On my fourth or fifth viewing of the film, a number of things occurred to me: Issues that are not addressed, questions that are not answered, mysteries that remain unsolved by the conclusion of the film. These things went by unnoticed on my first handful of viewings, but on this particular night, for some strange, cosmic reason, I saw the film with a new awareness. While I still enjoyed the movie as I always do, I found that these questions continued to pull at the edges of my consciousness. I would like to take this opportunity to bring these to light for those who, like me, love nothing more than to debate the mysteries of David Lynch’s work.
By what method did Jeffrey procure those Awake Magazines?
When Jeffrey and Sandy investigate Dorothy’s apartment building for the first time, Jeffrey gives Sandy her task: she must pose as a Jehovah’s Witness and knock on Dorothy’s door at a key moment. To ensure the ruse, Jeffrey provides Sandy with some copies of Awake! Magazine. One wonders how he procured these.
Is Lumberton home to many Jehovah’s Witnesses? Did one come knocking at the Beaumont residence just the day before? I can imagine the following exchange taking place:
Jeffrey: There exist opportunities in life, where one must take certain chances, to learn certain things about the world around him.
Jehovah’s Witness: Oh yes, we agree completely! We believe that by ‘taking that chance’, as you say, and accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior, all the wonders of the world will be revealed to you in time.
Jeffrey: Now, by taking that chance, one must also accept the risks that come with it.
JW: Uh, r- risks? I don’t-
Jeffrey: Now, I’ve been thinking. I’ll bet someone could learn a lot by sneaking into that woman’s apartment.
JW: Sneaking into… what woman?
Jeff: And once you were in her apartment, watching and observing, there might be a clue to a mystery.
JW: Um, I don’t think- that’s not the kind of thing we at the Lumberton Kingdom Hall condone…
Jeff: (Gently pleading) C’mon, guy. Don’t be like that. Now, I have a bug-spraying rig in the car. I will be the pest control man. I will spray her apartment. All you have to do is knock at her door and distract her. Then I will jimmy a window.
JW: (Looking at watch) Uhhh, look, I’ve got to be going. Spreading the word, and all that.
Jeff: But wait, I need your help! I can’t do this alone! What about your magazines?
JW: (Hurrying out the door) Keep ‘em!
Jeff: C’mon, I really like you! I thought we had a connection! (Door slams shut) You- you wanna see the chicken walk?
I believe that this unsuccessful exchange of ideas led to Jeffery’s decision to enlist Sandy’s help instead.
Did Frank Booth’s dentist have Frank’s best interests in mind when he prescribed that tank of nitrous oxide?
One of the enduring images of this film is of Frank with the plastic gas mask pulled over his nose and mouth, breathing in nitrous fumes. It is the key to his transformation from psychotic frat boy to the sex-crazed “Baby” persona. But the question remains: was his dentist aware of the non-medicinal purposes Frank was putting it to? One should certainly hope not. The thought of a licensed dental practitioner issuing nitrous oxide canisters to his patients for no acceptable medical purpose is disheartening, to say the least. It certainly colors one’s view of the world.
All one’s perceptions about what is good and just seem to have no meaning anymore, and it seems that the world is not the safe and virtuous place one thought it was. If the dentists are in on the corruption and the depravity, then who is left to trust? Why are there people like Frank’s dentist? Why is there so much immorally used anesthesia in this world? These are questions I cannot even begin to answer.
Did the Slow Club ever have any other acts besides Dorothy?
Yes, as a matter of fact. Van Gogh and the Starry Nights, a local jazz / rock fusion quartet, had a regular set on Friday nights. The Club also featured Frank Booth’s band, My Name’s Paul, who performed occasionally, as well as showcasing the talents of the classically trained pianist Andy Badale. But don’t think only local acts could be found there. 80′s pop sensation Tommy Tutone once did a set, during his progressive “Play Every Jazz Club in the American Southeast” Tour, in 1986.
How did Dorothy get that impressive wig?