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

Real Life Superheroes Get Their Own Film

 Photo by Theodore James

Photo by Theodore James

Originally posted:
Superheroes aren’t just for fiction anymore — no longer restrained to the pages of comic books, the large and growing community of Real Life Super Heroes (RLSH) are on the streets as agents of change — with mixed results. No magical-power infused mega-beings, they do what they can to make a difference in home-made costumes, sometimes armed with pseudo-weapons — as an antidote to the pumped-up versions usually presented in films. And now they’ve been lovingly captured in a film of their own, the documentary Superheroes, which premiered at Slamdance. Producer Theodore James and director Michael Barnett gave us the low-down on the process, the provenance, and what comes next.
Q: Many of these real-life superheroes could be discounted as dorks or weirdos, but by the end of the film you manage to tease out their eloquence. What were the main traits of these people that you wanted to portray in the film? Is there something that you think they all have in common?
MB: There is definitely one thing the whole community has in common, and that’s altruism. I wanted to the audience to leave the film knowing that every single real life superhero does something heroic in his or her own way, to make their communities a better place, regardless of resources.
Q: Do you think they’re escapists?
MB: There is definitely a level of escapism for some RLSH but by and large, after donning the costume and experiencing what it’s like to actually help somebody, most superheroes become deeply entrenched in the notion that they can make a difference, be it big or small, and that seems to be the driving force for most of them. That, and it’s “hella fun,” according to a super hero we know from Clearwater.
Q: Was there any point where you wondered about any of your subjects’ sanity?
MB: Absolutely not! Not even with Master Legend. I think these guys — I’m speaking of the ones in the film, because of course its hard to speak for the whole community — are eccentric dudes and ladies. They put on a costume, and they realize something: That they can step outside of themselves and their lives, and maybe even become iconic in their communities. It really does something for them. Also, they all have day jobs. For example, Zetaman works at a packaging plant, Mr. Extreme is a security guard, Master Legend is an air conditioning repairman, some of them are tattoo artists… But a lot of them are trying to find a way to do it full time.
It’s funny how our culture treats people who calls themselves superheroes– they’re either ridiculed or adored in their community, but never treated with apathy. There are so many news stories are out there on them, and some of them make fun of them, and some celebrate them… But even when just putting a costume on and walking down the street – people will always react to them.
Q: Do they develop relationships in their communities?
MB: It depends, of course. Life helps people around his neighborhood in Harlem — homeless people, for instance. His community knows him well, and he knows his community. But then Mr. Extreme works differently — he listens to the police scanners and then he goes out and patrols the area where he hears there is a lot of criminal activity. The result is that the communities he helps don’t necessarily know him. But he’s still out there on the streets, at least four days a week. We wanted to deconstruct the “superhero” myth, in our society, and then rebuild a sense of what it means to be a real life superhero: Some want to fight crime, and others want to give food out.
TJ: A few of the subjects in the film confront drug dealers and try to bait criminals into committing crimes. During those nights of filming we were all a bit nervous. Thankfully nothing happened to the subjects or the crew.
Q: Many of your subjects never divulge their true identity to you… Did you find this was something that made it hard to build trust between you and your subjects?
MB: The opposite! Making this film has helped me understand that it is not necessary to know somebody’s real name in order to truly know them as a person. If anything, our lack of needing to know their true names helped them open up to us.
Photo by Theodore James

Photo by Theodore James

I think when we approached them and they didn’t tell us their names and bios, we were like “That’s cool, we don’t need them. it’s not part of our story.” Which is different from how reporters react — they need a name to print a story. But what’s a name, really? If someone wants to identify themselves as Mr. Extreme, then that’s who he is, to us. But, for instance in Mr Extreme‘s case, I nonetheless got to know him deeper than the costume. He’s a guy that I’ve gone to a couple times a month over the course of the last however many years, have spent hours on end with talking about his life, his family, and getting to know him. I don’t need a name to truly know him.
Q: How did you come across this subject, in the first place? And what made you decide to make a film about it?
MB: I stumbled upon this vast community online. Go ahead, google Real Life Superheroes. I dare ya!I’ve been a cinematographer for 15 years, and have shot a lot of films. I started directing a few years ago, and was making a film for a TV network that, that Theodore [James, the producer] was producing. He was looking for a project, and I mentioned that I’d been gathering some research on this thing. I turned the research in, to him, and he was amazed. He started doing more research, we got in touch with Mr. Extreme and we went to shoot him. He was the first one to agree to work with us. When we got home and we looked at the footage of him we just knew. We realized that this guy is fascinating, and we could just do a film about him alone! But it expanded: We got in touch with Stan Lee, and when he agreed, the community just fell into place.
Q: Were there any scenes that didn’t make the final cut that you miss terribly?
MB: We had to cut a lot of Zetaman, who is an exceedingly noble and humble guy. The work he does with the homeless is heartbreaking and inspiring. He is a true hero in every sense of the word and I’m bummed that we had to lose segments of his story line in the film. I’m also bummed that we had to lose Master Legend‘s “House of Death” scene. Keep an eye out for the DVD, it will definitely be on there!

Slamdance Doc Offers Group Portrait of Self-Appointed Superheroes

Originally posted:
By Hugh Hart
They might look like comical Comic-Con exhibitionists as they patrol the streets of U.S. cities garbed in utility belts, homemade capes and jerry-rigged masks, but it’s no joke: The crime-fighters portrayed in new documentary Superheroes offer serious threats to urban troublemakers across the country.
Director Michael Barnett and producer Theodore James’ movie, which premieres Friday at the Slamdance Film Festival, sheds light on secretive guardians of the community like Zetaman, Dark Guardian, Master Legend, Lucid and Zimmer.
The clip above offers a glimpse of a San Diego-based caped crusader who goes by the name of Mr. Xtreme. Superheroes gets an encore Slamdance showing in Park City, Utah, on Wednesday.

Wir sind Helden

Originally posted:,1872,8126150,00.html
Die Bewegung der Real Life Superheroes in den USA
Sie nennen sich Silver Dragon, Civitron oder Knight Owl. Sie sind Superhelden zum Anfassen. In bunten Kostümen kämpfen sie auf Amerikas Straßen für Gerechtigkeit, setzen sich für Arme und Hilfsbedürftige ein. Gerade in Krisenzeiten sehnen sich die Amerikaner nach solchen Helden des Alltags.
Civitron ist voller Tatendrang. Gemeinsam mit Knight Owl begibt er sich auf seine nächste Mission: Obdachlose mit Essen versorgen. Die sogenannten Real Life Superheroes kaufen Lebensmittel im Supermarkt und verteilen sie an die Obdachlosen im City Hall Park in Providence. Die Kosten tragen die beiden Helden im Latexanzug natürlich selbst. Sie wollen Vorbilder sein und die Welt verbessern. Wie Superhelden aus Hollywoodfilmen eben, nur als reale Helden des Alltags. Gerade jetzt scheint das Land solch selbstlose Helfer zu brauchen.
Superhelden ohne Superkräfte
Seit der letzten Wirtschaftskrise ist der Optimismus in den USA geschwunden. Die Zahl der Arbeitslosen liegt bei rund zehn Prozent, von der Wirtschaftskrise hat sich das Land noch nicht erholt, viele Menschen haben den Glauben an die Politiker verloren. Die Real Life Superheroes wollen den Menschen Mut machen, dass es trotz der schwierigen Zeiten weitergeht – ganz ohne Superkräfte. “Es hilft schon, wenn man einfach nur mit den Menschen über ihre Probleme redet. Wir wissen, dass wir nur einen kleinen Beitrag leisten können, um traurigen Menschen den Tag zu verschönern”, sagt Knight Owl.
Auch wenn viele Obdachlose bei der ersten Begegnung zumeist skeptisch sind, fassen sie schnell Vertrauen zu den maskierten Wohltätern. “Als ich eben hier saß und die beiden sah, dachte ich, die sind nicht ganz dicht”, sagt der Obdachlose Chris Tibedo. “Aber dann merkte ich, wie menschlich sie sind. Diese Jungs hier helfen uns, sind nett. Und vor allem behandeln sie uns mit Respekt.”
Die Gesellschaft wachrütteln
Die Real Life Superheroes wollen auch andere pflichtbewusste Amerikaner dazu bewegen, Bedürftigen zu helfen. “Wir sind so etwas wie bunte Hinweise darauf, dass man sich um sein Umfeld kümmern sollte. Durch unsere Kostüme schreien wir quasi ‘sieh dich um, sieh dir an, was los ist.’ Wir rütteln die Leute wach. Raus aus ihrer Selbstgefälligkeit”, sagt Civitron.
Gerade in Zeiten wirtschaftlicher Krisen und politischer Instabilität sehnen sich die Amerikaner nach Helden wie Civitron und Knight Owl. In den 30ern – zu Zeiten wirtschaftlicher Depression und Krieg – wurde der erste Superhelden-Comic verlegt. Die Botschaft der Comicstrips: Mit Tugendhaftigkeit und Eigeninitiative lässt sich Amerika neu erfinden. In den 80ern zu Beginn der Automobilkrise tauchten vermehrt selbsternannte Superhelden in den USA auf. Und auch jetzt scheint Amerika Helden zu brauchen.
Civitron ist sich sicher: “Das ist nur der Anfang dieser Superhelden-Bewegung. Umso mehr wir auf die Straße gehen und umso härter wir arbeiten, desto mehr Einfluss bekommen wir und desto mehr Menschen werden wir inspirieren.”
Mit Material von ZDF
English Version
Loosely translated by Artisteroi
The movement of the Real Life Super Heroes in the U.S.
They call themselves the Silver Dragon, Civitron or Knight Owl. They are super heroes to be touched. In colorful costumes, they are fighting for justice on America’s streets set, supports the poor and needy. Just crave in times of crisis, Americans for such everyday heroes.
Civitron is full of energy. Together with Knight Owl, he embarks on his next mission: to provide the homeless with food. The so-called Real Life Super Heroes in the supermarket to buy food and distribute it to the homeless at City Hall Park in Providence. The costs are the two heroes in the latex suit itself, of course you want to be role models and improve the world. As superhero movies in Hollywood just as only real heroes of everyday life. Right now the country seems to need such selfless helper.
Superhero without super powers
Since the last economic crisis of the optimism has waned in the United States. The number of unemployed is approximately ten percent of the economic crisis the country has still not recovered, many people have lost faith in politicians. The Real Life Superheroes want to encourage people that it continues despite the difficult times – with no superpowers. “It helps if you are just with the people talking about their problems. We know we can only make a small contribution to sad people to beautify the day,” says Knight Owl.
Although many homeless people are often skeptical at first encounter, they hold fast to trust the masked benefactors. “When I was sitting here and saw them, I thought that were not very close,” says Chris Tibedo homeless. “But then I realized how human they are. These guys are helping us are nice. And above all, they treat us with respect.”
The company shake
The Real Life Super Heroes will also move other conscientious Americans to help those in need. “We are like colorful signs that you should take care of their environment. Our costumes we cry quasi ‘to look up, look up to you what’s going on.” We the people shake awake. Get out of their complacency, “says Civitron.
In times of economic crisis and political instability, the Americans long for heroes like Civitron and Knight Owl. In the 30’s – at times of economic depression and war – the first superhero comic was published. The message of the comic strip: With virtue and initiative can invent new America. In the 80s at the beginning of the automotive crisis appeared to increase self-proclaimed superheroes in the United States. And now America seems to need heroes.
Civitron is certain. “This is just the beginning of this superhero movement all the more we take to the streets and the harder we work, the more influence we have and the more we will inspire people.”
With material from ZDF And photos courtesy of Perter Tangen

PATROL 9/3/10 or "Did we just prevent a mugging?"

Symbiote came to town for some TJ buisness that ML wanted us to get out of the way. We needed to do some early saturday banking so Sym came to Clearwater the night before.
Pefect opertunity for a patrol.
We headed to ST.Pete as they have a high Mugging/purse snatch/break in rate & headed out on foot.
Stopped every now & again by people who thought what we did was cool.
I swear to God, as were walking through the park by the Pier Some guy sitting by the fountain says “hey man! Do you know Zetaman?”
So we talked to him & his pal for awhile and found it wild that Zeta even had a fan on the oposite corner of the continent. The guy told us a wild story about how he & his ex were a Clown team who would juggle with each other, each one using just one of their arms to make the Juggle. Without her, he couldn’t juggle at all…sad.
There are a TON of Dark long brick alleys with patrons from the AMC theatre walking thru them to their cars so we spent a LOT of time watching drunken kids (Mostly young girls) walk to their cars thru the dark alleys (W/O them knowing we were there of course) to make sure nothing bad happened.
So we get to a corner, and there is this group of kids, one tall skinny boy (and I mean boy) with a bunch of young girls (And I mean girls) walking up the street away from the corner.
they pretty much ignore us which is fine and we are still standing there getting ready to go the opposite direction when this scary, rough looking dude with a Roofers tan, ratty jeans, and a tee covered in paint litterally shoots past us after them with a towel over his shoulder, he has his hands in his pockets, he’s looking all around, and he’s closing on the kids….
Sym & I just look at each other, (aparently he felt it too) say nothing, and start back after the guy.
We’re closing the distance & he’s still intent on the kids, closing fast, suddenly he looks back over his Shoulder, see’s us and his eyes get as big as a anime characters.
He hangs a fast left down a alley and we don’t see him for the rest of the night.
Sym & I look at each other & I say “Did we just prevent someting bad from happening?”
I guess we’ll never know.
Then we met this TINY little dude (see pic) who was a professional Ukelele player! He stopped us for pics & info about the RLSH. Then we talked about Tiny Tim.


Does the World Need Superheroes?

Originally posted:
by Niesey
There’s been a lot of hype lately coming from my hometown of Seattle.  Apparently there’s a group of people there who refer to themselves as “Real-Life Superheroes” from the “Rain City Superhero Movement”, and they’re claiming to be part of a nationwide network of crime-fighters.  They’re regular people (who perhaps have read a few too many comic books), that take to the streets in costumes with code names and try to fight crime. The Seattle Police Department has understandably stated some concern regarding the “superheroes”.  According to the Seattle PI article, there have been some events that have led to one “superhero” almost getting shot, and others being mistaken for criminals by citizens:

In one instance, police say a caped crusader dressed in black was nearly shot when he came running out of a dark park. In another case, a witness on Capitol Hill saw the crusaders wearing ski masks in a car parked at a Shell station and thought they were going to rob the place.

The self-proclaimed leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement is a 22-year-old man, that goes by the name Phoenix Jones.  He dresses in black with blue tights (what superhero costume is complete without tights?), and patrols the Seattle streets with his friends…  in a Kia owned by the godmother of one of the “superheroes”…  I guess “Real-Life Superheroes” use economical transportation.  No high-tech Batmobiles for them.
Reading the article on piqued my curiosity.  Are there really other “Real-Life Superheroes” in other parts of America, and perhaps the world?  I was amazed to find that indeed there are, and some of them have websites to share their philosophies, list their services, and ask for donations to fund their superhero ways.  There’s Captain B.L.A.C.K. of Savannah, Georgia, Knight Owl from Ohio, and Zetaman from Portland, Oregon.  But I also found that this superhero movement isn’t all that new of a concept.  London also had a “superhero” for some time in Angle-Grinder Man, who said in 2002 “I may not be able to single-handedly and totally cast off the repressive shackles of a corrupt government – but I can cut off your wheel-clamps for you.”  Maybe not all the “superheroes” keep completely within the realms of the law, but it seems that the majority are trying to make a difference in their communities by helping the less fortunate, and doing charitable work.
For people interested in becoming “superheroes”, there are plenty of websites and books to help them. recently listed a workshop in Brooklyn, New York, to assist people with creating their superhero costumes.  It cost $20, but included “free beer for those 21 and older.”  Or you could buy the book, How to be a Superhero.
What do you think about the superhero movement?  Are they necessary in today’s society, or are they just another case of a Neighborhood Watch Program getting out of hand, and turning into vigilante justice?  Would you ever consider taking on a new persona and running around in the night in tights? Or should we just stay at home, and let the police do their jobs?

Edmonds Man Receives Superhero Award

dsc047161Originally posted:
Posted on: Sep 21, 2010 at 5:37 PM PDT
Channel: Off the Wall
Location: Portland, OR
Tags: superhero Race for the Cure real-life superheroes Zetaman Civitron charity award
A.J. Roberts of Edmonds, WA received the Civic Hero Award from the Committee for Real Life Superheroes. He was awarded it at Superheroes Anonymous 4, an annual meeting of real-life superheroes, for his “Exceptional contribution for the Susan G. Komen ‘Race for the Cure’ 2010.” The award is signed by Zetaman of Portland and Civitron of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Superheroes Anonymous 4: Conclusion

Note: This is the last of several articles about Superheroes Anonymous 4, a gathering of Real Life Superheroes being held in Portland, Oregon. This series, written by Treesong, is a collaborative project of Heroes in the Night and Song of the Trees.
I’ve already given a description of each day’s events in my previous entries. Now, I’d like to write a quick entry to sum it all up and thank the people who made it all possible.
On the whole, I would say that Superheroes Anonymous 4 was a great success. There were some logistical issues, some interpersonal issues, and some lessons to be learned for future events. But this is par for the course when you get together a group of people from different cities and try to bring them all together for a common set of activities. The important thing is that we met up, got to know each other better, and did some good work together. I’ve been to numerous conferences, and I felt that this one went quite smoothly.
This event has been a great inspiration for me. I get the impression it has been for other people, too. Becoming a part of the Real Life Superhero movement in general has motivated me to get active again, and this conference has definitely amped up my inspiration and motivation even further. I also have new contacts now in other cities, and we can support each other in the local work that we’re doing. We’ve pledged to stay in touch so that we can share ideas, offer support, and meet up again as soon as we’re able to do so, whether it’s in the context of Superheroes Anonymous 5 or some smaller regional meet-up.
I’d like to thank Zetaman, Apocalypse Meow, and anyone else involved in organizing the weekend’s events. Like many event organizers, I could tell that Zetaman was starting to stress out as we encountered a few delays and changes in logistical details along the way. But between the good work on advance planning and the attention to detail as the weekend went on, we were able to pull off all of the weekend’s main events: the food bank, the Red Cross training, the coat drive, the patrol, and the Race for the Cure. Thanks for being good hosts and bringing it all together.
Thanks to my fellow Real Life Superheroes for showing up, putting in the time and effort, and keeping it real. There are still plenty of RLSHs who I’ve met online and would like to meet in person. But it was a pleasure to meet some of you in person, and it was great to work and play and learn side by side with all of you.
Thanks also to Tea Krulos for inviting me to contribute to his blog. I’m sure Tea would’ve liked to make it out to SA4, but since he couldn’t, I’m glad we were able to work together in getting the word out about how the weekend went.
On a personal note, I’d like to send out a special thanks to everyone who made my own participation in Superheroes Anonymous 4 possible. I am a low-income worker with no savings, so I was only able to make it out here with the support of my community. Thanks to the several anonymous donors who supported my trip out here, and thanks also to Castle Perilous for matching these donations to ensure that Southern Illinois’ own Real Life Superhero would make it to Superheroes Anonymous 4.
Now, it’s time to return home to my own home town and resume my own efforts here. Good luck to everyone else as they do the same.

Superheroes Anonymous 4: Sunday

Note: This is one of several articles about Superheroes Anonymous 4, a gathering of Real Life Superheroes being held in Portland, Oregon. This series, written by Treesong, is a collaborative project of Heroes in the Night and Song of the Trees.
Today was the final day of Superheroes Anonymous 4. It was hard saying goodbye to people, especially since I had to leave before the final dinner. But since we spent so much of our time together, it feels like we managed to pack more than three days worth of experience into less than three days worth of time.
I stayed out late last night for patrol, then stayed up even later to write about the day’s events. This was almost evened out by the fact that I was able to sleep in until about 7 am this time. I only slept about a total of 7 or 8 hours between Friday and Saturday nights combined, and I believe others slept a similar or lesser amount. As you might imagine, we were all tired — but we were also excited about walking in the Race for the Cure!
We weren’t able to do a big group breakfast this morning, so we ended up eating in a few small groups. I ate breakfast with Zetaman, Apocalypse Meow, and Civitron because we were riding together in the Zetavan. (Yes, Zetaman had a Zetavan!) We ate at this great little diner called Burgerville. At a glance, it looked like it might just be a typical corporate chain restaurant. Once inside, however, I discovered that it was actually part of a chain of local restaurants that focus on local food and ecological sustainability. I’m pretty sure this was the first chain-style restaurant I’ve seen so far where there were separate bins for recyclables, compostables, and disposables, with three illustrated signs to help the novice determine which was which. Portland is filled with many such pleasant surprises, and I hope that I can go back there again sometime just to explore the city more thoroughly.
Once breakfast was taken care of, we made our way over to the Race for the Cure.
First of all, I was amazed with the turnout. I knew that it was going to be big, and it’s not the biggest mass gathering I’ve ever been to. But it’s definitely one of the biggest, which is pretty amazing since it was for a charitable cause rather than a political protest.
Since we were staying in different parts of town and eating at different places, we ended up arriving at different places and times. It took a bit of walking to bring us all together. What started as a few isolated pockets of soon gathered into a prominent cluster of nine Real Life Superheroes plus several other people who were walking with us. Most people were wearing either the Race for the Cure shirts or their own everyday clothes, but there were also a few other costumed activists, including an entire group of Star Wars characters fighting against breast cancer. We have some photos of superheroes and Star Wars characters posing together, although I didn’t get to pose with them because I was busy taking pictures.
The atmosphere was very friendly and festive. My own costume is simple and low-key enough that it wouldn’t have drawn much attention in a crowd of this size and diversity. We were often walking together, though, or spread out into two or three smaller clusters, which added to our visibility. Civitron, Zetaman, and Blue Blaze in particular seemed to catch people’s eye due to the colorful spandex and frequent friendly greetings. In Blue Blaze’s case, it also didn’t hurt that he was often scaling nearby objects in order to gain a new perspective on the scene! Some people simply noticed that we were superheroes and cheered us on or asked to take their picture with us. Others actually asked us for more information about who we were and what we were doing. I can’t remember who was the first person to say this, but after a while, several of us started telling people who talked to us that EVERYONE who was marching today was in fact a superhero. The money raised will be going to prevent and cure breast cancer, so all of us who are supporting the cause are superheroes.
We didn’t end up staying in a group during the walk, due in part to the fact that we all walk at different speeds. I was sometimes floating between the two or three loose clusters of superheroes, as were a few of the others. Zetaman and Apocalypse Meow were generally at the lead, while Skyman was usually bringing up the rear. I’m a pretty fast walker, so I didn’t get to spend much time with Skyman. However, I was impressed with his commitment to keep going throughout the walk. I’ve been the person at the back of the group before on hikes, so I know it can be tough, but he stuck with it.
All in all, it was a great experience. I don’t have the final dollar amount from Zetaman yet, but our team raised several hundred dollars for the cause, and we got to show our solidarity and meet plenty of cool people along the way.
After the walk, I had time for one last meal with Zetaman, Apocalypse Meow, Civitron, Dreamer, and a couple of their friends. Then, it was time to make my way to the train station for the journey home.
Now that Superheroes Anonymous 4 is over, I plan on writing one last entry on the subject. This epilogue will offer my overall summary of how I feel the weekend went, along with some very important thanks to the people who helped make my own participation possible. First, however, it’s time for some much-needed sleep.

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