Mantra for New Minds: Pillow Fight! In New York City this past weekend, a group called New Mind Space, which says it "disseminates urban bliss," sponsored a come-one, come-all pillow fight in Union Square.

Mantra for New Minds: Pillow Fight!

Mantra for New Minds: Pillow Fight!

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

In New York City this past weekend, a group called New Mind Space, which says it "disseminates urban bliss," sponsored a come-one, come-all pillow fight in Union Square.


NPR's own featherweight, Robert Smith, was there - pillow and microphone in hand.

ROBERT SMITH: I got the e-mail a couple of weeks ago from a group called Newmindspace, promising that they were going to throw a New York City-wide pillow fight in Union Square. And I didn't know if it was a joke or not until I got here, and, indeed, pillows everywhere.

SEAN HARVEY: I'm Sean Harvey. I just got - I got a pillow as my striking weapon, and I'm just up like a Spartan.

SMITH: Well, you look like you got a good reach. What are your fighting stats?

HARVEY: I've never actually lost a pillow fight, which is the truth.

STEPHANIE: I'm Stephanie. People call me Fred.

SMITH: Hello, Fred.


SMITH: What's your strategy for today?

STEPHANIE: My strategy - just lob as many people as possible.

SMITH: Really? Are you can go overhand? I saw you, like, with your hand over your head.

STEPHANIE: Oh, yeah. I don't have a very good swing. I swing like a girl, honestly, so.

SMITH: All right. Give me a hit with this. Maybe I can (unintelligible) my mike.


SMITH: You know, it's not a soft as you might think. I mean...


SMITH: ...I'm just telling you.

PAT BALENJE: My name is Pat Balenje. I'm from Ann Harbor in Michigan. And so it's just all about the pillow, you know.

SMITH: Because everybody here has been talking up their skills, their training.

BALENJE: It's not that. It's not that at all. It's definitely all about the pillow. Mine is goose down, and be afraid because I'm bringing some heat.

SMITH: Although it's hard to tell, I think people who look sort of suspiciously like the organizers - one dressed up as a fairy and the other one with the small competition light pillow.

KEVIN BRAKIN: I'm Kevin Brakin.

LORRIE HAPNER: I'm Lorrie Hapner.

BRAKIN: The pillow fight is just one of our many events.

SMITH: So do I even bother asking why?

BRAKIN: We have this sort of reclaim public space ideology, but we also want to invent new ways and having fun.

SMITH: But this is a very old way of having fun, right?

HAPNER: It's true, but we've definitely multiplied the participants of the generic sort of pillow fight idea and put it in the city.

SMITH: As it gets close to 2 o'clock, the two organizers discretely pull out whistles. They're covering them up. They're looking around.


SMITH: Unidentified Woman #1: I'm good. How are you?

SMITH: I'm doing better.


SMITH: Unidentified Man #2: It looks like someone just grabbed a bunch of chicken together and just, you know, put a bomb right next to it, it just exploded and...

SMITH: Unidentified Man #2: There's just feathers lying all over everywhere.

SMITH: What do you think the point is?

BLOCK: I don't know if it's to promote use of feather pillows or something or...

SMITH: Unidentified Man #3: Yeah. It has to but...

SMITH: Unidentified Man #2: It doesn't. So - and, you know, New York can be nonsensical in that way, too.


SMITH: Okay. It's been about 15 minutes now since it started. And people are slowing down, but the blizzard of feathers - it's everywhere. It's covering people's hair and coats. This person like me wore black, and now you regretting it, right?

BLOCK: Yeah. I definitely I'm, you know, I'm covered in feathers.

SMITH: Robert Smith, NPR News, in the middle of the pillow in Union Square.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.