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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.

A trail of blood from Bloor to Queen

David “Bookie” Bookman.

On Wednesday afternoon producer/director Colin Brunton hooked up with ex-Mod, ex-Dead Boy, and current musician/legal beagle David Quinton-Steinberg, braved the freaks on Yonge Street, and dropped into CFNY-FM to have a chat with Dave “Bookie” Bookman for this week’s “Indie Hour”. It was weird to be back on Yonge Street.

For those of you who don’t know Toronto, Yonge Street (at 1896 kilometers, the longest street in the world, yo!) has a secret trail of blood that marks some moments for fans of that original first-wave of punk in 1976.

The New Yorker Theatre up by Bloor Street was where Garys Cormier and Topp formed their now-legendary promotion team The Garys; Nash the Slash was the manager; Last Pogo director/producer Colin Brunton was his assistant. The Garys famously brought the likes of The Ramones, Talking Heads, John Cale, Jayne County and many more to Toronto and kick-started an awesome few years. First blood was spilled at the New Yorker when Brunton got stabbed in the leg throwing out an unruly patron from a Marx Brothers double-bill (the knife only managed to go in a quarter of an inch, but it’s the thought that counts). He later went to Kingston jail for a few months.

Up the street from the New Yorker was the Masonic Temple, home of the infamous “Restricted” concert (now the home of Canadian Idol, lol) in and abouts March/April 1978 (thanks for the fact-checking, Steve Travis!) where ex-lead singer of The Wads, Paul Eknes, singing for the first time in front of an audience, got nailed in the head with a full bottle of Red Cap. Bloodied, bowed, but then unbowed, he’s still got the scar to prove it, and of course he finished the song, stupid! His trip to the hospital after was right after the one for the guy who dove from the top balcony to the floor, hoping the crowd would catch him, and then being seriously disappointed.

Across and down the street from CFNY is the site of now-demolished (why must we always hurt the ones we love?) Colonial Tavern. Apart from being arguably the best jazz club in Toronto, the basement room was dubbed “The Underground” in 1977, which is where we all watched the debut of The Viletones: everyone stoned on poppers watching Steven “Nazi Dog” Leckie mutilate himself with a broken beer bottle. A few weeks after that, Teenage Head tested the new punk waters by playing there, but Long John Baldry was playing upstairs and didn’t take kindly to the “noise” coming from the basement. He promptly dispatched roadies armed with pool cues and they opened a six-pack of whoop-ass: we’ve got a copy of the Toronto Sun that shows an unconscious Paul Kobak (then manager of Teenage Head) bleeding on the floor of the club. Later at the cop shop, Paul Eknes and a few others got freezing cold feet when asked to i.d. the roadies in a line-up.

Sadly the bloody history of punk on Yonge Street doesn’t end there: in 1977 shoe-shine boy Emmanual Jacks was the victim of a sordid murder on the top floor of a building a few doors down, prompting the clean up of Yonge Street and the closing down of the massage parlours and the Times Square Junior vibe, and putting to bed the notion of Toronto as an innocent. Local all-girl punk band The Curse (one of the top ten we’ve still got to interview) later wrote and recorded a single (one of the best recordings from that era) about this black mark in Toronto’s history called “Shoeshine Boy”. The six-degrees-of-separation twist is that director Brunton had an encounter with 12-year-old Emmanuel Jacks the summer before. Waiting to sneak into the club (down the alley, up the fire-escape) to watch jazz-man Rahsaan Roland Kirk play two saxes at once, he was approached by Jacks who asked him: “I’ll bet you a dollar I can tell you where you got your shoes”. Brunton told him to go for it, and paid for the one-dollar punchline: “You got your shoes on your feet, mister!”.

Just down the road from CFNY was where Brunton, driving taxi in the eighties, spotted the unmistakable silhouette of one Joey Ramone, McDonalds bag in hand, trying to hail a cab fifty yards away. Brunton quickly talked his fares out of the cab, put the pedal to the metal and snatched up Joey, his brother Johnny, and a girlfriend up to their hotel in Scarborough after a gig at the El Mocambo. Stopping for mix at a 7-11 at Coxwell and Gerrard, Johnny and Joey freaked out the local youths hanging out in the lot, and obligingly signed autographs for them all.

But we digress! In the studio Bookie raved about The Last Pogo and gave it a number of plugs in his rapid-fire patter (it’s closing NXNE on June 15th, 5:30, 150 John Street). We played some Mods and Teenage Head and then it was adios amigo, and on to his chat with David Quinton-Steinberg and an associate from his law firm handing out free legal advise for indie musicians. We were lucky enough to her some of the new recordings of old tunes by The Mods, coming soon, and it sounds great.

For more on this years’s NXNE, go to nxne.com. For more on The Last Pogo or The Last Pogo Jumps Again, keep checking in.

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