The Asshole Book Club wasn’t your traditional book club. The Assholes didn’t all choose one book, read it on their own, and then return as a group to discuss it. That never happened. The Asshole Book Club would get together, drink some beers, and talk about something we read recently – whether it was a magazine article, love letter, diary entry, album/DVD linear notes or an actual book. The only rule was it had to be non-Web material.

The Asshole Book Club was led by Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski. In fact, I believe the name stems from a time when we were helping Clive set up a booth at a local festival.

“Well look there, it’s the asshole book club.” I think it was Beer Belly Bob who said it. It was the only time I’ve seen Beer Belly outside of Mickey’s Tavern.

So along with Clive, and myself, the assholes were made up of the following core: Spider, Cookie Roy, Norm, Shea, Dr. Belz, and English Dave. Sometimes a random female would join us. Usually it was one of our friends or girlfriends. One, who I called Kat, had improbable curls and was a DePaul cheerleader.

When we gathered it was at Clive’s Bucktown apartment. But one time we went to Shea’s, in Wrigleyville. I remember it being so small that when you got off the toilet in the bathroom your ass would rub against the sink. Examples of the books/readings we discussed: Mammals of the Northern Rockies, What Would Buffy Do?, Slacks in The Barn, Hide This Spanish Book, and Whores on The Hill. Spider once brought Motor Trend magazine. The cheerleader brought an essay she wrote called “Melody of Industry” that fused electronic body music and a college girl who enjoyed sexual foreplay with strangers. One of my favorites was an essay by Clive entitled “Sloe Gin.” It was about Clive and his friends playing the drinking game Quarters with sloe gin. Clive wrote that he wore a tight Smiths “Hatful of Hollow” T-shirt during the game. One of the selections I discussed at the Asshole Book Club was “Fucking & Punching.” This was the fictional novel written by David Duchovony’s Hank Moody character in “Californication” that was stolen and taken credit for by Mia, that nefarious Lolita.

Most of the time the Asshole Book Club turned into the Asshole Poker Club. We’d play traditional poker but make up some games as well, such as one called “Clive’s Mother’s Dog.” We’d always have what we called The Bad Beer Hand. The worst loser of this hand would have to drink a single can of bad beer that one designated Asshole brought to the game. I used to find mine at a nearby liquor store that stocked a big barrel with single shitty cans of beer. One of the hardest beers to go down in this game was Meister Brau.

Our tradition was that after the meeting of the Asshole Book Club we’d head to a nearby pub such as Mickey’s, The Web, Liar’s Club, Quenchers, or The Mutiny – home of the half pitchers of beer. It’s where I’m off to now.

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