We’ve had a handful of Twin Peaks connections over the last few years – Sherilyn Fenn most recently, and Mark Frost not too long before that. Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.
I think back on those early Saturday mornings of my youth. I Love Lucy on television, my parents squabbling in the kitchen about delinquent bills and missing pills. Me? I’m out in the backyard helping my younger sister learn how to read; her hands, gripping a tiny piece of chalk, slide across a rusty easel.
I was a big time loner back then: timid, buck-toothed, and into classical music and John Cage. After too many days of hiding behind the basketball courts sipping on cherry soda, I befriended a few other oddball companions in an effort to abandon my one-person social circle.
And then, there was David Lynch.
How did he pop our brain-cherries? Even at that young age it was obvious to me that his films had impacted the lives of his fans. But what of Twin Peaks? Recently, I invited my good friend Esme over for a revisitation of the original series, before we embarked on the reboot. And what started off as nostalgic turned into quite a life-altering adventure.
“So, Esme, what do you remember about our Twin Peaks marathon?”
“I think it was the year 2000. Your new friend Todd came over. He brought the whole series with him, on VHS. We all snuck in to your bedroom at your parents house. Climbing the brick wall in the backyard, leaping over piles of dog shit and broken lawn mowers.”
“My Aunt Mildred was so upset! She brought out the Bible and tried to convince us that what we were doing was ‘wrong’.”
“You had that 11 inch TV/VCR combo in your bedroom. There were like, 8 or 9 of us squeezed into your tiny room.”
“Remember all those smells?”
“Oh Gina, how could I not!? The rain on the high desert vegetation coming in through the window. Our bodies excreting that thick lovely B.O., musky marijuana dragon breath, cottonmouth cracking lips, the faint chemicals of freshly bleached hair -“
“…yes! Patchouli drenched skin, warm hazelnut creamer caked beneath our fingernails, month-old hallucinogens…”
We were hesitant about the new Twin Peaks at first; it was a little too slow, and at times too violent for our taste. But by the fourth episode, and even though Esme and I are both hyper-critical of the trend in TV reboots, we were won over.
Now, when it’s the middle of the night and you’re engaged with David Lynch, your mind is naturally going to start playing tricks on you. During Esme’s bathroom break she swore she overheard a woman mumbling about “Dougie’s revenge” and a well-rehearsed recipe for pulled pork. I told her it was probably nothing. Yet when I was in the kitchen grabbing some more black beans and tampons, my nose caught a hint of freshly cut pine wood.
“Do you smell something out of the ordinary?” I whispered to Esme as I sat down next to her. Esme took in a few whiffs along with me. She grabbed onto my shoulder and stomped her feet,
“I told you something weird was going on, we gotta call it a night! NO MORE LYNCH!” We looked at one another for a minute, palms gripping tighter onto the bottle of nail polish remover that lay between us on the the couch. As I leaned over to hit play on my computer, Esme began shaking her head “no”, covering her eyes, sticking out her tongue. I bit mine. Then, there was a knock at the door. 2am on a Wednesday?
I gave her those “I think it’s for you” eyes, and nudged her off the couch.
Esme ran to the front door, hunched over, her pit hair a silhouette as she peeked through the blinds with a Slim Jim beefstick raised in her hand.
“Oh crap. Gina…you’re not gonna believe this.”
She opened up the front door to reveal our new house guest.
The ghost of Laura Palmer.
This was no trick. Laura had come to whisk us away to a secret bookstore in the town of Twin Peaks. Esme and I laughed blissfully for a second, then realized she’d obviously left the Black Lodge for a reason. So we asked Ms Palmer what the scoop on Agent Cooper was. Would the Log Lady make an appearance? And a hundred other questions. Laura extended her arms and gripped our hands. I checked my pockets to make sure I had the house keys. Our feet dangled above the ground…
And then, in the blink of an eye, we were standing in the brightly lit storefront of the Red Room Bookstore, nestled away in Ghostwood Forest. It could have easily been mistaken for the Black Lodge itself; minimal furnishings, chevroned carpets, black leather couches, and those lush veridian curtains. The Giant motioned us to sit and play a game of poker with him, but we decided to proceed across the dizzying main hall instead. And there it was, tucked behind the curtains. At least a mile of extremely well maintained bookshelves. The sections? Philosophy, True Crime, and Occult, to name a few. Next to the botany section, Leland was tending to an aquarium of emerald green Tiger Beetles who were feasting on the carcases of butterflies, and…
“That’s bat dung. They love it” spoke a gentle yet sweaty Leland, dropping frozen moth larvae in through the top of the aquarium. At the front counter, adjacent to the cooking section, we discovered a modest display case of just about every type of pie you could imagine. With a sign that read “Purchase 3 books, get a Free Slice!” The Man from Another Place was picking the blossoms off the Calypso orchids that lined the entire ceiling, their beauty an island of truth bearing a reflection in Laura’s deep childlike gaze. She spoke, squeezing the bud of a lush bloom.
“As you can tell, we’ve started to blend in elements inspired by the White Lodge, per my suggestion.”
Laura then proceeded to tell us in detail about the revamped town of Twin Peaks. It had become a sort of woman’s utopia. There were no more murders to be solved; the women were no longer the helpless victims of violent tragedies. In fact, they ran the town, maintained all the shops and the non-existent crime wave.
What a pleasant surprise! The ghost of Laura Palmer treated Esme and me to some fresh cherry pie. Mmmm. Afterwards, we began to scour the shelves of the Red Room Bookstore.
Instinct – Robert C. Birney & Richard C. Teevan – Charming little paperback, moldy, some pages falling out. Various authors take the reader through: egg laying instincts and the phenomenon behind the antelope breeding cycle, behavioral analysis in cats, rats, the chimpanzee, the cow-bird, and lessons in basic zoology. There’s a bookmarked section, here on page 91. “The Effects of Meprobamate on Imprinting in Waterfowl”, by Eckhard H. Hess…which discusses the early learning periods of adult behavior in birds, as well as details on experimental procedures in ‘future learning’ and ‘intersexual fixations’. Agent Cooper showed up, and looked through the book, mumbling something about the fact that he already had three copies.
Killing for Culture: An Illustrated History of Death Film from Mondo to Snuff – David Kerekes & David Slater – Hmm I wouldn’t be surprised if Lynch had this book on his shelves at one point in time. A diverse history of films about wife swapping and alcoholics chewing on boot polish, such as the film Sweden — Heaven and Hell, 1968, by Luigi Scattini. The tunes at the time were blasted from Volkswagen stereo systems, blaring Tiny Tim. You are taken hostage! Tons of illustrations, poster art, and more —like Mondo Teeno’s battle cry, “MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR!!!!”. But then we enter the more gruesome history -virgins being cremated alive during fertility rituals. It’s unknown if the girl really did kick the bucket, all for the sake of that one scene, but my sources tell me it’s unlikely. Then you have the snuff films like Kwaheri, and in color too. Witch doctors, Pygmy sex orgies, and unfortunately, a ton of racist commentary. Nonetheless, it’s our filmic history – not exactly an enlightened one. It was the 60’s; we can look at these documents to make sense of why the world seems so backwards these days.
The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home – Arin Murphy-Hiscock – This could come in handy. The ghost of Laura Palmer slid this one off the shelf for me. She told me to open it up to page 116…okay, Chapter Seven, “Protecting House and Home”, a segment of the book that states although security cameras and locks on doors are helpful, there are many different ways we need to protect our sanctuaries on a spiritual level. Apparently, it’s essential to focus on the energy levels in your living space, and not to ignore storage areas, attics, or garage corners. Observe the energy of each room, and make sure to take notes of all your findings. Recipes and spells for creating energy boundaries begin with “Threshold Protection Rituals”. There’s even a ritual in here for conjuring up the spirits of the kitchen gods and goddesses. Back off Leland, this one comes home with me!
A Year From Monday – John Cage – I had a copy of this book back in high school. This specific collection of Cage’s work inspired me to do one thing: take a chance in life – like, when deciding on whether or not to do the Twin Peaks marathon or confessing my love to that one goth boy I had a crush on for months on end. Not strictly a collection of essays or poetry, A Year From Monday provides the Chance Operations enthusiast with intimate lectures and prose, including the work titled MOSAIC – thoughts and remarks that Cage had collected while working with the composer Arnold Schoenberg. “The earth is a vale of tears, and not a place of entertainment.” Cage held various other experiments. On page 77 he reveals the struggle and methodology behind analyzing the “impenetrable jungle” of paintings and sculpture, “Make something, a kind of object which as it changes or falls apart (dies as it were) or increases in its parts (grows as it were) offers no clue as to what its state or form or nature was at any previous time. Physical and Metaphysical Obstinacy. Could this be a useful object?” Mmm providing mental oscillations, dear John, we thank you for these insights. I wonder if Lynch and Agent Cooper are fans of his work?
How the Other Half Lives – Jacob A. Riis – I’d never lived in New York, but Esme spent some time there in her youth. This book goes into great detail about the “Fever-breeding structures” in NY that were built in the late 1800’s. These were apartments meant to house up to twelve families in each flat. At this time, people rented out their attics, packed children into bathtubs when it was time for bed, and so on. Sanitation became a huge issue, as you could imagine. On Mulberry Street they had the “Stale-beer Trust” -but beware of the arenas of vast separations – the limits of Fourteenth Street, and the loathsome police congregations on the Italian landlord tramp strongholds. What a strange history.
Living Pictures: Perspectives on the Film Poster in India – David Blamey and Robert D’Souza – What was once known as the annual directory of India’s film trade started back in the 1950’s. It was titled Madras Film Diary. Here we have a plethora of groundbreaking films, many still unknown and unavailable, from the early 60’s – 2004. Of course, once you get to the 90’s section, the film titles and poster creativity significantly decline. But, that’s what happened to the majority of films, art, and just about everything. Well, except for Twin Peaks, of course, and a very minute handful of films. This is a memorable and intriguing coffee table book, although a bit on the pricier end.
Food Of The Gods – Terence McKenna – I actually found Lynch himself lying face down between a small rocking chair and a red bookshelf, seemingly desperate to access one specific book that he said he’d been looking for lately. “Food Of The Gods, I’m sure you kids know which one I’m talking about! Your tennis shoes, and the way you devoured your slices of cherry pie gave it all away…” He was right. So we talked to Lynch about when Esme and I were in our teens, and how we’d decided that the vegetarian diet and monthly doses of psychedelics were a crucial part of our growing process. The Log Lady made a quick appearance, stating that “A little McKenna goes a long way, or that’s what my log says anyway…”
Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia: Volume II – Translated by Andrew Bromfield – A raw and bold document. The images remind me of some folks I saw down by the river, and resurrected a memory I hadn’t thought about in years…when my comrades and I started tattooing one another with needles and Indian ink. When I think of it now…it’s a miracle some of us survived that time. That’s why this collection of tattoo drawings & photographs is a must have. It highlights the works of Danzig Baldaev- who created these illustrations for criminals, when he was working in a Leningrad prison back in 1948. Photographs are by Sergei Vasiliev.
Esme and I were both extremely worn out from being up for two days straight. Of course, it was well worth the exhaustion! But how were we going to get all these books back home with us? Laura led us to the exit; which turned out to be a Hobbit-hole like tunnel. We crawled out and stood up aside a clunky old Chevy Cargo Van, with the keys still inside. And although Esme and I weren’t exactly sure how we’d make our way home, we noticed in the back seat, resting pleasantly, was the Log Lady. Seated in the abyss of the moon light, stroking her big wood, leaning against her oxygen tank -bare foot, chin scratched and bruised, elbows dripping with vaseline, our noble navigator, leading us to our next destination…