While I pondered this month’s blog and our real life hero/ines theme, an episode of the Big Bang Theory played in the background. In that television show, Adam West attended Sheldon Cooper’s birthday party. For those of you who’ve been living in a bunker, hiding behind a cape, or are under 40, Adam West was TV’s first Batman. The DC comic-based crime fighter has always been my favorite superhero (after all, my name is Robin). I’m a bit worried about his upcoming battle with Superman, but that’s a topic for another blog.
Anyway, thinking about superheroes made me wonder if there actually are any real-life caped crusaders. Naturally, I grabbed my “Lasso of Truth” and Googled.
Wham, shazam! There’s a multitude of them. Well, a multitude of wannabees anyway.
The Dark Guardian has patrolled New York streets for nearly 10 years, stopping drug deals and defending the defenseless. He wants to pass on his philosophy to the next generation. How? By opening a school called HERO where he’ll train kids to fight crime, of course. According to GQ, the Dark Guardian’s (a.k.a. Chris Pollack’s) crime-fighting moves include creeping up to drug dealers, shining a flashlight in their eyes and yelling, "This is a drug-free park!"Alrighty, then. Perhaps the waiting list to get in won’t be as long as I originally thought. Still, as I hide behind my laptop, I can’t be critical of someone who urges others to: “Do something good. Don't be a bystander.” Especially if the dude follows through on his commitment to collect supplies for the homeless.
On the opposite coast, there’s San Diego’s Mr. Extreme, real identity unknown. A mild-mannered
security guard by day, our superman puts on
pinhole googles and camouflage at night and fights crime with a taser, pepper
spray, and handcuffs—although I couldn’t actually find any crimes Mr. Extreme
has actually stopped. Even so, I can’t fault his ideals. A former victim, Mr.
Extreme says, “I wanted to do something positive, heroic and also as a way of
protest against indifference in society. People are being victimized, and I
feel that someone has to take a stand.” As part of that stance, he formed the Xtreme
Justice League, and together with RLSH (Real Life Superheroes) he goes on
patrols, participates in outreach efforts to boost volunteerism in his
neighborhood, and looks to make his city a safer place all around. “
Crime fights sans badges are certainly not unique to our little corner of the globe. In Argentina, there’s Menganno, a masked man who sports a color-coordinated Superman-style suit and 33,000 Facebook followers (maybe we authors should consider donning a cape). For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, Menganno translates to Joe Blow. Seriously—it does. Mr. Menganno described himself as "a real, flesh and blood superhero” and insisted his only weapons were a flashlight, pepper spray and a compass but when three petty criminals “allegedly” shot at Menganno’s car as he drove with his wife, (Say what? His wife rode shotgun? Was she masked too?) he opened fire with his Glock. Menganno posted photos of the bullet ridden car but according to the responding policeman, all shots all came from inside Menganno’s car. The subsequent arrest of our superhero resulted in his unmasking. He’s Oscar Lefosse, 43, a former police officer with an expired gun license.
In Canada, there’s the Crimson Canuck. Seriously, folks, I’m not making that up. Our RLSH was originally a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, but retired because he got into “far too much due to his outspoken and political nature. Go figure. Not sure what he actually does, but he has teamed up with the Rogues Gallery Comics (the store accepts donations on his behalf).
Are these folks superheroes, or should they leave crime fighting to the professionals? Whatever your stance, I’m sure we all agree these self-proclaimed RLSH are doing something. In this age of “standing on the sidelines,” isn’t that something?