Simon, New Orleans, and the Davis Rogan connection

First, to set the stage, the standard NuPac head shot. Davis Rogan, Ben Franklin High School yearbook, 1982:

davis.jpg

Margaret Talbot of the New Yorker first broke the news provided more details about David Simon’s widely talked-about next venture, an HBO series about musicians struggling to make it in post-flood New Orleans. Simon doesn’t know New Orleans like he knows Baltimore (although the similarities are endless) so he’s enlisted the aid of musician and Mardi Gras Indian Donald Harrison, Jr., trumpeter and future mayor Kermit Ruffins, and a gregarious fast-talking scatterbrained pianist and ex-WWOZ DJ named Davis Rogan.

Davis went to my high school, we played soccer together (both ineptly), and although we didn’t hang out we have close friends in common. He’s my daughter’s new piano teacher, starting her out on “Tipitina”; turns out he’s also Simon’s son’s teacher, and I believe the boy is supposed to be practicing his “Big Chief” at the moment (and he had Rebirth playing at his Bar Mitzvah).

I had a copy of The Corner (the book) on the couch when Davis was over last week, which got us talking about The Wire, and the conversation got more and more excited until the wife says, “you know, you two sound like a couple of Trekkies” and Davis said, “We are, only I’ve got Gene Rodenberry’s cell number on my speed dial”. Snap!

Davis’s CD got a mention on the blog of Blake Leyh, music supervisor and composer of the closing theme of The Wire. It’s a must-have of New Orleans R&B, if only for the autobiographical “I Quit!”, which details every job he was ever fired from, and features a great sing-along chorus:

FUCK all of you bitches!
I’m so sick of your shit.
Youuuuu caaaaaaan’t fire me…..I quit!

And don’t get me started on the “dick-sucking strippers moving into my neighborhood…”

Davis got a song in Episode 51, in a bar scene, and apparently his CD is on Simon’s iPod right between James Booker and Professor Longhair. He also does an absolutely deadly imitation of Felicia Pearson, which is funny as hell when you hear her voice coming out of the mouth of a 6’4″ geeky scraggly-haired white boy with a soul patch.

Anyways, we talked about Simon’s future work, and some of it is off the record (he was going to put me on the phone with Simon at one point to ask what I can print, but connectivity in our neighborhood was spotty that night), but here’s what’s safe to say:

  • Generation Kill, Simon’s miniseries about the 2003 Iraq invasion based on the book by Evan Wright, is in the can already and HBO is waiting to slot it into the schedule at the right time.
  • The pilot of the New Orleans series is written, and is locked in a drawer in Simon’s desk, and nobody, not HBO or Davis or his other New Orleans advisors, will get to read it until the writer’s strike is over. Simon is pro-union, obviously (damn straight!) and he ain’t no scab, so pencils down means pencils down.
  • Davis saw the first seven pages of the pilot before the strike, and offered corrections for accuracy, and Simon took every correction seriously, so apparently he’s adamant that the New Orleans show will ring true to New Orleanians the way The Wire has to Baltimore corner boys, cops, and longshoremen. (Sample correction: Original script said “October morning, Such-and-Such Social Aid Club parades through the Ninth Ward” and Davis said “Well, if it’s the Such and Such club, it’s not October, it’s the second Sunday in November, and it’s not the Ninth Ward, it’s the Sixth Ward” and Simon said “okey-doke”). This ain’t no K-Ville.

Davis Rogan’s MySpace is here if you wanna keep up with the man. Ashley, next time he plays we need to get the rollergirl spouses to watch the kids and go out to see him.

All you snowbound and Texan NuPaccers are invited to attend, obviously.

[Updated Feb. 7 based on feedback in comments.]

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11 Comments

  1. Just the snowbound NuPaccers are invited?

    fine.

    ….ain’t gonna be no good party w/out the two Texas girls, lemme tell ya.

  2. Oh, yeah, “and the rest”, as they say on Gilligan’s Island.

    ;p

  3. Having a party without the TX Two? Hear any trains, Francis? 🙂 We aim and hit…

  4. Yeah, I think it’s either the Hill Country Flyer or the Missouri Pacific, depending on whether you coming with the 9 or the shotgun.

    Aww, you know you Texas kids are always welcome to hang out with us Katricians. We’ll even give you a place to sleep.

  5. That Generation Kill series sounds intense to say the least. Did you see the Last Kind of Scotland?

  6. No, I liked the first kind better. Not so many damn Romans.

  7. I always get suspicious when someone claims to have “broken the news.” There are references to “Generation Kill” on the “Wire” news links site back to Variety’s article on February 28, 2007, a full 8 months before Margaret Talbot “broke” anything about it. Sorry.

  8. Okay, so i don’t read very well. My point is actually stronger on the New Orleans project as David Simon discusses it with me in our conversation dated December 4, 2006.

  9. …and before that on August 16, 2006. I’ll shut up now.

  10. Apologies. I was just going by a comment I thought Davis made in my living room last week; he may have misspoke or I may have misheard (seriously, have you ever had a conversation with this guy?), or maybe Davis was referring to her spilling the news about who he was using for advisors (unless you beat us to that too), or possibly neither one of us (definitely not me, I’m new to this) was aware of your scoop. Certainly there is much more detail in the Talbot piece than in your August 16 piece, but it wasn’t my intention to step on the toes of your massive body of work.

  11. No need to apologize. I’m just setting the record straight on “breaking news” and putting my fingers in your eyes probably a little more than I should. 😉


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