Saturday, February 27, 2010

DAY 5- SEATTLE- City of Heroes, City of Villains

Aluminum Chef, me, Agent Beryllium at Po' Dogs.

Well, here I am sitting at the SeaTac airport, looking out the huge windows at the airports rolling into the terminal and baggage carts rushing around. I can say I spent the last 5 days doing what I love to do most in life- traveling, meeting interesting people, and writing.

I slept in a bit, which was welcomed after a few long days of hitting the street hard. I booked a hotel which kind of looked like a murder scene from a CSI show, but it was ok on the inside. After sharing a bunkhouse filled with backpackers from New Zealand, I was glad to lay in bed and watch CNN.

I walked around the Space Needle area a bit, and then walked up to a neighborhood known as Capitol Hill, where I had a brave mission: meeting the nefarious villains of ROACH.


Yes, I've heard a lot of strange things about ROACH. I figure if there are "supervillains" I should meet them, and try to see what they're all about.
I've been in contact with villains before. I've had some e-mail interviewing with Tiny Terror, who I consider an intelligent guy and his opinions will be missed if he has indeed "retired."
At one point Executrix was planning a villain themed bonfire, which I was going to attend. Executrix even included a clause in the proposed rules for the event:
"6) IF Tea Krulos does grace us with his presence, we shall be as accommodating as possible. Lets not scare him too bad!:)"

Unfortunately, it was canceled, much to the disappointment of marshmallow roasting villains everywhere.

ROACH has invited me to their "Seattle Headquarters" which is a gourmet hot dog restaurant called Po' Dogs. The place has a villainous handgun print wallpaper motif, and the dog selection is pretty insane. I mean a wasabi egg-roll dog? True villainy.

Hanging out in the back corner of Po' Dogs is time traveling, goggle sporting Agent Beryllium, evil chef couple Aluminum Chef and Fatal Phyllo and the volcano headed ROACH leader himself, The Potentate. I've been talking online with Agent B for awhile,enjoy hearing her opinion, and consider her a villainous counsel of some sort.

The Potentate told me he decided to start his organization of evil after seeing the famous, much circulated report on Cincinnati superhero Shadow Hare, which inspired many other villains as well (Sword Kane, Tiny Terror and crew among them.)

The villains have a couple of criticisms of the RLSH, and here is my understanding of them.

---RLSHs are in it for attention and an ego boost. This can be large scale- seeking media attention, or small scale- seeking attention of people standing around on the street. They are seeking credit for things many people do without a costume.

---RLSHs who are trying to patrol and crime fight are not adequately trained to take on criminal elements, putting themselves and others at risk.

I mention these things, because I would like to see as many possible people comment on this as possible. RLSHs- how do you respond to criticisms like this? What do you think of "RLSVs"? RLSVs- would you say my interpretation here is accurate? Do you have other criticisms or reasons for being a villain? And to anyone not involved in this scene- I'd like to hear your opinion too.

After hanging around Po' Dogs for awhile, I got the sense that ROACH (at least the four members present) were actually....nice, funny, normal people. I know a lot of RLSH see the funny side, but some don't. I'll give my opinion here- ROACH are online villains. The Potentate isn't actually walking around with a volcano for a head. Agent B isn't really out to destroy you. Aluminum Chef and Fatal Phyllo...ok, well, they actually are evil chefs.

The Potentate and Fatal Phyllo both had evil business to attend to, so Agent B, Aluminum Chef and I got on a bus and headed down to the Pike Place Market, a marketplace from another dimension for sure. Inside and out front were fishmongers, a brew pub, magic supply store, rare herb supply, barbershop, even a comic book store. An amazingly interesting place, and as a freelancer I immediately thought "incredibly interesting story here," although I'm sure it's been written about a thousand times.

I split from the villains to meet up with The Irishman in front of the market.


First we did a drive around by the shore of the Puget Sound, cruising past the vast shipping yards and docks. We park under a highway overpass, leaking rain water. We walk up, back to the direction of the Pike Place market. Along the way, Irishman shows me an encampment of homeless people in a plaza below the highways. Irishman has been inspired by the visit to Vancouver and seeing Thanatos at work. He hopes he can start doing similar activities in Seattle.

We walk along Western avenue, and he points out a small park where there are a couple of drug dealers hanging around. He and his fellow Seattle RLSH, White Baron, spent some time watching the drug dealers at work,seeing what they were up to. Irishman frequently teams up and patrols with White Baron. White Baron and Mr. RavenBlade, another Seattle RLSH are hard to get a hold of sometimes, so we weren't able to contact them in time to get them to come out.

"This'll get the blood going." Irishman says as we scale the hill to 1st Avenue.
We're both a bit worn from the previous day, so after walking around awhile we decide to sit down and talk for a bit. We go to an Irish bar, of course, Kell's Irish Pub on a back street and order pints of Guinness straight from the tap. Irishman has chosen his name because he's proud of his Irish heritage.
He also breaks an RLSH stereotype- he's not really a comic book fan. He says the only comic he's bought was a used copy of The Incredible Hulk he picked up downtown. His inspiration to this scene was seeing Watchmen and then learning there were real life versions out there on the street.

After a couple pints, we're on our way.
Sláinte, Seattle.


  1. You actually met Agent B, the Potentate, Phyllo and Aluminum Chef? OMG!!! I sincerely hope that you took the time to bathe yourself thoroughly within 24 hours of doing so. It's a good way to get the bullsh*t that exudes from them off you without permanent contamination. As to their criticisms of the RLSH, the attention thing is a joke. Most of the RLSH help people out of desire to help people. If the media decides to step in and make a story about it then it's the medias initiative. Are there gloryhounds in the RLSH? Sure, just as there as gloryhounds in the RLSV...Ex: the multitude of videos on Youtube from Lord Malignance, Agent Berylium herself proclaiming herself to be an attention whore in one of her blogs, ect. However, the majority of RLSH would still do what they do even if they did not get media attention. Second issue about patrolling - most RLSH do not patrol for the purpose of confronting criminals violently but inevitably this may happen. Let me pose you this. Whether you were a RLSH or not and you were walking down the street one night and saw a woman being dragged by her hair kicking and screaming into a dark alley by some thug would not the right thing to do be try to intercede and prevent potential harm to her regardless of whether you were a RLSH or not. At that point it has nothing to do with the costume, being or not being a RLSH - it becomes a matter of saving a life.

    Lastly, for as much garbage as the RLSV talk they are nothing more than gloryhounds themselves who sit on their butts, behind computer screens and doing nothing to help the world around them. At least the RLSH do SOMETHING. I guess it's easier for an RLSV to sit back and make fun of a RLSH on a blog than it is for them to go visit a childrens hospital for kids who are terminally ill and stricken with cancer and offer them a sliver of hope. Do you know that when I confronted an RLSV about this and asked him what he though of a 4 year old child that was stricken with terminal cancer was to him? His description of that child was "pathetic and someone that should not be allowed to contaminate the gene pool." Does that sound like parody to you? I think not.

  2. I suppose it's never occurred to you, Jingles, that when offline, RLSVs set aside their goggles and volcano-heads to support charities and help those around us *without* disguises or aliases or self-promotion to distract from our purpose.

    We've said as much, but you never listened.

  3. Mister Jingles- thank you for commenting. Can I ask- what would consider yourself? RLSH? RLSV? Something else? How did you get involved with all this? Not looking for anything secretive- just generally speaking, so those of us reading can get a sense of who you are.

    --"His description of that child was "pathetic and someone that should not be allowed to contaminate the gene pool." -end quote

    I'm not sure who said that, but I think some internet villains probably say that sort of thing for shock value and/or to joke in bad taste.

    I guess the discussion of "when does a joke cross the line?" is an old one, probably around since the first cavemen made "your mother" jokes.

  4. Hey Tea,
    I would like to correct you on a few things. First off, we prefer the term media slut to media whore. We're not prostituting ourselves for money but for free. Even though I spend my time using my gimmick for fund raisers it’s all to satisfy the fact that I didn't get any attention as a kid. Roach and pretty much everyone else are correct in their diagnosis of what we do.

  5. Wow- you met ROACH members? 8D

    I get that RLSV might do charity work without their evil persona's. If the whole persona thing is such a big issue, perhaps ROACH can make sandwiches with a bit of paper that has it's logo (or just no paper) and hand them out? It can be considered as "brainwashing" or spreading news about ROACH or a pathway to world domination or just spreading delicious evilness. ROACH can still be villainous and do "good deeds". After all the organization is a joke. I'm not saying that offensively. It's on the "About Roach" section on the site.

    Of course- that would mean that you would become the same level as rlsh and just as open to criticism (aren't we all already?). You would be using your persona/group/status to bring attention to your cause (or to just have fun- reasons can differ). Of course, then, what would be the point of being a rlsv? We would be the same as rlsh just with a different feel and attitude. Shouldn't we define rlsv first? Everyone would have a different take on it. It goes around and around. At least in my head. =/

  6. Yeah, ROACH could do that, but... why?

    It's this assumption that if you own costumes, you are obligated to do something charitable while wearing those costumes. As if costumed people are so few, and the needy are so many that it's obvious that the former must be conscripted to bring attention to the latter.

    The superheroes have decided that's their job, and we're not going to compete with them. They've got their own thing going on, while ROACH is a commentary on the life-imitates-art strangeness of the fact that real people are taking cues of comic books and this is so surreal (and awesome) to us that we asked ourselves, "how can we make this even MORE like an comic book?"

    Handing out sandwiches would kind of defeat the purpose.

    Supervillains DON'T hand out sandwiches.

    Supervillains only exist to anger the superheroes and to fail miserably when our carefully laid plans for world domination are foiled by details that even a five-year-old could have pointed out.

    You guys really need to get over this whole "how can we beat the Capes at their own game" thing.

    If you wanna help people by wearing costumes, go get a second secret identity and call yourself a hero.

  7. =A='


    That's more or less what I was saying in the second part.

    "Of course, then, what would be the point of being a rlsv? [if you handed out sandwiches and did "evil works" disguised as good deeds]"

    But you flesh it out better.

  8. Ooooopsie, sorry.

    My sarcasm-meter is going a bit wonky.

    It's weird, though, I heard both sides suggesting (with no hint of irony) that ROACH start handing out sandwiches so as to beat the Capes at their own game.

    The recaptcha for this comment was "tastymore". Brilliant.

  9. B,
    You're sabotaging my plans to have a RLSH v.s. ROACH sandwich making contest.
    It will be a true struggle between good and evil.

  10. I would have to agree with Agent B and slightly with Harbinger. The objective of the RLSV is to be a constant criticizing thorn in the foot of the lion. Although the RLSH feel big and bad and above others, they require the help of the fiel mice to overcome their adversity, without us, they would be roaring around and destroying themselves, and what fun is there if we have no enemies? So we maintain the balance, and give them the thorn to step on in the first place; and pluck it ourselves when they have learned their lessons. Test them and see if they pass. The last thing we need is to have unregulated and unquestioned RLSH running around, which is what we have tried from the beginning.

    That is at least my personal take on it.

  11. I tend to think that this whole idea of "villains are the ones keeping the heroes in line" is really just an excuse for long-winded rants under the guise of "helpful criticism".

    The charity heroes are kept in line by other charity heroes who exert social pressure to keep them on the "nutty but harmless" path.

    The vigilante heroes are a self-correcting problem: you can't be a vigilante if you can't pay the hospital bills.

    To stay true to inspiration, villains have to razz heroes every now and again, but it's preposterous to think that we're somehow policing the community.

  12. I don't honestly expect them to feel policed by us, but yet to leave them completely unquestioned by the public would be irrational. I work for a non-profit, and I personally have my own feelings regarding them. But I think that by offering a constant input from the outside world, the people they feel they are saving, it can only help; I should have a say in what goes on in my neighborhood. A neighborhood watch can be a great thing, but why arent they empowering the people to join them? Why is it simply a solo mission, or a team, why cant they try and work to unite communities actively in neighborhood watch instead of just brooding in some deluded comic imagery. That is my complete and utter reason for existing.

  13. I didn't know that this "how can we beat the superheroes at their own game" commentary existed. Where can I read up on this? (I just like reading everything).

    "They've got their own thing going on, while ROACH is a commentary on the life-imitates-art strangeness of the fact that real people are taking cues of comic books and this is so surreal (and awesome) to us that we asked ourselves, 'how can we make this even MORE like an comic book?'"
    That's sort of how I got pulled into this culture (would you call it a culture? sub-culture?). I saw that news clip of ShadowHare and followed that string until I came up on other rlsh. I thought- why aren't there any super-villains to be the foil for these guys? ...Until I came upon ROACH via io9.
    After some reading I decided not to join ROACH or label myself as a a villain.

  14. Mmmmm... I think Lord Malignance as well as The Potentate have urged fellow villains to figure out ways to scoop the Capes on niceness.

    It's in their respective blog archives.

  15. Ah- Okay. Thank you for the direction.

  16. But if we were going to undermine them like that, then why dont RLSV interested in that aspect do it in the biggest way possible by starting a neighborhood food drive with the community rallied together, or organizing large citizen patrols, work with parents of kids in schools, get them involved. Show the RLSH how insignificant they are, well at least the ones out for strictly a name in the paper or on the news. For example people like Citizen Prime and the Eye, some of the older members of the movement have communities behind them, people working alongside of them, gathering the troops so to speak, and I think that is a good place to start if the RLSH want to be real symbols.

  17. We aren't that's the thing. But that's a good way of going about that if someone wants to "play" it that way.

  18. Tea, as to what I consider myself I would say that the best description would be as a "costumed activist". I am a parent and a father and I am keenly aware of the order of priorities in my life. Along these lines I wish I could participate in RLSH-related activities a bit more but time and economics do not permit this right now. However, I do support the RLSH and have several friends in the community. I do not consider myself a RLSH; at best I am a part-time costumed activist who participates in many activities identical to what the RLSH do. So in a nutshell, this is where I would place myself on the "RLSH meter".

    One of my issues with the RLSV is that they suffer from the same philosophical flaw that they accuse the RLSH of, that being the "holier than thou" attitude. RLSV love to say that the RLSH must think that they are better than everyone else, attributing what alot of RLSH do to the fact that RLSH think they can fix the worlds problems better than most people or think they are morally superior to most others so they have the right to do what they do. I could turn the table on the RLSV with this same argument. What makes the RLSV think they are so morally or ethically superior that they can maintain this chronic infatuation with policing the RLSH? What worth is a tribunal of this sort when the members in it are not morally or ethically superior to the ones they are laying judgment on?

    And amazingly enough I agree with Virus - the RLSH should be given a free pass when it comes to the law or repercussions of their actions if they screw up. However, that's why we have a legal system. It makes sure that if a RLSH is going beyond the boundaries of the respective Good Samaritan or Citizens Arrest laws or laws in general that they are punished.

    And if anyone has read the White Skulls post that he made about "Can a Villain Be Reformed" in that post he specifically says that attempts were made by unidentified RLSVs to prod and coerce him into doing things that brushed very close to actual criminal actions.

    I don't think all RLSV are bad but I've not dealt with enough "good/cool RLSV" to have a positive vibe about them even with their gimmick included. They accuse the RLSH of arrogance but when you look at the RLSV movement and rhetoric you can say the same thing about them as well. Executrix is an RLSV and she uses this to promote alot of charity functions. I think that she is a good example of how the label of an RLSV can be used to promote the well being of others.

  19. Edit on the Virus part - I meant to say the RLSH "should not" be given a free pass.

  20. I think an interesting thing that has come out of this discussion, is that there is more than one approach to what being a "real life supervillain" is all about.
    Just as RLSH have many different approaches, and many do not want to be lumped together with other RLSHs they don't agree with, the same is true with RLSVs.
    Some are more obsessive than others, and some more compatible with others. Is this true?

  21. I think you are correct Tea. Using the example of Executrix I mentioned, she is a RLSV but she is not a hardcore villain and has a wealth of RLSH friends that support her. I've tangled with some soft core RLSV and also with some verbally heinous RLSV as well. I will say this however. It has been MY experience at least that there are more divisions within the RLSH community than there are within the RLSV. Now that might sound negative but in actuality it is not. I think dealing with things with different approaches is a wise thing. If everyone tried to solve a problem with the same method then how would anyone ever learn anything different. Variant ideology leads to innovation and creative thinking - people learn to think "outside the box". In the RLSV community most of them that I have encountered have the same agenda, use the same tactics, and "tow the company line". My problem is that they turn too much of their energy and creative thinking towards negativity and feeding the propaganda machine that they have going when it comes to denouncing the RLSH. Example - a RLSV who will not be named got on the Creature Feature show for the first time and commented on most RLSH being a "bunch of gun carrying dangerous vigilantes patrolling the streets and looking for trouble." This is a blatant lie of course but I am not surprised by an RLSV saying it. So yes I would agree with you Tea. Some RLSV are not really anti- RLSH, some are "anti-RLSH" lite, and others would love to see the RLSH movement smashed like a bug on a car window.

  22. *Gah! Curses internet connection/blogger!
    Eh- write up again.

    I'm not saying that I'm a highly ethical person or anything, but I once took an ethics (philosophy) class and before we even discussed the subject of the week we had to define words so that when we began discussion everyone had a singular idea of the word. No free interpretation. On the first day, we had to define "good" and "evil" so that in the future when we had discussions we could use "good" and "evil", but only in the way the class defined it. (of course, to this day philosophy struggles with defining "good" and "evil", but when people write papers and use those words, they'll define them at the beginning so that readers will understand how they are using/applying those words to prevent confusion). Perhaps that's what the Villains need. A singular-idea definition. A place of reference?

  23. Harbinger, unfortunately the definitions of good and evil will IMHO always be a source of constant debate. However there is no doubt in my mind that there are certain things/acts committed by people that are truly evil just as there are those that are truly good. I've seen people do some amazing (and ridiculous) twists of logic to take something heinous and try to pass it off as not being evil that would make a pretzel envious. In the situation with the RLSH versus the RLSV I've said it before and I'll say it again. Most RLSH do not do what they do for glory, fame, or personal gain which is something the RLSVs accuse them of all the time. Secondly the constant scrutinizing, mockery, and lashing out at the actions of the RLSH by the RLSV imply that the RLSV believe they have the moral and ethical superiority to judge the RLSH. This smacks of pure ego, the same sense of arrogance that the RLSH are accused of. Whether the RLSV want to admit it or not for all their banter about the RLSH methods, media attention, spoken rhetoric, and behavior, the RLSV act and function in many ways that they criticize the RLSH for.

    I don't think even I could appropriately define in words what good and evil are. However, I know what my gut tells me. I trust my instincts when it comes to making a choice to be a better person.

  24. Oh and I consider myself a good person but certainly not a saint. ;)

  25. I don't know any RLSVs personally, but I've seen some of them comment on the RLSH forums (and on this blog). They seem like a mixed bag, just like RLSHs.

    I agree with some of the critiques offered by RLSVs and disagree with others.

    Yes, some of the self-promoting RLSHs are just hungry for attention. And yes, some of the crimefighters are ill-prepared for their work, either in attitude (too brutal), or training (no self-defense), or gear, or all of the above.

    But should we judge the potential of a movement by its worst examples or its best examples?

    Many RLSHs are out there giving food to the homeless, or giving money to charity, or otherwise giving their time and energy to their community. Yes, the whole "superhero" angle can be odd and surreal at times, especially to people who aren't personally drawn to it. But if it's an archetype that inspires both RLSHs and their allies, and it gets attention for the good work that they do, then what's the harm in being a little surreal?

    In my case, it helps that I was already doing community work prior to being a RLSH. People already knew that I had a long-standing commitment to working on environmental and social justice issues, so they took the idea of a RLSH more seriously than they might have if I were new to community work. I think people just see my simple costume and superhero identity as an example of my creativity -- or my oddness, to those who don't get it or don't like it.

    Also, I'd like to point out that I'm not doing any crimefighting patrols at the moment, precisely because of some of the critiques RLSVs have presented. I may do them eventually -- but currently, I don't have the physical fitness, the self-defense training, or the support that I would want before undertaking such work.

    I take crimefighting patrols seriously, as do some of the RLSHs who actually do them. Just because you occasionally come across a few hotheaded individuals who go about it the wrong way doesn't mean that everyone does it that way. The RLSHs who spend any length of time crimefighting generally know (or learn pretty quickly) the difference between "neighborhood watch" and "vigilantism" and choose the former over the latter.

  26. Treesong, the problem is that alot of these RLSVs flat out lie or feed the propaganda machine against the RLSH. The truth is that the majority of RLSH perform patrols in the vein of neighborhood watch and responsibly and not in the method of vigilantism. But the majority of RLSV's would lump all RLSH in the vigilante category because to do otherwise weakens their argument against the continued existence of the RLSH.

    Bottom line is that the RLSVs lost the battle against the RLSH movement even before it started. But most of them will never admit that. They'd rather ignore the overwhelming greater good that most RLSH do and focus/ exploit the microcosm of RLSH that might make a mistake along the way. It reminds me of the Iraqi general who was being interviewed as the US forces closed were closing in and putting a stranglehold on Saddams forces. When asked what about the bombs exploding nearby him as they interviewed him he responded by saying "We have the Americans on the run and they will be defeated swiftly." Then he immediately made a run for it because he knew he was being purposely delusional just to avoid losing face with the Iraqi TV viewers.

    RLSV will never admit their myriad errors/flaws but they are astoundingly adept at trying to point them out in others.

  27. Yeah- of course the definition of good and evil will always be debatable, but before each discussion or blog the blogger/starter ought to define them in his(her) way in order to give the discussion perspective. If someone has a different view, they ought to define their "good" and "evil" before launching a rebuttal (they ought to actually argue within the context/perspective defined, but everyone has their different opinions). All for the sake of arguing within clear perspective.

    ...But I can see how quickly all that would get mucked up. IT's just not applicable.

    And I understand that people will twist something completely out of context.

  28. Sorry to be so late on this, but I'm just ever so jealous that you were able to meet with those folks, Tea. Frankly, it gets lonely being the only (as far as I know) RLSV located in scenic Western Pennsylvania...How I desire to have my compatriots back. Regardless, it's currently impossible to turn back the clock unless Beryllium would care to lend me some of her tech to make reality such endeavors.


    Anywho, I appreciate the kind words, Tea. I'm back for now...Seeking distractions from the humdrum. How could I stay away? After all, the RLSH is of infinite interest.

    For the record, Jingles, although this argument has long died out: I don't believe there was ever a real fight to begin with. I would go as far as to claim that RLSH and RLSV are not at war so much as they are practically on the same side. Many RLSV DO tell outright lies because they don't know enough about the RLSH to establish a difference between fact and fiction. I, for one, am not interested in satirizing or attacking people who do good without attempting to obtain recognition or a pat on the back for their efforts. The deed is what counts, not the man behind the mask. There are some, however, who are arrogant and practically psychotic in their claims. This should be an unacceptable practice and the RLSH should stand for more and for better...Not for low-lives seeking to drag them further down.

    Furthermore, the ultimate goal should be to inspire people to act and destroy apathy. Some people seem to think that the ultimate goal is to get as much attention for ones' self as possible...Or to simply create more RLSH. It's hard enough to get people to attend a charitable event or volunteer somewhere; why exacerbate it with trying to get them to do such a thing in costume?

    I'm getting off-topic and off my point. The point is: Tea, if you have anything you'd like to talk about, I am available for the time being. There may be no villainous bonfire, but there's certainly evil afoot...At least, I would hope so.

  29. Tiny Terror,
    Good to hear from you. I noticed your presence back on the forum and was glad to see your return. I hope you'll come back and comment often.
    Interesting stuff afoot here for May.