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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.

In the gutter, looking at the stars

Counter culture doesn’t mean mould and fungus in the kitchen.

As Pogo H.Q. gets the equipment readied and the Pogomobile (today a streetcar) revved up and ready for an interview with filmmaker Ron Mann,  a younger head in the R & R Division wasn’t sure what we meant by “counter-culture“, a phrase that popped off our list of questions.   According to Wikipedia (so you know it’s true):  Counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day,[1] the cultural equivalent of political opposition. It is a neologism attributed to Theodore Roszak.

Whoa, hundred dollar words!   In short, its what the truest of the Bohemians and Beats and Hippies embodied.  And the Punks too.  It was also called “the underground,” and one of our questions for Ron today was this:  “Is there such a thing anymore?

We’re not sure if there is, and we actually hope that we’re a bit too old and out of touch to have caught on to some exciting alternate culture that is thriving.  Somewhere.  But in this instant-access digital world, we sadly think there isn’t.  And that’s bad.  There are cliques of computer hackers, and within those groups, anarchistic freaks like the fictional character Lisbeth Salander.  But in even envisioning Lisbeth as part of what might be termed “the underground”, the fact that her character has been exposed to tens of millions of readers kind of takes the counter out of the culture.   (To be fair, for a good list of interesting/alternative/obscure stuff, you can’t do worse than check out writer Warren Ellis‘ blog;  click the link on the right.)

Back in the mid-seventies in Toronto there sure was.  News could be gleaned from Guerilla magazine, the weekly newspaper.  You could fearlessly smoke a joint walking down Yonge Street, especially on a Sunday when it was a ghost town.    Even crazier, you could purchase amanita muscaria (‘shrooms) at several health food stores before the cops threatened the wrath of health and fire inspectors.   Cinecity on Yonge Street started (at Gary Topp’s suggestion) showing midnight movies.   Gary Topp then started The Original 99 Cent Roxy, the rep movie theatre that promoted an eclectic line-up of films, and where filmmaker Ron Mann may have been inspired to become a filmmaker.

Famous frame from Un Chien Andalou, a favourite at the Roxy

Equally entertained by B Movies like Truck Stop Women and Russ Meyers’ films, and educated by filmmakers like Emile De Antonio (a counter-culture filmmaker if there ever was one), Ron soaked it all in, and began a rebel career that exists to this day, always looking decidedly to the left of things, producing and directing films like Comic Book Confidential, Grass, Imagine the Sound, Poetry in Motion, Go Further,  and lately a doc about Margaret Atwood’s green slant promoting her latest book In The Year Of The Flood (the film is called In The Wake Of The Flood.)   Check out stuff about Ron and his company on the link on the right.

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