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Twin Peaks' Jack Dolan Remembers Growing Up in Rogers Park

We asked the musician to relive his childhood on the far North Side, and also give us a few good places to grab some food.

by Caroline Thompson
Feb 3 2016, 5:00am

Photo courtesy of Twin Peaks

Jack Dolan of the band Twin Peaks grew up in Rogers Park, and he's got fond memories of stirring up trouble in the area with fellow band member Caiden James. We asked him to relive his childhood on the far north side, and then give us a few good places to grab some food.

VICE: What's your earliest memory of Rogers Park?
Jack Dolan: I grew up there with Cadien, and I lived there from the age of four or five until just after high school. All of my early memories involve just hanging out with him a lot. When we first moved there it was kind of sketchy, but overall it's a very community-based place. It's like its own little town—it's very diverse and there's a huge Mexican influence. But it's a lot different now than it was when I was a kid.

How so?
I have this one crazy memory of finding a syringe in my front yard when I was like seven years old and thinking that it was really cool. I wanted to play with it and my dad totally freaked out, because, yeah, that was pretty fucked up. I don't really see that kind of thing too much anymore. There's a lot more upscale bars and restaurants moving in around the Morse train stop area. It's getting very gentrified very quickly. They took all the rims down off of the basketball hoops around where I used to live. It's kind of a bummer.

Describe your relationship with the Red Line.
Both me and Cadien went to high school at John's College Prep, which is in the South Loop, basically at the opposite end of the city from Rogers Park. So we would get on the train at at least 7 AM every morning and take the Red Line to school. We did that for four years back and forth, all the time. When I visit other cities, I get such an appreciation for Chicago having such a dope transportation system. I don't even drive anymore. It's just so easy to get around.

Everyone takes the train in Chicago. You never really know what to expect because of that. You'll get on with businessmen in the morning and then take the same train at night and see a totally different crowd.

What's the weirdest thing that's ever happened to you on the CTA?
There's been a lot of weird things. I saw a knife fight on the train once. That was pretty crazy. Some lady puked a bunch right next to me and my friends one time. And both of those things actually happened during the day, which is great.

You get all sorts of dudes talking about crazy shit at all hours of the day on the train. We used to be badasses and drink and smoke cigs and weed on the train, but now we're a little more refined. We don't like to break the rules as much as we used to. But yeah, weird shit happens on the CTA, it's just part of life.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood character?
There was this lady—I'm pretty sure she was on crack but she was always so nice to us—she used to call us "angel babies" whenever we talked to her. She would carry a radio around and sing loud 70s classic rock. She was really into Janis Joplin and stuff like that. We'd be walking around and you'd hear her scream off in the distance "FUCK YEAH JIMI HENDRIX!!" whenever a song she liked came on her radio. I wonder if she's still around. I haven't seen her in a while.

What are the best places to eat in Rogers Park?
Cadien's parents started this place called the Heartland Cafe a long time ago. They've since sold it, but we used to eat there all the time, and we loved it. The best pizza in Rogers Park by far is J.B. Alberto's pizzeria. That place is fucking awesome. There are a ton of small places around that don't really have names or signs that have really good burgers on Clark Street. I have no idea what any of them are called, but if you walk around there you'll find something cheap and good to eat. I haven't gone to any of the newer upscale restaurants that they've started putting around there just because it's not really my thing. In my opinion, Rogers Park specializes in good, cheap food.

Best places to drink?
Definitely the Red Line Tap. They do rap nights on Saturdays, I think. They bring in people from St. Louis and Kentucky and Michigan and they come through and it's just a good time. It's free, there are cheap drinks, and it's really fun. It's a little dive right next to the Heartland.

Where do you go when you want to be alone with your thoughts?
The lake is right there. It's so close, and it's probably the most serene part of the lake you can find in Chicago. A lot of the lakefront is just really busy, especially when you get close to downtown. It's kind of a suburban getaway for a lot of people. Cadien and I used to work at a hot dog stand right on the beach called Stand in the Sand, and that was like the most peaceful job ever. We didn't get that much business which was nice for us. We would just smoke weed and hang out on the beach all day.

There's also a park we used to go to all the time called Indian Boundary that has a little zoo in it. It's got an all wood playground and it's cool to just go over there, even late at night just to kick it and chill.

Have you ever willingly or unwillingly ridden a Divvy Bike?
Nope. Never. I don't know if I ever will. They just look so dorky.

What's the coolest shop in the neighborhood?
There are a lot of them. I really love this music store that we got lessons from when we first started playing music seriously. We were probably 12 or 13. It's called Flatts & Sharpe, and we spent a lot of time there. It's a little tiny shop and they have a great group of teachers and people who just really like music. They were so great to us when we were younger. Now, my little brother gets lessons there too, so I've got a lot of love for that place.

What is an experience you've had in Rogers Park that you'd use as a metaphor for the neighborhood as a whole?
We played this festival called the Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest. We've done it twice now, and it's got food and art and is basically just a block party for Rogers Park. I think it really encapsulates every aspect of the neighborhood. Everyone's invited, there's a lot of mutual respect and community love, and you feel safe. To have something that really brings everyone together and celebrates the neighborhood, I think that really speaks to the essence of the Rogers Park.

*****

JACK DOLAN'S QUICK PICKS

Favorite bus line: 49 Western
Favorite hot dog joint: Budacki's.
Worst outfit you've worn during a polar vortex: Tight jeans without any long johns under them.