Panique au Zoo; Une Enquête de Poulpe et Castor Burma, by Frédéric Bagères (story), Marie Voyelle (art), Jerôme Alvarez (colors) – Book Review by Fred Patten
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Panique au Zoo; Une Enquête de Poulpe et Castor Burma, by Frédéric Bagères (story), Marie Voyelle (art), Jerôme Alvarez (colors).
Paris, Éditions Delcourt, June 2018, trade paperback, €23,95 (187 [+ 5] pages), Kindle €16,99.
Fred Patten and Lex Nakashima strike again!
“Built in 1740, at the far northern end of the isle, the Canon Zoo is the oldest and greatest zoo in the world. Founded in the XVI century by the monk Sylvestre Marie, it is today managed exclusively by its occupants.
“Aimed at an instructive goal, it offers its visitors, through its presentation of natural habitats, the chance to see how they have lived, over the centuries to the present, “animals in a state of nature”.” The sign is defaced with a graffiti-scrawl saying, “Obey!”
The first pages, a general meeting in the director’s office (a tapir), establish that things are different today. (Also that the dialogue is full of French puns and double-entendres.) Something is causing some of the animals to mutate into forms that are embarrassing at best, potentially fatal at worst. The director has hired two private detectives, Octopus and Beaver Burma, to find the reason and stop it.
“Eight months ago, some employees began showing the first symptoms. I think the otters were the first.”
“What do you mean?”
“They became covered with spines.”
“If you like. They’re incapable today of running their stand in the zoo.”
“What are they selling?”
“Next it was the turn of those that your colleague would call the ‘polar urchins’, who are living today in the canteen’s freezer.”
“Then the ‘cat-pony’ that we put into the Asian animal enclosure.”
“And the ‘oyster-constrictor’ who spends his days trying to swallow the ‘rat-engale’ trying to find its voice.”
“The affair took a nasty turn when we found the “serpent-pie-thon’ dead, of self-asphyxiation. The animals began to get scared.”
Octopus and Beaver Burma start questioning the animals in the zoo. Did the otter-pines notice anything different at the time they began growing needles? Yeah, it was right when Maurice, the oldest animal in the zoo – a dodo – retired.
Do you have any idea what’s caused these changes?
Pollution! Nuclear radiation! Allergies! Satellites! Picon beer? [a popular French beer] The ozone layer? Egyptian water! [one of the ten Biblical Egyptian plagues] Progress! Wi-Fi! Extraterrestrials! Graffitti? Black magic? The OGM? [Genetically Modified food] My Aunt Hortense! God?
“What’s next on the list?”
“Two species quarantined because their metamorphoses has ostracized them. They’re in the vivariums: the anacondoctopus and the pengoctopus.”
“Will you stop with the stupid species names?”
“I make no promises.”
The pengoctopus guesses that the zoo is built over a haunted bison grave, while the anacondoctopus is sure it’s a plot of the veterinarians, one of whom (“A charming man.”) is named Doctor Moreau.
Well, this is only up to page 25. Have a good time in the remaining 162 pages seeing all the animal combinations, figuring out who the villain is, and the motivation for the plot. I’m not a fan of Voyelle’s artwork, but Bagères’s story is very funny.
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Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
A Peculiar School, by J. Schlenker.
Olive Hill. KY, Binka Publishing, September 2018, trade paperback, $11.95 (326 [+ 2] pages). Kindle $4.99.
“Miss Ethel Peacock strutted and proudly displayed her plumage as she paced around the waiting room of Mr. Densworth Lion. She had come unannounced, but she was so excited about the idea she had received in a dream, that she dared not lose any momentum. She could have called ahead, but what if he refused to see her? No, she decided not to risk it.” (p. 3)
This is an animal fantasy, but not a furry one. The peacock plumage is on the male, but hey, this is a fantasy. Besides, Jerri Schlenker knows that.
“‘A peacock? A peacock, you say? What is a peacock doing here?’ Mr. Densworth Lion asked his secretary, in disbelief.
‘Technically, she’s a peahen. Her husband is a peacock. That is, if she has a husband. I don’t think she does as she introduced herself as ‘Miss’. But together: they would be peafowl,’ his secretary [a lioness] corrected.
Mr. Densworth Lion uttered a slight roar of impatience.
‘She’s a teacher at the aviary,’ his secretary added.” (pgs. 3-4)
This is at Cub Academy, run by principal Mr. Densworth Lion, in a nature preserve. The animals are civilized; Mr. Lion wears eyeglasses and sits at a desk with papers and a candy jar upon it.
But not too civilized. Or, not into the 21st century:
“‘What I propose. Mr. Densworth Lion, is that we use your school as a model – a model for a bigger school, a university of sorts, one that houses all animals.’
‘All animals?” he roared. ‘We teach cubs here – lion cubs. Such a proposal is ludicrous.’” (p. 11)
Mr. Lion will not even listen to Miss Peacock’s proposal for a school in which all animals are treated equally. Well, maybe not the animals domesticated by humans, like dogs and cats. They’re different:
“The dog barked for a good solid hour almost every night. What was he trying to say? Since dogs had taken up with humans, their language had become garbled and unrecognizable. It was obvious the humans didn’t understand them either as every night the human came out on the porch and yelled something to the dog in the scrambled tongue of humans.” (p. 13)
The human is a zookeeper, of a zoo at the edge of a forest in which the Cub Academy is located. The next day after her turndown by the lion principal, Miss Peacock – or Ethel, if we may be informal – is visited by her friend, Miss Luce Pigeon. Ethel tells Luce more of her dream of an animal school than she had the chance to tell Mr. Densworth Lion; perhaps luckily, because peacocks come from India, and Ethel’s dream of an animal school was vaguely Hindu led by an enlightened Yuga.
“‘Such a school would certainly be an enlightened thing.’ Ethel sighed. ‘Maybe I’m just a silly old peahen. Me. Densworth Lion said it was not in an animal’s nature to get along, in fact, quite the opposite.’
‘He’s wrong there.’ Luce said, reaching for another macaroon.
‘I would truly like to believe that is so. Do you really think so, Luce?’
‘I don’t think so, I know so,’ Luce said with a satisfied smirk.
‘I don’t understand. What do you mean? How do you know so?’ Ethel asked with a puzzled look on her face.
‘There is a whole group of animals, different ones, living and working together where I live in the city – some old, some young – a badger, a tiger, a hyena, and an orangutan.’
Ethel sat motionless for a full moment, not believing her own ears. These were the animals she saw staring down at her from the moon. Truly this was a sign, but erring on the side of caution, she asked, ‘Is this gossip, hearsay, some wild fantasy, something perhaps made up during a drunken spree with the bongo player?’” (p. 31)
Luce explains that the animals (also a polar bear) are escapees from the city’s zoo who are hiding out together in the tunnels under the city. They have been forced to cooperate to survive, but are miserable. Ethel is sure that this group is meant to become the nucleus of her dream school – if she can get the flighty Luce to introduce her to the filthy, sullen animals, if she can clean them enough and encourage them into enthusiasm for her school, if she can present them to Mr. Densworth Lion as a symbol of success, if, if, if…
I’m unsure if A Peculiar School is supposed to be a comedy or an exercise in frustration. Or both. Everything that can go wrong does, but Ethel perseveres. There are also Unexpected Surprises.
The reader has to ignore how much the animals are not living close to nature, and how blind the humans are to not be aware of them. Here Ethel decides to bring a present to the hiding animals (she comes from a Hindi culture where you always bring a small present when you go visiting):
“‘I don’t know what I have they would like. We will have to make a stop. We will take a little side trip to Squirrelly Emporium. It’s on the way. Well, nearly on the way.’
‘The squirrels have an emporium?’ her friend asked.
‘That’s what they call it. It’s not as big as the shops in the city, but it winds in so many different directions. They have been squirreling away various trinkets for years. They have a rather large inventory.’
‘An inventory of what?’ Luce asked.
‘Oh, of this and that. Mostly that. Things discarded by humans, a lot of arts and crafts, a lot of things made from nut shells. Believe me, you can find about anything there. Things you would never expect to find.’” (p. 40)
In the emporium, they hear of an owl that is trying to translate Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from English into Animal, but is stymied by “Some new language he is not used to humans using.” (p. 45) Comedy plus frustration.
The cover of A Peculiar School is by the author; an exercise in Photoshop of animal photographs, two taken by Chris Schenkler, the author’s husband, at the Cincinnati Zoo. The book has the air of a family project. Sometimes it seems overly cute; Schenkler has a fondness for alliterative names for her minor characters: Mr. Sebastian Squirrel, Mr. Oliver Owl, Mr. Filbert Fox, Ms. Rhonda Rabbit, Mr. Ronald Raccoon, Mrs. Betsy Bear. On the whole, though, it is an enjoyable read; good for all ages. Recommended.
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Civilized Beasts Volume III, Editor-in-Chief Laura Govednik, Editor Vincent Corbeau – Book Review by Fred Patten
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Civilized Beasts volume III, editor-in-chief Laura Govednik, editor Vincent Corbeau.
Manvil, TX, Weasel Press, September 2018, trade paperback, $8.00 ([vii +] 109 pages).
Here is the third annual volume of animal poetry from Weasel Press. It contains 98 pages of poetry, of mostly one page or less. Several authors have two or more poems. There are far fewer familiar furry fan names this year than there was last year; other than the editors, I recognized only Michael H. Payne. There are five poems by Larry D. Thomas, the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate.
Civilized Beasts is popularly advertised as an anthology of furry poetry, but it is almost all about realistic animals or the wonders of nature. Many authors have written poetic portraits of their own dogs, cats, horses, or goldfish. To be fair, it’s hard to write a work of furry fiction of one page.
There are some rhymes and a lot of blank verse. The cleverest poem graphically is the one chosen to end the volume: “Telltale” by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal. It’s in the shape of a wagging tail.
Civilized Beasts volume III (cover again by Darkomi) is another charity for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “All proceeds from this anthology go towards the Wildlife Conservation Society.”
Full disclosure: I have five poems in this.
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Distressing news has come out about a furry-organized travel service, which appears to be in trouble with some big financial obligations at the moment. The fur is flying, and not in a good way.
FurFlight bundles furries together for group air travel from highly-active fandom regions to highly-attended conventions, most notably from Seattle and San Francisco to Midwest FurFest. The idea is to improve the boring parts and the endpoint arrangements. It happened successfully in 2017. (As far as I know, no fellow travelers complained about fur allergy flareups or the plane smelling like a zoo – score for fandom image!)
FurFlight isn’t affiliated with Midwest FurFest. One of the con staffers told me about previously advising people not to buy in because of no accountability for an independent operation. Trusting other fans comes with risks known to anyone who’s been burned by bad art commissions.
Mike Folf is the organizer and principal of Canis Vulpes LLC, FurFlight’s corporation registered in 2018. Nobody else appears on the paperwork (although I’ve seen references to unnamed other team members or execs.) Mike goes to my local events and I’ve liked knowing him as a friendly furry guy. (I have no business relationship with the service). I’ve also seen many good recommendations and social media posts about the trips. So I was happy to host Mike on the site as “community access” so he could promote it:
Now that a problem has reared its fluffy head, I’m guessing that the September timing may have involved pressure to increase signups and income. That unfortunately synchs with a LiveJournal post by Aloha Wolf made on October 24.
If you entrusted FurFlight with your money and your tickets, you need to know that you’re likely going to need new travel plans.https://t.co/lbxb8iRhnt— Aloha (@alohawolf) October 25, 2018
Aloha Wolf reports that shortly after the Dogpatch article went out, Mike told him there was an imminent travel booking deadline with Alaska Air, and difficulty with the bank limiting a payment over $10,000. On October 9, Aloha Wolf was convinced to advance a credit card payment of over $35,000 to cover costs. Making the deadline would keep FurFlight on track to honor obligations to paying users (113 of them).
One can see the pressure that led Aloha Wolf to help in an emergency – and the trap he got into if FurFlight’s finances can’t match promises to repay the credit. On October 20, repayment from Canis Vulpes LLC to Aloha Wolf bounced, leaving him holding a major debt, at least for now.
A trusted tipper and FurFlight user sent me a chat log showing the events. Mike admitted to misleading about repayment ability, so he could secure the $35,000 in credit – which I can’t read as anything but criminal fraud. (Edit: I’m saying this to clarify rumors, but not sharing the doc because I would say it’s up to others to decide how to resolve it.) The tipper also gave further info about loan requests that supported a desperate lack of funds.
Fiduciary Misfeasance is my guess, which is different from fraud. It can best be described as "robbing Peter to pay Paul." Although the allegation they induced someone to pay on a credit card with a promise to reimburse when there was no ability...that's fraud if true.— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) October 25, 2018
There’s more info about how things went downhill. According to Aloha Wolf, his casual review of records showed insubstantial budget or accounting, and flights were being sold at a loss. He judged the company planning as unsustainable if things can’t turn around. Commenters judged the prices as “too good to be true“.
Where did FurFlight’s income go? According to the chat log, company setup included costs of thousands for Twitter marketing, costs for Mike Folf to visit places being marketed to, and GSuite software. There was merchandise planned to earn funds but production time extended into 2019.
Flights were being sold for 2019 to cover 2018 costs – which social media observers compared to a Ponzi scheme. That synchs with FurFlight’s October appeals for more signups for new service to new conventions:
Ahoy mateys! While you eagerly await to set your anchor in @FurryWeekendAtl this weekend, come set sail with us on our lovely furry-filled airships? https://t.co/u4M94ZrOmY #FurFlightATL pic.twitter.com/0sBV10aDly— FurFlight (@CVFurFlight) October 18, 2018 October 16, 2018
The more I read, the more it makes me think there was months of time where Mike Folf knew and didn’t address a looming problem before what looks like using false pretenses to buy more time. I wish I’d known this before promoting FurFlight.
There were some people with closer involvement who saw this coming. I don’t know if there’s more to know about why Aloha Wolf was convinced to pay so much, but Asic Fox corroborates being misled to cover $5000 in FurFlight costs. (Most of that debt is paid down, but he claims it was caused by malfeasance.)October 25, 2018
Scaleup problems are often a dramatic way that apparently successful ventures derail (remember Fyre Fest, where fraud just got prison time for its organizer?) Luckily, this didn’t hit hundreds of travelers en route, perhaps leaving them high and dry – just two creditors, so far.
It doesn’t help that the personal @MikeFolf Twitter account was just deleted. However, I haven’t directly spoken to Aloha Wolf or Mike Folf about this yet, so this is where things stand. It could be possible for things to turn around – perhaps with additional funding appeals.
Personally, given what I saw Mike Folf admit in the chat log, I can’t see this happening without his position of responsibility going to someone else. He would be very lucky if it ends there. It would be nice to see a formal statement (I’d be happy to host one.)
Time will tell if repayment is made, obligations are honored, and FurFlight’s public problem is smoothed over. Travelers may or may not get what they expect.
Our main event organizer has been out on medical leave for the past 24 hours and communication is slow. We, the rest of the FurFlight team, ask that you please bear with us as we get through this and get FurFlight back on track. We are currently look at all of our options.— FurFlight (@CVFurFlight) October 25, 2018
An article is circulating currently, Has been a lot of goings on but as of now FurFlight is being honored by the airline and we are on-track to deliver. We've hit a speed bump but the team is still making it happen.— FurFlight (@CVFurFlight) October 25, 2018
UPDATE: Boozy Badger has his own take with the bluntest headline ever, about state law of licensing for travel service.
FurPlanet’s Furry Friday: FurryAir – At Least It’s Not Pet-Screwing https://t.co/Y1GLIXwAMn— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) October 26, 2018
UPDATE: a closing message from FurFlight on Telegram. Also I spoke to people close to Mike Folf and would personally suggest sympathy for someone who got in over their head.October 29, 2018
Follow up to Furflight:
As I said on a panel last nigh, I represent a number of small businesses. In my experience, the majority fail not from intentional wrongdoing but from financial mismanagement, ignorance of the requirements, and inexperience.
While by no means good /1
Mechanical Animals: Tales at the Crux of Creatures and Tech, Edited by Selena Chambers and Jason Heller – Book Review by Fred Patten
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Mechanical Animals: Tales at the Crux of Creatures and Tech, edited by Selena Chambers and Jason Heller.
Erie, CO, Hex Publishers, November 2018, trade paperback, $19.99 (417 pages), Kindle $5.99.
This is not a furry book, but an anthology of 22 stories and articles about mechanical animals, including a cyborg. Most of them are about mindless clockwork robots. There are a few that feature self-aware AIs in the form of animals. These are close enough to furries to warrant Mechanical Animals to be reviewed here.
Mike Libby, in his Introduction, talks about being fascinated by mechanical animals from his childhood. “When I was ten I wanted one of those battery-powered motorized dogs you would see outside Radio Shack, that was leashed to its battery-powered remote control, and after a couple of high-pitched barks, would flip backwards, landing perfectly, ready to repeat his mechanical trick.” (p. 9) Jess Nevins, in his 13-page “Mechanical Animals”, summarizes them in literature from Homer in The Iliad to real examples in history (“The German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, aka Regiomontanus (1436-1476), was reliably reported to have constructed a flying mechanical eagle for the Emperor Maximilian in 1470.” – p. 29), to the present.
“Two Bees Dancing” by Tessa Kum is the first story:
“Focus. This pain is old and familiar. It is not important. Focus on what is important.
‘We aren’t going to hurt you.’
It is on the table before you. Small. Antennae relaxed, wings spread, legs locked and unmoving.
‘We need your help.’ (p. 33)
A nameless government drone pilot on permanent disability is kidnapped and forced to fly a reprogrammed bee for criminal purposes. Instead, the reprogramming puts him into mental contact with the HiveAI and into a whole new world.
“Brass Monkey” by Delia Sherman is set in a clockwork late Victorian London. The characters in Jenny Wren’s Doll and Mechanical Emporium are elderly, crippled Mrs. Wren, the shop assistant Miss Edwige, and Mrs. Wren’s adopted daughter Lizzie. “If Mrs. Wren was the heart of the emporium and Miss Edwige its back and legs, then Lizzie was its inventive mind.” (p. 53). When the emporium becomes especially busy at Christmastime, “The door opened and out came Lizzie in her leather apron, her magnifying spectacles pushed into her cloudy hair, and on her shoulder a small capuchin monkey, such as commonly accompany organ-grinders, wearing a little scarlet vest.” (p. 54). The monkey is Annabella, Lizzie’s clockwork invention, made to help sort out the beads and ribbons and coins of the business day. When Annabella proves skilled enough to tell real coins from counterfeits, the three women set out to find the counterfeiter – but it’s Annabella who solves the case.
“The Rebel” by Maurice Broaddus and Sarah Hans takes place in modern America. “Garrika Sharp hunched over a tray of gears, scrounging through pieces like a scattered metal jigsaw puzzle.” (p. 74)
“Her critics dismissed her first forays as steampunk taxidermy. All about recycling and repurposing, she once sourced roadkill for skeletons, combining preserved remains with machinery. Like stuffed pets with bionic parts. Her favorite from back then was a squirrel whose spine had been replaced by a series of gears and winches so that it looked like its vertebrae had unzipped. Its head dangled at an odd angle from a broken neck. Her mother, fearing her a necromancer, waited until Garrika was at one of her treatments, gathered the mechanized corpses, and threw the desecrations away.” (p. 76)
Garrika’s friend Phonse is a street artist whose taggings include rune magic. His magic and the weed she smokes bring her constructs – Eagle, Elephant, Rabbit, Lion, Unicorn, Giraffe, and more – to life.
“Exhibitionist” by Lauren Beukes, a story about an art gallery featuring a meat art exhibit, is the first story that’s not furry at all. It’s good; it’s just not furry.
The protagonist in “Stray Frog” by Jesse Bullington is Schiller, a truant officer of the future. He’s also the villain, a doped-up sadist who uses his pipa to over-narcotize (to death?) the prep-schoolers that he thinks may be playing hooky from school. His pipa gun is the mechanical animal here:
“‘There, there,’ Schuller murmured to his pipa, the veiny grip pulsing in his palm as he dipped the fingers of his free hand into its slimy holster, smearing it with hydrating ichor. The weapon croaked its appreciation. He made sure to work the goo into the freshly emptied divots in its back, and applied a far lighter touch to the live pockets that were still bulging with narcotic eggs. His little shootout with these thugs had used up half his ammunition. He’d have to feed it as soon as he got back to his desk to make sure it laid new rounds before their next shift.” (pgs. 113-114)
There is much more detail on just what a pipa is. It’s not intelligent, so this isn’t a furry story, but it is fascinating.
In “The Hard Spot in the Glacier” by An Owomoyela, Ayo is part of a research expedition on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. She is looking for Parker, another explorer who may have been injured in a moonquake, when a series of quakes endangers her and her mechanical centipede. She must decide whether to continue the search for Parker, or give him up for lost and return to base. The centipedes are programmed to offer balanced advice, but Ayo thinks that her centipede sounds scared. Is it, or is she reading her own emotions and desires into its speech?
“‘What do I do?’ she muttered, mostly to herself.
She was surprised when the centipede answered.
((I don’t like this. I think we should go home.))
Irrationally – because she’d had the same thought, after all – Ayo felt a surge of anger. She was out here, and she wasn’t complaining. What right did this idiot piece of equipment have?
But it wasn’t programmed to complain. It was programmed to make a threat assessment and deliver it in an emotionally-relatable way.” (pgs. 127-128)
“Every Single Wonderful Detail” by Stephen Graham Jones begins: “Because he knew he wasn’t going to be there for her teenage years, Grace’s dad built a German Shepherd to be there in his stead.” Grace’s dad, dying of cancer, builds the best German Shepherd he could to guard Grace. But sometimes a teen girl doesn’t want a big dog who can be counted upon to get between her and the boys who ask her out; who is more efficient at that than any live dog.
“The Nightingale” by Hans Christian Andersen is the first classic reprint, from 1843. The Emperor of China is delighted by the singing of the dowdy nightingale until a clever inventor makes a clockwork bird that can sing just as prettily and is made of gold and jewels besides. But the clockwork bird breaks down, which the real nightingale doesn’t. This is the first story in which the mechanical animal is clearly inferior to the natural animal. Also, the real nightingale converses with the Emperor, making this an undeniably furry story.
It’s unclear whether “Le Cygne Baiseur” by Molly Tanzer is an Adult erotic story or a horror story. Emily is the moderator of a museum film program on “Erotic Parodies” showing a seldom-seen Le Cygne Baiseur, based on the legend of Leda and the Swan. In it, “Mr. Hubert, the celebrated toymaker”, makes a mechanical swan that ravishes a maiden. The museum also has on display the prop model of the mechanical swan with an erect human phallus that was used in the old film. At night when everyone is gone, the mechanical swan comes to life and ravishes Emily. Or is it Zeus inhabiting the mechanical swan?
“Among the Water Buffaloes, a Tiger’s Steps” by Aliette de Bodard is set in the far future, when:
“After the sun goes down, the girls huddle together in the remnants of a house by the sea – every screen, every scrap of metal since long scavenged to keep their own bodies going – and tell each other stories. Of animals, and plants, and of the world before and after the Catastrophe. Thuy is outrageously good at this. Her sight allows her to read the other girls’ microscopic cues from heartbeat to temperature of skin, and adapt her tales of spirits and ghosts for maximum effects. Ngoc He stutters, barely hiding the tremors in her hands – nerve-wires that broke down and that she hasn’t yet scavenged replacements for – but she has the largest range of tales of any of them. Ai Hong speaks almost absent-mindedly, playing with those few crab-bots that aren’t frightened by so much light and noise – they skitter away when she puts down her hand, and draw back again when she frowns in thought, trying to recall a particular plot point.” (p. 190)
The story follows Kim Trang, a repair construct (or the distant descendant of a repair construct), as she brings a “tiger” into their midst; the girl Mei who may destroy them all. The mechanical animals are the girls themselves, who have raided this post-Catastrophe society for metal parts and electronics to keep themselves alive. I consider the story less interesting than its background.
“The Twin Dragons of Sentimentality and Didacticism” by Nick Mamatas has a colorful view of the near future:
“Things had changed. First had come mechanimals: robotic elephants, and safaris that allowed tourists to hunt them down and keep them wound via the gigantic if purely decorative keys on their backs. As the animals died off, they were replaced, but not in the order in which the ecosystem was collapsing. The big ones were rolled out first, like cars used to be. Tigers and orangutans and wildebeests and great golden bears, those last beloved of Silicon Valley. Every seven-year-old scion of a techie family rode one to school. The bulletproof golden bears could eat rampage shooters, it was believed, though this feature was never widely tested in the field.
Only later came microdrones in the shape of perfect dragonflies and hummingbirds, then deer ticks. […]” (pgs. 214-215) Sorry, but this goes on and on and on. It’s a really stunning description of how society is changed, but it’s not at all furry.
“The Artist of the Beautiful” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1844) is the next reprint. Peter Hovenden, a retired master watchmaker, becomes jealous about the secret project that his young successor and former apprentice Owen Warland is working on. Warland, “the Artist of the Beautiful”, becomes despondent that he will never make anything more delicate and intricate than Hovenden has. Warland gets the idea of trying to infuse a spirit into machinery. This story being in Mechanical Animals, you can guess that he succeeds. What happens then?
There are eight more stories. Two are excerpts from 19th-century novels; Electric Bob’s Big Black Ostrich: or, Lost on the Desert by Robert T. Toombs (1893), and The Steam House; Chapter V: The Iron Giant by Jules Verne (1880). Both feature huge clockwork marvels, the Ostrich and an Elephant. “The Clockwork Penguin Dreamed of Stars” by Caroline Yoachim is definitely furry; its main character is Gwin, one of the penguins abandoned on Earth when mankind emigrated to the stars:
“It was one of those rare nights when the smog thinned out enough for stars to be visible in the sky above the penguin enclosure. Gwin adjusted her synthetic feathers with her beak, arranging them neatly and plucking out any that were broken or bent. She didn’t want to groom, but her programming said it was preening time, so she had no choice.
Gwin was a dreamer. The other animals judged this to be a flaw, but she saw nothing wrong with snapping at fish that were beyond the reach of her beak. She was tired of being confined, tired of the constant noise of the automated educational recordings, tired of acting out the same routines day in and day out.” (pgs. 361-362)
“Closer to the Sky” by Carrie Vaughn is a traditional Western, except that Copper, one of the horses, is a cyborg:
“Now, instead of flesh and blood for legs this singular cowpony had steel and pistons, rubber tendons, and brass flywheels, slicked with oil and faster than bees’ wings. He had interchangeable shoes: broad plates for sand, spikes for ice, rubberized points like a billy goat’s hooves, and regular polished-for-parades horse’s feet. Mostly, though, this cowpony could now run fast. And he still loved his girl. (You can tell a horse loves his girl by the way he rests his nose on her shoulder, whuffing softly, like he has come home. You can tell a girl loves her pony by the way her arms exactly fit around his head when he lowers it to greet her.” (pgs. 380-381)
Mechanical Animals (cover by Aaron Lovett) isn’t a furry anthology, but it doesn’t pretend to be. These are stories of automata built to exhibit biomimicry. It’s close enough to furry fiction that you should enjoy it.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Moons of Barsk, by Lawrence M. Schoen.
NYC, A Tom Doherty Associates Book/Tor Books, August 2018, hardcover, $26.99 (430 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $13.99.
This is the sequel to Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, reviewed here in 2016. Barsk has such an unusual and unique plot that you should really read it before The Moons of Barsk. Both have interstellar settings and are set in the far future when humanity is extinct and has been replaced by the descendants of uplifted animals.
You also need to read Barsk first because there is no synopsis here. The opening paragraph is:
“Amidst torrents of rain and blasts of lightning, Ryne stepped from his boat onto the shore of the last island, the place where his life ended. The mental beacon that had guided him across the open water faded away. Clarity replaced certainty, composed of equal parts confusion and anger. Flapping his ears against the downpour he muttered a phrase heard by his students at least once a tenday for the past six decades. ‘The math is all wrong!’” (p. 11)
But Chapter One is titled “Nothing But Lies”. Pizlo, Jorl, and Ryne are Fant, elephant-men of the planet Barsk, looking like a human with an elephant’s head; great flapping ears and a trunk. That’s not why Fant is reviled as abominations throughout the galaxy, though. Of the eighty-seven races (species) of the Galactic Alliance, the Fant are the only ones who are not furred. The Yaks, the Prairie Dogs, the Giant Anteaters, the Hares, the Sloths; all the others have respectable pelts. Only the Fant, divided into Elephs (uplifted Asian elephants) and Lox (African elephants), are disgustingly nude, with wrinkly gray, hairless skin, plus those giant flapping ears and the huge mobile nose.
The Fant are not only known for their hairlessness, though. Barsk is the only planet where the wonder drug koph can be found. Koph enables rare individuals who take it to access the nefshons of the dead and to become Speakers to the dead. “He could see nefshons; the subatomic particles of memory and personality would come at his call. If he summoned enough of them that had belonged to a dead person he could even talk to them.” (p. 22) Barsk is partially about some Fant, and the attempts of some individuals of the other races of the Alliance (notably Nonyx-Captain Selishta, a Cheetah) to get more koph.
Barsk focuses upon a few individual Fant on their planet, and a few members of the Alliance, notably Selista the Cheetah and Lirlowil the Otter, a Speaker, who are especially dependent upon koph. The Moons of Barsk is about Barsk’s relationship with the rest of the Alliance, focusing on why the Alliance wants to destroy Barsk.
Although The Moons of Barsk tells the adventures of the Fant Jorl and Pizlo (and his lover Rina), and to a lesser extent Ryne, the novel is most fascinating for its description of the society of Barsk:
“Most women’s homes in Keslo [“an island located near the northeastern portion of the western archipelago. It is home to Jorl ben Tral.” – (p. 426)] were enormous and tended to get bigger as generations of women and children branched and expanded. Rooms were added, porches enclosed, neighboring dwellings annexed and connected by inventive and oddly constructed temporary hallways that acquired permanence and extensions of their own. Back yards became internal patios, became parlors, became bedrooms and kitchens and even bathrooms depending on need and whim and available materials. This was the pattern in every Civilized Wood throughout both archipelagos, expansion and adaptation rather than contraction.” (p. 55)
It also presents more background. The Fant used to be spread throughout the Alliance. Eight hundred years earlier, Alliance politics resulted in all the Fant being relocated to Barsk.
What are The Moons of Barsk about?
“The portion of the firstborn generation of Barsk that established the Caudex based their entire existence on a single core belief: the Alliance wanted every last Eleph and Lox – every man, woman, and child – dead and gone. They believed the bureaucracy responsible for transporting all the galaxy’s Fant to Barsk had only enacted the beginning of a plan, putting them all in one spot to facilitate their eventual annihilation. Margda’s Compact had forged a truce of sorts, but it was at best a stopgap; it bought some time for the Fant, but not safety. The Caudex resolved to use that time to best advantage, to develop plans to ensure they survived at any cost.
Sometimes the Alliance’s contempt for anything and everything touched by Eleph or Lox worked to the advantage of the Fant. Eight hundred years earlier, when the first waves of resettlement had begun – before the tone of the relocation had grown darker – among the many ships ferrying Fant to their new home on Barsk were commercial spacecraft owned and operated by Fant concerns on Marbalarma and Kensington, Venango and Slon, Dramblys and Passyunk. In the rush to be done with the unwanted Fant, these vessels slipped off the grid, ostensibly kept in active service to transport latecomers, which went on for most of a decade. When the planet’s pharmaceutical treasure trove opened, these same ships provided some support for building Barsk’s space elevator and orbiting satellite. But then, under the guise of ‘business as usual,’ various agents of the new forming Caudex purchased every Fant ship and began hiding them throughout the system, powering down all nonessential energies and limiting personnel to the barest of crews. Alliance licensing databases showed all of them as decommissioned, sold to other concerns, or crashed on the surface of one of the moons of Barsk and destroyed.” (pgs. 66-67)
Since the Alliance maintains the pretense of representing all the races of the galaxy, it has to allow a token representative of the Fant. This is Senator Jorl ben Tral, “who can speak with the dead, navigates galactic politics as Barsk’s unwelcome representative, and digs even deeper into the past than ever before to discover new truths of his own.” (blurb) Pizlo, a Fant teenager, seems especially ostracized; he is an albino, considered an abomination by the other Fant who are considered abominations themselves by the rest of the galaxy. But Pizlo’s physical and mental uniqueness makes him able to “hear” voices from the moons of Barsk. He investigates …
The Moons of Barsk (cover by Victo Ngai) would be helped by more background from Barsk, but the reader is quickly swept up by the story. Be aware that there is at least one more novel to come.
– Fred Patten
Here’s a sequel to Fursuit photography from the urban jungle: Goku’s Furban Exploration.
Years ago in the Rust Belt, my friend liked exploring decommissioned grain silos and factories of the area. He took me to climb an eight story brewery that closed in the 1980’s. The entrance was a hole in a fence and the inside was covered in spraycan murals, making an unauthorized art gallery. (Hey furry artists, if you’ve done such work, show me!) The stairs were dismantled for the first few floors. Could we climb up on the conveyer belt that used to scoop grain? No, but there was a fire escape with most of the steps still hanging on. Most. The upper floors had stories-tall fermenting vats and a movie worthy view. It made quite an impression to see the afterlife of a place that wasn’t supposed to have one. The place was gone soon afterwards, with a demolition party where people on the street watched it come down. It was an experience to remember.
Creativity in fursuiting gets boosted when you stage it in exciting locations. And for going bonkers with intense photography, street art and abandoned architecture are a class of their own. That’s why I loved the improbable idea of combining both. I put out a call to see if anyone was doing it, and Goku rose to the occasion. He sent in a new update. I love his work so much I’d love to meet him and help some day – and there will be more stories from him! (- Patch)
This story comes with a gallery of 40 photos, see the complete collection here. Photo credit: @seikoliz and @rclatter. Follow Goku: @KasigFuchsGoku
Good Afternoon Patch,
Here’s the latest installment of my Furban Exploration endeavors- I was hoping to have photos from my visit to the abandoned tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but the photographer is taking his time processing them. In meantime, I have photos from inner city Baltimore. Then there’s a venture to Fort Armistead, a former Confederate fort turned into a public park in Glen Burnie, MD that has unfortunately fallen into disrepair. (I’ll make another trip to the fort with others in the near future since I was really amazed with the graffiti, catacombs, and feral cat haven nestled in the structure).
Late in September, I made a venture across to Maryland with my boyfriend to see two good friends of mine- Seiko and Clatterbuck. We have been friends for a few years- usually when Anthrocon would come around, we always found each other for a drink or a meal and a photoshoot. Seiko loved the angst from my fursona, so whenever we were at a con together, he always shared his expertise to accentuate my gruff fursonality. For urban exploration, Seiko was more than willing to share sites in his own backyard. Chatting about the abandoned tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he was telling me about “graffiti alley”, an open canvas for talented graffiti artists that was part of an art display in Baltimore. Clatterbuck, a dear friend if mine and Seiko that helps with making superb photos, joined in.
My beau Danny and I arrived shortly before noon in Baltimore- a city I had always driven through, but never actually stopped for anything. The area where we would rendezvous with our photographers was bleak to say the least; a lot of business storefronts have not been open for a while. The only bustling businesses were one supermarket, a check cashing place, and a Dunkin’ Donuts that was way past its heyday. We met as I was parking my car, had a couple of cups of coffee, and I donned my fursuit on a main street and began to walk towards the gallery.
It was invigorating to get all types of attention as I did all sorts of poses in this small alley. I had artists at the gallery, one drug dealer, a couple of junkies, and a mother with her infant children all stop to ask questions (everything from if I was part of the exhibit, to if I was an undercover officer, to how much I was being paid to walk around in a costume… you name it). The alley was a great experience even though it was small.
We continued wandering the avenues of Baltimore to see if there was anything else. It led to laying on the walls, crawling on the sidewalk, and climbing into dumpsters (I have no fear, bleach and OxyClean work wonders on a white fursuit). Seeing what this area was like years ago was a high I needed to enjoy myself.
After 90 minutes I got back in street clothes while we discussed supper plans. We decided to drive to Fort Armistead, then get some good mid-Atlantic seafood. We drove for about 20 minutes away from Baltimore to Glen Burnie, into an area full of dingoes, boats, and vessels of all sizes.
We left our cars in a lot and took a short hike up a muddy trail to the fort, and just gazed at the graffiti, trying to get shots in as sunlight peered through the clouds. We had a few odd encounters- first were some burnout hippies living out of a late model Toyota RAV4. They were stoned, and they couldn’t believe a fox was walking around as they were listening to dubstep mixed with the Grateful Dead, with tall boys of Natty Ice in their hands. Then we came across some motorcyclists that looked like they were doing Initial D cosplay (or some similar anime), posing like I was in fursuit, with their crotch rockets and full gear.
I had to tread carefully as I walked around the fort- there were open holes that went a couple of stories deep (and I was all too eager to try and push my luck). Finally, as we circled back from our starting point near the hippies, we saw a small colony of feral cats living in this fort. The hippies stopped us, warning us that the cats weren’t the friendliest, so we just admired from a distance, and before the rain came, we packed our bags and went to supper.
The fish and chips were delicious, and I got to play every reincarnation of the Pac-Man franchise from 1980-1987. If I wasn’t so exhausted, I was tempted to ask the restaurant owners if they wouldn’t mind me suiting up for a few rounds with Ms. Pac-Man.
Still just super thrilled to see the work going anywhere visible! Too often projects like this float under the radar, I appreciate that you appreciate it!— Seiko (@SeikoLiz) October 22, 2018
Investigation continues – October 2018
Last month, furry fandom took a very dark turn. Zoosadism leaks: possibly the worst story to ever hit fandom was a mere introduction to the exposure of hidden networks for abuse and even snuff porn of animals.
The impact of it kicked up murky clouds of misinformation. After the shock, there was the usual speculation that comes with lesser dramas that usually die out in a week or two. There was smokescreening to hide evil that shocked even the most shady corners of the internet. There was rubbernecking, shit-stirring, evidence-tainting, and penny-chasing for views. And beneath it all was natural confusion. The ongoing story still defies explanation after a month, but on the good side, there’s significant work behind the scenes. That should have been done from the start to avoid a botched mess. Most of that work is for future updates. This update is mostly about public awareness.
One thing needs saying up front: you can definitely judge before a court does. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal standard to constrain government, not common sense about the evidence. There’s different standards between criminal court, civil court and society. (For example you don’t get a trial about fitness for employment, election, or safety with kids or animals.) Remember names like Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, or OJ Simpson, and let a lawyer explain:
"Guilty" and "Innocent" are both legal terms and terms with common meanings outside of the law.
In the legal aspect they require proof beyond a reasonable doubt and a determination of guilt from a trier of fact.
In the common usage, they do not. /1
It’s not just about Kero, but apologism for Kero is the most obvious obstacle to progress.
If you followed so far and understand the evidence, then the name Kero may fill you with disgust and rage. Kero is a Youtuber exposed as a secret animal abuse fetishist, whose complicity got outsized notice due to his 100,000+ subscribers.
Kero had opportunity to own up or shut up. He didn’t. In the most self-serving way, he responded with cherrypicked and inconsistent denials, to brush this under the rug and keep his following, manipulate them to shield him, and even capitalize on notoriety built on puppy killing. I’ve never labeled anything obscene in my life, but making money from this is nothing less than obscene. Of course the info wasn’t leaked to target Kero and there’s a roster of worse offenders to account for. But his failure to at least relieve everyone from apologist bullshit makes him a poster guy for what’s wrong.
Kero dug a bottomless pit for himself, and the rest of fandom is on the edge. If you thought it was bad already, you haven’t seen anything yet.
This is the last word on the "is it real" nontroversy of the zoosadist ring that wormed into this community. @MythicalRedFox you deserve huge respect for this. If you see anyone post #istandwithkero just link this, it's over. And give that fox a follow.https://t.co/hHcKugGD7v— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 29, 2018
The coming challenges, what to trust, and the cost of lying:
The original article laid out the challenges: to learn the size and shape of the network, who was complicit but not inside, who did content sharing but not creation, who was directly responsible for uploading toxic files, and who committed crimes.
Higher powers than fandom are working on that now. I’m lucky to see exclusive info that’s only for their eyes. However it’s still a fandom story. Investigation is relying on a few good furries, and their work will continue when this is done. Laws don’t have absolute power to handle the extent of it. That’s obvious in the way animal cruelty content is more-or-less legal to possess (which is how networks for it wormed in to fandom).
What’s coming out is more than one network or kind of activity, but many that overlap. It starts with fetish content where sharers may consider themselves harmless, but they’ll have to disentangle themselves from those who aren’t (blame the offenders for that.) That overlaps with convicted sex offenders, multiple open crime cases, and even clues about unsolved crimes only known by a trail of victims. There’s drug trafficking, some of it used to sedate animals before doing abuse. Besides animals, this involves children. At least there’s little sign of power corruption so far, besides abusers just seeking thrills behind anonymity.
Finding the truth is the goal. Readers should beware of sources with agendas (including just trashing furries shotgun-style for fun). Beware of cooked up Pizzagate-style conspiracy theories, dismissal with the words “drama” or “mobs”, or debates in favor of Kero. (The benefit of the doubt died when he lied.) I won’t favor anyone and don’t care about personal cost like losing friends for sharing the truth.
If you watch horror movies for Halloween, could you stand seeing it for real? I was warned about the evidence: “There’s a picture in there I’d call ‘Mortal Kombat Finishing Move'”. It’s almost funny except this isn’t a movie or a game. It also isn’t about science, euthanization, hunting or butchering for meat, or only a frozen photo. It’s about the experience of sadistic fun with crying, struggle and brutal annhilation of a weaker being that could be a family member if it had the chance. A photo of that looks like animal remains, but it means more. It stands for the killing of good faith in a community based on believing and trusting that members love one thing so strongly, they even see each other being the animal. If someone does that to an animal, they’re morally doing it to you.
If people settle for apathy and lies about this, that’s how the fandom will die for real. At least the part that lets this go and accepts complicity.
Cons need to revoke membership. Builders of their suits need to disavow them. Other YouTubers need to pull collabs and use their platforms to say, hey this is not okay to do, this isn't what we are.
But they won't.
A deeper look at how this came out – Kero lied about it, and then a video of his abused dog came out.
As above videos covered, the evidence wasn’t leaked by furry-haters. Kero wasn’t the target. It’s logistically unrealistic to have faked the huge volume of chat logs. Messages from Kero match his user ID on the Telegram server (which can’t be hacked or edited on local devices in HTML or screenshots). They had unique photos found nowhere else. And multiple sources close to the story indicate that accounts weren’t hacked with messages faked, they were just exported.
There’s independent confirmation. I received a screen of text messages with the mother of chat user Levi Simmons/”SnakeThing” from the texter. They knew SnakeThing granted access to his account where existing messages were exported from. The login was given to fellow chat member EliteKnight, and gained from him by the leaker. EliteKnight posted an apology and admitted his involvement was real.
[Zoosadism leak] aren't you tired of it? Blame those who are lying to cover up.
Further confirmation there is no "hacking" or faking from one of those responsible. https://t.co/0gkhjnqdfJ
No you DON'T get to say "oops, spent years sharing puppy torture, fresh start". pic.twitter.com/F4Boe4nAKg
Another source comes from my chat with a partner of another group member, who tacitly authenticates their involvement by excusing it as a setup to get police involved. And an independent zoophile group admin confirmed they knew Kero was involved for a long time.
Now look again at a video from Kothorix about his interview with Kero and the actual interview log, where Kero switches course with multiple lies. He pretends he never spoke to SnakeThing but then admits he did. He says he was hacked but admits he misled his entire fanbase and gave them an active sessions screenshot he found on the web. He claims he only liked feral art (which was only 3 images) instead of hundreds of necro/zoo/abuse images that were shared.
Then Kero says “I have never harmed an animal or had sex with one.” A video of his dog being molested is held by investigators, with stills released for proof.
I have been given the video with Koda and there are some things I want to show.— Okapi (@Okapi_Fan) October 14, 2018
September 30, 2018
It's hilarious because Kero keeps changing the story over and over again like dude! Just accept the fact that you got caught for being a zoophile!— Sliat (@yourfluffyfoxy) October 15, 2018
After all this, why is Kero trying to come back? And why is he making MORE MONEY than before?
You might be amazed to hear this. I found a conversation by the furry fandom fringe of alt-furries, that gives a pretty consistent opinion of what’s going on. (Let’s avoid asking if there will ever be such self-awareness about that source itself…)
Even a broken clock is right twice a day:
Kero’s Patreon lost users over two weeks following the original leaks. (I’m told that reaching 100,000 Youtube subscribers is about the minimal level where someone might go full-time as a video maker. He only recently hit that level, and likely depends on the income).
Then the money went up. He appears to be making private videos just for his Patrons. Is there any better example for selling your soul?
Everyone might be sick of hearing about the ring of zoosadists but stay aware that there were many not just one in the spotlight. Complicit members may want to get excused in time because awareness died down. They want it to get memory holed.
2 weeks ago vs now: pic.twitter.com/o6HSmLaR9P
@kerothewolf is making more money on Patreon now than before it came out that he was complicit in a ring of animal abusers who murdered puppies for fun. There's a video of his dog circulating. It needs attention that won't go away. That's how to make sure it can't happen again. https://t.co/to3ZnYrT19— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 15, 2018
Kero’s current Patrons
A Patreon supporter list was pulled from the unlisted video: “How to become a meme” that Kero made in the weeks after the Zoosadism leaks.
Below are some accounts matched to these names. Some may not be up to date with what’s going on. People who want to help can contact them with reasonable questions. Link this update and ask, do they support complicity with animal abuse, and could they please consider helping to fix this problem?
- Vanguard Skylar – @SkylarGrayJedi (http://archive.is/A8sBm http://archive.is/EgrDr, appears at the start of “Mini Con Weekend!”)
- xTheBladerx – @Dragoon120 (http://archive.is/BT90N)
- @zhenfur_ (Active on Instagram and YouTube as “zhenfur”)
- @ZephythePango (http://archive.is/V4DGF http://archive.is/e9gXv)
- @TylerFurlong86 (http://archive.is/A6G8g http://archive.is/zLi3d, appeared at the start of “How to become a meme”)
- Omega Iakona – @sorenjas000? (Inactive for Years)
- The funny wolf Lockhere – @Lockhere_ (http://archive.is/UeafA)
- @Meepsalot69 / @meepsfw
- Battercake Folfsky – @theBattercake (http://archive.is/TVrbe http://archive.is/oL4D3)
- @AddEFurry (http://archive.is/P3RKF)
- @blugufox (http://archive.is/CWttD)
- @WolfBrightwater (http://archive.is/9rn3d http://archive.is/HdPQW)
- Drakon-Winterheart – @DWinterheart (http://archive.is/l5D1O)
- FireTheFox – @FireTheFoxxo (Appears at the start of “BLFC 2018! The ultimate con experience!”)
- Gunmaster461 – @gunmaster46 (http://archive.is/1vnpc)
- Ivan Wolfgang – @WolfGangTheGrea (http://archive.is/9rn3d)
- TheK9dog – @theK9dog? (Inactive for Years)
- Kian Wolf Kiggles – @KigglesTheCusky?
- Phoenix.of.ice – @Phoenixofice1? (Protected account)
- Seanie Sweetfang – @SSweetfang (http://archive.is/YbnDi http://archive.is/XzVuA)
- Skittles Fox – @TheSkittlesFox?
- Tatanka Winterheart – @TWinterheart (http://archive.is/S1Bv1 http://archive.is/zEfaP)
- Tech Coyote – @Techcoyote529 (http://archive.is/Y3Nng http://archive.is/mi4GS)
- TheFoxGuardian – @GuardianTheFox? (http://archive.is/9bGpQ)
- @Kittsuera (http://archive.is/DqRJX http://archive.is/uMQz3)
- Theofilus the Folf – @_Theofilus_ (http://archive.is/hNV6E http://archive.is/n3UaO, appears at the start of “Can you be Straight?!” )
- Xeoth DaggerFox – @MChukovich (http://archive.is/ujSeY http://archive.is/Ry9yA)
- @masterkennyg (http://archive.is/Xlbzr)
More: TragicCat? ZombyWoof Mischief? Brian Murphy? DynasRa? Viktor Lozano? Nathan Camatter Adams? Christopher Cole Wuff? Casandra Wagner? Shayne Coddington? Storm the Wolf? TheVeganWerewolf? Parker Sawyer Alan? GraymuzzleWolfpaw? Cilo Fox? Cupid Fley? GoldHusky? GIBSON THE FOX? Greyson? Nobody Important? Ratchet? Biofox? Aureus Jackal? Rob B ModjaFur? Lilly Justice Fox?
Q&A with investigation team “Furvengers” about Kero’s complicity – how bad did it get?
In-progress investigation indicates that Levi Simmons/SnakeThing began forming Telegram chat groups to gather users of Animals Dark Paradise. ADP is “a hidden forum where violent and perverted people upload videos in which they rape, torture and kill animals for their sexual pleasure.” I think this was a darkweb site needing a TOR connection for access.
Reddit has a post about ADP discussing why other networks may have been wanted – perhaps to evade surveillance. But more likely it was so ADP users could meet to create new animal abuse content, consistent with videos found in the leaks. One of those relationships happened with a big user of ADP, Illone, who became Kero’s boyfriend before his death by heroin. Illone was posthumously renamed “Colwyn Collie” (a name with no history), probably so Kero could cover up his ADP history.
Levi/SnakeThing was a main connection for Telegram groups he made for this including “BBB” (Beasty Beast Beasts). It looks like Kero was a lower-level member, but aware, complicit, and concealing it while coming in from other groups. The BBB chat logs may be exclusive evidence (I’m unsure if they leaked.) I asked an investigator to supply and explain screenshots of Kero’s activity. This isn’t easy because evidence is still being traced, and the source of leaks appears to have sorted evidence to focus on some users that omits others.
Kero’s timeframe in the BBB group appears between December 2016 to 1st of February 2017. Then from 11th of February to 14th of February.
1) This screen is meant to show Kero is looking at rape content? Is there proof he knows it’s more than RP in this screen?
Date: 18th of December, 2016. This image was meant to show Kero’s earliest known joining of the group. This join was shortly after the group was nuked, thus it’s not certain whether Kero was in the group before this date. I’ve provided other files below that shows that Kero knew the others were inflicting pain, and not merely roleplaying.
2) Feb 11, 2017 – Kero is asking to be back in to the chat with rough stuff and necro. It looks like the second screen confirms he did join immediately. When did he leave?New evidence I found shows him leaving on the 14th of February, since rejoining on the 11th.
3) Crazyotter is forwarding in messages made prior to January 2018, do those show Kero is trying to win his confidence to talk about rough animal abuse, and SnakeThing is confirming he used to be in BBB and is trusted as a fellow zoosadist? Does this help bracket the time he was in the group?
These logs were from the 13th of January 2018, the same date as the forwarded messages. It falls outside the time Kero was in the group, as far as I’m aware. My original timebracket is supported by SnakeThing referring to him as an ‘old member.’
4) Is this only showing Kero knows SnakeThing is admin of the BBB chat, or something more? Kero doesn’t know what BBB means in here… does this show groups were nuked or reformed in multiple versions for same users?
Date: 17th of July, 2017. This was to show more that SnakeThing was the admin of BBB than Kero’s involvement. I think Kero doesn’t know BBB here because the group was never referenced by the acronym ‘BBB’ between Snake and Kero prior.
5) When Kero says he is “a little broken,” that’s about the death of Illone right? It shows Kero associating with people he knows are zoosadists? Why does he say no Z talk… perhaps he’s separating his regular account from it but he knows what they do and is keeping quiet?
Date: 23rd of July, 2018. This conversation was related to Illone’s death. This is meant to show that Kero and Illone knew other zoosadists in the group, eg ‘CrazyOtter’. I think the ‘No Z content’ is a combination of Kero’s security concern, and his emotional state at the time.
6) Does this show Kero has access to SnakeThings video he made of raping a drugged puppy, making it bleed and breaking its teeth? Is there proof Kero received it?
Date: 18th of March, 2017. This was meant to show the form of content shared on BBB. This was posted outside of Kero’s known timeframe within BBB.
7) This shows that RLC = Real Life Cub, AKA child pornography. Is there any proof Kero received this?
These messages fall outside Kero’s timeframe, and there’s nothing to show that he knew about the CP distribution. The timeframe, as well as his reactions to the content, shows he knew damn well about the zoosadist content shared.
8) These additional screens are included to show that Kero knew the others were inflicting pain, and not merely roleplaying. It looks like Kero was a lower-level member, but aware, complicit, and concealing this while leaving the group.
The disgrace of complicity, and what a healthy fandom does.
Watch for updates on happenings with this story outside of fandom. At some point that will end, but the question of what kind of fandom you want won’t.
Fandom is like a sandbox where you build it to be like you want. Furries build a community that brings amazing benefits to members and collects millions for charities. They’re good people, except when a few aren’t. Creativity has no limits here. Of course it’s hard to limit bad things too. When they’re uncovered, it can be like drawing a line on the beach. Apathy washes it away and the sands of forgetfulness cover up what was exposed.
There’s an ocean of difference between loving cartoon animal art, and doing cruelty to animals. If one says “well I only watched someone else’s, but that wasn’t mine”, it’s still generating demand. “Guilt by association” is only unfair to people who aren’t conscious about it. Complicity is the word for people who are. There’s no innocence for joining or supporting networks for abuse.
The abusers in this story were a tiny group that wanted to stay hidden. Transparency depends on refusing to accept excuses, giving no benefit of the doubt when it isn’t deserved, drawing a line and making it stick.
When someone has credible accusations of B and was complicit in C, you don't get to handwave their behavior as merely A.
That is disingenuous and harmful.
Kero is complicit. He denies it and even capitalizes on the attention. Paying him is part of the problem. If it continues, fandom will be a platform where abusers use it freely and even prosper. Progress depends on ending dishonesty.
74 of Kero’s Patrons haven’t understood the news yet. Give them a helping paw.
TAKE ACTION – please share this story to anyone who stands with complicity in animal abuse.
UPDATE:October 26, 2018
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Passage series.
Rites of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2016, trade paperback, $11.00 (viii + 257 pages), Kindle $1.99.
City of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2017, trade paperback, $12.00 (v + 277 pages), Kindle $2.99.
Voices of Passage, by John J. Sanders.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $14.00 (vii + 326 pages), Kindle $3.99.
The Passage trilogy is set on Earth in the far future when humanity is turning much of it over to evolved AIs and new anthropomorphic animal clans that live like the pre-industrial native Americans.
Rites of Passage begins with the Otokononeko, the clans of the evolved lions and house cats living in the Great Sequoia Forests of West Coast North America. There are several offhand references to the humans, in San Francisco, Fresno, and other West Coast North American cities, but they are mostly offstage (at first).
“She dreamed of the dancing, songs sung, and stories told around the large fire. Dohi Aleutsi told a hilarious story about a young human male whose flying car was eaten by a Giant Sequoia tree. Her father and mother had undoubtedly heard the story before. Her father at one point in the story remarked that the car was still in the tree.” (p. 68)
The opening focus is upon Kaniko of the Otokononeko’s Anitsiskwa clan. The novel relates – or bogs down, for those who are not interested in such detail – the culture of the feline civilization in the Great Sequoia Forests. There are seven clans; the Anitsiskwa, Aniwaya, Anigilahi, Anikawi, Aniwodi, Anisahoni, and Anigalogewi. The symbol of the Anitsiskwa is bird claws; that of the Anikawi is antler-adorned leather vests; and so on. Kaniko’s parents and brothers are described, and the Otokononeko game of Stick and Rabbit is both described and played. It is around page 43 before the plot starts moving. Yet the first 42 pages are not boring. They are well-written and present the feline native civilization and characters’ personalities in great detail.
“She heard his crow calls and stopped her movement to listen to the forest. Jamel called two more times and silence. Her third-born brother, Domic, was much more patient and quiet. He was the kind of cat that would lie in wait for you to walk by before he’d pounce on you. She felt the summer breeze sweep through the trees and the tops swayed making the light in the forest dance. Still she waited for the slightest sound of movement. When she left her first-born brother on the ground, she had moved a little tangent to the point where she had heard his last call. She knew he had already moved, and she predicted he would move toward the inner parts of the arena. There the trees thinned until they opened up completely to form a loose circle around a small glade. Domic had long legs and could move faster when the trees were farther apart. They both knew this, and she knew he needed to get between him and the thinning trees,” (pgs. 18-19)
Kaniko, an Anitsiskwa adolescent (lioness), and her brothers Jamel and Domic are about to undergo their separate Rites of Passage to become Otokononeko adults. Just before the Rites, Kaniko meets Mathias, a wolf-humanoid. The felines have never seen a wolf before. Mathias has been injured in escaping whatever has captured him and his people, and the injury has given him amnesia. The Anitsiskwa decide that Kaniko’s Rite of Passage should be to go, with Mathias and with her two brothers, to find out who or what has “painfully” captured all the wolves and release them. Tomiroc and Sharri, two Otokononeko cousins from the Anikawi clan, join them.
They ask at the humans’ Institute of Synthetic Research in Fresno:
“His [Doctor Quinn] smile came back, and he asked, ‘So what can I do for you, do you need enhancements or modifications?’
A little surprised, Kaniko answered and gestured to Mathias. ‘No. We were hoping you could help us locate our friend’s origins. He has no memory of where he came from, only his name. There are no others like him near our home. His arrival is a mystery, and we thought, Fresno being the closest city, to start our search here.’
He looked at Mathias and back at the lioness that stood in front of him. He asked, ‘Hybrid or gene mod?’
Kaniko shrugged, ‘I… We don’t know. My parents and Mother Lacey thought he might be like us, a new species.’” (p. 124)
They learn that Mathias is a mod-human, a human-modified into a humanoid wolf at the genetic level – so he will breed true. That is an incredibly expensive process, and something that there should be a record of – unless it’s been deliberately hidden:
“Kaniko asked, ‘Why would anyone do this?’
Doctor Quinn answered, ‘That is the million credit question here. There are several fractured pieces of broken links in his DNA. They shouldn’t cause any problems, but it suggests that whatever was being done to him was not completed.’ He looked at the wolf and asked, ‘You’re incredibly strong, aren’t you?’
‘I think Mathias was purpose built.’
With her eyebrow whiskers raised, she asked, ‘For what?’
He took on a disturbed look and said, ‘It is spoken in some darker circles that the age-old practice of pitting animal against animal for amusement and gambling has taken on a whole new level of animal cruelty. It is reflective of what Lynn Leakey discovered in her own city more than fifteen years ago.’
Kaniko’s eyes widened, ‘You mean forcing children to fight in an arena?’
He nodded.” (p. 147)
Okay, that’s a major spoiler – that these three books aren’t about rescuing a clan of wolves, but about finding who has made a single wolf morph against his will. But that has to be revealed, or this review of the rest of Passages and all of City and Voices is going to be misleading. Also, Kaniko has taken this opportunity to ask Doctor Quinn if she and Mathias are compatible; if their children would be a blend of feline and lupine, or if they would be sterile. Now it looks like their children could be anything from feline and lupine to feline and human.
This takes the plot to about halfway through Rites of Passage. There are the conclusion of Rites, and all of City and Voices to go. There are plenty more surprises in the story. The three Passage novels (covers by Leanne Roach) are a fast-paced, ever-changing drama, with far more characters than the five Otokononeko and the one Ōkaminingen who set out to find Mathias’ origins.
If you visit San Francisco and you like subcultural stuff, try DNA Lounge. They’re an anchor for night life that supports unusually cool shows.
It’s Sunday night and I just got back from being on stage there with Rachel Lark. She invited me because I answered her need for a furry in her music video. Rachel’s show was advertised with stuff like “sex-positive, musical theatre, stand up comedy, politically charged rock”, and that’s not even mentioning the circus performers suspended in mid air! For the low effort of jumping around and wagging my tail, I left with an invite to be in Bawdy Storytelling, another wild happening. I love when furries get welcomed like this, and it shows how much potential there is for fandom to mingle with other crowds.
Furries vs. goths, and furries vs. drag queens are among previous DNA Lounge shows covered here. A lot of credit for a thriving scene is due to DJ Neonbunny, founder of Frolic Party, whose activity brings recognition well outside of fandom. But since furries started flocking to Frolic in 2010, Northern California has been heating up with other crews starting new events too.
Midekai, Buster, Mr. Disk0, and Cosmo Coyote are some of the crew who talked to me about Bass Totem, their furry-led crossover with local rave events. The upcoming one is part of the monthly So Stoked party:
On October 26, Bass Totem is hosting a stage at DNA Lounge. Fursuiting encouraged, bring those positive vibes. <3 Our first Bass Totem took place in Sacramento CA, back in March 2018. It was a fursuit friendly rave party, was 18+ and smack dab in the middle of downtown Sac. We have a lovely recap video from Chatah Spots.
More about Cosmo’s organizing:
Cosmo Coyote has been a staple in the Electronic music scene in Nor Cal since 2013 – having done the opposite of what most fur DJs do. Instead of playing cons, he established connections through the nightlife industry in Nor Cal and threw events for the ravers in the area, showing that what you wear doesn’t matter as much as who you are. He persisted by getting opportunities to play under known electronic music artists such as Lumberjvck, Trollphace, Billy Kenny, Will Clarke, Taiki Nulight, Christopher Lawrence, J Phlip, DJ Dan, and Dubloadz, to name a few. Bass Totem was started for the furry community to bring a fresh element to events. As many fur events are club oriented or just centered on cons, he strives to bring furries and ravers together as communities and show there is nothing to be afraid of.
I asked @mr_disk0: What’s cool about this party? What’s it like partnering with So Stoked, and what do you think of the furry scene in Nor Cal?
This party offers a unique sound coming from artists all across the West Coast, and we showcase different DJ’s every year to keep building on that vibe. We’re blown away that So Stoked gave us this opportunity to team up with them. The furry scene here on NorCal has seen quite a jump in popularity, and we love the way it’s growing. We aim to have fun and create something magical for people to remember for years to come.
All the party details:
Bass Totem is SO STOKED to host the upstairs furr stage at DNA Lounge. This is a collaboration with PLUR Alliance, who will host the main stage downstairs.
DNA Lounge is the winner of over 60 “best of awards” featuring two stages, four dance floors, seven bars and a full-service late-night restaurant.
We are providing a suit lounge to change, and cool off in between shaking your tail. We have safe bin storage available to suiters.
The Bass Totem stage boasts hundreds of dynamic LEDs custom built to morph this venue into a vibrant one of a kind light show!
Get your $15 presale tickets under the SO STOKED event page at:
FB event page:
Join Midekai’s event chat:
Doors at 7pm, Bass Totem stage 9pm – 3am
$25 at the door
Full bar for 21+
–Main Stage hosted by So Stoked!–
Eatbrain Tour ft. Jade, State of Mind, & MC Dino
Be sure to invite your furriends!
More photos from their first event in March – credit to Chatah Spots:
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Do you want something different in choosing a furry persona? Are the usual anthropomorphic wolves, foxes, cats, otters, and bears too overused in your opinion, ever with bright neon fur or wings or horns? Even dragons and unicorns are too common in furrydom for you?
There are still a number of exotic fantasy animals that you can choose among that are almost or completely ignored in furrydom. Frankly, some of these are probably unused because they look so ungainly, or are too impractical to exist. Others look too much like other animals. But they’re real in the lists of mythical animals. Some are more prevalent in heraldic art.
This is on the coat-of-arms of the municipality of Inari, Finland, in far northern Lapland. The village is on the shore of Lake Inari, the largest lake in Lapland. It is known for its salmon and trout fishing. Lapland is known for its reindeer. A salmon plus a reindeer’s antlers give us this image.
This would probably be more suitable for badge art than for a fursuit. There are not any salmon in furrydom, with or without antlers.
The chakat, a 24th-century alien feline centauroid, is the creation of Melbourne furry fan Bernard Doove. He has written several novels set in the Chakat Universe, with covers by furry artists that illustrate the four-legged cattaurs. There are also foxtaurs, skunktaurs, and others, originally created artificially but now (in the 24th-century) breeding naturally. Doove has given another fan, James R. Jordan, permission to write chakat stories. There are no chakat fursuits, but Doove’s fursona is Chakat Goldfur.
Presumably Doove, who is active in Oz fandom and usually comes to America every year for Anthrocon, will give other fans if asked to use his chakats. This is another fursona that is more practical in fan art than in fursuits. (Are there any taur fursuits?)
Wikipedia says of this heraldic animal, “The Enfield has the head of a fox, forelegs like an eagle’s talons, the chest of a greyhound , the body of a lion, and the hindquarters of a wolf.” An enfield fursuit would probably look like a badly-designed griffin with a fox’s head. Those who have used the enfield in heraldic art have shown no agreement upon color; the enfield has been shown in scarlet, green, blue, or golden.
This half-lion, half-fish may be the best-known of these, because it is a popular symbol of Singapore. It is the official mascot of Singapore, and was in fact created by Alec Fraser-Bruner for the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964. Although the merlion may look ungainly, there have been merlion characters in anime and video games, and there are merlion mascot costumes in Singapore.
Our thanks to MikasiWolf, a native of Singapore, for sending us these images. (Is the merlion being cruelly used in circuses?)
The merlion is also the mascot of Svirstroy, Russia, on the Svir river; shown on its city flag.
The tikbalang is a Philippine mythological demon based upon the horse. It has been depicted as everything from a horse-headed and –hoofed man to a demonic, fanged, fire-breathing black horse. It is probably based on the first-seen horses brought to the Philippines by the Spanish in the 16th century. It is a popular monster in Filipino comic books.
The yale is a little-used heraldic animal, like the enfield. Wikipedia describes it as looking antelope- or goat-like, with exaggerated tusks like a boar or saber-toothed tiger, and large horns that it can rotate or swivel in any direction. The yale was first described by Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.), and may be based upon the ibex.
Probably the real-life markhor, the national animal of Pakistan, was too far into the East (it’s the Himalayan equivalent of the Rocky Mountains’ Big-Horned Ram) to have been an influence for the yale when it was created in Pliny the Elder’s day. Hey, there aren’t any markhors in furrydom! (Fursuits are uncomfortable enough without wearing those huge, twisty horns. But there are a few fursuits with majestic horns.)
Last month (September 2018), BBC News announced that a wild tur had escaped from an English zoo and was loose in the western English countryside (“the English Riveria”). People were warned not to get close to it, and to let the police capture it. Except it was not called a tur, doubtlessly because the English public would not know what a tur was. It was a “goat-antelope”.
And speaking of Pakistan, have you seen its Urdu-language TV cartoon masked heroine who fights crime in a burka, Burka Avenger? A burka is about as efficient a crime-fighting costume as a wedding dress would be. I give up; if people will accept burkas as crime-fighting costumes, bring on your merlion fursuits!
Just popping up from the sewer to update you on local news. You might not have seen (or smelled) my rat fursona before, and my fur might need combing, but that goes with being a sneaky rat. Now I’m too excited for stealth because of this amazing flyer. It sure made my whiskers twitch when I saw it, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling about it!
Jello Biafra is the original Nazi Punks Fuck Off guy. I had some readers say “THE Jello Biafra?!!” He was the razor-witted singer for 1980’s punk legends Dead Kennedys. They mocked conservative greed, stupidity, and oppression, and faced down legal bullying from moralistic authorities when the satire struck a nerve. From then until now, Jello has been making albums full of hilarious, raw, protest-inducing rock and roll. It’s liable to give heart palpitations to uptight parents, bland media producers, Klan clowns or the powers of the status quo alike. He’s not just an artist, but a personality known for pranks, running for mayor, doing spoken word and motivating whole scenes as founder of the longest running indie record label. (Alternative Tentacles: “Tormenting the Stupid since 1979!”) His message in all of it is: screw conformity, think for yourself!
All of that is why I can’t wait to see him party with furries, the DIY-powered fandom for talking animal media. Furries breed a loveable kind of identity-play that I think vibes with the art and glam side of punk. That music and its DIY ethic has always inspired me (from the classic 1970’s roots), and this news site is a fabulous result. Another result is the massively popular message to jerks who target kids here like they tried with punk: Nazi Furs Fuck Off!
Expect a great crowd for the mutant hybrid of Frolic Party and Jello’s Incredibly Strange Dance Party. And that’s not the only upcoming event to get excited for. Here’s more news (with some credit to Frolic’s DJ Neonbunny):
Burning Man Decompression – San Francisco, Saturday, October 20th 2pm-2am
The biggest Burning Man party outside of Black Rock City! All the art, all the fun, but none of the dust or heat. Come check out this one day event happening in San Francisco.
There will be dozens of theme camps, several stages of music, more art than you can imagine, interactive play areas, fire and stage performances, DJs, music, art cars, and so much more!
And for you fursuiters out there, we will be setting up a changing area behind the Heavy Petting Zoo and Duck Pond art cars. We invite you to bring your fursuit to this event, and fursuit as you like. We’ll also have water available. And around 6:00pm, we would love to see as many fursuiters on top of the art car at once as possible to pose for photos! We highly recommend getting your ticket in advance ($30), which will be much more expensive at the gate ($50).
Potrero Power Station
420 23rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
Bass Totem – San Francisco, October 26 7pm-3am
A fursuit friendly rave party with furry DJ’s, at one of the city’s strongest night life beacons. Headline article coming.
375 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Pacific Anthro Weekend – San Jose, November 2-4
Since 2014, PAWcon has been bringing a modest-sized but super-friendly gathering. Expect 500 or more animals. San Jose is one of the few cities that has more than one furry con, which is a great clue about how devoted they are there. Don’t wait to solve the puzzle of what you’re doing that weekend!
2050 Gateway Pl
San Jose, CA 95110
Frolic – San Francisco, Saturday December 1st 8pm-2am
(There will be NO Frolic in November due to PAWcon.)
For our December Frolic, we are bringing you something very special. We have lined up one of the biggest legends of punk rock, JELLO BIAFRA, who will be playing an all vinyl set of the music that influenced him the most. That’s right, one of the biggest influencers in music playing what influenced him, at a furry party at a LGBT and Leather Bar in San Francisco.
If you aren’t familiar with Jello, he’s the front man and lead singer for the Dead Kennedys, and writer of songs such as “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and “California Uber Alles”. And what was there even before punk rock? Garage rock, surf rock, 50s gospel and country, early rock and roll? Where did it all come from? Well, come to Frolic and find out!
398 12th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dogbomb: Not your ordinary canine is a 2011 profile of a fandom-loved personality written by Kijani Lion. Kijani himself gets love here for bringing excellence to furry news (see his 2016 interview). By request, his Dogbomb article was reprinted with a plan for a fresh 2018 update. It was delivered with this note. (Your fluffy editor – Patch)
In my 6+ years of journalism this was the most challenging, emotional yet inspiring piece I’ve ever written and I’m very happy at how it turned out. At the bottom I added an additional Q&A with Dogbomb and his friends and also some links. I chose the headline “Last Mutt Standing” as a homage to his favorite artist Jimmy Buffett and his single “Last Man Standing,” I know Dogbomb will appreciate that. I really look forward to seeing this online and it was my honor and pleasure to share the uplifting story of a true inspiration to many in the fandom and beyond! (- Kijani)
“Last Mutt Standing”: Dogbomb inspires the world through his courageous battle against ALS
By Kijani Lion
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes you also can’t tell a mutt to lie down, even in the face of the most grim diagnosis. For Tony Barrett – affectionately known as “Dogbomb” in the furry fandom – giving up was, and never will be, an option.
After experiencing gradual loss of muscular function about two and a half years ago starting with his feet and lower legs, then progressing into his hands, neck, back and throat, Barrett was officially diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in early 2018. The disease kills motor neurons, effectively blocking the nerve path to the brain that makes muscles work, rendering them weak and eventually unresponsive.
“Walking is becoming extremely difficult, and my swallowing and speech are rapidly worsening,” Barrett said. “With ALS, each day is slightly worse, and it becomes difficult to plan for the future. What is easy today may be impossible in a week or a month, and that’s just frustrating.”
A CADILLAC AND A CRY
The reality of Barrett’s situation hit him in March earlier this year, when his doctor gave him the diagnosis that he had “one to three years to live.”
“I felt absolutely desolate,” Barrett recalled. “I remember walking to my car, sitting in the driver’s seat, and having a good cry. Once that was over, I began to focus on what I needed to do next.”
Always one to imbibe in the occasional adult beverage, particularly in needful times of intense personal reflection, Barrett walked across the street and ordered a Cadillac margarita along with a big lunch. After a second helping of liquid courage, he realized that his plan of action involved leaning, literally as well as figuratively, on the people in his life that were close to him. “I began to call friends, to tell people the news, and to hear their thoughts on the subject, Barrett said. “I owe them immense gratitude for keeping me happy and moving forward.”
One of those people is Barrett’s lifelong friend, Greg Sabala. High school buddies and water polo teammates in their freshman year of 1977, Sabala said Barrett showed a quiet confidence, and humility, that was unmatched among his peers.
“Even though he was competitive and his athleticism (earned) him a starting position on the team, he was never rude or bragged about it,” Sabala remembered. “We quickly became friends and continued to encourage each other in everything from athletics to dating.”
As positive as Barrett was after his diagnosis, it hit those close to him especially hard. Sabala’s initial reaction was shock, as Barrett is “one of the healthiest and most athletic people” he’d ever known. They had run numerous 5k and 10k races as well as half marathons together, with Barrett always emerging victorious.
The news sent shockwaves throughout the fandom, particularly among those who have been fortunate enough to get to know the easygoing and friendly ‘Dogbomb’ over the years. Zarafa Giraffe, who has been good friends with Barrett since 2011 and roomed with him at Biggest Little Fur Con (BLFC) in Reno earlier this year, was devastated.
“I cried for two days,” Zarafa admitted. “To have this particular disease hit someone in such good physical shape, for someone who physical activity was important to, was awful.”
Another friend, Trip E. Collie, was “shocked and mortified” that ALS could strike someone as healthy, active and well-rounded as Barrett.
“Here was a man who had given so much to so many people,” Trip said of Barrett. “From many years of work caring for animals, to sharing his playful spirit by suiting in public just to make people smile.”
Trip, who like Barrett is a veterinary technician, knew he had to do something to make what would almost certainly be his friend’s last BLFC extra memorable. He worked with con chairman Tyco and went through great lengths to organize an unforgettable get-together in Reno, consisting of a beer-tasting and social hour, combined with a giant surprise group photo that more than 60 fursuiters attended, each signing a giant banner emblazoned with the words “WE LOVE YOU DOGBOMB.”
While hidden by fursuit masks, there were undoubtedly few dry eyes among the attendees as many warm embraces and supportive words were shared that afternoon, centered upon love and support for one of the biggest inspirations in the fandom.
“(The event) was perfect and his face spoke volumes, Trip recalled. “I was doing my best to make this con special for him and at that point I knew I had succeeded.”
Barrett, who later traveled to Anthrocon in July for his final furry convention, said that while the experience of his “farewell tour” was emotionally draining, he wouldn’t trade the experiences, and the hugs of encouragement, for anything.
“I seriously had no idea that my little contribution to this fandom had affected so many people, and I was often moved to tears at the stories of how my experience as a public fursuiter impacted so many lives,” said Barrett, humbled to his canine core. “The support that I received is something I will never forget, and I can’t thank everyone enough for the love that was showered on me.”
POWER OF POSITIVITY
When faced with what is essentially a fatal diagnosis, a common and understandable response is adopt a “woe-is-me” attitude, and in Barrett’s words, “crumble mentally.” The 55-year-old made certain that he would never give up on life, and live every day to the fullest.
“I have made a conscious decision to be happy and positive, no matter what,” said Barrett, adding that he isn’t completely immune to reality and has the occasional down day. “I made a promise to myself to always find a smile and to count my blessings at every opportunity.”
Barrett’s overwhelmingly positive attitude has been on display ever since he joined the furry fandom back in 2009, to be part of a group of people he called “neat, pleasant, exciting and creative.” Soon after, he got his original Dogbomb fursuit commissioned by Beastcub Creations and starting making the Newport Beach area of southern California just that much more fun, interesting… and fuzzy.
He captured and journaled his outings walking along the pier and the surrounding area near his hometown of Costa Mesa, making ordinary strangers smile while engaging with a walking, talking dog. Barrett’s compassionate storytelling gained a large following on FurAffinity and social media, and posts such as his emotional “Courage on Two Wheels,” where he details an encounter with a young woman named Sarah who had cerebral palsy, caused many a furry and fursuiting fan to shed a tear.
“I hope sincerely that I’ll be remembered as a nice person,” said Barrett when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave for others. “If I inspire an act of kindness, or help someone to smile in a dark time, then my mission on this earth will be accomplished.”
That inspiration has carried over into the fandom, which has rallied behind Barrett in his fight against ALS. Just in the last several months, furry artists have made stickers, T-shirts and art commissions all in an effort to raise funds to beat the disease. Fursuiters were showing up to participate in ALS walks around the nation, which traditionally take place in late summer and early fall.
By Barrett’s estimate, over $8,000 has been raised in his name to beat, in his words, the “stupid disease” that affects tens of thousands of people, with approximately 5,000 new diagnoses each year.
“That makes me feel loved in a way that’s hard to explain,” Barrett said. “The vast majority of this money has been raised by furries, further reinforcing my belief that the fandom contains the biggest hearts and the greatest folks in the world. I can’t thank everyone enough for their kindness and generosity; there are no words to describe how happy this makes me.”
A CHAMPION FOR ANIMAL CARE
While he has portrayed an anthropomorphic animal for the better part of the last decade, Barrett has dedicated his life to the care and well-being of his four-legged counterparts. He has been a registered veterinary technican for the past 23 years, and has inspired many of his co-workers as a manager of a local animal hospital for which he is still employed.
Monica Serrano, who refers to Barrett as her “work husband” at Dover Shores Pet Care Center, is one of those people. Along with being an incredible teacher, Serrano said that her mentor’s approach and demeanor has left a lasting impression on everyone at the clinic.
“His approach to veterinary medicine has always been calm and loving, he always knows how to get the job done right,” she noted. “When nobody else can work with a certain pet because they might be fearful, all it takes is for him to just be alone with the dog to get it accomplished.”
Case in point was a rescue dog named Sender, who came from a group who rehabilitates hard-case Mexican street dogs and adopts them into homes in the United States.
Sender, a dalmatian mix, had already been adopted and returned three times. Nobody wanted to give him a chance. Until Barrett got his turn, and got the opportunity to channel his inner Cesar Millan.
“He was deeply neurotic and didn’t trust anyone, including himself,” Barrett explained. “It took six months of hard work before he started to come around. Now he is the greatest source of happiness in my life… loving and funny and always surprising, and keeps me constantly entertained. I’m so lucky to have him.”
Nowadays, Sender, who somehow earned the moniker “Meatbubble” online and in social media, is always by Barrett’s side when he and his friends go on their many adventures, such as kayaking or boating in sunny Southern California. But it was another dog, Rodger, who get the credit for Barrett’s trademark character, “Dogbomb”.
The German Shepherd mix, who has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge after 14 years as Barrett’s companion, was re-created in fursuit form by Beastcub back in 2011 to commemorate his canine friend.
“We shared so many adventures, and I swear he had a sharp sense of humor,” Barrett said of Rodger. “He was there when I bought my first house, got my first real job in the veterinary field, and helped me through more than a few personal struggles.”
While Barrett is certainly appreciated and admired by everyone he comes in contact with, perhaps the best example comes from his workplace. While other vet clinics may have forced him to retire due to his ailments from ALS, he still clocks in every day at Dover Shores, and serves as inspiration for the rest of the staff. The clinic even had special handrails and other equipment installed in the clinic for Barrett to aid his mobility, making working with ALS a bit more manageable.
“I believe he is the best coworker I could have ever asked for,” Serrano praised, adding that whenever she feels tired or lazy she thinks of Barrett and ‘pushes through’. “We will all miss him tremendously once he’s no longer working with us. Our clients love him not only for his gentle and caring manner towards the animals but also because of all his knowledge which he has so graciously shared with us over the course of his career.”
FULL SPEED AHEAD
When you ask people in the furry fandom about the character they know as “Dogbomb,” the word “inspiration” often comes up. For most of the last seven years, he has been inspiring others to put on an animal costume and brighten the days of complete strangers in public. Today, he continues to motivate people by chronicling his day-to-day struggles as the disease progresses.
But one thing that Barrett absolutely will not tolerate is a pity party, because while he may have ALS, ALS does not have him. Although the last few months have consisted of practicalities such as liquidating his material possessions and getting legal affairs in order, he has decided to remain captain of his life’s vessel and go full-speed ahead for whatever time he has left.
Before ALS, he admitted he obsessed over his finances, trying to squeeze that extra half-percent of interest out of investments in order to save for retirement. Today, his priorities have greatly realigned.
“Now, those (financial) concerns have disappeared, the only thing that I want to do is spend quality time with my loved ones, and spoil the heck out of my dogs,” said Barrett, who has done a lot of both since his diagnosis. “The future has been greatly compressed for me, and my long term goals are now measured in months, not years.”
To meet some of those goals, he started knocking some things off his “bucket list.” There was the trip to Maui with his closest friends, culminated by watching the sunrise from 10,000 feet at Haleakala, of which Barrett wrote a chilling, emotional account on his FurAffinity page. Then there was what he said would be his last boating trip at Lake Havasu at the end of September, a full three months after his doctor predicted he’d be confined to a wheelchair. Instead, Barrett was speeding down the waterway with the vivid hues of the Arizona sunset as the backdrop, almost as a metaphor of Barrett’s life.
Even at home, his determination and willpower is on full display. He still does house chores, yard work, walks his dogs (albeit with the occasional fall), and maintains his independence. Sabala was recently over for a visit and saw Barrett having trouble getting a bike down off a hook in his garage, and offered to help.
“He sternly said ‘no,’ then he said, ‘I need to keep doing things on my own because if I can’t then I might as well give up,'” Sabala recalled. “Such determination and commitment to maintain a sense (of) normalcy while struggling to walk, stand, talk and drink is impressive, commendable and even heroic. It’s inspiring.”
Barrett, however, shuns the idea that anyone would even consider him to be a hero. He’s just a guy playing the cards life dealt to him, and he’s gotten very good at playing a rotten hand.
“Bad stuff happens, it just does, and that’s okay,” he said when asked what his best piece of advice for others would be. “The only thing we can truly control are our own actions and reactions. If you meet challenges with a smile and a positive attitude, you’ve just beaten the universe at its own game.”
With unwavering support and love from friends near and far, within the furry fandom and far beyond, we can rest assured that Barrett will be fighting ALS until his last breath, or much more hopefully, a cure can be found.
Until then, as the caption reads on a particular T-shirt design by an artist named Kayla and MakerFur that has raised hundreds of dollars for research to beat the disease:
“ALS can kiss my fuzzy butt!”
Kijani Lion is a freelance journalist and a former award-winning reporter and editor for a chain of community newspapers in the Seattle, Wash. area. He is also an avid fursuiter and founded a 501(c)3 nonprofit for character entertainment that attends local community and charity events, most recently attending the Seattle ALS Walk, an event that raised $160,000 for research, care and outreach, in Dogbomb’s honor. You may contact him regarding this story on Twitter or Telegram @kijani_lion.
Additional Q & A with Tony “Dogbomb” Barrett (DB) and his friends, Greg Sabala (GS), Monica Serrano (MS), Trip E. Collie (TC), and Zarafa Giraffe (ZG):
Q: The landscape of the furry fandom has changed pretty significantly since we first talked for the original article 7 years ago. What has been the biggest difference you’ve noticed and how does it bode for the future of the fandom?
DB: The fandom has become more diverse in terms of age and gender, in my opinion. When I first joined, it seemed to be skewed in favor of males in their early 20s, but now we have a bloom of different folks joining and I think that’s terrific! We have to be mindful of these changes, however, to keep viable and to retain the original spirit of inclusiveness that we all love. Also, I have seen a great increase in the number of non-profit groups doing fantastic volunteer work and that really makes my heart happy. We have been given a special gift; the ability to use our imaginations to create a better world. To share that with others, and to brighten the lives of those that are less fortunate, speaks to a higher calling. I am so proud of everyone that uses this fandom to spread love to those in need.
Q: I know you’ve mentioned taking part in clinical research studies for ALS, how has that been going?
DB: I am enrolled in a study that harvests your stem cells, does some chemical magic to them in a lab to make them behave like working motor neurons, and then sticks them back into your spinal fluid. The thought is that with enough happy stem cells, the disease can be arrested. I am in the very early stages of this study, and I don’t have the first stem cell harvest until October, with a re-implant date sometime in November (of 2018.) This is a double blind study, so 50% of the participants will get a harmless placebo, but that’s how scientific research works. I am so glad to be DOING something to fight this stupid disease, and if I’m in the placebo group that’s OK. There is no treatment and no cure for ALS at this time, so being involved in forward progress means the world to me.
Q: Is there anyone in particular you’d like to give a shout out to, who have been instrumental in their support through your ALS battle?
DB: There are a TON of folks that I’d like to mention here, but the list would stretch several pages.
Here’s a few: My lifelong friends Greg, Don, Duncan, Bill, and Mark. My boss Dr. B and my work wife Monica. My brother. The amazing Mama Ryuu for getting the ball rolling with those wonderful Dogbomb stickers. Empty Set for his art and music and love and support. Ethan Staghorn for checking in on me when I need it most. Maker Fur and KaylaMod for the T-shirts. Trip E. Collie for organizing the event at BLFC. All the wonderful folks that are planning to participate in ALS walks this fall. Every single person that took the time to say hello at my last conventions. And my silly mutts for the companionship and patience at the snail’s pace adventures to the park… There are a lot of others, and I think you know who you are and how much I appreciate and love you.
Q: As you look back on nearly a decade of fursuiting, what is your best memory from your time as a fuzzy, walking, talking mutt?
DB: As we know, furry conventions often take place in major cities, often in the downtown area. These big cities usually contain a large homeless population. A few of these folks are on the streets of their own volition, but many are there because of mental illness, or another situation beyond their control.
I enjoy fursuiting outside the convention more than I do in the controlled confines of an “expected” outcome. As you get away from the con, and out into the public, the interactions have the potential to get better and better. After three or four miles of walking, the convention is a memory and is absolutely unknown to the public at large. No one knows what the hell a giant talking dog is doing in their midst!
This is where the magic really happens for me. I went out alone 99% percent of the time, which is something I DO NOT recommend anyone else doing. I knew the risks, and they were worth taking in my situation. After venturing away from the con for the first time, I couldn’t help feeling like a hypocritical idiot as I sauntered by desperate, hungry people looking for their next meal in my $3,000 dog costume. The disparity of life was too painful to continue this kind of fursuiting. So, at the next convention, which was FWA, I armed myself with a few hundred bucks in five dollar bills, and began to give a little to people in need. Was this a wise choice? Did it do any good? Probably not, but it made me feel less guilty.
I was a talking dog giving away hugs and fives. I got very good reactions…
Anyway, one lady stands out as someone special. She was perched on a street corner, yelling at the traffic light and waving here ratty purse at passersby. I will admit I thought about crossing to the other side of the street, but plucked up my courage and sidled up to say hullo. She turned and looked at me with a horrified stare, but I wagged my butt and offered her a paw and she broke into the biggest smile.
I put both arms out and she FELL into my hug. We embraced for a long time, and when she pulled away she was crying. “You look just like a dog I had when I was a little girl,” she said. “I haven’t thought about him for years. Those are good memories. I need to think about him more often!” she giggled. There was a bench nearby and we sat and had a nice chat. Life had been cruel to her, and she suffered from delusions and voices in her head that taunted her night and day. I told her that as her dog, I wanted her to get help, get off the street, and give another deserving mutt a good home. She promised she would. I stuffed a few bucks into her hands, explained that I loved her and that I’d be watching her journey.
She said that was the first nice thing someone had done for her in years, and it made sense that it came from a dog.
I left her to find her way with tears in my eyes. Did my pep talk do any good? Did she find health and peace? I have no idea, but I tried, and that made me realize that the effort is what really matters. She probably helped me much more than I helped her! I have no delusions that I’m some sort of furry saint. I’m just a sweaty, middle aged guy who likes attention wearing a dog suit. But that suit made me want to be a better person, and that’s an amazing gift. Make the effort. Be kind to everyone you meet. It matters.
Q: If you could have dinner with any other 3 people (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
DB: I would love to have dinner with my dad, Jimmy Buffett and my lovely ALS doctor Namita Goyal. The conversation would be hilarious, interesting and educational. Three very smart people who I think could really shed some light on how to proceed given my current circumstance. We’d definitely have Mexican food. And margaritas.
Q: What is it about Tony that enables him to stay so positive in the face of such a grim diagnosis?
GS: He has a lot of close friends and tons of fans, so that helps. People are traveling from around the country to come and visit him. He hates the attention but loves the interaction. We try to keep him laughing and we are spending as much time with him as possible including group trips to Hawaii for vacation and to a Jimmy Buffet concert as bucket list items.
We listen when he wants to talk and celebrate successes when they occur. He completed a 5k on 4th of July surrounded by a dozen friends and crowds of strangers cheering him on. We shared high-fives when he got his new leg braces that greatly improve his ability to walk. Wins are few these days so we celebrate them.
I think that the main thing that keeps him positive is his willingness to fight through this disease. He wants to keep doing all the things he’s always done for as long as he can. He doesn’t sit around and cry about it (maybe on a rare occasion). I tell people that “he has ALS but ALS doesn’t have him.”
MS: Tony is an incredible human who has always looks at things in a positive manner, I believe he got this trait from his parents. If he was to sit there and feel sorry for himself that wouldn’t get him anywhere but being sad and upset when instead he could be doing what he is, which is making the best of what he has and enjoying his life as much as possible with the people that love him.
ZG: I honestly don’t know how he stays so positive. I don’t know that I would act with such dignity and equanimity. What makes it so amazing is that he doesn’t realize how special he is, and how unusual his reaction and handling of the situation has been. I think it’s just part of his core being, it’s who he is.
TC: I really believe Tony is strong both in who he is and how he approaches life. He strives to live his life to the fullest and to be a beacon of light to others. His compassion and stories have gained him many friends. When he does feel down or weak he turns to those friends both close and far to help him get back up and carry on. His common phrase these days has been “ALS can kiss my fuzzy butt” and I honestly think he takes that to heart. He fights back against it every step of the way to live life the way he wants to. He also speaks openly online about what it is like to deal with it on a daily basis. I think he does this both to collect his thoughts regarding it all as well as to make others aware. While many would have long since quit their job, he is still working at his veterinary hospital to the best of his ability and was even looking into donating a kidney to help save another life… he (is) looking to maximize what he could do now for others. That selflessness and caring is not something you will see often.
Q: What kind of legacy will Tony leave on the world around him?
ZG: That he was someone filled with essential goodness, and even in the face of one of the worst things that can happen to a person, he handled it with incredible dignity and grace. That is why he is so inspiring. All the other problems that the rest of us have in life pale in comparison to what he is dealing with. And yet he is still so positive, still trying to be kind to others, and has no idea how special any of this is. His response, when complimented, is a puzzled “I’m just a dumb dog.”
TC: I know of Tony primarily through the fandom. However, I know his impact definitely reaches beyond it. He makes people smile through public fursuiting. He has many stories singing in bars with people as well as just walking along the beach/piers and interacting with people. Even more than that, he is beloved at his veterinary hospital. Many places would have forced him to retire. Instead he is still treasured there by his boss and coworkers. He is a very giving person and a supremely positive example for others to follow. I think he will leave a strong legacy of what we should all aspire for in life: to support and help each other while making people smile along the way.
Donate to ALS research and patient care (ALS Association): http://www.alsa.org/donate/
Jack Wolfgang T.2, Le Nobel du Pigeon, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé – Book Review by Fred Patten
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Jack Wolfgang. T.2, Le Nobel du Pigeon, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé (art).
Brussels, Les Éditions du Lombard, June 2018, hardcover, €13,99 (62 [+ 2] pages), Kindle €9,99.
Here is the latest installment in the Fred Patten and Lex Nakashima service to notify you of high-quality French-language animalière bandes dessinées that are not likely to be published in English.
This is album #2 in the Jack Wolfgang series. I said of #1, “The Jack Wolfgang series looks like it’s designed for the Blacksad market. The main differences are that John Blacksad is a private investigator, and his cases are crime noir with excellently drawn anthropomorphic animals. Jack Wolfgang is a C.I.A. secret agent, and his adventures are, well, too light and too exaggerated for the James Bond market. Say they’re Kingsman clones, with a mixture of funny animal and human secret agents saving the world from megalomaniac funny animal and human villains.”
The humans and the animal-people share the same society. The carnivores have not had to eat meat since the invention of super-mega-tofu several centuries earlier. The humans and animals are supposedly equals, but in actuality, the humans look down on the animals. Jack has to fight this in his CIA human superiors as well as among the world criminals he goes after.
Jack Wolfgang’s cover identity is as the “more elegant than George Clooney, cooler than Tex Avery’s wolves” (vol. 1) leading food critic for the New York Times. This supposedly allows him to go to all the major cities of the world to check their top restaurants. In actuality, he goes to where the CIA sends him, or to where his leads take him. In vol. 1, Enter the Wolf, he met Mme. Antoinette Lavaux, a sultry panther-woman jewel thief who was not officially involved in his case then, so he did not have to bring her in. Since then, by implication, they arrange to meet in the top night spots around the world – Rome, Monte Carlo, the Côte d’Azur, Biarritz, San Francisco, etc. – when they are not “on duty”.
In vol. 2, The Pigeon’s Nobel, the villain is Lord Horace Beckett, a billionaire pigeon (“l’oiseau le plus riche au monde”) in the tradition of James Bond’s Auric Goldfinger. His riches have enabled him to rise to the top of society; to buy whatever he wants. But what he wants is respectability; to prove to everyone that he is more than just a nouveau-riche. To be given a Nobel Prize. However, the Nobel selection committees cannot be bought. So Beckett arranges for the assassination of everyone above him who is likely to be awarded the Nobel Prize. And why stop with a single prize? Economics, Physics, Mathematics… a Peace Prize wouldn’t hurt, either. If he isn’t given at least three Nobel Prizes, not only will he order the assassination of any possible competitors, and of the Nobel selection committees themselves, he will order his agents around the world in control of computers to bring civilization to a stop. Credit cards won’t work; machines at transport windows won’t issue airplane or ship or train tickets; medical prescriptions will go unfilled; BWAHAHAHA! And the omnipresent global delivery service that the CIA’s agents rely on to bring them the secret-agent gizmos that they need at a moment’s notice … well, who do you think is the owner of that company? Agents like Jack will suddenly find themselves not getting the high-tech guns and similar hardware that they’re counting on.
Before Lord Beckett becomes the obvious villain when the CIA is still trying to discover who is murdering the world’s leading economists and scientists, CIA headquarters in Virginia puts Jack in charge of the mission. But to satisfy those humans who consider the mission too important to be left in the paws of an animal, Jack will be guided to go after only the actual hitman. (Pieter-Jan Glock, a stork.) The real mission to unmask who is behind the killings will go to the CIA’s top human agent.
Every secret-agent adventure introduces a sexy woman, as either a partner or a femme fatale. In The Pigeon’s Nobel, it’s Kellyanne Bongo. (That’s her on the cover, holding a gun.) If you can imagine someone who looks like Beyoncé, is also a #1 martial artist, and is actually a bonobo with extensive plastic surgery … Mme. Lavaux has only a walk-on appearance in this volume. It’s Kellyanne Bongo and her henchmen, Jonas Swamp (alligator) and Kevin Prince (gorilla) that Jack shares this adventure with.
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Purrfect Tails, edited by Tarl Hoch.
Calgary, AB, Armoured Fox Press, February 2018, trade paperback, US$11.95 (164 pages).
Tarl Hoch’s Armoured Fox Press in Calgary, Alberta, is both a furry specialty press and an anime specialty press*. Its first book, published in 2018, emphasizes both specialties: it’s an anthology of nine cat-people stories, ranging from anime “nekos” with cat ears and tails but who look human otherwise, to full anthro cat people.
“Milk and Brass” by Madison Keller is set in a steampunk Victorian London with animal-hybrids. Carla is a cat-hybrid type neko, bred for lowest-class labor. Nellie Hanson is a pampered swan-hybrid bred to her rich father’s order, with delicate feathers on her arms and decorative but useless wings on her back. When Carla flees the London slum workhouses and docks, she is found and hidden by Nellie, who faces a loveless marriage at her father’s order. Carla urges that the two girls escape together to America and the Wild West, but Nellie is reluctant to abandon her duties and responsibilities. A Dramatic Event forces their hand.
In “Following the Tail” by Dark End, Jacqyl is bored and depressed in a society where almost everyone is mind-connected to the Internet and lets their bodies go. Then she sees The Tail:
“Everyone else [on the train] was jacked in, heads forward, drooling all over themselves as their brain played in the depths of the net. A few were on private servers, and Jacqyl amused herself by guessing what type of Sense-Scape they were in by the way their puppet-like bodies twitched. By the way their hips flexed, more than half of them were in erotic ones. Even the train’s conductor appeared to be in one – not like her job was that hard anyway.
The train jerked to a stop, causing several dull thumps as a few bodies, so limp while jacked in, smacked hard against walls or railings. A few people woke from the trance of their systems and made their way out.
And that’s when Jacqyl saw him – or rather, a fragment of him: a tail, an actual goddamn tail, flitting in the air as he stepped off. She jumped out of her seat and pressed her face against the window, but whoever he was, whoever he had been, was lost in the drab gray monotony of the mingling throng on the station platform.” (pgs. 16-17)
Jacqyl seeks the man with the tail for months. Why? What does she find? The description of what Jacqyl sees of society as she goes is so zany that I’m not sure whether “Following the Tail” is a comedy or a horror story about what to expect in the future.
In “Cat Toy” by Royce Day, the Nekos are extraterrestrials who look like cat-people, on their own world:
“Okay, I’ll admit they do try to warn you about this sort of thing. My own damned fault I didn’t listen.
Felecia’s inhabitants were feline-analogs, mammalian aliens that looked for all the world like walking, talking wild cats. Xenobiologists mutter ‘Parallel Evolution’ a lot when this happens. Me? I always figured God had a sense of humor.
Anyway, my freighter had dropped off a load of machine parts at their primary space port, I had gotten my pay, and I was feeling pretty good. I was manning station at a bar stool in a downside pub when I caught sight of one of the natives entering. She was about my height, looking for all the world like an upright black panther with bright golden eyes, wearing maintenance coveralls, three golden earrings running down her right ear.” (p. 34)
She leads him to her apartment. They have much sex together. (Is this anthology Adult-rated?) That she says to call her Princess and she calls him Toy will tell you which is the dom and which is the sub. He likes it, so much that he returns to her whenever his spaceship visits Felecia.
“Schematic for a Purrfect Artefact” by Hazuko Sionnach features a fox woman and a cat boy. They are anime-type nekos, whatever animal-people species they are. Yuka, the fox woman, hires Akiko, the cat boy (19 years old), as a mechanic in her factory that repairs airships and other vehicles:
“‘I — I’m not a boy… I’m a man…’
‘Sure. We are nearly home.’ The steam-car pulls up to an asphalt driveway leading to a mansion with an adjoined airfield. The size of the mansion could easily fit a hundred of the auto-shop he used to work for, and that was just the front half of the large home. Several flying machines and a few steam-cars lined open garages, various naked mechanics tinkering on them. Several are humans and a few others have various animal parts like him. A couple women are working on a small biplane with a busted propeller and a wing with shreds torn into it.
‘Why is everyone naked? Isn’t that dangerous while working with steam?’
‘Not at all. This is home to Naked Creations. Everyone here is specially trained for safety and endurance. We have the best safety record of anyone.’
‘We’ll get you settled into your room and your training shall commence right away.’ Yuka moves aside as a human greets them. ‘This is one of our butlers. He will take care of your needs.’
Akiko glances at the human, but asks a question burning on his mind, ‘What kind of … training?’
‘Fun training. You will enjoy it very well.’” (pgs. 47-48)
Sex training. Put an easily embarrassed 19-year-old in a factory where everyone is naked and sexually uninhibited and be prepared for lots of X-rated “cute”. Akiko and Krista, a squirrel-girl, soon become an item. Then Cindy, a wolf-girl saboteur actually working for Naked Creations’ main rival, targets Akiko as an easy conquest…
“Enter the Garden” by James Pyke features two anime-style nekos, Priscille (female) and Cryo (male), who awaken without pasts or clothes in a Garden of Eden. She says “nya” a lot. They are watched over by a Goddess:
“From Her domain, she espied all that happened in the garden. Her Garden, Her land, and now … The lost one would be the salvation, the mother of Her new people, Her new worshippers who would spread Her name throughout the lands. She shook Her ethereal head at the fortune that chance had taken to bring the lost one here. From what bare glimpse She had into her mind… What darkness had befallen her? Her eyes were wet with Her pity, and Her tears filled the waterfall with Her mercy. Her image, as one could now see, was that of a great cat on two legs. A white and gold robed dress draped Her form, and an exquisite crown of gold, lapis lazuli, and silver was upon Her head. Her fur was that of a grey cat, with expressive blue eyes.
But I can change My form… Her feline mouth turned a smile as She assumed a more familiar form. Now, She was as She had once been depicted, a cat-headed humanoid. Her skin, before the fur of Her neck, was that of sun-kissed, dark bronze. The robed dress now seemed to flow and ebb around Her form, and She floated down the waterfall to examine Her Garden. She smiled, and Her feet touched the ground. Where She stepped, light shone. Her domain may have been once the moon, and indeed, She still had a fondness for it, but She could also appreciate the sun too.” (pgs. 90-91)
The world beyond the Garden is a ruined wasteland:
“A great, limitless landscape. Grey and ashen were the lands that stretched forth, and glints could be seen, here and there. The land looked… ravaged, broken, in despair. Her form shimmered, changing to look more like the nekos; a woman with a cat’s head. Those feline eyes turned toward the two, Cryo of the Garden, and Priscille the Lost, now Found.” (p. 96)
It is implied that humanity has ruined the earth, and the Goddess is replacing them with nekos. She tells Cryo and Priscille to go forth, and multiply. She doesn’t tell them how to go about it, but they sure have a lot of fun experimenting.
“Leather Boots” by Thurston Howl doesn’t have any women. Just Jonas, a drunken Canadian businessman visiting Japan, and “Puss in Boots”, a man wearing magic leather boots that turn him into a neko – a cat man with cat ears and tail and claws sharp enough to kill. Jonas doesn’t care about that, however. He’s gay, and the cat man looks hot enough to kill for …
“The Good Girl” by E. S. Lapso features two characters; Samson, a human, and Sora, a demi-human neko. Sora is a cat-boy, but Samson makes him dress as a girl – a French maid:
“Blushing scarlet red, Sora stood and undid the button above his tail on his boxers. ‘P… pervert. This is so stupid, mew.’ Sliding them down, the petite neko crossed his legs as he tried to ignore the swelling of his shaft; the slight chub reminding him just how much at least one small part of him was loving this. Hissing inwardly, he threw the boxers at his master’s face before hurrying to pull the panties up his thighs. He had to adjust his cock a bit to fit easier which left a damning bulge in the front. ‘There! Happy, mew?’” (p. 109)
Okay; this is definitely Adult. Don’t worry; Samson and Sora are both adults. They’re gay lovers who trade off.
“Lacuna Vice” by Searska GreyRaven starts with Gan, a cyberneko hedonist at the Purgatory nightclub:
“Gan examined his reflection in the mirror behind the bar for the fifth time that night, fussing with the lay of stray hairs along his bleach-blond mohawk. A trickle of light flowed down the pair of tear-streak nanotats on his face while he fidgeted. Vanity, thy name is Ganymede, he thought. He finally gave up and returned to people-watching.
Across from the hookah bar, Purgatory’s dance floor writhed with new blood. Spliced chimeras danced, raved, and dazzled under blacklight, expressing a rainbow of modification from simple fangs or pointed ears to full body morphs. Gan watched as a canine-spliced woman led a lovely young man into the fray. In another time and place, she would have been called a werewolf. Soft grey fur, digitigrade legs, and a long, sly muzzle. A fluffy tail swished from beneath a short red skirt as she bounded onto the dance floor. The human, on the other hand, looked perfectly normal. Aside from the smart-cloth shirt and pants in a garish shade of neon green, he didn’t appear to have a scrap of tech or gene mod in him.” (pgs. 118-119)
Nobody is what they seem. In more than one way. “Lacuna Vice” gets my vote as both the most spectacular and the cleverest tale in this anthology.
“Pussy Perfect” by Kandrel is spelled Pussy Purrfect in the story:
Spoken from ten smiling mouths simultaneously, the generic greeting took on a rather unsettling tone. Lee wasn’t sure what it originally meant. He wasn’t sure anyone really knew, but every asian [sic.] store had someone inside who shouted it – sometimes constantly. Even this far from Tokyo, Nestled [sic.] in between the VR Pleasure Palace and a neuropharmacy that advertised performance enhancing brainware, was a slim storefront. ‘Pussy Purrfect’ glared in garish pink script, next to a winking cat face. Just inside the door was a throng of the shop’s one and only product: cat girls. They stood alert and perfect in every way. In other stores, the goods were at least in some way obfuscated from view, so that the nervous shopper could pretend that they had found their way there by accident. ‘Oh dear! I seem to have turned into this store looking for a new pair of shoes. My mistake.’ But in Pussy Purrfect, the neko girls were blatantly naked, goods clearly on display.” (pgs. 137-138)
Lee and three friends – two English girls and two boys visiting Japan – decide to go in for a lark. They’ll be sorry — or will they?
Purrfect Tails (cover by Monori Rogue) is a fun beginning for a new furry (and anime) specialty publisher. Buy it, and help them publish more.
*Armoured Fox Press is also a bookshop at Canadian furry conventions, to import and sell the furry books of the U.S. furry publishers that don’t go into Canada. AFP has first appeared at Fur-Eh! 2018 in Edmondton, AB on 14-17 June.
World Wild Fur Camp – October 5-7, 2018
For Southwest Ohio (and everywhere) fandom
You know what’s an amazing drink? Blend watermelon chunks with tequila and lime. Nothing else! So fresh, so simple.
That’s what I brought to a visit at the fur house of Ratchet Fox, one of my closest neighbors. Ratchet directs stage events at a bunch of fur cons, including BLFC. It has one of the fandom’s highest budgets for their eye-popping setup. While I blended fresh fruit for the fabulous fox, he showed me videos of what they do with over a million dollars of equipment.
“One reason BLFC succeeds is the way they spare no expense on that main stage”, he told me. “Not every con understands how important that is. Lots of furs go to party with their friends, and might not go to the dealer’s den or panels – but the main stage is the one thing that draws everyone.”
Huge and glitzy is one way to make magic. But sometimes you need a change of pace. Something laid back, less crazy, and more personal, where you don’t just have too-short drive-by meets with friends. And I love the idea of breaking out of the comfy but predictable hotel experience. (That’s why street fursuiting is my favorite thing.) How can it be more naturally furry?
Hotel Staff Can't Wait For Furries To Come Try New Natural Habitat Rooms— Dogpatch Clickbait (@DogpatchNewsBot) September 4, 2018
Furry camping events are the answer. Big cons in news are the urban and hotel kind, but the oldest continuous furry event in North America is Camp Feral in Canada. Smaller local gatherings can have big advantages. I’ll bet cheap rental cost can make it easy to start (especially when it’s not summer break for kids.) And the activities can be more unique, the friendships more intimate, and the show is the outdoors. Nature makes the magic. Woods, stars, campfires, fresh air… so simple.
World Wild Fur Camp is the fandom’s newest:
Get ready for a brand new style of furry get-away! WWFC is taking furries to the great outdoors of Ohio for a family friendly outdoor adventure. Here at WWFC you can enjoy 3 days of fishing, archery, hiking, camp fires, ghost stories and so much more outdoor fun! You’ll be staying in a huge cabin, one of 10, that holds up to 30 people each! … Did we mention that there are meals included? Only 115$ each for the entire 3 day and 2 night stay!
Making even another difference from usual cons, this camp prefers drinking at bars nearby but not on site. That seems like the best of both worlds for welcoming families but getting to party without having to overindulge.
I chatted with the chair, The Dog Father Al CaBone. Al is a gregariously enthusiastic dog who I think got fursona inspiration from a love for pro wrestling. (I think he’d wanted to make furry wrestling for an entertaining crossover with its live, theatrical spectacle. Maybe he’ll make an outdoor show for future camps.)
The Camp is a way to bring people together to forge friendship in a family atmosphere instead of a hotel. Attendees share space in a cabin and it is called a Guild house. WWFC is the number 1 spot for furry entertainment. Not to compete with other cons or events but to be the event that attendees will not forget. They can enjoy a weekend that just may change their life.
Speaking of entertainment, would you miss the hug powered con fursuiting? Guests of Honor Marks Barks and Gerce have you covered. (Maybe literally if you ask.) There’s a lot to say about costuming and fun stuff, things you might never think of at a regular con. See the excitement it’s been making below.June 19, 2018
So, just so that you know. This year will be the first World Wild Fur Camp (@wwildfurcamp) and they will be holding some type of trick or treating activity one night. Says so on their camp schedule, see! pic.twitter.com/8YEnEm6T1H— Delta EverGreen(@WWFC) (@anno_martyrum) September 5, 2018
Here’s news from Joe Strike – you may have seen his recent piece for Flayrah about “stealth fur.” Joe’s Furry Nation book got a lot of love here. He seems to have a sequel in the works (not sure how much I’m supposed to say, but there may be a chapter from a certain dog’s paw!) Joe saw an article making fun of furs in MAD magazine, and sent this piece. With so much going on in the news, I think it’s a bit refreshing to get gentle joking. Honestly, I want outsiders to just laugh a little while we can be like this… (- Patch)
MAD Magazine and the “Lighter” (?) Side of Furries
By Joe Strike
NOTE: This article contains a spoiler, if you worry about that sort of thing…
It only took three issues, but the re-launched MAD magazine took note of us in the final chapter of “Boonies Burbs and Burgs,” a short-lived feature charting the travels of three young cousins. If you thought MTV’s Sex 2K or CSI gave us a hard time…hoo boy, you’ve got another fershlugginer thing coming!
MAD articles always begin with an imaginary department heading. If you needed a tip-off, this installment came from the “Let the Fur Fly Department.” The story begins with a mystery: why is one cousin’s surly dad so eager to take the trio to the “Pop-Con” convention? (“A dad can’t do something nice for his rotten kid and his rotten kid’s even rottener cousins?”)* At the bottom of the first page the threesome come face to face with a blobby guy wearing a cow-themed leather get-up, complete with black leather udder. (“This the line for the Leashes ‘n’ Lashes confurence?”) Sure enough, top of the next page shows a female chicken and donkey pair asking, “this the confurence?” and being told by an overweight Darth Vader “Hall F, as in furvert.”
Trouble’s afoot, judging from the animal noises (“MOO…OINK…SQUEE”) coming from Hall F. Finally the wall gives way and an avalanche of fursuiters—giraffes, dragons, kangaroos and more, oh my!—tumble into view. (“Furry orgy tsunami!” a fleeing spectator shouts.) In the final panel a rat in the middle of the furpile removes his head, revealing himself as (SPOILER DEAD AHEAD!) surly dad—the furtive furry is a grumpy greymuzzle! “Today was frickin’ awesome!” he exclaims, wrapping up the tale. Way to go, dad!
It wasn’t hard to track down Bob Fingerman, the story’s artist and writer and give him a piece of my furry mind…
On behalf of all the furries in the world…thanx a lot buddy! (As if CSI wasn’t bad enough.)
We’re coming for you with an adorable pink French poodle suit (with EXTRA sph’s) and a giant size tube of Krazy Glue. Once we suit you up and seal you in we’re gonna drop you in the middle of the skankiest furpile we can find and post all the videos on YouTube for your friends and relatives to enjoy…
Seriously, I laughed my tail off at the comic—thanx much for the “kind” attention. BTW not sure if you’re aware that ConFurence was a real thing, the very first furry convention that began in 1989 and ran for a goodly number of years. You can read the “hole” story in my book Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood [because of creeps like you] Subculture. Wish I could send you a copy but they go for $18 a pop—cheap!
Bob was cool enough to write back:
Thanks for reaching out. I definitely find humor in the Furry phenomenon, but in the MAD strip I think they come off far more lovable than the comic con attendees. They’re just trying to have a good time (and succeeding). Hell, it’s the only time the dad is happy in the strip…thanks for having a sense of humor. Those seem in shorter and shorter supply these days. When we need them most. -Best, Bob
PS: I can look forward, now, to my Facebook wall being inundated with Furry links from looking up your book on Amazon, so consider your “revenge” achieved. Ha ha.
I took another look at Bob’s website – bobfingerman.com – and saw something I’d overlooked, which necessitated a follow-up email to the guy:
I just noticed the first thing on your website is a cartoon of you…as a rat! Representing yourself as an anthropomorphic animal character makes you a furry, you do realize that? Thanks for making Dad a furry in the strip too, nice to know he and I have something in common.
Unfortunately, in my eagerness to see the world through furry-colored lenses I had misinterpreted the image…
The character on the homepage of my website isn’t me, it’s a character for a graphic novel I didn’t get to do. Probably won’t get to do anytime soon. But follow your bliss, sir.
To which I could only apply by way of apology…
Sorry ’bout that. (I guess the resemblance confused me. )
( * All words in bold type are reproduced as they appeared in the magazine.)
Like it says above, Joe Strike is the author of Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood [because of creeps like Bob Fingerman!] Subculture. Find out more about this great book at: www.furrynation.com
Content warning: extreme animal abuse
With no fanfare, public attention was riveted by a leak of private data spread by a Twitter account linking to a Telegram channel. It held compiled .rars hosted on Mega, containing chat logs, images and videos exposing years of activity. It was sourced from secretive chat groups connected to furry fandom.
The data implicated a ring of users sharing fetish material of unspeakably sadistic animal abuse. It was graphic evidence of rape, torture and murder of animals for enjoyment. The briefest skim of the Telegram channel was gut-wrenching. Among plain text chats and links, there was a thumbnail of a tied-up dog being raped with a baseball bat. The public response was tremendous shock and disgust.
There’s a list of some of those videos.
I have never once vomited from READING about something, not once has a trigger warning bothered me but this.......this has me crying and gagging among other emotions.....How can people do this and sleep at night????!!!!— Mocha Puppé (@McBittypaws) September 20, 2018
Most furry stuff is harmless creativity, and Dogpatch Press shares positive news about it. But the site also has an established presence for exposing hidden stories, so I was tagged with some highly followed furry accounts and asked to spread the leak. Essentially I was a “first responder” on the scene. Tips came in immediately before the public was even aware, and people were scared about this coming out. It was the focus of an intense smokescreen and I saw it coming from the start.
As it developed, denial and conspiracy built up a highly sensitive and conflicted story. Evidence came out in pieces, got swiss-cheesed by deletions, then pushed back by dishonesty. Of course anyone personally involved would lie their asses off. But then there were ambulance-chasers and hucksters cashing in on fake “debunking”, and deluded fools manipulated by misplaced loyalty.
The task for anyone looking at this is to try to figure out just what the heck is going on; the size and shape of the network, who was complicit but not inside, who did content sharing but not creation, who was directly responsible for uploading toxic files, and who committed crimes.
IMPORTANT PSA, PLEASE RT
If you have information on the Zoosadism Ring, please forward it to myself or @DogpatchPress. Avoid making it public. At this point, posting more leads just reveals more of what we know and gives them time to tie up loose ends! Let the FBI, etc. work!
Bullshit for views
It’s easy to expose a story when evidence is easily found, but fame and attention totally distorted it in this case. Public awareness went FUBAR when everyone focused on one implicated party, because they were the one with a huge following: Kero the Wolf, with over 100,000 Youtube subscribers. Many others in the leaks got little notice because they had few followers.
Those followers were the base for emotionally-fueled defenses and “stand with Kero” efforts. They focus on a supposed conspiracy by mystery hackers with no discernable motive and extremely convenient timing for what would take magically astronomical labor to pull off.
The most popular defense I looked at reached no insight more profound than “HTML is editable”, missing the fact that evidence of messaging exists server-side inside Telegram, not client-side. Then there was absurd garbage-takes about screenshots having usual .jpg compression as if that showed “editing”. Others tried to shoot down decontextualized fragments – such as how a single video attributed to one person wasn’t him (it actually came from sharing, but not being in all videos wouldn’t clear someone of deep complicity.) These were such reaches, they made things look worse.
There's YouTubers defending Kero who don't even know what HTML log files are...
They're analyzing screenshots of logs instead of the log files themselves.
If you see misinformation, call it out and don't let it spread confusion.
The story was muddied by defenders having just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and an audience of passionate and impressionable young people. Let’s be clear: the instant contrarian reactions are full of shit, and people are milking them for views and money. If they don’t focus on the animal victims and an undeniable ring of guilt, a decent course is to shut up and perhaps expect those accused to get lawyers instead. And definitely not gain from the attention.
A proper investigation also should avoid depicting any single participant as the number one guy, and explore the other people caught up in it to establish the existence of a network. That would build the tightest story. The bleak alternative is seeing all the bogus denial prevail, fueling fake news and slimy Youtube careerism built on sexually tortured puppies. You couldn’t write satire as pathetic as this cheap, debased idolatry.
Supposedly, someone invented a giant ring to frame one guy? Let’s cut the crap. Attempts to retcon this into a conspiracy are refuted by the breadth and depth of the evidence. The preponderance of it says there isn’t one – just people who got exposed and want it covered up. The heinous things they did must not be denied.
Vid dates PM's discussing meeting in person to 2 years/9months ago. Multiple chat relationships. Other chats line up with tweets, and the chats were made before the tweeted content (using a time machine, or just same owner using Telegram and Twitter? Those werent hacked tweets.)— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 19, 2018
Issues for investigation
The “real animal” zoophilia line has long blurred the edges of subculture. Stuff like role-play, costuming with consenting adults, rubber fantasy dongs, or enjoying plain TV documentary seem like someone else’s business. I’ve usually left it distinct and needing case-by-case pro handling. I’m not a pro, a cop, a prude, or an outsider. Being an insider to fandom is why I’ve been asked to weigh in with perspective that won’t come from pros.
I’m also not a techie, but spent years of membership with a hackerspace. I sat in the audience at a federal trial and saw how network use hidden by VPN proved a case of hacking with no direct evidence. It’s far-fetched to believe conveniently-timed hacking claims, but you don’t need direct evidence for circumstantially overwhelming proof of participation in a network.
The more time you spend online, the more familiar you may be with the catalog of Nasty Internet Shit, from shock and gore to illegal CP. I’ve previously covered animal abuse by “RL vore”, plus some meta-narrative about how this stuff circulates:
- Youtube’s popular Reptile Channel has a history of banned animal abuse by JonahVore.
- R.C. Fox arrested for child pornography, furries question fandom connections.
- Furries vs. Evil: Habits in geek social spaces
This story makes a new wrinkle. Necro-zoo and zoosadism/”hardzoo” are words I’d never imagined using in years of writing. (Yeah, it makes me barf, how about you?) I wouldn’t be surprised to see new laws made about legality of such files, like when crush fetish files were outlawed in 2010. It’s that unprecedentedly bad.
But so far sharing files that leaked appears to be legal. I’ll bet last century’s laws haven’t caught up to networks connecting individual abuse cases in scattered jurisdictions. They will get hidden. These networks might also have a lot of passive viewers who may not know of the extreme abuse, and some may be many peoples’ friends, causing conflict of interest about info sharing. So, suppose professional investigation happens, but given the nature of the material and how it came out, it gets stymied by the disinformation, geographic dislocation and inadequate laws. What should happen short of findings by cops and courts?
The prospect of all of this getting brushed under the rug is, of course, the reason why it may have been spread in public in the first place. That’s a solid reason to dismiss denials based on it not being handled by law enforcement first (it was reported) while sources duck backlash.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is a standard for court, not life. It’s a legal construct for if you’re charged with an offense by the State. Courts aren’t perfect and let people off on technicality all the time; and employment, public opinion or politics (like do you believe this candidate?) are some of many situations where judgement lands in between getting off completely unscathed, and being convicted of crime and sentenced to prison. Documenting and seeking change can help.
Ignoring the evidence is part of the story, so is the fact that laws don't cover many of the events in it as crimes, yet. That requires actively updating the laws. Until that happens it's beyond the capacity or responsibility of police. #metoo is a similar movement— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 24, 2018
This is crucial: Animals can’t talk, so their abuse may never come out (especially if evidence is disposed or untraceable). Authorities may consider this too low level for followup that would go to human abuse. But we all know this is horrible beyond words. And for people who did it, it’s part of a spectrum that can eventually lead to much worse, the “dark triad” of behavior. If that sounds like a slippery-slope or thoughtcrime type argument, ask yourself if you would let people into this stuff babysit your pet. No? Then we have an issue beyond a crime issue. It’s not a disagreement, this stuff is universally scarybad. So this isn’t just for cops. It’s a social issue.
How this fandom handles members remorselessly raping animals to death – or gives them a pass – will be a test beyond any other that has ever happened here.
I am not in the business of pulling punches, Kero the Wolf is not an isolated incident he is part of a grander problem with the image of the furry YouTube community that needs to be addressed. pic.twitter.com/wQZpDQrHv1— The Hunt for Reh October (@GrapeNutHero) September 20, 2018
Instead of the usual link to Patreon that goes at the bottom of these articles, please share the story and don’t let it die.
@LondonFurs are a large community of creative artists, costumers, and fans of anthropomorphised animals. “We host bi-annual seasonal events, too!”
If you’re anywhere near the UK, get ready for their Furry Invasion event at the Heart of Gaming, in Croydon, London. It’s an evening of tournaments, VR, arcade, and e-sports with prizes, and it’s sure to be the highlight of the LFG Online community.
“I’m super proud of the team involved in the set up and am really excited to be able to promote and support gamers in the furry community”, said Londonfurs chair Ani Boxer. The group has just bolstered its committee with new members. It’s currently run by 20 volunteers and is soon to have it’s 300th furmeet. Whatever game brings you to this meet, everyone’s a winner with dedication like that.
This was written as introduction for a planned series. I edited it to stand alone in response to recent events of bad things being exposed. Expect to see it reposted in the future to fit a series. It’s kind of a thinkpiece to provoke open ended conversation. Let’s start with a weird question… (- Patch)
Q: How are furries like Catholic Nuns?
Aside from silly headgear or being anthropomorphic penguins… this isn’t about being moralistic, but it involves contrasting black-and-white appearances.
Do nuns make you think nice thoughts about The Sound of Music or Mother Teresa, with harmless ladies playing guitar and taking care of orphans?
For a huge contrast, now think of scandals with abusive priests, where churches shift them from diocese to diocese to cover it up. It’s easy to assume nuns don’t do abuse like that. Until news comes out that they do, but the church hasn’t been accountable. This news may be loaded with a certain counterintuitiveness that increases the WTF factor. But in both cases, it’s dishonest to blame individuals for an institutional problem.
Furry fandom is made of loose federations of groups. Almost all of them are super positive and friendly and it would be gross exaggeration to suggest an institutional problem like above. It’s not a church with a pope. At worst, dramatic stories like a ring of abuse in Pennsylvania was limited to personal friendships that didn’t go as far as alleged. (Lupinefox, who was accused of hosting it at his house, was found not guilty on all charges in court.)
Like anywhere else, fandom has a section of wrongdoers. They may get away with it by moving from group to group with little documenting. Fandom has no single leaders, just volunteer organizers or mods who may passively tolerate bad members by saying: “it didn’t happen here, it’s not our problem…”
If nobody claims responsibility, is everybody blameless? You can say of course “it’s not our problem” when it’s just individuals.
But then comes a group habit of flipping blame at those who speak out (which will be a followup topic to this article.) People dismiss serious and well-founded problems as drama. That’s where “not our problem” becomes a problem itself, especially if it’s a pre-programmed habit.
Habits aren’t just for nuns. (See also):
- Geek Social Fallacies – individual principles don’t work the same on group level.
- The Missing Stair – A group may excuse an untrustworthy member by working around them, rather than dealing with them.
Complicity is a good word for a group habit of harboring dysfunction and dismissing accountability. Let me emphasize that I don’t think it’s a fandom problem (fandom has the solution too). It’s a human problem that happens with sub-groups of this subculture.
A followup article will look deep into sub-groups that aren’t just passive, but exist to manipulate these group habits. They straddle a line of individual deniability for members. To cover up complicity, they claim “guilt by association” as a two-faced tactic. They even project on others, like throwing grease on the stairs and accusing people who point out broken stairs.
More and more, fandom is no longer buying excuses for complicity.
More about truth, denial, and complicity in geek spaces.
Recently I brought some friends to the movie Blackkklansman. It was worth comparing to Sorry To Bother You (a movie recommended to furry fans for certain reasons I won’t spoil). They told stories with comic-book-lurid content but socially aware smarts. They’re fun with a point.
After the movie, we took time to digest it. I mentioned how the director of Sorry To Bother You had feedback about Blackkklansman that could change the understanding of what we saw. It’s based on some real happenings but the story uses a made-up conflict for dramatic effect. Basically it pits law and order against racists for a simple hero/villain Hollywood fairy tale. But in real life, the good guy of the movie wasn’t such a good guy. You have to read outside the movie to learn the story-behind-the-story.
- Movie story: good guys vs. the KKK.
- Criticism: Police were infiltrating and undermining activists that the KKK also hated (Martin Luther King was target of attempts to smear him.)
Our conversation jumped to Spotlight, the movie about exposing the scandal of child abuse by the Catholic Church. This powerful, conservative institution hid pedophile priests by shuffling them from diocese to diocese, concealing records and the trail of victims. Confronting the church with lawyers made victims play David vs. Goliath. The church’s defense strategy was mainly saying “it’s too old” and relying on statutory limits (because they concealed evidence beyond the limits). That isn’t a real defense, it’s a deflection – and they just couldn’t avoid stone-cold facts. Justice hadn’t happened, so whether the law accommodated it or not, the social confrontation brought out a story-behind-the-story.
My movie watching friends included someone of an older generation, who had studied to be a Catholic nun in the 1960’s in the Northeast US, the millieu of these happenings. They commented “You never hear about nuns doing that, it tells you about who should be in charge”. Sure, nuns look like harmless old ladies, but harm is contextual. I answered “you don’t hear about it because people think they aren’t capable, and that’s how they get away with it.” (My reference included the “Magdelane laundries” of Ireland, and the residential school system of Canada where horrifying abuse was covered up.)
Like a voodoo prophecy come true, a week later, a journalistic expose was published about abuse in orphanages by Catholic nuns in the northeast US. It’s extensively documented by the article, but it was harder to expose than the Spotlight story – because they didn’t just shuffle abusers around to conceal evidence, they didn’t keep records at all. The reporting relies on testimony. The institutional response was to not just rely on statutory limits, but also portray victims as old and confused despite “a vast and horrifying matrix of corroboration”. It took social confrontation to bring out a story-behind-the-story.
If you read it, you may notice this example of dishonest both-sidesing:
When the system enables this kind of institutional complicity, it changes from an equal both-sides disagreement to a David vs. Goliath battle.
Goliath straddles lines. In the first example (Blackkklansman) it looks like a good vs. evil story, but the lines become blurry when you look deeper. In the second example (Church abuse) it is a good vs. evil story, but the church wants to hide it by making blurry lines.
Sometimes truth benefits from a tug-of-war across blurry lines, but sometimes that’s dishonest. The issue is when to dismiss reactionary contrarianism and keep some basic things crystal-clear, black-and-white. It’s easy with institutional child abuse. Same for hate groups who have no legitimate reason to exist.
A productive discussion can benefit from a variety of perspectives. Not all are legitimate. They must reject bad faith and complicity with it. That’s why a supposed division about “both sides” about nazis or child abusers isn’t a legitimate disagreement, and isn’t about right vs. left. It’s about lying vs. truth.
For differing perspectives in good faith, from people who value individualism (perhaps conservative or libertarian), I’ve learned to appreciate that no individual is a statistic. That’s how you can look at nuns as responsible for abuse (no matter whether women or powerful men run the church.) From the type of person concerned with “social justice”, the kind who doesn’t excuse institutional abuse, I’ve learned that you can only bend statistics and facts so far before they break from reality.
Having a certain narrative or side isn’t a problem as long as some things are commonly held to be non-negotiable, with no “centrist” compromise or “alternative facts”, they can’t be deflected and aren’t “fake news” or “not our problem”.
A fandom has a real community, but little top-down power. It makes a group dynamic where it’s hard to get accountability and easy to fall into denial and complicity. That can be both a strength and a weakness. Abusers don’t get protection of some pope somewhere. But there’s also few watchdogs with enough vision to easily catch them manipulating it.
There’s just everyone. Each member who claims any part in the group has the power to demand better from others. When everyone expects better, there’s nothing that abusers/trolls/enablers can do to call that a division, dismiss it as drama, demand centrist compromise with bullshit, or call bad faith a matter of individual freedom. That’s when you get a united community of individuals all wanting one thing – a good place to enjoy what brought them there.
Very well said. https://t.co/Myzd7Xdkcj— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 19, 2018
Good thread linked within
TL;DR: "Fraudulent ideas" are toxic goods that destroy the "marketplace of ideas"
(and that's why you don't play the debate me game with altfurs and alt right hate groups, and it doesn't matter what convenient label they use)https://t.co/sS82ynlXwn