Photo by Wade Tregaskis
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The View from Twin Peaks

view from Twin Peaks


Cathy maneuvered up Twin Peaks Boulevard to the summit, left Jimmy conked out in the front seat, let the air pull her to the lip of the salient, opened her mouth and eyes to the chill. Get the St. Vitus’ dance out of my brain. Cleared her throat, hawked over the rail into the fog.

Am I my own woman?

Am I One of Jimmy’s?

— It doesn’t matter, said an undrunken pocket of her mind, Have you never felt the loss of something you never had?

Have I never what?

— felt the loss of something you never had

She looked back at Jimmy, stupified since he found her at the party, asking to leave, NOW, pale as a forgotten face.

Yes. Jimmy. Before I met him.

— Did you want him or need him before you met him?

I could not want him.

— And you could not know you needed him until. You only know what your needs are when they're met.

East across the Bay, Oakland flickered, a surf of lights. DC home by now. With a woman? And why not, they had talked as stiff as new. To the north past Alcatraz, invisible Tiburon, where Shauna came from, former model housewife. We all come from somewhere (a drunken thought) but we come here because we felt the loss of something we never had.

She saw the Great Passages to here — Jimmy from St. Louis, DC out of Mississippi, Hank from a slum somewhere, Cosmo Milwaukee She touched the bumps on a log in Tralfama-or-other which lit the path from the Bronx of the drunken milkman Cohens, a curdled family of broken glass and spilled milk, the kind that sets you up for an educational rape. She had wanted to leave but she did not need to leave until she left, at which point she had needed to leave all along. And her need to leave was the crime for which her family punished her.

She touched the moment that flared into Mrs. Givens, the healing breath of wood-stove smoke, bacon, and greens in Indianola. How could Cathy know a 92-year-old Black woman in a woodlog cabin in Mississippi was a need of Cathy’s, and she, Cathy, would never know if she had been an unknown need of Mrs. Givens, unrecognized since the end of Reconstruction. I hope I was. She touched the spot of DC Baines, returning to the South his parents fled, intending revenge, bearing justice, meets a girl from the Bronx and does not fall in love, not then. She touched herself tracing the dance steps of her mother to LA, but it’s too late for that, here’s the bump named Jimmy-O’Shea-the-Revolution, l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace, come with me into the storm, to San Francisco, and he was the answer to the question, have you ever felt the loss of something you never had. Yes, because she had him, and her need was not even known until she did.

And yes, she could be her own woman still.

And my need for him is my need, not a property of his.

And who the hell is Michelle Freneau on her way to Paris, a revolutionary situation is developing?

Cathy met a woman who went shopping at City of Paris, believing she wanted a dress, no, actually wanting a dress, and burrowing through dresses on a rack discovered what she needed to know, a need that after she found it she had needed all along but had lost, the knowledge that Fashion is Coercion. She ran to the revolving doors, crossed Geary Street into a new life — her own woman, headed for disaster perhaps, but her own.

Letter from a San Rafael housewife to the Chronicle: I don’t know if the hippies are right or wrong. All I know is that if the hippies are right, my whole life has been a terrible mistake. One step more, sister, thought Cathy. That’s it, untie your apron, fold it on the sink, get out. Get out NOW.

In Indianola no one did not care. White folks cared by hating. No one was too moneyed, power-sick, isolated, drowned in their own kind, vapid or drunk to care. No one wasn’t next to, up against, with their face in it, even the woman fondled every night by Jesus. “I’m not that kind of woman,” she told The Christ, but she cared that SNCC was in town and the Freedom People, whites from the frozen North. Even the town’s only debutante was not indifferent.



JIMMY enters from the bathroom, waving the Society Page of the Chronicle.



Do you realize there are still debutantes coming out at society balls? Get General Giap on the phone! Call in an air strike. This can’t be. Not now. Not any more.


The indifferent die content, never having felt the loss of what they did not know they needed, never finding it, never knowing what it was.

Lamentations of indifference ascended the slopes of Twin Peaks: it’ll pass, it’s a phase, they’re acting out, they’re only kids, they can’t be serious, it’s sort of cute, what do they want anyway, the cops’ll beat some sense in them, they care more about foreigners than their own families, I have a store to run, it’s just a TV show, good for tourism, and the war, well the war, it’s true, but the war, the war, they know what they’re doing, the Army, and that kind are always around, they don’t see the Big Picture, it’s a waste of their time but it takes all kinds. This is America: we take all kinds. I can’t be bothered, I’ve got a family, and who can listen to that music! Just as long as they don’t get in my way.

Cathy stretched out her arms to the troubled indifferent. “I place a curse on you,” she said. “An ancient Judeo-Celtic curse. May you all die content.”

She felt densely packed into the world. A vision siezed her, as if from around a corner of an alcove in time, imbued with an “if-ness” or “wouldness,” the soaking through of chance from the impossible world. She saw

Priests confess their sins to their parishioners.

Frank Sinatra crucified between the Andrews Sisters.

Babe Ruth’s homerun record broken by a Puerto Rican.

A drunken President fall on his knees in the Oval Office to pray with his Secretary of State, then flee in a helicopter.

James Baldwin elevated to the Supreme Court.

The mass use of every drug invented by the CIA.

America liberated by barbarian hordes.

Old White Men replaced by Young Black Women.

The U.S. economy supported entirely by teenage shopping.

Men no longer men, women no longer women.

Whites fleeing the inner cities so far they arrive at the next inner city.

Crimes invented to fill the jails.

People her age overthrowing the government of, say, Egypt.

Seven years of stunned penitential silence when Americans realize theirs is not the greatest country in the world.

Did Cathy have this vision in 1968? No she did not have this vision in 1968. No one receives visions drunk on Mondavi Red. It came to her from a time traveller 34 years in the future, say 2002, who peered around the mural Cathy was painted on, and saw, in the alcove light of 2002, what Cathy, who thought the alcove was a patch so dark it was not there, could not see, peer as she might around the corner of her painted-in-1968 existence.

And yet.


She felt sober enough to drive downhill. She studied Jimmy sleeping, head against the window. He was a need. Everything she felt about him was ferocious. I would die for him, through him, of him. Bobby Kennedy’s coming to town tomorrow. We should be on our feet by then.