How I Became Red Bike Guy

thanks for all your kind wishes and support!


My friends Neil and Rachel called on the evening of May 13, excitement in their voices.

“You’re on TikTok,” they said.

“I don’t do TikTok.”

“No, you’re ON TikTok.”

And with that, they sent me a link to the viral video that would change my life. It was from earlier in the day, when I had mocked fascists after they snuck into DC to march and pose for photos.

@mrsmisanthrope2 #equality #blm #lgbtqia #fascist #progressive #cult45 #washingtondc #notallheroeswearcapes ♬ original sound – Mrs Misanthrope

I didn’t even know that I had been filmed. I thought the cameras would be on the fascists, not me.

We looked through the video. It was hilarious, the way that @mrsminthrope2 had edited my insults together, added captions, and closed on, “You like General Custer’s illegitimate son.”

By Saturday evening, it already had tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments and reactions.

Should I identify myself? In the video, I was labelled as Red Bike Guy, for I was riding a red Capital Bikeshare bike.

As I read the comments with Neil and Rachel, delighted by each one, we realized it was too late. The threaded comments went from “Who is this hero? He must be protected!” to “That’s Joe Flood!” with a link to my Twitter account.

My anonymity was gone.


“You’re a well-adjusted introvert,” a friend once told me, correctly summarizing that while I could do very extroverted things, I needed my alone time.

Sunday morning, I felt overwhelmed by the attention. Lying in bed, every time I opened Twitter, there were 20+ notifications. I was gaining followers by the thousands. The TikTok video had been posted to Reddit, shared and shared again, with me frequently tagged. Comments were pouring in.

The day before, I had considered creating a TikTok account to thank people for their encouragement, but the video had some many comments that it now seemed impossible to respond them all.

I decided to go for a bike ride, a long leisurely ride down the Potomac River to Old Town Alexandria, using my personal (non-red) bike.

What I like about biking is that it occupies your brain completely. As long as I was moving, I didn’t need to think about my loss of anonymity as I became Red Bike Guy.

My Twitter account had grown from 2k to 10k, with a similar increase in Instagram. Suddenly, I had thousands of new followers from around the world. Should I still share my hyper-local interest in DC-area bike trails and sandwiches?

I decided to use my powers for good, and to share places in DC which people may not have seen, like the lovely Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge

Though not in real time, for suddenly I was more conscious of my security.


While I had written a book about likes, and had an earlier (and much smaller) brush with going viral, it was the intensity and duration of the online storm that surprised me.

I was featured on Washingtonian Problems, a funny Instagram account that focuses on life in the nation’s capital. The story had gone from being an online curiosity and had escaped out into the real world.

And into my world, for many of my friends, neighbors and past colleagues subscribed to Washingtonian Problems. Thank you’s poured into my Instagram.

I had thousands of new Twitter followers, one of whom was a producer with the Rachel Maddow show, who got in touch with me for an interview.

We talked for about fifteen minutes about my experience on the Mall.

I didn’t think it would be used on the program but watched anyways. And, suddenly, at the very end of the hour, my words were splashed across the screen as Rachel Maddow said my name again and again.

It was the most surreal experience of my life.

But the week was just beginning.


I’m fortunate to be surrounded by an excellent network of people.

Key among these people have been my friends Neil and Rachel who have gone on this journey of viral fame with me. It’s good to know people who are techies and designers. I’ve known them for years and we operate as a mutual support system.

Excited at my new celebrity, they set up a web site for me, RedBikeGuy, and Rachel created an amazing logo and t-shirts so that fans could share in the fun. (And if you like tarot, check out her cards on Etsy.)

RedBikeGuy t-shirt

And I got my first, “I know you from the Internet!” as I shopped at CVS.

After being interviewed for a great article in The New Republic, I was contacted to appear live on CNN.

Me? This is CNN? 

A car picked me up and took me to the studio near Union Station. I was not nervous for I was just so fascinated by every element of the process (this will all be great content for a future novel, I thought). They put me in a room with lights and a camera as I responded to questions over an earpiece from Sara Sidner in New York.

My dad asked me if I had ever done public speaking training, for I was so clear and concise. I hadn’t but, in a way, my life had prepared me for this moment.

My career has been in communications, so I know that reporters demand prompt responses. I’ve been a freelance writer so I know how to construct a story. Also very helpful was my volunteer work with the DC Shorts Film Festival, where this introvert had been thrust on stage more than once. Talking to a packed theater as you wait for ballots to be counted is much scarier than appearing on a remote shot.


Another good PR lesson is to have a headshot and a bio handy, in case of viral fame. At the start of the week, I took a selfie with Capital Bikeshare, anticipating that reporters might need it. I noticed too that reporters mined the about page on my web site for more information about me.

A friend asked me if I would make a Capitol Hill bike ride. I was going to be out of town, however. “A retweet will do,” he replied. LOL. I was wanted just for my new-found fame.

After a day of all this media attention, I went to a Greek place to relax. I was sitting outside eating a gyro when my heart stopped.

Mark Hamill had tweeted about me. That was the thing that really got me, sending this craziness to a different level. I had been endorsed by Luke Skywalker.

Later, I went to meet friends at a cocktail bar where I was greeted, not as an alcoholic, but as a minor local celebrity. One of my friends mentioned that her mom had seen me on CNN at 2 AM. My story was being run and rerun around the world.


“I forgot how the Internet worked,” Neil said.

Our RedBikeGuy t-shirts had been ripped off almost instantly, with the designs duplicated and sold on other web sites. Neil sent takedown notices.

I was leaving town, on a pre-planned trip to Florida, turning down a chance to appear on MSNBC to see my family.

In my email were a bunch of other requests, including the offer of a cape.

National Airport is the best airport in the country (people in DC don’t call it Reagan National). Located just off the Mount Vernon Trail, you can bike there, with a Capital Bikeshare station next to the parking garage.

I packed light so I could ride a CaBi to the airport. Getting on one of those familiar red bikes for the trip, I heard, “Are you him?”

“I am Red Bike Guy.”

Red Bike Guy News Roundup

Rachel Maddow show appearance

My simple act of heckling fascists on the National Mall became a viral sensation that appeared in articles and TV clips around the world.

Friends in the UK and Germany saw it. Relatives spotted me on CNN. I received emails from Australia and India. It was a wild experience.

Here’s a roundup of new stories about Red Bike Guy.

Rachel Maddow


A cyclist came upon a White supremacist march. Here’s what he did next

The Washington Post

Meet the Red Bike Guy, who in a viral video heckled white nationalists


‘I Had A Duty To Yell At Them’: Meet The Bikeshare-Riding D.C. Resident Who Brutally Mocked White Supremacists

The New Republic

Yahoo News

Lone resident goes viral for mocking white supremacist group at Washington D.C. march

The Independent

Lone cyclist who shouted down white supremacists marching on DC wins legions of fans

I’m the lone cyclist who faced down a white supremacist march. Here’s how to do it

Common Dreams

Hi Fascists! Nobody Likes You!

The Guardian

‘You wear Walmart khakis’: US cyclist who taunted fascist group wins plaudits

Bicycling Magazine

This Hero Cyclist Hilariously Interrupted a White Nationalist March – Bicycling magazine

Huffington Post

Cyclist Taunts Marching White Supremacists With Outstandingly Timed Heckles

RedBikeGuy Story Published in The Independent

sloppy fash

The Independent asked me to write about my experience as “RedBikeGuy” heckling fascists in DC.

I was glad to share my story. I’ve been delighted at the positive response that I’ve received. Humor is a really good way to respond to extremists since it undermines their seriousness and makes them out to be a joke – which is what they are, these young men in khakis and plastic shields longing for a mythical American past that never existed.

It’s also important to confront them. Early in the Trump years, I read On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder and it shaped my thinking on how to resist the right-wing. It says to stand up and defend democracy. Groups like the Patriot Front march in places like DC to create the illusion that they are powerful and accepted; I wanted them to know that everyone hated them.

Read more about my RedBikeGuy experience in I’m the lone cyclist who faced down a white supremacist march. Here’s how to do it published in The Independent.

Cargo pants are OUT! Red Bike Guy video on Rachel Maddow

I yelled at the Patriot Front because I didn’t think they should march through DC unopposed.

I’ve seen a lot of protests in Washington. I’m a street photographer and have documented fascist groups like the 1776 Restoration Movement and the J6-loving chuds of Freedom Corner.

There are always counterprotestors to the fascists. I’m the one who takes the photos; I leave the counterprotesting to the professionals with their megaphones and signs.

But on Saturday, the Patriot Front slipped into the city without telling anyone (except the cops). There were no counterprotestors.

I had to be the counterprotestor, to represent all the people in DC who despise these right-wing cosplayers.

Rolling up on bikeshare, it was an absolutely perfect tableau as the young chuds listened their dapper leader speechify at the Washington Monument.

And I was going to crash it!

I didn’t know I was being filmed, and that it would go viral, and that I would hear my name on Rachel Maddow within a couple days. At that moment, I was just determined to ruin their day.

Update: check out the new RedBikeGuy site for some of your favorite insults on a t-shirt!

Nasty, brutish and long: The End of the World is Just the Beginning by Peter Zeihan

the end of the world book cover

Did world civilization peak in 2019? Is it all downhill from here as the world devolves into warring regional blocks? Will mass starvation stalk most of the globe in the coming years?

The answer to all these questions is yes, according to The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan.

His thesis is simple. While globalization has lifted billions of people around the world out of poverty, that progress was only possible due to a unique, post-war moment in which the US Navy protected the sea lanes. Now that America is withdrawing from the world, the benefits of trade will disappear as we slide into a new anarchy. The result will be a collapse in living standards, as world powers devolve into regional blocs.

It’s grim reading, with sections outlining the future of manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and other key sectors.

It’s also repetitive – over and over again, Zeihan repeats his thesis that the “Order” established by the United States after 1945 is ending.

I read the first few sections and skimmed the rest, as I imagined most readers do, for the book is far too long and filled with digressions and snarky asides.

Malthus Was Wrong

Zeihan is Malthusian, extrapolating from current trends to predict future history.

But predicting the future is risky business, as Thomas Robert Malthus discovered in the 19th century when England didn’t starve, despite a dramatic increase in population. That didn’t stop seers from predicting another global famine in the 1970s or that oil would be gone by 2000.

None of them anticipated the green revolution which increased crop yields or our ability to wring oil out of tar sands.

And no one saw the rise of the Internet which has revolutionized our politics.

Demography is destiny, according to Zeihan. China is destined to collapse because it will soon have too many old people and not enough young people to support them.

America has a more balanced demographic mix, despite the huge bulge of Baby Boomers, due to the counterbalance of their children, the Millennial Generation.

Millennials, Our Last Hope

And it’s this generation that may save the United States – and possibly the world.

Zeihan is assuming that all trends will remain the same. That Americans will want to get married, live in the suburbs and buy cheap crap from Target.

But what if that wasn’t true? Millennials have already shown a reluctance to purchase autos (possibly due to their high expense) and engage in the other “normal” markers of adulthood, like having sex. They are the most non-traditional generation in American history.

And I believe that they are poised to radically remake American society, which has become too expensive, stratified and dominated by retrograde conservatism. Why should they support a society that makes college expensive and guns cheap? That provides drugs but not homes?

You can see the first stirrings of rebellion in places like Nashville and Montana, where young people have struggled against calcified and repressive state governments.

This is a generation with a progressive spirit that knows how to organize and work collectively. No wonder that Baby Boomers have fought their children so fiercely, for they are the antithesis of the Me Generation, and their rise to power may prevent the grim future outlined in The End of the World is Just the Beginning.

Freedom Corner: Not Found

Freedom Corner: Not Found


The J6-loving chuds of Freedom Corner hate the mainstream media yet desperately crave mainstream media attention.

They spent hours talking to a couple of Washington Post reporters during their nightly vigil outside the DC Jail, fantasizing that they would get legitimate press coverage instead of write-ups in right-wing sites that nobody reads or mockery by local blogs.

Instead, they got played, as the Washington Post published, Behind Trump’s musical tribute to some of the most violent Jan. 6 rioters, an expose on the J6 prisoner song. It’s a damning piece that highlights the horrific nature of the crimes committed by J6ers and the cushy conditions of the DC Jail.

Freedom Corner often refers to the DC Jail as a “gulag.” But what kind of gulag allows prisoners their own wing and access to iPads? It’s such a gulag that the prisoners were able to record a song and release it to the world, something that certainly doesn’t occur in the non-J6 wing of the jail.

The article includes quotes from J6 vigil organizers but doesn’t even include the name of their protest: Freedom Corner.

One of the very basic rules of PR is that if you talk to the reporters, you want to get the name of your organization in the piece. But since Freedom Corner is incompetent, they didn’t even manage to get their name in an article! That has to be galling for people who have devoted months to this treasonous cause.

And, as a final insult, in the video clip included with the article, you can hear anti-chud trolls yelling in the background. To be forever paired with their trolls has to be deflating to all but the most deluded J6 enthusiast.

Read The Washington Post article. It demonstrates that the J6 “martyrs” are violent terrorists and that those trying to create this myth are traitors.

Freedom Corner is a Joke

A man dances barefoot on the street, megaphone in hand, wearing the red robe and gold crown of a king. Across from him, a bald head peers over the walls of a makeshift cardboard fort to yell threats.

It’s just another night on Freedom Corner outside the DC Jail, where January 6th supporters battle counterprotestors in a chaotic war of light, sound and insults.

Hundreds of people watch the struggle on YouTube, tuned in to live streamers from both sides. Absurd moments from the fight are clipped, remixed and parodied:

Freedom Corner has freed no one, despite meeting with Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Green and others. The much vaunted January 6th tapes released to Tucker Carlson changed nothing. Even the support of Donald Trump didn’t change a thing. The “machine” as the J6ers calls the court, grinds on, finer and finer, as insurrectionists are caught, prosecuted and punished.

No matter. The grift continues, a nightly cash cow, as live streamers beg for money online. Donations roll in through YouTube, Cash app and Grift Send Go. How much Freedom Corner collects and what the dollars are used for is unknown. These are “charities” that don’t file any of the required paperwork with the IRS.

Interrupting this grift are counterprotestors, who honed their skills mocking the 1776 Restoration Movement. They relentlessly home in on the weaknesses and embarrassing moments of Freedom Corner in a comedic assault.

The Music of Freedom Corner

Music is a key weapon. In addition to being traitors, the J6ers are homophobes. To disrupt their vigil, the counterprotestors like to blast Ram Ranch, which begins:

18 naked cowboys in the showers at Ram Ranch

And goes downhill (or uphill, depending on your preference) from there.

Both sides have portable speakers to drown out each other. The J6ers like playing traditional country and some terrible right-wing rap (which I don’t think they actually like).

But there is one song that rules all others. A cardboard wall cannot keep out its infectious beat. Ironically, this dirty ditty was recorded by one of the vigil-goers before she found Jesus and Trump.

Do not listen to this, unless you want the obscene chorus in your head:

Damnation Drive-In

Baldy Banks and Sam Singe do more than just create funny videos. Viewers can’t get enough their mockery so they created Damnation Drive-In, which is like the Daily Show of Freedom Corner, as well as being a live watch show where people can view and comment on livestreams.

If you’re new to Freedom Corner, none of this will make any sense at all, sort of like tuning into Game of Thrones mid-season. But for devoted followers of this comedy of insurrectionist incompetence, it’s must-see TV:

The Street Art

Freedom Corner has a doxxing problem. They like “exposing” agitators, i.e., the counterprotestors. Unfortunately, they are terrible at it and keep doxxing the wrong people, exposing innocent families to harassment.

One of the people that they tried and failed to dox was the counterprotester known as Biketifa. They call him that because he rides a bike (originality is not their strong suit). They “researched” him and “uncovered” his true identity as a lawyer with an inactive license in Northern Virginia.

Because they’re not good with details, words or spelling they called Biketifa a “bard lawyer” which prompted visions of a poet/attorney solving cases and writing poems.

Biketifa may not be a poet or a lawyer (or maybe he is) but he is an excellent street artist. In response to the failed doxxing, he covered the streets around Freedom Corner with posters detailing the crimes of the J6 supporters.

And he does chalk art:

Biketifa is having so much fun mocking the J6ers that he even opened his own eBay store selling chud art.

J6 Comedy

You may wonder: have the J6ers of Freedom Corner done anything funny? Not deliberately. Their attempts at humor are crass and unfunny, like putting up posters calling a counterprotester a $5 whore or crude MS Paint jobs of people dressed as clowns. That’s it. That’s the funny on their side.

Humor Works

Mockery works since it’s deflating, taking a serious issue and turning it into a joke.

And the humor has crept over the cardboard walls of Freedom Corner and into the heads of the J6ers.

For example, one of the J6ers was nicknamed Chud by the counterprotestors, a name that goes back to the 1776 Restoration Movement, when he shambled around DC like a slow-moving, art-hating Sasquatch.

The name has been used with so much frequency that even the J6ers refer to their comrade as, “Chud.” They’ve been caught on tape using the name that counterprotestors coined rather than the Chudster’s real one. He is Chud now, to both sides of the street.

That’s when you know you’ve won.

Freedom Corner is a joke.

DC 2020: The Story of a Year

DC 2020: The Story of a Year
DC 2020: The Story of a Year

Covid isolation. An empty downtown. Black Lives Matter protests and a long hot summer of political turmoil, culminating in a contentious election. Then a wild party in the streets as the Biden win was confirmed. Finally, the Trump years were over and the people of Washington could relax. Or could they?

Revisit the tumultuous events of an election year in DC 2020: The Story of a Year.

In my first ever photo book, I set out to capture not only the marches and demonstrations, but also ordinary life beyond the monuments for the people of the nation’s capital, as well as the murals that covered the empty storefronts in 2020.

DC 2020: The Story of a Year is a book of street photography takes us back to one of the most momentous years in American history.

Local Activists Take Back Freedom Corner


For seven months, the Freedom Corner Cult has held nightly “vigils” outside the DC Jail. These are weird cult parties, where they chant the name of Ashli Babbitt, swill booze from travel mugs and blast the neighborhood with calls for rebellion.

Their aim is simple: free all the January 6th prisoners.

The Freedom Corner Cult doesn’t live in DC. Despite this, they believe that the 1900 block of E St SE belongs to them, and with the apparent support of the police, they have harassed neighbors and counterprotestors, one of whom they creepily stalked all the way back to his van.

A Shitshow of a Shitshow

It’s been a nightly shitshow, a spinoff of the highly unsuccessful 1776 Restoration Movement, which was a debauched version of the trucker convoy (cancelled after one season), featuring many of the same characters and the same problems (who stole the money?).

Devoted viewers know where to find it on YouTube and the #freedomcorner hashtag on Twitter.

Thanks to the brave work of DOA, Biketifa and the Commish, we learned that the Freedom Corner Cult does not own the corner on E Street by the DC Jail, despite what the police have told them in the past.

Last night, the talented trio of activists got to the corner before the cult. Instead of begging for GriftSendGo donations for personal use, like the J6ers do, they held a fundraiser For Jesse, a family that is struggling with ALS.

When J6ers Attack

For this good deed, they were assaulted by the Freedom Corner Cult, who washed away their #FreeJesse chalk messages on the sidewalk and then tried to physically remove the fundraisers from “their” corner.

Warning for bad language and fascist behavior:

Attacks on counterprotestors escalated to an attempt to scale the walls of Congressional Cemetery, in a scene reminiscent of the Night of the Living Dead.

J6ers Do Not Have a Permit

DOA, Biketifa and the Commish refused to leave, forcing the police to acknowledge what they knew all along – the J6ers have no permit! Seven months of setting up loudspeakers and blasting Capitol Hill with calls for sedition, without any official permission to do so.

You have as much right to that corner as they do.

The police separated the two sides, setting up orange barriers to keep them apart. The Freedom Corner Cult was enraged. They complained to the police, yelled homophobic slurs, made death threats and blasted the trio with lights and blaring music.

The Freedom Corner Cult uses lynch mob tactics to intimidate enemies. They try to surround and overwhelm opponents. Individually, they are weak, but as part of a mob (like on January 6th), they are dangerous.

It takes real bravery to go down a dark, dead-end street to confront J6ers. I salute the heroes who reclaimed “freedom corner” for the people.