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Bring your own pillow

Playing in the street
By IAN SANDS  |  December 14, 2007


In 2006, an unruly mass of folks gathered on a lawn before the majestic, domed courthouse in the French-speaking city of Lausanne, Switzerland. They weren’t there to protest an unjust law or to storm the structure in an attempt to unseat the government. They were there for a pillow fight.

A similarly impressive group assembled this past October next to the Eiffel Tower in the heart of Paris. Again, not to protest but for a feathery fracas.

The guerilla-styled, flash-mob pillow fight is having something of a moment, you could say. In addition to the European locales, such events have popped up in several major US cities, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. (The fights have become near-traditions in some cities in the past few years.) Add to that list Boston, which is due to get a pillow fight of its very own this Saturday at 1 pm on the Boston Common, courtesy of Banditos Misteriosos, a new, loosely defined local organization comprising an eclectic group of artists, musicians, and other creative types, as well as some fun-loving “regular” people, too.

As a flash-mob event, the Common fight is something of an open secret — which is to say you’ll be able to find out about it only via the Web, word of mouth, or flyers, and not, say, from the city’s cultural calendar (or, usually, from any newspaper). And for good reason, says recent Brandeis grad Ethan Feuer, sitting with fellow Brandeis pals-turned-Banditos Ben Kuss and Courtney Rand, on Sunday night at Remington’s. “It’s more organic this way,” says Feuer. “It’s not like we’re trying to go under the radar. This is a public space, we should be able to do this stuff here. Why aren’t we? Why aren’t we having fun together?”

Feuer is echoing the sentiment of the “urban-playground movement,” which is well established in New York and Toronto, two cities where a group called Newmindspace has been promoting flash-mobs for some years. The movement’s goal, according to, is “reclaiming public space, inventing new ways of having fun, and creating community.” Popular events, in addition to pillow fights, include subway parties and capture-the-flag games.

Banditos Misteriosos want to bring this Urban Playground mentality to Boston. Feuer and Kuss have been tossing around one idea meant to combat the dearth of street signs in the Boston area. “We want to have artists creating street signs and putting them up in high-traffic areas where there aren’t any,” offers Feuer. “And there are so many of those.” It is uncertain whether the two men, along with Rand, will be able to pull off some of their ideas in the face of certain logistics and legal issues. What is certain, though, is that this city would be the richer for them.

For more information on the pillow fight, go to the Banditos Misteriosos Web site at

  Topics: This Just In , Brandeis University , French Language , Culture and Lifestyle ,  More more >
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