According to the kids who were inside the Inclusion Art Space the night it got raided, it's hard to say what gave away the scout team of undercover cops first--the fake nose rings, the advanced age, the silly clothes or the ill-informed attempts to score drugs at a straight-edge punk show.
And not just drugs, mind you, but "Mountain Dew."
Let's define a few terms here:
"Straight edge (SxE)" is common street slang for a subsect of punk rock whose members look down on illegal drugs and alcohol (for a deeper look at Valley straight-edge culture, check out Josh Krist's story on page 95).
The Inclusion Art Space was the latest in a series of tiny, underground straight-edge clubs founded by Justin Eavenson and a handful of other Phoenix straight edgers. The Inclusion opened June 7 in a warehouse complex on 36th Street and Broadway and regularly hosted straight-edge shows until it was raided by police and shut down the night of July 30.
And beyond an electric green carbonated beverage with a lot of caffeine, I don't have a clue what "Mountain Dew" is. I'm not sure Phoenix Police Department detectives Sean Connell and David Lundberg do, either (along with Phoenix PD public information officer Mike Torres, they didn't return phone calls).
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Rewind to about a week before the bust. Phoenix "Neighborhood Preservation Inspector" Londa Martin receives a complaint that someone is operating a nightclub in an area zoned for commercial use only. Never mind that Eavenson, et al., didn't have a business license or a dance-hall permit, Martin says. The law says you can't run a rock club at 36th Street and Broadway, period.
So Martin calls the Phoenix PD vice department--standard procedure upon the report of an illegal teen nightclub--and she and a couple cops from the youth alcohol squad do a weekday drive-by. The Inclusion was closed that night, but the officers picked up a flier outside the door for a July 30 show featuring the Phoenix group Tho Ko Losi, and Gehenna from Orange, California. Like all fliers for shows at the Inclusion, it was marked "ABSOLUTELY NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL."
Unconvinced, Connell and Lundberg showed up at the Inclusion around 10:30 on the night in question, just in time for the last two songs in Tho Ko Losi's opening set. "After getting out of the vehicle, we heard very loud music coming from in front of us," the detectives wrote in their report. "As we approached Warehouse #1 we saw approx. 20-25 cars . . . milling around in the parking lot were approx. 20-30 people. We walked to the entrance and opened the door and entered."
And then, it's safe to say, they drew a few stares.
"They looked like retards," says Eavenson. According to several straight edgers, Lundberg had a bushy beard and freshly ripped jeans. "He looked sort of like a redneck, so we wondered what he was doing at a punk show," says Jeremy Undreiner, 21, an Inclusion regular.
Connell had his 'do down--he was bald--but he was also wearing a fake septum ring and Cross-Color brand baggy pants, usually favored by rappers and hip-hop fans. "Somebody wearing Cross-Colors at a punk show?" says Eavenson. "You've gotta be kidding me."
There were about 30 kids inside the club at the time. "We weren't really sure what was up," says Mike "The Mechanic" Haffey, who organized that night's show. "I mean, when they first came in, they were rockin' out to the band, trying to fit in, so I thought maybe they were just two old guys trying to get into it or something." As Gehenna set up its equipment, Connell and Lundberg bought one the band's tapes for two bucks using marked money. Then Connell went outside, walked up to Haffey and told him "I like the place."
"He informed me that his friend Justin [Eavenson] was the person that dealt with the landlord," Connell wrote in his report. "The rent was $650 per month.
"He said . . . they just make enough for the bands to make it to their next destination and for the renters to barely make the monthly rent."
Lundberg, meanwhile, was trying to score some Dew.
Four kids say he separately approached them and surreptitiously asked where he could get some "Mountain Dew" (one also remembers being approached by Connell).
"[Lundberg] said something like, 'Do you have any Mountain Dew?'" says Shane Miller, 23. "I told him, 'No, but there's a Circle K up at 40th Street." Miller says the officer pressed him. "He said, 'No, you know what I mean. Do you have any Dew?'"
Puzzled, Miller said he did not.
Lundberg left the club just as Gehenna launched its set. Haffey marked Lundberg's hand with a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs rubber stamp (later confiscated into evidence) for reentry. The detective returned a few minutes later. "I received a signal from the units outside that they were moving into our location," he wrote. "While standing near the door I saw [Jeremy] Undreiner standing on top of a counter which ran across the west wall. I noticed some movement from the corner of my eye and when I turned I saw Undreiner's anus approximately four (4) feet from my face. He was bent over at the waist and had both hands on his buttocks spreading his buttocks apart and exposing his anus."
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The gig was up.
A few seconds later, five squad cars roared into the parking lot carrying six uniformed cops (including the supervisor of the vice squad) and zoning inspector Martin. The police ordered the band to stop playing and cleared the club. Haffey and Eavenson were arrested and charged with violating a zoning ordinance. Undreiner was cuffed and charged with indecent exposure. He says that while he was being questioned, an officer asked him where the grenades and guns were. Haffey says he was asked if they had any rocket launchers (the inside of the Inclusion was decorated with an upside down American flag, a popular straight-edge symbol). The police confiscated $192 in entrance and merchandise fees. Eavenson says the officers also started to confiscate the club's sound equipment, but that Martin talked them out of it.
"They were really good kids," says Martin. "We'd just like to move them to another location, maybe to the old warehouse district in downtown Phoenix to help liven up that area."
Eavenson says that's not going to happen. His last club, the Equinox, was evicted from a central Phoenix office space this spring. "I'm burnt out," he says. "Some other people might want to open another place up, and I'll help them as much as I can. But forget about it, I'm through."
--David Holthouse (additional reporting by Brendan Kelley and Josh Krist)