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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.

September 2007

September 10th, 2007

September 15, 2007. Andy Meyers of The Scenics has started writing all about The Scenics and the scene back in 1976, etc., for a book called “Punk Haiku”. Above is a drawing by famed B.C. artist Gareth Gaudin of Magic Teeth Comics, and the following is an excerpt from Andy’s up-coming book:

“The winter of 78 I was taking 3 buses from my suburban home to the northern wastes of Toronto, 3 buses which came very infrequently and involved standing my hungover ass on the corner until they showed, to go to a desolate shipping job in a unending warehouse where I was shipping sets of tiny decorative tins to petite giftshops. At every break and lunch we would go out to the parking lot to someone’s Datsun, put on the classic rock station and smoke hash joints with tobacco. Then I would go back to putting boxes of tins in boxes, Pere Ubu or Bowie Heroes blasting in my little tin room, until it was time to go stand at the bus stop again. I was reading “Hunger” by Knut Hansum, a novel that chronicles the slow dissolving of a street person in the Copenhagen winter. Actually, I was living that book. When I got home I would nod off during dinner and then fall out the door to the bus stop to go to Scenics rehearsal, where more coffee and pot would keep me up till 1 am.

I was so out of it that when my boss, understandably freaked at the state of her business, came into my little tin room to ship with me one afternoon, I continue blaring Bowie Heroes and getting high during break.

I had a hard time saying no.

During this bleak period, we met Keith Elshaw, he of the skin tight leather aviator suit and cucumber dong. Keith was a DJ at the local alternative radio station, CFNY, who took an interest in us after hearing our first demo. Of course, by this point, we sounded nothing like our first demo. Keith and we went into Kinke sound, a studio located in an industrial back water, which we liked, because it looked like the pictures on the back of the Pere Ubu LPs. We rented the graveyard shift and recorded our 3rd demo on Bennies, and it floated very slowly through the midnight hours, and was the worst thing we ever recorded, and also the slowest.

Then came the Last Pogo, Gary and Gary’s farewell to the ‘Shoe, en route to the Edge, two nights of Punk bands that was recorded for an LP and released as a half hour film by Colin Brunton. At noon the day we played, my dear blue-rinsed supervisor came into my tin room and tetched “Oh dear, Andrew…?” It took me a while to realize what she was saying- when I finally got that I was fired, I said ‘Oh, that’s really great, cause, you see, we are recording a live LP tonight, and this will make things a hell of a lot easier’, which was not the response she was expecting, but really, should have been.”

September 23, 2007. Ollie and Colin Brunton spent a couple of hours today with ex-Dishes, and ex-Drastic Measures’ Tony Malone.

But first, let’s check in with Mr. Verg! He’s the puppeteer who serenaded us last weekend with a spontaneous song about The Last Pogo, called, strangely enough, The Last Pogo. His gnarly beat-up hand-puppets reassured us, that yes, Mr. Verg had signed the release form we left him last week, and so we were free to exploit his talents mercilessly. Or at least slip him into the sprawling documentary. Mission accomplished!

This left the Last Pogo crew spent and exhausted. They re-fueled at Starbucks, then jetted off to the Junction to meet the illustrious Tony Malone, one of the more accomplished musicians from the punk/new-wave era in Toronto. They settled at an elegantly wasted loading dock where Ollie and Colin turned on Malone, and gave him the third degree! (i.e. the usual list of questions).

Articulate, eloquent, Tony’s steel-trap mind recalled the tiniest of details, and he had lots of warm memories of: forming The Dishes with Stephen Davey; starting up Drastic Measures; playing at the Beverly Tavern, the Horseshoe, and The Edge; Tank, The Garys, The Stranglers, Tiny Tim, and great takes on everything from The Rolling Stones and Gene Simmons, to the Masonic Temple, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Caligula. Among other things.

And he remembered the moment Queen West uttered it’s death rattle (“As soon as you could buy shoes for $300, that was it.”)

If that wasn’t enough, he ended the interview with a rousing version of a Marty Feldman song on his ukulele.

(There’s going to be a “take two” with Tony, because as with many of these interviews, as soon as the crew left, Tony thought of some other things he wanted to say, the Pogo crew thought of some other questions they wanted to ask, and so we’ll be knock knock knockin’ on Tony’s door in the near future. And as soon as the cat’s officially outa the bag, we’ll let you know of the tres-interesting and cool new project Tony’s been working on with … well … someone else from back-in-the-day.)

Before they left, Tony gave Colin and Ollie copies of old Drastic Measures to listen to, and a copy of his controversial book “The Bible For People Who Hate The Bible” for reading. Lemme tell ya — the band still holds up, and as often happens when listening to some of the bands from The Last Pogo and other musicians from that era, you just shake your head in wonder at why none of them ever made the big time. And Tony had smart ideas on that too.

September 16, 2007. There was an interview scheduled today, but the subject had to drop out ’cause he got bit on the face by a dog, and since the entire Last Pogo Jumps Again Chacha Cha Cha crew was already booked (i.e. Colin Brunton asked son Ollie to get up early so they could go shoot), it was a case of hoping that when a door closes, a window opens. Or when a window closes and a door opens. Something to do with, I’m pretty sure, doors and windows opening and closing.

We tooled around in the car as Ollie shot Colin trying (and failing) to get anyone on a moment’s notice. We got a shot of where the “404” was (the speak that Gambi and friends ran), and then headed to Queen West, scanning the streets for signs of any Last Pogoers.

We didn’t find any, but the day wasn’t a complete loss. Firstly and bestly, the father and son team got to hang out together, and then they stumbled across an Art show at Trinity-Bellwoods park, where they ran into Lisa Burling , and then watched a little puppet show. The puppeteer, a Mr. Verg, was taking donations, natch, and apart from the general puppet-like banter, offered to make songs up on the spot. So we dropped a few toonies into his hat, and asked him to make up a song about The Last Pogo. “The toy or the food?”, the disembodied Brit voice said from within the tiny stage he was hiding under. “Oh, it was a punk rock concert. Can you sing us a song about that?”, we asked. And so he did. Something about punk going the way of the DoDo, and it’s a lost cause (or something). Anyway, after we kicked the crap out of him, we left him another couple of toonies, and a note on the back of a release form, and packed it in.

(Okay, we didn’t really kick the crap out of him, just smacked him around a bit. Okay. We didn’t really even smack him around at all, actually, just sort of stood there, y’know, filming. He was actually very witty and it was pretty funny. And hey — it’s the first original song written for the movie, so not a bad day after all).

September 24, 2007. Got an email and a photo (to the right) from one Lorenz Peter, who played with Mike Nightmare, ex-Ugly in and around 1993. The photo is of the line-up of the band The Things, formed shortly after the demise of a previous Nightmare band, The Wild Things. The line-up at that time: K. Adams, Lorenz, Raime, and Mike. Lorenz heard about the project, and wanted reassurance that everyone knew the whole story on Mike, that he wasn’t being slighted, etc., and Pogo HQ were able to reassure him that apart from the crazy and wild antics of Mike (there’s no denying them!), more often than not, everyone describes him as authentic, dedicated, and … sweet. Some people interviewed were a even little hesitant at having them call Mike “sweet” on record, belying his image…but, hey — the truth is the truth. We’ll hook up with Lorenz at some point, and he promises lots of photos and cool stuff. And eventually, a photo credit for the pic to the right.

September 25, 2007. Needing a little sex appeal for the web-site, we’ve added this matinee-idol pose of Keith Elshaw from back in 1979, taken by our favourite Pogo photographer, Edie Steiner. Keith was the wizard who helped pull all the music together for The Last Pogo, and produced the album…and did the music mixes that are in the film. Still working in the biz, Keith’s developed a passion for … the tango. I mean, really, look at that picture: he looks like he should be tangoing! Tango, pogo, waltz — what’s the diff? Keith got hold of us after a little prod from Tony Malone (hello!), and we’re hoping to fire up the Pogo-mobile and head off to Montreal, where’ll we’ll interview Keith about The Last Pogo, eat bagels, and pretend to speak French. And, y’know, tango.

September 26, 2007. Hey, we’re going international! Okay, not really, but we’re going to give a plug to a pal of ours, L.A. photographer Theresa K. She’s about to hit the road with a collection of some of her best pics she took during the 1978 – 1980 L.A. Punk Scene. Apparently friends with everyone in that scene, Theresa’s intimate and candid shots are a refreshing change from the scowling portraits of punkers that we’re used to seeing. So click on THIS, and transport yourself through cyber-space to Theresa’s site, and drool over her snappy pics. And if you’re game — subscribe to her blog. It’s way fun.

September 28, 2007. We told ya you should check out Theresa K’s Punk Turns 30 website and blog, and today’s entry is all Canadian (or, “Canadien” as Theresa charmingly spells it). Interesting to hear an inside/outsiders perspective; Theresa starts off by mentioning Mods drummer (and LPJACCC Associate Producer) David Quinton, and then, after offering up that Canada is “mighty big and while lots of her square miles are far up north and inhabited by moose and tundra, there are a fair share of cities and many, many musicians”, Theresa blogs about Diodes, B-Girls, DOA and Joey Shithead, Bongo Beat Records, and on to contempory bands like Toronto’s Leather Uppers and Montreal’s Demon Claws. So, really — go there now, and check out her blog and her photos and her upcoming tour and even the ads.

October 8, 2007. The heavy lifting has begun. While we continue shooting until the spring, we’re simultaneously starting to edit. And it’s tough.

So far we’ve uploaded about 30 one hour tapes — about a third of the way through; we’ve also got a dozen hours or so of new live-in-concert footage of Teenage Head, The Mods, The Viletones, and more to sift through; then we’ve got virtually hundreds of photos and memorabilia to pull out, re-shoot, and start cataloguing. And then we’ve got to dig up some hard-to-get photos of the Horseshoe’s history (and more) from various public and private archival collections, and then… well…it just seems endless. But so far also endlessly fascinating.

Currently we’re in the most tedious phase of post: uploading. That is, replaying the stuff we’ve shot and sticking it into our editing software, Final Cut Pro. We’ve have to upload in “real time”, so if we’ve got a one hour tape to upload, it takes — you guessed it — one hour to upload. Once that’s done, then we go over the tape again, pulling out sequences that range from two second sound/pic bites to longer bits. That part isn’t tedious as much as it’s mind-boggling; if, for example, a one hour tape — even a mediocre interview — has, say, 30 three to five second quotes that are interesting or relevant or funny or whatever, well then we’ve got to make sense of it, and fit it into some sort of context. Imagine the work when you have over 100 hours of footage. And then imagine when we have a hundred more. And then imagine doing this mostly late at night, in between dinner and dog-walks and bed.

Once we got those all catalogued, we not only have to figure out what the heck it all means, but we have to endure some challenging moral and ethical questions, i.e. if we find a sound clip of someone saying something interesting about Artist “A”, but in the edit it seems more fitting to apply it to Artist “B”, then what do we do? If we did do that, then it’s not really truthful, as far as the person saying it goes. But if we think we can make a good, strong point by doing this sort of manipulation, then is it better to further the “truth” of the overall project, or stick to the original context? (Right now we’re aiming for what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness”.)

Okay, enough whining! So far we’re got the usual documentary pile of footage: some gold, and lots of mediocre stuff.

Time to haul out the external drive, the camera, and this laptop and keep on keepin’ on.

October 6, 2007. Andy Meyers of The Scenics sent us a jpg of the cover of the new, 2007 release, “How does it feel to be Loved”. True to the eccentric nature of the Pogo’s favourite band from back-in-the-day, they’ve chosen to release not a new studio album, not a re-release, but a live CD of covers of probably their favourite band. Once the i’s are crossed and the t’s are dotted, we’ll let you know when and where you can buy it.

Now that we’re spending hours and hours each day uploading all footage shot to date, the shooting is piling in the back-seat, while post-production is generating steam-heat.

October 2, 2007. Today we completed part two of our interview with ex-Dishes, and ex-Drastic Measures’ Tony Malone, out on the street, yo. We basically got to all the questions that we’d forgotten when we last met. Among other things, Tony talked about battling demons of both the chemical and music-industry types; how much he loved The Mods; and why he thinks Caligula was the first real punk. We also made contact with a couple of ghosts from the past, including Patsy Poison from The Curse, Greg Godowitz from Goddo (not that they were punk, but Greg’s a great talker, and sure to drop a couple of bon mots) and a couple of others that we won’t mention ’til we get it together. And don’t forgot: Free Last Pogo T-shirts! (“free” as in “liberate”, i.e. please buy some so I can ship them off and buy another round of video-tapes).

Now that Little Mosque on the Prairie is done for another season, Pogo HQ is buzzing with activity: trying to shoot at least two or three times a week, and finally uploading all of the original tapes into Final Cut Pro. Soon we’ll start to compile all the hundreds of still photos, badges, handbills, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia so we can shoot them properly for the film. And so while we’re at it, thanks again to everyone who’s offered to donate their photos, etc. for out little movie.

Finally, if you’re just not getting enough info on this, you can join the Facebook group The Last Pogo Jumps Again. Join it, make rude comments on the board, and help us track down some of the more elusive catches lurking somewhere on the globe today.

October 1, 2007. No shooting for the past few days, but we’ve finally started to download the material (100 hours plus) we’ve compiled since we started shooting in June, 2006. Digital editing is easy…once you learn how. We’re definitely at the lower end of the learning curve. But we struggled through, and managed to upload/download/get the raw footage into the Final Cut Pro System: critic Peter Goddard, gal about town Erella Vent, and Last Pogo stage manager, and former manager of Teenage Head, Paul Kobak. A few glitches here and there, including some pesky tapes that don’t want to remind. However, with phone-call/panic chats with editor Ryan Noth, we’re getting the hang of it. Although you know it’s not all clear sailing when you describe a problem you’re having, and your techy person answers “Hmmm….that’s weird…” But like Hunter Thompson so famously said, “When the goin’ get weird, the weird turn pro”. Hence the hourly calls to someone like Ryan Noth. (And Mr. Brunton? Please stfu when you’re asking people questions!).

October 8, 2007. So far, we’ve transferred from tape to hard-drive 30 X 1 hour tapes, and we’re about a third of the way through. Then we have to transfer the hours and hours of DVDs people have given us; select any relevant sound/pic bites from out 100 hours + of tape — and we’re going to keep shooting for at least another six months. Then we set up an animation stand and re-shoot all of the stills and memorabilia people have given us since we started the project back in June 2006. A Herculean task for sure. But fun.

And we keep hearing from people who were there, or in the scene, and the scope of the project just gets bigger: we’ve heard from Wales, Thailand and Korea; clues as to the whereabouts of various Pogo’ers from a few trusted sources in Toronto, and a healthy amount of gossip and rumours about others.

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