All photos by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for David Lynch Foundation
David Lynch loves meditation. Or “Transcendental Meditation,” which his foundation calls TM, which, according to my boyfriend, makes it sound like a branch of Scientology. Last night at the David Lynch Foundation Benefit held at New York's Carnegie Hall, there was a lot of talk about TM, how it’s “not a religion or a cult” (emphasis on this, as if they must be aware what my bf thinks of the acronym), and how it can help people in at risk communities, which is always a good thing, no matter how SoCal-kale-smoothie-very-vegan-lifestyle the nomenclature sounds. Meanwhile, as many times as TM was brought up last night, I still have no idea of what it entails, other than meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. No one ever explained exactly how to meditate transcendentally. (But for more info on the foundation, go here.)
Apparently meditation is something a lot of celebrities do and something a lot of rich people in New York support. As well as being not very good at meditation, I’ve never been to a benefit before, which I now know to be a really fun way for wealthy people in culturally exciting cities to get more bang for their charitable donations / tax breaks. Everyone in the room had rich people hair, which is hair that looks like it’s been washed and blow dried sometime in the 10 minutes before you clapped eyes on them. You could tell who was press because their hair did not look like this.
The show kicked off with a tiny George Stephanopoulos as the host. It instantly reminded me of Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe drinking margaritas on their fire escape and creepily perving on him with binoculars. Drop the towel, George… and then very suddenly, without much ceremony, Jerry Seinfeld took to the stage, told those assembled that he’s been TM-ing for 43 years, and promptly starstruck the whole room with an effortlessly hilarious stand-up set. Although I think at this point Seinfeld could say anything and we’d laugh, even if it wasn’t funny. Kind of how we still go batshit for Kate Moss modeling when in reality we know her face tapped out 10 years ago. I guess one day you just get to be so fabulous at what you do, you have a free pass to do it forever. That’s not to say Seinfeld isn’t actually funny, or that Mossy isn’t actually beautiful, just that if they’re having a bad day at the office, no one is going to gripe about it.
George Stephanopoulos then made the audience partake in three minutes of meditation, which, admittedly, I used to start writing notes for this review. I once tried meditating and it didn’t work. It was at the end of a yoga class and the teacher finished early and made us sit round the room, cross-legged with our backs against the wall. In front of each “yogi” she placed a tea light candle and instructed us to stare at the flame while “clearing our minds.” Let me tell you, a clear mind is not something that comes easily to me. I started thinking about how weird fire was, how it can occur naturally or how a human can make it, how it flickers and wanes, if it’s really there at all, if I was really there at all, if the universe was real, what it meant to be alive and the fact that the flame was going to extinguish and one day I would too. That’s a lot, right?
High fives Angelique Kidjo!
Jim James from My Morning Jacket!
Meditation, obviously, is not for me, but in that meditative moment it occurred to me that I might not believe in meditation, but if someone who's been hurt believes meditation is healing them, then meditation is good. Because everyone deserves to be healed. So hey, maybe I am good at meditation after all. I definitely felt better about life after formulating that thought, or at least much better than I did after the flame incident. After that Sharon Isbin (mediating since she 18) obliterated a guitar solo, Angelique Kidjo (meditating for two years)—who, incidentally, my dad used to play to me when I was a kid—lit up the whole hall with her vibrant vocals and awesome dance moves (to which my boyfriend declared “I just want to party that lady and maybe get some soup with her after”), and Jim James from My Morning Jacket (two years meditation experience) went shred-heavy. Then came the moment everyone had been waiting for second most: Sting.
Sting walked out onto the stage as though he’d just excused himself from dinner with Trudie to nonchalantly sing a few songs before heading back to finish dessert. He hadn’t even bothered to pull his shirt collar out of his blazer. He started singing before anyone was ready to start. It was as though Sting was singing in the shower only to be unexpectedly wheeled out to perform to a room full of people, but wasn’t in the least bit shocked by this transition. And yet for all the nonchalance, Sting delivered “Englishman In New York,” “Fields of Gold,” “The Shape of My Heart” (with Sharon Isbin on guitar) and “Fragile” in an extremely chic manner. As I watched how easily that beautiful voice came out of that beautiful man, I made up my mind: if Idris Elba says no, ask Sting to be the next Bond.
Katy performing with one half of The Dolls and solo singer Margot. (Check out her video our premiere of her video "Never Gonna Miss You" Here.)
And then! Then there was Katy Perry. Sting slipped off as casually as he'd arrived, and there she stood, in a pastel pink gown, singing “Roar” and making a 30 year old woman cry like a little girl. I’ve seen Katy Perry a handful of times now (that same 30 year old woman is always there for some reason, sobbing and shaking like an idiot), and this was one of my favorite performances. It was Katy Carnegie-fied. With an orchestra as her backing band, she played a dark and brooding, string heavy version of “Teenage Dream,” followed by “Wide Awake” and “Dark Horse." I’ve seen Katy perform “Dark Horse” on top of a giant fake horse walking across an arena stage, and that was nothing compared to her performance last night, where long-time friend, one half of The Dolls, singer and kick-ass violinist, Margot, joined her to perform the most badass violin solo I’ve ever seen. It was disappointing that Katy didn’t sing “E.T.” which contains my favorite lyric (and most relevant to the night): “This is transcendental / On another level.” Of course she finished on “Firework” and was joined by four ballerinas who flitted around her, cleverly diverting attention from that annoying crying woman in the audience.
The benefit finished with a bizarre message from David Lynch who was on location in the Pacific North West filming Twin Peaks. (YES ANOTHER TWIN PEAKS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!) The video featured Lynch in miniature on a barren, depressing looking country road, the camera set a puzzling distance away from him so that his face was a shadowy blur. He shouted a message of thanks and inspiration that was crackly and alien over the equally loud bluster of wind. The whole event was over in two hours, which really works for me because I turn into a pumpkin if I’m out after 10 PM (pumpkin = tired lump that gets cranky and needs to be carried home by way of a turkey sandwich from the bodega). I’ve also decided that if I’m ever a rich, older white person living in New York, I will buy tickets to all the benefits. All of them. Benefits, it seems, are like a tasting menu of live music, while also giving you the self-satisfaction that comes with giving back. Now if I could just figure out how to get rich…
Kat George will not be meditating but she will be on Twitter.