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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Flash Mobs Engage in Guerrilla Absurdity

Aired August 11, 2003 - 19:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you tired of your job? Sitting at a desk maybe all day, hammering meaningless stuff into a keyboard? Well, someone out there wants to boost your life with a little absurdity, a little mystery, a little je ne sais quois, a little challenge to the 9:00 to 5:00 consumerist culture. And as CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, you can be a part of it if and only if they ask you to be.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what happens when several hundred New Yorkers join the mob, and we don't mean "The Sopranos."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was nuts. I don't even know what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, we were like mobbed, and they were all worshipping a dinosaur.

MOOS: This was mob number six. You can sum it up in two words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exquisitely meaningless.

MOOS: Pardon the grainy pictures but, this assignment called for covert coverage. Invitations to join the mob arrive by e-mail. Mob members are instructed to assemble at several bars.

We went to the one at Howard Johnson's in Times Square where we awaited our marching orders.

(on camera): Is it your first?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Is it your first?

MOOS: It's my first.

(voice-over): At 7:00 p.m., someone passed out written instructions.

(on camera): We're supposed to go to Toys "R" Us.

(voice-over): The mob exited.

(on camera): Have you ever seen a place clear out so fast?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened? It must be free food at another bar.

MOOS (voice-over): Actually it was a giant dinosaur two blocks away at Toys "R" Us. The mob arrived without warning. At 7:20, the instructions said, drop to your knees. Whenever the dinosaurs roars, moan and cower behind outstretched hands.

Regular shoppers appeared befuddled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was really weird.

MOOS: Flash mobs have been popping up in various European and U.S. cities. In New York, they've materialized at a shoe store, a hotel, even at Macy's rug department, where a mob asked sales personnel for a love rug.

A mob showed up in Central Park and made bird noises.

No one admits publicly to being in charge.

(on camera): Any mob organizers here that we can talk to in any way, like?

(voice-over): At Toys "R" Us, security had no time to mobilize. In a matter of moments, the mob got up and dispersed, leaving folks scratching their heads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

MOOS: Mobsters declared it the best mob ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A big mind game for everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just doing something stupid is quite funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a bit too passe now. There are so many people there.

MOOS: Can you believe this guy is complaining that the mob was too mobbed?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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