Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yes Men Strike Again

I received another "hopeful news pandemic" form the Yes Men's mailing list this morning, this time strategizing for the Copenhagen climate conference coming up December 7-18 later this year. Read all about it...

June 18, 2009

Newspaper Ignites Hope, Announces "Civil Disobedience Database"

* Civil-disobedience database:
* PDF of printed newspaper:
- Online version: * Video: (coming soon)
- The Yes Men, mailto:press [at]theyesmen [dot]org
- Mark Breddy (Greenpeace), mailto:mark.breddy [at]greenpeace [dot] org,
(+32) (0)2 2741 903, (+32) (0)496 15 62 29 (mob.)
- Lawrence Bogad,,
+1-212 300 7943

In a front-page ad in today's International Herald Tribune, the leaders of the European Union thank the European public for having engaged in months of civil disobedience leading up to the Copenhagen climate conference that will be held this December. "It was only thanks to your massive pressure over the past six months that we could so dramatically shift our climate-change policies.... To those who were arrested, we thank you."

There was only one catch: the paper was fake.

Looking exactly like the real thing, but dated December 19th, 2009, a million copies of the fake paper were distributed worldwide by thousands of volunteers in order to show what could be achieved at the Copenhagen climate conference that is scheduled for Dec. 7-18, 2009. (At the moment, the conference is aiming for much more modest cuts, dismissed by leading climate scientists as too little, too late to stave off runaway processes that will lead to millions or even billions of casualties.)

The paper describes in detail a powerful (and entirely possible) new treaty to bring carbon levels down below 350 parts per million - the level climate scientists say we need to achieve to avoid climate catastrophe. One article describes how a website,, mobilized thousands of people to put their bodies on the line to confront climate change policies - ever since way back in June, 2009.

Although the newspaper is a fake (its production and launch were coordinated by Greenpeace), the website is real. is part of a growing network of websites calling for direct action on climate change, building on statements made in recent months by noted political figures. (For example, in September Nobel laureate Al Gore asserted that "we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants.")

Leading American environmentalist Bill McKibben was enthusiastic about the newspaper's message and the methods calls for. "We need a political solution grounded in reality - grounded in physics and chemistry. That will only come if we can muster a wide variety of political tactics, including civil disobedience."

"Non-violent civil disobedience has been at the forefront of almost every successful campaign for change," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men, who helped write and edit the newspaper and are furnishing the technology for "Especially in America, and especially today, we need to push our leaders hard to stand up to industry lobbyists and make the sorts of changes we need."

"Roosevelt would never have been able to push through the New Deal if people hadn't taken to the streets, occupied factories, and demanded it," noted newspaper writer/editor and University of California professor Lawrence Bogad. Segregation, British rule in India, and apartheid wouldn't have ended without a lot of people being creatively uncooperative - even if that meant getting arrested. Nonviolent civil disobedience is the bread and butter of progress."

The fake newspaper also has an ad for "Action Offsets," whereby those who aren't willing to risk arrest can help those who are.


Today's fake International Herald Tribune is part of a rash of recent publications which mimic prominent newspapers. Last November, a fake edition of the New York Times announced that the Iraq War was over. A few days earlier, a hoax USA Today featured the US presidential election result: "Capitalism Wins at the Polls: Anarchy Brewing in the Streets." And this April 1st, a spoof edition of Germany's Zeit newspaper triumphantly announced the end of "casino capitalism" and the abolition of poor-country debt.

The rash of fakes is likely to continue. "People are going to keep finding ways to get the word out about common-sense solutions those in power say are impossible," said Kelli Anderson, one of the designers of the fake International Herald Tribune and co-designer (with Daniel Dunnam) of

"We already know what we need to do about climate change," said Agnes de Rooij of Greenpeace International. "It's a no-brainer. Reduce carbon emissions, or put the survival of billions of people at risk. If the political will isn't there now, it's our duty to inspire it."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snow Sensitive Skin review at Jacket 37

Here is a review I wrote of Taylor Brady's and Rob Halpern's collaboration Snow Sensitive Skin, published in a small edition chapbook by Michael Cross' Atticus/Finch press back in 2007.

I hope this book will come back into print, as it has so much to say about the state of lyric today in relation to the disasters which have come to define daily social existence and geopolitics. Few books I have read feel closer to the "real" of our super mediated present. Few books are also as intensely musical, during an age in which most of the poetry that counts is resolutely against lyricism except to sample, parody, or simply destroy it from the inside-out.

Snow Sensitive Skin proves that prosody can be an effective counter-hegemonic strategy in any age, but especially this one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Red Lines at Queens Museum of Art

Damon Rich [director of Center for Urban Pedagogy] opens his latest exhibition Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center at the Queens Museum of Art on Saturday, June 20. Red Lines is a large-scale installation that explores how we finance our living environments, and will remain on view through September 27, 2009. Opening day events include: a 3–5 pm screening and discussion of Primetime: Fighting Back Against Foreclosure, a documentary by Jennifer Fasulo and Manauvaskar Kublall looking at predatory loan practices and their aftermath, and a blow-out 5–7 pm reception. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Queens Museum Panorama of New York City has been used to map the pattern of 2008 foreclosures across the city. Red Lines is curated by Larissa Harris, and is a project of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies and the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). More information at

June 20, 2009
Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY
7 to Shea Stadium