Monday, August 28, 2006
"The Yes Men" strike again - this time, New Orleans
Years ago I saw the documentary "The Yes Men" at Cedar Lee. For the unfamiliar, check them out here.
Their premise is simple, but their acts bring new awareness and appreciation for the absurdity of corporate mentality and greed: impersonate movers and shakers in the business world and, through suggestion and implementation of the most ludicriously greedy, self-centered, and often cruel business plans, poke everyone's consciousness with very pointed sticks.
Today, they moved onwards and upwards, to the federal government. On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Yes Man Andy posed as a HUD housing official and began reopening public housing facilities in New Orleans. Said housing, primarily low income, was slated for demolition - often even though nothing was wrong with it.
Activist Andy Bichlbaum, pretending to be HUD "Assistant Deputy Secretary Rene Oswin," told hundreds of businesspeople at a forum the agency would reverse policy and reopen housing units now targeted for replacement by mixed-income development.
He promised to "fix New Orleans, not just for the benefit of a few but for everyone."
The audience applauded the speech and the moderator thanked "Oswin" for the "dramatic announcement."
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin gave the preceding speeches at The Gulf Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness Summit, although neither was on the podium when the bogus official spoke.
The summit and action by The Yes Men come a day before the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city and led to the closing of New Orleans public housing.
The federal agency in reality aims to replace much of city's public housing with mixed-income development, arguing that will produce safer neighbourhoods and better lives. It confirmed that plan in a statement denouncing the stunt.
After seeing the Yes Men film, I immediately signed-on to become a "Yes Woman" and help raise awareness. If you've yet to see the movie or the group in action, check out their website.