Twin Peaks' opening notes bring back a forgotten time
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Twin Peaks' opening notes bring back a forgotten time

The last time I watched a new series of Twin Peaks I lived in a share house in Darlinghurst. We paid, as I recall, $330 a week in rent for a four and a half bedroom terrace house. I lived with four other people; my then girlfriend; a Telstra engineer who did not eat at home, let alone cook there, in all the years he lived in that dump; a student from New Zealand; and a junkie who would soon run a massive credit card scam out of the front room. Her tattooed neo-Nazi boyfriend was a virtual flatmate. He was always there but never paid rent.

They all came floating back to me — the ghosts of sharehouses past — with the opening notes of David Lynch's return to the small screen on this week. And it was a genuinely small screen. I watched the first episode of the new series on my iPad.

Sherilyn Fenn and Kyle MacLachlan in the original Twin Peaks, an era when four-bedroom terrace houses in Darlinghurst could be had for $330 a week.

Sherilyn Fenn and Kyle MacLachlan in the original Twin Peaks, an era when four-bedroom terrace houses in Darlinghurst could be had for $330 a week.

Photo: Supplied

The ep was peak Lynch, as impenetrable in parts as Eraserhead.

How much has changed.

That share house probably rents out at more than three hundred bucks a room now. The neo-Nazi, who was reasonably circumspect about his Hitler boner in those days, is undoubtedly less reserved now. If he survived his drug habit he's probably running some lucrative fake news site or working in the White House. Possibly both.

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I don't know what happened to my other flatmates. They were once my tribe but now they're gone. I sort of miss them, or maybe I just miss the times.

We used to try to watch Twin Peaks live, which meant packing cones during the commercial breaks, which were many. The junkie brought home stolen fast food, which was good of her. We did tape the episode, on VHS, and when some other junkies broke into the house and stole the video machine they were kind enough to rewind that week's episode.

The TV was an old cathode ray tube model. Not one of the truck sized monsters that would fill living rooms just before the era of the flat screen dawned. But big enough, I guess.

Twenty-five years.

Man.

The Bjelke-Peterson regime was gone, but Brisbane hadn't yet taken in the hundreds of thousands of southern refugees which would transform it. Eating out still meant getting a steak in a beer garden, I think. I dunno. I was gone to Sydney by then. I recall you could still get a coffee and a ham and cheese croissant up the Cross for less than four bucks.

Bands played gigs.

Qantas served steak too.

You watched whatever the networks told you to watch, and you liked it, goddamn you.

Newspapers were assets worth billionaires fighting over.

Only post grads had email.

There was no advertising online because there was no online.

Hollywood was still way more important than television.

Almost nobody read comics.

And Dr Who was all reruns.

Music was getting better, after some really dire moments in the 1980s, and the non-skip technology in my Sony Discman was so good that if you rested the player on a perfectly flat and table surface it probably would not skip a track.

And Twin Peaks was cool. And then it wasn't. And then it was gone.

John Birmingham

John Birmingham is a columnist and blogger for the Brisbane Times. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude.

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