Ricky & Doris: An Unconventional Friendship in New York City. With Puppets!

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Filed under: Urban Legends

My long-time friend and former neighbor, activist Doris Diether, is featured in this short film by photographer and filmmaker David Friedman. He made this wonderful homage to the friendship between Doris and artist RicKy Syers for AARP.


Doris Diether with her RicKy Syers puppet, photo by Victor Shoup
Pulling her own strings, 2013, Victor Shoup

Ricky Syers is an off-beat 50 year old street performer who found his calling as a puppeteer after a lifetime of manual labor. While performing in New York City’s Washington Square Park, he met Doris Diether, an 86 year old community activist. They became friends and he made a marionette that looks just like her. Now she’s joined his act and the two of them can often be seen performing together.

via Colossal


Terminator Prank (He Said He’d Be Back)

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Arnold Pranks Fans as the Terminator…to benefit after school programs (and promote his upcoming film)

Loverly Delusion

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

This Is What It’s Like To Fall In Love With A Woman Who Doesn’t Exist
by Patrick Smith
BuzzFeed
May 24, 2015

Leah Palmer was a high-flying fashionista with a jet-setting lifestyle and a host of admirers on social media. But her entire existence was a fraud – a multiyear hoax that depended on stealing someone else’s life. BuzzFeed News tells the extraordinary story.

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Images from Leah Palmer’s Instagram account, @LeahPalmerFashion. Instagram

Leah Palmer was a hard girl to pin down. She worked in fashion and had a jet-setting lifestyle that took her around the world. She would often enthusiastically arrange to meet her friends and male admirers, only to pull out at the last minute. She’d get ill at the worst moments, or have family crises.

“Whenever we had arranged to meet, there was always an excuse,” says Justin, a semiprofessional athlete who developed a friendship – and then a relationship – with Leah. (Justin is not his real name; he spoke to BuzzFeed News under condition of anonymity.)

Images from Leah Palmer’s Instagram account, @LeahPalmerFashion. Instagram
“Given her apparent career in fashion, she was supposedly away a lot with work,” he says. “She pulled at the heartstrings a little, claiming the death of her brother, and various other family tragedies, throughout the time we were in contact. So I often gave her the benefit of the doubt when it came to meeting up.”
The pair started flirting in July 2012 and tweeted each other several times a day. They spoke regularly on the phone and would use Skype – but never via a video call, because Leah’s camera was invariably broken. Leah would occasionally put her mother Scarlett on the phone to speak to Justin.

He knew, he tells BuzzFeed News, that something didn’t add up. “She always seemed to have answers and was able to cover her tracks rather well – speaking to friends, having an international dial tone when away, being very knowledgeable about her industry, posting things on social media. But obviously the fact that you could never tie her down to a time and place to meet would sound alarm bells.”

Read the whole story here.

Fintan Magee’s Pointless Monument

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

An optical illusion that must be viewed from one specific point.

Moving the Pointless Monument, by artist Fintan Magee:
fintan-magee-pointless-monument

Read about this work at citilab.com

See more of this artist’s work here.


Scientific Fakery: Sweet Revenge

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.
by John Bohannon
io9.com
May 27, 2015

“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day.
SikeIt made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily,” page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being. The Bild story quotes the study’s lead author, Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D., research director of the Institute of Diet and Health: “The best part is you can buy chocolate everywhere.”

I am Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. Well, actually my name is John, and I’m a journalist. I do have a Ph.D., but it’s in the molecular biology of bacteria, not humans. The Institute of Diet and Health? That’s nothing more than a website.

Other than those fibs, the study was 100 percent authentic. My colleagues and I recruited actual human subjects in Germany. We ran an actual clinical trial, with subjects randomly assigned to different diet regimes. And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.

Read the whole article here. And meet the man behind the hoax here.


Art as Healer

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Filed under: Creative Activism

The Incredible Ways Art Is Helping Charleston Unite After Church Massacre
Huffington Post
June 27, 2015

…In the week since the shootings, many other Charleston residents have expressed their emotions in powerful and creative ways, from thousands of people joining hands in a unity chain to making handmade signs honoring the victims…

o-SLIM-CLEMENTA-900
Panhandle Slim


saragreenstudio
Sara Green Studio, Instagram


MadeleineSchimming Madeleine Schimming, Age 7


See the whole article here.


Symbol of Hatred Bravely Removed Only To Be Immediately Replaced

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Filed under: Creative Activism

Confederate flag raised again at South Carolina Statehouse after woman climbs pole to remove it
by David Boroff, Rachelle Blidner
Daily News
June 27, 2015

aptopix-charleston-shooting-confederate-flagBree Newsome used a climbing mechanism to reach the top of the 30-foot pole. Bruce Smith/AP.

A woman climbed a flagpole and removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse Saturday — only to be arrested and have the banner raised again less than an hour later.

Bree Newsome scaled the 30-foot pole using a harness just after dawn as officers yelled for her to come down on the Columbia grounds, organizer Tamika Lewis told the Daily News.

“You cannot get to me with hatred and oppression and violence,” Newsome shouted from the top of the pole, according to video. “I come to do this in the name of God. This flag comes down today.”

Newsome took her time climbing down, citing prayers as she did so. When she reached the bottom, State Police took the flag out of her hands and arrested her.

Another activist, James Tyson, spotted Newsome at the bottom of the pole to make sure she didn’t fall, Lewis said. He was arrested alongside Newsome as a group of onlookers cheered off camera. Read the rest of this article here.

YouTube video from The Tribe:

The Credibility Crisis: Who do you believe? Me or your lying eyes?

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Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation

A must-read recommendation from Joey Skaggs: Don’t miss Adrian Chen’s article, The Agency, in The New York Times, June 2, 2015


Wag the Dog, online and updated
David Strom’s Web Informant
June 3, 2015

In one of my favorite movies, Wag the Dog, we declare a fictional war on Albania in an attempt to manipulate a presidential election. While the movie (which was made 18 years ago) posits a ridiculous scenario, it is coming of age in today’s era of ubiquitous Internet and inexpensive video editing and social media aggregation tools.

MV5BMjA4OTQzODE1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDIyMjY0NA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_-300x201According to Adrian Chen’s article in the New York Times, a secretive Russian agency has been fabricating various events for both American and Russian audiences using very similar “Wag the Dog” scenarios. Chen finds You Tube videos, fake Twitter accounts by the truckload, and phony websites and other postings that seem to all come from this agency. The effort is so realistic that many people are fooled into thinking its fabricated disasters, conflicts, and other newsworthy events are real, rather than the work of some clever and dedicated troll army. Read more…

Random Darknet Shopper Robot Arrested for Randomly Shopping

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Ed Coll:


Now that’s a cyber criminal! Robot is ARRESTED by police for buying ecstasy on the dark net
by Richard Gray
Daily Mail
April 20, 2015

A robot has been ‘arrested’ by Swiss police after it bought a supply of illegal drugs on a hidden region of the internet known as the ‘dark net’.

The automated computer program was designed as an online shopping system that would spend up to $100 each week by randomly purchasing an item offered for sale on the deep web.

The robot would then have its purchase mailed to a group of artists who then put the items in an exhibition in the town of St Gallen, in north east Switzerland.

The items it bought included a pair of Nike trainers, counterfeit designer jeans, the scan of a Hungarian passport and a set of UK Fire Brigade masterkeys.

Random Darknet Shopper

However, it seems the Random Darknet Shopper crossed the line when it purchased 10 Ecstasy tablets, which arrived in a vacuum packed bag hidden in a DVD case. Read more…

Unsanctioned Bust of Edward Snowden Erected (Briefly)

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Deborah Thomas:


There’s a Massive, Illicit Bust of Edward Snowden Stuck to a War Monument in Brooklyn
by Bucky Turco
AnimalNewYork.com
April 6, 2015

Illicit statue of Edward Snowden erected in Brooklyn

While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there.

Read the full story of the erection on AnimalNewYork.com and the very quick removal by City park officials on NYDailyNews.com.

Watch the video:

The 30th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade Marches On!!

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Filed under: Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

To celebrate April Fools’ Day in New York City, SinoVision’s Cosmo Times, a lifestyle TV show available to over 10 million international viewers, featured an April Fools’ Day Parade planning committee meeting preparing for today’s festivities. Problem is, they were covering a planning meeting for a parade that doesn’t exist.

Huffington Post covered the story: Chinese News Agency SinoVision Falls For Joey Skaggs’ 30-Year-Old April Fools’ Day Prank

Happy April Fools’ Day!


April Fool’s 2015 Geeky Gags from the Tech Sphere (Roundup)

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

It’s April Fool’s Day, and TechCrunch is sending mixed signals. Yesterday, it published a rant about timely corporate PR stunts echoing the grumpy, contrarian style of the blog’s departed founder Michael Arrington.

And yet, today, it posted a fun gallery of its industry’s most clever gags, including a steam-powered gaming console, a reddit community dedicated to remixes of the Space Jam theme, and much more.

Is it attempting to drum up controversy? Who even knows anymore!


“April Fool’s 2015: The Mega-Roundup Of The Best Gags”
By Greg Kumparak
TechCrunch
April 1, 2015

Space Jam /r/listentothisIt’s that time of year again! The time when a massive chunk of the tech industry drops what it’s doing and puts all of its collective effort into getting a few laughs. As we do every year, we’re gathering up the best/worse/most cringe-tastic efforts in one place for your perusal. We’ll be updating this list as the day goes on, so check back in later! Read more.

April Fools’ Day 2015 Prank Round-up

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News

April Fools’ day is upon us and the Internet is awash with well-funded corporate pranks, with Google once again leading the pack. For example, check out Google reversed at http://com.google. And, the Google Japan Panda product launch here. Or, you can play Pac-Man on your very own street at http://maps.google.com.

And, oh… Google says Australia is moving north

Beyond the all-seeing, all-knowing world of Google, there’s much, much more funny stuff all of which will be updated throughout the day on The Telegraph’s Best Spoofs and Pranks in Pictures; LifeHacker’s April Fools’ Day 2015 Spoilers: All The Fake Stories And Pranks Revealed; and Gamespot’s Video Game Joke Roundup.


Celebrate New York’s 30th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade!

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Filed under: Satire

NYC April Fools' Day Parade jesterWe’re 30 and proud of it! New York’s spectacular April Fools’ Day Parade kicks into its fourth decade of hilarious irreverence, poking fun at the past year’s public displays of hype, hypocrisy, deceit, bigotry, and downright foolishness. Nothing and no one is sacred. Our satire knows no bounds. In honor of our 30th year, we’ll be giving 30 lucky revelers free cartoon interpretations of their favorite taboo religious icons, picked at random at the end of the parade in Washington Square Park.


New York, New York — The 30th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade will begin at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street at 12 noon, Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Rain or shine, the parade will march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park for the climactic selection of the King of Fools from the costumed marching look-alikes.

NYC Annual April Fools' Day ParadeThe theme for this year’s parade is “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”. The Grand Marshall will be Mayor Bill de Blasio wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt. He will lead the NYPD Marching Band playing Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold on Me”, however, they will be marching backwards in a continuing show of disrespect for the Mayor. Special guests will include Ebola-infected volunteers recently returned from West Africa who have ignored their quarantines. Color commentary will be provided by NBC’s Brian Williams making it up as it happens.

The first float will be a Mobile Carnival Shooting Gallery where police officers are firing at young minority targets. Then comes a Three-Story Glass Elevator float featuring President Obama on the 3rd floor with armed civilians; Beyoncé’s sister Solange ferociously assaulting Jay-Z on the 2nd floor; and NFL star Ray Rice dragging out his unconscious fiancée on the ground floor. Next are 2016 Presidential Hopeful Clowns riding in a hot-air balloon inflated by their own boasts and flatulence. They will be tethered to a voracious media circus. This will be followed by the Sarah Palin Bar Brawl float, packed with family members slugging it out with bar patrons. Next are several cattle trucks filled with the first wave of 11 million illegal immigrants en route to deportation, followed by a brigade of Russian soldiers en route to the Lower East Side’s Ukrainian neighborhood in order to annex it. Bringing up the rear will be an International Search and Rescue float looking for missing Malaysian flight 370. All floats will be powered by recalled GM vehicles. Parade organizers are not responsible for any injuries or deaths. Read more…

Truman Capote’s Last Write: A Fake Non-Fiction Masterpiece

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Filed under: Literary Hoaxes

Reprinted from 1992 by Longform.org, here’s the fascinating unraveling of Truman Capote’s mysterious and clearly fake “non-fiction account of an American crime”.


Hoax: Secrets That Truman Capote Took to the Grave
by Peter and Leni Gillman
Sunday Times Magazine
June, 1992

Uncovering the real story behind a supposedly true account.

Truman Capote

Joe Fox was astounded. On his desk, this late autumn day in 1979, was a manuscript bearing the name of Truman Capote. Two months before, Capote had promised Fox a “surprise,” but Fox had been unimpressed: as Capote’s long-suffering editor at the New York publishing company, Random House, he had grown weary of his endless promises. Now Capote had delivered a manuscript to rank with his masterpiece, In Cold Blood.

Published 13 years before, Capote’s true-life account of the murder of a ranching family in Kansas had brought him literary acclaim, with status and royalties to march. Yet Capote had written nothing to match it since. He had supposedly been working on a novel, Answered Prayers, but for more than a decade Fox had watched deadlines come and go with nothing from Capote but a series of excuses.

The gossip-mongers of the literary world were proclaiming that Capote was burnt out, his sources of inspiration dissipated by alcohol and cocaine. Now Capote had confounded them all by delivering a sequel to In Cold Blood. He called it Hand-Carved Coffins, adding the potent subtitle: “A non-fiction account of an American crime.”

Read the whole story here.