The Cobalt will close its doors after a benefit this Sunday (August 15). In its four-and a-half years of existence, the former Main Street strip club hosted some of the most loved names in punk rock, but costs have proven too much for manager wendythirteen and her staff. "We're broke, and the city's after us," wendythirteen says. Just over a year after building inspectors demanded that owners install a new floor in the bar, the Cobalt has been charged $2,000 by the city for covering up graffiti in the building's breezeway. "First, the city bought all the paint to cover the graffiti with murals," wendythirteen says. "We used artists who paint for the city, but the city didn't like what was done, so I covered up all the parts that looked like writing and left the pictures and they came and covered it all. Now it's blank and covered with crackhead scrawl."
"It's a process," says Tom Hamilton, a supervisor in the city's property-use branch. "First of all, we send out a letter about the graffiti and graffiti bylaw, asking it to be removed as quickly as possible. We offer free paint to do the job. After a certain amount of time, the inspector will check and if the order's not completed the city may come and do the job, and then the cost of the work is paid by the owner of the building. And I believe that's what's happened in this case. That's the normal process for dealing with graffiti."
In an effort to pay its debt, the Cobalt is hosting an all-day punk jam and karaoke on Sunday (August 15), along with sets by Mr. Plow and the Day-Glo Abortions, among others. "It's all bewildering to me," says wendythirteen, who plans on taking a break before trying to start up a new punk venue. "I feel like it's the first wave of, 'You're out of here, Cobalt.' The Old American closed down indefinitely the other day. It's Main Street gentrification."