Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell – Toronto Punk photos and gigs circa 1977 – 1978

Vince Carlucci is the guitarist and co-founder of the CARDBOARD BRAINS. The CARDBOARD BRAINS were an important part of the early Toronto punk scene. They appeared in the Last Pogo, they released two eps and a live LP, they played regularly with the VILETONES and the UGLY. It goes without saying that they were an important part of Toronto’s punk scene.

The flyer

The Oz Gallery, 134 Ossington Avenue

Well Vince has been writing a book titled “I Was a Cardboard Brain”. Although it sounds like a biography on the band Vince tells me it is more about the observations of someone witnessing an explosion of music at the time. As a member of one of those bands he will have some unique stories and shared a few of them with me just before the closing night of the exhibit. Anyway, the exhibit started out as an accident. Vince was looking through his pictures for the book he is writing and a friend of his realized that he had an exhibit in his boxes. He encouraged Vince to blow these photos up and put together an exhibit. The photos capture some iconic moments the way Don Pyle’s “Trouble in the Camera Club” did.

Like Don’s exhibit, Vince’s shots are in stark black and white. And Vince speaks very highly of Don’s photos and his eye for taking a shot. For the exhibit Vince focused on the liberators of punk who made it to Toronto. The Ramones, the Dead Boys, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Blondie, and Vince has great stories that accompany each photo. The Blondie shots show how nervous she was performing to the Toronto audience. It was early in her career. The guitarist in Patti Smith’s band came in and saw the exhibit and he did the audio sync up for the movie “Blank Generation” which was the movie that the Gary Topp first started showing about this thing called punk. David Bowie playing keyboards for Iggy Pop at Seneca College just before “Lust for Life” had come out. The Ramones shot at the New Yorker , which was the same gig that Peter Gabriel of GENESIS walked out of. The stories go on.

And these icons of punk played along side our own icons. There is a great shot of Steve Leckie in leather with his hands sneaking down his pants. The photo strips of the UGLY in a rehearsal space are precious and playful making for some of the best pictures I have ever seen of the band. A live shot of the CURSE at the Crash ‘n Burn is an amazing shot and Mickey Skin said it was the first shot she has ever seen of the CURSE playing live. She was so floored with the photos that she brought her parents back and Vince was telling me of some of the amazing recollections Mickey’s mom had on the local scenesters. I wish I were a fly on the wall for those stories.

The picture of the Curse

One of two walls of punk icons, the liberators of punk.

And keeping in the punk tradition, Vince also put up a wall of flyers. Loads of flyers I have never seen before.

The last roll of photos that Vince took was of the CARDBOARD BRAINS. Vince was telling me that once he got involved in the band, his photo shooting days stopped. It’s sad really, but at least we have some incredible evidence of a scene breaking. The CARDBOARD BRAINS portrait is stunning and looks like it was in a basement rehearsal space. That’s where it always starts out. And the photo is bordered with the flyers.

So the exhibit has closed down although the restaurant, REPOSADOS LOUNGE at 136 Ossington Avenue, will continue to hang some of the shots. If you missed the exhibit some of it lives on at REPOSADOS. A 3 foot by 4 foot framed shot of Iggy lives among some of the others. I asked Vince about some of the photos that didn’t make it in this exhibit and there are others which include the BOYFRIENDS and the TOYS in the mix. Vince is working on his next showing and is getting back to his writing, but you can order prints at vxcc@sympatico.ca.

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