Lori Anderson: Captivated by True Detective

Matthew McConaughey as Rustin Cohle. Picture: Contributed
Matthew McConaughey as Rustin Cohle. Picture: Contributed
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‘BEE bawb bee bawb grizzle snank. Razznit. Dark star.” Every week my head spins and I whisper: “What’s he saying?” Even when I can comprehend the muffled soliloquies of True Detective’s Rust Cohle, his philosophical linguistic maze is quite the trip down the bayou.

The Louisiana homicide detective, played by Matthew McConaughey is so dark and nihilistic he makes Nietzsche look like a self-help guru in a tie-dye t-shirt which declares: “Jesus Loves Me For a Sunbeam”. Cohle wouldn’t call a spade a spade but an iron implement with which to dig your grave.

If Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks was all bright smiles, Boy Scout manners and the eternal quest for the perfect cup of coffee and just-like-mama-used-to-make cherry pie, then Rust Cohle is his dark twin, sitting among a pile of crushed Lone Star beer cans pontificating on man’s moral decay, which is perhaps why I love him so. For not since David Lynch’s hauntingly surreal crime drama, which was set in a backwoods town in Montana, have I been so captivated by a cop show. The cuffs clicked around my wrists during the first episode.

For those who haven’t yet began to follow the case, True Detective is HBO’s latest hit drama and is a standalone eight-part mini-series that sees two detectives, Woody Harrelson as Detective Martin Hart and McConaughey’s Cohle investigate the murder of former prostitute Dora Kelly Lange, whose naked body is found in a strange sacrificial pose topped with antlers. The drama is divided between 1995 when the men first investigated the case and the present day when Hart is retired and Cohle is a drunken burn-out with a scraggy pony-tail and feral handlebar moustache. Both men are now being interviewed separately by a new pair of detectives who are suspicious of what actually happened back in 1995 and are now faced with the discovery of a fresh body, murdered with the same MO.

The creator is the American novelist Nic Pizzolatto. And what makes True Detective feel so fresh in comparison to the eternal phalanx of police procedurals that nightly march across our screens is the leisurely pace, the rich, dense dialogue and the allusions to obscure horror stories from the late 19th century. At various points the drama gives a little nod or a coy wink towards a collection of short stories, published in 1895 by RW Chambers entitled The King in Yellow which have now shot up to the No 1 slot in Amazon’s Kindle charts on the back of the show’s popularity.

Another cause for the moniker, “cult TV” is the bleak dialogue that comes drawling out of Cohle’s mouth: “People… I have seen the finale of thousands of lives man… Young, old, each one was so sure of their realness. That their sensory experience constituted a unique individual purpose, meaning. So certain that they were more than a biological puppet. Truth will out, everybody sees once the strings are cut off.” Or, one of my favourites: “I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.”

Ian Rankin may have tweeted that he abandoned it after the first episode, but for me it’s currently the best thing on TV. Case closed.

On the scent of sensual cheese

NAPOLEON famously wrote to Josephine: “I’ll be arriving in Paris tomorrow evening, don’t wash.” The body’s natural scent has long been a sensual part of seduction, at least in France, where armpits were once known by the soubriquet of “spice boxes”. Once this fact has been digested, it seems only natural for our partners in the “auld alliance” to pair up the nubile female form with ripe cheese on the grounds that even when it comes to creamy pasteurised products, sex sells.

Falling consumption of the quirkier (smellier) brands of French cheese have prompted the manufacturers to hold an exhibition of photographs depicting glamorous women in various poses… with cheese. Gérard Depardieu’s niece, the actress Delphine, is seen cosying up to a camembert, and Miss France, Alexandra Rosenfeld, with a wheel of Saint-Nectaire. I would happily pose for a close-up with my great love, Époisse cheese, whose pungent aroma is a helter skelter ride for anyone’s olfactory system; so much so, in fact, that it has been given an Asbo and is banned from public transport in France. It’s scent emanates from brevibacterium, a bacteria which also nestles down into the warm moist parts of the human body. No wonder Napoleon had a nose for both.

Captain walks the plank

SO CAPTAIN Birds Eye is sailing off into the sunset, cut adrift by an ungrateful corporation who believe that a young family will do a much better job of selling us copious quantities of fish fingers than a crusty old sea dog. I don’t mind saying that I’m feeling slightly broken-hearted at the thought of the captain, my captain, your captain, everyone’s captain, being stripped of his young helpers and left to dine alone. Who will raise the main sail, scamper up the rigging and listen to his hoary old tales of nautical wonders and the myriad ways in which a rectangle of flaccid fish in bread crumbs can be squeezed into one’s daily diet? It is an outrage. Is this anyway to treat the elderly? «