Dude-a-palooza

25 Aug
Maude Lebowski bowls

“Your roll, New York,” says Lebowski Fest. Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), daughter of the Big Lebowski, not the Dude Lebowski.

This weekend Lebowski Fest was scheduled to bring fans of the Dude (Jeff Bridges in the The Big Lebowski [1998]) to Lucky Strike Lanes on far-west 42nd Street and Gramercy Theater on East 23rd Street. Although I have no reason to think the festival didn’t take place, I can’t say with certainty that it did, because I’m not a big enough Lebowski fan to have taken part. My lack of fandom for what’s been called a stoner masterpiece is of no consequence; easily enough without it, “The Dude abides.”

I had to do a Google search to be reminded whether there were any dream scenes. I have a poor enough memory for plot details, and this is a Coen Brothers movie about which, according to Wikipedia quoting an Indie Wire article, “Joel Coen stated: ‘We wanted to do a [Raymond] Chandler kind of story – how it moves episodically, and deals with the characters trying to unravel a mystery, as well as having a hopelessly complex plot that’s ultimately unimportant.'” As Roger Ebert described it, “‘The Big Lebowski’ is about an attitude, not a story….Only a steady hand in the midst of madness allows them [the Coen Brothers] to hold it all together–that, and the delirious richness of their visual approach.” All of which explains this film’s cult-fest worthiness. (Ebert’s review provides interesting backstory about the Coens’ inspiration for the main character.)

It turns out there are at least two major dream scenes, beloved of fans. One is a flying dream. The other is a Busby Berkeley* type of dance number to  Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1968).

(* Speaking of Busby Berkeley: here are the lyrics and recording of “Busby Berkeley Dreams” by the Magnetic Fields.)

Hooked-on-Lebowski hooked rug, on Etsy

Hooked-on-Lebowski hooked rug, on Etsy

Nothing says cult like rug-hooking the Dude’s expression as he looks up the skirts of the dancers in that scene, as some crafter on Etsy has done. Granted the Dude’s own rug is a plot-unifier, if anything can be called that in The Big Lebowski, but $800 for his face, ecstatic or not, in loopy wool seems a tad much.

Cult is spoken also at The Dudespaper: A Lifestyle Magazine for the Deeply Casual. The site’s motto seems to be lost on the author of “A Psychological Analysis of Personality: The Dude in The Big Lebowski,” in which “[t]he various aspects of the Dude’s personality are addressed using psychoanalytic perspective, behaviourist perspective, a cognitive perspective and trait perspective.”

LA Weekly‘s deep dissection of the soundtrack last year, for Lebowski‘s 15th anniversary, caught the vibe better. The Dude’s “subconscious is filled with psychedelic anthems,” the intro noted, “and his bumbling waking efforts are soundtracked by vivid tracks from the ’60s and ’70s, both famous and obscure. Masterfully curated by roots-obsessed performer and producer T Bone Burnett…the music in Lebowski is a second narrator of sorts, carrying the Dude along, sometimes against his will….It’s almost frightening how much forethought went into setting the film’s mood.”

Lebowski Fest isn’t a one-time or only-in–New York phenomenon. The Dude has been celebrated in more than thirty cities, according to the fest’s website, including Louisville, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Milwaukee, London, and Edinburgh.

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