COVER STORY SCRUTINIZES PHOENIX JONES
SUPERHERO LAWSUIT REVEALED AS BATTLE OF SEATTLE CONTINUES
AUTHOR TEA KRULOS OFFERS RANDOM NOTES
This is not usually the style I write things on this blog. Oh well.
Oh boy, where to begin with this one? At the beginning, I suppose. Keegan Hamilton is a writer who has penned a front page expose on Rain City Superhero Movement founder Phoenix Jones for the Seattle Weekly, titled "The (Alleged) Adventures of Phoenix Jones." Mr. Jones has sustained a presence in the media since November.
A few months ago, Keegan gave me a call and we spent an hour or more discussing the interesting world of Real Life Superheroes (RLSH). He used part of this conversation to help explain the secret history of this movement, citing 70's consumer rights/ quality of life costumed activist Captain Sticky as an example. I was quoted fairly and given a fair amount ink and Heroes in the Night was mentioned. I can't complain about that.
"What kind of person dresses up like a superhero? Long before Hollywood unleashed Kick-Ass and Super—two movies released within the past year about real people who don capes and masks—Tea Krulos was asking himself that very same question."
See, that's a good quote.
The article makes another attempt to get the Phoenix Jones origin story straight-
"Then, the next night, while at a club celebrating a friend's birthday, a fight broke out between two of Jones' friends and a larger group of men. Running to his car to retrieve his cell phone—Jones says he never keeps it in his pocket because he doesn't want to risk damaging it when he break-dances—Jones, a cage fighter in his spare time, impulsively threw on the mask and chased down the fight's instigator."
This I can understand- I never have my cell on me while breakdancing, either.
The article then goes into two common bones of contention with Mr. Jones- no evidence of received injuries- a shooting, a stabbing, a swat with a baseball bat, etc. Jones claims these injuries were treated by a private doctor who "won't agree to an interview for fear of losing his medical license."
And also, the lack of a paper trail/ evidence in several of Mr. Jones' crime fighting adventures (that is why the word "Alleged" is in parenthesis in the article title, you see)- they document several calls to the police, a couple that led to arrests, some that didn't.
I don't know though- just because there isn't evidence it happened, does that make it a non-event? I once literally bumped into Joey Ramone in Saint Mark's Place. I have no evidence of this, but it did happen.
Still, Jones has many claims that are confused with alternate accounts of the same event, and logic defying claims that would go over better with something solid to go with it.
Yes, Phoenix Jones has traffic violations. And he's had financial problems.
You know why stuff like that gets reported? People love seeing dirty laundry.
Eventually this leads to what may perhaps be the Dumbest RLSH Story Ever Told. I've known of it for quite some time but never reported on it because, uh...how do I put this....words escaped me.
Basically an internet argument began to rage between Mr. Jones and fellow Seattle superhero Mr. Raven Blade. This was hashed out on Facebook and on Mr. Raven Blade's blog.
It was very similar to the time Batman started an internet flame war with the Green Arrow. Oh wait, that never happened.
Eventually, Mr. Raven Blade says he received threats from Mr. Jones via phone and internet. The two have not met in person. Mr. Raven Blade filed for a restraining order, which was granted, barring Mr. Jones from being within 500 feet of Mr. Raven Blade.
Call me old fashioned, but I've had guys threaten to beat the (expletive) out of me in person, and I've just shrugged it off. Why? Because guys say stupid stuff they don't really mean when they're pissed off.
The article says "a photographer" distracted Jones while a crime went on down the block. I think you mean to say "our photographer."
After finding out the photo session (which could be substituted for any number of reasons he would have missed the crime- he had to pee, he turned left instead of right, etc.) has caused him to miss the crime, here's what happened next-
After getting a description of the alleged attacker, Jones heads back to the corner where the fight occurred. His plan, he says, is to wield "the Phoenix Cam" — a silver Flip pocket camcorder—and confront the assailant, provoking another altercation.
"I'm going to have to take a hit for the team," he says. "I'll get the guy to punch me in the face and we can press assault charges."
"Are you aware of the concept of blocking?" asks Ghost.
"Yeah," says Jones. "But then it's not assault, it's only attempted assault."
He was going to block, Ghost. With his face. But seriously- I don't think this strategy is a good long term solution for capturing criminals.
The article ends with this quote-
"Sure other superheroes don't like me," he says. "Why? Because they suck at their jobs . . . Tonight we literally didn't stop any crime. But we did definitely talk to some drug dealers, we picked up a girl who fell and hit her face on the ground, and we talked to a bunch of different people in Seattle who may now report crime because they talked to us. That's still 100 times better than every other superhero."
That does sound really bad. My friend summed it up with one word- "hubris." It is also ridiculous since Jones isn't omnipresent- he doesn't know all the RLSH out there (even I don't) and what they are up to. For all we know there are RLSH quietly cleaning up and not publicizing it.
This article was thoroughly researched (in addition to the main article, you can find links of related content at the article to video and police reports) and the longest article on Jones to date, but I think the bias from the Seattle Weekly is pretty noticeable from the get go. It seems like they were sitting around the office, perhaps drinking the excellent coffee Seattle is famous for and decided they were going to bag Phoenix Jones before they even wrote word one.
Indeed, one of the SW's bloggers have been after Jones like a hip J. Jonah Jameson for some time. Blogger Curtis Cartier has cranked the snark to 11 in three posts lambasting Jones. The blog posts and the article are unrelated, but they are under the same roof- the Seattle Weekly.
Mostly I think there is a point that the article only briefly touches on. Yes, Jones has some issues with some RLSH. Yes, some writers don't like him, or can prove there is a lack of evidence. But if Jones is so lame-o, why does he have thousands and thousands of Facebook friends cheering him on, creating fan art work, and defending him when people insult him?
I myself am friends with Phoenix Jones and every time I swing by his page it is loaded with people giving him encouraging words. From what I hear, his reception on the street is pretty enthusiastic, too.
I remember in winter I posted something about the Bar Harbor Batman. I thought he was just a dude goofing around in a Batman costume (and might still think he is)- I was surprised that quite a few people from Bar Harbor took time to leave comments defending the caped crusader, saying that seeing him out on the street made them feel better.
Ultimately, I think that is who decides if you are a hero- your constituency, the people you interact with. Not your internets.