We knew we discovered someone special when we found Brace Belden's 2015 campaign to have Prairie Home Companion cancelled. We got Belden, then a writer living in San Francisco, to talk about his campaign, and hired him as a freelance music writer.

WW received a resignation email from Belden in September of last year, telling us that he "accepted a position out of the country."  That position? A soldier in the People's Protection Units, more commonly known as the YPG, a primarily Kurdish resistance force fighting against ISIS in Syria.

Belden and other Westerners who travelled to Syria to take up arms against ISIS were profiled in a new piece published this week in Rolling Stone titled "The Anarchists vs. the Islamic State." Written by Seth Harp, the piece chronicles Belden's journey into life in Syria, growing up in San Francisco and background on the YPG. Willamette Week is not mentioned.

 
Brace Belden’s Twitter, where he tweets under the username @PissPigGranddad.
Brace Belden’s Twitter, where he tweets under the username @PissPigGranddad.

Soon after the profile was published, Belden gave an interview with the popular leftist political podcast Chapo Trap House, where he objected to his characterization in the piece. In the episode, titled "War is Heck," Belden says the article is "pretty fucking ridiculous, man. They just kind of made up my biography. Which is tight, because I've literally done nothing in my life but jack off before I came here."

You can read Harp's piece at Rolling Stone, and listen to Belden's firsthand account of life fighting ISIS and his takes on the nuances of the region's politics below. You can follow him on Twitter under the name @PissPigGranddad, where he frequently tweets about his experiences and posts photos.

UPDATE: Harp has informed WW that he disputes Belden's disputation of Rolling Stone's account of Belden's biography. Harp told WW that "[Belden's] bio was was based entirely on things Brace told me, that the entire article was thoroughly fact-checked, that I'm aware of Brace's dissatisfied comments on a podcast, that I've asked him to identify what assertions in particular he believes to be false or misleading, but that he has not responded to my message, which was sent two days ago."