About time I got suited up again

Hey, I don’t know about you guys, but how do you feel when it’s been way too long since you were active, on the streets and in full gear and helping others? It’s been like months for me and I’ve had various reasons, including concentrating on getting arrangements for HOPE 2012 / Comic-Con taken care of (which they are). And then being conservative with my funds to save up for that trip to San Diego. So I haven’t been especially eager to travel to either Minneapolis or La Crosse to meet up with other RLSHs. That stuff requires cash that I’ll need later.
So I’ve been an online RLSH for awhile and that’s been pretty much the extent of it. And it’s not like it hasn’t been sort of interesting and somewhat useful. I guess I can say it has been productive in a way. I mean, a small group of us were trying to do damage control on some of the interesting and volatile events that have taken place. Included in that, there were a few good friends who really needed to talk about the situations. And I was glad to be there for them.
But I still wasn’t suited up and on the streets… And I was feeling guilty. I mean, here we were being featured in Nadia’s awesome Metro articles. Other people have been asking for interviews. And I was feeling like a paper lion. A fraud. A myth. Because it had been so long since I had actually put on the suit and stepped out the door.
Well, Saturday I finally had no choice because it was one of my annual rituals: “Free Comic Book Day.” It’s a national event, sponsored by the comic companies and years ago, I figured it was a good way to make a lot of kids very happy. Thanks to my local comic book shop owner, we’ve worked out an arrangement where he orders extra free books and saves me a stack. I come into his shop on that morning and pick them up to take to kids who aren’t able to visit his store. I take them to family shelters and to Ronald McDonald House.
Craig, the owner, really loaded me up this time and every place I visit got plenty of books. The Book Review was plenty busy, but people barely took notice of me. Weird, huh? Craig even called me Geist instead of my real name, which he knows. Thanks to him, I’ll have lots of comics to give to various places throughout the year. Craig does so much good on that one day that he doesn’t realize. 🙂
So yeah, I took the comics around to the usual places and each time, everyone was so greatful. Heck, I’m just the gaudy “delivery boy,” but I get to hear their gratitude, while making significant mention of Craig’s shop, The Book Review, and his generosity.
It was awesome to have the costume on again and making people happy. It’s something that I really needed. Until then, I had started to get cynical, whiney and depressed. Doing good creates good in yourself. No doubt about it.
And yeah, I did have a couple of side-trips. I looked for a recent sexual assailant without success. I took four awesome loaves of Great Harvest bread to a homeless shelter.
But then, I saw a homeless man in a median with the traditional cardboard sign. I didn’t already know this guy. He was young. 20s. I had some cash and went to a nearby Subway and got a value meal and circled back to him. He was still there at the busy intersection with his sign. I always enjoy the looks of people when I step out of my vehicle and wait for the light to turn to “walk.” I wait patiently while the person I’m headed toward is wondering who the heck I am, holding food to give them. It’s that little moment of amazement and mystery where the world just seemed to get a little bit more incredible for anyone who’s witnessing the event.
I reached him in the median and handed him the food while introducing myself. This is one of the busiest intersections in town. He thanked me profusely, saying that was exactly what he needed and we began to talk. He had just used up his two weeks at the homeless shelter that I had donated bread to. He didn’t know where he was going to spend the night next and was going to have to ask friends if they could put him up.
He seemed clean, well-mannered and completely honest and sober. He explained that he has skills and experience, but just can’t get hired. He’s been up and been down. He applies for jobs and doesn’t get called. I suggested we go to the corner instead of the median. Cars were passing us constantly. I apologized for taking time away from his potential opportunities and he again thanked me for the foot-long.
He told me that when he does get some cash, he has to buy diapers instead of food. He has a baby and a fiancee. I didn’t get into the details, but it sounded like a tough situation that I can’t begin to understand and have no business being nosy about.
As I made my excuses to leave, I looked at his face again. It was an honest face with a clear determination to earn his own keep. I could tell that he was shamed by what he was doing, begging in that median. It wasn’t what he wanted to do at all, but a last resort. He had pride, but this seemed to be the last option for him. I pulled out my money clip and put what was in it in his hands. He tried to refuse, saying that I had done enough, but I made him take the small sum that it was.
I wished him luck and realized I never caught the guy’s name. Stupid me…
It was a good patrol. And it was about time that I was able to help someone who needed it. I guess more than one, but it was definitely nice to have a face and personality on the last part of the patrol.

Low-tech, real-life crimefighters aim to be Superheroes in fascinating documentary

Superheroes the movieOriginally posted: http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/10-28-11-a-look-at-low-tech-real-life-crimefighters-at-14-pews/
By Joe Leydon
They don’t have the super powers of Spider-Man, or even the firepower of The Punisher. But that doesn’t stop the real-life Superheroes of Michael Barnett’s fascinating documentary – which has its H-Town premiere Friday and Saturday at 14 Pews – from donning home-made costumes, strapping on gadget-stuffed utility belts and patrolling the meanest streets across America.
Among those doing derring-do:

  • Mr. Xtreme, a San Diego security guard who moonlights as a crimefighter decked out in green helmet and dark goggles;
  • Zimmer, a proudly uncloseted avenger who prowls Brooklyn in the hope of attracting gay-bashers for his allies to dispatch;
  • Zetaman and Apocalypse Meow, a colorful married couple who dispense necessities to the homeless in downtown Portland, Ore.; and
  • Mister Legend, who drives his beat-up van through the moonlit streets of Orlando and offers aid to the downtrodden when not grabbing beers from his well-stocked ice chest.

Why do they do it? Many of them – including Lucid, a member of Zimmer’s backup team – simply believe the police and other professional law-enforcers are “completely unreliable.” But director Barnett, who spoke with CultureMap this week, thinks the motivations of these caped crusaders may be a bit more complex than that.
CultureMap: Were you surprised to find something that happened way back in 1964 – the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed while her neighbors reportedly failed to intervene – motivated so many of the superheroes you interviewed?
Michael Barnett: Well, if you think about it, the case became bigger than the case. So, somewhere along the origin of this community [of superheroes], they began to rally around this case of Kitty Geonvese. And it became the defining case of modern apathy in America. They rallied around what the case meant as much as the specific case itself. Because apathy is their villain. So it’s a unifying thread among the community at large.

With these guys, there is no rulebook, there is no manifesto. They go out and be whoever they want and try to help the community in any way they see fit. It’s a real grassroots movement that may not galvanize, that may never get too organized, because the reason they do it is to make up their own rules.

CM: Were you ever worried while making Superheroes that one of these well-intentioned folks might get seriously hurt?

Barnett: Yeah, certainly. I mean, they’d do this anyway without the presence of a camera. But it’s always a concern that you might be creating a moment that wouldn’t exist if you weren’t there with the camera. And that moment may turn tragic.
The interesting thing with these guys is, it’s such a growing population that, inevitably, one of them is going to get hurt, whether there’s someone there with a camera or not. So, hopefully, the people who get into this understand the risk they are taking by choosing to become part of this community and putting themselves in these situations.
But, yeah, occasionally, we did get into some pretty hairy situations. Because, basically, we were shooting in America’s Skid Rows, across the country. Sometimes at 2 o’clock in the morning. It was unpredictable, to say the least.
CM: How did you find out about this amazing subculture?
Barnett: I just sort of stumbled across it on line. And, actually, I didn’t think it was true at first. I thought I’d just found maybe a couple of people who were doing this. But then we started doing a little research, and we quickly discovered that all you had to do is Google “superhero” to come up with a webpage with names of people doing this all over the country, along with news clips and magazine articles. I spent days perusing through it all, and ultimately became fascinated.
CM: How many of these guys do you think have been traumatized by some violence in their past?
Barnett: Actually, that’s one of the few commonalities that I found within the community. I usually don’t generalize, but I did find very quickly that most of these guys had some level of trauma or tragedy in their lives. And this is how that trauma or tragedy has manifested itself. They’re doing this, and getting over that – and possibly over-compensating by going in the opposite direction, and trying to find light in the darkness, if you will.
CM: Maybe they view becoming a “superhero” – even one without super powers – as a way of regaining control of their lives?  
Barnett: Possibly. We found some pretty dark souls out there. And to find them wanting to better themselves, to almost find therapy in doing this – it was fascinating.
CM: Were you ever tempted to tell any of these guys that, hey, maybe you’re not really cut out for this sort of thing?
Barnett: Well, some of these guys that we worked with are untrained, while others are very trained. I’m certainly concerned. I wish they all had a real-life superhero school that they could all go to. So that they could at least know how to handle a situation. So that, rather than inflame it, they could defuse it. Because that takes training – that’s not instinctive. If you don’t have training, then your adrenaline kicks in. And when that happens – people tend to make situations worse. That’s just human nature, you know?
CM: Just to make sure potential audiences understand – these guys aren’t like the Guardian Angels, right?
Barnett: They are and they aren’t. You could say [the superhero community] is an evolution of the Guardian Angels. I mean, the Guardian Angels started out small, and grew to something like 500 chapters. And it’s a really politicized movement now, with a lot of bureaucracy.
Some of these guys used to be part of the Guardian Angels, and they decided they wanted something with less bureaucracy, less rules. They wanted to be able to do it their own eccentric way. The Guardian Angels have a uniform method, and a rulebook, and politics and presidents and leaders. With these guys, there is no rulebook, there is no manifesto. They go out and be whoever they want and try to help the community in any way they see fit. It’s a real grassroots movement that may not galvanize, that may never get too organized, because the reason they do it is to make up their own rules.
CM: During filming, did you find yourself tempted to try some superheroics of your own?
Barnett: I have to say, I get asked that question a lot. And my answer always is: I’m a filmmaker. I want to tell stories. And I thought this was a fascinating story. It’s changed my life in profound ways to see these people – often times with no resources – put everything on the line in order to help other people. So I think I learned a lot from these real-life superheroes. But I’m not going to join them anytime soon.
CM: OK, we’ve talked about the possible dangers facing superheroes. But turn the question around: Ever worry one of these guys might get too carried away with their derring-do?
Barnett: Well, Phoenix Jones was arrested just last week in Seattle for pepper-spraying people.  He thought he was breaking up a fight, and he started pepper-spraying the crowd – and now he has assault charges against him. So, yeah, that’s overstepping the line. Once again, it goes back to, there’s no rulebook for these guys. They don’t have a set of guidelines. So you’re putting yourself in situations where you’re acting instinctively.
And in the case of Phoenix Jones – it was probably not the right protocol. He pepper-sprayed some girls. That’s not good. That’s not a good result. That’s not heroic. I hope the activities of a few superheroes won’t undermine the whole cause.

Arrest marks growing pains for superhero movement

Originally posted: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ix-PXiZOo4Z-N_Jx8NWWWs0zkwvQ?docId=a51a823c485c4474a79aa1c01b22ae96
By Gene Johnson, Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Fabio Heuring was standing outside a Seattle nightclub on a Saturday night and smoking cigarettes with a friend when a man bolting from a bouncer ran into them. The enraged man ripped off his shirt in the middle of the street and prepared to give Heuring’s buddy a beating.
Just then, in swooped a bizarre sight: a self-proclaimed superhero in a black mask and matching muscle-suit. He doused the aggressor with pepper spray, much to Heuring’s shocked relief.
A couple hours later, though, the superhero ended up in jail for investigation of assault after using those tactics on another group of clubgoers, sending pangs of anxiety through the small, eccentric and mostly anonymous community of masked crime-fighters across the U.S.
The comic book-inspired patrolling of city streets by “real life super-heroes” has been getting more popular in recent years, thanks largely to mainstream attention in movies like last year’s “Kick-Ass” and the recent HBO documentary “Superheroes.” And as the ranks of the masked, caped and sometimes bullet-proof-vested avengers swell, many fret that even well-intentioned vigilantes risk hurting themselves, the public and the movement if they’re as aggressive as the crime-fighter in Seattle.
Some have gone so far as to propose a sanctioning body to ensure that high super-hero standards are maintained.
“The movement has grown majorly,” said Edward Stinson, a writer from Boca Raton, Fla., who advises real-life superheroes on a website devoted to the cause. “What I tell these guys is, ‘You’re no longer in the shadows. You’re in a new era. … Build trust. Set standards. Make the real-life superheroes work to earn that title and take some kind of oath.'”
It’s not clear how many costumed vigilantes there are in the U.S. The website www.reallifesuperheroes.org lists 660 members around the world. They range from members of the New York Initiative in New York City and the Shadow Corp in Saginaw, Mich., to a character named Nightbow who says he has patrolled the streets of Carlisle, England, for three years.
Some take on their fictional identities while doing charity work.
Benjamin Fodor, better known as Phoenix Jones, is the most prominent face of the Rain City Superhero Movement, a collection of vigilantes who appeared in Seattle over the past year. Early on Oct. 9, about two hours after he saved Heuring and his buddy, the 23-year-old man charged a group of people leaving a downtown nightclub as a videographer trailed him.
From the shaky camera work, it appeared there may have been some kind of disturbance in the group. Fodor insists he was breaking up a fight when he hit the crowd with pepper spray; the people who got sprayed told police there had been no fight. He was briefly booked into jail for investigation of assault, but prosecutors haven’t charged him yet. He appeared in court last week while wearing his superhero costume under a button-down shirt.
“Recently there have been increased reports of citizens being pepper sprayed by (Fodor) and his group,” the police report noted. “Although (Fodor) has been advised to observe and report incidents to 911, he continues to try to resolve things on his own.”
Fodor remained unapologetic after the court appearance, saying he’s just like anyone else except that “I decided to make a difference and stop crime in my neighborhood.” He invited members of the public to join him on patrol Saturday night.
Heuring, a 27-year-old shuttle driver from Auburn, is a fan.
“Without a question, there was a fight going to happen,” he said. “It could have ended ugly had he not come in. He used good judgment in our case. He saw who was instigating it and who he needed to defend.”
But many in the vigilante community point to Fodor’s arrest as a watershed moment: As more people — often, young people — fashion themselves into superheroes, they risk finding themselves in similar situations where they wind up hurting innocent members of the public or being shot, stabbed or beaten themselves. Such negative attention could doom the movement, they say.
Stinson, who is 40 and says he has a military background, said that if the movement is to continue to grow, it needs to do a better job policing itself. He envisions a nonprofit organization that would have departments devoted to fundraising and building community trust and alliances. He also thinks there should be tactical superhero training — including how to take control of a volatile situation and defuse it.
Filmmaker Michael Barnett followed 50 real-life crime fighters for 15 months for his documentary “Superheroes.” Many have great intentions, he said, but that doesn’t mean their methods are proper.
“The police by in large appreciate an extra set of eyes, but they really, really want these guys to do it according to the law,” Barnett said.
Masked crusaders began appearing in the 1970s with San Diego’s Captain Sticky, who used his Superman-like costume to fight against rental car rip-offs and for tenant rights, Barnett said. They spread throughout the country in the 1980s and 1990s, and became more popular thanks to the faster communications and online support communities of the Internet.
Barnett said he met plumbers, teachers, cashiers and firefighters who leave their day jobs behind every night in the name of security. Their weapons include pepper spray, stun guns and batons. Relatively few have any combat training or any formal knowledge of how to use their arsenal, he said.
That concerns the professional crime-fighters.
“If people want to dress up and walk around, knock yourself out,” said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson. “Our concern is when you insert yourself into these situations without knowing the facts, it’s just not a smart thing to do. If you think a situation warrants calling 911, call 911.”
Not all of the vigilantes take a confrontational approach. A 53-year-old man in Mountain View, Calif., who calls himself “The Eye,” keeps a low-enough profile that officers there have never booked anyone arrested with his help.
“The only reason I know him is because he’s my neighbor,” said police spokeswoman Liz Wylie. “He’s a neighborhood watch block captain, a very good one at that.”

LA Photog’s ‘Real Life Super Hero Project’ Garners Another Media Shout-Out

Originally posted: http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlla/real-life-super-hero-project-peter-tangen-hbo_b39626
By Richard Horgan on September 21, 2011 2:00 PM
If you have not yet acquainted yourself with the website “The Real Life Super Hero Project,” be sure to do so now or bookmark it for perusal later.
Thanks to the fact that site founder Peter Tangen, a local photographer, is also a consulting producer on the current in-kind HBO documentary Superheroes, his efforts are generating a lot of extra publicity these days. The latest outlet to catch up with Tangen, who has snapped and documented more than 200 citizen do-gooders, is Tampa Tribune reporter Ray Reyes. Per the article:

“There are millions of people who do good in this world but the media doesn’t pay attention to them. This is the marketing of good deeds,” said Tangen…
According to Tangen’s website, [San Diego’s] Mr. Xtreme was attacked by gang members and bullied as a boy. He donned a costume to “protest against indifference in society. People are being victimized and I feel that someone has to take a stand.”
Mr. Xtreme, who has not revealed his real name to anyone, has since formed his own group, the Xtreme Justice League, which gives food and supplies to the homeless.

At press time, Tangen’s latest blog post was about another equally fascinating character, LA “paranormal investigator and masked adventurer extraordinaire” Ragensi (pictured).

Grim and I Break Up A Fight (with video)

Grim is the newest recruit to the XJL, he only started patrolling with us last saturday, he says that he has been doing this off and on for a while now, in his words: “he’s done it a coupla times” on the east coast. but he has decided to join our ranks. He wears blue, which is great variety in the XJL color scheme, which is red, green, and a lot of brown and black. Anyway, he joined me for the gaslamp patrol (as I always get there before anyone else) so I explained to him a few of the things we do on gas lamp patrols, and what to expect. Sure enough, we come across a situation. Down the street we see a guy down on the ground and a bunch of people surrounding him. I’m not sure what is going on, so I switch on my shoulder cam to record anything that may or may not go on. I’ve been mentally training myself to do this as I always forget to do when entering a situation, defeating the whole purpose of the camera! below is the video I recorded of the situation we encountered:
We continued about our way after I shut the camera off. I approached an officer around the block and told him about what had happened. he said he’d heard about it, and we went on our way.
continuing to walk down fifth ave. where all the clubs are, we saw a fire engine going down the street, they announced from their PA system: ‘URBAN AVENGER!” I gave them a big wave and kept on walking.
I think that has to be the single coolest thing I’ve ever encountered on patrol. Being given a personal shout out on PA system. Later on after everyone else showed up and the patrol was starting coming to an end, we came across a bicycle cop who thanked us for breaking up the fight earlier, and that they appreciated what we did, and to keep up the good work. props from a cop, that was awesome.
the entire patrol went really well, aside from those two instances it was a pretty standard patrol. Grim has quickly proven himself a valuable asset to the team and the XJL is very fortunate to have him with us. He proved himself quickly as calm and collected in a hairy situation, and came out on top.

10 Real Life Superheroes Committing Crimes Against Fashion

Originally posted: http://fashionindie.com/10-real-life-superheroes-committing-crimes-against-fashion/5/
Styled by on Wednesday 07.20.11 7:31 PM
And speaking of Voguetron, there are actual superheroes among us. They’ve leapt off the pages of comic books, into the minds of fearless nerds that have re-envisioned their own crime fighting alter-egos. And they’re actually fighting crime. I know it’s true because I read about it yesterday in the August issue of GQ. In fact, there more than 200 costumed (and tweeting) vigilantes protecting average citizens from this cruel, cruel world. Meet some of the bravest, and most eccentric, here while they’re all gathered at Comic-Con in a most serious manner.
Phoenix Jones is a badass motherfucker. As the main focus of GQ’s story, it starts off with him in the hospital after being hit with a baseball bat in the same spot beneath his armor that he got punched with a key earlier that week. He was peeing blood. He went out that night again to right more wrongs. The story concludes with him and two sidekicks staring down a pack of armed crack dealers, guns pointed at them ready to shoot. The crack dealers walked away in defeat. Yes. This man is for real. And he protects Seattle. @ThePhoenixJones
Superhero is a trained policeman turned pro-wrestler turned, well, superhero. He once saved a girl from drowning in her car. When the people of Clearwater, FL ask him what they can do in return, he simply responds, “You don’t owe me anything. I’m a superhero!”
Mr. Xtreme has been a volunteer crime-fighter for more than a decade. Coming from a history rife with bullying and gang attacks against him, he decided he must take a stand and protect the innocent. Now, with spiked cuffs, x-game equipment, a bulletproof vest and crazy eyes, he protects the streets of San Diego.
Urban Avenger is Mr. Xtreme’s sidekick. He patrols San Diego covered head to toe, bespectacled green behind a gas mask. He’s bummed that his city doesn’t see as much action as Phoenix Jones, but that leaves him more time to tweet @urban_avenger.
Knight Owl admittedly went a little overboard with the costume, at one point donning a cape. He is a paramedic student by day and a real life superhero by night. @iamknightowl
Samaritan is our very own superhero here in NYC. He is a skilled martial artists and wears military fatigues to accomodate. He is a self-proclaimed peacekeeper and humanitarian that paroles the streets preventing and putting a stop to violent crimes.
Super Gay does exactly what is sounds like he does. He seduces gay-straight men and calls them out on it. Sounds like entrapment Us Weekly. But he does fight tirelessly against homophobia. We should introduce him to Unicorn Man, his new (un)faithful sidekick.
Phantom Zerois more of the bureaucratic type of superhero from North Jersey (typical). He helps people who have been screwed by circumstance by directing them to the proper lawful paper-filing way to solve their problems.
Lunar Veil and her partner Dark Wolf fight crime in Portland, but mostly work to protect animals. They’re trying to shut down a puppy mill now. But then where would we get miniature chiuauamaltipoodinese from? But I will say, steppin’ it up ladies.
Terrifica, though allegedly retired, patrolled the streets of New York City to prevent little drunk ladies from actin’ a ho. She’s been called the anti-cupid for putting a halt to the One Night Stand. Just trying to get these girls a hot meal the next week after a proper phone call is all.
See more real life superheroes in the August issue of GQ.

Real Life Superheroes

Originally posted: http://www.actoslitigation.net/real-life-superheroes/
Donning capes and masks these grown adults appeared as if they were getting ready to go trick or treating. Calling themselves “real life superheroes”, they seemed a little dorky at first.  The individuals featured in this documentary (written and directed by Michael Barnett) believe it is their duty to patrol the streets, fighting crime and picking up the slack that the police and other government institutions leave behind. As we follow the lives of several “real life superheroes” however, it becomes apparent that the work they are doing is not only beneficial to society, but vital to their communities.
The tone at the begging of the film seems to mock these cape and spandex wearing crime fighters. In the first few minutes of the film we take a tour of one man’s extensive action figure collection and watch as he sings along to  the Power Ranger opening sequence on his small television. He is known on the streets as the helmet and amor wearing Mr. Xtreme,  and he is the founder and  sole member of Xtreme Justice League, a citizen’s crime fighting organization in San Diego. His apartment is shabby and his social life is inactive to put it nicely. With a pot belly and no girlfriend, Mr. Xtreme  spends the free time he has between multiple day  jobs patrolling the streets hoping to prevent violent crime. We join him on a nightly escapade to patrol a part of campus where a sexual assault had been reported earlier. Although Mr. Xtreme runs into more hostility than appreciation from the community, (a guy threatens to call the police on Mr.Xtreme if he doesn’t leave his lawn), he is confident his presence, costume and all, is a deterrent to prospective offenders.
Next we meet Master Legend. He’s a long haired, middle-aged vigilante  who likes his beer and makes his own weapons out of cardboard and other household items. After cracking open a cold one he opens up about how his father was a member of the Klu Klux Klan and used to beat him. It was his loving and supportive grandmother, he says, who taught him that he had the potential to be a great force of good.  Turning past traumatic experiences into positive outreach turns out to be a reoccurring theme in many of hero’s lives we meet along the way. The commitment these ordinary citizens have to altruistic service is inspiring.  Every night  you’ll find Master Legend like many superheroes around the world (yes, it’s a global online community) handing out food and blankets to his cities homeless. A hero husband and wife duo hands out care packages every week to those living on the streets-the cost of which all comes out of their own pocket. Many of these heros have limited means themselves and it is astonishing the sacrifices they make in order to do what they do in their communities. When finances get tight Mr. Xtreme moves into his van rather than cease operation of Xtreme Justice League. You’ll come to really admire these quirky yet concerned citizens, as even director Michael Barnett admits he did in the midst of shooting this movie. What begins as a mockumentary becomes something very heartfelt as one grows  immense respect for these selfless individuals. Overall, this movie kills apathy and kicks evil villain butt!

HOT DOCS-Superheroes

Originally posted: http://www.pressplus1.com/cdnfilm-festival-reviews/hot-docs-superheroes.html
superheroes_press_still_1.470x264Hot Docs Review
World Showcase
82 minutes | USA | Language: English | International Premiere | Rating: PG
The conceit of the graphic novel and film Kick Ass is the idea that no one before in real life has had the thought of putting on a costume and fight crime as a superhero, and if they did, and they took it seriously, then they would have to be insane. There’s a fine line between genius and inspiration, and the people profiled in Michael Barnett’s documentary Superheroes definitely mark that line as their own.
To anyone that’s ever read a comic or seen a superhero movie, the language and the iconography used by the so-called superheroes featured in Barnett’s doc are all too familiar. From the streets of Orlando, to the borough of Brooklyn, a nationwide fraternity of costumed avengers are striving to make a difference in their towns in the flamboyant and chivalrous traditions of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Shuster and Bob Kane. Real life superheroes are alive and well and patrolling down sidewalks and back alleys in a town near you.
Barnett maintains a difficult tone with his movie. On the one hand, many of these “superheroes” describe terrible, painful and downright abusive backgrounds that spurn them to make the leap to costumed crime fighting. On the other hand, one has to admire these people. In their communities, despite the jeers and despite the looks, they are delivering a kind of hope to people in precious need of some. It’s not all about beating up bank robbers or rescuing orphans from fires. It’s also about giving a helping hand, assisting a drunk man home, giving a man whose foot is run over medical assistance, and handing out needed essentials to homeless people.
But despite their good intentions, it’s hard to deny that some of these people suffer from some kind of mental malady. Mr. Extreme, a California-based hero, gives up his apartment and lives in his van in order to free up more money for the cause, plus this way he can remain mobile lest unscrupulous characters find out where he lives. In Orlando, Master Legend happily takes a break from patrolling to either grab a pint from the bar, or out of the back of his van. It doesn’t do much to brace the confidence in these heroes, but hearing them talk about their personal abuse stories, you’re glad that their emotional turbulence found a rather benign outlet like playing superhero.
The final scene of the documentary takes us to San Diego in July, the setting for the biggest annual gathering of all things geeky and superheroish, the San Diego Comic Con. But a few blocks away from the convention centre where fans dress up as comic book strong men and Hollywood studios preview superhero films, a gathering of so-called real life superheroes are helping San Diego’s homeless. These two things juxtaposed, it becomes really hard trying to figure out just who the crazy people are in this scenario. Who are the real pretenders here, and do these people truly understand the idea of superheroes better than the thousands than honour them as fans? That’s for the audience to decide.
Mon, May 2 9:00 PM Bloor Cinema
Wed, May 4 4:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sun, May 8 7:00 PM The Royal Cinema

Superheroes Directed by Michael Barnett

Originally posted: http://exclaim.ca/Reviews/HotDocs/superheroes-directed_by_michael_barnett
vigilantespiderBy Will Sloan
Mr. Xtreme lives in a small apartment, with his costume and weaponry buried under stacks of papers and magazines, where he watches Power Rangers on a 12-inch TV during his off-hours. He calls it his “Xtreme Cave,” and he doesn’t seem to be joking. He’s a working slug by day, but by night he roams/”protects” the streets of San Diego, CA, where the police regard him with a mix of bemusement and gentle concern.
He’s a little too overweight to be terribly intimidating in his costume, but lest you think he doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously, remember that he’s the president of the Xtreme Justice League, a community for like-minded crime fighters. He’s also the only member, but he does sometimes work with another San Diego superhero, “The Vigilante Spider.” Not to be confused with a certain other arachnid-themed superhero.
How does Michael Barnett, the director of Superheroes, expect us to regard this man? Mr. Xtreme is one of many real-life superheroes profiled in this very odd documentary, and he comes across as the saddest in a very sad group. Barnett seems to agree: why else would he show Mr. Xtreme losing a grappling tournament and interviews with his comically unsympathetic parents?
Barnett regards most of the other superheroes with similar ironic detachment: when the Vigilante Spider describes a hypothetical situation in which he kisses his girlfriend goodbye in the morning to go to work, Barnett pointedly asks if the Vigilante has a girlfriend (the answer may not surprise you); and Barnett’s camera stares blankly at “Master Legend” as he clumsily attempts to pick up a girl at a bar. The idea of a documentary about real-life superheroes is pretty irresistible, but what are we supposed to take away from this one except that sad, lonely people are sad and lonely?
Some of the superheroes are more like charity workers, distributing food and necessities to the homeless while wearing their costumes. Others, like a group that incite and then arrest attackers by having one of the members dress as flamboyantly gay, regard themselves in the Batman/Superman tradition (a police staffer interviewed points out that this group’s method borders dangerously close to entrapment).
When Barnett attempts to shift gears in the second half to a more sentimental tone, rhapsodizing the heroes as naïve but good-hearted folks who want to make the world a better place, it feels even more hollow and condescending than before. Superheroes is a one sad movie, and not often in a good way.
(Theodore James Productions)

XJL to attent Public meeting at request of Deputy Mayor

Public Office Hours Flyer
1(619) 866-7932
April 25, 2011
Chula Vista, CA- Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez will host his “Public Office Hours” on Monday May 2nd in Council Chambers at City Hall, 276 Fourth Avenue, Chula Vista.
Due to recent tragic events that have occurred throughout San Diego County involving sex offenders and related topics it is essential to raise awareness in all of Chula Vista and neighboring cities. It is highly encouraged for residents throughout San Diego County to attend this informal discussion at City Hall on creating a public consciousness concerning sexual predators and related topics.
The Public Office Hours will provide members from the community an opportunity to grasp very important information that the Chula Vista Police Department, Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez, The Xtreme Justice League, and Mr. Pinnick will present in order to defend and/or prevent any sort of predator attack. The Xtreme Justice League is a group of superheroes that are dedicated to defending our city from evildoers. They will attend this event as guest speakers, presenting their reasons and forms of protecting this wonderful community. Mr. Pinnick is a local martial arts instructor that will hold a demonstration on basic self defense moves in order to teach those that attend how to protect themselves from any sort of attack.
Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez holds “Public Office Hours” each month to address issues of importance to Chula Vista and its residents. He welcomes all community members to his “Public Office Hours” and will meet one-on-one with anyone desiring a private meeting. For more information, please contact Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez by email at [email protected] or by phone at (619) 585-5717.
Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez represents the entire City of Chula Vista