Pop culture gave Boston a bomb scare today.

Seems the folks in Boston were scared out of their wits over a possible bomb threat today:

The discovery of a series of suspicious objects on bridges, near a medical center, underneath an interstate, and in other crowded public places have set off a wave of bomb scares across Boston, snarling traffic and subways across the city.

None of the suspicious objects have been determined to be actual bombs. It was not immediately clear if the incidents were connected or part of some elaborate hoax.

A law enforcement source who has been briefed on the investigation said officials have found “commonality” among some, but not all, of the objects recovered by Boston, state and transit police throughout the day.

None of the objects examined by police actually contained explosives, the source said.

Oh my! What could possibly be causing so much panic? Why none other than the Mooninites! More specifically it was a guerrilla marketing campaign for Adult Swim’s animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force of which Mooninites are a couple of recurring characters. It seems some marketing types got together and made up some LED signs featuring a Mooninite that they hung up in various places around Boston—among several other cities—without bothering to actually tell anyone. Someone who doesn’t have a clue what a Mooninite is spotted one and alerted authorities who also didn’t know what a Mooninite is and things quickly spiraled out of control from there with a bomb squad blowing up at least one of the devices before determining that they were harmless.

Now I can understand that the authorities may not have been familiar with ATHF or Mooninites because the show comes out in the wee hours of the morning when most responsible people are asleep and even if they had seen the show they probably wouldn’t understand it anyway. I’ve watched several episodes and the damn thing still makes no sense to me whatsoever. What I don’t understand is why, when other cities have had the same sort of devices in them for a couple of weeks already, Boston was the only city to freak out over them and shut down roads and try to blow one up:

The first device was found at an MBTA subway and bus station located under Interstate 93 on Wednesday morning. The device was detonated and determined to be harmless, but as a precaution the station and the interstate shut down temporarily.

Then, around 1 p.m., four calls came into Boston Police reporting suspicious devices at the Boston University Bridge and the Longfellow Bridge, which both span the Charles River, and the corner of Stuart and Columbus Streets and at the Tufts-New England Medical Center.

Another device was found in Somerville under the McGrath Highway Bridge. The latest package was found outside Fenway Park around 5:30 p.m.

Mayor Menino said the hoax cost the state and cities about $750,000. He wants Turner Broadcasting to pay for it all.

“It is outrageous, in a post 9/11 world, that a company would use this type of marketing scheme. I am prepared to take any and all legal action against Turner Broadcasting and its affiliates for any and all expenses incurred during the response to today’s incidents. Boston will look to coordinate our efforts going forward with Cambridge, Somerville and any other affected agencies.”

Apparently they’re just a tad more skittish in Boston these days. For its part Turner Broadcasting has apologized for scaring the hell out of Boston’s powers that be and are providing information on the location of all the lights to local authorities in all cities if they want to remove them. Personally I find the whole thing to be pretty funny.

For those curious as to what these installations looked like, here’s a video clip by the folks who put the project together as they install them around what is reportedly NYC:

Links via Boing Boing.

19 thoughts on “Pop culture gave Boston a bomb scare today.

  1. The funniest part was they blurred out the shape of the Wednesday finger because it might offend the pure hearts of the voyeurs.  wink

  2. Oh, mercy.  Anything they don’t understand must be a bomb or a weapon.  Given how little these people DO understand, everything must be scaring the hell out of them.

  3. I’m surprised NORAD wasn’t dispatched.

    Maybe now isn’t the right political/social climate to be sticking strange looking boxes on bridges. We’ve been trained to support invasions with less justification.

  4. ATHF is great, but I can understand why some people (ok, most people) don’t like it.  As far as understanding it, the show makes almost no sense, it’s a series of bizarre gags and jokes, though it does have some loose continuity.  I think you either like it or you don’t.

    As far as the bomb scare goes, all I can say is that terrorists these days must be pretty damn stupid if they are planting bombs that are covered with LEDs that draw everyone’s attention to them.

  5. I seem to be the reverse of Sexy Sadie. I like ATHF but besides Carl the Mooninites are my favorite charecters.

  6. Well, here in Atlanta we have billboards near the City Hall East building featuring Ignignokt so the police should know what they are.

    I wished I’d seen one of these here.  I’d love to have one.  Mooninites are teh bomb.  Oops, poor choice of words…

  7. And now they got two people in prison and are frantically searching for something to charge them with. Greaaaaaat….

  8. Actually Ignignokt and Irr would be laughing their 8-bit asses off over the whole thing.  “Stupid earthlings, not only can we jump higher than you with our superior moon jumping abilities, but we can make you jump at our very images.  Surely the moon and all it’s inhabitants are far superior to all you sad, sad earthlings.”

  9. John and I love Aqua Teen Hunger Force, though interestingly enough, my least favorite characters on the show are the Mooninites.

    They were my favorite of what I have seen, because they get Meatball to steal, commit other crimes, and do drugs.  Not sure why but it just made me laugh my ass off…

    I’m surprised NORAD wasn’t dispatched.

    They would have been dispatched, but Bush told them not to go out today, just ask the conspirists…

    Mooninites are teh bomb.  Oops, poor choice of words…

    Careful, you don’t want DHS on ur ass!

    And think of the publicity all of this has gotten ATHF.  They must just be laughin their asses off.

    LOL Tafka

  10. Mayor Menino said the hoax cost the state and cities about $750,000. He wants Turner Broadcasting to pay for it all.

    It wasn’t a hoax, it was a marketing campaign.  And the only people who cost the state and cities any money are the idiots who called out the bomb squad for a cartoon character.

    I don’t know how Turner is going to react to this insane demand, but the Mayor should be laughed out of court – and office.  He embarrasses not only himself, but his entire city with this kind of jackassery (both the original fearmongering, and then trying to pin the blame on the *completely 100% innocent* Turner).

  11. I can’t comment on Turner’s legal liability; for all I know they forgot to file their CYA paperwork.

    However, the idea of a “suspicious object” that draws attention to it seems a bit counterintuitive.

  12. An update on this story from CNN.com:

    BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN)—Authorities have arrested two men in connection with electronic light boards depicting a middle-finger-waving moon man that triggered repeated bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday and prompted the closure of bridges and a stretch of the Charles River.

    Peter Berdovsky, 27, a freelance video artist from Arlington, Massachusetts, and Sean Stevens, 28, were facing charges of placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic, as well as one count of disorderly conduct, said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The hoax charge is a felony, she said. Both men were arrested Wednesday evening.

    I can understand the possible hoax charge, but disorderly conduct? How the hell is that applicable? Sounds to me like someone is pulling charges out of their ass.

    What’s really amazing is that so many public officials are making asses out of themselves over this:

    “It had a very sinister appearance,” [Massachusetts Attorney General Martha] Coakley told reporters. “It had a battery behind it, and wires.”

    Give me a fucking break. Massachusetts A.G. Coakley just revealed what a major dumbshit she is.

    But Coakley, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and others said the statement offering an apology was not enough, and did not rule out criminal charges or a civil suit to recover the estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars it cost the city to respond to the bomb scares.

    Menino told reporters he received a call from a Turner spokesperson about 9 p.m. but had not yet returned it. “I think the city deserves a call, not from a press person, but from somebody in the corporate structure of Turner,” he said.

    “I just think this is outrageous, what they’ve done … It’s all about corporate greed.”

    Yeah, because Turner was making millions off of those lights being out there. Boston’s mayor joins the dumbshit brigade. Next up…

    Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis called it “unconscionable” that the marketing campaign was executed in a post 9/11 era. “It’s a foolish prank on the part of Turner Broadcasting,” he said. “In the environment nowadays … we really have to look at the motivation of the company here and why this happened.”

    Here’s you’re dumbshit uniform Mr. Davis. Com’on folks, this is just ridiculous.

    The really stunning part to me is the fact that this promotional idea was inspired by an art project originally conceived by the Graffiti Research Lab which they called LED Throwies:

    LED Throwies are an inexpensive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood. A Throwie consists of a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused LED and a rare-earth magnet taped together. Throw it up high and in quantity to impress your friends and city officials.

    They even have a small video showing them putting them together and placing them out in public:

    They did that months ago and somehow the folks in New York, where some of this took place, managed not to freak out over it despite the fact that these devices didn’t look like anything recognizable at all.

    The folks in Massachusetts are overreacting to their own overreaction and need to calm the fuck down.

  13. Apropos pranks: German police baffeled by Bush poo-flags

    Looks like a suspicious device, right? They should have exploded a few, just in case there was something sinister hidden in the dog shit.

    federal legal experts
    say there is no law against using feces as a flag stand and the federal
    constitution is vague on the issue.

    You know, I always wanted to find out what in the German federal constitution could be applicable by a few stretches of imagination.

  14. Mayor Menino said the hoax cost the state and cities about $750,000. He wants Turner Broadcasting to pay for it all.

    Wait… that’s it?  $750,000???

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… Turner won anyways… with all the press (international too) that ATHF has now gotten – that stunt paid for itself and then some!

  15. If I was going to plant a bomb, and I really wanted to hide it, it would be in a Bart Simpson doll, and in plain view.

    Problem with bomb spotting is, you never know what they’re going to look like. It’s worse than finding a needle in a haystack. It’s finding a specific straw in the haystack, and having no idea how to identify the specific straw.

    This whole terrorist campaign is a waste of time, money, and effort. People kill people. It will always happen. The best you can do is live your life to the fullest, knowing you will probably live tomorrow, but maybe not. Of course, our gov not pissing off and getting into other countries’ business would help too.

  16. Me too!  Frakkin’ eelarious!

    I would imagine future bombs will be disguised as American flags.  And affixed to… nope, I can’t type that.  Ideas are a dime a dozen, but I don’t want the bad guys getting them from me.

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