Published Jan 25, 2010If you've ever wondered why Toronto's first wave punk scene lacks the oral histories, band biographies, and memoirs pouring out of similar scenes, Treat Me Like Dirt is for you — as evidenced by a first printing selling out a week before its release. "I didn't know that any of this had happened the way I knew that New York and London had these great punk movements," says author Liz Worth. "When I found out we had the same thing going on here, I was really interested in finding out what had happened. The more I started listening to these bands, the more I tried to dig deeper into their histories. There was nothing. And I was waiting and waiting for a book or a movie to come out about it. I just decided I should do it myself."
Worth, a Toronto-based journalist, spent years compiling the interviews that comprise Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, delving deep into the world of mid-'70s to early '80s Southern Ontario. The result is a compelling collection of tales from scene founders and bystanders, from pillars Teenage Head to lesser-known but equally valuable bands like Johnny and the G-Rays. Even stripped of its musical content, the book is a fascinating look at a strange time in Canada's cultural history. Yet despite — or maybe because of — being the first of its kind, it was met with diffidence by Canadian publishers. "There's a lot of resistance towards things being Toronto-centric," says Worth. "No one in the States would ever question the validity of a book about New York. That's ridiculous. But it happens here. So now there can be a book about punk in Winnipeg, punk in Vancouver, and punk from the East Coast." We can't wait.