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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.

Cut ‘n’ Paste


Poster created by John Pearson, 1974.

Back in the period we’re covering in The Last Pogo Jumps Again:  A Biased & Incomplete History Of Toronto Punk Rock Circa September 24 1976 To December 1 1978 was the start of homemade handbills in Toronto.   After The Ramones hit the stage of The New Yorker (September 24, 1976) posters of quickly-formed bands started littering the lamposts and construction sites of downtown Toronto.

Viletones first weekend

The Viletones warn us of their arrival.   1976.

Prior to that date DIY was scarce;  if someone promoted a rock show, they’d hire a graphic artist.


One of the first shows Gary Topp promoted in Toronto.  1974. The good Captain hated his band, and they hated him.


Handbill designed by David Andoff, 1977.

The John Cale handbill above was created by David Andoff, who amongst other things (artistic director of McKenna Mendleson Mainline; font creator) also created the huge King Kong sculpture that sat on the New Yorker Theatre’s marquee.   All of it, including the fonts, were hand-drawn.


John Pearson hunched over the New Yorker snack bar, whipped out a Sharpie, and knocked off this Ramones handbill in all of fifteen minutes.  1976.

When we interviewed Punk Founding Father Tommy Ramone a few years ago, he said “It seemed like whenever we played a town, once we left, bands and artists would start up.  And not just bands, but artists and writers, all sorts of people.  We were liberating.  Because we couldn’t really play, we seemed to give permission for all sorts of people to do their thing, have fun.”   


The three-piece Talking Heads come to Toronto. 1977. It was rare to see a handbill with colour.


One person who took a stab at it was Last Pogo director Colin Brunton.  Letraset, a Xerox machine, no ruler.


The debut of The Concordes.  1977.

There were no computers back in the late seventies.  If you wanted to make a handbill, it was either hand-drawn like the above Battered Wives/Dents/Concordes, but it usually involved cutting and pasting.   With glue and knives and trips to the printer.  It wasn’t as fast or as clean as working on a computer, but what’s so cool about fast and clean anyways?   A handbill might take a half a dozen hours to make (including trips to the printer and stapling them up afterwards.)

Demics show in London Ont

Here’s how you make a handbill:

This is how the handbills were made for the Horseshoe Tavern in 1978.  Get a sheet of paper, a pot of rubber cement, a sharp X-Acto knife, and a pile of Letraset, vinyl letters, letters you cut out of a magazine (a la Sex Pistols,) and photos.


He cut out the heading and the guy holding the wreath and pasted them onto a black piece of paper.

He used Letraset for the date “June 19 & 20”, then took his X-Acto knife and scraped it up a bit.   For “Troggs” and “The Scenics” he used vinyl letters, and attacked them with his trusty X-Acto knife.    Then he’d hop on his bike, and ride up to a printing place in Yorkville called Midtown Reproductions.   Eyeballing the originals, he’d ask them to increase the size of “June 19 & 20” and “The” by 200%, and ask them to increase the size of “Troggs” and “The Scenics” by 40%.   Then he’d ride home and come back a few hours or a day later and hope that his resizing estimates were correct.   Midtown would charge maybe fifteen bucks or so.   Then Brunton would sit down at his kitchen table, and assemble it all.  Once done, it was off to a printing place to get a couple of hundred made.   Picking them up still later in the day, and ridehis bike around Queen West and other areas, and staple them up on telephone poles and construction sites.


Back then there were unwritten rules about postering, the main one –the only one — being that you never covered up someone else’s handbill.  Confronted by a busy-looking construction site,  you’d check the dates on other shows to make sure that you weren’t covering up a current show that someone else was putting on.


Miss Manners sez: “It’s just not polite to cover up someone else’s handbill, dickhead!”


Legendary Toronto film promoter Reg Hartt (who probably still makes his handbills without a computer, btw) strictly adhered to that and tried to enforce it, as did most others.   But kids these days, eh?


Kevin Quain may be looking for a new home soon.  The Cameron Tavern is up for sale.


Guess who’s gonna be turning in their grave soon?

In a depressing week that informed us that the Cameron Tavern was up for sale (anyone got two point nine mill they wanna blow?)  we were startled to find an article detailing the impending death of Reg Hartt’s Cineforum.  Prematurely posting this on Facebook, we were corrected by Gregory Bennett who pointed out that the article we’d read was published in 2008, so hopefully, Toronto will still have crazy lock-the-doors-and-keep-the-audience-hostages, handbills, lectures on LSD, and porno-cartoons and Nazi propanganda films.   Mea culpa!


Reg Hartt;  courtesy The National Post.

The Original 99 Cent Roxy is gutted and soon to be a gas station and convenience store.  The Horseshoe is half the club it used to be, but holds the fort on Queen West with the Peter Pan restaurant;  The Beverly is a pricey lunch joint and the Crash ‘n’ Burn is a basement of legal files.  The New Yorker is the Panasonic, with a shiny aluminum front and mainstream kitcsh, and Club David’s is another bland condo at the corner of two lanes.   The Turning Point is a McDonalds, the Colonial Underground absorbed into the evolving corp-vibe of Yonge Street (way to bring the sleaziness to a new level, yo!,) the ghost of Emmanuel Jacks hovering somewhere between a Starbucks and another fitness club.


It was fun making the original Horseshoe posters.   Each time a new one was created, the guy holding the wreath (suspected to be a high-school photo of Gary Topp) would be slightly altered depending on who was advertised.  In the above handbill, “the guy” is all about The Heartbreakers:  crying tears and holding a gigantic human heart.


A top hat and shades, props to Nash The Slash.


Eyes are blacked out and blood, a Suicide.

Teenage Head

One of the first Teenage Head handbills.  1978.

Secrets at Bev

The Secrets didn’t shy from heroin, but their handbills didn’t suffer.  1978.

Bit thanks to Imants Krumins, Molten Core and Margarita Passion for permission to reproduce these handbills.

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