery, while others are less than pleased with them. Regardless of personal missions, opinions, methods, and motives, we are all a part of something BIG. Yet, too many of us cannot seem to get over ourselves as individuals or small groups.
I can remember a time when squabbles and differences between us were handled quietly, out of the public eye, in order to allow us a chance at the heroic and inspirational images we wished to project. Now, there is no secret that this “community” of ours is full of fighting and drama. Online comment sections and forums are bursting with ridicule, arguing, and flame wars from within. Many of us try to avoid this behavior, but it seems to follow us around. The feuding and hatred has driven too many of us away from what could become a great movement, and it has proven to onlookers that we are no better than much of what we claim to fight against. Even as some of us fight to prove to people we are serious when we are accused of being ridiculous, more of us seem to go out of their way to prove them right.
I realize a large number of people feel we cannot be organized or united, and there are too many differences between us to unite. I believed that for a time. However, I am no longer content to worry only about local matters. The world does not end at my back door. What affects the world affects me. What happens with one of us can affect us all. We are creative individuals who tend not to conform, but I’m not being unrealistic. We do not need to agree with everything everybody else says or does, and there are many more ways to get things done than what we do ourselves. We do not necessarily have to change our own missions and methods, and we do not need to lose ourselves to be a part of something bigger. We can still disagree, but it is time to turn to healthy debates that maintain respect rather than being hostile. It’s not that we need to become some giant organization filled with rules and regulations, but we do need to put aside petty differences and focus on what we have in common. All this unity requires is that we lay down our egos, open our minds to new ideas, and have respect for each other, as well as for ourselves.
I don’t think this has been the year of superheroes at all, and I am not looking for that year to come. Instead, I am looking to the future; I am looking toward a new era. I believe that era can begin now. Therefore, I am using this opportunity to do what I can to bring RLSHs together to grow this sub-culture into the great movement it has the potential to be.
However we may each go about it, we are all trying to make this world a better place, and that will only happen together. I am extending a hand to each and every one of you. I hope that each of you can get past the egos and differences, and learn to work side by side, even if our own mission is not quite the same. I am asking that we try a new way, and hopefully each of you will extend your hands as well. Let’s look to the future and welcome a new era for Real Life Superheroes. If we want the world to be better, we must be better. Let it begin now…
Originally posted: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/11/occupy_oakland_arrests_armor-w.php
By Lauren Smiley Tue., Nov. 8 2011 at 9:25 AM
UPDATE, 12:50 p.m.: Those who want to donate to Sorvari’s bail fund can do so here.
Three of the Occupy Oakland protesters who were arrested after last week’s General Strike turned chaotic were arraigned in Alameda Superior Court on Monday. Among them was a roughed up “real-life superhero” who had attended the march dressed as a ninja with homemade armor, but whose family believes he might have been mistaken by cops for a black bloc anarchist.
Roy Sorvari, a 22-year-old former Boy Scout who lives with his parents in Antioch, answered to charges of resisting arrest — prosecutors alleged he kicked and attempted to hit a cop with his shield. With stitches in his forehead and two black eyes, the 5-foot-5, 130-pound Sorvari claims he had been beaten and knocked unconscious during the early hours last Thursday — perhaps by police — after the protest turned violent, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Kaloustian, of the National Lawyers Guild. Sorvari faces a felony charge of resisting arrest and a $15,000 bail.
The Alameda County district attorney didn’t file charges for eight other protesters of the 11 who were scheduled to be arraigned yesterday. They were the same ones who’d been held in custody over the weekend or who’d posted bail, according to Greg Michalec of Occupy Legal, an organization set up for the legal defense of arrested demonstrators. The rest of the 103 protesters arrested during last week’s strike will be arraigned in the coming weeks.
Sorvari, awesomely, belongs to a international confederation of civilian peacekeepers — somewhat akin to the Guardian Angels — who don cartoonish costumes and call themselves the “Real Life Superheroes.” The group claims about a half-dozen members in the Bay Area, said a fellow superhero with the handle “Motor Mouth” who showed up in the courtroom Monday to support Sorvari.
“Motor Mouth” said he and Sorvari — whose superhero handle is “Ray” — have been providing security at night for the Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza, protecting the people’s right to assembly.
While “Motor Mouth” didn’t attend the general strike last week, he says Sorvari showed up in his usual superhero get-up — a black balaclava, all-black clothes, ski goggles, and homemade body armor that lights up. In addition, “Motor Mouth” says he’d lent Sorvari a Captain America-like shield for the event.
“Motor Mouth” says he is “120 percent sure” that cops had mistaken Sorvari for one of the black bloc anarchists who emerged after the peaceful march, breaking windows and setting fire in downtown Oakland in the early morning hours on Thursday.
Sorvari’s mother, Lynn, said, “Maybe that was a mistake; maybe he should have had a more high-profile costume.”
His parents, who are between jobs and have four other children, say they are going to start a PayPal account for donations to help them pay $1,500 — the 10 percent they have to put up for Sorvari’s bail. We’ll post an update as soon as the account is up and running.
When Kaloustian came out Monday afternoon after talking to Sorvari, he delivered the following message to “Motor Mouth,” who was waiting in the hallway: “Sorry about losing your shield.”
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