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There’s Always Music in the Air: A Doppelgänger’s Twin Peaks Playlist

Through the darkness of futures past, I used to call myself Chester Desmond, the unflappable FBI agent played by Chris Isaak, who made a (dis)appearance in David Lynch’s 1992 prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Before that show you like came back in style, Chester Desmond was my DJ name, and the handle I went by on Facebook. In real life, people even started calling me Chester, and after a while, I became accustomed to wearing the identity.

But now that some time has passed, I think I might be more Sam Stanley than Chester Desmond. I was and never will be as suave as Isaak, for one thing. No, I’m more apt to spill a cup of piping hot coffee into my lap. Plus, my investigative skills, if any, lean toward pattern recognition, cataloging of data, and spotting anomalies. Sam Stanley’s talent was for picking out what was crucial but concealed. Stanley was, after all, the first to notice the notorious Blue Rose, pinned to Lil’s lapel. Gordon said he was good.

In retrospect, Sam Stanley would have been a great DJ name: the glad-handed towheaded selector. So, in Stanley’s stead, as well as the revisionist spirit that drives reboots and sequels, here’s a playlist of alternate music that could have been in Twin Peaks season three, but wasn’t.

Let’s rock.

 

Tim Hecker – “Stigmata II”

The ambient sound design whispering and pulsing behind the new Twin Peaks series, done in tandem by Lynch and protégé Dean Hurley, is a kind of chopped and screwed, post-Burial, post-Tim Hecker soundscape. Specifically, Hurley’s signature sonic cue for electricity, the growling, distorted animal fuzz that accompanies scenes of woodsmen and wiring, owes its existence to Hecker’s experiments with faulty patch cables on 2013’s Virgins.

 

Lucinda Williams – “Rescue”

There’s something so Norma Jennings about Lucinda Williams. Or maybe it’s vice versa. Can’t you just picture Williams singing this cut in front of that red curtain, as Norma and Big Ed beam at one another across a booth table, holding hands and making plans?

 

Mykki Blanco – “Head Is A Stone”

For at least the last twenty years, Lynch has taken a page torn directly from David Bowie’s diary, aggressively co-opting the avant-garde into his own aesthetic. For instance, both Bowie and Lynch flirted with Nine Inch Nails in the 1990s: Bowie toured with Reznor on his Outside circuit; Lynch tapped him to contribute songs and produce the soundtrack to Lost Highway. But isn’t Nine Inch Nails a little … twenty years ago? Lynch might have provided proof that he still has his finger on the pulse of cutting edge culture had he gone for the jugular with, say, Mykki Blanco.

 

Chris Isaak – “Notice The Ring”

Speaking of Chester Desmond, where the hell was he? Why was Chris Isaak not cast in season three? Sound-wise, it was Isaak’s “Wicked Game” that helped define the Palme d’Or winning Wild at Heart. And this new series could have benefited from a vital dose of Desmond’s singular melancholy cool.

 

Neko Case – “Tightly”

Lynch did put one past the goalposts when he slated Sharon Van Etten in episode six, although I would have liked to have heard “You Know Me Well” instead—in my opinion, a far Peaksier tune in tone than “Tarifa.” Arguably, an even better case could have been made to include Neko Case, whose work on 2002’s Blacklisted faithfully recreates the 1950s twang that Lynch is so fond of.

 

Brokeback – “Everywhere Down Here”

Twangier still is this classically Lynchian track from Brokeback’s 2002 album Looks At The Bird. Lynch might have returned some favors by including music like this, which is so obviously influenced by the original Twin Peaks soundtrack. I’m hurt bad.

 

Venetian Snares & Daniel Lanois – “Night”

By far, the worst musical moment of the entire eighteen episodes was the Hudson Mohawke cameo. The call to Warp Records, I imagine, went something like this: “HELLO WARP? IT’S DAVID LYNCH! … FINCHES? … I THINK YOU NEED TO TALK TO DARWIN ABOUT FINCHES! … THIS IS DAAVVIIDD LLYYNNCCHH!! … I’M CALLING BECAUSE I WANNA, Y’KNOW, LIKE, UH, BOOK THAT APHEX TWIN GUY ON MY NEW TWIN PEAKS SHOW! … HOW MUCH?! … HOLY FUCKIN’ CHRIST ON A RUBBER CRUTCH!! … HUDSON MOHAWKE WILL DO IT FOR A BIG BAG OF M&M’S!? … OKAY, CLOSE ENOUGH!!”

Really, if Lynch wanted something on the electronic vanguard, he would have sought out Daniel Lanois, and asked him to bring Aaron Funk along. Lanois is his name and it is night.

 

Marie Davidson – “Esthétique Privée”

The problem with all the Electro Pop on the series was that it just wasn’t creepy enough. It was too clean, too prissy, too self-assured. Marie Davidson might have lent a grittier sort of desperation to the Roadhouse. And after years of terrible dialects from the actors playing the Renault brothers, she also could have brought a proper Quebecois accent to the show, for once. Welcome to Canada.

 

Bob Dylan – “Sentimental Journey”

I hope that everyone has seen Bob Dylan’s performance nearing the end of David Letterman’s tenure as host of CBS’s Late Show. All I can say is, wow Bob wow, it was weird. While he sang into a modern microphone, there was a massive, old-fashioned model onstage, apparently just for effect (although it could have been for his tulpa). Dylan’s backup band looked like their football was empty and they were looking for Santa Claus. The upshot is that it screamed David Lynch. For so many reasons, I think it would have been at once hysterical and spot-on to see Zimmy at the Roadhouse, doing his rendition of this Les Brown standard.

 

Coil – “Omiagus Garfungiloops”

Woefully, Coil couldn’t have performed on the return to Twin Peaks. But wouldn’t it have been 🔥 if this heartfelt homage to Angelo Badalamenti, taken from the 1992 album Stolen And Contaminated Songs, popped up somewhere in the series?

There’s always season four.

 

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Tribute

There is no off position on the genius glitch: loving a disappearing Dave

In 2016, I watched a lot of Letterman on YouTube. It kept me sane. It rooted and reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Dave’s 20-year-old jokes about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could have been pasted from today’s headlines. And thanks to two prolific uploaders—Daniel Poitras and Zschim—there is a wealth of shows to view from across the NBC and CBS years.

Embedded within these episodes, I began to notice interesting glitches: many were due to videotape malfunctions, others from some sort of encoding incompatibility. Still more were an indistinguishable combination of the two. I began collecting these as screen shots.

Quickly, I started to love cataloguing these images. Some were easier to grab than others. Some sprawled out in time in beautiful, deforming patterns; others lasted for only a single frame. Each one seemed to communicate something at once far removed and deeply intimate. Some are pure data. All of them are goofy.

In her essay entitled Loving A Disappearing Image, the author and professor Laura U. Marks writes: “Faded films, decaying videotapes, projected videos that flaunt their tenuous connection to the reality they index, all appeal to a look of love and loss.”

Writing on dupe aesthetics, the film scholar Lucas Hilderbrand says that each successive iteration of bootlegged media is “an illicit object, a forbidden pleasure watched and shared and loved to exhaustion.”

I suppose it was this exhausted pleasure—staring at the intersection of formats, of materiality and ephemerality, at history through the screen of the present—that compelled me to assemble these images.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

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Tribute

Friday December 11th 2015

I waited at the ATM behind a man who was doing his monthly banking. He pulled several deposit envelopes from the dispenser. A few fell on the floor. Earlier, I’d gone to return some trousers to H&M, but had forgotten the receipt. The clerk told me I’d have to come back when I found it. I went home and watched the second Hunger Games film. It wasn’t very good. I recalled the importance of cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer every time I use it. It’s a fire hazard, for one thing. I needed to buy toothpaste and a new stopper for the drain in the bathtub. I thought about the infrequency of replacing each of these things—toothpaste hardly ever actually runs out, and a drain stopper should be good for years. A friend rang and told me to look at Twitter. Everyone was posting Upgrade button memes and adding “and chill” to every conceivable activity. A friend said, “The strongest act of resistance is to just keep going.”

So.

Tech bro in a t-shirt and khaki shorts flying first class, I love you. Taxi driver with no knowledge of the city, I love you. Heavily made-up wealthy octogenarian woman double-parking a massive Merc, I love you. Pervert peeking at penises over a bathroom stall wall, I love you. Man with a “Trump 2016” bumper sticker on his pick-up truck, I love you. Girl with jeans ripped perfectly at the knees speaking vocal fry into an iPhone on the metro, I love you. Noisome old man, I love you. Pimply teenager in full-kit Adidas shouting loudly on the street about the results of a sporting match, I love you. Passive-aggressive lesbian with a cart-full of groceries in the 9-items-or-less aisle, I love you. Asian guy who’s racist against Arabs, I love you. Just-graduated student screeching from a limousine sunroof, I love you. Bearded dude in complicated glasses carefully surveying a gatefold record sleeve, I love you. Child throwing rocks into the open windows of passing cars, I love you. Insult comedian, I love you. Street harasser, I love you. Internet troll, I love you.

I love you.

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Tribute

A Thanksgiving Prayer, after William S. Burroughs

For Stephen Reid, may you soon know freedom.

Canadian Thanksgiving Day, October 13th, 2014.

Thanks for the tofurkey and pumpkin pie that apolitical hipsters will pass through their limp and lifeless insides.

Thanks for the Great White North, a whole country to poison and pollute beyond recognition and repair.

Thanks for the First Nations to elevate or ignore, praise or imprison, depending on our political needs.

Thanks for the Reservation system, upon which South African Apartheid was modeled.

Thanks for the Tar Sands, tailing ponds, and the disease, disfigurement, and death of thousands of unsuspecting and innocent animals.

Thanks for continuing to sell asbestos to developing nations, despite unanimous international agreement on its hazards.

Thanks for the Manning Centre for Destroying Democracy.

Thanks to the Harper Government for their unwavering contempt for Parliament, Sociology, and Science.

Thanks for disenfranchising students – who wants the educated to vote, anyway?

Thanks for the suburbs, the vast and homogenizing hoards.

Thanks for mandatory minimum sentencing, and perpetuating the futile war on drugs.

Thanks for the systematic deregulation and privatization of public wealth.

Thanks for an online world where we are either with the police or child pornographers – where everyone is under strict self-surveillance.

Thanks for killing off the CBC. Strombo always gave me anxiety attacks, and Don Cherry is a test pattern.

Thanks for weakening the strong, falsifying the truth, and enslaving the free.

Yes, thanks for finally fulfilling the Canadian Dream – a frozen land of frozen minds.

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Tribute

The NowHere Generation

Before she hooked up with Kanye West, I once had a torrid love affair on the back of a flatbed truck with Kim Kardashian. We were both travelling with the “People of Indeterminate Origins in Paris” tour. One night, Kim and I were en route to watch the premiere of Kanye’s latest video, which was being projected on the side of the Eiffel Tower – meaning that you could only see the diagonal bits. And even though I was standing right next to her, I texted Kim saying it was an OK video but not a brilliant one; it was fine for YouTube, but with some work it could make a wonderful Vine post. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kanye kneed me in the groin.

Later that spring, R. Kelly was summering on the upper west side of the Hollywood hills. (Summer came earlier there, due to golden showers.) R. had just finished pissing a painting on an teenager’s torso, which he planned on donating to an upcoming silent auction, with proceeds going to the Iowa chapter for the Republican Youth. And even though she was standing right next to me, Kim Kardashian texted me saying it was an OK painting but not a brilliant one. I texted back, punctuated with strategic emojis, saying that with some dandelion juice, it could be a fine painting. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kanye kneed me in the groin.

I remember the time when Jay-Z and Beyoncé came home from that crazy Super Bowl afterparty. It was mid-December. Beyoncé had just released her “haptic” album, and Jay and I “felt” it, and believed it to be an OK record but an unnecessary one, because of the past several hundred years of capitalism – plus blow-up dolls. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kanye kneed me in the groin.

A year earlier, we’d gone with the surviving members of Radiohead to the Amazon rainforest to sip on San Pedro cocktails and await the Mayan apocalypse. To me, Thom Yorke looked 46, and even though she was standing right next to me, Beyoncé texted me saying he was actually 45, but that he only looked 46, and I texted back saying that sometimes a man of 46 will look 45, whereas other times, a 45-year-old will look 46 on account of insufficient iron. That’s how it is with translucent Englishmen who’ve never seen the sunshine. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kim Kardashian kneed me in the groin.

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