Hilarious account from Slate this morning about some of the dumbest attempts at enforcement of some of the dumbest laws imaginable: cops pretending to be punks online to ferret out info about illegal unlicensed punk shows in private homes.
This week the St. Louis band Spelling Bee posted a screencap of emails from an account that they believe was used by the police in a sting before their recent Boston show. It reads like an amazing parody of what you might imagine a cop trying to pose as a young punk would look like.
"Boston Punk Zombie," reads the crudely-scrawled avatar of a green-mohawked punk with the address email@example.com. That name is apparently a generic-brand knockoff of an infamous Boston hardcore gang. Cred achieved. "What's the point" reads the tagline under the profile pic.
"Too bad you were not here this weekend," "Joe Sly" wrote. "Patty's day is a mad house I am still pissing green beer. The cops do break balls something wicked here. What's the address for Saturday Night, love DIY concerts." He might as well have written "Just got an 8 ball of beer and I'm ready to party."
Is it possible that Joe Sly is a real Boston punk? Sure, though if so he's the first Boston punk in history to brag about drinking lame St. Patrick's Day green beer….
The Massachusetts band Do No Harm also tweeted about receiving an email from Joe this month. "whats the 411 for the show saturday?" he asked, apparently using some sort of slang-filter translator from the turn of the century.
Then there's the case of Donna Giordano, a hip youth who's recently been reaching out to local show promoters from her Facebook account. "Is the show still going on Friday in JP? If so where. Thnxs," she wrote in a Facebook message to another local promoter, who also asked to remain anonymous. When he asked her to make him feel comfortable that she wasn't a cop, she replied, "that's a new one. How? Flash a boob Ha Ha Ha how do I know your not some sketchy creep who lures girls to your basement for some Hostel like horror show on the guise of a music show"
Details like that are among the typical warning signs you might find when dealing with an online scam—it's a recently created account with very few friends, almost no interaction with anyone, and generic-looking pictures. Her cover photos include a snapshot of the No. 66 bus in Allston (so you know she's repping Allston hard), and a generic Boston skyline photo, you know, like most twentysomething girls into the punk scene will always post on their walls. In this light, her "I love the pit!" photo of a mosh pit, obviously taken from an Internet thumbnail, looks like one of the saddest feints ever….
You don't have to be a local-music Agent Smith, though, to tell that some of these emails smell pretty fishy. "Hey there, local P native here," wrote one probable imposter to a local band, (who probably meant to type JP, slang for Jamaica Plain). "What is the Address for the local music show tonight?"
The local music show tonight? Who talks like that about a DIY show? Someone not used to talking about music, that's who….
Boston cops would not admit to the reporter that they are using these techniques. But:
As a result of efforts like this, promoters and houses have become much more cautious when they receive requests out of the blue for information about shows. And this kind of caution may be, in its way, a kind of success for the BPD initiative. It's kind of hard to put on a show when you can't tell anyone ahead of time where it's going to be. In that sense, the cops seem to be succeeding through another tried-and-true Internet tradition. Trolling is almost always transparently obvious, but when it's unflagging and endlessly annoying, it can be extremely discouraging. Troll a group of people hard enough, and they may end up saying, like famed Boston Beat Gang punk Joe Sly, "What's the point?"
Boston punks to cops: We are not amused! The truly punk thing to do, as practiced by old South Florida punk rock band F (and I'm sure dozens of others, they are just the ones I'm acquainted with, having lived with and done business with members of the band) is to call the cops on your own show.