Joe Sly is such a hardcore Boston punk. He's so punk, his email address is Bostonbeatgang@gmail.com. He's so punk that he proactively emails noise bands to see when and where they're coming to Boston to play some of those "DIY concerts." He's so punk his Google+ motto—this oxymoron just gets better—is "What's the point," his disaffection so deeply punk the statement doesn't even merit a question mark on his profile.
Most of all, Joe Sly is so punk that his online avatar is a green-mohawk leather-studded illustration (above, right) of a "punk" nicked from the first page of Google Image results for the word "punk rocker." How very punk.
Joe Sly is almost positively not a punk, as Boston-based freelancer Luke O'Neil reports in Slate today, but a Boston Police Department officer doing a laughable online impersonation of a young punk, all in a terribly misguided effort to crack down on the city's very culturally necessary DIY shows.
Earlier this month, St. Louis band Spelling Bee listed a "secret house show" in Boston on their tour page. Shortly before the date, the band received an email inquiry asking about the location, from one Joe Sly:
"Say it ain't so"!
The City of Boston has a rather public history of embarrassingly fumbling its responses to unregulated expressions of art and culture. This is the city that mistook an Aqua Teen Hunger Force character for a bomb, causing a nationally ridiculed incident in 2007, the police force who arrested Shepard Fairey for property destruction in the parking lot of his own ICA opening. So scribbling BOSTON PUNK ZOMBIE on a Queeky illustration and using the clumsy image to crack down on 40 kids in a basement is not exactly out of character.
As Slate explains, Joe Sly and his friends—like, say, Donna Giordano, who really likes "the Pit"—come in the wake of a recently passed nuisance control ordinance that's had cops go from mostly shutting down house shows after neighbors' complaints to targeting house shows proactively, through Facebook and other social media outlets.
According to one local musician who asked not to be named, the day before a show this past weekend, police showed up at a house in the Allston neighborhood, home of many of these house shows, claiming that they already knew the bands scheduled to play. The cops told the residents of the house that they found out about the show through email, and they bragged about their phony Facebook accounts.