Boston authorities crazy about LED street art

1/31 changed everything

I'm so embarassed for my friends in Boston. No, wait: Maybe our good neighbors are all actually onto something really, really big (I'm not talking about the suits and uniforms - or an impressively stupid Boston Globe editorial*): the growing role of the artist as the new and very visible hero of whatever pockets of progressive political life may still survive in locked-down America today. Fortunately the best of our twenty-first-century court jesters are not really part of the court, and they're not really just jesting.

This Aqua Team Hunger Force LED bomb scare thing sounds like the outrageous scenario for a summer movie, so why aren't Boston's mayor and police department laughing?

Go here for the press conference archtype for a new age. It's Dada!

the editorial, from this morning's edition, isn't available on line without a registration, so here are some excerpts of "PARALLYZED BY A GIMMICK":

. . . Turner's ad gimmick, undertaken in 10 cities from coast to coast, affected tens of thousands of people in the Greater Boston area. Businesses lost customers. Commuters lost time. Even more serious, first responders from local, state, and federal public safety agencies were called away from their legitimate duties.

One wouldn't expect the promoters of the TV program "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" to score high on a maturity index. But anyone older than 8 or 9 should be able to understand the dangers of staging such a stunt in the post-Sept. 11 world. Homeland Security experts will need to review the response of local law enforcement. Public safety personnel may have overreacted ; local bloggers apparently identified the guerrilla advertising campaign early on. But it's hardly surprising if others who weren't in on the gag were suspicious. As a rule, first responders are left little choice but to assume they are facing a legitimate threat.

Perpetrators of terror hoaxes face prison sentences of up to five years if convicted. Police arrested an Arlington man last night in connection with the ad stunt, but potential criminal prosecution is only one consideration. The tricksters at Turner, a unit of Time Warner Inc., should pay the bill for the consequences of a lame marketing gimmick.

[image of Boston supporters of the artists Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens by Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP via Gothamist]