Monday, February 27, 2017

Origin of VOLTMAN or Mykel's Post MRR Column no 43

Post MRR Column no 43

I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. --Voltaire (attributed)

Free speech is the right to shout THEATER in a crowded fire. – Abbie Hoffman

You need to allow people to shout FIRE in a crowded theater. There might really be a fire. --Voltman

[NOTE: This blog/column introduces a new Superhero, VOLTMAN. This is the first episode in what I hope will be a comic or a graphic novel. If you'd like to illustrate the VOLTMAN series, send some drawings to me at:]

I'm out to buy a 6-pack of McSorely's... Morton Williams has 'em on sale... eight ninety nine. Only 3 bottles left in the fridge... better stock up. I'm on the street, walking toward the grocery store... What's this?

Right outside the NYU student center... at least it was the student center when I was at NYU. These days... it could be the NYU MILTON FREIDMAN HALL OF CAPITALISM.

In any case, there's a fight... a doozie. Half a dozen big guys... black leather jackets... kerchiefs over their noses and mouths... pounding on the doors of the building. I figure it's a protest against free speech, because that's what guys in black leather jackets do in 2017.

Fists are flying, but they don't seem to be landing anywhere. Why? Standing in front of the door, arms catching punches and flinging them back... is a superhero. I shit you not... a real superhero with tights, a shiny white shirt with the letter V on it, a black cape and a mask... more like a washcloth with eye-slits... draped over his face.

His arms move in a blur, deflecting punches, returning kicks, sending the leather-jacketed thugs flying. A crowd has gathered to watch the battle.

What happened?” I ask a very masculine-looking girl standing at the edge of the throng.

We planned to shut him down,” she says. “And this clown comes and fucks it up.”

Who is HIM?” I ask.

She looks heavenward, as if to summon enough strength to answer my stupid question.

Him! Him!” she shouts, pointing to a placard with a picture of an attractive young man... very femmy looking. Under the nose of the young man, someone had-- rather unartisticly-- drawn a small dark mustache.

It's Milo Yiannopoulos,” she says. “He's a Nazi.”

Oh, I see,” I say. “He wants to kill Jews and homosexuals and invade Poland?”

No!” she shouts. “You're an idiot. He's gay!”

By this time the fight is over. The sidewalk is littered with bloodied antifas. The superhero lords over them... his hands on his hips.

I walk up to the guy. We shake hands.

Mykel Board,” I say.

Voltman,” says he.

I figure you're some kind of super-hero, like Super- or Bat-,” I say.

He makes a grunting sound, either laughing or the verbal equivalent of eye-rolling. I can't tell.

I'm an... er... independent journalist,” I bullshit. “I'd just like to talk to you. I've never interviewed a superhero before, so excuse me if some of the questions are... um... naive.”

No problem,” he says, “but I don't know how much time we have. I may be needed quickly. This crowd still looks a bit determined.”

That's the first question,” I say. “What happened here?”

Well, some students invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at NYU. Other students didn't like what they thought he had to say, so they wanted to stop him from speaking. They broke some windows, threatened violence... the usual.”

So what did you do?” I ask.

I chaperoned Milo... ushered him into the hall. Bashed a few of the censors... the usual,” he answers... as if I had any idea what the usual is.

Okay, okay,” I say, “that means you're a right-winger who supports this Nazi guy?”

Nazis are against homosexuals and Jews. This guy is a Jewish homosexual. Nazis build concentration camps, invade Poland and bomb England. What's that got to do with Yiannopoulos?”

I dunno,” I say. “I just heard he was a Nazi.”

“He's not,” says the superhero. “But that's beside the point. Even if he were a real Nazi, he still should have the right to speak. My job is to insure that right.”

That's what I want to ask you about,” I say. “What exactly is your job?”

“I can't talk about my day job,” he says. “You know, it's like you tell me
I'm an actor... I answer Yeah? What restaurant?

You mean you have a Clark Kent identity?” I ask.

He nods and laughs.

Okay,” I say, “tell me about your planet Krypton... and why you're dressed so dorky... and how come you have your face covered... and you have a tight suit with a V on the front. Is that for Victory or Voodoo?”

It's for Voltaire,” he says, “Volt for short. You can call me VOLTMAN. You know, I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. THAT Voltaire.”

That quote's in dispute,” I tell him. “It's not clear Voltaire actually said it.”

Don't be so pedantic,” he says, shaking his head. His mask wrinkles with the action.

Come on,” I say, “superheroes don't use words like pedantic.... You can't be real.”

He picks up one of the bricks dropped by a protester, probably intended for a nearby window. Holding one end in each hand he twists. The brick crumbles into little pebbles.

Real enough for you?” he asks.

I nod.

We sit on the stairs that lead up to the building he just defended. Voltman sits very close to me...our thighs touch. Then he starts talking. He has a raspy voice, like someone who has done a lot of yelling... or a lot of drinking.

Let me tell you how it started,” he says. “You remember the Nixon Theater fire... in DC... about ten years ago?”

I nod, having a vague memory of something like that.

Half a dozen people were killed... roasted alive. Others escaped with major injuries.... a few with minor injuries...” He clears his throat. “It was an electrical fire. Started with a short circuit in the motor that opened and closed the curtains. I was sitting in the third row, and thinking back now, I realize I could smell the plastic insulation melt from the wires before there were flames. I guess that guy in the front row could smell it too... he gets up... stands on his chair... shouts FIRE! FIRE! … This being DC, there are cops everywhere. They rush the guy.”

They thought he was making it up,” I say, “the classic shouting fire in a crowded theater. But there really was a fire?”

Voltman nods.

Just after the cops usher him out, there's an explosion... a horrible POW! Then a roar... like a freight train passing... a huge ball of fire engulfing the audience. I could feel my face melt like the wire insulation. When I brought my hands to my cheeks, the skin stuck. The horror of realizing what happened was worse than the pain... I didn't have time to feel pain... I was blown back by a ball of fire... I landed somewhere... on top of some wires... high voltage... super high... I could feel the electricity course through my body... but with the pain, I felt a power... like I was absorbing the electricity rather than being destroyed by it... After that, I blacked out and woke up in the hospital.”

I'm beginning to get it,” I say. “The fire destroyed your face, so you have to wear that mask. The electricity gave you superpowers... electricity... Volt... I get it.”

“Sort of,” says Voltman. “I didn't become Voltman right away... but as I spent time in the hospital, I saw that I wasn't responding to things the way other people were. The other theater-survivors were screaming in pain... I couldn't sleep at night, but I felt nothing. Doctors pressed my body here and there... I felt nothing. I could see the faces of the doctors and nurses when they came to check on me. They tried to hide their horror in a smile, but I could see the revulsion in their eyes... I felt nothing.” He pauses.

Okay,” I ask, “how long before they let you out?”

They never let me out,” he says. “I just left. In the middle of the night... I took off... I can't tell you where I spent the next 36 months. Let's just say some sympathetic people protected me, trained me and educated me. I trained my body to use my new powers and to learn that, when I'm injured. I no longer feel physical pain.”

In his right hand, he picks up another brick from the street. He puts his left hand on a concrete step, brings the right hand over the left... about 2 feet above it... and drops the brick onto his hand. He doesn't even flinch.

Nothing,” he says.

During my stay,” he continues, “My hosts brought me stories about censorship by government, by economics... by mobs.... all fascinating. But what put the whole thing in focus was my encounter with the Supreme Court decision that said Free speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a crowded theater. That is just soooo wrong! You have to be allowed to shout FIRE! Sometimes there IS a fire... Then there's the quote from Voltaire....”

I start to speak. He anticipates.

Attributed to Voltaire... the one we talked about before.”

I spent three years...” he continues, “I can't tell you where... training, honing this terrific power... While training, I read: Voltaire, Nat Hentoff, Alexander Cockburn, Proudhon, stuff from the ACLU and NCAC... more... I was obsessed with free speech and how every group supports free speech for itself, but not for anyone who disagrees.” He rests his hand on my thigh. I involuntarily tighten my muscles.

After those three years,” he says, “I became VOLTMAN, super-hero of free speech.”

Can you fly?” I ask him.

Did anyone ever tell you you were an asshole?” he asks.

My middle name,” I answer.

He slides his hand between my legs.

We'll see,” he says.

Is this your first gig?” I ask. “I mean have you only been in New York to support Milo?”

I started at a shopping mall in Florida. Freedom of speech, of course, includes religious freedom to express your beliefs. The Boca Raton shopping mall, in response to a complaint about a Christmas nativity scene, allowed a Satanist group to... er... erect a pentagram. Wowie... the locals didn't like that one...”

He seems to drift off into memory... and his voice changes... more... I dunno... ethereal.

Once the pentagram was up, the local good ole boys decided to knock it down. I know, ya figure Florida... it's gonna be a buncha old Jews with walkers.... but it wasn't. It was a buncha skinheads... flight jackets instead of black leather... and no kerchiefs... otherwise, they were just like these antifa guys I just fought here in New York. They came with crowbars... sledgehammers... they were gonna crush this thing... the symbol of Satan... and anyone supporting it.... I heard about the planned destruction...”

Searchlight beaming into the sky with a big V on it?” I ask.

You really are an asshole,” says Voltman.

I smile.

He pushes his hands up between my legs.

I cough.

I was there half an hour before the thugs arrived,” he continues. “They must've confused my Voltman drag for something satanic. As soon as they saw me, the crowbars came out and I was dodging metal. Then... I cleaned the floor with them. Local security called a couple ambulances, and the pentagram stayed throughout Christmas.”

Ever do anything big? I ask. “Like against the government?”

He nods.

Last month I was in Africa,” he says. “Right after Trump issued his abortion gag order. Charities couldn't even use their own money to tell the locals about abortion. Well, I'm sure you read about “the mysterious distribution of abortion information” after the clients left the NGO offices... something that happened in the jungle.”

You?” I ask.

He nods and smiles.

That's all the space I've got this month. Look for the manga as soon as I get an artist-- and a publisher. Don't forget, if you can draw... I WANT YOU!


ENDNOTES: [You can contact me by email at Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available by subscribing to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group]

-->Speaking of publishers Dept: Word is that a doctored YouTube video of Milo Yiannopoulos talking about his early sexual experiences... and how he actually ENJOYED them... caused Simon and Shuster to drop his book contract, after they had agreed to publish it.
Imagine if someone doctored a Planned Parenthood YouTube to make it seem that that the organization was encouraging abortion to harvest body parts. The left would have a fit over that. Whoops... that happened.
Then, the “libertarian” CPAC, disinvited the mighty Milo to speak at their convention. I guess, FREE SPEECH® only goes as far as the next YouTube Video.
Imagine if... whoops, that happened too.
As Voltaire said, A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES. Whoops, that was Shakespeare.

-->Oh No, Can't Say Anything Nice! dept: Censorship news reports that Scholastic publishers has withdrawn a title A Birthday Cake for George Washington. Why? There is a page where the slaves make a birthday cake for George Washington because they like him.
The censors complained that the book might present an image that slavery was nice. Any touch of humanity for slave owners is a BIG taboo. Take a look

--> Keeping the Pressure on Dept: I want to thank reader George Metesky for suggesting a continuing Bring Back Mykel effort directed at Maximum Rock'n'Roll for censoring me.
As their revolving editrixes move on to commercial ventures, each blames her predecessors for my demise... as if they had no control over the business... and couldn't simply invite me back.
Send your comments to (or post on their facebook page) with the subject line: BRING BACK MYKEL! Let me know how they answer.

See you in hell.


NOTE: If you're interested in my travel blog, you can read it at (It hasn't been updated in awhile, but you might enjoy the history.)