It all started earlier this week, we erroneously reported on this site and our Twitter feed that Punk Week was alive. In fact what had we had reported as Punk Week was really just the annual Shopping Cart Race. As an anonymous commentor pointed out, though the Shopping Cart Race traditionally marked the end of Punk Week, the race itself actually preceded Punk Week by a number of years. It appeared as though Punk Week was indeed dead.
It can be difficult at times to find a reliable source of information about Punk Week. Fortunately, during my time working in Ann Arbor's restaurant industry, I met Joe Kupiec. Joe is a former resident of both the Raw Haus and the Meat Mansion and is much more tuned into the punky-crusty scene in the area. Here's what he had to say about the rise and fall of Punk Week and its legacy today.
Punk week died, in large part due to greater than average influx of traveling/krusty kids in 2010 for Punk Week IX. "Too many people spread the word to the traveling kids and krusty kids that Ann Arbor was a chill place," according to Joe. The summer visitors had less at stake in the community and some of them had a very different idea of what Punk week was all about. All this lead to the unfortunate events of Punk Week XI, the "Worst Punk Week Ever."
Beyond the arrests, the traveling kids just seemed to have different takes on the other events at punk week. "The original idea behind the 'Beautify a Bridge' project was to actually paint something nice on the ugly railroad bridges," explained Joe, "not to make the bridges uglier with more bad graffiti." Sure it was technically illegal, but the local punks didn't think folks around town would mind if they covered up lots of the tagging on the bridges. In the end, a lot of the railroad bridges ended up with bad graffiti covering other bad graffiti.
After Punk Week IX, many of Ann Arbor's native punks were unsure if they wanted to continue the tradition. That combined with many influential Punk Week participants moving out of town brings us to where we are today. Punk Week, gentle readers, is over.Photo by A. W. Warner.
In a way though, the spirit of Punk Week, lives on. "People forget about the D.I.Y. aspect of it," says Joe. "Punk Week wasn't just about getting drunk and partying with your friends, there were also classes and workshops like gardening and crafting with leather." In a way Punk Week lives on through D.I.Y. fests, the Free Skool, and other teach-ins in the area.