How I Quit Twin Peaks to Eat Coconut

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Twin Peaks is back after 25 years, but I highly doubt that I will be back as Josie.  I was the exotic beauty in an incestuous town, a poisonous fish out of water.  And we all know I that haven’t been these things for quite a while now.  However, a glimmer of hope still exists, for Josie was last seen trapped in a wooden doorknob.  Perhaps I can come back in one of the episodes as a doorknob witch? 

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I have made countless stupid mistakes in life and wanting to be written out of Twin Peaks was among the stupidest.  With the ignorance of my youth, and the influence of the PC factions in the Asian community, I naively rebelled against being an exotic flower.  I believed that I should want to be something more meaningful. When I asked to be written out of Twin Peaks, I didn’t realize how impossibly precious the opportunity of being a beautiful Ming vase was.  Unlike a real Ming vase, the value of which increases by the day, the human version, like a blossoming cereus, is only valuable for a few short hours.  Couldn’t I have searched for meaning after my once in a lifetime bloom?

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‘The Night-Blowing Cereus’ by Robert John Thornton, 1799

The project for which I quit Twin Peaks was called Turtle Beach, a disaster of a film that no one ever saw.  The only good thing was that it was filmed in Thailand, where the world’s best coconuts were grown.  I came to LOVE coconut during the 10 weeks of filming Turtle Beach on the balmy beach of Phuket. 

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Coconut love on “Turtle Beach”

People still walk up to me to tell me they loved me in Twin Peaks.  I would be walking on the street or shopping for groceries with a dirty face, and a stranger would begin to gush about Twin Peaks with me.  I have always been quite shocked and totally embarrassed at how people could make the connection between this slob and Josie Packard. 

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For desert tonight I served my family almond flour coconut chocolate cookies and coconut mango raspberry ice cream as I told them the story of how I ended up in a wooden doorknob so many years ago.  And how I came to love coconut.

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Sprouted Kitchen cookie recipe slightly revised:

1 ¼ cups almond meal (I added 1/4 cup of coconut flour)

¼ cup cacao nibs (I used Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened dark chocolate)

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup  muscovado sugar (I used sugar free maple syrup)

1 egg

3 tablespoons melted extra virgin coconut oil (I replaced it with non fat Fage)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

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8 ounces mango
4 ounces raspberries
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
2 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup non-fat Fage
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup shredded toasted coconut, plus additional for serving
This recipe was improvised based on a few online references.

28 thoughts on “How I Quit Twin Peaks to Eat Coconut

  1. Until today I didn’t realize that it was your decision to leave Twin Peaks. I love Josie’s character and I really hope you will come back! We love you Joan and wish you all the best in life!

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  2. Jose possessed the exotic exquisite beauty of the Ming Vase, but she was no fragile vessel. Her strength, dignity, and resilient instinct for survival were most memorable to me. Surely she is a drawer that may yet be reopened in the new episodes.

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  3. I find it strange that people could mistake Josie’s character for such a thin portrayal, and it bespeaks of a lack of familiarity with the show. Josie’s character subverted that dynamic, she used everyone’s low expectations of her to manipulate them for her own gain. People consistently underestimated her, at their own peril.

    Perhaps David and Mark can find a place for you in the world they are extending.

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  4. Josie was a wonderful character and you brought her to life. The fact that we are all talking about Twin Peaks and the people who took part twenty-five years later says so much about all of it. Personally I would love to see David Bowie return as Agent Jeffries and bring Judy with him. Of course that would be you.

    If nothing else, I am glad I found your blog. Looking forward to reading your take on food.

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  5. Well, Pete saw Josie’s face in the fireplace at the Great Northern. And there’s still the mystery of why so much of Josie was missing when they examined her body. Maybe there’s enough of Josie hidden in the Black Lodge somewhere we’ll finally get some answers and see her again…

    Great blog, also!

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  6. I want David Lynch and Mark Frost to rescue Josie from in between the two worlds (the physical world and The Black Lodge). And somehow it could work. Like they’ll rescue her and then everyone in the town will be confused so they’ll have her body exhumed from the cemetery but the casket will be empty and that’ll just be another mystery. Joan please contact Lynch and tell him you want to come back!!

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  7. The buzz surrounding the return of Twin Peaks is huge!

    Apparently Ray Wise stated what Lynch had said to him regarding a possible reboot of Twin Peaks: “Well, Ray, you know, the town is still there. And I suppose it’s possible that we could revisit it. Of course, you’re already dead… but we could maybe work around that.”

    If they could bring Leland back, I don’t see why they couldn’t bring back Josie.

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  8. Your blog is beautifully written and your movies mean a lot to me, especially the masterpiece you cowrote and directed, Tian yu/Xiu Xiu. Although leaving Twin Peaks may be a decision you regret in light of the bad roles that immediately followed, your decision made sense in light of the misunderstanding of Josie not only from self-proclaimed Asian racial activists, but also from many of the show’s fans and some of the people at the network. Lynch was unable to devote as much time to the series after the pilot, and some of the writers and directors on Twin Peaks in season two (and even later in season one after the pilot) seem not to have understood at the time the central importance of the Josie character in Lynch and Frost’s original conception. It’s true she could be viewed as an exotic dragon lady, but she was also simply the femme fatale of the show- the living parallel to the dead Laura, with whom she had so much in common, once we look past Laura’s relatively privileged surface existence (Xiu Xiu has some things in common with Laura too). David’s daughter Jennifer even proposed Josie and Laura as romantic partners in the “diary” she wrote. After a view of the drifting water in the lake where Laura’s body was soon to be found, the very first shot of a person in Twin Peaks was Josie in the mirror, just as Lynch chose to end the series on a horrifying image of the possessed Cooper looking in the mirror. Josie was, along with Cooper and Laura, the most resonant presence in the series. At least, she was supposed to be, and it was no fault of your haunting performance that she never quite fulfilled her potential.

    The fact the character was originally supposed to be played by Isabella Rossellini, as an Italian woman who had married Andrew Packard, shows that while Lynch’s work may not have been sexually PC, that particular role was not initially intended to embody any orientalist racial stereotype, it was a more basic type- the dangerously beautiful and mysterious outsider in town. Maybe it became something else over time, but the initial idea was not about her Asian-ness. It was however, more realistic that a corrupt tycoon’s foreign wife in the Pacific Northwest in 1989 might be from Hong Kong, as opposed to being Italian. That particular region of the US and Canada had always had many more links to Asia than it did to, say, Italy, and the country as a whole was also diversifying in terms of the sources of its immigrants. David Lynch, without trying to, ended up breaking a color line on TV by casting you, since TV was very slow to reflect the US reality, and there were no other Asian females with roles on TV as prominent as Josie Packard. But being accidentally the first, you were subject to much higher scrutiny, and the role was expected, by people unfamiliar with Lynch’s other work, to have some kind of easy hopeful message, which is not what Lynch’s work ever does.

    In reality, sexual idealization and racial fetishization persist, and sometimes it takes an apolitical, even conservative-oriented filmmaker (as Lynch still was at that time- and as Hitchcock himself also was) to present a painfully raw view of the sexual inequalities and hangups afflicting our society, which self identified progressive filmmakers- especially white progressives- do not explore for fear of appearing to make a sexist or racist commentary. One reason I admire David Henry Hwang is his willingness to be honest. M. Butterfly was controversial among both white and Asian (not even to
    mention gay) commentators when it appeared. It was uncomfortably truthful and presented no one in an idealized light, making clear the dehumanizing effects of the colonial mentality on both colonized and colonizer. Although Golden Gate, your best post-Twin Peaks project in Hollywood, is not on that level, and was possibly subject to being watered down by the studio or the director, it is still a typically brave Joan Chen work in its willingness to depict stereotypes and challenge them simultaneously. This is something your Chinese films like Red Rose White Rose and Lust Caution accomplish as well. Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang), who wrote the stories both brilliant films were based on, was also never appreciated in her lifetime by the PC types. Clearly you have an affinity for her work. Perhaps one day you could direct an adaptation of one of her other stories?

    Actually, if you aren’t acting in the new Twin Peaks and it ends up becoming successful enough to last more than nine episodes, I imagine David Lynch may no longer be able to direct every single episode. At that time, if you are a fan of the direction of the new show, it would be good to see a few Twin Peaks episodes directed by you. I think you would be more suited to direct Twin Peaks than anyone besides Lynch himself, and maybe it would also help you get some newly deserved attention for Xiu Xiu and hopefully return one day to directing, on your own terms, not Hollywood’s (or even Shanghai or Beijing’s) terms.

    Actually, I haven’t seen Autumn in New York yet, or Turtle Beach. The film of yours I most want to see is Xiao hua (Little Flower), for which you won all the top awards in China as a teenager, but this movie is still unavailable with English subtitles, and I’ve only studied Mandarin enough to understand the title, not the dialogue. I loved your part in Jia Zhangke’s 24 City, though, where you referenced your older role. If you were able to work on any director’s projects (besides your own, of course) I think even more than David Lynch, I would like to see you work at least once with Wong Kar-wai.

    Anyway, thanks for (not) reading this, Ms. Chen. Josie is legendary, one of the most memorable parts of Twin Peaks, and ever since I watched the show several years ago (I was only a young child when it first aired) I imagined her restless soul might be inhabiting every tree and piece of wood on earth.

    There is no need to return to assure your legacy, and maybe that’s a part of your past you don’t need to try to revisit. That’s why it is so moving that you view it with such generosity, rather than wishing you had received the kind of recognition you deserved back then, which instead went to the Audreys, Shelleys, Donnas. If anyone is to blame for your departure, it’s an industry that wasn’t ready for you.

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  9. TBH every time I make a sandwich for someone I think of the scene where Josie makes a sandwich for Pete, and the charming way she offers. Weird that is stuck with me that way, but it did.

    Also TBH, I don’t look or sound even remotely like Josie when I make a sandwich.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing your Twin Peaks story! We all love Josie and hope to see her return to Twin Peaks! xoxo ( I loved you with Rutger Hauer in Blood of Heroes too!)

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  11. I didn’t much like Josie as a person but then I guess I wasn’t supposed to. I DID very much like her being in the story, specifically with you playing her. I ran across this page (and blog in fact) kind of by accident but I’m a big Twin Peaks fan and really hope that they find you a role with the new series. As Josie would be fine if they find a cool way to reintegrate her, but maybe as another character too, that would be just as good. To me, the series wouldn’t be the same without you.

    I should mention that I’m also a big fan of yours for another reason…Autumn In New York. One of my totally favourite films and probably the most underrated one I ever saw. I’ve bought it twice on DVD (in different languages). I don’t care about (or understand) the weird negative reviews of it…it is a lovely film and you did a spectacular job. I’m going to watch it again now that this has reminded me.

    Anyway, I’m glad I ran across this and that you seem to be doing fine. I wish you all the best and very much hope that we see you in the new series What a lovely person you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Does the coffee to improve our mental performance ? The use of coconut oil on the skin helps protect it from the damage caused by this moisturizer coconut oil is very good for the skin as it contains.

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  13. I always thought Josie was so complex and intriguing, and the character who most closely echoed Laura’s in the series – we got a little more back story in her diary, and I thought maybe Josie was a glimpse of where Laura would evolve as an adult. They both had such a wretched sense of longing for wholesome love, and complicated lives that held them apart from the people who wanted to be their redemption. You were eclectric as Josie Packard and, while we’re both wistful for what might have been, you had such a wonderful death scene!

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  14. Please don’t have any regrets! I agree Josie was definitely exoticised but I appreciate and value your representation nevertheless. Josie always had the best outfits and makeup aha and was the most beautiful of all. I also loved Saving Face and am truly grateful for that also.

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  15. Well, I loved Josie and was disappointed when she was abruptly written off. Mind you, the show didn’t last much longer but I am saddened you didn’t appear as a doorknob ghost in the Return or Josie’s twin sister who is investigating her death ala Psycho. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

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