Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mayor Menino VS. Aqua Teen Hunger Force!!

Look, it's illegal advertising with battery powered devices, so I would want police to investigate. It is also possible that a real "terror" device might mask itself as advertising. However, too many people (age 12-30) know the image on the box is from Aqua Teen Hunger Force (An adult cartoon which has been around for over five years) and had it been recognised as a Cartoon Network product, Boston officials could have verified that the advertising was benign with Turner, ending the panic in minutes and saving a lot of cash.

That fact that Boston was the only city that responded this way, either says that Boston is the least hip or the most prepared. The fact that Mayor Menino and the police now feel they have been made fools of and want payback, is going to be unfair and unfortunate to the kids who put up the art. Hopefully, when this dies down they will get some nice street cred in the "dumb ass white boys with dreadlocks" community. Either way if I were Menino, I would hire someone between the age of 12 to 30, so we don't have to go through this next time VH1 decides to paste Flava Flav Clocks all over the Tobin bridge.

From The Boston Globe 2/1/07

Froth, fear, and fury
Cartoon devices spur antiterror sweeps; two men are arrested

By Suzanne Smalley and Raja Mishra

Enraged city and state officials yesterday readied a legal assault against those responsible for a guerrilla marketing campaign that dotted the city with small battery-powered light screens, setting off fears of terrorism and shutting down major roadways and subway lines for parts of the day.

Authorities last night were retrieving the 38 magnetic signs depicting cartoon characters under bridges, on storefronts, and outside Fenway Park, among other locations, that were installed as part of a Turner Broadcasting System marketing blitz for a Cartoon Network television show.

For much of the day, police treated the signs, which measure about 1 by 1 1/2 feet and feature protruding wires on one side, as potentially dangerous. But their investigation shifted when they happened to move one of the signs into a darker area. The sudden lack of sunlight prompted the lights forming the character's image to brighten into color. Sometime between 2 and 3 p.m., according to a public safety official, a Boston police analyst recognized the image as a cartoon character, and police concluded it was likely a publicity stunt.

Turner Broadcasting System Inc. apologized about 4:30 p.m. for the campaign, which included cartoon characters making an obscene gesture.

Last night, in Arlington, police arrested Peter Berdovsky , 27, an artist originally from Belarus, who told the Globe earlier in the day that he installed the signs for an ad firm hired by Turner Broadcasting. Berdovsky, who described himself as " a little kind of freaked out," faces up to five years in prison on charges of placing a hoax device in a way that causes panic and disorderly conduct.

Attorney General Martha Coakley's office announced late last night that a second suspect, Sean Stevens, 28, of Charlestown, had been arrested in the case about 11:30 p.m. Like Berdovsky, Stevens was charged with placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. Both suspects are scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. today in Charlestown District Court, said Coakley's office.

The deployment of scores of state, federal, and Boston police specialists, from bomb experts to terrorism analysts, exceeded $500,000, according to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

While police responded to the episode with swiftness and gravity, some Bostonians, especially younger adults, were amused by the spectacle and suggested authorities overreacted. But Coakley said the placement of the devices, on key infrastructure points, like highway ramps and under bridges, alarmed even seasoned investigators.

Turner Broadcasting acknowledged that it never sought approval or alerted authorities that it would put up the signs. The company hired by Turner for the campaign, New York-based Interference Inc., declined comment.

The signs, installed about two weeks ago, were part of a 10-city marketing campaign for the cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." They had not set off terrorism fears in New York, Los Angeles, or any of the other locations, and it was not clear whether they had been widely noticed in those cities. Yesterday Turner Broadcasting scrambled to alert police in the other cities to their presence.

A visibly angry Menino said he would ask the Federal Communications Commission to yank TBS's broadcasting license for what he called "an outrageous act to gain publicity for their product."

The "Aqua Teen" program, launched seven years ago, chronicles the adventures of a talking box of French fries and his irreverent fast food pals. The images on the signs, including the characters with grimacing faces making the obscene gesture, are tiny video game characters that make cameos on the show, which airs during the Cartoon Network's late night programming block called "Adult Swim."

Menino and others said the campaign was especially reckless given Boston's sensitivity to terrorism threats, after planes that left Logan Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.

Menino was also upset, he said, because top executives at Turner Broadcasting did not contact him directly to discuss what happened. The mayor said he did not receive a call from the company until about 9 p.m., and it was from a low-ranking press official.

"Give me a break. . . . It's all about corporate greed," Menino said, adding that he wanted make sure "not the guy we arrested today pays, but also the people in the boardroom have some obligation also on this issue."

But others were relishing the story, which rocketed around the Internet. Computer users e-mailed their friends links to video on YouTube that showed young people using telescopic poles to place the magnetic devices on recognizably Boston locations, as electronic music played in the background. Others went to eBay, where someone was already selling one of the magnetic devices, which was apparently removed from a South Boston location, with a minimum bid of $5,000. Read the whole Story HERE!

The Kid even had it all on Youtube!!


Kell Trenzer said...

...and yet those responsible for the Big Dig haven't been brought to justice.

Only in New England can we freak out about something like this.

Stuff Daddy said...

YES It's very "generational divide" as if people were screaming "Devil Music" because someone was dancing to rock n' roll. These are those type of times. Fear is traded in for security. It could have been a bomb, but if it was, 38 of them had been up for two weeks! Good job all around.