Reflections of a Fest: Twin Peaks Fest 2016
After a sojourn to the Northwest for my first visit to the Twin Peaks Fest several years ago, I wrote up a day-by-day overview of the experience. That summer, I had just spent five months covering the U.S.C. Twin Peaks Retrospective for the Red Room Podcast and wanted to stay immersed in the TP world, so I made the trek to Snoqualmie Falls –– the iconic place of pilgrimage featuring the exterior of the Great Northern Hotel. Like many first-time Fest attendees, I looked forward to seeing the locations and hearing what the celebrities had to say while eating copious amounts of cherry pie at the RR Diner (AKA Twede's). What keeps me coming back, though, is the community of friends I've made over the years through this strange and wonderful world. This Fest seemed particularly significant because of the absence of Catherine Coulson and this being the last Fest before the airing of Season 3. There was a tangible electric vibe in the air for many of us. Things are about to change. For now, we can enjoy the mystery of not knowing where the Twin Peaks story is headed, but by next year, we'll have some answers and, hopefully, some new questions. The following are my impressions of the 2016 Fest.
The Fest Staff and Volunteers: "Every day, once a day, give yourself a present."
Us Fest goers keep coming back for an array of reasons, but I would be remiss not to give a shout out to the people who 1) kept the Fest alive when most of us were not even making the trek; and 2) still keep the Fest alive by making it small, personable and reminding us that it's all about the experience of community. Thank you for giving of your time and yourself to the madness. We are truly grateful. A special thank you to Rob and Deanne Lindley, the Fest Organizers, as well as Pam and Glenn Allen, Kat and John Evans, Jared and Robyn Wolfsberger, and the volunteers.
The Celebrities: “Someday my log will have something to say about this.”
Many Fest first-timers and returners come for the unique opportunity to not only see celebrities from the world of Twin Peaks and David Lynch but also for the chance to spend some one-on one time with them, too. The Friday night banquet, the town hall, the movie night and the picnic featured celebrities, including the following:
Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs, “Twin Peaks”)
Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran, “Twin Peaks”)
Connie Woods (New Girl at One Eyed Jacks, “Twin Peaks”)
Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, “Twin Peaks”)
Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley/Butler, “Twin Peaks”)
Jan D’Arcy (Sylvia Horne, “Twin Peaks”)
Mädchen E. Amick, (Shelly Johnson, “Twin Peaks” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)
Gary Bullock (Sheriff Cable, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)
Jonny Leppell (Pierre Tremont/Chalfont, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)
Laura Harring (Rita/Camilla, “Mulholland Drive”)
Bonnie Aarons (Bum behind Winkies, “Mulholland Drive”)
Julee Cruise (Singer, Songwriter and Actor)
John Neff (Sound Engineer, Musician and Composer)
Notably absent was Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady/Margaret Lanterman, "Twin Peaks"), who passed away last September 2015. A log was placed in her honor on the table among the celebrity panelists. Coulson would often bring word from David Lynch to the Fest fans. With her passing, Charlotte Stewart has taken on the role of Fest matriarch in bringing the good word from Lynch. Before the Fest, Stewart told Lynch that it was tradition that Catherine gives a message from him. Lynch gave it some thought, and, after several days, relayed the following to Stewart to present to the Fest fans: “Many items have more than one purpose. Even a table or a chair can have more than one purpose.” Got it? Good.
If you'd like to hear more from the celebs, Scott from the Red Room Podcast interviewed several of the celebrities, including Charlotte Stewart, Laura Harring, John Neff, Gary Bullock, John Thorne (author of "The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks") and Mary Hütter, fan, vendor and editor who edited the trailer for "Blue Bob in Paris," a documentary of behind the scenes of David Lynch's one-and-only Blue Bob concert. Also, Twin Peaks Unwrapped featured a podcast with the panel Q&A as well as interviews with some Fest attendees. I had the honor of interviewing Connie Woods (New Girl at One Eyed Jacks, “Twin Peaks”) about a documentary to bring attention to the fact that "in the state of Ohio it is illegal to rescue any abandoned or orphaned baby deer and that their fate (death) is sealed because of a barbaric law." On the website about the documentary, www.deerlybeloved.net, Woods wrote, "After hearing about Trooper, a three legged deer that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was planning on killing because he had been rescued and rehabilitated, I knew I had to do something .... I knew that if I could tell the story of Trooper and his rescuers that I might be able to make a small difference in this world. I learned about a small, but very passionate group of people in Ohio that are putting everything they have into saving these lovely innocent creatures. I've watched from afar as they held 'Barn Sales' to raise money for their legal fees while trying to have a bill passed that would prevent the ODNR from killing innocent baby deer. Upon hearing about Trooper and these special humans, my friend Sherilyn Fenn was on board immediately to help produce this documentary." If you'd like to know more and/or support the creation of the documentary, visit the website for "Deerly Beloved: The Saving Trooper Story" and the fundraising page to support this important cause for animal rights.
Costume Contest: "I'm Audrey Horne, and I get what I want!"
The costume contest at the celebrity dinner is a highlight of the Fest. This year's first-place winner included an exact replica of the iconic Rolling Stone Cover of the beauties of Twin Peaks. Three Fest attendees recreated the look of the cover and each played their role perfectly. This photo does not do it justice. Mädchen Amick even photobombed the ladies. There's amazing photos and videos out there. Take a gander.
The Fest features a screening of a Lynch film every year. This year, they screened "Mulholland Drive," which was extra special because both Laura Harring (Rita/Camilla, “Mulholland Drive”) and Bonnie Aarons (Bum behind Winkies, “Mulholland Drive”) were in attendance. Movie night also featured a live performance by the talented Julee Cruise –– a very special treat for Fest-goers. A special thanks to John Neff who provided audio and sound as well as Glenn Lewis Allen for overseeing the movie night and the short film festival.
This was the second year in a row the Fest included a competitive film festival for Twin Peaks fans. Fans from all over the world submitted their Twin Peaks and David Lynch inspired independent short films. The winners were:
First Place: "Twin Peaks: Rituals and Candlelight" by David Busch
Second Place (tie): "Diane" by Siobhan Shields and "Twin Peaks Memorial" by Mary Hütter
Third Place: "Fire Walk With Me (Japan)" by Katsuhide Yamago
The Fest screened many of the short films, including a movie about the Fest itself. Red Room Podcast co-creator Scott Ryan made a documentary about last year's Twin Peaks Fest called "A Voyage to Twin Peaks." Scott's film is a love letter to the festival folk and all Twin Peaks fans. The documentary captures a precious moment in time –– a time when Catherine Coulson (featured in the film) was still with us. I laughed. I cried. I laughed again. (I laughed at Scott. A lot.) He really captured the magic of the Fest and the reason we all keep coming back. If you haven't seen it, go to Amazon right now and watch it.
Sunday at Olalie Park: “A nice day for a picnic …”
The picnic in Olalie State Park, the site of many of the scenes from "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," was extra special this year with Gary Bullock (Sheriff Cable, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”) in attendance as Fest-goers reenacted scenes from FWWM, and, of course, an amazing play-by-play guided tour by filmmaker and holder-of-all-Twin-Peaks-knowledge Josh Eisenstadt.
Karaoke Night: “Meet me in the Roadhouse after 9:30.”
The Festival concluded with Karaoke at the Roadhouse with unforgettable performances by Josh Eisenstadt and a spot-on Dorothy Vallens of "Blue Velvet" tribute. I'm not sure we'll be the same, and I'm pretty sure the Roadhouse staff will not be the same, but something magical happened among the beer and AV equipment that night.
Something Lynchian this way comes: "It is happening again."
Several Fests later, I’ve realized the Fest is less about seeing the celebrities and much more about the community of the fans. There is an acceptance of the eccentric among the Fest goers. They are a diverse and extremely creative group.
It was an honor to see old friends and meet new. I had some amazing conversations with John Thorne (original co-creator of Wrapped in Plastic magazine and author of "The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks") and Mya McBriar, who runs the Twin Peaks Fanatic blog. I laughed until my gut hurt with Scott and his lovely wife, who are good friends.
The Fest provided me a way to connect with incredible fellow writers like John Thorne of "The Essential Wrapped in Plastic," Brad Dukes of "Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks" and David Bushman, who wrote "Twin Peaks FAQ" with Arthur Smith. There are so many fantastic men writing about Twin Peaks, and I admire their work. I'm working on my own book (warning: selfish plug) in which I will highlight the women who are contributing to the dialogue of Twin Peaks. I'm in the process of interviewing and profiling women who are inspired by the show and writing about it or producing art inspired by it. The show's given so many women, including myself, an opportunity to explore their own complex and creative nature. I want to celebrate that. I want their voices to inspire and serve as an archive of this special moment in time.
There's something Lynchian in the atmosphere every time I go to North Bend, and it's not just about Twede's miracle cherry pies or the rushing Snoqualmie falls.
The night of the celebrity banquet, a group of us stopped by the Great Northern Hotel (Salish Lodge). I wandered into the lobby and noticed the light fixture went full David Lynch. This was not my first visit to the lobby, and I couldn't remember the erratic blinking of the lights occurring previously. Later, I asked a staff member if the blinking was meant to be. She said it wasn't supposed to happen, but the lights were acting strangely lately. It is happening again, my friends.
My first journey to the Fest was about hitting all the marks of participating in the costume contest (Maddy Ferguson), seeing all of the locations, and getting to know some fellow Fest-goers. Some years later, I've realized that the Fest is all of these experiences but so much has become more personal ... and more private. There is one event I witnessed that I cannot even put into words. In fact, I won't. It was hauntingly beautiful and sad. I captured a photo. But I didn't post it anywhere. Last year, Catherine Coulson relayed a message from David Lynch to us in which he said, "We live in a world where there really is no mystery or honoring of mystery anymore ... real mystery. I find that personally depressing. I would like to rediscover a world where everyone discovers on their own what real mystery is." I'm trying, Mr. Lynch. I'm trying.
Some lasting impressions ...
Scott's Documentary about Twin Peaks with Catherine (Log Lady) Coulson, Ian Buchanan, Josh Eisenstadt and more.
Listen to an interview with Sherilyn Fenn.
Buy John Thorne's book, Essential Wrapped In Plastic.
Buy Charlotte Stewarts Book, Little House in the Hollywood Hills.
John Neff talked about Blue Bob, check it out.
Purchase the Mulholland Dr. DVD