By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Lynch’s picture of the world was formed in the 1950s, and he clearly adores the mythologized version, that fabulous decade of jukeboxes and sneaky-perverse movies like Rear Window.
”It was a feeling in the air that anything was possible. People were enthusiastically inventing things that thrilled them. And there was a happiness in the air. There was plenty going on beneath the surface, but it wasn‘t as dark a time because there was that other thing going along with it. The ’50s was a time when people seemed to be going crazy with design. And the cars were just incredible. I mean, you look at them, and it‘s like you start to fall in love. That changed, you know, in the ’60s and ‘70s. The cars were pitiful. I mean pitiful. It made you ashamed. You’d wanna hang your head and go in a corner. It was sickening.“
We‘re talking a couple of days before September 11, but Lynch is already gloomy about the state of the world:
”You just get the feeling that you’re sort of powerless in the big picture. And it‘s not like ’I better get mine,‘ but I’m gonna burrow in and concentrate and enjoy doing that. Not try to put my head in the sand, but for my own protection let as little of that outside negativity affect me.“
He lights another American Spirit.
Far more than when we first met, Lynch appears to be isolating himself from the outside world. And there‘s more to this than just surrounding himself with concrete walls. Where he once waxed lyrical about tooling around L.A., he now says he doesn’t drive very much anymore. People have gotten too crazy and the cars too hideous. ”If the cars were more beautiful,“ he says about driving, ”somehow I think people would take care and enjoy it more.“
At the moment, he seems settled in a domesticity I wouldn‘t have believed possible in the early ’90s. Back then he was known for squiring around actresses, from ex-flame Isabella Rossellini to Twin Peaks hotty Sherilyn Fenn. (In life, anyway, he prefers his women dark rather than fair.) He‘s currently into his 10th year with companion Mary Sweeney, a multitalented brunette who produced his last three films, edited all his work since Fire Walk With Me a and co-wrote The Straight Story. She’s also the mother of 9-year-old Riley.
I ask Lynch: ”Do you like being a father?“
His smile falters slightly. ”What does that have to do with anything?“
When the airplanes flattened the World Trade Center, the composer Karl-Heinz Stockhausen caused a scandal by calling it a great work of art. Lynch is not so cut off from humanity as to say anything like that, but far more than anyone I‘ve met, he does view life through the prism of aesthetics. He’s so preternaturally attuned to design that it‘s sometimes hard to believe he’s not kidding.
I‘ve been told that Lynch likes to hang around the vintage modern furniture shop Skank World, and one morning, I ask if he cares about furniture. He instantly sits up.
”Caring,“ he says, giving it a little spin. ”Every word has, you know, its spread of power. You could care a little bit or you could care a lot. But if you put this word caring at the maximum-level intensity, it wouldn’t begin to be enough to say how much I love furniture.
“And I have been sick lately. I‘m not seeing any furniture that thrills my soul. I look around, I look at stuff, and a lot of times it’s close but no cigar. A piece of furniture can completely destroy a whole room.” He pauses to sip his coffee. “You know, unless the environment is a certain way, you really do yourself a disservice.”
Lynch himself has designed furniture, and though he finds none of it “thrilling” -- the highest term of praise in his lexicon -- I ask if we can look at what he‘s come up with. We step carefully down the narrow pathway and wind up in house number three, which is less a home than a gigantic grown-up playhouse.
We pass through a room filled with gorgeous, sinister paintings devoted to the further misadventures of Bob, then move down a dark hallway to a door. It opens to reveal a full-fledged motion-picture mixing studio, with a big silver screen, two 35mm projectors, huge Marshall amps and technicians sipping coffee. They’re working on the sound for the forthcoming The Elephant Man DVD, and Lynch promises me that the remix is going to be “pretty tasty.” From there, he leads me to a room filled with the equipment that runs the studio, and an Epson 9500 photo printer that uses rolls of paper up to 44 inches wide. Lynch fondly calls it the “Bad Boy.”
All this must have cost you a fortune, I say, and he nods.
“It was not pretty.”
Eventually we find our way to his office, where I‘m shown a group of tables that he designed -- an asymmetrical espresso table, a club table with a special slot for cigarettes, and a “floating beam” table, whose thick underlying beam appears to hang in the air. They were built by a Swiss company called Casanostra, which subsequently went out of business. Lynch insists that his tables weren’t the reason why, though it‘s hard to imagine anyone buying one with the intention of using it -- they’re fabulous Magritte-style curios rather than practical home furnishings.
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