Boycotting the Queers: punk space and/or safe space in Ottawa

Presented at: McGill Queer Research Colloquium

Abstract: A public petition to keep the Queers out of Ottawa is not a news story you expect in 2016. Of course, in this story, the Queers are a touring US punk band from the early 80s and the petition was started by Babely Shades, a collective of artists and activists of colour and marginalized genders. In response to the claims that the show and the band reinforced homophobia and racism in the Ottawa punk scene, the show was cancelled but soon rebooked as a benefit concert for local LGBTQ youth. The story was further complicated when a member of the local opening band Shootin’ Blanx publicly came out as a “proud trans man” in defense of the Queers. Ottawa’s punk scene was left uncertain of what it would mean either to attend or not attend the otherwise highly anticipated show. This paper looks to this incident and surrounding media coverage as a preliminary attempt to disentangle some of the many complex relationships and expressions of resistance, marginal group politics, and counter-public space in Ottawa.

Schlemihls and buffoons: the spatial-political margins of punks and pariahs in the city

Presented at: Philosophy of the City, San Francisco CA

Abstract: Like many “undesirables” in the history of cities, punks find themselves regularly forced to adapt to shifting physical and political environments or relocate to increasingly marginal spaces in the city. The freedom to transform spaces that exist outside the mainstream scope that might otherwise enforce prohibitive zoning and other normative regulatory structures, also makes these spaces vulnerable to absorption by the system they seek to escape. While the punk scene in Ottawa, Canada—like many cities—is strongly anchored to physical spaces such as music venues, the tendency to occupy off-the-radar (i.e. cheaper and less regulated) spaces make them susceptible to social and economic changes that affect the desirability of different spaces throughout the city. Continue reading “Schlemihls and buffoons: the spatial-political margins of punks and pariahs in the city”

Fattal fest: Be fucking respectful aight

A local punk festival is coming up and the Facebook event page has more than a few gems that hint at why I find punk space so interesting.

This is from the event description:

fattalfest

Unlike pouzzafest—MTL’s more formal (but still awesome) punk festival earlier in the summer—I take it fattal fest maybe takes the attitude of “fuck the permits and red tape”. But lack of respect for officially regulated permission to use space is not to be confused with disrespect for using space or others in neighbouring space. be fucking respectful aight!?!?!?! This killer combo of unapologetically irreverent but deeply considerate is a quality I’ve noticed in these spaces and among many of the people I’ve met therein.

Here’s a comment posted by the host:

secretlocation

For unofficial venues, there’s such a lovely contradiction between publicizing shows and keeping them secret (to officials and outsiders, at least). It really is a quintessential case of hidden in plain sight and visible-invisible. The event location is simply listed as fattal@fattal—either you know where that is or you know someone who can tell you. but SVP ask in private. It’s not a well guarded secret but it does roughly in very broad strokes define who is invited.