The Black Lodge, Antarctica

While I muster together all the Las Vegas, CES, and nuclear accident thoughts, something else popped to the front of the line that demands sharing.  I recently picked up the Twin Peaks gold box, which is what dredges the story up from the depths of memory.  It is worth noting that I was the Science/Cryogenics Technician from Amundsen-South Pole station for 2002-2003.  Yes, I was there for an entire year.  I was also their bartender.

Once upon a time, in the austral summer of 2002, Mark the Science Electrician, Patty the Cargo Mistress, and I tried to organize a David Lynch-A-Thon over the course of several weekends during the summer.  This didn’t work out well since the only day off during the summer is Sunday and people generally decided to devote that to drinking (or the recovery therefrom).  Understandably, it ended up being just the three of us in the Summer Camp Smoking Lounge.

Oh, the poor smokers of Pole.  They only had two indoor places to hide and both of them are gone now.  The new elevated station is decidedly non-smoking.  There had been plans for a smoking lounge but they were changed.  If you want a smoke now, it’s out into the frozen wastes for you.

I really can’t do justice to the windowless, thick point sharpie marker graffiti’d, place where furniture came to die that this was.  Every time you sat down, you were enveloped in a fog of ash and cigaratte funk.  The only thing you could ever find left in the bar was a bottle of Jack Daniels but there were never any shot glasses.  The profane scribbles on the wall spoke to a heritage of five decades of drunken, surly construction workers and Navy enlisted men.  Once upon a time, it had been the Last Chance Saloon, its facade somehow constructed from crates.  Truly, it was heaven second only to Club 90 South.  I long to be seated behind the bar there with my feet propped up on the beer cooler still….

A little after 3am, after the the last of my victims passed out or staggered home, I packed away my portable bar and the three of us went over to the smoking lounge to watch the pilot of Twin Peaks which had just arrived in the mail for Mark.  He had shipped his complete VHS set to himself two months before leaving for Pole, making a total transit time of four months before it came off the plane in Antarctica.  After finishing the pilot, I dug into my portable bar and brought out the bottle of Hapsburg absinthe that had been smuggled to me from New Zealand by the pilots.  I figured that the green fairy was the only way to cope with Senor Lynch after nearly a decade without watching the show.  Mark and Patty agreed.

After a glass each, we figured what the hell, we can watch the next two and it’ll be time for breakfast.

After four episodes and a few more glasses, we decided, drunkenly & erroneously, that alcohol metabolized to sugar just like all other food which meant, basically, that we were having breakfast already.  (I do not claim that this was good reasoning)

Eventually, we had watched it all, including the movie ‘Fire Walk With Me’, had drank an entire bottle of absinthe between the three of us plus many beers, and hadn’t eaten in 24 hours nor slept in 48.  We were, understandably, a little bit loopy when we finally emerged into the never-ending daylight glare of Antarctic summer.  When I turned around to look back at the entrance of the smoking lounge, door still open, it seemed an inviting gateway to infinite darkness.

That was when we decided to rename it The Black Lodge.  Shame they tore it town 6 years ago.  Probably still in trash boxes waiting to be shipped out.