Monday, June 6, 2011




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, 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.


  1. because of the Comments of the blogger Curtis, i passed on this article. so did Zeta, and PZ.

    we were polite, but adamant, that we didnt feel like the story had a fair chance, coming from the same house of SW, even if written by separate journalists.

    i will say, though disappointed, that Keegan was very understanding and professional in replying to us, and even linked us to it when it went live.

    as for some of the quotes, which come off as demeaning to the RLSH community, or appear to make PJ elevating himself over the rest of us, i say this; i wasn't there.

    i would have liked to been present to witness the interview. being in the same region as PJ, we have met several times, and we've talked about the misquoted and slanted angle of certain article about rlsh. creative editing can definitely add a bitter spice to a story.

  2. Keegan was polite, and constrained for space. Trust me, he could have published much much more than would curl local toes.

  3. i find it very disturbing that Mr Hamilton wrote an article, the premise of which was finding verifiable evidence that statements made by Mr Jones are true, yet included claims made by two others presented as fact without holding those claims to the same standard. i'm ever more disturbed that the seattle weekly would publish an article with this double standard so blatantly obvious. this clearly demonstrates an agenda on behalf of the writer and the newspaper. i've followed this story and often hear claims that are not followed up with evidence (see above) and accusations that are presented as fact when they are nothing more then opinion. i've seen political parties state falsehoods over and over until the public believes them to be fact, this could be applied both to statements made condemning Mr Jones and the statements he has made about his activities. i plan to ignore them all relying only on what i see or have corroborating evidence of.

  4. Congratulations to Agent Beryllium for receiving the fair and reasonable coverage of a dissenting opinion. Too often, a fawning media takes the "harmless oddball" approach in packaging these news stories. Heroes SHOULD be held to account for their activites, and their encounters with the laws they break so thoughtlessly.

    Tea, One found out recently there are heroes carrying guns - in costume, on batmanesque patrol, and according to the superhero Superhero, "Plenty do, in states with open carry they wear tactical holsters".

    See the comments here;

    When will someone in the media link so called superheroes like the Black Monday Society and their terrifying masks and costumes and other superheroes who go out on playtime "justice missions" carrying guns? Because basically, despite the Public Pantomime for the cameras, these are basically gangs of masked lawbreakers looking to terrorize innocent citizens (Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law). For specific example: Put a gun in Phoenix Jones's hands, and all his "Hands on Justice" - provoking confrontations with supposed criminals, becomes all the more a concern. Does anyone else see this as too dangerous to be allowed to continue?

    -Lord Malignance
    One had thought heroes had any small shred of common sense. On the one hand you have party clowns like Skiffy surrounded by children, then you have heroes provoking fights with criminals in the same kind of costume (Jones), another carrying lethal force (Superhero), the Handouts (like the former Zetaman), or crazy nutjobs like the Archangels. When a masked man approaches you - who are you going to get?

  5. It's the people behind the man that make his image.

    Even the greatest heroes can be deemed devils by his enemies. If no one supported him, would what he does be more right or more wrong because of it?

  6. No Bar Harbor Batman Is a Asset to the MDI Community. He instills hope and pride in the community, gives children a hero to believe in and gives criminals a bit to think about the next time they are out and causing mayhem. He may not be a billionaire or drive a million dollar bat mobile but he does as much good if not more than any other person in that community. I'm not sure the reasons for other RLSH or what movie they are copycatting but BHBM was around before it, and Will be there Long after the others give up.

  7. I recently visited Bar Harbour and I met Bar Harbour Batman in person. He was as fine an ambassador as any city could hope for. I must also mention, I doubt if any break dancer could match his skills on the dance floor. BHBM is the genuine article. A force for good in their community!

  8. Hey Tea! Great breakdown of the story. My crew and I were there to shoot video for our upcoming doc "Citizen Heroes". I have the whole patrol on tape, and it will be in the final edit. I find Keegans account very inaccurate, as well as insulting to us. We went out of our way to provide Keegan with footage of previous patrols and some other evidence to corroborate Phoenix's claims, and made sure and asked Keegan to at least mention the title of our documentary. Guess what? He dissed us. We gave him great quotes all night and he only uses the sound bite from one of our volunteer production assistants when she complained about having to wait for Phoenix. That's it, and a vague mention about an unnamed movie. That;'s the last time we go out of our way to help the Seattle Weekly. Im more of a The Stranger type of guy anyhow!