It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Longmont Potion Castle, cracking up on long drives to gags like “Rope” where LPC—his secret identity safe to this day—crank calls Mountain Truck Loading to try to set up a shipment of rope to Nebraska. “What’s that beepin’?” the man on the phone asks. He’s heard the beep of a phone recorder and he’s already suspicious at the vagueness of LPC’s request. “That’s just some rope moving around,” LPC replies. The call degenerates moments later. “I knew it was you,” the man accuses. LPC plays it stoney. “I’m familiar with rope, my training is in rope.”
There’s something special about LPC’s self-described “phone work,” which earns him a higher stature than other, more callous crank callers. His style is more absurd and, as his albums progress, LPC incorporates a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off level of voice modulation and sound distortion to his approach. The new indie mockumentary/documentary comedy Where in the Hell Is the Lavender House? sits down with LPC at his home studio and shadows a few calls. He connects several unsuspecting retail managers, from different locations of the same business, and we hear them all good-naturedly try to provide customer care to one another. That moment alone makes the 95-minute indie film worth your time.
Lavender House falters when filmmakers David Hall, Vivek Venkatesh, and Thomas Rotenberg weave in a fake, LonelyGirl15-esque narrative of ego-driven indie creators traveling across the world in search of LPC. Whether they’re punking themselves or not, it’s pretty irrelevant. “The film is VERY polarizing amongst LPC fans,” Hall says over email. “Which, as a producer, I have to admit I love.” He’s right that some Reddit comments allege Hall has been impersonating LPC online, but since Lavender House contains several obviously staged scenes—one succeeds on the uncomfortable humor of comedian/ actor Rainn Wilson—it’s difficult to know if there’s any real fan ire surrounding the film or if it’s just more staged hype.
The documentary portions of Lavender House are a delightful refresher and breakdown of LPC’s 30 years of work. For instance, if you’ve heard any LPC crank call, you’ve probably heard “Tosirwithmillipedes,” but did you know the person declining a shipment of 1,500 millipedes was Sidney Poitier? It’s enough to make you wish the whole thing were simple non-fiction, played as stoney as LPC himself.