I live in Washington, D.C., where I first came to work as a writer and producer for The Atlantic in 2010 and then covered D.C. transportation for TBD On Foot. Now I report on Congress for Communications Daily.
Now 50 years old, Lynch looks like an adult version of the kind of kid who gets beaten up a lot at recess. He’s large, not exactly fat but soft-looking, and is far and away the palest person anywhere in view, his paleness dwarfing even the head-shop pallor of the lighting and effects guys. He wears a black long-sleeved dress shirt with every possible button buttoned, baggy tan chinos that are too short and flap around his ankles, and a deep sea-fisherman’s cap with a very long bill. The tan cap matches his pants, and his socks are both the same color, suggesting an extremely nerdy costume that’s been chosen and coordinated with great care – a suggestion that, with Lynch, seems somehow endearing rather than pathetic. The stiff quality, of his stride and posture suggest either an ultradisciplinarian upbringing or a back brace.
Lynch’s face is the best thing about him. In photos of him as a young man, Lynch looks rather uncannily like James Spader, but he doesn’t look like James Spader anymore. His face is now full in the sort of way that makes certain people’s faces square, and his eyes – which never once do that grotesque looking-in-opposite-directions-at-once thing they were doing on the 1990 Time cover – are large and mild and kind. In case you’re one of the people who figure that Lynch must be as “sick” as his films, know that he doesn’t have the beady or glassy look one associates with obsessive voyeurism or OCD or degeneracy-grade mental trouble. His eyes are good eyes: He looks at stuff with very intense interest, but it’s a warm and fullhearted interest, sort of the way we all look when we’re watching somebody we love doing something we also love. He doesn’t fret or intrude on any of the technicians, though he will come over and confer when somebody needs to know what exactly he wants for the next setup. He’s the sort who manages to appear restful even in activity; i.e., he looks both very alert and very calm. There might be something about his calm that’s a little creepy – one tends to think of really high-end maniacs being oddly calm, e.g. the way Hannibal Lecter’s pulse rate stays under 80 as he bites somebody’s tongue out.