the yes men are coming, the yes men are coming!

We’re busy working on taxes tonight, but I wanted to let you know that The Yes Men are going to be in Ann Arbor tomorrow, speaking at the Michigan Theater. The event starts at 5:00, and, as it’s being presented as part of the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Series, it’s absolutely free. So, if you liked their film, appreciated their “Yes, Bush Can” campaign (featuring Smokey the Log), or felt inspired by any of their other politically and economically motivated pranks, come on out and join us in welcoming Crimewave’s favorite corporate impersonators… And, here, because I don’t have time to do the research myself, is a clip from the Yes Men entry on Wikipedia:

The Yes Men are a group of culture jamming activists who practice what they call “identity correction”. They pretend to be powerful people and organizations and then use their newfound authority to espouse what they think those groups really believe. Its two leading members are known by a number of aliases, most recently, and in film, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. Their real names are Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, respectively. Servin is an author of experimental fiction, and was known for being the man who inserted images of men kissing in the computer game SimCopter. Vamos is an assistant professor of media arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York. They are assisted by numerous people across the globe, including media artist Patrick Lichty, graphic designer Matt McElligott, costume designer Sal Salmone, and many others.

For their first prank, in the 1990s, they swapped the electronics of talking Barbie and GI Joe toys and then returned them to the store. They then issued a message as the “Barbie Liberation Organization.” The pair later set up a mock web site claiming to be that of the World Trade Organization. When the site received invitations to speak on behalf of the WTO, they made a series of keynote lectures at international conferences with deliberately absurd proposals for economic development and labor relations…

And, one last thing — if this event fills to capacity before I get in, as happened last week when I tried to take Clementine to a free showing of “The Muppet Movie” at the Michigan Theater, I’ll be really pissed (and I’ll really regret telling you all to go).

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of impersonation, I heard through the grapevine today that a suspicious looking character in a Detroit Edison t-shirt was making his way around UM’s campus this afternoon, claiming to be from the power company, and trying to “gain access to electrical and computer space.” It’s probably because I’ve seen a few too many episodes of “24,” but my first thought was terrorism. Hopefully, however, he was just looking to steal computers. (Any information concerning this man, his whereabouts, and/or intentions, should be directed toward the UM Office of Public Safety.)

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  1. mark
    Posted April 6, 2006 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    It was just one Yes Man, but he was very good. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to write more about his lecture this weekend.

  2. mark
    Posted April 9, 2006 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    I just got the following email update on their current projects, and thought that you might find it interesting:


    Here’s an update on some recent Yes Men activities. But first, two

    * In a few weeks, the Yes Men will speak at a major conference
    as one of the world’s biggest, nastiest companies. We’re planning
    something every bit as bizarre as the WTO’s meter-long golden phallus –
    but we’re a bit short on funds to pull it off. If you can help,
    please visit or write to us.

    * On a whole other level, survivors of the Bhopal catastrophe have
    just completed a march from Bhopal to Delhi to protest the Indian
    government’s refusal to help force Dow to the table; now they’re
    beginning a hunger strike. Please support them at or by donating to the
    Bhopal Medical Appeal (

    Now for the updates.


    Last November at a San Francisco nanotechnology conference, a “Dow
    representative” urged the scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs in
    the audience to hurry potentially dangerous nanotech products to
    market before they could be tested. Citing Dow’s record profits
    despite a history of releasing dangerous and often lethal products,
    the representative asserted that caution is best deferred until after
    a product is released, and that testing ought to be performed not by
    the corporation but by the population at large, to give them the
    opportunity to participate in corporate progress. The audience, to
    their credit, found these ideas disturbing, but many admitted that
    they had no control over how the products they were developing would
    be released. Meanwhile, in the exhibits hall, the Yes Men discovered
    that nanotech products known to be dangerous are available for sale
    to anyone with the money….


    The pesticide Dursban was banned in the US in 2001; that very year,
    Dow opened a Dursban plant in Chiplun, India, and now manufactures
    and sells it in India. Last December, the Yes Men, posing as Dow
    managers, dropped in on the factory for an inspection. They had been
    told of the plant by Bhopal survivors, who are angry that Dow is able
    to launch new, harmful ventures in India even as they continue to get
    away with murder in Bhopal.

    Also in December, the Yes Men visited the largest agricultural fair
    in India and learned how companies like Monsanto sell their expensive
    seeds to farmers, who are often ruined when the crop doesn’t perform
    as well as expected; thousands of farmers have lately committed
    suicide by drinking the pesticide that comes with the seeds, and
    millions more have ended up in big-city slums. After speaking to
    Monsanto and other company representatives to learn their sales
    tricks, the Yes Men successfully sold seeds armed against “amoebas
    and houseflies” and demonstrated a pesticide that doesn’t kill but
    simply lobotomizes the drinker, making him or her happier with
    whatever happens.


    One week ago in Norway, one of the world’s very richest countries,
    the Yes Men posed as investigative reporters at a journalism
    conference and revealed their “discovery” that Norway, far from being
    enviro-friendly as everyone believes, is probably the world’s largest
    agent of climate change per capita. This is because (a) Norway is the
    world’s third largest petroleum exporter, and (b) Norway invests the
    billions it makes from petroleum in a wide range of oil, automobile,
    airplane, shipping, and defense companies, via its massive “Petroleum
    Fund.” (While Norway’s aid to Pakistan, investments in ecological
    measures, and support of the Nobel Peace Prize are much better known,
    they are much smaller than its aid to Shell, Chevron, Exxon,
    Halliburton, etc. via the Fund.)

    The journalists were dumbfounded at the April Fools’ talk. When the
    truth came out that the “investigators” were phony, many of the
    journalists did express surprise that the hypocrisy of a supposedly
    “green” country being so heavily invested in oil, pollution, and war
    had not received more attention.

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