I’m going to do something a bit different for this installment of Time Machine Go!!! First, I would like to publicly say how saddened I was when actor Don Davis died recently. Mr. Davis first came to my attention as Major Briggs in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s television masterpiece Twin Peaks. Now I have mentioned before that I do not watch much tv, and Twin Peaks is the reason. I had the good fortune to stumble upon the pilot the night it premiered in 1990 (I believe I was a sophmore in high school at the time) and was instantly hooked. While I admit the show had its ups and downs, overall with me it still ranks as if not the best thing ever to grace a broadcast signal, then certainly my favorite and in my opinion hardly anything has ever lived up since*.
Anyway, in reading up on Mr. Davis I stumbled upon this:
For those of you that don’t know, this is a festival originally organized at least in part by the publishers/creators of the late David Lynch Magazine WRAPPED IN PLASTIC. I know, I know. NERD. Yep. Well, Twin Peaks and David Lynch in general are two of the few things that I get all ‘Star Trek’ over, so insert nerd jokes where possible. Anyway, seeing that Mr. Davis had been supposed to attend this years’ fest just a few days after his death got me reflecting on my own experience with the event, damn near ten years ago. So now you’ve got the set-up, let’s fire up the macheen and have Takashi take us back, back, back to…
The year 2000 (Dun Da Da Dun!!!)
In the year 2000 several friends and I had the opportunity to attend the Twin Peaks/David Lynch fest as we were already driving from Chicago across country to Washington aorund the time it was being held. We figured why not? At least three of the four of us were rabid Peaks fans, so it seemed a perfect way to sneak in a mini vacation within a vacation.
Now, unlike most ‘Trekkies’ my three friends and I ended up inadvertently turning several aspects of the fest on it’s ear that year, so it may be more appropriate to say we had more of an effect on the fest than it did on us. Whatever. What follows is a run down of some of the more comical highlights and a good feel for why fans might want to check the event out in the future.
We had been on the road for something like 4 or 5 days at that point, starting in Chicago on Sunday night about 10PM and moving up through Minnesota. From there it’s a blur, and I’ll be the first one to admit if ever caught on the show, ‘are you smarter than a fourth grader’ or whatever it’s called, I would lose miserably in the Geography portion of the contest. However, I know South Dakota, Montana, Utah, Wyoming were all involved at various points before we reached beautiful Washington state. The debauchery had been fast and furious; among other things we had, the night before making it into Washington, lifted the checkpoint gate at the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park and driven through the park in the wee hours of the morning. This wasn’t intentional; quite the contrary. We’d been in the car all day and night, and when we reached our goal and found no available lodging we had no choice other than heading several hours of driving back in the opposite direction to find lodging or going on through the park illegally and trying to find somewhere to stay. Faced with such a dubious position we did what any normal group of miscreants would do: we stopped at a local store to pick up a case of Coors and headed into the unknown under the misguided assumption that Yellowstone was something we could cut through in an hour or two.
“I mean, how big could it possibly be?”
Well, four hours later we still had no answer to that question. Exhausted, more than a little afraid and drunk as fuck we encountered a ranger and actually pulled him over** to try and defuse a potentially imprisoning situation.
With the ranger’s bewildered help we finally came out the other end of the park about dawn and found a room for a few hours rest. Upon waking up we combed back through the place for a few hours before finally arriving in Washington, Snoqualmie to be exact, the location where the iconic Great Northern Hotel from the show lives as the Salish Lodge in real life.
Now the fest, as you might imagine, is a kind of ‘special’ place. Japanese tourists, nerds, and cast members of both varieties, those who have worked since and those who have not*** coalesced here for three days of Twin Peaks-slash-David Lynch related activities and goodies. The scheduling was loose, and of course between any and all events we were finding the best bars Snoqualmie, Fall City, North Bend and finally Seattle and its surrounding areas had to offer.
Peaks and Lynch related celebrities attend this event every year, as I mentioned, and this particular year appeared to be a pretty good round up going in. I’m not one for autographs, but to raise a glass with Michael Anderson, known to fans as ‘The Little Man from Another Place’ or to most of the world as ‘The Midget that speaks Backwards’, well, that just seemed to me at the time to be the pinnacle of what one man could ask for. There were other cast and crew attending as well, however we will limit the discussion here to but a few of these that made the event memorable for us in one way or another.
First, Evertt McGill, or Big Ed Hurly on the show was also known at the time for his role as the bondage-suit wearing, shotgun toting, sister-fucking psycho from Wes Craven’s botched attempt at horror ‘The People Under The Stairs’. I always dug the character and was interested to see how meeting him would be. Walter Olkewicz, or Jacques Renault, was another highlight for us. I fully intended on buying him a beer and making him say, ‘That bastard hit me with a whiskey bottle’. Little did I know that the fact that he did not say those words at the event that year was one of the things that potentially kept my friends and I out of jail. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So the first event of the fest, Friday night after everyone had signed in at the Grange Hall in North Bend was the celebrity dinner at The Barn, a local gathering hall that was, indeed, a converted barn. The celebs all sat at a separate table and we commoners dug in and made friends. My friends and I latched onto a couple girls from somewhere or other and we all took to rapid intoxication. Anchor Steam’s IPA was in abundance (thank Christ) and before long I was moving here and there, talking with all manner of fan. Chief among these were the two guys we dubbed the dork lords. Decked out in all black, including trench coats, and carrying microcassette recorders around with them, these two would periodically interrupt what they were doing to click the recorders on and begin, ‘Diane…’
The sad truth was years before I too had taken to carrying one of these gadgets around, partly out of nerditude and partly for the practical convenience of having something to record my writing ideas whenever and wherever I had them. One look at the dork lords doing it and my recorder never came out again, not for the duration of the trip or ever after.
After the dinner everyone in our group was nice and ripped. We followed all the other Peakers over to what was dubbed the ‘Black Lodge Party’ up the street at what I think was some kind of old shriners hall.
Now, I don’t know about you, but to me having the word ‘Party’ attached to something with a bunch of adults attending suggested there would be booze. Of course by that logic one comic book guy looking fan pointed out to me, I should have also expected it to actually be at the Black Lodge, the otherworldly home of Killer Bob on the show.
What’s that old saying? ‘No beer and no booze make so and so go crazy’?
The hall was one room, pretty much empty save I think for a single end table and some folding chairs. Someone had a boombox and it was suggested we all huddle around and listen to a mix tape of some Euro DJ who had sampled a bunch of TP quotes on his recent album. My friend Tim summed up ours, and apparently most everyone else’s feelings when he began baying, ‘Where’s the fucking beer MAN!’ in mock Frank Booth delivery. Soon we had, much to the event organizers chagrin it seemed, gathered a party of willing folk to set out and find a liquor store. A large group of us, including the dork lords who narrated the entire way, ‘Diane, no booze at the party so we’re striking out to acquire some…’ walked off down the road and ended up finding a convenience store that sold plenty of party favors.
This is where things get slippery.
The girls we had been talking to, along with one’s brother ended up arriving later with none other than Michael Anderson in tow. He had bummed a ride to the ‘party’ from them. Apparently Michael is a bit of a partier himself they told us, and one of the girls later said he had ‘made it worth their while’ while making the motion of one pulling the choke on a water bong. Where the hell he was hiding a water bong on his person I sure as hell don’t know, so maybe it wasn’t true. I prefer to believe it was.
At some point I had wandered away from a few of the others, only to have someone I had met earlier run up and tell me I’d better get back to the hall quick, because one of my friends was in a fight with someone from the cast.
I hurried back along with my other two friends and found the aforementioned Tim being restrained by several people, straining in their arms and yelling at Walter Olkewicz while waving a large beer bottle in his hands ‘FUCK YOU FATTY, I’LL RIP YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!!’
Walter, or Jacques as I like to think of him, seemed shaken but unafraid, as he clamored by me and told me in no uncertain terms that I should retrain my friend. To this day I still don’t know what happened, but damn if the result wasn’t funny.
Day two, Saturday began with a hangover accomodated bus tour of local filming locations. This was several hours long and afterward there were no events until a screening of the TP pilot later that night at the Seattle Art Museum. This was pretty cool.
We ended up cavorting around town all day, taking in a lot of the Seattle sights such as the famous Pike Place Market, the Aquarium, several bars and restaurants, etc. After this we settled in for a look around the museum before enjoying the Pilot, still at that time and for quite a while to come nonexistent in DVD form. We were treated to a special, bittersweet treat when Evertt McGill was called upon to give a small introduction before the pilot. Evertt spoke briefly of the experience of being in Twin Peaks but seemed nervous being on stage and it wasn’t until he made some comment about, ‘certain elements of the crowd’ most obviously aimed at us that we understood our outlandish remarks of ‘Lights out Mr. Monkeywrench’ and ‘Those drape runners ain’t gonna hang themselves!’ probably were not appreciated by the man.
Oh well, two celebrities alienated.
After the pilot we hit the town again and although I don’t remember any serious debacles that evening, there was an incident where some cowboy types almost beat my ass when I tried to keep Tim from dropping his pants and waving his junk around while performing a karaoke version of The Doors’ classic ‘Touch Me’. Tim was known for this type of thing, and in the past it had led to more than one bar brawl. This particular night in Fall City however it seemed the locals wanted to see Tim’s junk, so I let it go, averting my eyes and ordering more drinks when the time came.
The third day I do not honestly even remeber, but I think that was because we spent it avoiding what was left of the fest and instead kabitzing around Seattle in a drunken haze.
All in all, this was one hell of a good time. A lot of that comes from the fact that the fest was the lesser of our agendas, but yes, it was fun to go and nerd it up in a Lynch-obsessed environment. It’s a shame about my subsequent tape recorder aversion though. Maybe one day I’ll have a secretary named Diane. Honestly though, I’d rather have a little man that talks backwards at will.
*Lost being an exception on network tv. Cable original programming doesn’t count.
** It’s always better to be on the offensive than the defensive. Remember that, it’s saved my ass more times than I can count.
*** I’m too nice in most cases to point out who was from which camp.