Radio: Dreams of David Lynch and hippie hippie shakes
David Lynch is a genius. There, I've said it. I know many people hate Lynch's work, and think it's pretentious, weird or just plain bad. And they're fully entitled to that wrong opinion.
But the fact remains: David Lynch is a genius - one of the most singular, ground-breaking, once-in-a-lifetime talents in the history of screen entertainment. I mean, that's pretty much the definition of "genius".
The Green Room (Newstalk, Sat 9pm) examined the great film-maker's work, and the life and influences which have shaped it, through a new documentary. David Lynch: The Art Life delves into his bucolic childhood in America's Pacific North-West, and traces the development of his style and themes and obsessions, up to early films such as Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, and of course the seminal TV show Twin Peaks.
Orla Barry's guest Steven Benedict - a film historian and director - was knowledgeable and enlightening about the Lynchian universe. The piece was pure heaven for someone like me, who has literally been dreaming about Twin Peaks since first watching it over a quarter-century ago.
As for everyone who's not a Lynch devotee… what's the matter with you? (Although, even I must admit that Eraserhead is unwatchable. Eh, you can't win 'em all.)
Inside Culture (Radio 1, Mon 10pm) looked at another cultural phenomenon: the hippie movement and 1967's Summer of Love. Fionn Davenport rounded up a stellar collection of contributors for this hour-long special, many of whom were actually there, in the historical epicentre. (Feel free to make your own "You don't know 'cause you weren't there, man" joke at this point.)
A man called Arthur Round was living in the iconic Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco at the time. Rusty Goldman - what a classic hippie name - was collecting gig posters and painting Janis Joplin's Porsche (really). Journalist Joel Selvin covered the musical side, though of course the movement was about much more than just music.
Most of all, it seemed to be about taking drugs. Now, now, don't get all pursed-lipped about it: as narcotic consumption goes, there are worse things than dropping acid and waiting for the doors of perception to open.
Speaking of music, the most surprising thing for me is how dated a lot of it now feels. That psychedelic sound - it really hasn't lasted well. Too shapeless, too cluttered… too wedded to a specific time and place.
The second-most surprising thing was how little desire I had, while listening, to sneer at hippies. Sure, they're an easy target for poking fun, especially when some wackadoodle flake comes out with something like this: "LSD opens up your mind. When you can see the wind, actually see it, it makes you think… wow, I didn't know you could see the wind."
Whoa. Way deep, man.
But while it's easy to be snarky, hippies were harmless enough, no? They certainly didn't deserve the bizarrely aggressive abuse they'd receive, a decade later, from angry oiks "fighting the punk wars". You're not a soldier in a war, dummy. You're an obnoxious moron with a safety-pin in his nose. Slight difference.
A proper soldier - and, in my opinion, a genuine hero, not to mention an all-round bad-ass - is Michael Martin, subject of Peshmerga Mick, the Documentary on One (Radio 1, Sat 7pm). A Limerick man, he left the British army last year on medical leave… then went AWOL to fight Isis in Iraq, with Kurdish forces.
What drives an Irish dad-of-four to risk life and limb, facing a horde of degenerate savages like Isis? A fascinating, scarcely credible story - in some ways, as surreal as anything from the mind of David Lynch.