BeanTown Keystone

It’s not so scary. That lite-brite image with the raised middle finger under the overpass.

Wasn’t so scary in New York where 41 of them caused no stir. Philly removed 56 without fanfare. Not so scary for the past few weeks in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, according to Cartoon Network. And Portland police said they are leaving them up as long as they aren’t on municipal property. No investigation either, since they don’t see a crime being committed.

But somebody on Wednesday saw the lite-brite from a bus in Boston and reported it as a “suspicious” object. Makes sense. They saw something ductaped to a bridge and were concerned. Then the Boston police came in. And made such a ruckus. Blew some of the signs up. Closed roads and the Charles River. All because nobody in the investigation watches Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. If there was a twenty-something cop, they might have recognized the Mooninites. Try Flickr for some images, even images of the actual signs like this one from San Francisco uploaded Jan. 13.

But rather than admit that they went spaz, Boston and Mass. authorities are now trying to blame the two hapless local guys that were hired by some marketing firm to place the lite-brite promos.

The 15-year-old was a bit disturbed.

“I don’t think that I like that they got so worked up.”

He’s right. It wasn’t a terror threat. It was a marketing ploy. And it wasn’t a problem except that someone didn’t put the breaks on the frenzy–or didn’t take a step back to investigate the image. Don’t blame the slacker-type guys making a buck for the Boston over-reaction. Let them go! My advice to Beantown, back down quick and as quiet as you can.

Here’s the funniest part. The locals want to charge Turner Broadcast–parent of Cartoon Network–for the investigation. Given all the free word-of-mouth advertising, I think it’s a much better value than a Super Bowl ad. Going rate for one of those? $2.6 million for 30 seconds. Cost of the Boston police frenzy, more like $500K.

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