Essays, Interviews, Observations, Pop Culture, Stories, and other Dodginess

The Asshole Book Club Part 3

Posted on July 19, 2014

The latest edition of The Asshole Book Club met in Aidan’s new apartment near Revolution Brewing (Milwaukee Avenue).

Revolution is where I had my first date with Taby, a University of Illinois-Chicago student from Dubai. Taby – petite, pouty lips and a Middle Eastern beautiful mop of brown hair.

Our second date was the Asshole Book Club. Probably not the best move. But Taby seemed game and brought a book of French short stories. My book this time was Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski brought a story he’s working on about a mysterious cult that hung out around both Chicago and Indiana’s lakeshore and mysteriously disappeared. He says it’s a true story.

Norm brought a pocket First Aid book and some papers with scribblings about his going-ons with friends of his that included a visit to something called the Immaculate Conception Men’s Club.

I’ve described Norm before. He looks like a fat monk who wears Farm & Fleet shirts.

“Sometimes we also go to the Brauhaus after bowling,” Norm said. “Gunter, one of the owners, used to bowl in our league. I know Gody and Wolfgang and the two-man band. Greg dances with the old ladies and Frank dances with the young ones, if his wife isn’t there. A couple of times I had a nice blonde  with a backless blouse sitting on my lap.

I looked at Taby, who I think was giving me the same ear signal to leave that Natalie Portman used in Garden State.

“What the fuck is the Immaculate Conception Men’s Club,” Aidan said.
Norm replied that is was some “officially sanctioned church bar.”

“It’s not free,” he said. “But it’s cheaper than anywhere else.”

Aidan brought to the club a book of selected poems by W.B. Yeats. He’s been struggling over a recent breakup (though he won’t admit it). He said he tried to friend an ex-girlfriend of his on Facebook. He put in the request, but she has not accepted. He goes on there and just looks at his request. Sitting there. Unaccepted.

“I’ll keep that request on there like a fucking badge of honor,” he said. “Fuck it.”

The conversation turned to the book I brought. I talked about stories in the book from women and how my first three kisses were all forced upon me. (Three girls who ran in my older sister’s circle of friends). About a year ago a drunk girl in a bar out of nowhere grabbed my Irish apples. Another time one grabbed what people call my “Dublin ass” on the street outside a bar.

Norm’s was the best – or worst. He recalled leaving Bob Inn on Fullerton when an old woman tried to stick a broom handle up his ass.

The topic turned to Clive’s cult tale. This supposed cult had strategically placed telescopes in Chicago high rises and Indiana beach homes. All of which looked out at Lake Michigan. About a year ago they all disappeared. Clive says they all went out in small boats during a storm and never came back. Supposedly there was a waterspout – a tornado on the water. Clive says that from one, if not all the telescopes the cult has (or had) – sometimes you’d look through them and see just water. Endless water. Other times you’d see a cliff, or mountain. In the lake.

“I’m meeting someone next week – someone who says he escaped, or ran away from the cult the night they disappeared. You can go with me if you want. I’ll ask him if it’s OK.”

Of course I would go. I enjoy the mysterious and unusual.

“Get the fuck outta here, the two of you,” Aidan said. “That’s the last time I give you some of that Oak Park pot, Clive, you fucker.”

With that it was time to get Taby out of there and back to my place. “I’m gonna grab his Irish apples,” she told the others.

The Asshole Book Club image

Feel free to check out The Asshole Book Club and The Asshole Book Club Part 2.



She Broke My Heart, So I Talked To Her Pizza

Posted on June 28, 2014

I’m calling her Ana. A beautiful, smart, Serbian girl I recently dated. I didn’t want to, I didn’t plan it, but I fell for her. And naturally, she broke my heart. What sucks is that Ana was planning on making me a pizza. We’d gone out to Gino’s in Chicago and afterwards she said she make me her pizza. I’ve rarely looked forward to anything more. She was going to make me something. Food. I kept referring it to “Ana’s Pizza.” I couldn’t wait to have Ana’s Pizza. Now I don’t think I’ll ever get to try it.

So I interviewed her pizza. Well, it’s more of a chat really. And here it is. This is based on the actual one I emailed her earlier this month. There are a few slight changes. Ana – I would do anything, say anything, tell you anything, if I could see her again. (Note – this is not the same Serbian girl depicted in my essay about my junior high experience The Serbian Girl with Green Socks).

Ana’s Pizza

Ana’s Pizza: Will I ever be made for you?

Liffey: I hope so. I have a feeling you’d be delicious!

Ana’s Pizza: What do you like about Ana?

Liffey: She’s smart, mature, and funny. She’s beautiful inside and out. She has good taste, sexy long legs and an amazing doupa. It’s fun to introduce her to new things in the city. I liked how she called Wrigley Field a football field. I liked how she’d say “I missed you” after picking her up.

Ana’s Pizza: How do you think she feels about you?

Liffey: I don’t know. It can’t be good if I haven’t heard from her. But I’d like to think she misses me a little bit. I thought we got along great. I thought we were a good team.

Ana’s Pizza: The two of you talked about taking a trip?

Liffey: Yes. Maybe a two-day trip to Miami, New Orleans, or Mt. Rushmore. Wherever. I’d love to do that this summer.

Ana’s Pizza: Other thoughts?

Liffey: I just want to pick up where we left off. I’d like to do something like we’ve done or whatever Ana wants to do.

Ana’s Pizza: I hope she makes me for you.

Liffey: So do I! We’d eat a good meal and drink a good drink.

Ana’s Pizza: What should I tell her? Any updates since you spoke last?

Liffey: I replaced the windshield on my Jeep. I don’t know if she remembered it had a crack going down the middle from the winter. I’ve also been practicing my Serbian. I’m an Irish idiot, she’s a Serbian princess. My mantra has been: I will do anything, say anything, tell her anything if I could see her again.

Ana’s Pizza: I hope you get to see her again. And one last thing.

Liffey: What’s that?

Ana’s Pizza: Your name is stupid.


Talking “Treme” with Davis Rogan

Posted on June 15, 2014

“To be a fly on the wall for that fucking thing”

If you’re going to interview Davis Rogan at a small  table outside Three Muses on Frenchmen Street between his sets expect interruptions.

There was one guy, who I’m not really sure what he wanted. I think it was money. But Rogan explained to him what he was earning for his gig and the man was off. A few fans walked by with a “great job” (to Rogan, not me) or “love you/love your music.”  Another passerby asked Rogan where Adolfo’s was (above the Apple Barrel, also featured in Treme).  “Alex Chilton and I used to eat at Adolfo’s often,” Rogan says.

Then legendary cornetist Jack Fine walks by. Rogan asks him to sit in on his next set. And he did.


Davis Rogan at Three Muses (May 30) photo by Liffey

One of the lead characters on HBO’s Treme, which had its final season in December, was based on Rogan. Steve Zahn played Davis McAlary, a radio DJ and band member/leader – like Rogan.

Rogan also served as a consultant on Treme and was a writer on one of the episodes. He also appeared in several episodes as a member of McAlary’s band, DJ Davis and the Brassy Knoll. 

According to Treme creator David (The Wire) Simon came to know Rogan through his music and became so close that Rogan taught piano to Simon’s son.

At the end of May The Dodgy took a trip to New Orleans. I decided to look up Davis Rogan and requested an interview. After his first set, during which I enjoyed fish tacos and several pints of NOLA Rebirth Pale Ale, we took our spots outside.

How did it feel to have a lead character on Treme based on you and for you to be an integral part of the show?

What an amazing thing to have somebody pick you – an aspiring piano player and songwriter – to have somebody pick you and it becomes this. (David Simon) decides you’re going to be one of the characters on one of his shows – that’s a major life changer, of course. Best of all is David handled it very sensitively. Because there came a point in time  where the character of Davis was going to be an ass. An untalented ass. And I had to role with it.

Davis Rogan Steve Zahn Steve Earle pic

Davis Rogan and Steve Zahn as Davis. And freakin’ Steve Earle!

Favorite memories from the show? 

Getting to meet and spend a little time with Elvis Costello on the set was amazing. Then when Simon told me he sent Elvis some of my new material, man, it don’t get better for an aspiring songwriter.

Also the chance to work with David Mills on the script (season 1 episode 7). He was a great guy and that was a great opportunity.

Season One.

There was a lot of “where do you place me” and “how do I best serve the unit.” and season one I wore all the hats. Then we reached season two and it kind of became, “I will  be the guy where every time you see Davis write a song, that’s me.” I became the songwriter for the character Davis.

If I consider…the weirdest fact of all is if I consider Galactic and Kermit Ruffins my peers and Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint my idols, out of all my peers and idols I got the most songs on the show.

During a break in filming of one episode Rogan recants the scene in an upstairs room at The Blue Nile. It involved him, Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr. and someone else. 

We’re talking about the history of cocaine abuse in New Orleans in the 80s. Holy Fucking…to be a fly on the wall for that fucking thing.

Davis Rogan Wendell Pierce pic

Davis Rogan and Wendell Pierce on “Treme.”

Davis Rogan B-sides

“Before David Simon gave a shit about me Alex Chilton did. Gotta love Alex. I miss him too.”

Rogan says Simon had in mind five seasons for Treme. It lasted three and a half. It would have ended with the Saints winning the Super Bowl (which was mentioned in a sort of “flash forward” in the final episode).

I met Rogan’s wife, who is beautiful and very cool. Well done Davis Rogan!

I had to leave before Rogan finished his final set. But I came back when it was over and saw his drummer sitting outside Three Muses. I asked him if Davis was inside. He says, “Yea, and tell him to pay me my fucking money.” I felt like I was in an episode of Treme. Those who know the show will understand. Truly awesome.

Check out this article on cornetist Jack Fine. I actually had Mr. Fine take my iPhone and snap a pic of Rogan and me.

Before Rogan’s set started  a few of us were talking outside. A funny bald guy was there. Someone said something to him and he said he was in Treme. And shit…I know him. It was actor James DuMont, just hanging out. He played Capt. Richard LaFouchette on the show and had several scenes with Melissa Leo’s character.

James DuMont image

James DuMont of “Treme” just hanging out in front of Three Muses.

For more on Davis Rogan, and if you’re in New Orleans, find out where he’s playing at








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