Category Archives: The Black Wedge

Sook-Yin Lee CBC radio interview

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AUDIO: Sook-Yin Lee talking with Strombo about Mecca Normal in this national (Canadian) radio interview (CBC)

Sook Yin Lee (Canadian broadcaster, musician, filmmaker, actress) discusses her early musical projects, lessons learned from Mecca Normal’s Jean Smith, punk rock and existentialism.

3 hour, 27 minute, 30 second mark

“Mecca Normal led by Jean Smith, who was considered the god-mother of the riot grrrl movement. She was always somebody on stage, it was her and David Lester playing this very urgent and energetic beautiful but rusted passionate music that was very political and artful. Both of them are visual artists as well and I think they were part of the Black Wedge Tour, that was a very political movement of art and culture, and resistance, activism. Activism was key in that community growing up, and so yes, she was always on stage. And she was one of those people who half of the punks hated her and couldn’t stand the singing, “What is that noise?” and so many people loved her. They did feel to me in the very early days that they were kind of, you know, on their own path. Not necessarily of the crowd and completely full of conviction. This song is a beautiful song, its called “Throw Silver” and there’s something in Jean Smith’s voice that is like an injury, it’s like a wound, but it’s a wound that is healing, that is like a shard of glass that is beautiful. She encompasses these paradoxical gorgeous elements and she’s a real powerful, dynamic woman of words and painting and song.” – Sook-Yin Lee

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Alternative Toronto Archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Black Wedge Saskatoon

Black Wedge Tour, Saskatoon, 1987

Dr. Lilian Radovac (media and cultural historian at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga) presented an introduction to the award-winning Alternative Toronto archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The archive includes Mecca Normal’s “Strong White Male” video directed by David Lester (1987) with additional references to the ‘part way across Canada’ Black Wedge tour in 1987.

Alternative Toronto:

A tour of activist resistance culture organized by Jean Smith of the band Mecca Normal, which set out to “spread the word of how to combine poetry, music and politics and have a fun time doing it.”

The Black Wedge was an anti-authoritarian response to Britain’s earlier Red Wedge, and began on the West Coast in 1986 before continuing across Canada in 1987. The performers included Vancouver’s Mecca Normal, San Francisco’s Peter Plate, Montreal’s Rhythm Activism and Toronto artists Bryan James and Mourning Sickness.

To learn more, read this excerpt from Smith’s essay “The Black Wedge Tours: Take Something You Care About and Make it Your Life” in Sounding Off — Music as Resistance / Rebellion / Revolution, eds. Ron Sakolsky and Fred Ho, (New York: Autonomedia, 1996).

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The Black Wedge 1986 & 87

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West coast line-up, 1986

Black Wedge Tour 1987

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Canadian tour, 1987

David Lester’s Super 8 footage of a stop along the way in the middle of Canada in a Mecca Normal music video.

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