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Flash Mob #3

Thursday, August 21st, 2003 · 4 Comments

Target: The Westin St. Francis

Last night Jen, Jess, Ben, Enoch, and I participated in San Francisco Flash Mob #3, organized by the mysterious folks behind the The Mob Project. It was our first. And it was great fun. It went a little something like this…

After reading the August 11, 2003 coverage in the SF Chronicle of the last Flash Mob in Dolores Park, I knew I had to participate in the next one. So I (and Jess) signed up for the email list. And we certainly weren’t the only ones. As of today, the SF list has quite the following:

Members: 2476
Founded: Jul 11, 2003

On Tuesday evening I received this email with details on where to meet, but not what would happen:

    Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:44:08 -0000
    From: The Mob Project- San Francisco
    Subject: [the_mob_project] Instructions for MOB #3

    You are invited to take part in MOB, the project
    that creates an inexplicable mob of people in San
    Francisco for ten minutes or less. Please forward
    this to other people you know who might like to join.

    Start time: Wednesday, August 20th, 6:23 pm
    Duration: 10 minutes

    (1) At some point during the day on August 20th,
    synchronize your watch to

    (2) By 6 PM, based on the month of your birth,
    please situate yourselves in the meeting locations
    below. Buy a drink and act casual. If you are attending
    the MOB with friends, you may all meet in the same
    January, February, March, April:
    Lefty O’Douls at Powell and Geary
    May, June, July, August:
    Cafe Espresso at Powell and Sutter.
    September, October, November, December:
    Union Square Sports Bar near Powell and O’Farrell.

    (3) Then or soon thereafter, a MOB representative
    will appear in the bar. He or she will pass around
    slips of paper with your instructions. Commit the
    instructions to memory and put the slip in your pocket.

    *****JOB OPPORTUNITY*****
    This job doesn’t pay any money, you can’t put it
    on your resume, and there is a small chance of a
    brush with law enforcement. Sound like fun? We need
    FOUR VOLUNTEERS to assist in passing out instructions.
    If you are a fan of meaningless subterfuge, enjoy
    talking to strangers, and are 100% CERTAIN you will
    be attending tomorrow’s mob, this might be the job
    for you. Volunteers will need to be in the Union
    Square area by 5:30pm.

    If you meet the above criteria and would like to
    volunteer, send a message with your cell phone number to

    -The San Francisco Mob Project

We all met — along with a barful of other mobsters — at Lefty O’Doul’s, a quaint Union Square bar normally frequented by only an older crowd and tourists. I wondered if the bartenders were confused about why so many people were there. Some time before 6:23pm, we were handed slips of paper with the following instructions:


    (1) 6:23 Leave your meeting location and proceed to the lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, on Powell between Post and Geary. Hide this slip of paper so it is not visible.

    (2) 6:30 Begin greeting everyone you see in the lobby as if they are a long lost friend- hugs, high-fives, you get the idea. If anyone asks what is going on, tell them it is a kindergarten reunion from Omaha.

    (3) 6:34 Everyone will immediately fall asleep sa if a spell has been cast. Fall to the floor and take a nap. Try to look as if you are actually asleep… curl up, suck your thumb, snore. Feel free to cuddle if you know your neighbors. Try not to giggle. Act like you are in a deep sleep and cannot be woken up.

    (4) 6:36 Get up and stretch as if you’ve just had a great night’s sleep. If anyone approaches you, just tell them you suddenly felt very very sleepy and needed a nap, but now you feel great.

    (5) 6:37 Immediately leave the hotel and disperse. Anyone interested in meeting their fellow mobsters for a post-mob beverage can head to the Union Square Sports Bar at 7pm.

And we did just that. Except for the part about the sports bar. We went back to Lefty’s and played some funny pub trivia with the older crowd.

The concept of the Flash Mob is great: A couple hundred people come together to confuse onlookers and have a good time. There’s no political motivation and there’s no violence. Just fun. Hotel security got a bit freaked out and apparently called the police. But, of course, the mob had entirely dispersed before any cop was ever on the scene. And it’s not like we were doing anything wrong. Flash Mobs rule.

I can’t wait for the next one.

Gabe & Jen pose with a fellow mobster

Ben & Enoch mingle with the mob

Ben with fellow mobster

View all Flash Mob photos on Ofoto

Tags: san francisco

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jordan // Aug 23, 2003 at 8:39 am

    Ya know, Lefty O’Douls is my father’s favorite downtown bar. I remember many weekends in my youth where he and his friends would head down to San Francisco for a night at Lefty O’Doul’s shoving my brother and I into a hotel room around Union Square with a new Nintendo game…. ahh, the memories.

  • 2 dan // Aug 25, 2003 at 2:37 pm

    I’ve been going to these in NYC – fun!

  • 3 A Alexander Stella // Oct 8, 2003 at 10:16 am

    First off, this is hardly random spam.

    Okay, here’s what I did to obtain your e-mail address. First, I pulled up the Advanced Search option of the Google search engine. Then, I entered “flash mob” in the “with all the words” field. After choosing “20 results”, I then clicked on “Google search”. Before I sent anybody this courriel, I examined each website to ascertain whether there was an invitation of any sort. By invitation, I mean phrases such as “I welcome comments” and other like remarks.

    In a sense, you passed the test. And that is why you’ve received this missive. In the event you received one previously, this one comes with new information.

    For the sake of quick review, a 28-year-old female aide was found dead in the congressional district office of former Representative Joe Scarborough, currently an MSNBC luminary. The official inquiry into death of the aide, a Mrs Lori Klausutis, left some details open to further investigation. In the earlier note, I mentioned that those details nag at me, A Alexander Stella.

    What’s more, I’m far from being the only one. There are dozens of websites that are devoting space to this curious happenstance.

    So, for the sake of justice for Lori Klausutis, I’m asking recipients such as yourself to consider employing the phenomenon of flash mobs. If you would like like more details, you’re certainly invited to click on the following hyperlink:

    flash mob for Lori

    thanking you in advance for your time in reading this appeal,

    warm regards
    A Alexander “Bogey” Stella

    Oh, swell, likely enough, you’ll have to click on my name, ah, the one by the date. And, if that fails, try inserting in the address field of your browser the following U.R.L, namely,

  • 4 tom egan // Jan 25, 2004 at 1:44 pm

    I would rather hang out with real mobsters.
    what you folks call fun would bore the piss
    out of me.