We hardcore fans of David Lynch's signature blend of West Coast decay and psychedelic phantasmagoria will lap up just about anything the man brews, so long as it's a moving picture. His “Signature Cup Coffee”? That got mypulse racing! Cooking quinoa? Why the hell not? Amateur meteorology? Bit dull, though granted this is LA weather. Now Lynch ups the ante with a batshit music video for “Crazy Clown Time,” the title track from his 2011 solo album (explored by our own Kayla Blatchley last November).
Clocking in at seven minutes (the approximate length of his classic Rabbitsepisodes), “Crazy Clown Time” is described by Lynch as “intense psychotic backyard craziness, fueled by beer.” No Mystery Man nor Frank Booth, though there's plenty of classic Lynchian imagery to enthrall and confuse us. I invite you to cue up the video and join me as I plunge deep into aMulholland Drive-style puzzle box:
0:01 Lost Highway-like onscreen static (also like Rammstein's “Rammstein” music video, directed by Lynch for the Lost Highway soundtrack)
0:04 engulfing flames, uh Twin Peaks...? (and, by title, Fire Walk With Me)
0:07 distant horizontal shot, used in Blue Velvet's drug den (the Roy Orbison “In Dreams” scene)
0:14 Lynch in profile resembling Eraserhead's Man in the Planet
0:32 woman sprawled on the grass looks vaguely like Masuimi Max, who cameoed in Inland Empire
0:40 from this angle, Bobby (with the “red shirt”) resembles Justin Theroux from Mulholland Drive
Pausing to transcribe a choice lyric verbatim: “Danny poured the beer. Danny poured beer all over Sally. Dannyyyy poured the beer. Danny poured the beer. Danny poured the beeeeeeer all over Sally.”
1:57 Sally starts kicking Danny's ass, a la Inland Empire: that part where Laura Dern and Julia Ormond get in a tussle on Hollywood Boulevard
2:10 choreographed jamming to the beat, ditto a cathartic Inland Empire(plus that red-dress blonde recalls Mulholland Drive's Laura Harring “in disguise”)
2:45 choice lyric: “It was crazy clown time. Crazy clowwwn tiiime. It was real fun.”
3:16 Petey (the '80s punk) lights his hair on fire. Taking a cue from Lynch's description of a painting in his exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery: “It's our world, and all it is is a boy lighting a fire. And here is his neighbor, the neighborhood girl whom he likes a lot.” As in, quit reading so damn much into it.
4:00 echoes, noises, tape effects, jarring camera movement, i.e. all signature Lynchian elements: Eraserhead on down the line, conjuring strobe-lit frights from previous films (Inland Empire: Nikki confronts The Phantom; Lost Highway's videotape; Mulholland Drive's Club Silencio)
If you've listened to the Crazy Clown Time album track, then Lynch's video is incredibly literal. Lines like: “Bobby, he had a red shirt. Susie, she had hers off completely” become just that, the sorta-Justin Theroux-looking dude pounding back two beers, the blonde woman grinding against a Blue Velvet suburban lawn. This leaves the inclusion of a football player (recalling album track “Football Game”?) and the mustachioed guy on the lawn total mysteries. (Perhaps Twin Peaks kingpin Jean Renault?)
But no matter how bewildering it gets, I am heartened by Lynch's own words in an interview about his artwork:
"You are interpreting it very well yourself. It strikes you a certain way, gives you a certain feeling. And that's it. If there was meant to be more, there would be a whole text for it. It is what it is."
Image: two still frames from Youtube, photo-chopped by the author