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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.

Say it ain’t so, Joey

Hey, we tried.  After several attempts to appeal to Joey Ramone‘s brother Mickey (who seems like a nice guy, but claims there’s nothing he can do) it looks like we won’t be having a Ramones tune in the epic awesomeness we like to call The Last Pogo Jumps Again.  Which is really too bad:  we’d managed to find Super-8 footage of The Ramones at the New Yorker, the first minute they set foot on stage, and a bootleg recording that we were able to synch it up too.  It could’ve been brilliant.

The Pogo staff strategize clearing music rights.

We started working on permission over a year ago and things started off promising:  we got permission to use the photos of them we had, and were told that a good word would be put in  when it came time to get the music rights.  Thanks fellas!

When we still had faith in humanity.

A couple of months ago we received word that Warner-Chappell  were good to go with the proposed deal (not industry standard rates of course, so that was very cool of a ginormous corporation) and we were thrilled. But then when we had to negotiate with another company who owned a small share, the fuckery began.

The teletype machine at Pogo H.Q. coughed up a nasty message from BMG Music that said bluntly that the artist had turned down the request.  Which was baffling.  And still is.  Long story short, the silent partners who take care of Joey Ramone’s business just flat turned us down.  The people behind Tommy, Johnny and Dee Dee were cool with it, but not the ones repping Joey.  We wrote letters, we tried getting help from other people, we wrote notes to Joey’s brother, we even resorted to blatant (but hopefully charming) ass-kissing by delivering them a couple of dozen chocolate covered strawberries.  But no luck, no answer, not even a peep.

Pogo filmmaker Colin Brunton on the set of Roadkill with Joey in 1988.

Rather than whine and bitch about all this (because who knows, maybe the Joey people thought the money was embarrassingly low, or didn’t like the film or had some other actual legit reason) we’d rather tell you just how cool Joey Ramone was, if you didn’t already know.

The all-purpose Roadkill winnie:  Joey Ramone dressed in here!

In 1988, when Last Pogo Jumps Again co-filmmaker Colin Brunton produced his and Bruce McDonald’s first feature, Roadkill, he wrote a letter persuasive enough that Joey Ramone took a chance on a couple of unproven yet enthusiastic filmmakers, and agreed to hop on a first-class flight (first time ever) and shoot a scene.   It was great fun of course, and at the end of the day he asked if they’d like a Ramones tune for the movie.  “Yes, sir!” they said.  Joey was good to his word, and convinced the suits at Warner-Chappel to give them a rate they could afford and so they got Howlin’ at the Moon (Sha la la la) in their modest little movie.

Once the film was finished, it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (then called The Festival of Festivals) where the filmmakers gained some notoriety when, after receiving $25K for Best Canadian Film, director McDonald said he’d spend it all on “…a 57 Chevy and a big chunk of hash.”  (Note:  he bought the car and a half a quarter of gold seal black Afghani hash.)

Crowds bypass the Uptown in 1946 to buy hosiery.

Then it began a legitimate run at the old Uptown movie theatre in downtown Toronto.  Trying to get the word out to the world at large, the filmmakers had made a deal for a soundtrack album, and true to form, Joey agreed the Ramones track could be included.  All the bands were paid a buck, with all revenue from sales split between them.   A soundtrack album would get the word out on the film, but how do you get the word out on the album when you have no money?  Easy.  Lie and cheat!

When the world was in black and white.

So that’s what they did.  They got in touch with a pal who worked at the famous record store Sam the Record Man, and once a month, the night before inventory was done, he would take 3/4 of the Roadkill soundtrack CDs and cassettes, and hide them away in a cupboard.  The next day an assistant manager would do the inventory and then wonder why so many Roadkill soundtracks were being sold.  “Wow.  That Roadkill album is doing great!”

Yea, sorry about that Mick.

One thing Sam did to promote his store was to hand out a monthly magazine filled with puff pieces and ads.  And on the back cover, a Top Ten list of the best selling albums that month.  So it was pretty awesome to pick that up in 1989:  number one, Michael Jackson‘s Bad, number two, the Roadkill soundtrack, number three Rolling StonesSteel Wheels… wait, what?!

Now available on Ebay and probably no place else.

The filmmakers kept up the cheeky ruse, though by now the secret stockpile of stashed soundtracks was getting a little ridiculous.  But it was working;  people were buying it.   After being on the market for a year, it was now time to divvy up the revenue.  (The deal was that Denon Records would sell the album, all the revenue would be sent to the filmmakers on a quarterly basis, and once a year the filmmakers would then distribute the royalties to the various bands.)

Fellas, sumpin’ ain’t right here.

So they sat down, starting cutting cheques, and started to realize in a slow-burning panic that they just didn’t have enough money.  They checked all of the bank deposits and did the math over again three times, but it literally was not adding up.  So they went and opened up the original contracts, and discovered a very embarrassing error:  the total percentage the bands owned wasn’t 100%, it was more like 104%.  Gulp.

Springtime for Hitler.

The near panic they’d had only minutes ago was now full fledged Holy-Fuck-What’ve-We-Done panic.   Some quick math discovered that for every CD that was sold, Brunton and McDonald were out fifty cents;  for every cassette, a quarter. It was a real life The Producers thing.

The first thing they did was call their pal at Sam the Record Man and tell him for God’s sake to stop hiding the cds and cassettes.  The next step was sitting down and figuring out just wtf to do.   They thought (rightly or wrongly) that probably the only band on the soundtrack that might be able to afford to take a hit was the Ramones, so they called Joey and explained their predicament, and he in turn spoke with the record company.  Joey didn’t fuck around:  within a week there was a new contract that reduced the Ramones take to less than the share of the Technicolour Raincoats or Suffer Machine (who?  Exactly.)

Jello Biafra in Highway 61

A couple of years later Brunton and McDonald returned the favour when they produced Highway 61 and had enough money to pay industry rates for the Ramones’ Do You Remember Rock ‘n Roll Radio (and name the lead character Ramona.)  And years after that McDonald would shoot Joey for a small part in his feature Hard Core Logo (which Brunton wasn’t involved in, but was a shared recipient of a “Dedicated to…” credit.)

 

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