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Background on the Gasthof Flash Mob

So I'm just gonna supplement the Vita.mn article I wrote last night. Just gonna put a couple more things out there:

The Tow Truck:

Before you tell me to get out of here 'cause that would totally never happen, here they are backed up to the City Pages guy's car.

The guy in the red is a Gasthof bouncer, or member of the security staff. The tow truck driver is wearing black.

The Wording:

"Flash Mob"

The organizers were billing this as a flash mob in the pre-event communications that I saw. Those communications also described an event consistent with a flash mob: they were going to wear costumes, adhere to specific rules of behavior, and keep the event a secret until shortly before it started. At least one reader felt that this should have been called a "protest", and that calling it a "flash mob" paints an inaccurate picture of flash mob culture.


The people referred to in the article as "security" looked like they were bar bouncers, but they weren't talkative and their shirts all said "security" on them, so that's what they got called.

Dinner Details

I referred to the diners by their defining characterstics. They;

a) were diners,

b) wore SS uniforms,

c) hung the flag of Nazi Germany at their dinner.

In the article, I refer to their event by those facts, as "an annual dinner, at which diners wore SS uniforms and hung the flag of Nazi Germany," because that's exactly what it was.

I couldn't call them "Nazi Cosplayers," like I do on this blog. I mean, I get a lot of leeway from Vita.mn but I don't get that much.

I couldn't call them historical re-enactors: when the rest of the pictures surfaced we saw that they were handing out Reichsadler "European Tour" T-Shirts, the staff complained about their out-of-character harassment, and the WWII Historical Re-enactment Society has disavowed them and their dinners:

The Angle:

I knew about this two days ago. Two people who knew about it contacted me independently and shared the plan, but only on the condition that I would not make it public ahead of time. You gotta respect your source, so I accepted their terms. They explained that they didn't want word getting out until a couple of hours before the action. I explained that yeah, that's cool. Whatever.

(I suspect I wasn't the only local writer who got this deal, but I'll never know. If anyone else got the same advance notice, they gave their sources the same respect.)

It was pretty straightforward. They already sent me the date, time, names, place, reason and what they hoped to accomplish. As long as I showed up and took some pictures, and as long as nothing unexpected happened, this story was practically already in the bag.

Then the organizers spilled the beans early and word got out. That meant a short, simple story was probably not going to happen. Now I had to be prepared for anything: Maybe a non-event, maybe violent counter-demonstrators or police actions.

I was still going, though, because I sat on that information for two days without a peep and, even if no one showed up, I wanted to write that angle. I wanted to know why they changed their plan.

Plus, I've only been able to write on my blog about the Nazi Cosplayers before. Now that there was a flash mob happening, a full-fledged deportation re-enactment,  this was performance art. I could finally write an actual news article about the issue in an Arts & Entertainment weekly, and no one would question that decision.

The Star Tribune:

UPDATE: The Star Tribune website removed the article on Thursday. I wasn't in on the initial decision to share the content, and I wasn't in on the decision to take it down. Sadly, I don't have any insight so I can't answer any questions about what went on there.