November 23rd, 2008

Chris Keeley

Ry Cooder

November 23, 2008

Ry Cooder’s American West

WHEN Ry Cooder and I got to El Mirage Dry Lake, it was 110 degrees and heading to 117, hot enough to cook your head inside your hat. The Mojave Desert in daylight will cut the gizzard right out of you, Tom Joad once said, which is why the Okies crossed it at night.

I put away the map and Ry pulled the S.U.V. through the gate and stopped. The gravel road fell away below us and vanished into the bone-white lakebed. The mirage was working: a shoreline shimmered wetly in the distance, made of bent sunlight and sand.

El Mirage Dry Lake sounds like a place one step away from nonexistence, but it’s about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, out among the Joshua trees. It’s not far from Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave’s military-paranormal sector, where secretive government installations lie low among the jackrabbits — a land of spy planes, space aliens, off-road vehicles, sturdy reptiles and people with freaky desert habits, like racing vintage hot rods on dry lakebeds

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Chris Keeley


Questions for David Lynch

The Visionary

This interview is scheduled to appear in a special issue on screens, so let’s start by contemplating the current fascination with the small screen.
That’s a terrible subject. There’s nothing like the big screen. The cinema is really built for the big screen and big sound, so that a person can go into another world and have an experience. As an example, there’s Stanley Kubrick’s “2001:A Space Odyssey” — this would be kind of a pathetic joke on a little screen.

How do you feel about someone watching your films — “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” — on a laptop?
More and more people are seeing the films on computers — lousy sound, lousy picture — and they think they’ve seen the film, but they really haven’t.

Because the small screen emphasizes plot over visuals?
It’s a pathetic horror story.

On the other hand, you do appear on countless computer screens every day, giving a weather report from your home in Los Angeles, on your Web site.
People are kind of interested in weather. It’s not artistic. It’s just me sitting there in my painting studio.

Who films you?
It’s a camera that comes down out of the ceiling.

I hear you’re starting an online series on transcendental meditation, based on your book “Catching the Big Fish.” Is the small screen a good format for discussing meditation?
Any format is a good format for meditation. Every single person has within an ocean of pure vibrant consciousness. Every single human being can experience that — infinite intelligence, infinite creativity, infinite happiness, infinite energy, infinite dynamic peace.

Tell us about your foundation.
The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace — we raise money to give meditation to any student or school. There is a huge waiting list.

As a devotee of cultivated bliss, how do you explain the proclivity for twisted eroticism and dismembered body parts in your films?
A filmmaker doesn’t have to suffer to show suffering. You just have to understand it. You don’t have to die to shoot a death scene.

Do you see yourself as an American Surrealist?
Dennis Hopper called me that, and that is the way he sees it. It’s more than just Surrealism to me.

I think of you as someone who transported the noir sensibility from the city into a Norman Rockwell setting. What do you think of his paintings?
I love his work. It’s like Edward Hopper. They see a certain thing, and they catch it.

What is that clock you’re holding in this photograph?
I just didn’t want to stand there like an idiot. It’s an old clock, but I am building this plastic bubble around it.

Is it a sculpture?
In a way it is. You mentioned Surrealism, and time was very important to the Surrealists.

But Dali painted melting clocks, and yours isn’t melting, is it?
It’s not melting, no. But part of it is made of polyester resin, which at one time was liquid.

I hear you’re getting married again.
In February. I’m marrying a girl named Emily Stofle.

Is she an actress? Was she in any of your films?
She was just in one, “Inland Empire.”

You’ve been married three times before?
Yeah, it’s real great.

Why would someone who feels so generally blissed out marry so many times?
Well, we live in the field of relativity. Things change.

Do you plan to film your wedding?
No. It’s a hassle. So many things these days are made to look at later. Why not just have the experience and remember it?

Because most people have the experience and forget it.
Some things we forget. But many things we remember on the mental screen, which is the biggest screen of all.

Chris Keeley


Fairfax Heroin Ring Was Not Deterred By a Friend's Death
Teens' Drug Use Allegedly Had Roots in Middle School

By Josh White and Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 23, 2008; A01

The fourth time 19-year-old Alicia Lannes overdosed on heroin, she was text messaging her boyfriend from inside her family's Centreville home. When the boyfriend, Skylar Schnippel, realized Lannes was in trouble, he didn't call her parents or 911. He dialed some buddies and asked them to check on her, said her father, Greg Lannes.

Schnippel's friends crept to the family's windows about 4 a.m. March 5 and saw that Alicia was unconscious. They went to a pay phone and made an anonymous call to 911. At 5 a.m., Greg Lannes said, he was awakened by paramedics pounding on the door.

"We found my daughter lying next to her bed," Lannes said. "She had passed away. She had gone through a lot in her little life."

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