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Updated: 6 hours 38 min ago

Furry Studies academic conference to launch October 18, 2024 in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Fri 14 Jun 2024 - 00:05

Dutch furry fandom is spawning the Otterdam Furry Arts Festival, a public event celebrating furry culture and art. Part of the festival is a conference to connect academics, researchers, and community members for multi-field learning and presenting. It will happen physically and online, and you don’t have to be professional to contribute.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS — send proposals for work you can present at the event or online — DEADLINE IS JUNE 24, 2024

The Call For Papers has details and suggestions of work to present. History, philosophy, behavior study, economics…

We encourage the submission of proposals for academic papers, short workshops, practitioner-based activities, best-practice showcases, and pre-formed panels. We welcome established academics at all stages of their careers, and warmly embrace independent scholars. We also encourage submissions from non-academic furries and welcome other presentation formats such as photographic essays, alternative presentation styles, etc.

Here’s more info from one of the Organizing Committee. Vanguard Husky is a Postgraduate Researcher in the UK at the Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University. He runs Chasing Tails: A Furry Research Blog.

Furry Studies: An idea whose time has come — by Reuben “Vanguard” Mount

Just under a year ago, an academic colleague and I were approached with the idea of hosting a Furry Studies academic conference as part of a wider furry focused event. Honestly, there wasn’t much consideration before we accepted. I had been studying the furry fandom as a furry myself for three years at this time and was stunned to learn that this would be the first academic conference focusing on furries.

The furry fandom has been around for a long time. I know I probably don’t need to tell anyone reading this, but even if we take the first “furry party” as the benchmark, we’ve been here for almost forty years. Conversely, Furry Studies has been around arguably since 2007 with the initial studies from a group of social psychologists that would later become FurScience. Since this beginning, the number of furry academics has grown, with some incredible voices and viewpoints from countries around the world.

This was our starting point when we were approached to organise the first furry academic conference. We wanted to bring together these distant international voices that study furries to come together either physically or digitally to share their research, their thoughts and their knowledge about the furry fandom. It was also this desire to bring together knowledge that led to the creation of Minerva, our mascot.

The final result – drumroll please – is the Furry Studies 2024 conference (furrystudies.org) in Rotterdam, Netherlands, as part of the programme of the Otterdam Furry Arts Festival (otterdam.art). This will be a full-day event at the Nieuwe Instituut (nieuweinstituut.nl) on Friday October 18th 2024, with several sessions planned to fill the whole day. The opening keynote from Joe Strike (joestrike.com), who you may know from their amazing and insightful books about the furry fandom – Furry Nation and Furry Planet.

The theme of this conference is “Being Furry”. The intention of this was to begin with a provocation that was wide enough to prompt a variety of discussions, and one that we think every furry – academic or not – could speak to even if they couldn’t definitively answer. Also, as the first furry academic conference, we wanted to keep the theming simple to lead to more- complex and in-depth questions for future conferences – but that’s a thought process for later!

The Call for Papers is on our website. It’s been warmly received by the academic side of the furry fandom and we have received some incredible and insightful submissions so far. We’re still taking submissions until June 24th so make sure you drop something in before then!

But this isn’t just for academic fluffs! We welcome anyone interested in attending in person or online as registration and speaking slots are open to all. Plus, with all of the incredible events taking place over the weekend for the Otterdam Furry Arts Festival, and the fur con Reffurence (reffurence.com) happening the weekend after, there’s plenty to enjoy during this October in Rotterdam. So make sure you drop down and say hello!

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Fur And Loathing podcast: Exclusive bonus video with listener questions, Hazmat expert doc.

Tue 4 Jun 2024 - 05:40

The first four episodes of Fur and Loathing are HERE (six episodes are coming out weekly.)

Before Episode 5 comes out, here’s a surprise bonus episode. This mid-series break is making time for the investigation team to develop new leads that emerged after the series began.

Patch interviews Nicky, and pitches him listener questions about investigating the 2014 Midwest Furfest chemical attack. This Dogpatch Press exclusive video is 20 minutes longer than the official half hour audio edit published everywhere else. (In the extra run time, you can hear about another attempt to disrupt the con… Video transcript below).

Exclusive document: FBI interview about the chemical attack.

Never published before, this document is a result of FOIA requests to law enforcement. The team at Brazen gained much more robust responses than past journalists did. From the stacks of papers, this is the FBI’s interview with a member of the Hazardous Materials Team at the Rosemont Public Safety Department.

FBI Interview of Rosemont Public Safety Department Sergeant Greg Brosch_(Redacted)

Interview video transcript

00:00:00:10 – 00:00:12:15
Patch O’Furr
Hello and welcome to the Fur & Loathing bonus episode with me and Nicky Woolf. I’m Patch O’Furr, and I’m here live from sunny, midnight California.

00:00:12:18 – 00:00:18:11
Nicky Woolf
Nice and thank you for staying up so late for this.

00:00:18:11 – 00:00:23:22
Patch O’Furr
I’m a bit of a werewolf, you know. I like the full moon. I like all the night times.

00:00:23:24 – 00:00:29:24
Nicky Woolf
Hell yeah. For listener context it is 1:15 a.m. in San Francisco right now.

00:00:30:10 – 00:00:36:24
Patch O’Furr
Yeah. So, Nicky, let’s do a quick refresher about the developments in the show so far.

00:00:37:07 – 00:01:10:12
Nicky Woolf
So episode four came out on Monday of this week. So we started out the show, we went to Midwest FurFest. We went to see the scene of the crime. Absolutely fabulous time at Midwest FurFest, and seeing the scene of the crime was a real kind of game changer, I think, for us, because the geography of the space is so different from how I’d been imagining and the things that would mean about how the gas had to spread completely kind of changed my view on things.

00:01:10:16 – 00:01:38:13
Nicky Woolf
And then we had this massive reach out through Freedom of Information requests to the FBI and to Rosemont Police, got an incredible treasure trove of documents back, which included the massive twist that the FBI’s final suspect that they were investigating in 2019, which is the last action we know the investigation took, was not the person that you and I started out thinking was our lead suspect.

00:01:38:13 – 00:02:02:15
Nicky Woolf
Well, we’ll get to those in a little bit. But a new suspect at the board, Caleb Kinkade, who we tracked down, he wasn’t named in the docs. We tracked him down using a combination of Google Street View, we knew what town it was in. We did sort of Google Street View around the town. We found the house. We knew he was in a blue house when he was interviewed and we found one.

00:02:02:20 – 00:02:22:20
Nicky Woolf
And then we zoomed in on it and saw a furry paw decal in the window. So we were like, Oh, this is our guy. And so then we found contact details for him. We got in touch and we went to Oklahoma to to chat with him and do our own little interrogation. And that was the episode that just just came out.

00:02:23:05 – 00:02:31:02
Patch O’Furr
I saw that you brought some insight on the police investigation that was even surprising to people who told me that they were there.

00:02:31:07 – 00:02:56:05
Nicky Woolf
Yes. The police investigation, it turns out, looked entirely different from how it did on the outside from the FBI docs. We know that they were working behind the scenes quite a bit more than you and I had both gone into this story thinking, in that they were running down leads in 2015, 2017 and and as late as 2019. So there was stuff going on beneath the surface.

00:02:58:02 – 00:03:19:21
Nicky Woolf
The problem was and we’ll get into that a little bit later, is that despite working on it, they made some pretty colossal screw ups, which seem to have been our guesses as that’s what kind of hobbled the investigation from being able to make any arrests or charges.

00:03:19:24 – 00:03:31:20
Patch O’Furr
Now, tell me, Nicky, what did we do to deserve a bonus episode? Were there any developments after the show started coming out? Can you give us any hints?

00:03:32:10 – 00:04:03:22
Nicky Woolf
So, yes, we’ve had we had a tip. Actually, you had a tip that we’re now chasing down and a few more bits of information have come out still in ongoing conversations with the FBI and a couple of other sources. And so we thought we’d put out a bonus episode to give an extra week to do a bit of reporting and chase down a few more leads before we go into the kind of final, final stretch of the show.

00:04:03:22 – 00:04:09:10
Patch O’Furr
Oh, man, that’s so exciting. Yeah, you’re changing it as we go.

00:04:09:21 – 00:04:18:14
Nicky Woolf
Yeah, I don’t want to say too much about those about those leads, but there’s some some pretty dramatic stuff in there. But no spoilers.

00:04:18:20 – 00:04:30:20
Patch O’Furr
We also got questions from from furry listeners coming up. Yeah, let’s go. Well, let’s see. I’m trying to operate my mouse with my giant paws!

00:04:31:04 – 00:04:58:23
Nicky Woolf
Oh, in the meantime, we can talk about one of the police screw ups, which is relevant to episode four that just came out. And we were doing a kind of re-dive through a lot of the Freedom of Information Act documents. And what happens in episode four, we end episode four coming out pretty much kind of catching the Oklahoma suspect in what we think exonerated him fairly.

00:05:00:10 – 00:05:30:03
Nicky Woolf
We were fairly confident and how we came out of that interview and then relooking through the FOIA docs and we had, you know, 300, 400 pages of documents buried really deep because we were looking at the investigation into Kinkade. One of the things that went wrong on the Caleb Kinkade, we’ll get into this in kind of episode six wrap up the two of the weird things.

00:05:30:03 – 00:06:05:17
Nicky Woolf
Actually, one of the things is that the tip off the FBI were chasing down with Caleb came four years before the incident and we thought that was a typo at first we thought, you know, they got a tip off in 2010. That must have been a typo. Right. But then when they go to interview Kinkade in 2019, they say, Hey, can you explain how this tip off came four years before the incident, to which they note Caleb’s response was, “What the fuck?”

00:06:06:07 – 00:06:27:21
Nicky Woolf
Which, yeah, that’s quite a reasonable response, to be honest, to being told that that some kind of time machine tip off came from before the event. We we have no other information in the documents about what the hell that was about. They said it was with some specificity to the incident. God only knows what that I mean. Honestly, that’s super weird.

00:06:28:19 – 00:07:01:14
Nicky Woolf
But the other thing that came out of this recent deep dive into the documents is that buried, buried way deep in one of the documents is that a different set of officers straight after the incident, when they said they first started looking into Kinkade pretty soon after the chlorine attack and quite early on, two task force officers who didn’t seem to be all that much in the rest of the documents, I think they were just kind of attached to it on the beat for that part of the investigation found–

00:07:01:21 – 00:07:32:21
Nicky Woolf
So Kinkade’s alibi had been that he was home with his disabled father, who he looks after, and that he’d gone to visit his nephew on the Saturday and they found a witness who said and it’s super heavily redacted and poorly phrased, so no one seems to have noticed it, including the rest of the FBI. But they chased down his alibi and it stood up in 2014.

00:07:32:21 – 00:08:05:24
Nicky Woolf
And that’s why we didn’t see it, because it was in the old docs. They were still investigating him for five years after that. So it seems like someone at the at the task force maybe filed the papers wrong or something. But I think the rest of the FBI don’t seem to have seen that part of the documents any more than we did before just a few days ago, because it’s so deeply buried and it’s phrased in a way that unless you really, really parse it, looks like it’s hidden.

00:08:06:07 – 00:08:34:23
Nicky Woolf
It says that they hadn’t seen him since Thanksgiving and was at his mother in law’s house. And we thought that meant that he was there for Thanksgiving. There’s actually a full stop there, which is partly covered by one of the redacteds. So that means it actually says, but on the night at ten so 1030, he was placed in Oklahoma, which on top of what he told us, that we feel exonerated him

00:08:34:23 – 00:08:58:10
Nicky Woolf
in the interview, the FBI had also stood up his alibi. So why he was their the main and final suspect in 2019 is even more baffling and speaks even more to the situation where the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing in this investigation. That’s just been so completely wild to me. But yeah, institutional, you know, fuck ups at every turn.

00:08:59:05 – 00:09:33:19
Nicky Woolf
And that’s also on top of the fact that they screwed up the evidence testing on site. And we spoke to someone from the FBI who was in a few episodes ago who said that it was wildly beyond— it seems like the FBI, where we’re trying to get confirmation of exactly when the FBI was informed. It doesn’t seem like they were informed until much later on the Sunday after the attack, because if the FBI had been informed at the time, there is no way they would have allowed people back into the hotel.

00:09:33:21 – 00:10:03:24
Nicky Woolf
They would have treated it as an active crime scene until all investigations were. But the Rosemont police, the Rosemont first responders cleared up the stairwell, cleared the crime scene, tidied it up. Wild, absolutely wild. I can only imagine someone someone at the FBI when they found this out, must have hit the roof. I mean, absolutely gone, like, “What the hell were you doing?”

00:10:03:24 – 00:10:20:23
Nicky Woolf
[Laugh] It was the Weapons of Mass Destruction Unit was called in, and they must have been like, “What the hell are you doing? What the hell have you done? There’s people in our crime scene.”

00:10:22:06 – 00:10:36:06
Patch O’Furr
Well, hey, it’s it’s really interesting to hear it from you. Well I wanted to jump to the other topic, I wanted to ask, how do people like the show? Have you been hearing from people?

00:10:36:09 – 00:11:03:06
Nicky Woolf
Yeah, seems to be going down really well. The reviews have been great. People seem to like it. It seems like— and this was very meaningful to us while we were making it, because obviously it’s a show for a general audience, but this is also really meaningful to us that the that it be something that the very community could enjoy and be proud of and that would do justice to representing that community.

00:11:03:06 – 00:11:05:09
Nicky Woolf
And I hope we’ve— I hope we’ve achieved that.

00:11:05:09 – 00:11:20:10
Patch O’Furr
Yeah. So I had a question from a listener Dralen Dragonfox over in Toronto, just asked “What kind of response have you received from the broader furry community?” And I guess you just answered that.

00:11:22:12 – 00:11:23:15
Nicky Woolf
Very positive!

00:11:23:15 – 00:11:29:02
Patch O’Furr
But I can jump in as well because I think—

00:11:29:02 – 00:11:30:11
Nicky Woolf
Yeah, what have you been hearing.

00:11:30:11 – 00:11:54:13
Patch O’Furr
So I am seeing fantastic reactions from anybody who’s ever heard the show. Just just beautiful, really great reviews. They love the quality of the show, but also how much you care. And that’s kind of surprising to some people. And I think we’re just lucky to have your professionalism on the story.

00:11:54:13 – 00:11:55:01
Nicky Woolf
Thank you.

00:11:55:01 – 00:12:23:21
Patch O’Furr
There is another side to this, because I am seeing people who obviously have not listened to the show and they’re still spreading the same old denial and the story that, “Oh, it was just an accident. We don’t believe there was ever any crime at all.” And there’s sometimes people are attacking the people who are doing the reporting, calling it fake news, saying there’s nothing new here.

00:12:24:13 – 00:12:47:00
Patch O’Furr
And, you know, it’s kind of disappointing, but it’s— I don’t know how surprising it is, but I also say that’s a great reason that the story needs to be told and people should also know how much work it took. And how much effort we’re putting into it with the whole team over at Brazen.

00:12:47:00 – 00:13:06:15
Nicky Woolf
And also, you’ve been working on this for four years. You’ve been, you know, putting in the lonely legwork of of standing this story up and being like this. This is something that matters. And I think to a certain extent, I think some of it comes down to what we were talking about just before, which is the police didn’t seem to be taking it all that seriously.

00:13:06:15 – 00:13:11:04
Nicky Woolf
So I think quite reasonably, people’s reactions have been, “Alright. So why should we?”

00:13:11:11 – 00:13:21:08
Patch O’Furr
You know what we know. Let me just ask you for a little rundown on the kind of work that you’re doing. First off, how many states have you gone to?

00:13:21:08 – 00:13:46:18
Nicky Woolf
So we have been to Illinois to to Midwest FurFest, and we have been to Oklahoma to talk with Caleb Kinkade, the Oklahoma suspect, the FBI suspect. And we have been to Wisconsin. And that is that trip is going to be a episode five, which comes out next week, a week today, when this when this broadcast.

00:13:46:18 – 00:13:50:14
Patch O’Furr
I remember there was a little bit with me over in California that was pretty cool.

00:13:51:04 – 00:13:56:02
Nicky Woolf
Oh, yeah. Well, I didn’t get to go., which was— I was very sad about that. That was with Nick.

00:13:56:15 – 00:13:58:21
Patch O’Furr
Yeah, we have to meet. I’m going to have to get you a drink.

00:13:59:03 – 00:14:00:21
Nicky Woolf
I know. I’m going to get you a drink.

00:14:01:05 – 00:14:05:06
Patch O’Furr
Yeah. How many helpers are on the team, by the way?

00:14:05:19 – 00:14:32:19
Nicky Woolf
That’s a really good opportunity to shout out to all the people who’ve done so much hard work on this, Arnav and Lucy our researchers have been so fantastic. They’ve done just incredible work. And Goat Rodeo, the whole production team, especially Max and Ian, who worked extremely hard on this. The total size of the team. I mean, it sort of depends how you count it.

00:14:32:19 – 00:14:49:13
Nicky Woolf
There were like some producers who also helped out. Then Nick has helped out with a whole load of edits. That’s Nick who you met in California, but yeah, everyone at Brazen and everyone at Goat Rodeo, it’s just been terrific.

00:14:49:23 – 00:14:54:01
Patch O’Furr
And in your travels, how many people have you talked to so far?

00:14:55:23 – 00:15:38:21
Nicky Woolf
Oh, I’d have to go into our interviews. I think we we reached out to, and in some cases exchanged some messages with, skyward of 100 people. And I think we’ve spoken to and done formal interviews with at least 20, 25 spoken off the record or informal interviews with maybe another 25. So yeah, lots and lots of people, lots of voices have gone into informing this reporting. There’s been a real — and I think quite understandable — reluctance of of people in the community to speak because of how often, you know, the community gets burned by the media, and how often journalists will come in and sort of ridicule or not really

00:15:38:22 – 00:16:04:02
Nicky Woolf
understand, or go through the old kind of tropes of just being like a sort of internet sex thing, you know, from the George Gurley article [in Vanity Fair], even the title of the podcast, Fur & Loathing, as any furry listening to this will know, is the title of a CSI episode that was really just a hit job on the community.

00:16:04:18 – 00:16:27:05
Nicky Woolf
And so then you were talking about this. We talked about how the title will will be received. And I think in that sense, it’s also been positive. People have people have said it— but, you know, people have mentioned it. And when that’s come up on on Twitter or BlueSky, I’ve said, yeah, we went back and forth.

00:16:27:10 – 00:16:41:06
Nicky Woolf
I just personally liked the name and hopefully we can reclaim it. Hopefully we can be the the Google search for that above the CSI thing and sort of memory-hole the CSI. That’s the idea.

00:16:41:11 – 00:17:10:22
Patch O’Furr
So you’ve got a whole ton of people, some very fuzzy and colorful ones and now that makes me curious about one of the very clever ones we’ve already heard from: Caleb. I want to talk about meeting him. And I actually have a listener question from Flen, the silly wolf-otter. So Flen asks, he says, “I’m from North Georgia, but I want to know what Oklahoma was like.”

00:17:10:22 – 00:17:16:09
Patch O’Furr
“I bet it was culture shock and Caleb seems like an interesting guy.”

00:17:16:20 – 00:17:42:06
Nicky Woolf
He’s a fascinating dude. I mean, going to Oklahoma was less of a culture shock for me than than it might have been because I’ve been based in the U.S. as a general assignment news reporter for a really long time. So I hadn’t actually been to Oklahoma, I think, before, but I think that made it the 46th state I’ve been to.

00:17:42:18 – 00:18:12:09
Nicky Woolf
So I’ve only got, I think, Montana, one of the Dakotas and one of the states, two of the states that are basically next to Montana to go. So I’m yeah, I lived in Ohio for a while, so Oklahoma’s bit more southern, but still where we were had a bit of Midwestern vibes as well. That’s going to annoy more people than anything else I say on this show.

00:18:13:11 – 00:18:15:14
Nicky Woolf
But yeah, I think Ohio prepared me for Oklahoma.

00:18:16:03 – 00:18:37:03
Patch O’Furr
Well, a lot more states than I’ve been to! I got to catch up with you, right? Yeah, so when you were chatting with Caleb, I thought it was, you know, really funny to hear stories about fart competitions. But, you know, I told some friends actually recording it is a feat of podcasting.

00:18:37:21 – 00:19:01:00
Nicky Woolf
So yeah, we had a a microphone, a shotgun mic that was on a boom. Luckily for Nick, who was holding it— I don’t know if Nick or Max was holding it, but very much at arm’s length trying to capture the sound. But yeah, I can well believe he’s a champion. He was really a powerfully good farter.

00:19:01:10 – 00:19:04:24
Patch O’Furr
Quite a voice. Did you have to do extra takes?

00:19:05:17 – 00:19:08:13
Nicky Woolf
Oh, he, gave us as many takes as we wanted. Yeah.

00:19:10:01 – 00:19:13:11
Patch O’Furr
Good job! A new milestone in your career.

00:19:14:00 – 00:19:38:18
Nicky Woolf
He was pretty, obviously, and as I say in the episode, somebody being charming and nice doesn’t preclude them from you know, it doesn’t mean their innocence. I think his innocence was showed by the mistakes he made about not knowing in the episode how the attack took place, but boasting about knowing. So he he got it wrong.

00:19:39:05 – 00:20:02:07
Nicky Woolf
So he thought that was a strong indicator. And then that was backed up by the fact that someone on the task force in 2014 before five more years of investigating him, but nonetheless his alibi stood up to the FBI. But yeah, he was he was really nice and he was generous with his time and spends a heck of a yarn.

00:20:02:19 – 00:20:31:01
Patch O’Furr
Okay, well, you know, it must be hard to view just sort of put in the spotlight like that with such a serious story. So I will let that rest for him and move on, because coming up, there’s another suspect. We named him: Robert Sojkowski.

00:20:31:01 – 00:21:03:08
Nicky Woolf
Yeah. This is Robert Sojkowski. Very controversial figure in the community. In the next episode coming up, we start to evaluate where things are with him and but but yeah — another really interesting angle of investigation. I don’t want to go too much further down down that road, but I think I think people are going to be really interested to hear what happened when we went up to Wisconsin.

00:21:03:14 – 00:21:07:20
Patch O’Furr
Yeah, I would avoid spoilers, but you know, I interviewed him in 2018.

00:21:08:06 – 00:21:09:06
Nicky Woolf
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:21:09:16 – 00:21:16:07
Patch O’Furr
Let me just ask, what did you do to try to reach him?

00:21:16:07 – 00:21:43:00
Nicky Woolf
It was it was hard to track him down. Not as difficult as tracking Caleb down because, you know, he still has things like his YouTube channel running and we got a whole bunch of numbers for him and a Telegram handle. And the Telegram was still active. So one of the cold calls were made to him is on Telegram and that’s the one he responded to.

00:21:43:16 – 00:21:59:20
Nicky Woolf
I mean, again, this is neither proof of guilt nor innocence, but he has also been open with us and has been willing to talk and has also been generous with his time. So well, you know, that’s not a data point one way or the other, but I think it’s it’s worth saying.

00:22:00:16 – 00:22:05:22
Patch O’Furr
Okay. Did you want to say anything else about the behavior or are we just going to find out?

00:22:06:03 – 00:22:09:17
Nicky Woolf
Let’s let’s hold off on that. We’ll get to that.

00:22:09:17 – 00:22:24:10
Patch O’Furr
Okay. Well, let’s get back to what the listeners want to know. I’ve got a lot of questions and I guess, yeah, we can start out with BowieBarks. And Bowie. asks—

00:22:24:10 – 00:22:25:00
Nicky Woolf
Hello, Bowie.

00:22:28:10 – 00:22:39:18
Patch O’Furr
And Bowie has questions about going to the Midwest FurFest. Seeing that it was your first furry convention, what did you enjoy most?

00:22:40:11 – 00:23:43:14
Nicky Woolf
I loved every second of Midwest FurFest. It was just such a joyous, just a brilliant environment to be and just so visually overwhelming and the vibes were fantastic. My favorite moment of it, and actually someone I forgot to give a shout out to is Tommy Bruce, photographer who was the first furry we ever got in touch with for the show. First person we spoke to, and was very kind and showed me around Midwest FurFest, and has been also kind of our furry moral compass with this. We’ve had this kind of fascinating conversation going and we went to this screaming— er, screening review of a whole bunch of short films made in VRChat.

00:23:44:16 – 00:24:20:21
Nicky Woolf
And they were fabulous. There was a lot of in-jokes that only a few people were getting, so we’d have one film, and like one very specific group in the room would burst out laughing and they were just surreal kind of comedic things. And then interspersed into those were these just beautiful, heartbreaking kind of, you know, goodbyes to to someone who maybe passed away or just I-miss-yous to people who live across the world, many kind of people who only interact and get to get to meet in VRChat.

00:24:22:06 – 00:24:30:18
Nicky Woolf
And so it was like swinging between like laughter and tears the whole time. It was just beautiful, like, really, really moving.

00:24:30:24 – 00:24:43:03
Patch O’Furr
So nice. Wow. Yeah. So Bowie went on to ask, was there anything that challenged you?

00:24:43:07 – 00:25:31:24
Nicky Woolf
Challenged— I mean, just trying to see everything was such a challenge. There’s so much on. We were running from— we went from a panel on the very beginnings of history of the fandom, which was fascinating. Running from there to a panel on— this was dramatic to me., it was not just a panel on fursuit making, it was a panel by three big fursuit makers on just how to get your commission even noticed by them. And you know these are people who are making a suit for $10,000, $15,000 and just to get your commission noticed by them was something that needed a panel that gave advice.

00:25:32:08 – 00:26:00:12
Nicky Woolf
But just getting from all of these panels, from panel to panel to, you know, stall to stall, trying to see everything was exhausting. And I think Cara, who’s the producer who was with me, her Apple Watch or something, said that we’d walked something like 14 kilometers over the course of each day, maybe more. Just doing that in a full fursuit…

00:26:00:12 – 00:26:03:19
Nicky Woolf
… must be— and it is hot. I mean, it is like—

00:26:04:21 – 00:26:06:15
Patch O’Furr
Wow.

00:26:06:15 – 00:26:07:04
Nicky Woolf
So yeah.

00:26:08:09 – 00:26:11:08
Patch O’Furr
This is why they have a fursuit lounge.

00:26:12:03 – 00:26:16:20
Nicky Woolf
Air-conditioned all the way down.

00:26:16:20 – 00:26:37:09
Patch O’Furr
Saves lives. Yeah. Okay, so, boy, I’ve got quite a list here. One more for BowieBarks. And this is a hard one. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this. But you called furries a bellwether for the rest of the world. What you think is coming?

00:26:37:09 – 00:27:01:05
Nicky Woolf
That is a huge question. And I think what I meant was furries and kind of all digital communities to me in this kind of— There’s like a deep theoretical answer to this that it’s more like an essay unto itself, but in brief, I think what the Internet has done is changed the geography of communication almost completely.

00:27:03:00 – 00:27:33:06
Nicky Woolf
And I think the furry fandom is a good example of how you can have a fandom that I think Uncle Kage said it in a really good way when we spoke to him, but it was that it’s a fandom without a corporate piece of content that is being fandomed. It’s like a self-made fandom, you know? It’s not cosplay in the way that people are dressing up as Marvel characters or Disney characters and things like that.

00:27:34:14 – 00:28:09:12
Nicky Woolf
And I don’t think you could have that without the Internet, without that kind of peer-to-peer communication network. But I also think that the effect of that peer-to-peer communication network that allow, you know, folks who might be in a small town, not have a huge amount in common with the people around them and have found the furry community online as that community and again, through these VR videos, we saw a lot of that emotion coming through.

00:28:09:12 – 00:28:50:14
Nicky Woolf
But unfortunately, that same infrastructure makes it much easier for the far right to both infiltrate and organize. And I think within the furry fandom, we saw a lot of that, especially in 2017 when oh God, to even have to name him when when you know who that guy started to try to come to furry conventions. And, you know, these alt right figures saw it as an opportunity to infiltrate and you end up with things like the furry raiders.

00:28:51:18 – 00:29:19:05
Nicky Woolf
So I think the Internet does both of those things. And I think wider society, more more traditional groups in society are starting to experience that as communication becomes more and more similarly online and more kind of mainstream groupings and and even politics. And we’re already seeing, you know, Donald Trump is running for president again. That doesn’t happen without the Internet.

00:29:19:17 – 00:29:24:11
Patch O’Furr
Okay. Next question from Arrkay the Bird. Yeah, Arrkay…

00:29:24:18 – 00:29:25:21
Nicky Woolf
Hello Arrkay!

00:29:26:05 – 00:29:32:10
Patch O’Furr
… asks, is there any hope for justice or new evidence that the police can use to prosecute?

00:29:33:00 – 00:30:12:08
Nicky Woolf
So the thing that’s difficult in that question is one thing we ran up against, we spoke to some experts to try and firm it out and all we could really got was it’s complicated, but we’re fairly sure that there is a statute of limitations issue on what happened. Now, the statute of limitations in Illinois is at a default five years, which is why we think the FBI made a final push to be interviewing Caleb in 2019 because that was just before the five year timeline.

00:30:13:11 – 00:30:42:23
Nicky Woolf
Now, there’s nothing in the documents that specify that there’s a statute of limitations. And one of the formal questions that we’ve asked the FBI for comment on was this question. And they said no comment. Statute of limitations would be different on a federal terrorism charge, which is one of the potential things that could be being looked into. Another thing the FBI wouldn’t answer as is this case still being it’s still open, still considered under investigation.

00:30:42:23 – 00:31:03:09
Nicky Woolf
They wouldn’t say, well, I think pretty standard for the FBI to answer those kind of questions with no comment. But we we don’t know if new information that we bring up from the podcast and we’ve heard from different sources. We’ve spoke to some of the same sources the FBI have. We think we’ve spoken to different sources. We have different eyewitness testimony.

00:31:05:04 – 00:31:18:06
Nicky Woolf
But no idea if if this will lead to more law enforcement action because they’re so opaque and because we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and what kind of pressure they might be under.

00:31:18:07 – 00:31:24:09
Patch O’Furr
Well, that makes a good link to the next question. And this one is also from Dralen Dragonfox.

00:31:25:11 – 00:31:26:01
Nicky Woolf
Hi, Dralen

00:31:27:10 – 00:31:45:18
Patch O’Furr
Dralen says, I love the accidental support that you got from the FBI with the badly redacted FOIA files. Have you seen that before or have you seen them mess up on purpose, like some misspell names so they can say there’s no documents?

00:31:46:14 – 00:32:19:09
Nicky Woolf
That definitely happens. In this case, it doesn’t seem like they were doing redactions to avoid it. It was almost so dramatic compared to previous reporting that happened on this case. We got so much more documents than, say, Vice did when they sent their requests. That was a piece that this maybe five years ago. It could be some sometimes it’s as simple as you capture FOIA officer in the right mood and they’re like, okay, yeah, maybe we will.

00:32:19:13 – 00:32:42:24
Nicky Woolf
Sometimes you’ve no idea whether it’s been run up the chain or not, whether someone at the FBI has said, “OK, we want to get these documents out, maybe they can find something that will allow us to—”. There’s also a lot of accidents that go on. I think a lot of our documents were very poorly redacted and that may have been incompetence.

00:32:43:04 – 00:33:05:10
Nicky Woolf
We don’t know whose. Some of the documents were from Rosemont Police, but were given to us by the FBI for their response. We don’t know who did the redactions that we don’t know if it was Rosemont-redacted or FBI-redacted. I mean, in one case, they put somebody’s Social Security Number unredacted and now that’s—

00:33:06:00 – 00:33:46:01
Nicky Woolf
That’s a screw up. I mean, that should not be in a Freedom of Information Act document with that being there. They also — and this is an interesting sign about how how they think about the furry community — is that they would redact, uh, witnesses, real-world name and not redact their fursona name, which implies they just sort of don’t know how, how core a piece of identity a fursona name is and how easy it would be for someone who really wanted to, to identify, you know, to track down a person with their fursona name.

00:33:46:01 – 00:34:09:22
Nicky Woolf
And in the past I’ve had documents released to me accidentally. I did a FOIA investigation when I was at The Guardian into a national security story about police surveillance. And we sent a Freedom of Information request to, 50-something police departments. And one of them gave us classified documents either by accident or because they wanted them to come out.

00:34:10:07 – 00:34:22:22
Nicky Woolf
So it can it can happen positively. But yeah, there have definitely been stories of purposeful misspellings being introduced into FOIA docs in order to make journalists lives difficult, so it goes both ways.

00:34:22:22 – 00:34:40:17
Patch O’Furr
You really have to finesse it and know what you’re doing. BowieBarks dropped in another comment, he said another podcast was saying to be vague with FOIA to keep them from guessing exactly what you’re trying to get at so they don’t redact it.

00:34:40:24 – 00:35:12:03
Nicky Woolf
I would say if we’re doing advice to you know, general FOIA advice ,you can’t really ask a vague question because they aren’t giving yes or no answers, they’re either providing a document or not. So document specificity is the most important thing if you’re looking for a police report and you know roughly what date, all that kind of thing is what I would put in.

00:35:12:05 – 00:35:38:10
Nicky Woolf
It’s not the same thing as asking a journalistic question. So you can’t put a FOIA request in saying something like, is this still active? You have to say, we want all email communication between X and Y date between this agent’s email address and responding to a keyword search of X, Y and Z.

00:35:39:01 – 00:35:59:22
Nicky Woolf
That’s the kind of thing that helps with a FOIA response. If you know even more about what the documents might be, that’s your kind of best shot going in with a Freedom of Information Act request. If you give them any vagueness, that’ll give them an opportunity, an excuse to to not to not give you back anything.

00:36:00:23 – 00:36:42:00
Nicky Woolf
So that’s FOIA advice, okay. Let me look at Arnav and see if that’s good FOIA advice. Arnav’s the FOIA king. I’m getting a thumbs up on that advice. On the subject of FOIAs, we will be sharing some of the FOIA docs as we go and we will have one exclusively for Dogpatch Press, which will be the first original incident report that people can go through and read. It’ll go up on Monday along with this video, so people can have a look through and get a little window into what a FOIA document looks like and see what happened on on the night as well through the through the eyes of the first responders.

00:36:43:18 – 00:36:45:14
Nicky Woolf
So that’ll be fun.

00:36:45:15 – 00:36:57:18
Patch O’Furr
That is that is some exciting direct documents there. How much support did you have from the FBI and local police, versus how much did you actually have to work in spite of them?

00:36:58:19 – 00:37:27:15
Nicky Woolf
Except for the surprisingly generous FOIA response we’ve had very, very little cooperation from either the FBI or Rosemont. None of our direct questions to them, none of the official questions have been answered with anything other than a no comment. Even for working with the security agencies, which I’ve done a lot of before in my career., this has been a real code of silence.

00:37:27:24 – 00:38:05:01
Nicky Woolf
This is unusually unhelpful, non-compliant surprisingly, which is what makes this and this is just kind of vibe-based, it is how they would be responding— It’s more likely how they would be responding if this was still an active case or if they thought this could still be an active case. But it’s also, to a certain extent, it’s their default way of being so it’s hard to read too much into that.

00:38:05:01 – 00:38:22:06
Nicky Woolf
But yeah, we’ve had to work with the documents, which again have been hugely, hugely important to the to the investigation. But in terms of actively speaking with the FBI in Rosemont, it’s been despite them definitely.

00:38:22:06 – 00:38:39:12
Patch O’Furr
Okay. Well, that might actually answer the next question. And this is again, this is Arrkay the Bird and Arrkay asks, “Are there interviews coming up with law enforcement who took the case seriously?”

00:38:39:12 – 00:39:17:22
Nicky Woolf
No, they have not allowed us access to any of the officers involved or anyone who might even represent the officers involved. And again, I think we said this earlier, but Agent Defeo, Shaun Rose, if you guys want to get in contact, I think you guys have done good work and good for both of you for sticking with it in what seem to be quite difficult, internal conditions. If either if you want to chat my, you know, my emails are open. But yeah we’ve been offered no access to them whatsoever.

00:39:17:22 – 00:39:52:24
Patch O’Furr
Okay, let’s see. Well, we have a question from Bean and you know, this is a funny one. I want to start off saying that when you choose a fursona, there are certain cartoon characters that are just instantly, you know, it’s fun to recognize. Like, for example, if you want to have an animal who is a bank robber then it might be a raccoon — you’ve got stripes, you’ve got the mask.

00:39:53:15 – 00:39:54:15
Nicky Woolf
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:39:55:08 – 00:40:01:01
Patch O’Furr
So If you chose a persona, what would it be?

00:40:01:13 – 00:40:26:03
Nicky Woolf
So this is a great question because going into when we went to Midwest FurFest, we had this idea of doing a scene where we get people together and, you know, find find Nicky’s fursona. And obviously my last name is Woolf. So part of that might be easy. But I was also thinking of, you know, some based on puns and things like that.

00:40:26:13 – 00:41:14:09
Nicky Woolf
But the more people we spoke to, the more I started to get the feeling that actually that was maybe not offensive necessarily, but kind of in poor taste. I think it was Tommy again who who might have said this but it was or it might have been someone else we spoke to — but it was the idea that that it wasn’t taking it seriously, that a fursona is for a lot of people, a really meaningful and important part of their lives and picking one, you know, finding a pun and being like what’s mine felt like it wasn’t taking that as seriously as it deserved to.

00:41:14:09 – 00:41:37:13
Nicky Woolf
Someone even might have said that it’s sort of like, what’s your gaysona? You know, like and that kind of— they’re not directly comparable. But yeah, we sort of shelved that idea as being in slightly poor taste. But I think given my name is Woolf, if I was— it would be a wolf, I think.

00:41:37:13 – 00:41:54:16
Patch O’Furr
Let’s see. Well, now Bowie is here with another question. Boy, he’s a very curious dog here. Will you be involved with the community more or will you do any other investigations related to furries?

00:41:55:04 – 00:42:24:15
Nicky Woolf
So I already went into this with lots of friends in the fandom. I’ve come out with lots more. I’d love to go to more cons. I had such a great time. So yeah, I think I’ll definitely stay involved. And other investigations, absolutely. Looking for more stories. It’s part of my— my kind of beat is internet subcultures and furries are such a huge part of that

00:42:24:15 – 00:42:46:21
Nicky Woolf
Actually, so for example, in the QAnon podcast I did, we worked very closely with a guy called Fred Brennan who’s also in the fandom, which is interesting. So yeah, it just shows how much crossover there is with the furry fandom with other kind of internet subcultures and communities.

00:42:48:10 – 00:42:58:20
Patch O’Furr
Okay, let’s see. Well, Arrkay asks, “Are there any ideas for a season two?” I’m just going to say you’ll find out.

00:42:58:20 – 00:43:15:06
Nicky Woolf
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Watch this space or listen to this space, I guess. But I will say if people— help in terms of getting season two: if everyone can leave nice reviews on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and things, that always helps.

00:43:15:13 – 00:43:40:04
Patch O’Furr
So tell all your friends, share it around, since your fine work is worth sharing. I guess we’re getting towards wrapping up a little bit. And I just wanted to point out — one point the show makes is how much the police messed up. I’m just curious, do you see any lessons?

00:43:40:04 – 00:44:28:23
Nicky Woolf
There’s some specific ones and some general ones. Some of the specific ones, as we found out and a lot of this was in the first two episodes, but we found out some pretty unpleasant stuff about Rosemont Police Department itself. Rosemont is this weird, financially designed town. It’s got a population of about 3,000 at a budget in the high millions because all these conventions happen, there are all these kind of business centers, the airport hotels are there, and they’re a tiny police force run internally, that’s independent of a major police force like Chicago.

00:44:30:06 – 00:44:59:08
Nicky Woolf
And it seems like there were some quite serious organizational failures within that police department that we think may well have contributed quite heavily to the early mistakes that were made. And certainly there were other allegations of things going on in Rosemont Police Department that that we heard that build a picture of it being pretty disorganized place. And for some of the people we spoke to a kind of unpleasant place to work too.

00:44:59:16 – 00:45:31:00
Nicky Woolf
And then the organizational stuff is whenever something like this happens, you have so many different agencies that get involved, so much paperwork is produced. When you have three different divisions at the FBI, you’ve got field office, you’ve got the WMD unit, you’ve got the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and then you’ve got the Rosemont Police Department, you’ve got Chicago Fire, who were also some of the first responders, because Rosemont asked for their assistance.

00:45:31:00 – 00:46:12:03
Nicky Woolf
And that’s how you end up with stuff like one part of the investigation checking up on, say, Caleb’s alibi, but other parts of the investigation seeming not to have realized. And you just end up with all these communication failures where one part of the investigation doesn’t know what the other part is doing. Rosemont Police Department destroyed what might have been some crucial evidence, such as the tapes of police interviews with suspects. We are trying to figure out if that’s standard practice.

00:46:12:11 – 00:46:31:02
Nicky Woolf
That’s one of the things that we’ve asked the FBI. That’s another of the things the FBI has given us a flat “no comment” on is where the chain of custody of the evidence is, because, again, they cleared the crime scene straight afterwards. This is the Rosemont responders. We don’t know where the broken glass from the device ended up.

00:46:31:02 – 00:47:00:09
Nicky Woolf
We don’t know if that’s in some kind of locker somewhere or if it was literally just thrown away. That all kinds of different people who are handling evidence all with different aims, and then you’ve got what people are investigating for. We don’t know what specific crime is being investigated. And that’s an important question for the statute of limitations question because a federal terrorist defense will have a different statute of limitations to the basic Illinois five years.

00:47:00:24 – 00:47:33:10
Nicky Woolf
We don’t know if the case was being investigated as a terroristic crime or as something lesser. We think if they were making a push for the five-year statute of limitations, they were looking for something lesser than than a terrorist offense. But we don’t know. All of this stuff is very opaque. It’s hard to come out of this question with what is, I think, obvious to anyone who’s followed any kind of the news in the United States…

00:47:33:17 – 00:47:39:23
Nicky Woolf
… for any of the last ten years. But I think some law enforcement reform probably wouldn’t go amiss in general.

00:47:40:14 – 00:48:07:03
Patch O’Furr
So earlier I mentioned that there were non-listeners who were just denying and dismissing the story, saying there wasn’t a crime, there’s no news, you know, I mean they haven’t listened to it. So I just wanted to make a little reminder about the gravity of the story. And if we put the attack next to others like it, is it really fair to call this one of the biggest ones?

00:48:07:20 – 00:48:51:12
Nicky Woolf
Yes, ultimately. There has not been, as far as I know, an attack— a single attack of this scale. The reason that we’ve been calling it the second biggest chemical weapon attack is that the 2001 anthrax campaign, I think, hospitalized fewer people but killed three people. And some of that— one of the things we’ve heard from law enforcement that we’ve talked to who weren’t involved in the case, but former law enforcement who are giving us advice, is that the fact that nobody died, I think may have put it in a different law enforcement category, even though 19 people were hospitalized, including one infant.

00:48:51:12 – 00:49:18:22
Nicky Woolf
And it’s very serious. But, yeah, there’s not really been anything of this scale before or since. And yeah, we’ve spoken to a lot of former former law enforcement and former FBI who’ve all started off saying, Yeah, “What the hell are you talking about?” And we run down the details of the story, the scale of the, you know, the casualties, the number of people who were hospitalized.

00:49:19:08 – 00:49:42:07
Nicky Woolf
And universally, all of their responses have been, “Holy shit, how am I just hearing about this now for the first time?” And I think that’s a very good question. I mean, we’ve spoken to people who were working in the chemical weapons investigative unit for national FBI. And when someone like that is saying, “How the fuck did this not come across my desk?”

00:49:43:23 – 00:49:50:07
Nicky Woolf
I think that’s a really good question. How the hell did that not come across their desk?

00:49:50:07 – 00:49:56:13
Patch O’Furr
Is there anything we could say on behalf of the victims? Did you speak to anybody who was hospitalized?

00:49:57:01 – 00:50:20:07
Nicky Woolf
We didn’t. And I think quite reasonably so. We have a lot of written testimonial sources and lot of contemporary documents we got in touch with— we reached out to almost everyone who we knew was affected and people declined to speak, I think probably quite reasonably, because it was a very traumatic event.

00:50:20:07 – 00:50:45:20
Nicky Woolf
So I wouldn’t want to speak on on their behalf. I do think one of the questions and maybe a question for you and and also a question that we want to ask for people in the community is what should a punishment for this crime be? What would be fair justice? What would that look like? And that’s something that isn’t my place to answer.

00:50:46:20 – 00:51:16:08
Patch O’Furr
One of the things that stands out to me, which I don’t know, is part of your, you know, the math behind figuring out what to do with this story. But from inside the community, I recognize this attack is actually only the first one that was a terror attack or a would-be terror plan that was targeting Midwest FurFest.

00:51:17:01 – 00:51:37:12
Patch O’Furr
And the other one is generally not even recognized. People know half of the story but they don’t know the deeper half and that half of the story is in 2019 when alt-right personality Milo [Yiannopoulos] wanted to go to the con and people.

00:51:39:14 – 00:51:40:09
Nicky Woolf
He-who-shall-not-be-named.

00:51:40:14 – 00:52:12:15
Patch O’Furr
Yeah, sorry, we’ll just use— we’ll just call him Mr. M. Well, in 2019, Mr. M there, wanted to attend Midwest FurFest and it was recognized as a kind of a troll plan and he was rebuffed. He was rejected in advance of the con. But what almost nobody saw or knew was there was a deeper plan to bring the Proud Boys.

00:52:13:04 – 00:52:37:06
Patch O’Furr
And of course, they went on to do the January 6 riot at the Capitol. So this was a plan to bring domestic terrorism, street violence by a group that is now officially convicted of terrorism to a furry convention. So here we go. There’s this. This is the second time Midwest FurFest was targeted.

00:52:37:22 – 00:53:09:00
Nicky Woolf
And it’s not just that. Right. You know, even earlier this year, there was another bomb threat. The furry fandom is often targeted by by this kind of thing. And it is at that intersection where trolling can sometimes spill over into actual violence. Right. And that, I think, is a risk that the it’s quite active all the time. Thank you so much for chatting with me, Patch, for this bonus episode.

00:53:09:00 – 00:53:31:07
Nicky Woolf
Always a pleasure. Hello to viewers on Dogpatch Press. Subscribe to Fur & Loathing wherever you get your podcasts if you’re watching this. And if you’re listening to this as part of the feed, I hope you’re enjoying the show. Don’t forget to leave a review — unless you’re not enjoying the show, in which case, I guess, well done for getting five episodes in anyway.

00:53:31:07 – 00:53:41:11
Nicky Woolf
And yeah, tune in next week for our penultimate episode. We start to close in on some theories.

00:53:42:06 – 00:53:43:01
Patch O’Furr
Thank you so much.

00:53:43:04 – 00:53:44:19
Nicky Woolf
Thank you! As always, a pleasure.

00:53:44:19 – 00:53:55:17
Patch O’Furr
I’m so glad you gave so much time and attention and all of your professionalism and your talent. And yeah, I’m just looking forward to hearing more.

00:53:55:17 – 00:54:14:13
Nicky Woolf
And thank you so much for all your hard work on this story. It’s been fantastic and thank you for staying up so late to chat.

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Categories: News

The Crying Nazifur: Swatting and career loss makes Casey Hoerth regret his Altfurry hate group.

Mon 3 Jun 2024 - 20:27

On Youtube, founder of Altfurry admits it was for “Radicalizing mentally unstable people” — leading to swatting each other — Video below.

Casey “Len Gilbert” Hoerth lives with his parents in Texas, and used to be a freelance financial blogger for mainstream sites. It was the closest thing he had to a real job or creative outlet, despite trying to publish an embarrassing erotic furry Nazi novel called The Furred Reich.

Casey’s fandom for 1940’s Nazi Germany would lead him to fall in love with modern neo-nazis. This fueled his ambition to use furry fandom as a doormat for alt-right hate politics. While supporting friends at the deadly torchlight Unite The Right riot in 2017, Casey gathered fellow trolls in a fringe of hate groups called Altfurry. His plan was to groom new recruits with redpilling for “revenge based guerilla tactics.”

Taking cues from general neo-nazism, Casey would hide behind deniability, and downplay his trolling as fiction and fandom. Meanwhile, he sought alliance with real terrorists. Casey reached out to white supremacists like Christoper “The Crying Nazi” Cantwell and the Patriot Front hate group, and tried to get friends to join the Jan 6 riot at the Capitol. Altfurry would end up linked to criminals while Casey traded prison mail with convicted mass shooters and made video promoting the Midwest Furfest chemical attack suspect.

Casey’s former employers found out and deleted all of his work from their websites.

Without a job or purpose, Casey was left with what he considered kindred spirits in Altfurry. His ambitions amounted to nothing but constant treading water as they failed over and over. He eventually became a truck driver and tried to gain influence by meeting sympathizers on his routes, then by grabbing for control of the defunct Altfurry convention Free Fur All that was ruined by its own membership.

Now, after 7 wasted years, Casey finally admits defeat in the Youtube video quoted below: “I’m done with political furry groups, they’re not what people want, they’re a joke.”

“It was a mistake to build communities for that, all I was doing was radicalizing mentally unstable people, you can take a wild guess how that ends.” 

Casey saw it end with his kindred spirits swatting each other. Still, his nazi-remorse is unrepentant. He’s sad because he failed, not because he grew and changed.

Background of culture war in fandom: The nature of hate groups inside and why they always fail. 

How did furries experience the rise of the alt-right? When a tide rises in the main culture, a bubble of subculture floats with it, but it can also have some independence. Furries have it when creative expression aligns with queer expression on an emotional level. Devoted members grow shared interest, and a lot of them happen to be LGBT. That’s not politics creating difference from the mainstream; it comes from organic feeling, like creative people have in their hearts. They feel who gets along and who doesn’t. This filters out those who don’t.

A fringe of people end up outside the bubble because they don’t get along. That still isn’t politics. It comes from nuisance behavior that tells other people to avoid them until they grow and change, or they choose a new hobby or place to go from the endless choices we all have.

That’s freedom… but some who have it can’t be satisfied, because they lack ability to contribute positively, and envy those who do. This boils down the remaining fringe to malice and grudges, which ferments into trolling and sabotage. That’s how Altfurries exist as enemies to what they consider “politics” against them. Again, this isn’t politics. Nobody asks how you vote to join a fandom. Altfurry is about being creeps and assholes to people who have each other’s backs on an emotional level, and altfurries reek of bad intentions, so people avoid them no matter how they vote.

This isn’t opinion. It’s tested and proven over and over by Altfurry behavior to each other in their own spaces.

Hateful trolls are incapable of getting along or identifying as anything more than enemies to something. Their reason to exist negates any peaceful co-existence they can ever have. It makes a giant blind spot: they are the thing they hate the most. They spend a lot of time complaining about being “canceled,” when they do it to each other in factions full of infighting. They expect loyalty, but don’t give it, because each one is out for themselves.

You can hear about it from one of the people most responsible.

Text notes of Casey Hoerth’s Youtube video — Or watch the video archived in a Telegram channel for receipts of Casey’s Altfurry background.

Quick points to get up to speed on inside topics:

  • Casey’s Altfurry faction was for overt alt-right politics, but covertly enabling sex predators — only pretending to oppose them for optics.
  • The Furry Raiders faction with Foxler is known for nazi armbands. It’s more covertly alt-right, but overtly pro-predator, vexing Casey’s quest for influence.
  • Breaking point: Casey backed Foxler until his support of predator Kero The Wolf finally made Casey disown him long after his predator nature was clear.
  • Other competing factions have varying sliders of beliefs, but behind their infighting, it all boils down to malicious intentions.
  • Let Furdom Ring” is another faction run by Viktor, who carried out swatting on a fellow Altfurry, MightyRed.
  • Casey and Foxler’s factions were the main rivals for control of the Free Fur All Altfurry convention that died by infighting.
  • Magnus Diridian is a Furry Raider, the “Confederate flag fursuiter” at Free Fur All, and the main FBI suspect for the Midwest Furfest chemical attack.

(These notes keep Casey’s Altfurry handle “Len Gilbert”, and were speed-transcribed. Reference video for more detail.)

6:00 Interview starts with the host and Len, and some watchers who comment in chat.

9:00 Len calls himself founder of Altfurry in 2016. He gathered “canceled” people to the group, who chased negative attention as kind of a psy-op.

11:00 Len met Magnus Diridian as one of the “canceled”, then met at Free Fur All (FFA) with all those people for the first time.

12:00 Len says it taught him how to behave properly, and realize he was doing things wrong. Now he doesn’t have anything in common with canceled people who are emotionally disturbed, malformed, cranks, in it for negativity and offending. He thinks it wasn’t even political, they were clinging to that to trigger people. Magnus was top of the offender list, with Foxler, as well as Foxler’s toadie Aeveirra, Crusader Cat, etc.

13:00 Len was going to be Magnus’ fursuit handler, but Magnus ditched him at FFA for Furry Raiders. It hurt him.

14:00 Praising Magnus’ fursuit making, Len used to be a big fan; but Magnus used the suits to piss people off and wasted the talent. “Never meet your heroes”.

15:30 All the other Altfurries ditched their “debate” video, it was supposed to be about the Altfurry fighting for control and the potential of unity.

17:00 Host asks about Furred Reich book. Len: “It was a bit embarrassing, I pulled it and it only exists on Kiwifarms and Dogpatch Press, so if people ask, I assume that’s where they get their info”.

19:00 “It’s no longer a nazi furry erotica book”. Magnus was going to join the video, but couldn’t except for leaving a few comments in chat now.

20:00 Talking about other Altfurries (Riled and Viktor), who hate Len. Viktor runs another Altfurry chat. Len calls him out of control. He obsesses with grudges.

They want to do nothing but to hurt the "other side". They have no reason for being, no purpose, and no goals: only pain.

— Fen (@chemicalcrux) November 6, 2020

23:00 Len blocked Viktor. Host says they want to work with him, but Len says he was bullied, and they have bad policies about canceling people and being vengeful. He says Viktor rants with giant walls of text and it’s a constantly cycling ride. Len got off the ride.

26:00 Len says he’s still upset about Magnus for ditching him at FFA and he’s basically a Furry Raider. He knows Magnus loves hanging out with them because of Foxler’s trolling, both of them live off negative attention, and Foxler toadie Aeveirra is another “sleaze bag”.

27:00 Magnus says he isn’t a Raider, but Len says YES YOU ARE because you hang out with them. Magnus comments: “No they hang out with me”. Len brings up Magnus’ troll fursuit of Lemonade Coyote, a deceased furry who was loved in the fandom, whose character was copied without permission by Magnus, showing how “sick in the head” he is. Len at first believed his excuse that it was an homage. Then Magnus boasted about how much attention he could get with it, if he hung out with Foxler and wore an armband on it.

29:00 Foxler’s toadie Aeveirra posted a photo of Magnus doing that. Len says it was scummy and fuck you.

30:00 Magnus comments “Len didn’t see the other 90% of stuff I did that was positive”.

31:00 Talking about Foxler being a pedo and zoophile – it’s not rumors. Len says he was misguided and excused that stuff before. Len realized what the Raiders really were because of the Kero the Wolf thing. Foxler tried to get Kero into the Raiders. Raiders are a network of pedos and zoos and mentally sick people, and it’s all about offending and not political.

34:00 Another Altfurry, MightyRedWolf in Hawaii, comments in chat with a claim about false charges. Len says “Don’t you think crime records would be posted in public? Bullshit.” Oh wait… Viktor did organize attempted swatting on MightyRedWolf, using a patsy to carry out the scheme.

37:00 He admits Viktor paid the patsy $80 to get dox and call a swat on MightyRedWolf. A cop showed up at Red’s door with a gun drawn, and there’s a video of the swatting somewhere.

39:00 Magnus shares a list of good deeds: Fursuit skit, easter egg hunt, music video.

40:00 Playing Magnus’ FFA performance as “Zombie Lemonade Coyote” and Aeveirra trolling. Len: that was a scumbag thing to do.

43:00 Mocking Magnus for not coming on audio because he can’t explain himself. MightyRed is still rambling about Viktor, and says the swatting was under Len’s watch. Stupid comments about Aeveirra. MightyRed is still accusing Len about dodging the swatting topic. More mocking Magnus.

48:00 Going over the Free Fur All controversy with FFA runners Peacewolf, her ex-husband Foxglove, and Jasonafex who she cucked him with. Len apologized to Peacewolf for trolling her and inflaming her divorce from Foxglove, to split control of the con and grab it back for his faction. The control scheme “devolved” into terrorizing her emotionally. Host calls Peacewolf a whore and sympathizes with Foxglove. In chat comment, Altfurry Astral praises Len for apologizing. Len says to read the Google doc about it.

Tulsa's Free Fur All Fashcon failed because it was made for Nazis, Nazis are toxic to everything including EACH OTHER, and that's NOT POLITICS. New proof: admission of instigating toxicity from inside by Casey "Len Gilbert" Hoerth, the nazi hiding behind @/furryrespector. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/RDSvOU4bzJ

— Nazifur Receipts (@NazifurReceipts) April 17, 2024

52:30 Len Gilbert and Magnus made a video together in 2018 about Magnus’ ban from Midwest Furfest. Len says he did it to defend Magnus from leftists “framing” Magnus for chlorine bombing the convention in 2014 (he admitted being the FBI’s main suspect). Magnus says he was banned for his Confederate flag fursuit, and Len praises it. Magnus comments: he made the suit because the flag was banned. Magnus pokes Len again about previously condoning his Lemonade Coyote ripoff fursuit. Len says he realized it was trolling when he wore it with Raiders at FFA.

55:00 Comments whining about politics making fandom toxic. MightyRed sent audio of swatting claims, but it’s stupid. A bunch of stupid repetitive comments.

102:00 Viktor Markov’s real name is “Eric.”

105:00 Len thinks Magnus is canceled for seeking attention, but “Magnus hasn’t done anything illegal” (despite admitting he was the FBI’s main suspect in a chemical terror attack.)

107:00 Len thought Altfurries were kindred spirits, but they were anything but and he needed to cut them out of his life. “Bye Magnus”. Other Altfurries want to join forces again to be a “powerhouse”. Len says “we already have worked together”, and it ended with Viktor being vengeful, he doesn’t want a “bathhouse powerhouse.”

112:00 Len: Swatting MightyRed was organized inside Viktor’s chat admin channel. Comment: all the Altfurry drama is a “feedback loop of shit flinging”. Magnus blames Len for having a grudge. Len repeats accusations about Furry Raider pedos and trolling. They play the video Len made with Magnus in 2018 to defend him from being “framed” for the Midwest Furfest attack. Magnus denies seeing anything wrong with the Raiders, after Len denied there could be anything illegal about Magnus.

117:00 Altfurry Astral challenges Len to prove the Raiders are all pedos. Len says “he’s peeing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.” Magnus repeats more defenses.

120:00 They want Altfurry Dojo Dingo back. A comment complains about Dojo being bullied out of fandom. Astral denies being a Raider. Len calls them cockroaches and says they all deny it while rooming together, fucking each other, and playing semantics games.

122:00 FFA is dead. Len will never go again. He will go to other conventions like TFF in Texas.

123:00 Astral denies getting pedophilic cub art. Len mocks all of them for hanging out with Raiders cub lovers and being disgusting, and mocks Astral and Magnus for excusing it. “Fuckers, what’s the matter with these people?” Magnus complains about guilt by association. Len: “They cling to it, play games, it’s a cub porn zoophile group, you’re gross and nasty and stupid to be in it”. Magnus comments “You can’t tell me who I hang out with, I even roomed with Carpet Sample, and had Kage at my house.” Astral says cub porn is everywhere, Len mocks him for excusing it.

129:00 Chat comment by Panda of FFA: “It’s not guilt by association. It just shows you’re a gross person with poor standards.” Len: “Thank you.”

130:00 Len: “I don’t really hang out in political chats any more, I’m not interested in working with political channels, it was a mistake to build communities for that. All I was doing was radicalizing mentally unstable people, you can take a wild guess how that ends. I moved on after Viktor wanted to call relatives of mine, like he did to MightyRed. I want to move on with life and be a normal person.” – Now Len goes to real events and runs his drama channel and “wholesome hangout”. He tells Magnus to use his fursuit making talent, and stop being a mental case out for attention. Final word to Viktor: “I know who you are and where you live, do not ever talk to me again.” “I admire anyone who gets off their ass and makes content, a lot of furries on this side of the fandom just bitch and complain.” He complains about people calling his relatives and siblings.

135:00 Len: “I’m done with political furry groups, they’re not what people want, they’re a joke.”

From the horse’s mouth

Have you ever seen such cognitive dissonance from creepy nuisances judging each other’s offenses? They’re so close, but so far from self-realization.

Casey Hoerth hates how his constant nuisance behavior dragged his family into the drama he started. Actually, time and again, that’s the #1 way to neutralize malicious schemers. Often it doesn’t even require getting the attention of uninvolved people. It’s built in to their relationships. The last straw for Free Fur All was a divorce and cheating/cuckolding breakup. They always kneecap themselves… always.

You never, ever have to tolerate malicious people. Let their own words seal the permanent truth behind the phrase “nazifurs fuck off!”

Casey is now pushing the umpteenth iteration of Altfurry by baiting followers with drama stories and sugar coating his activity as “wholesome”.

I don’t expect the above article to go far not because it’s not deserved or well written but because outside of the current group he’s fused to like a needy lamprey desperate for validation he’s just a middle aged nobody. (And as a middle aged nobody game recognize game.)

— holding leftovers (@technicolorpie) June 5, 2024

Beware of scheming Nazis who are constantly rebranding and seeking new ways to grab clout and recruits. If you see Casey's Nazi agenda laundered through his 1000th rebrands as "wholesome" or "furry drama news", refer to this thread or the long trail of receipts to see through it. pic.twitter.com/l4VmGl67C0

— Nazifur Receipts (@NazifurReceipts) April 17, 2024

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Fur And Loathing podcast episode 3 names suspects in Midwest Furfest 2014 chemical attack

Mon 20 May 2024 - 18:21

COMING SOON: Exclusive Q&A with show host Nicky Woolf. Message @patchofurr on Telegram to join.

May 20, 2024: The third episode of Fur and Loathing is HERE (six episodes are coming out weekly.)

This Furry True Crime podcast series is a lavishly produced investigation into the unsolved 2014 chemical attack on Midwest Furfest. Episodes 1 and 2 covered the crime and scene. It promised exclusive never-reported news. Here it is in episode 3. Names are named.

Changa listened to the new episode of Fur & Loathing podcast out today 😆 https://t.co/nSjMSHUBHV pic.twitter.com/w0UmIDU9QX

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 20, 2024

A furry listener commented today:

The show is getting wide notice with high ratings and reviews:

The show launch announcement had an exclusive interview (and transcript) with Patch O’Furr and journalist Nicky Woolf. Coming soon: an after-show Q&A with Nicky just for furry listeners — message @patchofurr on Telegram to join the group.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

San Francisco Pride 2024 is coming, Northern California Furries need volunteers and funding

Mon 20 May 2024 - 07:59

RSVP HERE to join the Norcal Furries in the 54th Annual San Francisco Pride Beacon of Love Parade.

On Sunday, June 30th, 2024, supporters for queer history and liberation will pack the city. It will be an amazing day for street fursuiting with a roaring crowd. Furries have over 20 years of fierceness in the parade, and last year we were runners-up for the Best Contingent award. This year we’re reaching even higher.

NEW private club party for furries!

For the first time, we have an entire club reserved for our own afterparty! The club can hold 400 and is walkable from the start and end of the parade.

Volunteers urgently needed, can you help? 

The NorCal Furries bring 100-200 members led by a small team of volunteers. We can’t do it without you. Volunteering is a good introduction for newcomers, and it’s low effort and just as fun in the parade. We need to keep asking until enough heroes raise their paws, and it has to happen early. Contacts below, PLEASE REACH OUT!

Can you help another way? DONATING IS LOVE.

Please be generous for the crowdfund. We make a great experience at low cost, with donations matched to go twice as far.

What this pays for: Party and more.

Our reserved club is 2 blocks from the Powell BART station. It’s a perfect location to meet and suit up before proceeding to the start of the parade, and a great place to meet afterward to desuit, eat, drink, relax and party. We’ll provide food, drinks, chill space and play space. We’ll need extra help to run it with doorkeepers, party monitors and DJ’s. Laws limit the club space to age 21+ with guests listed in advance, so reach out to get on the guest list or volunteer.

Stay tuned for more info, and look forward to being furry on TV!

Join the Telegram announcement channel and look for more directions here on the week of the parade. Also don’t forget to RSVP. All are welcome to march, under-21’s can join with alternate plans for starting. Main event info is at SFpride.org and the parade will be on TV and streaming with ABC-7 News Bayarea.

CONTACTS AND CHAT GROUP

Want to join our chat group of 370+ members? Message @patchofurr or @zorenmanray or email here with any other questions.

Why we do it

Many furries are queer, and we come out to show love and pride, and our wonderful diversity in orientations and gender identities. We come out in memory of those who can’t join us anymore such as furry founder Mark Merlino who passed away this year and is survived by his partner and friends. We come out in defiance of those who wish to oppress our individuality and self expression. (The US Government is advising caution about threats to Pride events that deserve support more than ever.) Organizers include Relay, Spottacus, Zoren, Super Jay, Zain, Groggy, Didge, and Patch at your service. See the Pride tag for news from years past.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Midwest Furfest 2014 chemical attack: Fur And Loathing podcast Episode 2 at scene of the crime

Mon 13 May 2024 - 19:04

May 13, 2024: The second episode of Fur and Loathing is HERE (six episodes are coming out weekly.)

The 2014 chemical attack on Midwest Furfest was one of the largest in American history. 19 people were hospitalized. Nobody was charged and the case went cold. 10 years later, never-before-reported findings are here in this Furry True Crime podcast with journalist Nicky Woolf.

In the new Episode 2, Nicky visits Midwest Furfest and traces events in the 2014 police report, gaining unexpected insight. He gets immersed in furry culture with an insider guide, then introduces a complication that stalled the case. Until now.

Last week’s launch announcement had an exclusive interview for Dogpatch Press with Nicky and Patch O’Furr. A reader requested the transcript below. Come back for surprising developments in upcoming episodes.

TRANSCRIPT: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – lightly edited for clarity from the video

Nicky Woolf

(Nicky): Patch O’Furr in full regalia, looking beautiful with the glasses and all!

(Patch): Nicky, why don’t you tell the readers who you who you are and what the project is?

I’m Nicky Woolf, and for the last 7 months intensively, and the last 10 years, I’ve been obsessed with investigating the chlorine gas incident at Midwest Furfest 2014.

Before we get into it, let me ask you what’s your favorite thing about furries?

You know honestly, you’re starting me off with a difficult one. Because this is going to sound super weird… it’s the earnestness. The level of no one is pretending, by definition it’s a space where you no longer have to pretend. Which is ironic, considering the level of artistry that goes in, that leads you to a place where you don’t have to pretend, and I think that’s beautiful.

I love your vision.

(Puts on sunglasses)

What have you uncovered in the story that has never been reported before? You don’t have to give us spoilers, but some hints.

The things that really surprised us, the more we dug into this story, is how much was going on behind the scenes in terms of police and FBI investigation. Now it’s known, and a lot of it’s known through through your fantastic reporting, that there were some colossal mistakes made. By the police department — by the FBI in the general investigation — and obviously there were no arrests made. They never got over the line.

What we discovered, and we’ll get into this later in the series and what this means, but there was a lot of investigation going on as recently as 2019. Chasing down suspects, getting warrants, getting on planes, and going to find people for at least five years following… the word that’s used is controversial, we’ve been saying attack. Because I think it’s very clear that this was an attack. But the police and FBI were doing a lot more than has previously been known in the public domain.

From the public point of view, take me through what kind of life have you seen for this story. When it came out, when it died down, what’s your sense?

In the immediate aftermath — and I think anyone who’s familiar with this story who’s followed it either from within the community or outside of it as an interested viewer will know — the immediate reaction was the media did not cover itself with glory. The famous example of that is MSNBC where Mika Brzezinski cracks up laughing and is trying to get out words like, “19 people hospitalized” through laughter, which is a single piece of media that sums up the way the mainstream media has approached this community.

I think that’s the perfect one, that’s where we’re at in terms of the way the media and… I’m not within the community, so maybe I throw it to you, do you blame Mika specifically for that, or do you think she didn’t know what the hell was was going on there? Because I think that’s an interesting question. What’s your read as someone in the community of what happened on that MSNBC set?

I would say it was a brief human mistake. I can look at that from outside as a nonhuman, but I’m glad you’re here and doing the work you do, the amazing work that’s going to bring this story forward. Why should we listen, what are the good points of the story that really stand out?

It’s funny, when we were scripting, one of the notes early on that I got was that there needs to be — and this is something you get in every narrative podcast, in every piece of journalism, you have to do the “why should you listen, why should you care” and I found myself thinking to myself, the story doesn’t need selling. This is a vibrant and fascinating community about which very little is known, who were attacked in a way that no one has.

Shout out to the couple of places that have done good work investigating this before, specifically Vice and Robert Evans, and obviously you. I’m talking about mainstream media outlets here, but Vice and and Worst Year Ever deserve props having got the story to at least fighting the fight of having mainstream media pay attention to it. Not I think successfully, but the thing that really got me about this story is that it’s a sign of what was happening in the wider internet at the time, that’s only got more powerful since then.

Of the two big previous shows I’ve done, one of them was on Qanon. So I’m familiar with the way in which the dynamics of an internet community, or a primarily digital community, can have huge repercussions and teach us an enormous amount about what’s going on in the world as a whole. I think what this attack represents is a microcosm, of lessons that we can learn about how we deal with — trying to find a way of saying this which which doesn’t end up with spoilers — but I think I can safely say with rising extremism. And the way that extremism isn’t something that’s… like there aren’t the Nazis and other people.  There is a rising alt-right tide, and even furry, even the community is not safe from these forces of global change that are taking place. It’s something that we all deal with, no matter what community we have.

Let’s back up. Where do you think this fits into your previous work?

I’ve been covering the internet for a very long time. I was just a general news reporter at The Guardian a long while, and when you’re a general news reporter you need to carve out a little niche for yourself. I was an internet kid, I grew up in the Livejournal era, early in an era where everything was earnest, and it was a level of earnestness that I otherwise came to miss when the next step of internet development became the anonymous boards, like 4Chan. Which then became the power centers, and furry to me ended up representing a kind of alternate counterweight to a power center like especially /Pol…

Internet communities to me take on lives of their own, as life forms in their own, and I think that’s the same with any community historically, but the internet turbocharges the evolution of those kind of groups. I think the furry community has been a fascinating example of this, the way a culture develops and I think far right and trolling culture and something like Qanon is another example of that.

I’ve come to consider myself over my career as almost like a anthropologist of this new kind of life form that is the digital community, and the power that a digital community can wield and represent, to be a good thing for the world and its participants, or a bad thing for the world and its participants. For covering Qanon, that was the first time I got to do a story in yearlong investigative detail. I was covering — and I think it’s not a controversial way of describing it — a fundamentally evil new life form.

Whereas with this show it’s been joyous to be on the opposite side of that, and cover what I think is a fundamentally beautiful community, beautiful life form, even if I’m covering it from the perspective of… it came under attack and this is what happened after that. It’s a true crime show, so we’re looking a lot at the attack itself, but it’s been great to be able to do a little bit of that anthropology.

What’s it like to enter furry spaces as a guest, as someone who hasn’t been intimately invited in before, and earn some trust and have the insider view?

It’s been I think rightfully difficult, the mainstream media has not been great in terms of covering this community before, so we’ve really had to work very hard. As the show will keep going, I hope to work hard in terms of getting people in the community to trust us. We have to prove from the very first episode that we’re not looking to make a joke of the community the way a lot of people have. We’re not looking to paint the community as in some way deviant in the way that a lot of coverage has.

More literally we’re not looking to — we address this in in the first episode — we’re not looking to out anyone who doesn’t want to be outed. We’re not using anybody’s name until we get to the actual suspects in the attack. The line I use in the show is, unless there’s a journalistic reason not to, we address and refer to everyone in the community we speak to, the way they choose.

That gave us a kind of starting point, we made some contacts in the community we were able to say I’m coming into this with some experience. I’ve known furries, I’ve been aware and adjacent to the community while remaining a guest in these spaces, and I’m honored to have been invited into these spaces and these communications. It’s really a privilege to have been able to be at Midwest Furfest last year, to speak with members of the community, and it’s been a joy.

I think you had some interesting experience visiting Midwest Furfest. I don’t think we need to get into parts that are already in the show, but was there anything you saw that wasn’t able to make it into the show?

I’m so glad you asked that, because there is something that just didn’t make it into the show which I’ve been really pulling for, but couldn’t… I want to give a shout out to Atmos Deer, photographer Tommy Bruce, who has been a real helpful guiding light for me as I’m navigating this. We went to see on the Saturday afternoon, a review, an hour and a half long of lots and lots of little VR made films.

It was truly one of the most beautiful — there were lots of them that were… apologies to any of the makers who I say this about — slightly janky, but in this kind of beautiful raw emotional way. Some of them were in-jokes, some of them were truly hilarious, some of them were unintentionally hilarious and neither me nor Atmos had any idea what was going on. Then some of them just blindsided you by being heart-rending goodbyes and tributes to somebody that had been lost, or tributes to someone who lives a long way away and you don’t get to see very often, and they’d be these beautiful little vignettes. I loved it, I’m almost emotional just describing it, I thought it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.

This was obviously a story that was stalled, it was a cold case. What factors helped you to move this forward when nobody else was getting progress?

It’s worth saying that we don’t actually know! We did a lot of the standard things you do when you start this kind of investigation. One of those things is a big Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request for output… which, it’s worth saying, that the Vice team had done. Previous journalists have sent out FOIA requests regarding this story. What we got back — and I hope when people listen to the show they’ll see this — was very different in terms of the sheer scale of the documents that we got back. We don’t know for sure exactly why that is.

One of the things that — and we’ve spoken to legal experts — all we can do is an informed speculation that what had happened in 2019 was the five year standard statute of limitations had run out now. It was mind-blowing to me that something that was a terroristic offense, in reality, could have a statute of limitations. You can just not get found.

I think if that is the case, at this point we don’t know for sure because a lot of this was kept secret within the FBI and within the local police department, so we’re not 100% sure that’s why we had a different document response to FOIA requests, but whatever the reason, we did.

That gave us a starting foundational point of more information than has ever been made public before. There were just enough clues, like they heavily redacted lots of these documents, but there were just enough clues that could start us off on a investigation that could find something genuinely new.

When I’ve been working on stories like this one, or maybe negative topics, I tend to encounter friction inside the community. For example in this story a lot of people would tend to dismiss the attack, or memory hole it, or excuse it as “oh that must have been an accident” when you know there was always evidence that it was deliberate from the start. The police said it was deliberate, but people still ran with the idea that it was just a “mistake.”

Still to this day we had spoken to people who were fairly sure that that a latex chlorination accident was ultimately what had happened, and a lot more on top of that who were saying “oh it’s just a prank.”

It’s very striking to me — I don’t want to project a kind of a psychology onto what’s going on — to me it seemed like there was an element of trauma response going on, so that it’s easier to say “it’s not a big deal”.

I think there’s an element of an event like Midwest Furfest, a convention is such a sacred space, where you go to be free… that admitting that there’s a vulnerability there itself breaks some kind of spell. I’m hesitating to even say — because even thinking about that paradox some people are going to not love — in and of itself that’s looking this kind of spell directly on and undermining the magic.

I think that’s got to be balanced against, this is the real world, and not just the real world / the internet world, which to me is this kind of hyper reality and there are dangers looking.

I think it’s worth admitting, and investigating, and I’m just going to go ahead and say fighting, those forces that have emerged on the internet and represent real dangers for communities like furries and for the world in in general.

Where the weapon was deployed at MFF 2014.

I’m glad you used the term breaking the magic, that’s a meaningful term. We’re dealing with a subculture, to some people a very important one in their life, it’s the way that they express their identity. But a subculture can be marginal, isolated, it can be contained, and there’s a lot of alternative communities, sometimes I think they encounter problems that are wider scale than their reach. Do you have any ideas, thoughts or advice about how to solve problems that are wider than the scale of a small community like this?

That’s a ginormous question. A lot smarter people than me have have tried and failed to to answer that. All I can say is that in my experience, a start is solving it within the community before saving the world. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s take journalism for example… that’s a terrible example because journalism’s work is to talk about other people’s problems.

Journalists are the worst.

Barely more than a loose confederation of warring tribes.

Let’s take the local WhatsApp group around here to organize what day to take the trash out. If someone’s in there that’s been being an asshole, it is outside of the scope of this trash-collection WhatsApp group to solve whatever’s going on in this dude’s life that’s taken him there.

What is within the scope of a community is to look at itself, and say what help are we offering to people who may be experiencing something in their lives that’s taking them down this route.

How can we think of ourselves as a community while remaining open, while not breaking the magic, while also stop the Nazis… how do you deal with an asshole? Do you ostracize them, do you reach out to them? Those are the kind of questions that every community asks, and asking those questions is a good first step.

I think it’s good to be aware that you don’t necessarily want to be a doormat, by handling things the nice way, or just letting them go. This story opens a lot of questions about how we handle crime and policing — it’s one of those stories that we’ll continue to feed questions about, and it’s a great dialogue to have. We’re working in the True Crime genre here, and we’ve actually worked together and made Furry True Crime. I don’t know if there are any other examples like this, and I’m pretty happy about that.

This is a good point to really say thank you to everything you’ve done to make this happen with your reporting in the past.  You’ve been fighting a very lonely battle — I don’t know if it’s felt lonely to you — but as the voice doing the real solid journalistic work on this, none of this show would have happened without the hard work that you’ve put in, and without your incredible generosity in opening up to us and talking to us, and helping us on this journey. So thank you so much for that, we owe you basically everything of this show.

Let’s remember the reason for this community, it’s a fandom, we love what we do, and a lot of us are fans of other movies, music, writing, whatever… do you have any other media that inspires you? Anything you might want to share?

Are you getting at what fandoms, what inspires me… does Ska count? I’ve seen Reel Big Fish live 16 times, I’ve seen The Cat Empire live 18 times. I’m a ska kid by instinct. I was a Warhammer kid growing up, that was my first experience… the closest experience I’ve had to going to a con like MFF, and I’ve been to Comic-Con, I’ve been to the dumb commercial video game E3 which doesn’t even really count as a corporate thing. There was a Warhammer tournament that I entered and did all right in when I must have been 13-14, the time where a steam tank… It was fantastic, like that’s my finest work was the steam tank had a dragon head. Actually I think Warhammer is an interesting comparison to furries because it’s also a self-contained fandom.

I knew you’re a nerd, that’s amazing, I didn’t know all that. One more thing before we close: do you have any good animal jokes?

I have a terrible memory so anytime I ask to remember a joke my memory goes completely blank, I’ve never been able to successfully memorize a joke.

Hold that thought and come back to me later with it but thank you Nicky.

I’ll start messaging you animal jokes from now on.

It’s your job, deal. I’m actually on the way out, I’m going to World Goth Day. I’m going to see some goth bands in my fursuit. It’s so exciting, it’s happening on a battleship.

Where is this battleship?

Alameda, California, a World War II battleship hosting a goth day.

Send me some pictures, I’ll send you some animal jokes, you got to send me some pictures from this party.

You got it, thank you we’ll talk later.

With Charun, being a rat on ship at the @USSHornetMuseum in Alameda CA for #worldgothday 2024, seeing @Covenant_Sweden and https://t.co/nfnPCv5oSC. What a weekend! There was just 5 hours to sleep after the show, then I biked 100 miles with the #grizzlypeakcyclists century ride. pic.twitter.com/s03GzHhiSS

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) May 7, 2024

I had so much fun at The Anual Goth Day Festival this past weekend 🖤

Thank you so much @DogpatchPress for bringing me with pic.twitter.com/wCYrq6j9tD

✨🖤 Harper 🔜 BLFC’24 🖤✨🐀 (@2ManyStripes) May 9, 2024

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Satanic Panic in Sacramento targets furries — media reports without consulting any furries

Mon 6 May 2024 - 10:08

Zero (white) and partner Siro_Kami (blue)

A misunderstood person moves to a new place, and faces more misunderstanding, but uses creativity to stand proud and reach people who do understand.

It’s a tale told a million times, known by a million furries worldwide (and subcultures of every stripe.) It’s the tale of Frankenstein’s rejected creature, who finds kindness from a blind person, but has to run from the prejudice and torches of angry villagers.

It’s a tale that wasn’t told by a local CBS channel who only reported the villager’s side, “Furries” with satanic symbols spotted near Sacramento County elementary school, parents say. They didn’t talk to any furries they reported about, or mention resources about them for the media like Furscience, or the history of Satanic Panic spreading prejudice and harming schools and communities like theirs.

Antelope, CA is 15 miles from Sacramento. Attitudes about order there may be influenced by history: In 1973 the town was blown away when trains full of bombs for Viet Nam exploded. It was rebuilt as a planned community where “most homes are new and the area is well planned out”. It’s rated safer than average for crime among 45,000 residents, and is unincorporated with policing by the County Sheriff, and nearby town departments under contract for schools and parks.

Natural Elements

Zero The HellHound is an 18-year old trans furry facing the villagers’ wrath. He recently moved to Antelope, where he doesn’t have a job or car, but you have to drive to get anywhere. On maps, the neighborhood doesn’t have a restaurant for hanging out within a 2-3 mile walk, and he also might have to fear going alone. So for about 2 weeks, Zero has been visiting Firestone Park (a name almost made for this story.) It’s a public park in sight of the family home that recently took him in. At the park he’s been chilling in nature, and practicing fursuit dancing for a Tiktok audience of over 14K followers. Instead of hiding inside with depression, it helps him to be confident to dance where anyone can see.

Zero won the dance competition at Golden State Fur Con, but at Firestone Park, he got eggs thrown at him by middle school kids who came to hassle him. Angry adults think he’s there to be Satanic, or target little kids next door at the Olive Grove Elementary school, but he says those kids only show positive notice. He also made two new friends who came up and complimented his fursuit. His reaction was “Wow, you know what a fursuit is?”

Many people confront him about the fursuit. Zero is a fursuit maker who plays a Skulldog, like a spooky creature from Ghostbusters or shows like Hazbin Hotel. It represents the story of a character who was originally a human with one abusive parent, which led to suicide, earning God’s judgement of going to hell. There he transforms and gets symbols burned on him, but has his own place to live. Many teens find catharsis in stories about overcoming trauma and asserting “it’s ok to be weird”. Some symbols on his character are trans scars and LGBT Pride colors (which have been targets of pedophilia accusation at the park). There’s also pentagrams, but Zero claims he’s not religious and they aren’t Satanic (pointing down), they are the kind that points up to represent natural elements.

Finger Guns

The story doesn’t communicate to the lady who confronts him one day to say, “do you think it’s OK to be in costume at this park?” She claims it’s scaring kids. As far as Zero knows, no kids have been scared. Only parents… although groups of many kids harass this 18-year old even when he’s not in fursuit. One adult was threatening almost to the point of punching him. But Zero isn’t leaving Firestone Park just because they’re mad. It’s public property and he has a right to be there. He also denies that he times visits for when kids get out of school, and says the park generally isn’t busy. Should he only go when nobody can see him or there’s no light for videos?

In one of Zero’s Tiktok videos, he and his friend sit on a park bench while people crowd up to take video and complain that kids can’t play there. “We’re minding our own business”, they tell an adult who isn’t holding back kids from bouncing a basketball at them and lining up aggressively like stereotypical jock bullies in a movie. Another adult demands to get Zero’s face in their video, and threatens to call police on him for legally wearing a mask.

Lacking real crime to complain about, they reach to accuse his Tiktok videos of being a school shooting threat. Zero exasperatedly explains that they went digging for a “very very old” (2022) video made in his house with a finger-guns meme that went around, or a “pope dance” meme with pointing. This came out in the CBS article, with a parent complaining about the school ignoring his complaints about someone legally using a park off school property.

Under this pressure, Zero tried going to the principal of Olive Grove Elementary to talk, and she said she just wants to keep kids safe. After the CBS story, Dogpatch Press called the school and emailed the principal to request contact with security or adults involved for comment, but there was no reply.

Collateral Damage

Then there was the incident with Mudpuppy. Zero wants support from friends, and gets a few to come sometimes for making videos. Mudpuppy is a 23-year old furry from Woodland, CA with autism and ADHD, and he was the only one who came on May 2. He was unfamiliar with the area: “I was actually attending an audio/visual workshop in Sacramento before going to the park. It was my first time meeting Zero.” He was wearing a tail but no mask.

With instructions to find a basketball court, Mudpuppy accidentally wandered towards the wrong one on school grounds next to the park. He didn’t realize it until seeing kids playing. Before being able to leave, angry parents got in the way, including one from the CBS article, Kris Williams.

“Kris and one other guy confronted and interrogated me about why I was there. They told me I wasn’t going anywhere and proceeded to call the police. One of them aggressively pulled my camera bag off me. When they asked me who I was meeting, I pulled out my phone so I could tell them. But one of them ripped it out of my hand. They treated me like I was an actual school shooter.”

Mudpuppy found the treatment and reporting hard to understand. “The whole situation was so terrifying that my mind blocked out what they said… I was told CBS was at the school about 20 minutes before I came.” The story was decided before Mudpuppy even became part of it.

Local news features Kris Williams complaining that the school is ignoring complaints that aren’t about school property.

Dancing Around the Issue

It’s easy to prejudge and terrify a lost and needful person who wanders in with a tail making them a target, even when schools are supposed to specially care about autism and bullying. Mudpuppy had to go through all this just to find Zero to give the support that furries do for each other.

That wasn’t all. After he found Zero and started taking pictures, Mudpuppy echoes that they became targets of egg throwing, neighbors yelling that they weren’t welcome and labeling them “pedophile”, and threats of more assault.

Ironically, angry parents were the ones calling police and guns to these scenes with hostility, making a threat of innocent people getting shot. Autism and communication complication has led to wrongful police use of force incidents.

As one set of adults who didn’t fail in this story, police protected the targets. At one point an officer went as far as staying with Zero for an hour at Firestone Park. One officer advised Zero to bring a lot of Sacramento furries there for a big event with security provided by police. It would be a way to assert right to use public space, and show that furries aren’t afraid and aren’t a threat.

Together or alone, Zero keeps doing what he loves. Despite accusations of preying on kids by making videos (of himself), his Tiktok followers are rising a lot. He says he isn’t trying to influence people with pentagrams, but with dancing. For example, one day a group of kids wanted to mock him, but he reacted with dance moves, and one of them actually started defending him. Why don’t mad parents learn from kids like that?

Followup notes

A post about this on r/Sacramento has surprisingly understanding comments with some local insight.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

BREAKING: Midwest Furfest 2014 chemical attack – new findings by Fur And Loathing podcast

Mon 6 May 2024 - 08:56

May 6, 2024: The first episode of Fur and Loathing is HERE

Think you’ve heard everything about the 2014 chemical attack on Midwest Furfest? Wait until you hear this.

The intentional release of chlorine gas sent 19 people to the hospital. It was one of the largest chemical weapons terrorist attacks in American history.

Who did it? And… why?

The targets deserve to know, because they were lucky to survive. The weapon’s deadly potential was only avoided by fast response. The level of crime fell just behind the 2001 anthrax attacks, but strangely, nobody was ever charged for it. The story faded into underreporting, disrespect towards the community, murky rumors, and hopes that it won’t happen again. There’s pride in resilience — but 10 years later, justice wasn’t served. It’s the biggest cold case in furry fandom.

The case revived when investigation by Dogpatch Press drew journalist Nicky Woolf and Project Brazen to seek FBI records, identify suspects, and fly across America to interview sources. Nicky is a journalist who reports on internet culture, with stories in The Guardian, and his original podcast series Finding Q and The Sound: Mystery of the Havana Syndrome. Nicky and Brazen’s series Fur And Loathing delivers never-before reported findings to empower the community.

EXCLUSIVE: Nicky Woolf’s introduction for Dogpatch Press

We discuss what was uncovered, Nicky’s work, earning trust among furries, and more. (This is off the cuff and unedited.)

Fur and Loathing is a Furry True Crime podcast of six episodes, releasing weekly.

Thank you to Nicky for his dulcet tones, and Brazen’s super pro team with Max, Lucy, and all who supported investigation that other media didn’t do (besides Vice and the Worst Year Ever podcast.) It was incredible to get first look at their progress, such as matching FOIA document releases with open-source findings.

FYI… we know the title was taken for a TV show episode a long time ago. Nothing else fit so well, so we’re taking it back.

Announcement at Variety and Trailer:

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

“Robin Nood”: Furries use AI technology to recreate Disney movie without clothes

Tue 2 Apr 2024 - 01:39

Are you one of the masses with a crush on Disney’s Robin Hood?

That fox may have created more furries than any other beloved character, and they create huge amounts of fan art. Sexy, sexy fan art.

Artists: Sandblastcoyote and Paintfox34

The weirdos who search the net for Sexy Robin Hood, like this author, mostly get still illustrations or very small bits of animation that can barely quench their burning desire. Until now.

A secret work group of furries have been pushing the limits of AI technology to deliver the worst nightmare for Disney’s Family Moral Standards department. It’s the long anticipated full movie fan edit where Robin Hood is as bare as he leaves the King’s treasury, and he’s showing off all his jewels.

To explain how this technological breakthrough was achieved, let’s start with a conceptual creation by Changa Husky. He lives at the Prancing Skiltaire house in California, a long-time haven for pioneers of fandom. Changa used to make effects for 1990’s science fiction TV shows and now works with Furality, the VR convention. Around 2018, Changa was inspired to make a bootleg VHS release of Disney’s Zootopia featuring period-authentic pan-and-scan formatting, trailers for other fan works, and vintage marketing materials in a clamshell box. It was Mandela Effect prank art from an alternate universe. Yes, it’s real.

Changa’s unique Zootopia VHS release only went to a few special furries. Some of them were inspired to take the concept farther, and now Robin Nood is here.

How hard was it to generate a fan edit to feature Robin Hood’s full-frontal anatomical correctness, like his fluffy but well-toned abs that invite nuzzling, not to mention the rogueish fox’s muscular buttocks that you could only imagine under his forest bandit tunic before?

It’s hard to ask the secret work group behind Robin Nood, who refused to comment while they avoid Disney lawyers behind a cloak of anonymity. Some questions were sent to the artist Wizardhead (Brendan Baldwin) because he was in a previous Dogpatch Press article about AI. How did they do it?

Baldwin replied:

The length of the render is mostly relevant in that the proliferation of angles and different kinds of shots involved might need tweaking for whatever algorithm is applied. I’m not familiar with any approach to targeted rendering of character bodies in a consistent way and to date I’ve seen no examples of this which lead me to believe it is either cheap or easy. Most of what I do is fairly transformative but intrinsically chaotic and somewhat visually incoherent, which is very different than what the deepfake videos do by creating very exacting targeted replacement of video subjects. If quality and coherence were not relevant, then after maybe a day of experimenting one could arrive at an appropriate model to apply to the spectrum of scenes in the target film and the only real work there would be chopping up the work into manageable bites, dishing them out to the rendering machines and compiling them all together at the end. Long form video tends to require the chopping-up treatment when running it frame by frame through these systems because per-frame storage even at 1280×768 for example runs about 1.8MB and that adds up crazy quick. For reference, if I took Zootopia and ran the whole thing through the model I used for my Slimefeld video, it would probably cost me about $400 in computer rentals and about 8 hours of time chopping and midwifing through the systems and recompiling. Just to cost it out conceptually, if I was to use my approach as a model for your friend, my break even costs for doing something like that would run $1200 (@100/hr labor/opportunity) and if I was going to do a job like that for someone I’d probably charge about $2500 so I could double my out-of-pocket costs to make a profit. Now as for making the characters naked (I assume just with matching animal fur etc) I don’t honestly know how one would coherently achieve that via the AI tools out right now in a low-labor or cost-effective way, but I’m sure someone smarter than me with a lot of time could figure it out.

Furries pushed the technology farther than even a seasoned expert knew how to do it. Wow!

Like the VHS bootleg of Zootopia that really exists, this recreation of a Disney movie only exists as limited edition physical media. You have to know someone to get a copy. Good luck everybody!

Note: Dogpatch Press doesn’t endorse using AI images because the systems that make them are unethical. Memes and conceptual projects with no commercial purpose may be less harmful but the systems also burn up energy that hurts the planet. Their misuse is toxic and their overuse dilutes real art. The feeling of seeing a bunch of AI images can be like enjoying pretty gift wrap, which lasts a minute until you rip it up and throw it away and never think about it again. If you care about art and want it to last, hire a real artist who puts thought and care into what they make, not just math to put other art in a blender and barf it back out. This applies most to replacing human artists for certain jobs, but one like Wizardhead still displays inventive use of absurd juxtaposition and editing prowess no matter what the tools are. And of course, the artists who animated Robin Hood weren’t allowed to give his fans the extra-sexy version we all long for, so it was meant to be willed into existence somehow. 

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

It’s the last day to vote for the Ursa Major Awards

Sun 24 Mar 2024 - 02:29

Ursa art by Foxenawolf.

Go HERE to vote, and don’t wait, the deadline is TODAY March 24! 

The Ursa Major Awards celebrate and recognize great works that resonate with the furry fandom, whether they are made within, by a member, or are simply favorite creations from the mainstream. Anything goes as long as people like it, and there’s a lot of opportunity to lift things up that people haven’t seen. Vote to spread your personal fandom and help others feature theirs!

Nominees are in 14 categories, and the Ursa Majors site has more details about each one. The newer Music category is removed, but Best Fursuit has re-activated after not enough notice previously.

Volunteers run the Ursa Major Awards. Please support them. Since 2001, these awards have been run with unpaid work. They appreciate support to defray costs for a website, making and mailing awards, and more. Click the button to donate >

The 2023 Nominees (in alphabetical order):

Best Motion Picture
Live-action or animated feature-length movies.

• Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Directed by James Gunn – May 5)
• Leo (Directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel and David Wachtenheim – November 21)
• Migration (Directed by Benjamin Renner and Guylo Homsy – December 22)
• Nimona (Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane – June 30)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Directed by Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears – August 2)

Best Dramatic Short Work
One-shots, advertisements or short videos.

• A Fox in Space – Episode Two – Fixing a Hole (Directed by Matthew Gafford – March 25)
• Lackadaisy (Pilot) (Directed by Fable Siegel – March 29)
• Once Upon a Studio (Directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy – October 15)
• Tamberlane (Directed by Ashley Nichols and Caytlin Vilbrandt – May 15)
• The Meeps – Love Louder (Official music video. Created in partnership with XIX Entertainment and T&B Media Global.)

Best Dramatic Series
TV or YouTube series videos.

• Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake (Developed by Adam Muto – August 31 to September 28)
• Bluey (Created by Joe Brumm – Season 3)
• Helluva Boss (Created by Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano – Season 2 Episode 3 to Midseason Special)
• Sonic Prime (Created by Man of Action – Season 2)
• The Owl House – “For the Future” & “Watching and Dreaming” (created by Dana Terrace)

Best Novel
Written works of 40,000 words or more. Serialized novels qualify only for the year that the final chapter is published.

• Family Matters, by Mitch Marmel, Walter D. Reimer, and E.O. Costello. (FurAffinity – December 8)
• Otters In Space 4: First Moustronaut, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – December 1)
• Rafts (ebook), by Utunu. (Makapu Village – March 15)
• Wolf of Withervale by Joaquín Baldwin (Paperbear – October 8th)
• You’re Cordially Invited to Crossroads Station, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – July)

Best Short Fiction
Stories less than 40,000 words, poetry, and other short Written works.

• Aged Plant Fibers and Ink, by James L. Steele. (Zooscape – April)
• How Pepper Learned Magic, by Renee Carter Hall. (Zooscape – August)
• Of Heart and Stone, by Solomon Harries. (the Voice of Dog – Dec 4)
• On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story, by Daniel Lowd and Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor – February)
• Rhapsody of Stolen Feathers, by Frank Alvarez. (Androids and Dragons, October)

Best General Literary Work
Story collections, comic collections, graphic novels, non-fiction works, and serialized online stories.

• Commander Annie and Others Adventures, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – short story collection – November,)
• Gnoll Tales, by NightEyes DaySpring. (Dancing Jackal Books – short story collection – June)
• Lauren Ipsum, by Charles Brubaker. (Smallbug Press – comic strip collection – February 2)
• Some Words Burn Brightly: An Illuminated Collection of Poetry, by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – poetry collection – November)
• Zooscape, Volume 1, edited by Mary E. Lowd. (Deep Sky Anchor Press – anthology – September)

Best Non-Fiction Work

• A Guide to Drawing Manga Fantasy Furries: and Other Anthropomorphic Creatures, by Ryo Sumiyoshi. (Tuttle Publishing – Art guidebook – April 25)
• Furry Planet, by Joe Strike. (Apollo Publishers – history – August 29)
• Furscience, by Dr. Courtney N. Plante. (International Anthropomorphic Research Project – research on furry fandom – December)
• On Furries and the Media, by Soatok. (Dhole Moments – blog – June 6)
• TFTuesday Podcast – A Measured Response: Saberspark’s TF Video Essay, by Zilepo and K-Libra. (Youtube – video – August 30)

Best Graphic Story
Includes comic books, and serialized online stories.

• Silverwing: The Graphic Novel, written by Kenneth Opel, Illustrated by Christopher Steininge. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – September 19)
• Slightly Damned, by Chu. (Internet – page #1081 to #1111)
• Tamberlane, by Caytlin Vilbrandt and Ari Noble. (Internet – January 11 to December 27)
• Two Kinds, by Thomas Fischbach. (Keenspot – January 3 to December 25)
• Would Have Bit You, by Inanimorphs. (Tumblr – January to July, (also hard copy Issue 1))

Best Comic Strip
Newspaper-style strips, including those with ongoing arcs.

• Carry On, by Kathy Garrison. (Hirezfox – January 2 to December 29)
• Foxes in Love, by Toivo Kaartinen. (Twitter – Jan 1 to December 21)
• Freefall, by Mark Stanley. (Purrsia – January 2 to December 29)
• Lauren Ipsum, by Charles Brubaker. (Internet – January 2 to December 30)
• The Whiteboard, by Doc Nickel. (Internet – January 2 to December 25)

Best Magazine
Edited collections of creative and/or informational works by various people, professional or amateur, published in print or online in written, pictorial or audio-visual form.

• Dhole Moments, edited by Soatok. (Internet – January 6 to December)
• Dogpatch Press, edited by Patch O’Furr. (Internet – February to December)
• Flayrah, edited by GreenReaper. (Internet – January 1 to December 31)
• InFurNation, edited by Rod O’Riley. (Internet – January 1 to December 31)
• Zooscape, edited by Mary E. Lowd (Internet; Issue 17 to 19)

Best Visual Art
Illustrations for books, magazines, convention program books, cover art for such, coffee-table portfolios.

• Market Haul by Squiddy (Twitter – February 22)
• Our Furry City – Anthrocon 2023 by ARVEN92 (Deviant Art – June 1)
• Pines by Glopossum (Fur Affinity – January 6)
• The Record Store by Squiddy (Twitter – February 10)
• Winterrock Oasis by Bubblewolf (Fur Affinity – February 20)

Best Game
Computer or console games, role-playing games, board games.

• Friends vs Friends (Developer:Brainwash Gang – Publisher: Raw Fury – May 30)
• Laika: Aged Through Blood (Developer:Brainwash Gang – Publisher:Thunderful Publishing – October 19)
• Pseudoregalia (Developer/Publisher: rittzler – July 28)
• Super Mario Bros Wonder (Developer: Nintendo EPD – Publisher: Nintendo – October 20)

Best Website
Online collections of art, stories, and other creative and/or informational works. Includes galleries, story archives, directories, blogs, and personal sites.

• e621 – art archive.
• Fur Affinity, Furry art and stories.
• Kemono Café, Furry webcomic hosting.
• Wikifur, Furry wiki.
• Wolfery – roleplay/MUCK.

Best Anthropomorphic Fursuit

• Draco – Maker: The Beastcub. Owner: Draco Deflagro. (Twitter – July 15)
• Forlorn Raven – Maker: Lemonbrat. Owner: Forlorn Raven. (Twitter – February 3)
• Pig in Dress – Maker/Owner/Wearer: Suolaxierr. (Twitter – July 15)
• Sandey – Maker/Owner/Wearer: Misplaced_Spigot. (Vancoufur 2023)
• Vauk – Maker: Kkes and Vauk. Owner: Vauk. (Twitter – August 7)

Go HERE to vote, and don’t wait, the deadline is TODAY March 24! 

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Remembering Mark Merlino (1952-2024), a founder and soul of furry fandom

Thu 22 Feb 2024 - 22:51

Mark (left) and Rod holding their Lifetime Achievement Award — from the 2022 Good Furry Awards

They had a shared vision

Mark Merlino was a founder of both the furry fandom and the North American anime fandom. In 1971, meeting fellow hobbyists at science fiction conventions led to the 1977 formation of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization (C/FO), using the clubhouse of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society (LASFS). They would screen rare videos of imported Japanese animation for lucky members to see before anyone else, and movies like Animalympics that were first called funny-animal and later furry. In 1989 Mark and his partner Rod O’Riley co-founded the first furry convention, Confurence.

Their vision stood apart from major influences like Star Trek or Star Wars. They would gather fans without elitism or ambitions of an exclusive club, with no central property, brand or owner. It was a vision of collaboration, expressed with sketchbook sharing, convention room parties, and direct fan-to-fan creativity. That’s how love for animal characters turned into being original role-play fursonas. It was shaded by counterculture of 1960’s underground comix, and lit by the sparks of pre-internet fandom circulated by VHS tapes and mail ‘zines.

The flame was tended from Mark’s Southern California house, The Prancing Skiltaire, established in 1980. It was named after a mink-like alien species he created and also a reference to the Prancing Pony Inn in Lord of the Rings. Mark shared the house with Rod and a rotating cast of fellow creative oddballs and luminaries. In the mid-1980’s he created his fursona Sylys Sable and Rod created Vinson Mink with a similar back-story. They supported regular monthly furmeets, con staff meets, furry BBS and MUCK activity and an ISP, animation screenings and mingling with California industry talent, and development of independent zine/APA publishing, animation, games, and costuming. They were at the forefront of an explosion of nearly 200 conventions and worldwide subculture that serves millions today.

Tributes around the world

After 5 decades at the heart of it all, Mark’s elder health problems led to hospitalization at the new year in 2024. He was lovingly supported by friends and partners and a crowdfund until he passed away on February 20. Anime, furry, and brony networks lit up with condolences from around the world while the name Mark Merlino trended on social media next to mainstream celebrities.

He is survived by partners including Rod, and Changa who joined them for 28 years. They were united by love and creativity, but as queer people, their relationship was fundamental to the acceptance and expression that aligns many furries with queer culture. Fandom may be a hobby, but it’s also a way to show identity, and theirs was the soul of what furries are.

Mark contributed stories to Dogpatch Press. With eyes on the future, his 2022 look at Furality featured its hugely successful 15,000 attendance. He also wrote 2020’s A brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, America’s first anime fan club. Then there were meetings in person.

Patch O’Furr’s memory: generosity and delight

At first contact in 2013, I was a cold caller to Mark. I reached him to write about his furry gallery art show that he called a dream he had for over 30 years. He was super excited to be asked. He was always that generous for convention meetings at his room, where he would tell funny grandpa stories in a Zootopia hat with fuzzy ears. His eyes would light up while he played a fan cut of Animalympics and explained how it was unjustly unseen until being rescued for people like us. It was charming when Rod chimed in with him.

In 2019 my girlfriend planned a trip with time to visit the Skiltaire house. It was packed with memorabilia like Aladdin’s cave, a museum, or a holy shrine for a pilgrimage. We got a tour, watched documentary about them, and had dinner. My girlfriend, not a furry, was very quiet while taking it all in, which turned into delighted writing about the visit later. That means a lot because she has passed away. It’s one of life’s best memories because of their generosity.

The most personal way I got to know Mark was private email where he explained philosphy that I boiled down above, and “lifestyler vs. traditionalist” conflict (a way that rivalry or even homophobia came to furry spaces). From long experience, Mark asked me not to publish unless he could collect it into “things clearly marked as ‘opinion’, ‘recollection’ and verified fact. I am particularly nervous about ‘naming names’. This has bitten me badly in the past.” That included a story about once receiving a dead squirrel in a UPS package!

He added: “I am very proud of what Rod, myself, and our friends have done to help create Furry Fandom.”

How it started: How it’s grown:

RIP Mark Merlino (Sy Sable) pic.twitter.com/kWXpvfSXDP

— David Bookworm Popovich (@Bookworm_Review) February 21, 2024

Our Furry Heritage — by Jack Newhorse
jack@jacknewhorse.com, Telegram: @JackNewhorse 

“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.” — Hazel, upon the death of Bigwig; Watership Down, by Richard Adams.

Mark Merlino, half of the couple generally acknowledged as “Fathers of the Furry Fandom”, died today. I’ll leave personal tributes to those who knew him, as I didn’t. But still I said the phrase above to myself, as I do whenever I hear of a furry’s death.

You who are reading this might already know about Mark (and his partner Rod). As creators of seminal furry organizations who have remained active in the fandom, they form an important part of our heritage. Visitors to monthly gatherings at their home in Southern California have had the opportunity to touch its dust: The newsletters, drawings, and other furry ephemera stretching back more than forty years.

Furry heritage of this sort has been getting more attention in the last few years. Fred Patten led the charge in 2016 with his book, Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015, followed by Joe Strike’s Furry Nation and Ash Coyote and Eric Risher’s award-winning documentary, The Fandom. More recently, Gamepopper started the Furry Fandom History Project and has been giving talks at conventions about it; he’s among the contributors to the 250GB Furry History Collection on archive.org. And in academia, the topic is covered by dozens (if not hundreds) of papers. (All of these projects owe a debt of gratitude to Wikifur, a primary source of furry information since 2005.)

I joined the fandom in 1998 and so had a ringside seat to some of this heritage. I promise you: life seemed as banal then as now. You never know what ideas will catch on, and Things require Space. Do I keep this con book? This flyer from a picnic? A supersponsor plushie? As the past recedes, we eliminate minor (and inconvenient) details, we create myths. But if you keep the artifacts, you have a base truth more true than memory.

This becomes more important as our fandom passes through the membrane into mass culture. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people now make their living exclusively by catering to us; furry businesses are popping up like spring flowers. Partygoers have discovered our club nights, and celebrities show up at our cons. We offer something compelling: It’s only a matter of time until every family has (or personally knows) furries. And you’ll be able to say to those newcomers, “I was there.”

(My organization, Otterdam Foundation, recognizes this and works to ease integration by “helping non-furry institutions explore anthropomorphic arts”. On this note, we’re planning the public-facing Otterdam Furry Arts Festival in cooperation with local arts organizations for this October.)

Mark will never again tell his stories on a couch in a con lobby, at the Prancing Skiltaire, or to his partner. But he did tell them. He and Rod invited people into their home; they presented at cons. (I was fortunate to be at their talk at what I think was Mark’s last, Midwest Furfest 2023.) They saved their artifacts, allowing those who followed to contextualize it all. To do that they had to first decide that what they were doing was important, even if seemingly banal at the time.

He mattered. This matters. And you, too, matter.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

“He’s a Steve” – The Onion gets hip to the furry jive

Wed 21 Feb 2024 - 19:28

I’m crying at this breaking news from The Onion.

There’s something funny about how they wrote it.

Check this out:

Compare to the 2016 Dogpatch Press story A Newcomer’s Guide To Furry Terms and Customs.

They got “Steves” from there. Bet your fursuit. That’s the only place it appears like that.

What’s a Steve?

In-group slang is fun, especially when outsiders don’t get it.

A common furry word for outsiders is Normies, or less commonly heard these days, there’s the old-school nerd-word Mundanes.

A Newcomer’s Guide To Furry Terms and Customs invented “Steves” as another one. (It also lists Musclefurs, which is real — but very specific — so call it more evidence of referencing.)

This “guide” was written to set up a reader to believe a list of very real terms… salted with made-up bullshit that gets more and more silly until either they got the joke, or insiders can laugh at them for getting fooled. It was written out of annoyance at repetitive “what is a furry” bland Furries 101 media that uses terms nobody really uses any more. (This is a fan site, we can do satire or April Fools stories.)

After 7.5 years, it’s still one of the most currently searched stories on the site. It does admit being a prank at the end… but you have to read the whole thing. It still gets believing comments!

Arrkay The Bird of Culturally F’d says:

I think this is a moment of “grunge speak”. In the 90’s, a record company publicist pranked a NYT writer about Seattle’s grunge scene, making up a bunch of jargon which was uncritically published as true slang words.

Some of these made up slang words became actual slang, like Cob Nobbler.

Were The Onion’s writers in on the joke, or were they being Steves with a quick net search and a looming deadline? I can’t decide which one amuses me more.

Steve Gallaci and Steve Brule were unavailable to comment for this story.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Author Jess E. Owen: Soaring to crossover success in fantasy and mainstream YA fiction

Mon 19 Feb 2024 - 11:00

Welcome to Jess E. Owen, author of noblebright fantasy, and optimistic contemporary Young Adult writing (as Jessica Kara), whose book A Furry Faux Paw caught the notice of Dogpatch Press with a 2022 Ursa Major Award for Best Novel. It’s the story of a teen girl artist with a hoarder mom, facing isolation and family complication with the promise of a forbidden trip to a furry con. It stood out for reaching outside a typical insider science fiction/fantasy audience, with gateway appeal by using fandom as a setting for character building. It stood out even more as a furry teen story in the face of conservative backlash at books. A Furry Faux Paw was seen on a mainstream channel, before it was obvious that she was a furry insider — that’s well-rounded exposure! In fact, she laughed about her pen name maybe being too successful at separation from her best known fantasy series starring gryfon characters, The Summer King Chronicles. Here’s a creator worth interviewing about how her work gets around, one you might see soon at Anthrocon 2024.

(Dogpatch Press:) Let’s start with your background in writing and genre. Would you say you started as a furry writer, or just a writer?

I think I’ve always had a furry vibe before it was intentional; back in my mIRC days I was ‘Lyoness’ in my teen chat group and I think half of us had fursonas without realizing there was a whole subculture already happening. So I’m definitely in the furry community even if I don’t have an official gryfon-sona character or a ref sheet or anything. I think most people who know me consider me part of the birb/avian sector of the fandom.

As far as writing, when I came up with the concept of my fantasy series, The Summer King Chronicles, it was before I was really aware of furry as a whole community so I was really writing in more of the mainstream ‘animal fiction’ tradition of Watership Down, The Lion King, and Meredith Ann Pierce’s Firebringer trilogy (even though we can just call those furry, too! Tomato, to-mah-to, and all that). However, a friend made me aware of the Ursa Majors back in 2014 so I threw my hat in the ring with my eligible novel, Skyfire, the second book in The Summer King Chronicles. I won the Ursa for best novel that year, which caught the attention of other writers in the fandom, and I have been immersed in the community ever since. I’ve published short stories in a couple of fandom anthologies as well.

So to answer your question–yes! I call myself just a writer and a furry writer, and my books have crossover appeal for mainstream YA audiences and furry readers alike.

While you’re earning awards and appeal, how are things going as a career?

If the question is, can I quit my day job yet, the answer is no– but I consider it my actual career, and this true for a lot of writers. I’m happy with the books I’m putting out, I’m thrilled to have gotten a traditional book deal for my contemporary novels, and I’m in it for the long haul. I have a million stories to tell and I’m just hoping to get most of them out before I shuffle off this mortal coil. If money follows eventually, that would be nice. Some stories will continue to appeal to furry readers, some will be mainstream, who knows what else; I cannot be contained, someone stop me! (Just kidding).

I’m juggling day jobs, family, and multiple writing projects as well as marketing and pushing other creative ideas–I run a Patreon, I’m creating a graphic novel of Song of the Summer King with an artist, as well as audiobooks of the series, so I just try to keep all the pots stirred. Someday I hope for a tipping point when I’m making more than I’m spending, or at least enough to fund all my ideas.

Can you talk about your recent work, and the process of crossing outside of fandom with YA writing?

The most recent book I’ve published is Don’t Ask If I’m Okay, a contemporary YA with no furry ties except it was the second of my contractual obligations with Page Street YA, who published A Furry Faux Paw (AFFP)– so let’s talk about AFFP, a book about furries, for furries, picked up by a mainstream traditional publisher 😀

How did I go from writing fantasy to writing contemporary? Once I was immersed in the fandom I fell in love with the creative community and I started getting this idea to write a novel about . . . a furry. A person who is a furry, not “furry fiction.” I write primarily for kids and teens, and so the story happened in my mind that way–a teen in the furry fandom. Usually I’m a die-hard fantasy writer but all the people I was meeting and all the different stories I saw inspired a more realistic story, of a realistic teen, overcoming realistic teen obstacles.

I knew Maeve/Mauve would be a teen artist in the fandom, but it couldn’t just be about that, so the friction and plot came when I decided her mother was a hoarder, and the fandom and Maeve’s artwork were one way she distanced herself from her mother’s struggles and found her identity, and solace. So the idea developed that she’s going to attempt to break away from her mother, runs away to her first furcon, and her coming-of-age and my love letter to the fandom ensues! An agent loved it, so did an editor at Page Street YA, so that book was my first foray into traditional publishing.

My agent coined the term ‘tragi-cozy’ for my contemporary work. I definitely go for a Studio Ghibli vibe where even when difficult things are happening, there are beautiful things, friendship, and a life worth living. So while Maeve has a hard row to hoe, the book itself is cozy and mostly heartwarming and a nice little escape from the daily grind.

What reactions has A Furry Faux Paw gotten, both in general and inside fandom?

Positive reactions in general! The curious normies who have picked it up seem to come away with a better understanding of the fandom, and Maeve’s struggle with her mother garners a pretty universal emotional, empathetic response. Most furries seem to see it as a fun frolic through an accurately painted furcon, even if Maeve’s adventure doesn’t involve some issues specific to fandom and conventions (again, the fandom is not the actual focus of the story, but a loving backdrop). I’ve gotten reviews and letters from furries expressing their joy at my depiction of the fandom, and seeing themselves reflected in the pages, which was my whole goal.

I’ve had only one negative email which implies I glossed over the darker parts of the fandom and actually suggested that the book was dangerous for portraying too sunny of a picture and should be pulled from publication. (I found that pretty shocking and have not answered them). I get the sense this isn’t someone from “outside,” but someone who had a terrible experience within the fandom, which unfortunately does happen–but it happens with all groups of humans whether it’s a fandom, church, or school–not just furries. To expect a single novel to cover every base is a tall order. The novel is also from the point of view of a girl whose experience has been mostly positive, so it would be hard to address ‘everything’ without it becoming a very different book.

The book is not an exposé on the fandom, nor is it intended to explain everything about it or point a light into dark corners. It’s one (fictional) character’s (fictional) experience. It is, perhaps, a Hallmark version of the fandom, but I have personally had a positive experience overall, and I think it’s okay to reflect that. Anyone interested in researching the community further has plenty of resources at their disposal. I think we can agree the furry community has had its (un)fair share of negative press already, so I flipped the narrative.

My hope would be that if a young person is interested in the community, this book could be a lighthearted way to introduce friends and family to the positive aspects, and could open the way for conversations about how to conduct yourself and be safe in a larger community.

What’s it like to work with an agent, and how has the book sold?

Like having a writing buddy, cheerleader, and professional advocate all in one! My awesome agent, unfortunately, has decided to leave the publishing business for personal reasons, but she got me my first traditional book deal and helped me navigate some of the questions around book contracts, authors’ rights, marketing, and so on. It’s like having a go-to publishing reference because they only succeed when you succeed, so your best interests are also theirs. My agent was “editorial” in that she liked to read and make comments and suggestions on my manuscripts before sending them on submission; not every agent does that. It depends on their work style, and the writer. It was good for me because she knew the market very well and it was my first dive into writing contemporary fiction, so I valued her insight and market knowledge.

About sales numbers for AFFP; I will say sales are about ‘as expected’ for a YA contemporary without becoming a bestseller or allowing me to quit my day job. Page Street is a smaller press, so while they’re distributed by Macmillan and have vastly more reach than I would on my own, AFFP is still a niche book so it hasn’t surprised anyone with sales numbers either good or bad. My hope is that it’s still relatively unheard of and will continue to gain traction both inside the fandom and out. A few of my subrights have reverted back to me so I will be working on an audio version as well, which I’m very excited about, and I continue to push the book on my own!

You have some fun news about Anthrocon… and how else can people find you and your work?

YES! This is the year I will finally make it to Anthrocon! I’ve been to Midwest Furfest and Texas Furry Fiesta multiple times, and a couple of smaller (now defunct, sadly) cons, but this will be my first time hitting the east coast! I’ll be bringing plenty of copies of AFFP as well as my gryfon books and HOPEFULLY the much-anticipated second book in The Dragon Star Saga, Shadow Sun. I hope to see lots of folks there.

If people want to get a jump on reading, they can find my books pretty much wherever books are sold, or request them at your local library. More about my fantasy series here: www.jessowen.com, and my contemporary novels here: www.authorjessicakara.com.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

LAST DAY to nominate for the Ursa Major Awards; Nominations open for the Good Furry Award.

Sat 17 Feb 2024 - 05:16

Ursa art by Foxenawolf.

For over two decades, the Ursa Major Awards have recognized the furry fandom’s favorite creations every year. For the 2023 awards, anything with anthropomorphic animals is eligible to win by popular vote. Want your favorite works represented?

Go HERE to nominate, and don’t wait, the deadline is today (February 17)! 

There are fifteen categories (your input is only needed for ones you want to include): Best Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work and Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Comic, Magazine, Illustration, Game, Website, Fursuit, Music, and more.

You can reference the Ursa website’s 2023 Recommended Anthropomorphics List, but that’s not all. The list only has what some fans submitted. There’s much more furry stuff in the world, and anything you can possibly think of inside or outside the fandom can be nominated if it was made in 2023. After nominations close, voting will be open from March 1 to March 31.

The awards are run by volunteers of the ALAA. Please consider donating to support their service via paypal@ursamajorawards.org.

__________________________________________

6th Annual Good Furry Awards open for nominations.

Starting in 2019, the Good Furry Award has been recognizing fan-nominated furries for outstanding community spirit. Nominations are now open for whoever you feel deserves recognition.

Nominate HERE via the updated page.

This year there’s a difference, and instead of just one award, there will now be 3:

  • The Image Award is for furries who give the fandom a positive image through videos, podcasts, vlogs, documentaries, websites, and other social media.
  • The Good Egg Award is for furries who do good deeds for individuals, animals, organizations, or the community.
  • The Furtastic Award is for furries who are excellent at other things not easily categorized as the above two and so is a catch-all for general pawsomeness.

Nominations will be open through September 1, 2024. (The timeframe is a little different this year, too.) There will be another Lifetime Achievement Award (3rd year running). Because there are now several awards, payment is phased out and winners will get a very handsome trophy and lots of furry love, as promised by founder Papabear Grubbs Grizzly of Uncle Bear Publishing.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Grassroots action: Leadership changes and weeding out hate at Garden State Fur The Weekend

Wed 24 Jan 2024 - 20:37

Garden State Fur The Weekend is an upcoming furry convention set for May 3-5, 2024 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. With their launch only months away, something unusual happened. GSFTW posted an official statement about opposing hate and Nazi-fur groups.

Its come to the attention of the GSFTW Board of Directors that there has been activity within our channels by those who do not represent us or our intentions as a convention or as a fandom.

We strive to keep our sights focused on a open, safe, and fun space for our weekend. With…

— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 12, 2024

It was followed by an announcement of the con chair stepping down and a new one stepping up. It blames medical issues of the ex-chair, Dashing Fox. Dogpatch Press wishes good health to him. The story could end there, but unofficially, the change was forced by staff resignations. You’re seeing the aftermath of revolt behind the scenes, then getting back on track for launch. Yes, they stood up with the power of collective will to change the leadership for the better.

Attention all

It has come to the Board's attention that Dashing Foxie will be stepping down as our organization's Convention Chairperson. While this is a heavy moment for the con, we will be moving forward as the Board to review and appoint a new Con Chair as soon as possible… https://t.co/jbrAk3QH77

— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 13, 2024

This reporting is not to pile on, but for public interest. GSFTW’s interest is to make a nice event with good PR for its community. There’s also reading between the lines to learn about solving cross-community issues. We’ll cover the negative before looking forward to the positive.

Digging in

Let’s not beat around the bush about why staff resigned to uproot the ex-chair: He actively associated with the Furry Raiders. They are a nazifur group who wither everything they touch. Their ties to alt-right hate groups and criminal schemes could fill a book.

The public has been aware that the Furry Raiders are toxic since it became national news years ago. What was the ex-chair thinking? Some may accuse corruption. The most charitable reading would be a critical security lapse by someone who didn’t screen associates or read the room.

Not only was there internal disruption; it made a PR problem about transparency of it all. History shows it’s possible to play musical chairs without changing the music. Nobody wants to get led down the garden path or see history repeat. So let’s ask questions, even if GSFTW is truly on the path to success.

Dogpatch Press did due diligence to seek comment from numerous people involved, including the official con channel, PR, the ex-chair, and new chair. Gracious responses came from the new chair and a staffer.

The chair switch came not long after a switch to a new hotel; questions to the con found a positive reason. How about finance decisions? More questions soon…

It’s fine to weed out nazifurs, (something to just do, not do for show) but the ex-chair’s Furry Raiders activity was open for almost 4 years. Wouldn’t there be much less concern if it was nipped in the bud at the start?

Back to the start: Sowing seeds of a new con

GSFTW’s 2020 organizing plans were delayed by Covid, until late 2022, when a Wikifur page was made by the con’s then-Head of PR. The page named official GSFTW channels and groups, 23 staffers, and two Guests of Honor (Leaf Dubois and Cooper Tom). Good things were growing for fans who are under-served with full events nearby.

I'm so excited to be the artist & GoH for Garden State Fur the Weekend, a New Jersey furry con coming in May 2024! I'm proud of this first piece of diner art and I'm working on more. Follow @GardenStateFur to stay tuned, and I hope to see you there! pic.twitter.com/Nk9wCNbue1

— Leaf 🍂 (@LeafDubois) November 25, 2022

Nearby events had a vacancy after the departure of Fur Affinity: United from New Jersey. There’s the single-day New Years Furry Ball, and Fur The ‘More is across state lines, but New Jersey had no full convention. A plan for one in Atlantic City never launched after suffering from hate activity in 2018Which could have been a clue to avoid perennial troublemakers, but here we go again… 

Snakes in the Grass

GSFTW’s 2024 statement against hate is vague about who was doing it in their channels. There wasn’t just one source, and it wasn’t just association without knowing who they were. Names can be named, and a chain of activity illustrates this.

There was prior knowledge by the ex-chair Dashing Fox. In a 2018 case of handling complaints, members of a local furmeet were unhappy with the presence of a nazifur zoophile named Crusader Cat. His history of being a chronic nuisance and banned from things was met with defensive denial by Dashing Fox.

In the denial, “the person who runs it is gay and in the minority” is propaganda from the Furry Raiders themselves. The term for what they do is Collaborator. Collaboration is the way systematic oppression uses cooperation from some members of targeted groups. The history of gay fascists shows it. Before WWII, there were western Jews who wanted to get rid of eastern Jews and supported Hitler. Such manipulation is behind Nazifur claims of “free expression” (for them…) Conning people to play along is how fascism works. It has no consistent position except grabbing power, and maneuvering like a chameleon for leverage. Targeted people will help them for selfish short-term benefit, and say you’ll benefit later if you help too (while they plot your destruction.)

The Furry Raiders were collaborators with alt-right figure Milo Yiannopolous in a scheme to “destroy” furry cons. Wait until you see their point person, and the tangle of ties around the Crusader Cat complaints.

"Billy the sex offender has never harassed or abused ME so I don't see what the problem is"

— Daz The Big Blue Dog 🔞 (@daztoons) October 8, 2018

Eventually Dashing Fox did come around and remove Crusader Cat. So far, so good. But then 2 years later… I did nazi that coming!

Fool me once, fool me twice

In 2020, a fuse was lit when Dashing Fox went on the Furry Raiders podcast to promote the plan for GSFTW. Giving air time to a nazifur group boosted their signal while making negative PR. Their channels have no audience or purpose except to promote their propaganda, so nothing could be gained there for anyone except them. Actively associating with nazifurs is known to cost the reputation of anyone who does, so Dashing Fox made a conscious choice, especially when…

Dashing Fox is named as friend of Furry Raiders admin Richie “Aeveirra” Felitti, a self-avowed fascist who was partner with the prior-banned Crusader Cat.

The core of the story.

This isn’t just bad opinions. Aeveirra was a point person for a scheme of alt-right violence aimed at a convention.

“You have to destroy the shit they love” – the Midwest Furfest 2019 scheme

Before the 2020 podcast, Aeveirra represented Furry Raiders in a video with Milo Yiannopolous, while his nazifur group invited Milo to preach about destroying furry cons. Meanwhile, Milo ran another secret group to plan a hostile MFF visit. That’s where Milo’s nazifur collaborators and alt-right followers would welcome the Proud Boys fascist gang. On their part, Proud Boys mutually threatened to bring violence to MFF. This was collaboration with terrorists, ultimately proven by their seditious conspiracy convictions for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in 2021.

The MFF scheme unraveled when the con banned Milo. His secret group was leaked to prove the threat that furries faced down.

After the scheme fizzled, Dashing Fox actively associated with nazifurs known to be toxic to conventions. Ignoring this lets a pattern fester and spread. It makes even more reason to scrutinize the friendship and agenda of Aeveirra.

Aeveirra’s agenda

As an active Furry Raiders admin, Richie “Aeveirra” Felitti is the opposite of someone a well-run convention would ever want near executive power, finances, operations, or security. What would he do with influence?

Take time to browse Aeveirra’s history of befriending and defending fascists and criminally charged sex offenders, and retaliating on their behalf at people who observe their crimes. Imagine the following people gaining favor at the top… Besides Crusader Cat, people shielded by Aeveirra include:

This police lineup of creeps is exactly what Aeveirra set out to favor with their own new convention.

The plot thickens: Aeveirra helped to fund the Free Fur All “Fashcon” with Nazifur money.

In Oklahoma, Free Fur All was founded by far-right founder Peacewolf out of spite at another convention, where Peacewolf was ousted as its Chair in 2020. (See a pattern?) Free Fur All was dedicated to welcoming nuisances banned elsewhere, earning the name “Fashcon”, but their own competing factions proved that Nazifurs wither everything they touch. Only a few dozen went in 2023 after fighting over Peacewolf’s sex scandal and the influence of Furry Raiders within.

A Free Fur All board meeting was leaked by an aggrieved insider, and it names Aeveirra as a heavy donor. Some sources claim that Aeveirra was spending an inheritance. Meanwhile in the Furry Raiders, founder Foxler claimed sponsorship, implying his money was laundered on behalf of people who don’t launder their fursuits. Whatever the source, nazifur money spreads nazifur influence.

Evidence of the Furry Raiders splitting up competing nazifur factions came from sources involved in organizing for Free Fur All. The same sources went on to make similar complaints about losing favor with GSFTW.

Aeveirra’s agenda with Free Fur All was carried out in between the 2020 podcast with Dashing Fox about founding GSFTW, and GSFTW’s intended launch. It certainly was interesting timing.

Asking about influence on GSFTW

Dogpatch Press sent questions to insiders, GSFTW’s official info email, staffers, the ex-chair and the new chair. An entry level staffer “speaking solely from a personal perspective” responded to the below point.

This was a good-faith attempt to get a “No”. Good-faith effort to respond makes a difference — even if concern is barking up the wrong tree or topics can’t be discussed beyond a simple statement. For other questions, the staffer provided good PR. They asked to stay anonymous and wanted answers kept in context. For brevity, Dogpatch Press has a long chat on file and only suggests that conventions should take questions of influence seriously.

The new Chair wasn’t very familiar with the issue either, but stated “As far as I’m aware, there is no association with Aeveirra and the convention.”

Messages were traded with Dashing Fox, with days of attempts to have a fur-to-fur conversation about events here. A passed publication deadline with two extensions leave it for a future date. The other staffer who responded affirmed:

The entire convention leadership was in favor of the statement put up publicly, including Dashing Fox, and the decision to review who was present on staff and within our chats was decided by them as well.

Those present on staff have all outwardly expressed disdain for Raiders, and have zero interest in having them or anyone else in a similar vein (that being hate or discrimination) present at our events.

Behind the public statements

Credit is due to GSFTW for acting strongly to repel Nazifurs. More inside info is staying private due to feelings that the dispute was over. The concern here is that forcing change took several years, while the problem festered as a symptom of a larger one. Allowing a single Nazifur leads them to bring other ones.

A witness complaint

Nazifur groups are a tiny fringe, so they are barely separated and all mingle, but the risk is grabbing larger influence, from con operations to group leadership.

Take for example another recently-removed member of the GSFTW Telegram group, Chris “Astral” Curtis. Astral went to Free Fur All with his partner Norby, and ran his own nazifur group full of Furry Raiders, insurrectionism, and violent racist hate speech. (Evidence channel).

Meanwhile, Astral’s partner Norby was admin of a furry group in New York, close to their friend Aeveirra in Long island. In mid 2023 a member attempted to report Aeveirra’s nazifur activity, only to have Norby lash back with an unhinged onslaught of vicious verbal abuse. The group admin retaliated on behalf of his fascist friend, subjecting people to rule by terror. It makes the point of this story.

Evidence of a festering problem. 

These were known nuisances as long ago as Anthrocon 2015. Dogpatch Press watched in person a few feet away while Norby and Astral brought a Confederate flag to the fursuit parade, embarassing Anthrocon and forcing them to make a conduct rule about it.

Astral and Norby at Anthrocon 2015

This pattern will repeat until nazifurs are shown the door. No place is safe with them in it. Staying passive just raises the cost of acting. This culminated in GSFTW staff resignations, then getting back on track and removing Astral and more nuisances who had favor with the ex-chair. The reasonable amount of nazifurs to tolerate is zero, and the sooner that’s established, the less damage they do.

People who took action are now wishing the best for GSFTW. Only fascists would win with a con pushing up daisies and a hotel full of tumbleweeds, so let’s not lose the forest for the trees. People with good intentions want a good con.

Looking at a rosy future

Shy Matsi is the new chair who represents optimism.

Attention all!

Garden State Fur The Weekend would officially like to welcome @shy_matsi as our Convention Chairperson!

Shy has an incredible history within the fandom and will be showing us the sights and sounds of a city he knows and loves!

Stay tuned for more information! https://t.co/iindMEg8KH

— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 14, 2024

From the other staffer who responded:

For confidence, I can say for certain the con is shaping up to be a highly successful first year overall, and having someone like Shy at the helm who not only has experience with the local area, but also shows a great deal of consideration for the community as a whole, that makes me personally feel a lot of confidence in GSFTW.

Shy Matsi was previously the Hotel Lead, and responded to questions about the hotel switch announced in November, explaining that the space would have been too small for the convention. The change won praise, and the new hotel is part of the same chain as the old one:

We lucked out really, the hotel event manager is the same one for the New Brunswick one and they’re considered sister hotels. It’s a better location. The only tricky part was moving the reservations. They never did that before, and I didn’t want a hardship on the people who reserved rooms, but they just completed it last week, so that went well.

A need for support

Furry fandom is a grassroots community, so remember that garden is both a noun and a verb. It’s not enough to dig out problems. You also have to fill in the hole. The staffer who responded said:

With staffing and volunteers, I think it’s clear to everyone that a lot of cons, not just Garden State Fur The Weekend, are always in need of helping paws and claws. And to quote another con chair: “Many paws make light work”.

We absolutely welcome folks looking to assist, so long as folks have the drive to help and are willing to work with the con and it’s attendees to ensure everyone’s safety and well being are first and foremost.

And though it should go without saying: anyone with a hateful, ableist, bigoted, and/or discriminatory mindset or behavior is not welcome at our event nor as our volunteers.

Volunteers help make any con help function. Without volunteers, we would be struggling so much. So want to be part of the first volunteer team for GSFTW? Step right up and shoot a email to volunteer@gsftw.org with your helping hand!

— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 10, 2024

Thanks again to all who engaged sensitive questions with professional care.

UPDATE

Feedback on the story from sources close to GSFTW questions how much the team really is rebuilt. They sent evidence that Aeveirra was considered for staff, an astonishing risk for trust and security, thankfully opposed by other staff exercising caution lacking from the top.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

LGBT refugees seek asylum with FUR/HELP while Russia limits human rights

Fri 22 Dec 2023 - 04:31

This news is illegal in Russia.

In late November 2023, Russia’s supreme court declared the movement for gay rights to be “extremist.” Mentioning LGBTQ activity without condemning it can get you fined, imprisoned, deprived of bank accounts, and worse. The New York Times says “any news organization, blogger or even an individual” is at risk.

Russian homophobes have pushed for this authoritarian rule for a long time. In 2021, it was proposed against LGBT and associated categories, including furries. This led to Dogpatch Press reports about harassment of Russian furry events that foreshadowed the official ruling now.

The excuse is to “protect children” from gay adults who love each other, as if they were created by an international political group that doesn’t exist, rather than by human nature. Any sign of their existence can be defined as harmful propaganda. The definition is so broad and vague that Russia’s government can punish anyone for anything, even wearing a rainbow. (Fandom is for creative expression, which has a lot of overlap with identity expression, so claims to be apolitical can’t be counted on to protect anyone.) The effects have ranged from putting adult rating on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, to murdering people in one furry’s story below.

While Russia’s government labels this extremist, they’re protecting people from cartoons while raising murder. People in this upside-down land need to flee for safety.

Take a good look at how stupid this is. It's a Russian government excuse for punishing anyone for any reason they want. That's what the right wing wants in America, too.

'My Little Pony' Gets Adult Rating After Russia Declares 'LGBT Movement' Extremisthttps://t.co/tpi9nVcLtZ

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 11, 2023

The mission of FUR/HELP

Many refugees have dramatic stories of escaping danger, but few have guides like FUR/HELP, a Furry LGBTQIA+ Refugee initiative to save clients in post-Soviet regions and American Trans lives from persecution.

YukiDeer, the founder and ambassador, explains their work:

We are working to help refugees since November 2022, and since then have helped more than 5 furry refugees escape to safe third countries to wait for their transfer to a destination asylum country.

We helped a person that withstood torture in a psychiatric hospital. They were loaded with drugs to a vegetable-like state just because they were transgender. Their family put them into the facility as far as we know, and basically had to flee with help of other nonprofits. FUR/HELP helped the person when they arrived to one of the post-Soviet countries. We provided funds for food, a hostel until they could find stable housing, and advice on legal conditions and how to find support and work.

We helped two transgender people in dangerous situations with advice on how to access LGBTQIA services in the USA to get help with housing, and helped other people find housing as well.

And finally, we helped 1 Ukrainian homosexual flee occupied regions of Ukraine with help of other non profits. It was scary.

We plan to base ourselves in Canada, but for now we are 100% remote, with people volunteering for us mostly in Eastern Europe.

YukiDeer’s bio includes IT worker, Twitch streamer, and maker of design and music with a lot of personal stake in this: “I actively act as a LGBTQIA+ rights activist in EU and NA regions. I was raised in Ukraine, but born in Russia. I’m also in the process of establishing Furry Philanthropy Community or FPC for short — platform for Furry run NGOs and singular philanthropes to coordinate humanitarian action.”

More soon about how and why YukiDeer established FUR/HELP, but let’s look at what refugees are reaching for.

The need for asylum and the benefit of humanitarian aid.

The legal process for gaining citizenship is easiest for people with means and opportunity, savings, a job, family, or partner to support them without burdening the system. Those conditions are lacking for many refugees who are forced to flee from disaster, poverty and violence in places that lack human rights.

Their alternative is to claim humanitarian aid with asylum. That’s not just a burden, it raises international security that benefits everyone already in a country by keeping neighbors stable. To get it, an immigrant may have little choice except to risk punishing conditions to cross a border without permission so they can apply. Law about border crossing doesn’t remove the human right to apply as a refugee – and because it is a long process, they have the status until it is decided.

There are common attacks at “illegals” and supposed crime they bring (immigrants may have lower rates than citizens) that don’t even try to count the benefit, or wasted cost to make the process harder. Reports of a recent surge in immigration to the USA will make this a big issue in coming elections. (Don’t forget that controversy about burdening the system has coincided with record high corporate profits.)

LGBT refugees can try to get help from a nonprofit like Rainbow Railroad, but such services seem to be stretched thin and hard to get. This common frustration led YukiDeer to found FUR/HELP for others while seeking asylum personally.

A “nightmare” with a lifeline from other furries – YukiDeer’s story.

YukiDeer hopes to have asylum one day soon:

I fled murder and help others do the same. I might not be fully safe myself, but after seeing how others treat refugees, I can’t just stand and do nothing.

So basically, at first I had my father threaten me with murder, then I had forced treatment in a mental facility just because of suspicion that I’m gay. Then came the worsening of LGBTQIA+ rights overall and it crossed the line of multiple murders near my home that had a person castrated just for being gay. I can’t disclose the details since I’m not in safety yet, but on my way to it.

Now with the risk of extremist title, it feels even more dangerous, I don’t feel safe even out of Russia.

I raised money to escape, tried to flee multiple times, and only the 3rd worked, thanks to Soatok who helped me with the financial side of the story. Without him, I’d be best case hiding, worst case dead or imprisoned.

That’s how a story of a simple streamer furry guy can turn into a nightmare.

Dogpatch Press asked for more thoughts about family relations, the experience of being confined, how it felt, and what kind of justice can happen there?

At the time of the threat I was under 18, I have a sister and she is a cisgender straight woman, she was treated harshly by my father, but of course not as harsh. He was pretty mentally unstable, he drank a lot and was tend to get physical, he did hit his mother and I witnessed it, plus he has connections to certain government related people, so that would make it pretty easy to threaten people. Mother heard the threat and didn’t do anything. The threats were sparse, but the verbal abuse and heated behavior happened daily. In my family I was the only one that got treated this way, and I’m also the only LGBTQIA+ person. No one in my family knows I am, they assumed I was gay.

Yes, I was in a mental facility with drug addicts, people with anger issues and two LGBTQIA people, I remember they were lesbian. My class teacher wrote a bad review about me suddenly after I happened to tell my classmate I was gay. I don’t know if she knew about it, but it felt too sudden. They used mental force and threats like “I wouldn’t be able to continue studying without attending”. Maybe they thought I would break and say that I’m gay. Thankfully staff weren’t bad, but they did feed me medicine without any description as to what it does and why I should take it, and if I didn’t take it, they would transfer me to a harsher facility.

I felt scared, not knowing who to talk to, since I didn’t have anyone in my life I could trust except people on the internet, so my streams became that place. I hated my family more and more, since I felt that they won’t bring me anything but hurt. I felt envy at people having a good family, cried when I saw people hugging, kissing or displaying “good family vibes” publicly, same goes to those that didn’t have to hide. I just felt really envious and hurt.

I saw the murders via news articles, they happened with same motive and in same proximate region. I didn’t witness murder, but I was in a dangerous area, we had people shooting, and drunk people hitting someone pretty often. I don’t know who did it personally, but I know why, because they happened to be gay. If they got what they deserve, I don’t know, police didn’t seem to react at all, all was said that “It’s under investigation”.

Final word from YukiDeer:

It doesn’t take much to help others. Just empathy and a strong will.

Help has no borders. LGBTQIA+ refugees are not defined by their oppression, but by their resilience.

To join us in our mission as a volunteer, donate to us as a contributor or ask help as a refugee, simply go to our social media at Linktree: linktr.ee/furhelp

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Book review – Furry Planet: A World Gone Wild is an enjoyable tour of furries around the world.

Mon 13 Nov 2023 - 06:15

Welcome to guest writer Grubbs Grizzly.

Furry Planet is an Interesting Complement to Furry Nation – by Grubbs Grizzly

Six years ago, author Joe Strike released Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture (Cleis Press), a nicely comprehensive history of the furry fandom. Being very interested in the fandom, I naturally bought and read it. So, when Strike released Furry Planet: A World Gone Wild (includes History, Costumes, and Conventions) (Apollo), I of course purchased it as well.

The book is not what I expected.

Reading the title, I thought it was going to be more history, expanding upon the U.S.-focused first title with a history of conventions and furry culture in Europe, Asia, and other continents. In the book’s introduction, Strike even writes: “Furry Planet: A World Gone Wild remedies Nation’s oversight of the global furry community and in the following pages you’ll meet furs based worldwide who have been inspired by our misunderstood subculture….”

The first chapter, “It’s a Furry World,” starts off promising to stick to what I thought was the book’s premise with a brief look at the U.S. before moving on to a 28-page whirlwind tour of fandoms in the U.K., Europe, Russia, Singapore, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of the book after this, however, is about furriness outside the fandom. That is, how anthropomorphic arts have pervaded world cultures in everything from sculpture and paintings to film and performance arts.

This is some fascinating stuff. Strike, through interviews and research, has uncovered a lot of truly interesting tidbits about human culture, ranging from the humorous to the slightly disturbing. For example, there is a lengthy interview with Dr. Stuart Sumida, a paleontologist and expert on human and animal anatomy who has served as a consultant on many animated anthro-animal movies such as Brother Bear and How to Train Your Dragon. Dr. Sumida offers insights into how to create believable anthro animals. Strike interviews some avant-garde artists, as well, such as Anthony Ausgang, a leader in the “lowbrow artists movement”; Swedish sculptor Margit Brudnin, who is known for her large anthro-rabbit pieces; and performance artist and director Rob Roth, whose Craig’s Dream is about a homeless wolflike creature’s sad plight.

These are just a few of the interviews and discussions of various mainstream artists, some of them American, some of them from other countries. Mixed in with these chapters are discussions of literature, furry costuming, cartoons, Japanese monsters, video games, TV shows, and so on. Some of the players are furry (such as Patch O’Furr from Dogpatch Press and Dr. Courtney Plante of FurScience), and others are not (as noted above). It concludes with Strike’s musings as to whether or not furry will (or should) enter the mainstream.

This is a desultory, peripatetic performance that makes the book more easily digestible chapter-by-chapter, rather than reading it cover-to-cover. It’s rather like playing Pokémon Go in which you are exploring the world and Strike’s book serves as your mobile phone through which you are able to discover interesting creatures to capture, which makes the book best suited for readers with short attention spans. It’s enjoyable and interesting, with lots of little-known factoids (such as the story of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien at a party wearing some unusual garb), but disorganized in a way that disallows any possibilities for a smooth narrative.

Exacerbating this problem is the lackluster cover and page design (not even running headers or footers?) from the publisher, as well as the handling of illustrations. There is literally only one illustration in the main body of the book (comparing primagens and protogens) with 31 color illustrations at the back of the book. Now, grouping color photos at the back (or, more typically, in the middle) of a book is an understandable (and oft-used) way to save some printing costs on glossy paper while providing nice graphics. However, if you’re going to do that, it would have been immensely helpful to the reader to provide in-text page references for them. For example, when talking about Brudnin’s sculptures, add a note sending the reader to the photos in back (oh, and add page numbers to the photo pages next time, please, Apollo). A much better strategy would have been to put more black-and-white illustrations in the book’s main text, and then, for fun, add extra color photos in the back (or middle). Also, the book has extensive endnotes, which is great, but an index would have been appreciated.

Furry Planet is an enjoyable read, full of discoveries and surprises, but one that needs better focus and definitely a less misleading title and marketing. It’s really not a standalone book, but more of a supplement to Strike’s Furry Nation. I would recommend you buy Nation first, read it, and then get Furry Planet. Both are worthwhile and fun tours of the fandom from very different perspectives.

About the Author

Grubbs Grizzly is the owner of Uncle Bear Publishing, LLC (www.unclebearpublishing.com), which specializes in furry nonfiction. He is also the columnist for “Ask Papabear” (www.askpapabear.com) and runs the annual Good Furry Awards (https://www.askpapabear.com/good-furry-award.html).

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Zoologist Adam Britton convicted for dog torture crimes that connect to furry fandom.

Fri 29 Sep 2023 - 03:42

Content warning for discussing animal and child abuse.

Adam Britton was once an internationally respected animal expert, a go-to guy for crocodile research. He worked for Charles Darwin University in Australia, National Geographic, and the BBC with famed nature documentarian David Attenborough. Then in 2022, Britton was caught for secret crime. Due to high profile, the legal process kept him anonymous to avoid undermining his trial until he pled guilty this week.

Australian news led the coverage. This is disturbing to read, and doesn’t even tell the graphic details.

Beginning in 2014, Britton became a sadistic rapist and killer of more than 42 dogs. He made videos of their torture to secretly share with an underground of fellow consumers on the internet. He also traded child abuse media, raising the level of his charges and showing the severity of animal exploitation.

“Prosecutors told the court Britton owned a shipping container on his property equipped with filming equipment and used the space “to torture, sexually exploit and kill dogs”.

Last year, police seized 44 items including computers, mobile telephones, cameras, external hard drives, tools, weapons, dog paraphernalia and sex toys.

Mr Aust [prosecutor] told the court that Britton operated a Telegram account which was used for the sole purpose of engaging in conversations with “like-minded people”, and that he used another account to upload and disseminate images and recordings of his crimes.

“Using these applications, the offender discussed his ‘kill count’ … and described the shipping container on his property as his ‘torture room’,” Mr Aust said.”

Sentencing is scheduled for December for 56 charges related to animal sex abuse (zoosadism), each with a maximum penalty of 3 years of jail. There were also 4 charges for accessing and sharing child abuse media. A close professional source told Dogpatch Press “it’s likely he’ll get the max sentence because of the egregious nature of his crimes.”

The crimes were calculated. Britton conned people who placed online ads hoping to find good homes for dogs they couldn’t keep, and led them to believe their dogs were getting good care after he killed them. He told an associate: “I can’t stop. I don’t want to” while feeding the demand of his audience.

Connection to furry fandom.

Before Britton’s trial, there was public news about the crimes that didn’t name him. The news circulated quietly among investigators and media professionals who had known him. People in both groups contacted Dogpatch Press. This led to a furry news article that connects some of this information, and adds parts only reported here so far.

During the investigation of Britton, Australian authorities tipped American law enforcement that one of his fellow traders was creating similar zoosadist videos. Ohio and Michigan resident Lucas Vanwoert faces charges on 4 counts. 

Lucas Vanwoert’s connection to Britton was reported by mainstream news, but they didn’t report that Vanwoert was active in furry fandom as “Graves.” Thanks to @keroarchive for reading legal documents and making this clear. 

Vanwoert’s photo from court documents and his tweet

Vanwoert exchanged over 700 files of animal abuse with Britton, and also killed dogs and traded child abuse files. The high amount of files indicates that these people were part of an underground trading network that intersects with furry fandom. Vanwoert hid in furry groups and made connections to like-minded people until his crimes became known. 

Heather Vanwoert, his wife, was also charged for 12 counts of crime to animals. This reporter hasn’t learned if she was active in furry fandom with him.

These weren’t lone actors. They were feeding demand of a sub-subculture of zoophiles. Vanwoert’s X/Twitter profile is still active (NSFW content). You can see furry zoophiles following his account. It shows zero follows by him, because he deleted them around when he was arrested. But he was too slow. This reporter was tipped fast enough to view Vanwoert’s pre-established, mutual zoophile connections that he wanted to hide.

They included familiar long-time members of furry groups who use fandom to secretly meet each other, and even openly argue that animals can consent and animal abusers deserve acceptance. These zoophiles use the zeta (ζ) symbol and hashtags like #zoopride to engage with their network.

It's sad that this crime came into furry fandom, and can not be ignored, because Vanwoert wasn't alone. He wasn't just networking with Adam Britton, but also with a sub-subculture of zoophiles. Vanwoert's profile is still active and you can see some following him. pic.twitter.com/Gnqq18LlFl

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 26, 2023

Three problems of zoophile infiltration.

All communities have some crime and abuse. The important part is how to respond. A substantial response starts with naming problems and saying what the community is for, not hiding things with denial about what it isn’t. Many furries are there for art, and say animals can’t consent and they don’t tolerate zoophiles. But that alone doesn’t stop zoophiles from riding their (coat) tails and reaching for acceptance.

This leads to…

PROBLEM 1: Size and network effect. This zoophile furry group on Telegram has 1000+ members, and they have had a group that large since at least 2017. It justifies itself by claiming to oppose abuse, while splitting hairs about different kinds of abuse and redefining some as consent. Arguing that animals can consent inherently enables abuse, when there are no zoophile networks that don’t make demand for it between members.

Nuance: The size is significant, but this isn’t ammunition against furries itself, because it doesn’t prove there is higher frequency of this in fandom compared to the population outside. Reliable data must be hard to get, but it could be equal to latent frequency anywhere. Look at the classic 1948 book by Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and Clyde Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Research found that between 8-50 percent of all American men in their sample groups claimed to have crossed the species line at some point (depending on farm proximity). Of course, latency is not openly organized with network effect.

If a 1000+ member “zoofur” group doesn’t prove frequency, and furry fans can deny guilt by association — what does the size show?

Opportunity. Try to name another group that 1000+ zoophiles use as cover to organize inside for acceptance, whether the cover group approves or not.

https://t.co/uoTmGzC1A0 has survey data from conventions, i would venture to say it must be hard to measure objectively but there may not be incidence different from the general pop. Maybe the issue isn't frequency but ability to organize by internet, using shelter of subculture.

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 27, 2023

PROBLEM 2: Corruption. Abuse scandals, like in the Catholic Church or Boy Scouts, happen when abusers bounce from place to place and keep abusing. Close watchers inside furry fandom can see problem people bounce from group to group with little organized opposition.

That isn’t just enabled by internet platforms and weak security when it also has permission from high places:

How high does corruption go? Look no higher than the longest existing furry convention, Eurofurence in Germany, and its single chairman since 1997. This person of social influence uses it to defend zoophilia by attacking “bigots” with whataboutism rhetoric — as if a vegan diet is required to oppose animal sex abuse — or as if they are a vegan convention with purity and superiority to backlash at concerns about abuse. Meanwhile…

Eurofurence chair’s belief since at least 2003: “many zoos are furries… I don’t find zoophilia reprehensible at all.”

Tweet from Eurofurence head of security in 2012. Note tiger userpic and a community habit of using separate “after dark” and main accounts.

PROBLEM 3: Limited power and consequences. Convictions of offenders as extreme as Britton and Vanwoert are rare. For animal crimes, victims can’t tell, human ones get priority, and local police are too busy or can’t go out of jurisdiction for internet crime. Charges are commonly dropped. State laws are “often poorly equipped to accomplish meaningful convictions” according to The Animal Legal Defense Fund, while for federal authorities, it’s often beneath their radar and left to states. This is slowly changing but it’s a big loophole where animal abuse networks stay outside justice.

As a result, saying “call the police” can be no better than punting the ball to nowhere. Sometimes it’s deliberate. “We can’t judge before a conviction” — gets flipped after a conviction to — “we can’t judge someone who paid the price”, meaning organizers are sitting on their hands. Even if the price paid was a tiny slap on the wrist for a repeat offender who did far more crime and the issue isn’t about banning but about extending privileges.

Nuance: Legal liability limits how conventions can ban people, because it sets a precedent that can get them sued for not banning someone else they aren’t aware of. Read that again until it makes sense. General screening or banning by conventions is not the point.

The points are:

  • Zoophile network members are all complicit with raising demand for abuse.
  • This abuse is unlikely to get solved by police, or it will just get weak consequences on single members.
  • The issue isn’t about catching single members, but undoing networks.

But:

  • We don’t own most internet platforms that let abusers bounce from group to group.
  • That’s not just a problem for one weekend conventions, but for 365 days a year.
  • Even with these limits, police don’t run groups, YOU run them and can do something inside.

It can come down to choices of who and how you pay, trust, support, or make people aware. That can mean choosing who gets privileges of being a con dealer, guest of honor, accepted on staff, or simply who is welcome to be friends. None of those are asking cons to ban people. Opposing abuser networks can start personally and locally, and the next Britton and Vanwoert can have one less place to meet.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Have you been approached by media producers about making a “dark” furry docu-series?

Mon 18 Sep 2023 - 05:29

NOTE: article topic is not to be confused with inside fandom-made documentaries. Please send confidential tips to: patch.ofurr@gmail.com

In June, Dogpatch Press was approached by a company “developing a documentary that takes place in the world of furries.” True-crime was mentioned. This is something that Dogpatch Press covers — and isn’t a bad thing to ask, by itself.

Whenever media producers make contact, first they are checked to see if they’re real people with a history of solid work. If they are, they may get cooperation and support. I had already checked this company before they contacted me (with advance notice from others they contacted) and got a middling impression. Making some innocuous airtime filler isn’t so bad, because work is work.

I told them: “One long lasting annoyance about furries as a group is their dogma against “the media,” as if Fox News and PBS are the same thing. Actually I started my news site to push back on that. But I will be picky on what outlets I talk to, and look at their work before considering it.”

Then I gave an opinion that their proposed topic had low chances to get fandom cooperation — and got no further reply.

This September I was surprised to hear about more furries being approached by the same company. Here’s a snippet:

Now the proposal has increased from a single documentary, to a docu-series with “darker stories”. A story per episode might mean approaching many people.

Again it’s not bad to look at true-crime or darker stories — by itself — if the approach is good. But the new approach I was shown? It asks about a specific person, and their story has previously gotten careful consideration and doesn’t meet the standards of Dogpatch Press.

This site won’t blast out a name that isn’t newsworthy for much more than mental illness symptoms. A name whose brief connection to a major news story was cleared by police. If this was a serious approach, producers would already know it’s questionable to connect the name. It also risks some big ethical concerns about putting a private person in a spotlight.

The persistent but questionable approaching now makes me ask:

Has anyone else been approached by a production company? Please tip: patch.ofurr@gmail.com.

I’m being charitable in not publishing the company, their ideas, or names right now. That’s on the chance that these are innocuous or contracted people — and let’s avoid connecting opportunists to them if the motives aren’t good. (Bad interviews come to mind.)

I’m also keeping this vague in order to point out some possible suspicions, on the chance that they aren’t true.

It hasn’t been very long since another producer wanted to get inside the furry fandom.

Read on, then ask: can you trust ANY producer whose motives aren’t clear?

Suspicions and high alert

In February 2023, Dogpatch Press posted an alert: Furries warn each other about casting call for “Life As a Furry” TV show.

The story featured a separate producer, and pointed out red flags. Most alarmingly, he went on a podcast that hosted Republican strategist, insurrectionist and convicted criminal Roger Stone, AKA Satan. If you don’t live under a rock, you’ll know how right-wing sources (it is ALWAYS right-wing) keep lying about “furry kids demanding litter boxes in schools.” It’s part of a larger wave of bigotry. They refuse to stop spreading the lie because it riles up gullible voters. These liars will exploit without remorse, and must be guarded against if this community claims to care about its members who face the attacks. That’s why even a whiff of being close to Roger Stone puts a media producer under scrutiny. He chose to go on the podcast – his fault.

The producer was upset. Requests to take the story down were refused so the community could decide for itself what to trust.

From the communications I got, I sensed production money was invested by someone who may not give up that easily.

Which brings us to the current producer approaches.

Hollywood writer’s strike and unscripted programming

The February story Furries warn each other about casting call for “Life As a Furry” TV show concerned a proposed reality show. It has no obvious connection to the producers who approached me in June… However, their company social media posted a video of them attending a Netflix reality show exhibition a week before June. The writer’s strike in Hollywood made reality and unscripted programming much more in demand, while getting work has been hard. Hmm.

In an older interview, the February producer claimed he was behind 30-40 shows in production, but oddly almost none were publicly credited. Huh.

Put this all together and follow the money. Are there bad intentions towards this community following waves of “litter box” fake news?

Or is it just ordinary business, and how trustable is that even if there’s nothing else going on behind this docu-series?

Your history

In the history of furries in the media, some media has a lot of bad behavior to answer for. But don’t get me wrong… this point is coming from someone who made a news site to cover things that deserve more attention. It offers access to good faith media who can apply professional resources and the will to air things the community suppresses. That’s also a big problem. Ignorance and suppression brings private tips here all the time from people who can’t speak openly, for the same reasons whistleblowers are harmed anywhere. Don’t hate “the media”, because knowledge is power.

Public interest reporting is welcome here, bad faith is not.

UPDATE from Gamepopper in the UK – another effort by media producers there.

“Hello Patch,

I saw your recent post and thought I’d share this with you. Back in August, I got a message on my Facebook from a producer/journalist who wanted to do a documentary about “what being a furry really means, dispel any misconceptions, and create an accurate picture about the furry community”.

They didn’t provide any info on who they worked for, and when I sent a text response asking about what misconceptions they intended to discuss, they were insistent on talking over the phone. Was a little suspicious, so I looked them up, and it turns out they work for TalkTV.

TalkTV is a right-wing British free-to-air opinion-orientated television and radio channel owned and operated by News UK, owned/operated by Rupert Murdoch (also behind Fox News, for reference). The channel is currently best known for having Piers Morgan as one of its hosts.

Already made a warning to furmeet organisers in the UK, and although I’ve not heard anything since then, it could be possible they’re still trying to get British furries in particular involved in the project.

Hope this is useful.

Regards,
Gamepopper”

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News

Peter S. Beagle warns fans not to trust The Last Unicorn movie page on Facebook

Tue 5 Sep 2023 - 03:00

Statement on Peter’s official Facebook page

The gall of these people.

Peter S. Beagle created The Last Unicorn, made millions of fans happy, then got dragged through elder abuse and had to go to court to stop it.

In his 70’s, Peter was supposed to be making his magic and enjoying the golden years. Instead he had to spend years of battling his former manager, Connor Cochran, who was found liable for financial elder abuse, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and defamation.

Before his disgrace, Cochran would try to sue critics for saying what he was doing, and wanted to shut me up that way. He failed when I sued him before Peter did.

Now Peter is back in control of his career. His official Beagleverse site has an FAQ about his battle with the court judgement showing the black-and-white truth.

But the Beagleverse site warns: “Unfortunately, there are still several websites controlled by Peter’s former manager. Beagleverse® is the best source for all things Peter S. Beagle.”

Peter doesn’t control a Last Unicorn Facebook page with an official check mark. It was made in 2008 before Peter sued Cochran, and is now being used to manipulate 182,000 followers.

Its anonymous managers are spreading references about Peter with evasive, tryhard, blowhard posts full of ageism. While they hide behind the official check mark from years ago, they’re also blocking the official team of Peter, the actual creator, while pretending to be a “fan” page for fair use of his creation. They’re misleading other fans who don’t know their agenda or what a court already judged.

Peter’s official statement about the page is open to comment and has hundreds of shares. Meanwhile, the latest “fan” post aiming at Peter is locked to comments and has some dozens of shares. You should see what some of the sharers are saying:

  • “I’m so tired of people talking BS about Peter S. Beagle, like he’s some old man who can’t do anything or doesn’t understand. He doesn’t deserve this treatment or abuse and this isn’t the first time it happened… Stop gaslighting his fans by claiming you’re just a fan page.”
  • “You don’t need to read the post below – tl;dr – deny, deflect, defend. It’s telling that this novella is in the same verbose, bloated language as when the former manager was trying to defend their defenseless position throughout the lawsuit. It’s also telling that a) no names are given on page ownership b) there’s hella ageist language being dropped here, and c) no comments are allowed…
    This is not how a fan account run by true fans of the work should behave. It’s embarrassing.”
  • “That’s a lot of words for “we’re lying” lmao”

If you’re a fan of Peter and his creations, be kind to other fans and let them know the movie Facebook page is NOT to be trusted.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)

Categories: News