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Everything You Missed Out On At This Year's Festival of Disruption

I’m waiting in line for the free coffee and donuts being served at The Theater at The Ace Hotel on the second day of David Lynch’s “Festival of Disruption.”

The line for refreshments seemed to go on forever as I stood alone listening to the actress behind me pontificate about the film she had just directed while two people in front of me waxed poetic about the subtle nuances of various scenes from Twin Peaks.

I had only flown into Los Angeles the day before and already I was drowning in Hollywood stereotypes. To be fair, this festival was riddled with incredible artists and cinematic heavyweights; Only fifteen minutes earlier I sat slack-jawed inside the gothic auditorium listening to Francis Ford Coppola reminisce about his path to stardom, his struggles as a director, and his thoughts on the future of cinema. In another fifteen minutes, I would be listening to David Lynch discuss the pros of Transcendental Meditation and what a person should do with their best and worse ideas as they come. So it kinda made sense that I’d be sandwiched between a congregation of dramatic actors. Everyone at the festival seemed to share my love of film and the desire to see the mythical unicorn of cult cinema, David Lynch, up close.

The day before had also been a lesson in film and meditation. First, I spent the late afternoon lying on the floor of a foggy room painted in red and green light for “Liminal”, a sound bath with Jonsi (of Sigur Ros), Alex Somers, and Paul Corley. The sound bath left me feeling introspective and calm as I wandered around Downtown LA. I arrived back to the theater with just enough time to find a seat before “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” began to play. It would be my first time watching what many believe to be the greatest kung-fu film of a time. Mostly though, my attention was drawn to the man at the foot of the screen – master RZA, aka Bobby Digital, aka The Abbott, aka Zig Zag Zig, aka RZArector… the founding father of the fuckin’ Wu-Tang Clan!

While RZA’s head bobbed up and down he scratched out a brand new score to the kung-fu classic live on stage! The idea itself seemed novel when I had read it on the list of performances. To see it performed live and to realize the thought and care that RZA had put into creating a soundtrack of music that incorporated Wu-Tang classics impeccably married to the mood and action of the film was mind-blowing.

Going from a night like that to a morning where I listened as Francis Ford Coppola explained to his audience that he only had two regrets in life… but he couldn’t remember what they were at the moment was so surreal – and surreal is the exact mood you want to be in as David Lynch is announced on stage.

As I fumbled awkwardly over the knees of the people sitting in their chairs, a cup of piping hot coffee filled to the brim in one hand, my cell phone in the other, and two glazed donuts crammed in-between my teeth, David Lynch prophesied from his armchair on the merits of transcending the negative thoughts in your life through meditation. He tells his audience that through Transcendental Meditation a person can cut through all the negative thoughts that cloud up their daily lives and begin to find the “gold” within.

As David Lynch talks his fingers flittered like a witch casting a delicate spell or a cheerleader in their late seventies riddled with arthritis but still trying desperately to give spirit-fingers. When David isn’t talking, he continues to move his fingers in thoughtful, wave-like patterns that sometimes resemble a Mr. Burns pose. His hands will occasionally come to a stop as if to signify that Lynch’s brain has caught an idea and is ready to reel it in. This metaphor of catching an idea the way you catch a fish isn’t my own, in fact, it comes from a book David wrote entitled “Catching the Big Fish”. In the book, David writes: “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”

This simple truth was at the heart of everything David said during his Q&A. The night closed out with performances by Mercury Rev and TOKiMONSTA before I made my way up to the Ace Hotel’s rooftop bar to milk the last little bit of energy I could out of the festival.

Images courtesy of Festival of Disruption

Stay tuned to Milk for more disruptive art. 

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