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. These days, I report on state telecom issues for Warren.
What’s first helpful to understand is the genuinely folksy manner that seems to underscore Lynch’s strangeness. David Foster Wallace identified this quality in his 1996 Premiere essay “David Lynch Keeps His Head.” On the set of Lost Highway, Lynch apparently muttered “Golly!” three times in five minutes. “This is a genius auteur whose vocabulary in person consists of things like okey-doke and marvy and terrif and gee,” Wallace wrote. He speaks of Lynch’s matching pants and socks, “suggesting an extremely nerdy costume that’s been chosen and coordinated with great care.” Yet in his criticism, Wallace zeroes in on what we would call the creepiness of Lynch’s films (and they are quite unsettling, from 1977’s Eraserhead to 2006’s INLAND EMPIRE) and defines the Lynchian essence as “a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.” Yes, Wallace nailed that Lynchian aesthetic accurately enough. But inherent in that mundanity is the potential for wry Lynchian humor, kitschy in the way it plays off those humdrum details and able to skillfully humanize and often deepen the characters as a result.
You should read this piece I wrote on the 10th year of the iconic music festival for The Atlantic! It was all dirty and crazy and drugged out but everyone was super nice…plus the Decemberists, Arcade Fire, Girl Talk, Black Keys, Beirut, and many others straight up rocked.