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The Mob

As long as there have been streets and crowds, there have been occasional angry mobs, waving torches and bellowing demands.


As long as there have been streets and crowds, there have been occasional angry mobs, waving torches and bellowing demands.But it wasn't until Harper's senior editor Bill Wasik summoned his acquaintances to the ninth floor of Manhattan's Macy's that the modern mob-a less purposeful, more cheerful, and more easily dispersed creature dubbed the "flash mob"-appeared on the world historical scene. What began as a magazine article in New York soon caught fire around the world, as bored salarymen and college students from Brazil, China, and Europe assembled in parks, train stations, and hotel lobbies to utter nonsensical phrases, sing songs, pillow-fight, wear outrageous costumes, or simply burst into self-congratulatory applause. What was normal was temporarily flipped on its head-those dignified fuddy-duddies who hadn't received the cell-phone communiqué were left on the outside of the joke. Whereas the revolutionary mob is centered on a common desire for bloodthirsty revenge, the flash mob often seems to want nothing more than a few minutes of juvenile kicks, a temporary disruption of the public order. Perhaps these events are a rehearsal, but if so, for what? More effective is Critical Mass, where bicyclists gather monthly for group rides around urban centers, temporarily letting drivers know what it feels like to be in the minority.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n
\nFor example: Rev. Billy TalenRev. Billy Talen's congregations have a political orientation and can easily be classified as acts of Consumer Mutiny or even Politurgy, but their spontaneous engagement of a live public makes them mobbish events at heart. Assuming the role of a platinum-haired preacher, Talen storms chain stores, Starbucks outlets, even Disneyland with a flock of his faithful in tow. He then vigorously exhorts consumers to lay down their credit cards and tote bags and join his Church of Stop Shopping, enveloping innocent passersby in his own anticonsumerist flash mob.
\nHere's a tip: Liquid CourageA tipple of the hard stuff smoothes the tongue, steadies the hand, and makes the moment of crisis bearable (hey, even pleasant). Consider keeping a hip flask handy to quell that pesky fight-or-flight response.
\nRisk: 2Cost: 2P.R.: 6Cred: 3COOLNESS FACTOR: 2.75\n
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