17th April 20:55
Huge crowd of people milling around Dr. Steve's office ....
I am waiting to hear it next!
Posted on Thu, Aug. 07, 2003
Got a few minutes and a silly streak? Check your e-mail: A flash mob
is forming near you.
By Beth Gillin
Inquirer Staff Writer
Flash mob in action: About 200 people gathered at a shop in Cambridge,
Mass., last Thursday. The stunt? Card shopping for a ?friend? named
On a recent Thursday in New York's Central Park, about 200 people
gathered across from the Museum of Natural History and started
chirping, tweeting, crowing and muttering "bird call, bird call."
After a few minutes of organized cacophony, the group of strangers
dispersed, having successfully brought off a "flash mob," summer's
Also called "flocking" and "inexplicable mobbing," it's sweeping the
globe as groups summoned by e-mail or cell phone perform Monty
Pythonesque pranks lasting 10 minutes or less, then scatter to the
Some say the fad is a reaction to the rules and regulations of a
post-9/11 world, to the "grim, less-fun-than-Orwell routine of taking
our shoes off and walking through scanners," said technology watcher
and writer Howard Rheingold in an e-mail from Mill Valley, Calif.
Others recall that in the 1960s, radio storyteller Jean Shepherd once
called for a "milling" of his listeners at a specified place and time.
When police turned up to investigate why the crowd had congregated in
front of a burned-out building, nobody could explain what they were
"Haven't you ever felt like doing, or even done, something fun and
pointless just for kicks?" e-mailed the flash mob organizer known only
as "~friend" who's putting together a Philadelphia mob for September
through the e-mail address email@example.com. "It's harmless,
fun, entertaining and just plain silly."
Clearly, many are in the mood for madness.
Since the craze took off in mid-June, thousands of mobbers have
bewildered onlookers here and abroad.
Crowds have twirled on Market Street in San Francisco, linked arms in
a train station in Zurich, and shouted "Yes" repeatedly into cell
phones in Berlin.
In Dallas, dozens of people carrying red balloons showed up outside a
movie house to shout "Marco" at dozens more carrying blue balloons,
who yelled "Polo" in return.
Hundreds descended on the greeting-card section of a store on Harvard
Square in Cambridge, Mass., last Thursday, each pretending to search
for a card for a friend named Bill.
Organized through Web groups and Internet sites including
flocksmart.com, cheesebikini.com and mobproject.com, flash mobs are
now happening daily. New York's sixth is scheduled for tonight in
Times Square. London is expecting its first today.
In his book, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, published last
year, Rheingold predicted a digitally driven world of "ad-hocracy," in
which people would temporarily converge around information of mutual
Power of the mob
organizing "helped bring down a regime (Joseph Estrada in the
Philippines) and elect a President (Roh of Korea)."
But while some may see flash mobbing as a test of political
organizing, Rheingold notes that in this case "the political uses
actually preceded the frivolous applications."
"I think the popularity of the mobs draws from the fact that the
organizers don't ********ly state their motivations, and everyone gets
something different out of them," said photographer Mike Epstein, 24,
of Brooklyn, who chronicles inexplicable mobs on his Web site,
As Susan, a 21-year-old Manhattan mobber, cheerfully told online
magazine Salon, "It's sort of like being at a protest, but without the
Epstein was there for history's first recorded inexplicable mob on
June 17, when more than 100 New Yorkers, claiming to be suburban
members of a commune in need of a "love rug," gathered around a
$10,000 Oriental in the carpet department of Macy's flagship store.
After commenting for 10 minutes on the rug's design, color and knots,
the group turned heels and departed, to the befuddlement of the sales
"There are elements of anticonsumerism, social-scene parody,
performance art and sheer randomness, and each participant enjoys
different aspects of the mobs," Epstein said.
The Macy's mobbing was actually the second attempt, the first flash
mob having been foiled in May after a New York man known only as Bill
e-mailed 50 friends and asked them to meet at a Manhattan boutique to
do something goofy.
But word leaked, the shop owner freaked, cops were called, and the mob
lost its nerve. (A would-be flash mob in Philadelphia Saturday also
fizzled. People were supposed to bite into yellow bell peppers in
front of Center City restaurant Morimoto at 5:45 p.m. Nobody did.)
To ensure surprise in future mobs, Bill formed the Manhattan Mob
Project and incorporated elements of a scavenger hunt.
Now, after synchronizing their watches at a specified Web site,
members of a flock gather at various bars or restaurants. Instructions
specify they're to order and pay for something while awaiting the
appearance of organizers with printed instructions.
Nobody knows in advance exactly what will happen.
On July 2, mobbers in the food court at Grand Central Station kept an
eye out for organizers, who carried copies of the New York Review of
Books for identification. As per instructions, a crowd of 200 went to
the balcony of the Grand Hyatt Hotel next to the station, applauded
loudly for 15 seconds, and left.
Another time, hundreds of mobbers pretending to be tourists from
Maryland poured out of four nearby bars to swarm a shoe store in Soho.
By July 24, the craze had spread to Europe, as 300 people in Rome
invaded a book and music store, asked bewildered sales clerks for
nonexistent titles, applauded for 15 seconds, and exited.
Later this month, people wearing sunglasses at night in Chicago are
expected to gather for the sole purpose of coughing in unison for one
Next week in Austin, Texas, mobbers are invited to bring an umbrella
to a location for a synchronized walk.
On Sunday in Sydney, Australia, folks have been invited to appear at a
beach, remove their left shoes, put their left feet in the ocean,
applaud, laugh and leave.
It's an urban phenomenon with no known purpose, and that's OK with
Manhattan Mob Project photographer Epstein.
"For me, it's part of seeing the city as a living organism with unseen
possibilities around every corner," he said. "You never know when
you'll encounter something truly strange."
Contact staff writer Beth Gillin at 215-854-2917 or
Joel M. Eichen, D.D.S.
STANDARD DISCLAIMER applies:
no one has seen the tooth or
teeth in question so take
this advice within its proper
context ~ this is the internet!