Tag superbarrio

Net Crusaders

By Daniel Fallon
Sporting blue tights, black cape and gold rimmed goggles, Angle-grinder Man stands apart from the rest of the world’s superheroes. For a start, he is real.
Based in Kent, the English caped crusader has taken it upon himself to free motorist’s vehicles using an angle grinder when they have been wheel-clamped for parking illegally or on private property.
He spends weekdays serving the fair people of Kent and heads to London to do the same on weekends. “My obsession with wheel-clamping is actually a rebellion against a much deeper malaise,” says Angle on his website. “This is, namely, the arrogant contempt that politicians hold for the people who put them into power, and whom they claim to represent.
“Wheel-clamping, speed cameras, new toll-roads are all good examples of inept administrators attempting to make their lives easier and solve their own mismanagement problems by persecuting the people that they have failed.”
And so the wheel-clamp vigilante dons his tights and heads out to assist taxpayers for free. But every good super-hero needs a support base and Angle uses his website as a soap box to spread the anti-clamp message, to describe his valiant efforts in the field and even to raise money via secure PayPal donations. Yes, even super heroes need a few quid to keep operating. As his ad says, “You can lord it up over your mates and tell them how you helped a real life superhero!”


An email address and emergency hotline phone number are also provided on the site so people can call for help when their car has been clamped or simply to send messages of encouragement. (Demand appears to be very high; the line was continually engaged when Icon tried to reach him and none of our emails got a reply.)
Visitors to the site are invited to share their clamp and speed camera stories and discuss the work of Angle-grinder Man in the forums section. Most gush over their hero.
“I think you are completely great,” writes Revard. “I can think of only one better use of a grinder – cutting the rear wheels off a clamper’s van! Keep up the good work.” The testimonials are equally positive if somewhat less authentic. According to Kylie Minogue, “He was the inspiration behind the gold shorts in my Spinning Around video.” And Dame Judi Dench describes him as “a diamond geezer”.
There are no reports of Angle-grinder Man being arrested by police or sued by the clamping companies. However, just before the publication of this article his website was offline and returning a “fatal error”, leaving us wondering whether the authorities had finally caught up with him. The BBC has been following him and its site is worth a visit.
Angle-grinder Man is not the only real superhero to be found online, although he is one of the few who publish a website. In fact, the net has become a place where legends are made as crusaders from around the globe begin to surface in reports on web logs and media sites. Most prefer to remain anonymous but their good deeds still echo through cyberspace.
In New York City, a gallant heroine named Terrifica has set out to protect women from the unwanted attentions of slimy men in nightclubs.
Unless it is a fancy dress night, this gal is sure to stand out among her peers – she wears a blonde wig, golden mask and red leotards. The outfit may be comical but her mission is a serious one: looking after women when they are most vulnerable and trying to spread the message of sensible alcohol consumption.
“I protect the single girl living in the big city,” Terrifica told ABCNews.com’s Bryan Robinson. “I do this because women are weak. They are easily manipulated, and they need to be protected from themselves and most certainly from men and their ill intentions toward them.”
It’s in the early morning, when people are intoxicated, that a nightclub becomes a spider’s web, and that is when Terrifica steps in to provide sobering advice and lead any potential victim away from the bar or off the dance floor.
Preferring to remain anonymous, she has done this task for more than seven years. “I created Terrifica, I guess, to deal with my feelings of vulnerability – being young and single in New York City,” she told Robinson. “I had a couple of run-ins with men that really shocked me, left me feeling confused and really hurt.”
The costume makes Terrifica feel empowered in this environment. As fate would have it, she has an arch-enemy, a man named Fantastico, a regular Romeo who says that Terrifica has often foiled his attempts to meet women in nightclubs.
Meanwhile, blogs are buzzing about a local hero in Nunavut, the capital of Iqaluit, Canada, who goes by the name of Polarman. This fearless chap wears a black balaclava, white jogging pants and dark snow boots.
When he is not stepping in to protect youngsters against street thugs, he shovels the snow off the steps for older citizens and at day-care centres. Then, in summer, he keeps the playgrounds in order for kids. He is a well-recognised figure in the local community, even an attraction, according to the Kids on the Net – Iqaluit site, which has a picture of him in its virtual tour.
“The last thing I needed was a name to call myself,” he told CBC Radio 3 last year. “I wrote down all cold-based names I could think of: Mr Freeze, Icelad, Snowlad, Shoveler, Polar Bully, Captain Cold, Captain Icicle, Frosty the Boy Wonder. Then I decided that since I came down from the polar region, I would use the name my cousin teased me with.
“I believe that I will go on as Polarman for the rest of my life to prove to kids that anything is possible.”
There’s an even more legendary character in Mexico, a masked hero called Superbarrio who fights to defend the rights of the poor.
The former street vendor initially donned a tight red suit and carried his impressive girth into battle for the poor to win government funding to rebuild homes destroyed by the earthquake that rocked Mexico City in 1985. Or so the story goes.
He continued to fight for the poor, often turning up with media in tow, to stop local authorities evicting residents from their apartments. He also led rallies to increase support for low-income earners.
According to a CNN report, “he is one of Mexico City’s great folk heroes, the champion of the working class, the poor and the homeless.” His name means “super neighbourhood”. A statue of Superbarrio was erected in his honour, while an online comic strip at The World Children’s Prize website tells his story.
At one stage, a man named Marco Rascon came forward to claim he was Superbarrio before entering politics. Rascon served as a federal representative in Mexico, according to another online report.
The word on the street
Not all real-life crusaders turn out to meet the expectations they create online. One example of this is Sydney’s own Brokenman, who drummed up hype and traffic to his website by chalking its address, as well as fake crime scenes, thousands of times on footpaths across the city.
He remained anonymous for a long time, despite the simple website promising a great deal. “Can you picture a terrorist-free world? A drug-free environment? People valuing freedom of speech? Peace in a war-free earth? Then ‘SOMETHING UNBELIEVABLE’ is exactly what you need. COMING SOON.” After a couple of years building the hype, Brokenman finally revealed himself as aspiring pop musician Jordan Ellery on April 1 this year when he launched an independent album at the Metro Theatre on George Street.
As far as changing the world goes, Ellery is contributing the performance royalties from one of his songs to the Make a Wish Foundation – an admirable and generous act, if a little short of expectations.
“In a time of crisis and uncertainty it was raising people’s hope, if anything – that’s what Brokenman is all about – rising up,” he says.
“But sure, people’s expectations ranged from ‘the next messiah’ to some X-generation soda-pop salesman. They just didn’t expect their messiah to turn out to be a kid from Dulwich Hill who writes songs. What they didn’t know was that Something Unbelievable was going to be their new favourite song.”
Ellery is satisfied his guise as a crusader worked as a springboard for his musical career and hopes his songs will change people’s lives. “Personally, I’m more than happy with what’s become of the project,” he says. “Based on the amount of record sales and especially people’s feelings shown in their emails, there’s definitely something special evolving here.
“To me it’s all about the songs themselves. It’s about me getting those messages across to my listeners. That’s why I’m out on the streets late at night pushing a message while all the other bands have gone to bed.”
The first comic book superhero was Superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Cleveland in 1933. DC Comics bought the rights to the character in 1938 and the era of comic books was born. The company soon produced Batman, with The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern to follow

Mexico’s ‘SuperBarrio’ offers to rescue U.S. elections

Article no longer exist on CNN
November 16, 2000 Web posted at: 7:54 PM EST (0054 GMT) 
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) — With his red cape flying behind him, he has swooped into poor neighborhoods in the time of need, fighting for housing and setting up soup kitchens.
Now Mexico’s “SuperBarrio,” a social activist in red mask and wrestler’s tights, has offered to rescue the U.S. elections.
“Election crisis? Call us and we’ll fix it in 15 minutes,” read a placard at the front of a march of 40 people Thursday led by SuperBarrio that stopped outside the U.S. embassy.
He certainly has had experience with electoral dilemmas being that he is from a country which has had its share of races tainted with charges of coercion to outright fraud, and where a single party has ruled for 71 years.
But the Mexican superhero’s assistance in resolving the race between U.S. candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore isn’t without its price. In exchange, the embassy must give visas to thousands of Mexicans wanting to go to the United States, he said.
“If in this moment the embassy authorized visas for us, we would get results for the U.S. presidential elections today,” he said.
SuperBarrio,” or Neighborhood Superhero, has been crusading for the poor since the serious Mexico City earthquake in 1985. Always masked, he wrestles in televised matches when he isn’t organizing soup kitchens and other charity projects.

Mexico’s Real-Life ‘Superheroes’ Are Caped Crusaders for Justice

Originally posted: http://articles.latimes.com/1999/oct/24/local/me-25798
Campaign: Taking inspiration from cartoon crime stoppers and wrestling stars, a string of social activists is donning outlandish costumes to fight for worthy causes.
MEXICO CITY — Faster than a bolt of lightning? Doubtful. Able to leap tall buildings? Not a chance.
Mexico’s newest superhero rushes into his headquarters, the office of the Union of Electrical Workers, flustered and breathing heavily under his leather and nylon mask after jogging from his car.
Even Super Luz–Super Light–can have trouble finding a parking space.
But when duty calls, this mere mortal slips into tights and cape to campaign against the government’s plan to privatize the power industry and to defend the interests of his fellow pole-climbers and linemen.
Just what compels a grown man reared in a macho culture to dress up like a cartoon character–and do it with a straight face?
“Precisely that the human being, the Mexican . . . needs the existence of heroes to be able to continue enduring a common and ordinary life,” Super Luz says.
Putting up with years of rampant crime and widespread government wrongdoing has left many Mexicans exhausted and cynical. But the sight of Super Luz thrusting his fist into the air can cause weathered electricians to crack a smile.
“Go, Super Luz!” one man cheers when the masked man bounds through–not over–the union building in downtown Mexico City.
Super Luz is just the latest in a string of Mexican social activists who have taken inspiration from comic book crime fighters and stars from the country’s unique genre of professional wrestling movies.
They trace their origin to El Santo (The Saint), a wrestler named Rodolfo Guzman whose silver mask propelled him to fame on the silver screen starting in 1958.
Guzman starred in dozens of films battling criminals, demons, witches and zombies before his death in 1984. “El Santo Against the Vampire Women” of 1962 is a kitsch classic, and his character continues to inspire a cult following as well as lyrics in Mexican rock music.
The passage from screen to streets came in the wake of Mexico City’s horrendous 1985 earthquake, when an incarnate superhero sprang to life to rally support for the thousands of homeless neglected by the city’s overwhelmed government.
He was Super Barrio, a paunchy figure in red and yellow spandex who became a cult idol for his attacks on the administration of the dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party. He led protest marches and rallies and helped form the Assembly of Barrios–a neighborhood coalition that defended the rights of the poor.
Super Barrio has kept a low profile since the leftist opposition won control of the city government in 1997, and he declined to be interviewed.
Other masked heroes have followed his path: Super Universal Ecologist fought to save the environment; Super Puppy explained the need to treat pets humanely; Super Policeman railed against corruption; Super Woman cheered women’s rights; and Super Gay denounced homophobia.
One of the longest lasting has been Super Animal. Like El Santo films in which the bare-chested, masked hero met desperate clients in his bookshelf-lined office, Super Animal welcomes visitors in costume from behind his desk in a disturbingly normal middle-class neighborhood.
The costume, he explains, is a sure-fire means of attracting attention to his cause: fighting for the rights and lives of animals–a battle he admits is difficult in a society enamored of bullfights, cockfights and meat-filled tacos.
But the mask and outfit are not only attention-getters, he says. They are a necessity for Mexicans who adore ritual.
“If they were to go to a church and see a priest come out for Mass in a T-shirt and jeans, would they like it or would they ask, ‘What’s going on, Father?’ He has to put on his vestments to reach the faithful,” Super Animal says.
“Here in Latin America people really like characters–professional wrestling, the films of El Santo. People like the masks.”
Super Animal and Super Luz, both of whom ask to have their real names kept secret, say they have taken the common man’s love of entertainment–specifically, professional wrestling–and sharpened it into a means of attacking a government they contend is intent on keeping the masses sated with bread and circuses.
Mexican television, with its history of state control, has been used to divert public attention from real problems, Super Luz says.
“What the mass media have given us is simply trash,” he says. “We are saying: Fight! Fight for economic stability for your families. Don’t remain asleep because the federal government is trying to bombard us so that the people will be stupid, conquered and forgetful of problems while they are focused on wrestling, soccer and soap operas.”
For Super Luz, Mexico could use even more superheroes–with or without masks.
“I believe everyone has an important fight because in Mexico there are many things that should be done,” he says. “And if there isn’t someone who says, ‘Here I am to do it,’ then no one will.”

Defender of justice Superbarrio roams Mexico City

poorMEXICO CITY (CNN) — He’s faster than a speeding turtle, able to leap small speed bumps in a single bound. Look, up in the sky … Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Superbarrio — a flabby caped crusader in cherry red tights who traverses the streets of Mexico City, defending the lower class.
A high school dropout with a humble upbringing, Superbarrio has become one of Mexico City’s greatest folk heroes. For the past 10 years, he has stood as the champion of the working class, the poor and the homeless.
Superbarrio roams Mexico City
“I opened my eyes and found myself as you see me with a voice telling me, ‘You are Superbarrio,'” he said, explaining that his name means super-neighborhood. “I can’t stop a plane or a train single-handed, but I can keep a family from being evicted.”
His true identity remains a mystery, masked behind his quirky outfit. By day, he’s a street vendor, but at any time he can squeeze into the flashy tights to fend off evil. Little else is known about the masked man, fitting of a true superhero.
His role is primarily symbolic as the protector of low-income neighborhoods. But on behalf of squatters and labor unions, Superbarrio leads protest rallies, files petitions and challenges court decisions. Rumors also have circulated that he attempted to run for the president of the United States to better protect Mexican workers.
He says his mission is simply to protect the right of ordinary people.
Superbarrio, meanwhile, continues to stroll the streets of Mexico City seeking to uphold justice and defend the weak.
Correspondent Chris Kline contributed to this report.