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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.

Reminiscing about the Original 99 Cent Roxy

February 25th, 2008

Father and son filmmaking team Colin and Ollie Brunton ventured out to the wilds of the Kingsway area, and paid a visit to Gail and Randy Johnston. Colin and Randy knew each other from way back, and after reminiscing about the days at the Original 99 Cent Roxy — they compared notes on the Breathless concert (Gary Topp — was that the first concert you promoted?) as well as maybe the first appearance by our pal Nash the Slash, who performed a live soundtrack to the Dali/Bunuel classic Un Chien Andalou to an audience of 500 stoners at the Roxy. We both agreed that Nash made the audience understand the movie better, no mean feat ye masked man.

The history continued when Randy got a gig at Records on Wheels, just a few strides south of the New Yorker Theatre, that Gary Topp ran with Jeff Silverman, and where he met Gary Cormier (who was brought in to fix up the snack bar; and the rest, as they say, is etc.). For the first year at the New Yorker the manager was Mr. The Slash and the assistant manager was Mr. Brunton. Nash left after a year to pursue his tunes; Brunton stuck it out and followed (by now) The Garys off to the Horseshoe. And Randy worked at Records on Wheels, one of only a couple of record stores who had the coolest albums; where the Ramones visited on that great September weekend in ’76, and where Randy watched a young Steven Leckie transform from a glitter-kid to his persona “Nazi Dog” in the Viletones. We’d tell you more, but y’now — ya gotta wait for the movie.

Gotta say, this was one of the easiest and most enjoyable of all the interviews to date, and not just because Randy gave Colin a Scenics button (yes, Randy was yet another of the fiercely loyal Scenics fans) and a bootleg of the first Toronto Ramones gig, and an original newspaper clipping from the Star showing the premiere of The Last Pogo movie. It was just easy talk, and Randy was full of great insights, even when we asked him the annoyingly obvious question “What was punk rock?”. He brought back memories of The Lance Charles Experience (and if you don’t know Lance, then you just don’t know, baby). And he recalled vividly the day Topp called him and told him about The Last Pogo. And if that weren’t enough, he turned the Pogo R & D team on to a couple of awesome connections, and is helping track down a few more missing pieces of the puzzle.

After the interview proper, we went down to the basement, jam-packed with vinyl and cds and dvds and a Jughead action-figure and a washer and a dryer. We took the opportunity to clean our undies, pay our respects to Jughead (the original punk!) then went back upstairs where Randy played some of Hydraulic Chaos, the two-piece “noise” band he had in the ’80’s. Pal Nash the Slash told him back in the day: “You guys could strip the paint off of a car with that sound”. We’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide if that was a compliment or not. We’re not saying.

And if you’re in the market for any decent punk/new-wave (or other) music memorabilia, Randy and Gail’s company, Molten Core, is where to go. So — ya go here.

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