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November 12, 2008 10:14 AM   Subscribe

This morning, New Yorkers were offered free copies of the New York Times--which happen to be fake, including a clever twist on the Times' slogan reading 'All the news we hope to print. The accompanying website may or may not open for you, but Gothamist posted the front page at least. Rumors are that this is the latest work of culture jammers, the Yes Men (whose site is also down today).
posted by adamms222 (54 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sigh, if only.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on November 12, 2008


Have to admit this totally got me this morning, until i looked at the date that is.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 10:22 AM on November 12, 2008


Interesting, but the busted links are frustrating.
posted by Mister_A at 10:23 AM on November 12, 2008


Just doesn't seem like "Yes Men" style.
posted by Bitter soylent at 10:25 AM on November 12, 2008


"Bush to Face Charges"

*swoon*
posted by ColdChef at 10:26 AM on November 12, 2008


"USA Patriot Act Repealed."

*double swoon*
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:29 AM on November 12, 2008


For cracker sex, the future is now.
posted by swift at 10:30 AM on November 12, 2008


Damnit, someone tried to hand me one of these this morning and I decided I was too hungover to bother reading a paper on the train.

If anyone has an extra they want to give me, in exchange I will give you this pristine copy of yesterday's AM New York that I just found in my office. Memail me.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:35 AM on November 12, 2008


I nabbed one this morning after reading about it on Gawker. The two women handing them out in front of Penn Station seemed pissed that they had been revealed so quickly, but then realized that the only reason I was there to get one of the fake-papers in the first place was because the word was spreading online.

Unfortunately, the paper takes every progressive idea ever and jumps off a cliff with them. It's great to see a headline trumpeting IRAQ WAR OVER but your enthusiasm fades as you continually run across completely humorless headlines like, "A particularly peaceful baboon troop may have lessons to teach us."

It falls into that trap where you're just preaching at someone (even if you're probably right) rather than educating them. The articles within could have been much served if they detailed HOW hopeful events like "Police Enact Smarter Crowd Control" came about. (i.e. how the reader could help to enact such change in a non-hypothetical future). Instead, it's all mostly "These were bad things that used to be done but now they are gone! Hooray!".

I think this was a great stunt, though, and I admire the kind of feverish dedication that goes into an idea like this. The paper and the launch are all very detailed. The fake ads are really fun, too.
posted by greenland at 10:38 AM on November 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


From the article on Gawker: "Not all readers reacted favorably. "The thing I disagree with is how they did it," said Stuart Carlyle, who received a paper in Grand Central Station while commuting to his Wall Street brokerage. "I'm all for freedom of speech, but they should have started their own paper.""

Wotta weenie.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on November 12, 2008


Wow. That's just ...

OK, let's put it this way. If they'd done the same thing 2 years ago with "Obama Wins!" I'd have been similarly wowed and whatevered, as in "Whatever, we'll never elect a black President."

So, yeah, whatever Bush faces charges, whatever they repeal the Patriot Act, whatever Condi apologizes, etc. etc. etc.

But HOPE.
posted by ZakDaddy at 10:40 AM on November 12, 2008


I have not been able to open the site all day.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just thought it was a huge, expensive ad for KBR -- that's who's got the full page ad on the back of the section. It looked to me like they were paying a lot of money to reposition themselves as "the good guys." Guess I fell for the fake ad.
posted by chinese_fashion at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2008


Although I've admired and laughed at the Yes Men's previous antics (the Dow Chemical one was genius), this just seems like a big waste of time. The irony: while a bunch of "culture jammers" make the symbolic statement of printing a fake newspaper reporting on radical policy changes, a group of people who have been doping the hard work of years of grass-roots political organizing and getting out the vote are now in the position to actually make those policy changes come true.
posted by googly at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's quite the Obama wish list.
posted by gman at 10:49 AM on November 12, 2008


humorless headlines like, "A particularly peaceful baboon troop may have lessons to teach us."

That sounds like a good deadpan satire of the just-so animal evo-psych bullshit science stories papers usually do print. Humans are naturally warlike/peaceful/greedy/co-operative/egalitarian/sexist as you can see from baboons/chimps/snakes/fish....
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:50 AM on November 12, 2008


This brings to mind the central philosophical question I've always had about April Fool's Day: is it crueler to prank someone with false good news, or false bad news? Some of these must have been handed to those who have friends and relatives deployed in Iraq. I'd be interested to hear their reactions.
posted by cirocco at 10:50 AM on November 12, 2008


This doesn't seem Yes Men-y to me at all. In fact, it seems to be the opposite of what they would have done. What is whoever did this doing? Whom are they taking to task?
posted by Manhasset at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure it's The Yes Men. I got a press release about this today, the SMTP sender was Sender: send28-proxyantiwar@theyesmen.org. Which could have been forged, of course, but seems unlikely. Here's the press release:

November 12, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SPECIAL TIMES EDITION BLANKETS U.S. CITIES, PROCLAIMS END TO WAR

* PDF: http://www.nytimes-se.com/pdf
* For video updates: http://www.nytimes-se.com/video
* Contact: mailto:writers@nytimes-se.com

Early this morning, commuters nationwide were delighted to find out that while they were sleeping, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had come to an end.

If, that is, they happened to read a "special edition" of today's New York Times.

In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street.

Articles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives including the establishment of national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s, and, of course, the end of the war.

The paper, an exact replica of The New York Times, includes International, National, New York, and Business sections, as well as editorials, corrections, and a number of advertisements, including a recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline. There is also a
timeline describing the gains brought about by eight months of progressive support and pressure, culminating in President Obama's "Yes we REALLY can" speech. (The paper is post-dated July 4, 2009.)

"It's all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever," said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper's writers. "We've got to make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do. After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven."

Not all readers reacted favorably. "The thing I disagree with is how they did it," said Stuart Carlyle, who received a paper in Grand Central Station while commuting to his Wall Street brokerage. "I'm all for freedom of speech, but they should have started their own paper."
posted by Nelson at 10:57 AM on November 12, 2008


I admire the stunt. As to the substance? It's unnerving to see so much stuff I really agree with (Patriot act repealed) combined with so much stuff I think is unbelievably stupid, as though they're all of a piece. I hope I didn't vote for most of this bullshit.

If you really think the credit crunch happened because the top marginal tax rate slipped below 70%, I do not want to be in your movement.
posted by grobstein at 10:59 AM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


No gay marriage headline?
posted by Tehanu at 11:00 AM on November 12, 2008


I swear, if Obama weren't a black Muslim terrorist-sympathizing socialist, McCain wouldn't have gotten 100 electoral votes.
posted by gman at 11:01 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Were these passed out anywhere else except at the 7th avenue entrance to Penn Station? That's where I got mine, and it sounds like at least some of the people posting above me did, too.

I love the idea that I brushed by a bunch of other MeFites this morning grabbing one of these. I think it's great that some of those strangers I pass by before glumly entering the corporate behemoth at 2 Penn Plaza are the same people whose comments in turn delight, enrage, and amuse me. I like to guess who else wastes/invests as much time on this site as I do.

The Internet! Is! Awesome!
posted by andromache at 11:08 AM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I was curious after reading the maximum wage article to learn more about FDR's maximum wage plan. The article suggests that FDR instituted a confiscatory 100% income tax above $25k. This is not quite accurate -- FDR proposed such a tax, but the highest he could get, even from a compliant Congress, was a 94% rate for income above $200k.
posted by grobstein at 11:10 AM on November 12, 2008


Let's jam the shit out of this culture by wasting a bunch of paper!!!!!!!!!!!! Hey does anyone have the most recent issue of Vice I haven't read it yet!!!!!!!!!!

(Seriously I'm typically a big fan of these guys but this doesn't do much for me. I might be wrong, but I can't imagine that it'll change anyone's mind, PLUS it creates a black market for a 'collector's item' which seems to be exactly the opposite of what they're going for.)
posted by Damn That Television at 11:12 AM on November 12, 2008


Were these passed out anywhere else except at the 7th avenue entrance to Penn Station?

They were handing them out at the Houston Street 1 station. Fat lot of good it did me. This is why you shouldn't drink, people.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 11:15 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't get what culture is being jammed by this headline. It's something that could very well happen. Or not. It's like a headline blaring "MOON BASED ESTABLISHED". Yeah, my culture. Totally jammed by that. I mean...we could be headed there already, but damn. So jammed.
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2008


I like. And as to offering up constructive suggestions, this isn't what the Yes Men do. They draw attention to an issue, but they don't offer plans to fix things. I'm fine with that.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:30 AM on November 12, 2008


Their website loaded for me.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:35 AM on November 12, 2008


Local Man Fooled By Lame Fake Newspaper

/Somehow, it seems to me like The New York Times just pranked the The Yes Men.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure, but my problem here is that I can't imagine a bunch of jaded mid-town New Yorkers aren't already aware of every single thing (or at least most of the things) that they're drawing attention to. Sure, it's cute and clever, but espousing liberal aspirations to people in Manhattan is basically just preaching to the choir. (I'm one of the choir, btw.)

If they had really wanted to spread some science, they would have done this with right-leaning newspapers in red states. Or even a fake anti-war New York Post would have had more influence.
posted by Damn That Television at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2008


That sounds like a good deadpan satire of the just-so animal evo-psych bullshit science stories papers usually do print. Humans are naturally warlike/peaceful/greedy/co-operative/egalitarian/sexist as you can see from baboons/chimps/snakes/fish....

Yeah, I thought so too, at first, except the headline directs you to a completely serious article about the issue, disguised as a letter on the editorial page. The whole paper is sort of like that. It reminds me of high school journalism class, where you had to write two serious articles before you got to write an editorial/navel-gazing article about something you and only you cared about. (Mystery Science Theater 3000!)

Were these passed out anywhere else except at the 7th avenue entrance to Penn Station?

I saw two folks at the 7th Ave entrance, and one guy across the street from there (In a New York Times apron, no less! Very nice cover, sir). I've heard they were in Union Square, Grand Central, Port Authority, and Columbus Circle, too.
posted by greenland at 12:07 PM on November 12, 2008


It's a really good thing this wasn't done 2 weeks ago.

(I can hear S. Palin and J. Plumber harping on about the abject socialism and cowardice blah blah)
posted by naju at 12:18 PM on November 12, 2008


Court Indicts Bush on High Treason Charge

I sure am looking forward to Independence Day next year!
posted by quin at 12:28 PM on November 12, 2008


Let's jam the shit out of this culture by wasting a bunch of paper!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paper and satire are both renewable resources.

If they had really wanted to spread some science, they would have done this with right-leaning newspapers in red states. Or even a fake anti-war New York Post would have had more influence.


Do you walk up to painters at gallery opens and tell them how to do their art? Accept or reject but don't tell us what to paint.

Most culture jam projects are creative works, and I'm sure the Yes Men would respond as I do to stay-at-home media critics, "Culture jamming is a DIY art. If you don't like mine, feel free to do your own."

Yes Men pulled off an art project of massive undertaking, mind-boggling logistics and a huge artistic and financial risk, and we at the Billboard Liberation Front are out of our seat applauding.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:30 PM on November 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


Reading these comments I think a lot of people mistake the intentions and possible outcomes from culture jam projects. I don't think any street artist or guerrilla theater performer expects to change the world, just simply remix the culture landscape as want it to be.

The Yes Men weren't trying to stir up indignation, if we haven't burned the White House down from all the real news a satire piece wasn't going to push us over the edge. It was more of a NYTimes What If... issue, they were selling hope.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:39 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd be disappointed if this were the work of the Yes Men. They usually hold themselves to a higher standard.
posted by Eideteker at 12:55 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This totally got me this morning. I left it on my desk, and it's been getting attention from coworkers all day.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2008


I don't think this is supposed to change minds, in the sense of convincing people to move to an agenda further left than what they already are. Rather, it's intended as a kind of cheerleading, a celebration of victories so far (the election) that's supposed to energize "the base" by suggesting that new possibilities have opened up.

I don't think this is silly in itself. I don't agree with a lot of the goals, but the project makes sense to me.
posted by grobstein at 1:40 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other news...
posted by Rhaomi at 1:40 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Or, what MiltonRand said.)
posted by grobstein at 1:41 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


@MiltonRandKalman

"Do you walk up to painters at gallery opens and tell them how to do their art? Accept or reject but don't tell us what to paint....It was more of a NYTimes What If... issue, they were selling hope."

Well, I really don't want to get in an argument with someone in the BLF, since basically I've idolized you guys since I started doing street stuff in LA years ago, but here goes!

Yes, I do occasionally tell people what I'd like to see painted. This is a common exchange of information. They're free to ignore it, and most of the time they do. In fact, I usually accept or reject art like you said, to be honest, but when I leave criticism, it's typically because I see the potential in something, but it didn't work for me, and I respect the artist enough to tell them why.

I do do my own "culture jamming" in a variety of mediums, and am not a stay-at-home media critic, so we agree on that point.

My problem, and maybe I was a little bit too much of a dickhead when I first said this, is that this could have been something that actually accomplished spreading information on a topic, which, and correct me if I'm wrong, is something that the Yes Men seem to hold as a goal. They seem pretty much on the "activist" side of the "artistic activists" spectrum, and this doesn't seem like it activates much.

Not saying it's not a massive undertaking, and not saying it wasn't a huge risk. Not even saying that it didn't fool me when I first saw it. Just saying that, in my opinion, it falls pretty flat compared to their legacy of WTO and Exxon and similar activist prankery.
posted by Damn That Television at 2:04 PM on November 12, 2008


Has anyone called a yes man? Damn that Television, pick up the phone!

What's the deal? Because I would be bummed if they did this. If they kind of helped someone who was doing it, without realizing how lame it would be, I could live with that. (Like when actual funny people like Patton Oswalt hang out with and thereby tacitly support the standup career of David Cross because he's such a sweet guy and a good actor it's easy to overlook the mindboggling hackiness, unless you are, for instance, sitting with an audience.)

Seriously, I didn't give a rat's about this until I realized it could be a feet of clay moment with the Yes Men.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:28 PM on November 12, 2008


@Damn That Television

Activist is the wrong word, it would certainly be wrongly applied to us and I think the Yes Men too. Street Theater with Political Relevance is a better way to categorize this prank. Its what we do, except we only get as far as building the props.

Most of their pranks evolve tweaking The Establishment and firing off a press-release/recap afterward so we know how it went behind closed doors. I really loved this bit because instead of lampooning sick/greedy/self-absorbed large corporations, they put hope in the hands of everyone. I find it a much more powerful statement.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:10 PM on November 12, 2008


I guess we'll have to see whether Dewey defeats Truman
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 4:15 PM on November 12, 2008


In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street.

Wow. Imagine what the could have accomplished if they'd decided to do something meaningful.
posted by signal at 7:56 PM on November 12, 2008


six months in the planning

Hey -- what if they had to do this a week after a McCain victory?
posted by grobstein at 9:14 PM on November 12, 2008


Seriously, did anyone take these? I told them, "No thanks," or, "Sorry." Depending on whether I had said, "No thanks," or, "Sorry," the last time that someone here tried to hand me something (I alternate).
posted by unknowncommand at 12:19 AM on November 13, 2008


WHICH IS NOT TO SAY THAT I HATE HOPE. Just when people hand me stuff that may or may not be hope-related.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:22 AM on November 13, 2008


I got a second press release from the group that put the spoof paper out. It's boring and self congratulatory, but does contain info on who did it:
The people behind the project are involved in a diverse range of groups, including The Yes Men, the Anti-Advertising Agency, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not An Alternative, May First/People Link, Improv Everywhere, Evil Twin, and Cultures of Resistance.
posted by Nelson at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2008


WHOIS for www.nytimes-se.com:

DOMAIN nytimes-se.com
Registrar: JORE-1 (site: www.joker.com)

Owner
Name: Harold Schweppes (could be real. could be silly)
Organization: G.A.T.T. (This one clearly says Yes Men to me)
Email: hschweppes1957@gmail.com
Address: 80 Infinity Place (not a real address)
Postal code/City: 18201 Son of Triumph
State: PA
Country: US

I'd say if they weren't the main perpetrators, they at least helped out.

On preview: yea.
posted by d(-_-)b at 9:03 AM on November 13, 2008


From the Yes Men's wikipedia article:

Sometimes, the Yes Men's phony spokesperson makes announcements that represent dream scenarios for the anti-globalization movement or opponents of corporate crime. The result is false news reports of the demise of the WTO, or Dow paying for a Union Carbide cleanup.
posted by criticalbill at 3:44 PM on November 13, 2008


Hey these are my classmates!
posted by Brainy at 12:03 AM on November 14, 2008


De Beers not happy.
posted by tellurian at 4:28 PM on November 27, 2008


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