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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.

Danny Says

Angel Joey from distasteful ad for company who don’t deserve a credit.

Google Danny Fields if you don’t know the name.

After leaving Harvard Law School, he fell in with the Warhol crowd in NYC in the mid-sixties and shared an apartment with Edie Sedgwick.  He co-edited 16 Magazine, took lots of acid and was openly gay when it wasn’t fashionable.  He wrote the liner notes to the first live Velvet Underground album and managed Lou Reed.  He discovered The Doors and hated Jim Morrison, was a fan of The Grateful Dead but not their singing, and he discovered The Stooges and The MC5 and The Modern Lovers.  In the mid-seventies he found The Ramones.

In September ’76 he managed The Ramones when The Garys brought them to the New Yorker Theatre in Toronto, arguably kick-starting the Toronto punk scene proper, putting the Punk in the punctuation mark that that gig represented.    Today, he generously parted an hour out of a busy day as a guest of NXNE to chat with us about what it was all about.   As you can imagine, The Last Pogo Jumps Again crew (that day comprised of Brunton, Fiander, and Mighty Joe Krumins) were looking forward to a solid interview.   Big thanks to Deb Rix of Flip Publicity for helping to arrange this;  thanks to the cocktail lounge staff who let us set up our lights, cameras, and action in their snazzy downstairs joint.

By the time we hooked up with Danny, he’d just been interviewed by something called AUX TV, and being a few minutes over-schedule, we only had about 45 minutes before Danny had to be interviewed by Warren Kinsella in front of an audience.    Danny jokingly asked where the hair and make-up department was, and wondered if we had time to smoke a joint outside before getting down to it.  (A friend of The Last Pogo Jumps Again had apparently met up with someone who knew a “pusher”, and supplied us with a couple of marijuana cigarettes (or “reefers”) and we handed them over to Danny, along with a complimentary Bic lighter emblazoned with a red Maple Leaf.   The light rain outside put the kibosh on any experimenting with recreational drugs, and so we trundled back downstairs, and were set to go.)

Danny watches Joey and Dee Dee with Mr. Bowie and two cute girls;  photographer unknown.

Director Brunton glanced over his scribbled notes, and DOP Richard Fiander fiddled with the camera and lights, heeding Danny’s advise to be shot from a higher angle.

Everyone looks better if they’re shot from a higher angle,” he said. “I edited 16 Magazine, I should know.”   Joe set up his p.o.s. camera on a tight close-up, and we finally got rolling, the clock now ticking down to about a half-hour or so.

Danny was amiable and candid and in good spirits and looked really good for someone on the other side of 65, but after the first question (“Just start by telling us your name.”), it was clear that not only was Danny a living legend (see paragraph one), but he was also a low-talker. (Insert joke about puffy shirts here for any Seinfeld fans.)

Can you tell us how the Ramones show at the New Yorker in ’76 came about?” asked Brunton, and Danny went into a five minute monologue on…what we’ll never know until we actually digitize the interview and listen to it (thankfully, we had a lav mike hooked up, so the interview will be audible.)

Brunton, not knowing what Danny said, and too polite and/or meek to ask him to raise his voice a bit, inched his chair closer and continued with his prepared questions.  Problem number two:  Danny had a hard time remembering much of the New Yorker gig or our beloved and legendary promoters The Garys.   He seemed to think the first Ramones gig in Toronto was in “…the basement of an office building…” which sounded like the Crash ‘n’ Burn, but that didn’t open until the summer of ’77.   It was an odd sort of moment for director Brunton;  those shows were so memorable, and seemed so…important.  When the Ramones second album came out, the New Yorker staff were thrilled to see Dee Dee sporting a New Yorker t-shirt;  working with Joey Ramone on the feature film Roadkill in the late eighties, Joey had loads of good memories of that weekend in Toronto in 1976.  But for Danny, not so much.

Joey Ramone and Colin Brunton on the set of Roadkill, 1989;  photo Tim Sebert.

We mined some gold, but as we said, we won’t really know until we can play it all back.   Danny Fields had lots of interesting stuff to say on the differences between audiences in NYC, Toronto, and London (“No difference, they were all the same.”);  the work ethic of The Ramones (“Johnny’s plan was to write a ton of songs, play for five years, and not have to work again.  Unfortunately, they never sold many records, and so they had to turn into The Grateful Dead.   They had to tour for twenty-five years.”)   He told us that Johnny Ramone thought the reason not many blacks were fans was because their music had nothing to do with the blues.  While the debate on what the roots of rock ‘n’ roll are is kinda age-old we were a little surprised to hear Danny proclaim “No one really likes Blues and Jazz.  If they say they do, they’re lying.”  He thought it was amusing that a “Jew fashion designer” — Malcolm McLaren — had so much to do with Punk.  “I’m a Jew too, so I can say that.”

It ended on a cheerful note, Joe getting Danny to autograph his copy of Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me” (“Dedicated to Danny Fields, forever the coolest guy in the room“.)   Fumbling for his glasses, one of the gift joints fell on the floor, and minutes later, trying to find a pen, the other reefer fell out of a top pocket.  It reminded Danny of when he got busted in Toronto by a lesbian Customs Officer (“They were so nice to me!“) and he had to retain Keith Richards‘ Toronto lawyer, the end result being not allowed to enter Canada for either four or seven years.

We had to split, and couldn’t stick around for the Kinsella interview but by all accounts a good time was had by all.  Once our gear is back from the States, we’ll get everything transferred and pop in some of Danny’s comments into the work-in-progress.

Until then, hey ho.

Coming soon: An account of Kire Paputt’s interview with Bob Segarini, as well as his road trip on Father’s Day with papa Chris Haight to Phillie to grill Freddy Pompeii.

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