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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 12:29 GMT
Flanning: Rich and famous get custard pie treatment

Gates: Silenced by four fresh cream tarts

The chucking of a chocolate eclair at Nick Brown is just the latest in a long line of "pie-rect action" attacks against public figures.

Just last week, scientist Keith Campbell, co-creator of Dolly the sheep, was hit full in the face with a custard pie at a talk in Sussex.That attack was carried out by London-based anarchist group PIE (People Insurgent Everywhere).

Eco-activists appear particularly fond of flanning - last year, a Welsh group opposed to GM farming chucked a chocolate mousse at the then science minister Lord Sainsbury. It missed.

Godin's entartement victim criteria
Lacking of humour
In 1998, PIE scored another hit, pushing a large lemon pie (with extra aerosol cream) into the face of Renato Ruggiero, then director general of the World Trade Organisation, at a meeting in London.

Zalm: A euro-protest
That same year, supermarket chain Tesco became so alarmed by rocketing sales of its custard, egg, cream and lemon meringue pies that it carried out tests to see if its pies would cause injury on impact.

A spokesman later said egg custard tarts had proved the best for throwing, because they were deep and large, while lemon meringue pies held together well during flight.

Cream and punishment

The most famous exponent of tart-throwing is Belgian Noel Godin, who even contested national elections last year, with his party TARTE (politely translated acronym: "All Drunk Let's Party Together").

He has his own name for the practice, "entarter" and protagonists, "entarteurs", and his International Patisserie Brigade successfully pied Microsoft boss Bill Gates on a visit to Belgium in 1998.

Stallone: Apparently took it well
Other victims of his attacks include designer Karl Lagerfeld, American singer Kenny Rogers and Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm.

Godin - slogan "gloup! gloup!" - says he targets people for pomposity.

Other celebrities thought to be on his hit list include Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Demi Moore (for her film GI Jane).

Taken in good tart

Godin's "political patisserie" has been taken up in a big way in the US, when it is estimated two flannings are carried out each month.

Brown: Most victims put on a brave smile
Most active is San Francisco's Biotic Baking Brigade, an eco-anarchist group which began in October 1998 by pushing a pie (coconut creme) in the face of free market economist Milton Friedman.

The pie-thrower later said: "[Free market economists] offer us pie in the sky, but being a down-to-earth guy, I brought that pie and gave it back to him."

In November of that year the group threw two tofu creme pies at the face of Monsanto boss Robert Shapiro.

A BBB source later said: "The first made delightful contact with his upper left facial quadrant and left eyeglass piece, while the second sailed past harmlessly."

"Entartement" has also spread to Canada, where activist group Les Entartistes hit Sylvester Stallone at the opening of a Planet Hollywood restaurant in Montreal.

Godin said he took it so well that he should not be targeted again.

On the other hand, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy apparently takes himself so spectacularly seriously that he has been splatted four times and remains on Godin's hit-list.

Sometimes, the victim is so furious he or she brings criminal charges against the assailants. Three BBB flanners were convicted of battery after pelting a furious San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown a couple of years ago.

But more usually, public figures merely smile grimly and later let it be known that they found the incident mildly amusing.

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See also:
02 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Angry farmers cream Brown
05 Jan 99 |  Americas
'Pie terrorists' fined for Gates attack
25 May 99 |  Europe
Flan flingers target voters

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