David Lynch: "I Never Said I Wasn't Going to Make Films Anymore"

I recently discovered that filmmaker and musician David Lynch markets his own line of coffee (espresso, house roast, and decaf), and somehow, I was on the phone with the American iconoclast a few days later.

The condition for this interview was simple yet challenging: I was allowed to ask him only coffee-related questions.

I called his office and the receptionist transferred me to his extension. He said hello, we started talking, and then my phone started acting crazy because my new digital recording app wasn't working correctly. I flipped out.

"Don't panic, Jason," he said in that fascinating voice. "Just hang up, fix it, and call me back."

The next day, a big black box was delivered to my doorstep. Lifting the box, I could smell the coffee before I even opened it. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. Inside the box were nearly three pounds of whole-bean David Lynch Signature Cup Organic Coffee for me to "review." I immediately began grinding the beans, drinking cup after cup and writing profusely. But there was a problem along the way: This David Lynch Signature Cup coffee was turning me into a self-indulgent megalomaniac.

"David Lynch will find my writing so brilliant," I thought while brewing another pot around 3 in the morning, "that his next project will be a network television reality show called... HANDELSMAN!"

This was certainly the conjecture from that part of my mind where the delusions of grandeur live. The high-octane David Lynch caffeine surged through my veins as I typed away on the keyboard and the sun rose. I forgot to mention that by this time, I had listened to my interview with David Lynch at least 100 times.

But I digress. While writing the first few drafts and drinking quarts of his coffee, I became more psychotic. The "coffee review" was becoming a nonsensical screenplay for the Handelsman reality show featuring Jim Carrey and Lil Wayne. I had no choice but to call up my business coach, New York City media-mogul Norm Bronstein (real name withheld for legal purposes). I needed his guidance.

"David Lynch will never release another film again," he said, "There is a law in Hollywood called the 'three strikes, you're out' law. David Lynch has struck out. His last movie, Inland Empire, was a complete failure. He is finished making weird movies about his weird hair." Norm laughed at his own joke and continued: "He is now a full-time devotee of Transcendental Meditation, which is a cult. And from what you're telling me about his coffee, he sounds like a modern-day Juan Valdez!" Norm laughed hysterically, and I became even more befuddled.

My David Lynch coffee review was rejected by every publication I sent it to. So I did what any self-respecting contemporary writer would do: I put it up on my own website! I had to forward a link to one of David Lynch's assistants.

"Sounds like you and David had a good talk," he replied after reading the piece. "People often try to project David's style when working with him or writing about him, but it rarely hits the mark."

David Lynch: Hello?

New Times: Thank you so much. I fixed my phone. We have everything in order now.

That is great.

Thank you so much. My David Lynch Coffee is still in transit. As I anticipate its arrival, how would you prepare me for that first cup of David Lynch Signature Cup Organic Coffee? Is there something exceptional about your coffee that expands the imagination?

Well, you know, coffee has been used to give people pleasure and kind of, you know, electrify them a little bit. I always say there is an idea in every bag of David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee. The main thing about coffee is the flavor. And this David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee is great. It has beautiful flavor and... I drink it all day long. I drink espresso, but it comes in house blend and decaf house blend. So, I don't know what you drink.

Um, right now I'm having a delicious cup of Kopi Luwak.

No. Will you be drinking espressos, or will you be drinking house roast?

Probably the house roast. I live in Miami, Florida, and I usually get Cuban coffee if I'm in the mood for espresso...

Uh huh..

I will definitely try the David Lynch Espresso as I work on this review. You say you drink it all day long. So it's true, you drink over 12 cups a day.

I think so, yeah.

Do you ever take a break and not drink coffee for a day or so?

No, um, I never had to do that.

I asked your receptionist about the coffee in your office, because most offices have this septic tank of stale-bitter coffee which sits there all day, and it's not really good. I asked her about it.

And what did she say?

She said that you could answer that.

(Laughs) Oh, OK. Well, I just got these two new machines, and they are so beautiful! And everybody that works here, you know, drinks the espressos and they make house roast. They make cappucinos. I have cappucinos all day long.

Do you make those yourself?

I make some of them myself and sometimes other people make them for me.

Now, you are a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation...


Apparently you are also quite a coffee enthusiast. I was wondering if there is a relationship between the two. Like, do you drink coffee before you meditate? Before and after? Does the coffee ever make you feel like jumping out of meditation and writing down ideas? Do you have enough discipline to...

That's already a whole bunch of questions, OK?

I'm sorry.

Transcendental Meditation is a mental technique to allow any human being to dive within and experience unbounded awareness. The deepest level of life, eternal level of life, pure consciousness. And you come out of meditation feeling so refreshed, and every time a person truly transcends, they infuse some of that all positive quality of consciousness. That field within is: unbounded intelligence, creativity, happiness, love, energy, and peace. You come out of meditation so refreshed, filled with energy, and ready to rock! And I drink a cup of coffee before I meditate in the morning, and I drink coffee all day long. Now a lot of people get their fix from meditation. I just love coffee, so I keep drinking it. But meditation is what really changes things for the good. Coffee is like some frosting on the cake.

So if...

And then you asked about ideas. Sorry to interrupt. You know, when John Lennon was with Maharishi in India, he told Maharishi, "I keep getting these ideas during meditation and I don't want to forget them, so what should I do?" And Maharishi told him, "Listen, just come gently out, write the ideas down, and then go back in." And so you get down deep in there and you get ideas. If you do get ideas; you don't always get ideas, and you don't meditate to get ideas. Mostly the ideas come after meditation, but if you are down there and if you do get ideas, it's a strange thing. Because when you come back out of meditation, sometimes you forget those things. So, if I got a great idea deep in meditation, I would come out, write that thing down, and then go back to meditating.

Does the coffee have any effect on the meditation?

No. Well, it has an effect on your physical being and body. But meditation is a completely different thing. It's... it's so beautiful. And some people enjoy coffee, and some people enjoy different things. And you don't have to give up anything to meditate. You just add meditation to your life and go about your business.

So this is another question, and please cut me off if I start going off on a tangent again...


These ideas, they seem to be the dominating thoughts of your mind, and they transform into physical reality and objects. Your films, paintings, photographs, music, television, furniture, stage productions... For me personally, and people that I know, they have had a therapeutic effect on multitudes of people. And, I mean, in high school, I had really bad acne and I wrote this poem called, "I Am a Teenage Elephant Man." I had a drug problem later on in life, and I always could relate to that character behind the dumpster in Mulholland Drive.

I have seen that movie many times in the theater, and that character who pops out from behind the dumpster is such a jarring character. In 2009, I was driving under the influence, and I hit a pedestrian with my car, and there was blood all over the windshield, and, um, I've been drinking a lot of coffee since then. I don't drink alcohol or do any drugs anymore...

[laughter] Uh huh.

Your films have had a subconscious healing effect in the sense that sometimes life doesn't seem to have a linear narrative. It doesn't make sense right away. And this question might seem a little off, but have you ever considered opening -- I read that you aren't going to make anymore films because cinemas are kind of disappearing -- have you ever considered opening a David Lynch Coffee Shop, because it would probably put Starbucks out of business.

No, I haven't thought of that, but you know, you asked some good questions. You should find a legitimate teacher of Transcendental Meditation and start meditating. And you will see what it does for a human being. This thing of transcending means experiencing that field that is always and has forever been there. It is the self. This is that field. So you get that technique and then meditate regularly every day and then give me a call and tell me how you feel. I guarantee that you will tell me, "I am so happy and thankful to have this technique."

And I never said I wasn't going to make films anymore. I did say that I wasn't going to shoot on celluloid, but now, I even love celluloid again. It is a strange world. I think celluloid is so incredibly beautiful, and I love the digital cameras as well. So I think you should use what is right for the project. But like you said, the film industry has changed so much. I build films to go on the big screen, and the kind of films I make probably wouldn't get that many screens.

So, you know, things are always changing. Maybe the art houses will come back. We'll see what happens, but it's a great big beautiful world, and I just don't have the time to set up a coffee shop. [laughter]

But I got a great line of coffee. It tastes really good. It's smooth and not bitter. It is all organic. Fairly traded, and these beans have such a smell -- unbelievable -- and the taste: "boom!" Sends you right to heaven.

Wow. So, if I decide to take a Transcendental Meditation class you want me to call you back and tell you how it went.


The only issue that I may have, and I'll be honest with you, is after the DUI that I mentioned, I was on trial facing ten years in prison, and I started praying. I met Jesus Christ, and I will never be the same. My life has been totally transformed. I started going to church and playing drums at this church. I began reading and believing the Bible, and in the Bible there is a lot of stuff about meditation and meditating in the Word. There is speaking in tongues, there is healing and spiritual gifts, and there is that love, joy, and peace that you mentioned. I wonder how you would say that Transcendental Meditation may or may not interfere with being a believer in the Holy Spirit.

That is a very good question. Such a beautiful question. It will be a time coming soon when all the Pentacostals, all the Evangelists, all the born-again Christians will be practicing Transcendental Meditation. Why is that? Because in the Bible it says, "First seek the Kingdom of Heaven which lies within, and all else will be added unto you." That within is the Kingdom of Heaven. That's the unified field. That is the ocean of pure consciousness. That is the eternal level. Unbounded, within every human being.

And you can experience that with this technique of Transcendental Meditation. Every time you experience it, you grow in that; life gets better and better and better. And it's not a religion to practice Transcendental Meditation; it's a technique. It is not against any religion. People from all religions practice this technique. More and more and more people these days are receptive to this. They are going for it, and they are seeing the change in their life. It is really beautiful.

The Kingdom of Heaven which lies within. And you grow in that. You unfold that. It is a thing that is going to bring the world to a beautiful place. So tell all your people, it is not a thing to be afraid of. It is a thing to embrace, and the sooner the better.

You quoted Matthew 6:33: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.

Exactly right! That is the Kingdom.

Wow. I have one more question that I promised someone I would ask, and it is a coffee-related question.


In Lost Highway, Henry Rollins appeared in the film.


And years ago, Henry Rollins wrote a lot of poetry about drinking coffee at 7-Eleven in Los Angeles. He sang for a band called Black Flag in the '80s.


They had this great song called "Black Coffee," and it was all about the power of drinking black coffee and staring at the wall. Um, have you ever sat and had coffee with Henry Rollins, and if so, was there any kind of coffee fanatic bond between the two of you?

Well, I did work with Henry on Lost Highway, and I also saw him at an event when a great recording studio in Los Angeles closed, Cherokee Studios. And Henry is a really great intellect and musician. He is such a good guy. We might have shared some coffee together, but we didn't really comment on it. I hope we had some good coffee together. [laughter] I didn't have my David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee then. But I don't really remember sitting across from Henry drinking coffee and commenting on our mutual love for this great drink. [laughter]

It is a wonderful beverage.

It really is.

It has been around for so long, and it's totally legal and society supports its drinking. Every job I've had, you can drink coffee. There is nothing illegal about it. You can drink coffee and drive.


For me and a lot of people, it takes away the urge to backslide and do those things that you shouldn't be doing.

Exactly right. At recovery houses, they serve lots of coffee. [laughter]

I know! Well, I really look forward to receiving the David Lynch coffee and really tasting it and reviewing the potency of it...

You check it out and see what you feel. And here is another thing. I just want to leave you with this: Coffee is great, but transcending is the best thing for a human being. So I want you to go to the David Lynch Foundation website and read all about Transcendental Meditation and see what it has done for so many people. The church can give you so much good feeling and put you in that place, but nothing takes the place of that experience of the light of God. That deepest level of life. It is so sublime. Tell your church people about that and get going on that and then call me after a couple of months.

I certainly will take you up on that offer. Thank you.

Absolutely. Any problems, give me a call.

All right. Thank you so much, and have a great day. This was amazing.

OK, Jason. Take good care of yourself.

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Jason Handelsman