Out of the bunkers, into the streets

8 November 2012The Yes Men


For those of you who contributed last week to The Yes Men are Revolting Kickstarter campaignthank you! You were a beacon of hope in an otherwise weird, rough week. Superstorm Sandy knocked out our power, locked us out of our offices in lower Manhattan, and reduced us to hauling water up 19 floors to Andy’s dark apartment so we could attend to our rapidly failing hygiene. (#revolting #TMI)

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Pranksters Fixing the World By Mark Engler

21 October, 2009 — Foreign Policy In Focus

yesmen2.jpgOver the past 10 years, the Yes Men have emerged as an infamously daring and creative duo of anti-corporate pranksters. In their new movie, The Yes Men Fix the World, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (known in their non-activist lives as Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos) explain their methodology: ‘What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like,’ they say. ‘We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences.’

When they are invited, the Yes Men pose as spokespeople for companies such as Halliburton and Exxon, or bodies such as the World Trade Organization, and they give presentations that highlight the logic of corporate greed.

In one instance, on the 20th anniversary of the notorious chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India, Bichlbaum appeared on the BBC as a representative of Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the 1984 calamity. He announced a $12 billion plan to provide medical care to the 120,000 victims of the disaster and to fully remediate the factory site. The company’s market value dropped $2 billion in 23 minutes before the hoax was discovered and Dow rushed to explain that it was still refusing to meet the victims’ demands for justice.

The Yes Men Fix the World opened in New York City on October 7 and begins showing in cities around the country on October 23. Shortly after the start of the New York run, the perpetually mischievous Bichlbaum spoke with Foreign Policy In Focus senior analyst Mark Engler.

MARK ENGLER: How have you felt about the reception of the film so far?

ANDY BICHLBAUM: Great. People have loved it. They’ve taken to the streets. Every day last week, they left the theater and stormed to a nearby destination. [Laughs.]

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YES MEN HONCHO SPRUNG FROM CLINK: "Balls Across America" direct-action campaign launched

24 September, 2009

NYPD abuse of authority big factor in arrest

Andy Bichlbaum, co-founder of activist group the Yes Men, emerged after 26 hours in New York City’s central lockup with all charges against him dismissed.[1]

“The judge just laughed,” said Bichlbaum. “The police had a less well-developed sense of humor – and, it turned out, much less regard for the law. But all in all, I’m ecstatic that they arrested me.”

At 10am Tuesday, Bichlbaum was arrested and charged with trespassing, after he and 21 “Survivaballs” [2] gathered on New York City’s East River and announced they were to going to “take the UN by storm” from the water, since all the land approaches were sealed. Once at the UN, they would supposedly use the Survivaballs to blockade the negotiations and refuse to let world leaders leave the room until they’d agreed on sweeping cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, as Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has demanded.[3]

The event was a “scenic and mediagenic way to call attention to what our leaders need to do in the run-up to Copenhagen,” said Bichlbaum. [4] It was also the official inauguration of the Yes Men’s “Balls Across America” series of civil disobedience actions, inspired by the call for direct action on climate change by website http://BeyondTalk.net.

Minutes after the balls began wading into the water, law enforcement swooped in on the protesters by land, sea, and air. In order not to harm their attackers, the balls admitted defeat and waddled out of the water and off the beach. Seven participants were given tickets for trespassing, and one – ringleader Bichlbaum – was whisked away to “the Tombs,” New York’s central processing facility at 100 Centre Street, due to an unpaid ticket for bicycle riding through Washington Square Park.

Bichlbaum’s arrest led to hilarious prime-time coverage on CNN.[5] Continue reading

The YES MEN: Last chance to be BIG and STUPID tomorrow in NYC!

Dear friend,

This is just a quick last-minute note to invite you to our BIG EVENT early tomorrow morning (22 September) – and to join us at the Age of Stupid premiere that evening.

If you DO live in New York, please register at http://newyorkbigevent.com/ to participate physically in Monday morning’s big, funny, crazy, meaningful thing! The fun starts at 4am New York time.

Even if you DON’T live in NY, you can still help out! Go to http://www.newyorkbigevent.com and enter your email. Then, on the profile link you receive, check “Digital Fun Squad” and then save your profile Tomorrow morning we’ll will send you an email asking you to help get the word out by emailing, tweeting, facebooking, digging, blogging… oh yeah, and talking! Sign up and you’ll get full instructions tomorrow.

(If you’re a “power user” on “digg” (whatever that means), please let us know right away. We need your super-diggitiness.)

In the evening, please join us in one of over 700 cinemas worldwide for the grand premiere of climate change blockbuster The Age of Stupid (buy tickets at http://www.ageofstupid.net/). The live satellite show will not only feature the movie, but also a panel with Kofi Anan and other bigwigs, as well as a live performance by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. And it’ll feature us Yes Men stealthily crashing the Green Carpet with one of our favorite climate-change-beating technologies. Shhh… the host doesn’t know!

See you soon! The Yes Men http://theyesmen.org/