Monday, March 1, 2010
Scenes from the last year: On the street in Minneapolis; Inside Joe Rebelo's dojo in New Bedford; Outside the Olympic Tent Village in Vancouver.
A year ago today, I met Watchman for the first time to write about him for Milwaukee magazine and later last March I decided to explore the possibility of a book. After talking to some people, I decided there was enough of a story for a book and that it was a story I wanted to tell.
Since then I've met quite a few RLSH in person:
The Watchman, MoonDragon, Razorhawk, Celtic Viking, Geist, Civitron, Zetaman, Dark Guardian, Recluse, Basilisk, Nyx, Phantom Zero, Zimmer, Amazonia, Scavenger, Runebringer, Life, Cameraman, Sir Steampunk, Knight Owl, Blackbird, Thanatos, Lady Catacomb, Motor-Mouth, Victim, and The Irishman. Also met a few villains on the way (see last entry).
In addition I have done many, many phone and e-mail interviews, not just with approx. 100 RLSHs (or people doing something similar who do not like the RLSH title) but other people I thought might offer insight- other writers, comic book creators, etc.
I thought it would be fitting to post this excerpt from the introduction to my book, in which I describe my meeting with The Watchman one year ago. The Watchman reoccurs throughout the book, and it is through him I get to understand the scene more clearly.
Springtime in Wisconsin shows Mother Nature at her most schizophrenic. A sunny day may suddenly become a rain storm, the rain can turn to sleet, and the sleet can turn into a blizzard. There are strange, terrible weather phenomena like “thunder snow” and freak temperature changes.
It might seem like a good day to head to the beach and a good day to wrap in blankets and drink hot cocoa, all within a few hours.
I cursed my ancestors for settling here on the night of March 1, 2009. It was just after sunset, and a freezing 9 degrees, with a steady, frigid wind. I was pacing back and forth on a path in Gordon Park, your typical neighborhood park. The park lies on the corner of a busy intersection on Milwaukee’s east side, in a neighborhood I call home, Riverwest.
I rubbed my mitten-clad hands together, trying to keep feeling in them. I wondered if the story was really worth getting frostbite for, as the cold bit my face. The park was abandoned and silent. Only two people were crazy enough to be out in that weather, and one of them was me.
The other person might be called crazy for other reasons. I was waiting for my first meeting with someone who dresses as a superhero and patrols the street looking for crime. I forced my frozen hands to reach for my cell phone and stiffly dialed a number I had been provided.
The phone rang once, and a voice said “This is the Watchman.”
“Hi Watchman, yeah, I’m in the park near the playground equipment,” I said, exhaling a frozen cloud of breath. A swing creaked slowly behind me in the wind. The Watchman told me he was pulling into the parking lot.
He rolled up to the park, not in a high tech Batmobile, but a pretty normal looking four-door tan Pontiac. He exited his car and began walking through the empty park toward me,his trenchcoat blowing in the wind. For those first strange moments I felt somewhat unprepared to interview a costumed crime fighter.
I thought to myself, “Oh my god there he is. He’s real, and wearing a costume and walking toward me. Now what do I do?”
He extended a motorcycle-gloved hand to me in greeting. The rest of his costume that night included a simple domino mask, a red hooded sweat shirt with The Watchman logo (a stylized letter W that also resembles the tip of a clock hand) stenciled on it, army boots, and a black trench coat.
I had met my first Real Life Super Hero.