Civil Liberties

San Francisco Wonders: How To Crush a Leaderless (And Silly) Resistance?


The city of San Francisco, streets running white and violent with pillow feathers, vows to dim the "Flash Mob" phenomenon with the application of firm, persistent, and tenacious…permitting requirements.

These spontaneously and electronically organized bits of public whimsy are quite popular in San Francisco. But the latest large-scale one, the Valentine's Day pillow fight (with a top estimate of 3,000 fighters), led, the city complains, to enormous public and private costs in clogged drains and pumps and streets cemented with damp decaying feather bits.

[Dennis} Kern [director of operations for the Recreation and Park Department] said officials want the organizers of such events to follow standard procedure: apply for a permit, pay a use fee (at least $1,750 for the plaza) and supply security, portable toilets and cleanup crews.

But he acknowledged that such conformance would be contrary to the flash mob's decidedly decentralized, anti-bureaucratic principles. Kern said Rec and Park does not even know how to contact the pillow fight's anonymous organizers.

The Flash Mob revolution, having struck their confusing blow at whatever it is, have disappeared to where even the local media can't find them, absurdist fish swimming amongst a confused populace. San Francisco's war against them is apt to be long, though hopefully not bloody.