Personal Pieces postsWednesday September 07, 2011
My Long and Winding Road to a Piece of “Twin Peaks” Cherry Pie
In 1990, I watched most of the first season of David Lynch's “Twin Peaks” at my father's house in Minneapolis, caught the second-to-last episode at my sister's place in Seattle, and saw the final episode of the first season about a month later, in Taipei, Taiwan, when my father (finally!) shipped it to me. You could say I was hooked.
Initially I assumed its locale was Michigan: all those Douglas firs and proximity to Canada, I suppose. Turned out it was Washington state, where I moved in 1991. For a time I worked at the University Book Store, where the diary for Laura Palmer had been bought by someone on Lynch's production team, and every so often I visited North Bend, the true locale for the show, for a hike up Mt. Si. But I never went into Twede's Cafe, formerly the Mar T Cafe, home of cherry pie and that damn fine cup of coffee. Hey, is that how the whole coffee thing began? Does Howard Schultz owe his fortune to David Lynch and Special Agent Dale Cooper?
Haven't really thought about the show much since, to be honest, but Sunday I drove out of Seattle early to hike up Bare Mountain, whose trailhead is approximately 24 miles north of North Bend, mostly on dirt roads. The hike turned out to be a bust. In the first hour I had to climb over five trees that had fallen on the trail, each one an omen; then the trail became so overrun with vegetation, six or seven feet high, that I practically needed a machete to keep going. I fought my way through one patch, then another, weeds scraping my shins and drawing blood; but when the third patch appeared, and I couldn't for the life of me see where the trail might finally rise above the tree line, I feared I was on the wrong path and backtracked, then wound up backtracking all the way to the trailhead. So instead of summiting on a sky-blue day, I had a two-hour walk in the woods and weeds. Not that there weren't rewards:
Driving back over the dirt road, I decided, in order to salvage some part of the day, to finally stop at the Mar T, now Twede's, to check it out.
It took a second for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of the restaurant. One o'clock on a Sunday but the place was bustling. A few booths were open but I opted for the counter, then opted for a burger and fries. So far that day I'd only had coffee and sweet things (trail mix, etc.), so coffee and cherry pie didn't appeal. As I was eating, I did something Dale Cooper couldn't do back in 1990: I checked my email on my smartphone and found a back-and-forth between Patricia and our neighbor Ward about an outdoor dinner party we were all attending that evening in downtown Seattle. Ward talked about picking up the ingredients for a peach pie; Patricia suggested she and I get bread or cheese on the way. To me, an alternative immediately suggested itself:
Two birds. We wouldn't arrive empty-handed and I could finally have my “Twin Peaks” cherry pie after all these years.
Patricia was initially against the idea. Ward was baking a pie, she said, so it seemed gauche, or at least territorial, to bring a pie of our own. Ward overruled her. “You can never have too much pie,” he wrote.
The dinner party overlooked Puget Sound. Drinks and food flowed. The sun set over the Sound.
But as the sun faded, so did Patricia. She'd just had arthroscopic surgery and was still in the recovery phase. In fact, the dinner party was her first night out. So we left. Before the pie. Which we left behind.
The next morning after the usual chores and ablutions—feeding Jellybean, showering, making coffee—Jellybean, now fed and sassy, was meowing by the door. We live in a condo but she still meows by the door to be let out into the hallway, which she thinks is hers. It's part of her morning ritual. And just try to stop a cat from her morning ritual.
When I opened the door, I noticed something on the floor: A white cardboard box. Jellybean began sniffing at it. I lifted it up and, yep, there it was, three-quarters of the Twede's Cafe cherry pie, which Ward, my hero, had brought back for us.
So after more than 20 years, I finally had my slice of damn fine cherry pie. And it was.
Now if I could only get me some of that grapefuit—freshly squeezed.
“And Off to the Right? A Massive Thunderstorm Bearing Down on Us”
Has this ever happened to you? My flight home from Minneapolis Sunday night was supposed to leave at 9:35 but departed 15 minutes early to avoid thunderstorms. All well and good. Full flight, so I assume everyone was on board. But in the air—20,000 feet? 25,000 feet?—we saw the thunderstorms off to the right, which I assume was north, since we were heading west, but may have been west and we were heading south to avoid them. Either way, it was quite the show. We didn't hear much thunder over the drone of the airplane but we saw the flashes of lightning every few seconds and saw the actual bolts of lightning zinging down. Went on for 10 minutes.
That was a long, freakin' 10 minutes.
I was already semi-paranoid about the flight, too. In the Humphrey terminal bar—you know the one: there's only one—I struck up a conversation with a Brit, Matt Chapman, on his way to LA to making a living, or to improve his chances of making a living, as a freelance movie writer. He writes regular features for DVDreview.com.uk. We had a good time talking celebrity interviews (he's done many, me a handful), blasting “Green Lantern,” and talking up DVD commentaries. I asked him for his favorite DVD commentary but his answer has already slipped my mind. Apologies. (Matt, if you read this, please add it below.) Mine is still Craig Wright's commentary from the episodes he wrote for “Six Feet Under.”
As airport bar conversations go, it was pretty decent. In the middle of it, though, something was said, or thought, that led to a pretty strong deja vu moment for me. It was as if I flashed back to a dream I'd had years earlier—a dream that ended with me about to die in an airplane crash. Now, I felt, I'd reached that point in time. I tried to shake the feeling but couldn't but refused to allow it to change my course. Then, at 20,000 feet, the whole thunderstorm lightshow began.
Do you pray on planes? My airplane prayers tend to consist of entreaties to God to look out for various loved ones I'll leave behind. For some reason, it calms me down. Not until now, not until writing this, did I realize the mild threat implicit in these prayers: Really? You're gonna take me? OK, then this is who You have to look out for ... Maybe secretly I'm hoping God thinks, “Oh, man. Seems like a lot of work. OK, I'll let him live ...”
In the end, of course, we passed by the thunderstorm not only safe but with hardly a bump, and life, in all its pettiness, picked up anew.
The lightning-bolt-striking-Air-Force-One scene from “Superman: The Movie” that I kept flashing to during those 10 long minutes of our thunderstorm lightshow.
A Walk Through the Old Neighborhood in South Minneapolis
It’s muggy. Seven in the morning and already muggy. Last night, leaving the Humphrey Terminal at 10:30, the air felt soft, but now it’s too soft. Muggy. Mugg-ee. Even the word sticks together.
I feel like a giant here. That’s the way, isn’t it? The cliché? Return to the place where you grew up and everything seems small. Except it feels smaller than it did a year ago when I was 47. The distance between Dad’s garage and the end of the alley is supposed to seem longer and longer, as I get feebler and feebler, but now I feel like a giant bestriding it. How did this alley ever wear me down? How many times, as a kid, did I slink home? Weighed down. By what? What weighs down a kid again? I couldn’t ride a bike. I wet the bed. My parents were fighting, then separating, then divorcing. There were bullies. The world was big and violent and strange and I was small and soft and strange.
Ah, that spot between the two garages, that narrow spot with the slanted concrete wall, where Mark Noel and I—eight years old? nine?—ran and hid with the cigarette pack. My parents had a cocktail party the night before, and in the morning light the living and dining rooms, scattered with remnants of grown-ups—martini glasses and wine glasses and napkins smeared with lipstick—seemed stiller than usual. Mark and I walked through it carefully, reverentially. Then we spotted the cigarette pack on the mantle and whoosh! Why do I remember this moment out of all the other moments? Mark had no problem with the cigarette. He could do it. I took a puff and nearly vomited. Kept me away from cigarettes all those years.
They’ve kept the mailbox on the corner of 53rd and Dupont. When do they...? One p.m., weekdays and Saturdays. It feels like it’s from another era. A mailbox, out here where there’s little foot traffic, in the digital age. But I’m glad it’s here.
Take the creek? No. Muggy equals buggy. Those high-school cross-country practice runs along the creek, shirtless. The bugs, the no-see-ums, dying on contact with your sweaty body. You’d come home speckled in death.
Parkway is good. Man, look at these homes. When I was a kid they were just homes, other people’s homes, but now they seem ... like places I’d like to live: stucco and limestone and brown trim. Particularly compared to that clapboard crap they tossed up in Seattle.
Don’t really know this side of the parkway well. I always took the other side, the Friendlys’ side. This was the Premacks’ side. Where does this lead again? Right. Nicollet Bridge. Why that big embossed “T” on the column at the front of the bridge? Is it a “T”? Nicollet. Where’s the “T”? A reminder to pronounce the “T”? Effin’ Minneapolis.
Look down there. The wide, clean pathways next to the creek, amid the green grass and green trees, for bikes and pedestrians. A kiddie-land for adults. Minneapolis used to seem large and sharp-edged and now it seems small and carefully cultivated. That thought from “Eli, the Fanatic.” Have children ever been so safe in their beds? Parents so full in their stomachs? Never in Rome, never in Greece. Here was peace and safety—what civilization had been working toward for centuries. Minneapolis.
Keep going down Nicollet or through Tangletown? Tangletown. Let’s get off the grid, man. Let's get off the grid plan. “The Cruise.”
Wow, these homes are even nicer. Holy crap, that one’s got a gate and a drive-up entrance. Did I know this back then? Why didn’t I go into Tangletown more often? I guess my friends were elsewhere, and by the time I hit high school, Washburn, I found the lack of right angles confusing. My streets made sense: 54th led to 53rd led to 52nd; Aldrich led to Bryant let to Colfax led to Dupont led to Emerson and all the way to Zenith. Too much sense, probably. I expected order from the world. I expected peace and safety. I was for the grid plan.
So does this come out at Ramsey? No, Washburn. Have I stepped back in that building since graduation 30 years ago? Don’t think so. Is my aversion because of what happened there or what’s happened since? Because of who I was or who I am?
The rocks. We’d paint them the school colors, orange and blue, and other schools would paint them their school colors, then we’d paint ‘em back. They’d come in the middle of the night with their paint cans and paintbrushes and show us. It was supposed to matter. Your team vs. my team. What is my team now? Are those the original rocks? They look flatter. Didn’t I hear something about kids from another school actually stealing the rocks rather than merely painting them? Bad form. Would make it my team again.
Doug and I used to do our Spanish dialogue here on the way home. “Hola, Douglas.” “Hola Enrique, como estas?” “Muy bien, y tu?” “Oh, asi asi. Adonde vas?” “Voy a mi casa.” That’s as far as we got. We merely kidded around with being smart. We really wanted acceptance and girls. We kept our eyes off the prize.
Somehow that dirt strewn over the sidewalk feels so Minneapolis. Or is it dirt? Ick, ants. Hundreds crawling after a pop spill or something. So Minneapolis. We don’t get that in Seattle—that constant reminder of the life beneath. The creepy-crawly smallness of it all, swarming outside, invading your home. The reminder of what you’ll come to, the dirt to which you’ll return, and who rules it. What’s it like—that smallness? That subterranean living? How are ants part of the plan? No, no plan. There can’t be a plan, not with ants. No wonder Minneapolis stays carefully cultivated. Keeps the ants away. Keeps the bad thoughts away.
Should I try this Caribou place? Seems busy. Too busy. Keep walking. The Boulevard Theater, now an Anytime Fitness place. Effin’ Hollywood Video. They took it away and couldn’t maintain it. It should still be a theater. Could it be turned back into a theater if you had the money? That would be nice. A neighborhood theater again. Except you can’t go back again. We can go back, it can’t. Red Owl is Kowalski’s, Salk Drugs is Starbucks, Little General is a doctor’s office. Beek’s lives.
I need a better way to post when I'm away from home. Last week, in Minneapolis, I brought along my iPad with wireless keyboard for such a purpose and it kinda fell flat. It worked well with almost everything except this blog. Specifically it didn't recognize the window I normally write in as a window to write in. Plus there was no way to upload photos from the iPad. So still a few bugs in the system. A long way of saying some of the upcoming posts might have the flavor of last week. Apologies for that.
In the meantime, as St. George used to say, I'm back, baby.
From the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis, the July 4th fireworks gave one the impression of being in a war zone. Speaking of: the museum is currently closed because of the state government shutdown.
Conversation with Jordy, My Nephew, Turning 10 on Thursday
Sunday night I gave my nephews, Jordy, 10 on July 7, and Ryan, 8 on July 4, a book I wrote for them: “Jordy and Ryan at the Superhero Museum.” I'd written them a picture book, in verse, three years ago in which they were superheroes, Soarin' Jordan and Flyin' Ryan, but this was, as the kids say, a chapter book. Jordy immediately began reading it. After the first chapter, which deals with me coming down into the basement, where Jordy is playing Wii and Ryan is playing with Legos, and the two get into a fight, and after much back-and-forth I introduce the idea that there might be a superhero museum we could go to if they were good, Jordy looked up at me.
Jordy: Uncle Erik, is this contemporary realism?
Me (startled, practically gagging): Do you know what that means?
Me: What does contemporary mean?
Jordy: Like... now?
Me: Good. So does the story seem like it's happening now? In this time period?
Me: And does it seem real?
Jordy: Yeah. Except for the superhero museum.
Me: Right. So maybe it's magic realism more than contemporary realism.
Jordy (nodding): Maybe.
Fifth grade next year.