Lebowski Fest, Night One
Beverly Hills was full of far more "achievers" on Friday -- the handle Lebowski Fest co-founder Will Russell has applied to the hardcore fans of the Coen brothers' 1998 film. Lebowski Fest, held here in Los Angeles since 2002, brought about a thousand The Big Lebowski fanatics to the Saban Theatre, many dressed as characters from the film. There were many Walters with fishing vests and yellow-tinted glasses, Maudes, mostly petite women with bang hairstyles or wigs and some with horned Viking hats, Jesuses, in purple bowling attire and hairnets and, of course, plenty of The Dudes, long haired, robe and sunglasses wearing Jeff Bridges lookalikes sipping on $12 White Russians.
Some of the costumes were downright spot on (I had to examine one particular Walter Sobchak up close to make sure it wasn't really John Goodman). Others, meanwhile, merely made the effort. One particular short dark-haired swarthy man in a grayish bathrobe with black Chuck Taylor All-Stars on (The Dude wears jelly sandals, thank you very much) was such a slacker version of the quintessential slacker himself that the meta-ness of it all was almost too much to handle. Others were dressed only in Lebowski themed apparel -- T-shirts that read "The Dude Abides," "Mark it Zero," or the less commonly repeated "Nice Marmot." Yet one thing was clear: 15 years after the movie came out, the Lebowski liturgy is alive and well.
Friday night's event featured Lebowski poster art, an abundance of merchandise, appearances by actors from the film, and live music by The Kyle Gass Band. KGB took the stage with each member of the band dressed like a character from the film, while the Gipsy Kings' version of "Hotel California" played.
Gass himself came as Walter Sobchak, and the only nihilist I saw at the entire event was his drummer Nate Rothacker, who kept rhythm dressed in full-body red spandex, from the Dude's castration anxiety dream. The band performed their own version of Kenny Rogers's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" to a crowd that was dancing in the aisles. Then, after playing a KGB original, "Man Child," the group playfully went into the first few bars of "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles. Instantaneous boos from the crowd rained down until guitarist Mike Bray, dressed as The Dude, put the kibosh on it and kicked off a cover of CCR's "Lookin' Out my Back Door."
But the highlight of the night occurred shortly after when...