Flash Mobs and The New York Times

August 4th, 2003

The first flash mobs took place nearly two months ago in New York — yet the first New York Times flash mob coverage appeared today, in the “Berlin Journal” portion of the International section. What were they thinking?

Anyway, the piece contains one of my favorite flash mob quotes:

Tobias von Sch–nebeck, a tour guide, shook his head when he heard about how the phenomenon was traced back to Macy’s. “This is just the sort of thing that happens when you forbid New York to smoke.”

40 Responses to “Flash Mobs and The New York Times”

  1. comment number 1 by: Sara

    What I believe to be the first of its kind: a Flash Mob listserv for the Houston area! Join, join, join! Make the world know that there is creativity, spontaneity, and intelligent life even here!

  2. comment number 2 by: Sara

  3. comment number 3 by: Richmann

    Oh mann,

    Was soll das denn?

    Habt Ihr d”mlichen Amis nix besseres zu tun als Euch in Parks zu treffen und ne Minute auf der Stelle zu h¸pfen?

    Was hat das den mit “intelligent” zu tun wenn Ihr Dinge tut die nur Geisteskranke tun w¸rden?

    Fangt an Euren Geist RICHTIG zu nutzen, und versucht mal NICHT Arnold zum Governer zu w”hlen oder andere L”nder anzugreifen, oder Spr¸h-k”se zu erfinden , oder Boygroups zu z¸chten, oder dumme Scheiþe zu reden!

    Dies ist nur ein weiterer Beweis daf¸r das der Kapitalismus und der “Konsum ohne Grenzen” nur zu Unzufridenheit und Eskapismus f¸hrt! IHr Amis wisst einfach nicht mehr wohin mit Eurer Energie und deshalb bricht Sie in solchen kranken Massenbewegungen aus!


  4. comment number 4 by:

    Richmann, wir nehmen Ihre Entschuldigung an.

  5. comment number 5 by: nil-ram

    Um, no, there was some other press on flashmobs about two months ago. A nervous shopkeeper, a bewildered police officer, the whole bit.

  6. comment number 6 by: sum1

    Sehr geehrter Herr Richmann,

    so einen schwachsinnigen Anti-Amerikanismus habe ich selten erlebt. Ich dachte immer so etwas gebe es nur als Totschlagargument gegen die Friedensbewegung.

    Flashmobs kann man gut finden oder nicht, aber immer die anderen als die Schuldigen am Elend der Welt zu sehen ist neurotische Projektion. Kehren Sie erstmal ihren eigenen Garten bevor sie andere bel”stigen, und r”umen sie zuerst die Gartenzwerge weg.

  7. comment number 7 by: pointlesstechie

    San Jose! Wake up!

    Contact for more information.


    Pointless Techie

  8. comment number 8 by: Public Insanity



    Friday August 29, 2003 @ 9PM

    West Side of the John Hancock Building

    We will come together wearing sunglasses and cough in unison for 1 minute. This will be the beginning of what will become the strongest, most intelligent, and largest Flash Mob group. Join us!

  9. comment number 9 by: Seabass

    Is anyone hearing anything about a Toronto mob? If not, why?

  10. comment number 10 by: Cat

    Also, diese feindliche Haltung von Richmann kann ich nicht verstehen! Da muss ich sum vollkommen zustimmen. Man sollte Spaþ verstehen k–nnen. Wenn sie nicht depressiv und verbittert durchs leben rennen m–chten, sollten manche Menschen lernen solche Dinge einfach zu akzeptieren. Auþerdem hat die politische Situation eines Landes nichts mit flash mob zu tun!!!

    Gerade in schwierigen Zeiten ist Humor (was immer man auch darunter versteht) angebracht.

  11. comment number 11 by: anon

    hey kiddos– don’t announce what the mob activity is before the actual event. For instance: who is actually going to plan to show up to an event that consists entirely of coughing? are you kidding? keep the mystery alive.

  12. comment number 12 by: Jane

    San Francisco MOB #2 will be THIS Saturday, August 9th.

  13. comment number 13 by: Agatha

    Girl, you know it’s true!

  14. comment number 14 by: GS

    Isn’t it strange how new positive things like Flash Mobs can be received with such different attitudes? Mister Richmann, judging by his in German writen piece probably a German and therefor living fairly close to me (Netherlands), makes a sound which I haven’t heard before when the subject is Flash Mobs. At least untill this morning when I read in the newspaper about people that are looking for political meanings behind the Mobs and are even scared of the easyness with which crowds can be mobelized to do something out of the ordinary. I’m just waiting till the first one happens in Amsterdam and I can participate

  15. comment number 15 by: simple simon

    get a fuckin life you brain dead wasters do a peace rally or an anti bush march .and then you wonder why the rest of the world fuckin hates americans

  16. comment number 16 by: Anonymous

    Hey, what happened to the London ‘flash mob’ post?

    And why can’t people get a sense of humour

    (eg simple simon!)

    I dunno, some people. So set in their ways they can’t enjoy a harmless laugh.

    Also I think we should flash mob an internet site. Get a load of us to appear at the same time, and all post exactly the same question to the forum. I know the perfect place…

    Lets all go there at a certain time (to be decided) and all post the message ‘What is trance?’

    and then leave. Whose up for that?

  17. comment number 17 by: simple simon

    yeah flood a website with incoming mail so it crashes and costs someone (not you fuckin assholes) time and money.You really are a clever bunch and thanks for proving my point.

  18. comment number 18 by: Anonymous

    Hey Simon, if you hate us so much, why do you hang about here to read our posts?????

    Just to get annoyed?

    I swear there are too many people like you who love to get angry at any given time. You’re probably moaning about something else trivial now. Get a sense of humuor!!! I must say it is fun winding you up though1

  19. comment number 19 by: Anonymous

    Also Simon, with respect to

    yeah flood a website with incoming mail so it crashes and costs someone (not you fuckin assholes) time and money

    …people earn a living by cleaning up mess like this. Are you trying to con someone out of a job? You thoughtless buffoon. You’re worse then us.

  20. comment number 20 by: simple simon

    people earned a living from the scrap metal from the twin towers so i suppose your going to ok that one too???

  21. comment number 21 by: Moberator5

    RockCity FM is a postmodern trans-cultural collective interested in using odd or fantastic group events to shift the way that people think about the future—while having fun at the same time! Click on the join button if your in Detroit.

  22. comment number 22 by: Anonymous

    simple simon, you still here? I thought you hated this place.

    I’m afraid I do not know if people made money out of the scrap metal from the twin towers.

    But if they did, what else could they do with it? …Give it you? You would just moan?

  23. comment number 23 by: Anonymous

    A column about flash mobs, The Situationist International and the celebrity culture:

    Wed Aug 6th 2003

  24. comment number 24 by: Anonymous

    How about we flash mob Simple Simon’s email?


    What do you think of that Sean?

  25. comment number 25 by: caroline

    Baltimore might have it’s first flash mob if possible.

    Wasn’t sure where else to put this, so here’s my best shot.

  26. comment number 26 by:

    People, please relax.

    Please DO NOT swamp anyone’s Web server (that’s already been done many times; the cyberspace equivalent of flash mobbing is called flash crowding). Please don’t overrun anyone’s e-mail address (that’s very old news; it’s called e-mail bombing.) These things aren’t clever and they’re a counterproductive bore.

    Besides, “simple simon’s” address seems to be a fake. I tried to e-mail him but it bounced back.

    If someone’s clueless let him speak and he’ll prove his cluelessness to the world. But you might as well listen in case he’s got a point.

    Simon, you ask why we don’t spend our time organizing peace rallies and anti-Bush marches. We already are; this is standard operating procedure in San Francisco.

    Please don’t equate all Americans with our disastrous government leadership, or with the monstrous megacorporations that control that

    leadership. Flash mobs are the first rumblings of a new power that we hope will bypass those forces and make them irrelevant.

    Lion cubs spend a lot of time playing, learning to master their evolving powers. That play seems frivolous at first, but consider the big picture and you might realize that such play is not a waste of time.

  27. comment number 27 by: Knuckles

    Info on upcoming San Francisco mob:

    Time: Saturday, August 9th, 2:07 pm

    Place: Phoenix Irish Pub at 19th Street and Valencia

  28. comment number 28 by: Anonymous

    I like the “flash mob for good” idea about the garbage bags and the park. Another in the same vein would be to show up at a shelter or food pantry with canned goods, etc. Pantries traditionally run low on items this time of year.

  29. comment number 29 by: simple simon

    well at least one of you is thinkin. what a great idea

  30. comment number 30 by: Moberator5

    The date of the first Detroit Moment has been changed to Aug 16. RockCityFM has a Blog now at:

  31. comment number 31 by: UPenn

    We are organizing a flash mob near Penn’s campus. To sign up and for more info e-mail

  32. comment number 32 by: Max

    Read a bit about the first Flash Mobs in Europe. Where & when’s the Amsterdam Flash Mob taking place?

  33. comment number 33 by: writing my name in water

    MOB #6

    So I was part of the latest New York MOB Project and it was much better than the other one I did (the 2nd). Mind you, it’s hard to get worse than 200 people with their backs to all three…

  34. comment number 34 by: JJFlash

    I don’t think so. He directed his anger on the first roman mob without getting all the facts first, so I’m not willing to take seriously his opinion.

  35. comment number 35 by: Fernando

    hey, i¥m going to my first flash mob, in Sao paulo,brazil, and i don¥t think it¥s a bad idea, like some do, if that¥s fun for some people, just let them have fun, if people go there to protest against political issues, like Bush, mega coorporations or whatever, they have the right to be free and protest, I know that in Brazil, they had the first flash mob on august 12th, and it was a blast, and some people protested and some only had fun, a lot of fun!!!!

  36. comment number 36 by: oche

    hey whatever you may think it is now here,marketing is going to take advantage soon.

  37. comment number 37 by: Artful

    Is there any interest in doing a flash mob in the Hartford, CT area? I am especially interested in merging flash mobs with concise, crisp “random acts of kindness.” The notion of converging on a foodbank with canned goods was a good idea, already posted.

    Many of us are feeling increasingly powerless about our reckless foreign and domestic policies and the lackluster leadership from the two main parties–despite the fact that we are actively demonstrating, emailing, witnessing and all other heartfelt gestures.

    Any takers?


  38. comment number 38 by: Anonymous

    Well, SimpleSimon certainly seems a well chosen name. You certainly seem to be an unhappy character. Where is the joy in your life? People have enough difficulty with getting through each day, so why not have a little fun?

    I think that something to influence social change is a great idea, why not. But to condemn an entire group of people sounds a bit over the top. Secondly, it seems to me that some of the first flash mobs were in Germany or on the European continent. Would you then condemn the entire world?

    Two words for you Simple: Anger Management

  39. comment number 39 by: Anger management

    The above text closing with”Anger Management” is mine. My personal info was not included in the post.

  40. comment number 40 by: Andrush

    Wondering why u spend so much affort on handling with simple simons and Richmanns agressions.. why not just scroll down ? It’s up to them to flash their ignorance someday. Just let them grow up… aging will fix it.