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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.

Peter Vronsky’s Crash ‘n’ Burn movie

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Screen shot John Catto of The Diodes

The Last Pogo Jumps Again has a ton of 16mm film footage from 1977 and 1978.  One of the biggest contributors was filmmaker, author and university professor Peter Vronsky who let us use footage from his Crash ‘n’ Burn movie.  We asked Peter how it came about and what happened to the missing footage.

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Photo David Andoff

“In 1977 I was living on top of the New Yorker Theater on Yonge Street in a loft below the projection booth. Everybody knew me in the building and when the Ramones and Dead Boys came down to play I grabbed a 16mm sound film camera from the University of Toronto Hart House Film Board – a big Arriflex BL — and started shooting the concert.

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Jeff Silverman who ran the New Yorker (Editor: Gary Topp’s partner at the time) was okay with it, Danny Fields the Ramones manager cleared it no problem – and the Dead Boys were managed by Hilly Kristal the owner of CBGB in New York was totally cool with it. It was just that easy.

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16mm films

Joe Sutherland, one of the top news and documentary cameramen at the time (still a major player today in digital camera services) also came on board as second camera. He had a lighter Eclair ACL camera specially made for mobile shooting. Remember, this is all 16mm film – not video. You would have to switch out magazines every 12 minutes – 400 feet of film.

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Joe quickly got us a deal with CBC to license our footage for a 30 minute television news magazine special on the Punk Rock “phenomenon”: are they dangerous? Do they really stick themselves with safety pins and wear torn jeans? Is this just another teenage fad? Etc etc.

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Screen shot of hippies.

But it got us enough cash to get more film to keep shooting that summer. Joe Sutherland also owned his own 16mm film processing tank when daily news footage before video was shot on reversal film (positive film) and then spliced together and broadcast once on the news and then thrown away.

That is how we were going to deliver our footage to the CBC – on positive film.

The deal was we would get back all our original footage including the used cut footage after the broadcast special. (The idea of printing a copy did not even come into play money wise. Printing from reversal to interneg was really something super expensive in those days. If you made prints and copies, you shot negative film, not reversal.)

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Screen shot of Crash ‘n’ Burn

We shot June and July 1977 in the Crash’n’Burn on Duncan Street. I did the interviews from behind the camera with all the musicians, artists, and Danny Fields. Joe and I shot all the concert and performance footage — the CBC added the Peter Goddard interview – and the cheesy voice over.

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Screen shot Freddy Pompeii of The Viletones

I drove down to New York to shoot Steve Leckie and other bands playing CBGB first time on July 7-8. One night I slept out in the woods in New Jersey with all the camera gear and the next night I crashed with Steve in his room in the Times Square Motor Inn.

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Three card monte in NYC in the mid-seventies

After CBGB I wandered around with Steve shooting an interview around Times Square area, about what his first time playing CBGB felt like couple of hours earlier. He was amazed that the New York audience was shocked by his performance.

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Screen shot Steven Leckie cuts himself

He had not realized that the scene at CBGB by the summer of 77 was getting pretty New Jersey suburban. He said all this time he thought New York was hard-core but actually it was Toronto. It’s always like that – in art, the cinema, music, writing: you become by going to what you think they are and then surpassing them in your own naïve imagination of what they never were.

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Screen shot Slash Booze with Teenage Head’s Gordie Lewis

Bob Schroder at the CBC edited together the show–and thankfully–ran a 3/4 videotape telecine of the show. The CBC used only a fraction of the footage. Joe and I were excited with what we could now do with all the unused footage. The CBC used none of the Ramones or Dead Boys, almost none of the New York footage, so we were counting on a lot of amazing unused footage.

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When we went over to get our footage after the broadcast, nobody knew what we were talking about. “What do mean, you get the show footage and outtakes back?” We don’t keep that stuff, it gets trashed after the broadcast. It was in the contract, but nobody knew on the floor. I searched for that footage for years hoping somebody archived it, but it was hopeless. The whole edit bay was cleared out and everything dumped. The only thing that survived was the 3/4 inch video cassette that Bob Schroder made.”

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From petervronsky.org

Find out more of Peter Vronsky has been up to at his website.

The Last Pogo Jumps Again opens theatrically at The Big Picture Cinema at 1035 Gerrard Street East in Toronto on Friday November 1, and runs to Wednesday November 6.  There’s a 3:30 matinee on Sunday November 3, and another matinee on Thursday November 7 at 3:30.  All tix are $10.00;  the Thursday matinee is $5.00.

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