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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.

And the rest is history, part one.

Handbill courtesy Imants Krumins

R.I.P. Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton. When Ron’s band Destroy All Monsters played the Horseshoe in ’78 with Suicide and Teenage Head, the bands took turns headlining the three night gig.   After a packed audience rocked to Destroy All Monsters, then Teenage Head — they left, leaving a crowd of about 25 people to experience Suicide.    Singer Alan Vega leaped off the stage and terrified a table to drunken jocks, screaming in their faces “I wanna fuckin’ kill you!”.  Needless to say, they paid close attention the rest of the show.   The next night, The Ugly‘s lead-singer, the late Mike Nightmare relentlessly pestered Vega with a water-pistol.  Welcome to Toronto.

The Ramones hit town in 1976 and the rest is history, courtesy of Gail Wetton.

Here’s the poster from the first time The Ramones came to Toronto, courtesy of the archives of Gail Wetton of Molten Core (Google it for lots of goodies.)   Director Brunton recalls watching artist John Pearson pick up a sharpie and create this in about ten minutes, leaning on the snack bar of the New Yorker, a butt hanging from his mouth.    The snack bar was built by Gary Cormier, a long-haired and bearded carpenter who through a friend of a friend got the gig.  Having managed Rough Trade for a bit, grade-nine drop-out Cormier was as tired of the music business as Gary Topp was of the film business, and as he hammered away the snack bar, they got to talking, discovered they were kindred spirits, and together hammered out The Garys — a business partnership that would unleash a profound and exciting musical vision upon Toronto over the next few years, starting with The Ramones on September 24, 1976.  In early 1978, he built the stage at the Horseshoe Tavern.

The snack bar was then painted by local artist David Andoff, who amongst other accomplishments had done loads of artwork and such for the legendary Toronto blues band McKenna Mendleson Mainline — and who built the gigantic bust of King Kong that sat upon the overhanging marquee of the New Yorker.   A few months later, he designed the handbill for the first visit to the city by John Cale.

John Cale comes to town in early 1977;  courtesy of Gail Wetton.

Some time after that, Mendleson Joe (nee Joe Mendleson) ex of McKenna Mendleson Mainline would dress in nurse’s drag to open for Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys. After the gig, with neither The Garys nor Wayne County having enough cash to get decent hotel rooms, the band spent the night sleeping in the theatre, after watching (for the first time) The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a theatrical commercial for the Acu-jack (use your imagination;  it was an ad that played gay movie theatres in New York.)   Wayne County would come back to Toronto not long after as Jayne County.   To bring this full circle, a block down the street from the New Yorker was Records on Wheels, one of only a few hip record stores in Toronto at the time, where Randy Johnston worked, and Randy is the life partner of Gail Wetton and together they run memorabilia on-line store Molten Core and they sent us in the Ramones handbill in the first place.  Whew!

As Director Kire Paputts tramps around Europe, directors Aldo Erdic and Brunton continue to edit, and Brunton’s latest mission is to start seriously collecting jpgs of anything and everything — photos, handbills, poster, buttons — that is indicative of the Toronto punk scene circa 1976 – 1978.   While we’re focusing on events that occurred in that period, we can’t resist some of the other things we’ve found, including a ticket-stub of the Iggy and the Stooges show at the old Victory Burlesque vaudeville house that used to dominate the corner of Spadina and Dundas — and a circa 1962 full nudity/all cheesecake Victory Burlesque calendar, courtesy of Aldo and his part-time roommater (who’s name we can’t recall right now.)   A nice visual to accompany some of the interviews we’ve done where people talked about going to that show, including one by Bill “The Count” Cork, who claims that on the day of, two dealers sent by the Stooges sold him some fine LSD and convinced him to check out the show.

Imants Krumins forwarded us tons of poster and handbills fresh from The Hammer — he’s now got a credit as Senior Archivist for the feature.  We interviewed Imants a few years ago and were rightfully blown away by his awesome collection of punk memorabila, as we were with Gail Wetton and Randy Johnston and Gary Pig Gold.  Rivalling Imants in sheer volume (not to mention good taste and vibes) Gail Wetton continues to send us handbills of concerts we vaguely recall, and is being rewarded with not only a fancy credit like Imants, but a million brownie points as well!.

Courtesy Gary Topp;  original art by Marv Newland.

Gary Topp shot us a jpg of one of the old Original 99 Roxy Theatre matchbooks (so not PC!), where many a creative seed was planted in many of the folks who would go on to be part of the great Toronto punk scene.   We hope to hit Gary’s residence soon, armed with our trusty scanner, and see how many more dots we can fill in.

The Viletones first handbill/press release, weeks after the Ramones gig, big thanks to Imants Krumins.

We’ve also been reviewing the pile of DVDs that have been sent to us by the likes of Steven Leckie, Bruce Pirrie and Suzanne Naughton over the past few years.   Watching ZIGGY starring Bruce was loads of fun, and it’s pretty crazy to look back at our youth in Suzanne’s seminal short film AN AFTERNOON AT NEW ROSE.  We’ve also heard from Rodney Bowes, now hunkered in L.A., and he promises to send along some of his collection from way back when.  Gary Pig Gold has also invited us and our scanner into his parent’s basement in Port Credit to start copying the literally boxloads of memorabilia from the scene, and Mark Sanders is also sorting through his tupperware box of memories.   Thanks so much to everyone.

In a week or three we’ll have some new stuff on the site here, including a “Bragging Rights” section detailing all of the great press our publicist Woody Whelan has drummed up for the DVD.

Later gators.

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