Twin Peaks Festival 2013: A Pilgrim’s Sojourn to Wind, Woods and TV
Many moons ago, my family traveled all the way from Georgia to the Pacific Northwest. My father decided to traverse every state and national park between Oregon and Washington. During one stop, we passed through a small town in the state of Washington and visited the Snoqualmie Falls. I looked up and saw the iconic image of the Great Northern Hotel. It occurred to me I had somehow landed in Twin Peaks. I vowed to return one day.
After a whirlwind experience of covering the USC Twin Peaks Retrospective, which screened every episode including the feature film, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” and, in addition, included panels of writers, producers, actors, and various filmmakers, I had to make the pilgrimage to North Bend. This past weekend, I made my second sojourn to the Mount Si area. This time I skipped the hiking and dove headfirst into the 2013 Twin Peaks Festival – the Mecca for all Twin Peaks pilgrims.
My husband and I checked into our hotel on Thursday, and we scurried over to Twede’s Cafe (AKA the “Double R Diner”). Cherry pie was on our mind and our first order of business. After a delicious slice oozing with cherry juice and whipped cream, we checked out the back hallway of Twede’s (near the restroom), which serves as the Twin Peaks wall because of the various photos and vintage news articles of the cast and crew on set.
The pre-production for the festival involved cherry pie at Twede’s – this happening boded well for the rest of the weekend.
DAY 1: Registration, Sign in and Movie Night
Check in and registration for the festival began at 10:30 a.m. at a local hall in North Bend – eerily across from the Mt. Si Motel, which served as the Blue Diamond Motel in “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.” The motel was the location where Leland Palmer goes to meet Teresa Banks for a tryst but discovers Laura Palmer, his daughter, is there, too. I could almost spot Mrs. Tremond’s masked grandson hopping about the parking lot. “The man behind the mask is looking for the book with the pages torn out. He is going towards the hiding place …”
After we checked in, festival organizers handed us each a thick brown envelope, labeled with an encoded message inspired by Major Briggs’ unusual discovery of the words “the owls are not what they seem” hidden among the numbers of the gibberish radio waves. The packet had everything we needed, including an official schedule and a map of film locations. Upon entering the hall, I made a beeline for the donut and coffee table. The table was set up according to Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department protocol – rows of donuts nestled on top of each other and gallons and gallons of damn fine coffee. The kicker: feathers and fake blood (jam) were strewn across the donuts as if Leo had just shattered Waldo’s remains. George’s Bakery and Deli in North Bend provided the donuts. We stopped by George’s while in town and loved the cozy atmosphere and colorful aprons hanging from the ceiling. George doesn’t own the place anymore. Joe does, and he doesn’t mind being called George.
After donuts, coffee and a meet-and-greet fiesta among fans, Rob and Deanne Lindley, organizers of the twenty-year old festival, introduced themselves. Rob, a boisterous and affable man, was the perfect host and announcer. He explained the rules – be considerate of locals when visiting film locations, only obtain celebrity autographs during the designated times, and enjoy yourselves. He reminded everyone there would be no autographs at the Sunday picnic because that was the time to enjoy hanging out with actors and associates to the show. Rob told the audience he once chatted with Don S. Davis (Actor, “Major Garland Briggs”) for hours at the picnic about sundry topics like Vietnam and Davis’ scene with Windom Earle in which he uttered the phrase “that gum you like is going to come back in style” but recited it backwards. According to Rob, Davis told him a storyline existed in Season 3 in which Major Briggs was supposed to enter the Black Lodge and rescue Special Agent Dale Cooper.
After the initial announcements, Rob held up a rare, shrink-wrapped Twin Peaks board game to be auctioned off via silent auction during the festival. All proceeds went to support the refurbishment of the local North Bend Theatre. If you’d like to donate to the theatre (they’re close to making their goal), visit their fundraising site. With the proceeds from the board game and other donations during the fest, the North Bend Theatre received a lot of money in the name of the Twin Peaks Festival.
Apparently, twelve countries were represented at the festival, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.
The first event of the festival was the trivia contest, hosted and moderated by filmmaker and Twin Peaks expert Josh Eisenstadt. The questions from the first couple of rounds were fairly straightforward and accessible, but the third round was a killer, featuring several questions about Little Nicky, among more obscure topics. The winner was a third-time trivia game winner and bona fide expert of all things Twin Peaks.
Later that evening, we congregated at the North Bend Theatre to view a special screening of “Chained,” a feature-film by director Jennifer Lynch. The stars had arrived: Catherine Coulson (Actor, “The Log Lady”); Charlotte Stewart (Actor, “Betty Briggs”); Jennifer Lynch (Director and Author, “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer”); James Marshall (Actor, “James Hurley”); John Neff (Sound Editor); Kimmy Robertson (Actor, “Lucy Moran”); and Kathleen Wilhoite (Actor, “Gwen Morton”—Lucy’s sister). James Marshall was a surprise guest at the festival. It was also a pleasure to see Alex Ago attending the fest. Alex is a cinema professor and was the moderator of the USC Twin Peaks Retrospective. The Red Room Podcast interviewed Alex and I about the retrospective. Check out the podcast.
Before the screening of Jen Lynch’s feature-film “Chained,” the theatre showed several shorts and a trailer of Josh Eisenstadt’s film “Spreading Darkness.” One of my thrills of the evening was the screening of a short film David Lynch made for Jen Lynch’s birthday titled “Hooray for Jen-o!” The short was comprised of film clips of Jen as a baby being doted on by her loving father and mother. The short was truly touching, showing a young family who genuinely loved one another. What a gift for his daughter. She was so gracious and kind to share such personal memories with us.
Jen Lynch also screened her short film titled “The Vacation” starring Kimmy Robertson. The short features a husband recalling a family vacation that transformed from a simple outing to something far more sinister. We pretty much begged her to make it into a film. Fingers crossed. Someone fund the film already!
In addition to some Lynch shorts, the theatre screened the famous “Blue Peanuts” riffing on “Blue Velvet” and the 1990 SNL skit featuring host Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper. They also showed a David Lynch short featuring Lynch himself in the Red Room, speaking backwards, telling us three thing we had to know: Go for it strong, purchase a raincoat, and enjoy the Twin Peaks festival. Sage advice for festival attendees. They also showed a series of Japanese commercials for a coffee-flavored soft drink called Georgia that included several actors from Twin Peaks (including Cooper, Shelly, and the Log Lady), which was shot shortly after Twin Peaks went off the air.
The main attraction of the evening was the screening of Director Jen Lynch’s film “Chained,” staring Vincent D’Onofrio. The film is about Bob, a cab-driving serial killer, who retains a young boy as his chained slave, renaming him Rabbit. Rather than your typical “torture-porn” flick, the movie explores the motivations behind monsters. What makes a man become a killer? Can one find an element of humanity even within the most despicable of people? How does nature and nurture work in the fashioning of an adult man? The film is loosely based on a screenplay, but rather than focus on the brutality of the killings, Lynch said she wanted to tell the story of how humans become monsters. She wanted to call the film “Rabbit,” but the studio thought the title “Chained” would be more popular with audiences.
I’m incredibly intrigued by Jen Lynch and her work. If you don’t follow her on Twitter and Instagram, you’re missing out on her fabulous night-walk photography.
DAY 2: Twin Peaks Filming Sites Bus Tour and Celebrity Dinner
Saturday morning, we awoke early and headed through the mountain mist to the town hall. I grabbed a ginormous raspberry filled-donut from George’s, consumed it, and clamored onto the tour bus along with 49 other fest goers. For me, the bus tour of the filming locations was the highlight of the festival. I had been to the Double R Diner (AKA Twede’s), and I had seen the exterior of the Great Northern Hotel at Snoqualmie Falls, but on this occasion we saw it all:
1. The Double R Diner (Twede’s Café)
2. The picnic location where James Hurley films Laura Palmer and Donna Hayward
3. The picturesque shot where James Hurley broods beside his Harley overlooking the valley below.
4. Big Ed’s Gas Station, which is now a Hydroponic station.I guess Big Ed has changed jobs!
5. The Roadhouse, which, in a case of life mirroring art, is now actually called the Roadhouse. It’s also a dynamite place to eat. The food is excellent – I had an egg breakfast with a dirty biscuit (essentially a scone) and a damn fine cup of coffee. It was probably the best cup of coffee I enjoyed in the mountains.
6. The Bookhouse, which is located behind the Roadhouse. The afternoon bus tour had an interesting experience with the current inhabitants of the Bookhouse. You should ask them about it.
7. The exterior of the Great Northern Hotel (Salish Lodge) with the cascading Snoqualmie Falls. I swear those falls create their own weather pattern. There was even a rainbow that day.
8. Ronette Pulaski’s bridge, which is covered in Twin Peaks graffiti
9. Twin Peaks High School (Mt. Si High School)
10. Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department and the Packard Sawmill
11. The location of the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign. A local North Bend couple recreated the sign for the ultimate Twin Peaks experience. What a way to end the tour!
After the tour and lunch at the Roadhouse, we spent the afternoon resting and prepping our costumes for the celebrity dinner and costume contest.
The celebrity dinner was held at a local community center, but this wasn’t just any community center – it was built of the most luscious pinewood. I could almost smell those Douglas firs and hear Josie Packard’s splintered screams. A replica of the One-Eyed Jack’s neon sign was set up in the foyer. A couple had built the sign for the festival, and the design was spot on.
The main dining hall consisted of dining tables complete with log centerpieces, an open bar, and a vendor table, which contained Twin Peaks postcards, photos, and logs for the Log Lady’s signature. (I can’t believe I bought a log. It’s not really a log. It’s more like a branch or a stick or kindling. It can’t compete with the Ponderosa Pine.)
The pre-dinner festivities involved meeting the celebrities, taking photos and getting autographs. The festival organizers have established some good and fair rules concerning celebrities and autographs. There were designated times for autographs. Each person was allowed only two items to be autographed. If an individual wanted more items to be autographed, they would have to pay. The money went directly to the celebrity. This allows for 1) the celebrities to not get too harassed by fanatics, and 2) time for everyone to get a photo and a signature.
A Q&A session with the celebrities followed dinner. Many of the stories I had heard before and covered in the blog of the USC retrospective, but here are some highlights.
James Marshall (Actor, “James Hurley”) regaled us with some entertaining tales. Marshall told a story of being on set and waiting for his scene call outside the Roadhouse. He thought he was alone, but he spied David Lynch standing in the parking lot and staring down at a puddle. Marshall didn’t think Lynch saw him, but when he walked past him, Lynch called him over. Lynch, still staring at the puddle, told Marshall to look down – “isn’t it beautiful?!,” Lynch exclaimed. Marshall said he was confused because all he saw was a dirty puddle strewn with cigarette butts. Lynch pulled Marshall toward him and lined him up in front of the puddle. Then he saw it: The Roadhouse sign was reflected in the puddle -- perfectly reflected amongst the grime, muddy water and cigarette remains. Lynch asked Marshall, “Do you think I should shoot it?” Marshall replied, “Heck yeah!” Can you imagine David Lynch asking you for advice on filming?!
Marshall also told the crowd about an early icebreaker dinner party he attended with the cast and crew. A pretty rough biker dude gave Marshall the leather jacket he would wear as James Hurley. He was told to wear the jacket before shooting so that it would become part of his skin, part of his character. The cast and crew were invited to a dinner party so they would all get to know each other before shooting began. Marshall attended the party, and when he approached the dinner table, he removed his jacket and a Colt .38 fell heavily on the table. The room was silent. Um, I guess first impressions are everything. That night, James Hurley was born.
Catherine Coulson (Actor, “The Log Lady”) talked about her spitting skills. She can spit very far. During the filming of Twin Peaks, she spit such a great distance the cast and crew would break out clapping. There is a scene in the Double R Diner in which she chews bark pitch, spits it onto the table, then picks it up and sticks it to the wall, incurring Norma Jennings’ anger. Many thanks to Coulson for attending the festival. She took a brief break from her Shakespearian performance to attend the dinner.
Kimmy Robertson (Actor, “Lucy Moran”) told a story about a producer who wouldn’t allow her to read the book on Tibet after the rock-throwing contest even though Robertson thought it would be appropriate (not to mention humorous) for her character. In the end, with David Lynch’s full support, her character Lucy got to read the book. It was a golden moment on the show.
Kathleen Wilhoite (Actor, “Gwen Morton”—Lucy’s sister) expressed thanks and gratitude toward the crowd. Although she played a smaller role, she said the experience was quite fun.
Charlotte Stewart (Actor, “Betty Briggs”) talked about her work with David Lynch in the early years at AFI when they shot “Eraserhead.” Lynch came to Stewart’s house for dinner with a script and a sack of wheat seed. She supposed Lynch thought Stewart was a hippie and would appreciate wheat seed since she lived in the Topanga area, a known conclave for hippies.
John Neff (Sound Editor) discussed his involvement with David Lynch, which included sound mixing and editing for several of David’s films and DVDs. When Lynch first offered him a job, he didn’t take it. Upon reflection, he realized life offers you opportunities only once, so he decided to take the position and never looked back.
After the Q&A, we were given 15 minutes to prep our costumes for the costume contest. I wish I could’ve taken photos and video of everyone feverishly preparing their costumes. Women transformed into men, lodes of lipstick painted lips, and flannel and wool exploded onto the scene. One woman frantically wrapped herself in plastic. It was amazing.
My costume was Maddy Ferguson – Laura Palmer’s sweet, dark-haired cousin. I thought I could pull off the dark hair. Plus, I found the perfect pair of large, oval spectacles. My husband Bob dressed, appropriately, as Bob. He donned a lot of denim, wore a gray wig, and didn’t shave for a few days. It worked.
Babies stole the scene at the costume contest. Third place went to a couple dressed as Pete Martell and Josie Packard. The woman looked just like Josie Packard – uncanny. Second place went to a baby named after David Lynch himself. The baby portrayed the Man From Another Place, while his dad dressed up as the Giant. First place went to a woman dressed as the log lady. But, get this; the baby she was carrying was dressed as a log. Adorable.
Before we left the dinner, we paid a final visit to the Red Room and had some fun creating our own crazed form of garmonbozia.
DAY 3: Farewell Picnic Lunch
The last day of the festival, we traveled to a local park for the farewell picnic lunch, which included a massive amount of cherry pie from Twede’s. We chatted with fellow fans, celebrities, and festival organizers as we consumed pie on the banks of the Snoqualmie River. I purchased an amazing necklace with an image of Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic. The artist is extremely talented. Check her pieces out via Damn Fine Designs.
The highlight of the picnic was the “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” tour led by filmmaker and TP expert Josh Eisenstadt. Josh led us to the structure of the Deer Meadows Sheriff’s Department. Then, he took us through the woods to the spot where Teresa Banks’ body floats along the river, the location in the woods where James Hurley and Laura Palmer break up, and the stump on which Laura Palmer and Bobby Briggs sat while in the woods before Bobby kills Deputy Cliff. We also saw the iconic location where the trees are being blown by the wind. I could almost sense the owls’ eyes upon me.
I’m not sure if it was the soft spry light illuminating the darkly wood or the sugary cherry gluten running through my veins or the sound of Jen Lynch’s laughter or the friends I was making as we were about to depart, but something special happened in the mountains this August. It was a strange and wondrous place.
Thanks to Rob and Deanne Lindley for being incredibly organized, open and friendly to new and returning attendees. Thank you to Josh Eisenstadt for sharing his encyclopedic mind with us fans. Thank you to the staff for creating a fun and festive atmosphere. Thank you to the celebrities for taking time out of your schedules to engage with us. Thank you to my husband, who is a recent convert to the cult and who donned an evil Bob costume for me. Finally, thank you to the fellow fans for your warmth and friendship. Until next year, my friends, I’ll see you in my dreams.
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