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Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, 1977-1981 Paperback – October 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Every once in a while, maybe in every century, a city has its moment. And I think a lot of Toronto’s moment was between 1976 and 1980. There was just an incredible amount of energy in Toronto. I think it was a pretty boring place before all of us. We kind of were the instigators in terms of changing an awful lot of the direction of the city, artistically and musically and stylistically. People wanted Toronto to be more New York than New York, but keep its own identity. They wanted it to be important; they wanted it to matter. A lot of what I see in Toronto now is the product of what we created in a five-year period of time.”  —Paul Robinson, lead singer, The Diodes



"The people involved were, and are, intensely passionate about the music, the Toronto scene, their places in it. Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond 1977-1981 reflects its subjects; it's filled with that same punk intensity and passion." —www.PopMatters.com (November 2011)


"[E]asily one of the best rock biographies you'll read this year." —Montreal Mirror (November 2011)

About the Author

Liz Worth is the author of "Eleven: Eleven." She has contributed to "ChiZine," "Clamor," "ditch," and "Punk Planet." She lives in Toronto. Gary Pig Gold is a pop musicologist and veteran of the 1977 Toronto scene. He managed the "Pig Paper," Canada's very first self-published music fanzine, and released the first single by the band Simply Saucer. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press; Updated edition (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770410678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770410671
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,397,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kasey G on October 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Treat Me Like Dirt" is an incredible work that allows the reader to experience a movement as if it was happening all over again. I was about ten years too young to make the trek to Toronto and experience the punk explosion there in 1977.

Rather than researching the story and writing it in her own words, Liz Worth and Gary "Pig" Gold have used the unique approach of editing extensive interviews with the bands, groupies, punks and observers who lived in Toronto and were at the heart of the scene as it was happening. There are nearly 400 pages here but the type is small enough that the content is probably the equivalent of a 700 or 800-page book. Lots of black-and-white photos enhance the story and there is a handy "Cast of Characters" at the front, which is helpful in keeping all the "players" straight.

If there is one star of this book, it's undoubtably Steven Leckie of the Viletones. He seems to have the distinction of giving the most quotes, and being the most-mentioned character. The Diodes and Teenage Head also get honours for most-mentioned.

Being more of a fan of the Art-Crowd music from this period such as The Dishes and The Poles, I wasn't bored by the coverage of the heavier punk bands such as the Ugly, The Curse or Forgotten Rebels. In fact, the more I got into this book, the more interested I became. Not only does it discuss the music scene, but you really get a feel for the era in Toronto and the rush this music brought to a generation of kids in search of something new and raw. The book pinpoints certains events that changed the scene, such as the murder of a 12-year-old shoeshine boy in a seedy red-light district that rocked headlines, as well as the arrival of a violent gang of hoodlums known as the Blake Street Boys.
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Format: Paperback
This book covers a lot of ground - possibly too much. Unless you were in or around Toronto at that time, some of the cast of characters may be less interesting to outsiders. This book is a great document of that time/scene BUT...

My two main complaints are a) the way it was printed: the text runs very close to the spine, so you really have to crack the book wide open to read it. This seems like a very basic design thing that was overlooked ? and b) it needed a more ruthless and skilled editor. Where "Please Kill Me" wildly succeeds - with sharp humour, chronological anecdotes and the shorthand given to stars from that scene (ie Patti Smith, NY Dolls, the Ramones, etc.) - this book falls short. I just felt like many of these people were horrible, artless jerks - as spoken from their own voice, and the accounts of others. An inordinate amount of attention is lavished on Steve Leckie - who seems like an exploitative psychopath - who exhibits little musical or artistic merit. He is able to exploit his persona as "Nazi Dog" to shock the mainstream media, after his teenage glitter phase runs out of steam - then morphs into a Toronto rockabilly dude. He was photogenic, I guess, but ???

I wasn't there as it happened - but I assume there were writers, filmmakers, poets, and other artistic agitators on that scene. I never get a real sense of their presence, contributions or voice. "Please Kill Me" had me laughing all the way through, whereas "Treat Me Like Dirt" made me feel uncomfortable and tired. Other documents from the early days of punk, like the ReSearch reprints of the "Search and Destroy" zine, made me think there were interesting, thoughtful, creative people functioning on many levels of evolving punk culture.
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By Donald Rodgers on September 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it was informative but i didn't like the way it was written kind of all over the place. I was hoping it was going to cover some of the hardcore bands from toronto as well but it just covered the same few bands.
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