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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.

More songs about food and buildings.

Okay, maybe just a blog about buildings.

One of the staff here at the bustling headquarters of the feature film The Last Pogo Jumps Again got a new pal on MySpace called Clash on the Danforth 1979, a group for people who went to the old Rex Theatre on Danforth Avenue in 1979 to see The Clash and Toronto’s own B-Girls.  Said staff member doesn’t recall much about the show, being that was the year that Thai-stick marijuana hit Toronto, and while he had a powerful buzz on, it was, alas, only for the moment.  Joe Strummer, though, remembered it well. Here’s what he said to the New Musical Express in 1979:  “The gig was in a cinema. The dressing room is actually a toilet and the PA sounds as if it’s filled with hamsters on coke. Even though it sounds rough, we really enjoy it. And so do they, storming the stage at the end English style. One of the funniest things I ever saw was these two bouncers trying to hold the whole audience back. Just the two of them! After the first number they were swamped so they gave up and went home.

From the new MySpace group;  article by Paul McGrath;  photo by Simon White.

The Odeon Rex Theatre was at Pape and Danforth and has now been transformed into a fitness centre.  Up the street a few miles east stands the corpse of The Original 99 Cent Roxy Theatre, nee The Roxy Theatre, originally The Allenby.  Erected in 1936, the frontage is vintage deco;  the son of one of the architects went on to design the first Cineplex theatre in Toronto, at the Eaton’s Centre.   The other way down the road from the old Rex stands the Music Hall.  Not long before The Last Pogo premiered at the Music Hall, on a bill featuring The Viletones, Gang of Four and the Buzzcocks, The Clash played the gig at the Rex, a good six years after Gary Topp departed his Original 99 Cent Roxy.

Newspaper ad 1975.

After the Roxy, Gary went on to The New Yorker on Yonge Street, befriended Gary Cormier and formed The Garys, the infamous promoters who would spring punk onto Toronto in an explosion of non-stop concerts that would last for years.   The New Yorker theatre also premiered Easy Rider back in the sixties, around the same time that Gary Topp was booking movies into Toronto’s first “underground” theatre, Cinecity, just up the street.   The New Yorker is now called the Panasonic, and currently features a version of the awesomely barfable musical We Will Rock You.  Cinecity is long gone, having first being transformed into a three floor game store … and we’re not sure what it is now.  Our bet is either another fitness centre, or a Starbucks.

Around the corner from the New Yorker and down an alley-way was where Club David’s used to stand, atop of vintage clothing store Tribe.  Gay bar by late night, and punk club during the evening, the building is now a condominium.  With a fitness club somewhere in it, I’m sure.

Way down Yonge Street from the New Yorker was where the venerable jazz club The Colonial Tavern once stood, and in it’s stinky little basement, was once the early punk club The Underground, where the earliest of the early bands in Toronto played:  The Viletones, Teenage Head, and more.   Outside of the Colonial, sadly, was where young shoe-shine boy Emmanuel Jacks was murdered in 1978, marking unofficially the death of “Toronto the Good”.   All the massage parlours and strip clubs on Yonge Street were cleaned up and shut down.  Toronto grew up fast in an ugly way.  Local punk gals The Curse wrote a song about it as the “B” side to “Killer Bees”.   Google it and get a copy.

If you walked up from the Colonial and then down Queen Street West, you’d be in what is now a yuppie-saturated strip of clothing stores and bistros who owe a lot of their current design etc., to that original scene.  The Beverly Tavern, favoured by the Ontario College of Art crowd is now an upscale lunch joint;  the Horsehoe down the street still stands, albeit at half the size it was in its heyday.  Down the street a bit more there’s the Cameron Tavern, which sprouted up into a music joint around 79 or so, and continues to be a haunt for hipsters young and old.  (Kevin Quain lives and plays there and you should see him!)  Finally, whipping down Spadina, across Adelaide and up through a couple of more alleys, you’ll find the building that was home to the Crash ‘n’ Burn for a terrific summer run in 1977.  It’s now a gentrified office building jammed with lawyers.

The R & D team at Pogo H.Q. are making an investigative trip to the Toronto Archives next week where ex-Pogoer Patrick Cummins will clear away the cobwebs, open up the vaults, and let us have a peak at what treasures it might hold.  Watch out for pics in a week or two.

And next week there’s a power-surge of activity on The Last Pogo Jumps Again;  interviews, more editing, and doing this and that and the other thing.

Stay tuned, and don’t touch that google button.

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