July 25, 2013
“Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not ‘Mr. Lebowski’. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”
We understand, Dude, and that exact passive understanding of who you are is why we have loved you for 15 years. Can you believe that? The Big Lebowski came out in 1998, a year after the Coen Brother’s won an Oscar for the original screenplay of Fargo, with mixed reviews, but those of us that have watched it countless times over the last decade and a half know that the laid-back (to say the least) content of The Dude, the oblivious whimsy of Donnie, and the unchecked aggression, it’s about drawing a line in the sand after all, of Walter, hit us in a special way unlike many other movies.
When brainstorming about how to blast off the Charleston City Paper and Charleston Music Hall film partnership it was not long before the annual Lebowski Fest in Milwaukee was brought up. Costumes, trivia, White Russians, a cult-classic movie, and what-have-you is a recipe for too much fun. Once the initial seed was planted, the members of the City Paper and the Charleston Music Hall decided to contact The Alley, a bar with 8 lanes of retro bowling, a 40 foot signature bar made from a reclaimed bowling lane, and enough vintage arcade games to make the cast of King of Kong: Fist Full of Quarters have a full on conniption fit at first glance. The Alley sealed down the ever-present White Russians and the all-important post-screening party.
The Charleston Music Hall filled up with patrons dressed in costumes from the classic bath robe and goatee to the hallucinogenic inspired Maude bowling ball/Viking outfit that could have come from an occasional acid flashback. Popcorn popped, cold brews flowed, and laughter filled the Music Hall. It was exciting to finally view the movie I have seen countless times in a small setting on the big screen. Of the hundreds that attended, most would not have been old enough in 1998 to have seen the film in a movie theatre. There is something special about the connection you feel when you sit in a room full of people that love what you love and can anticipate some of the greatest scenes in the movie, such as when the classical guitar plucks of “Hotel California” roll in and “Jesus,” clad in his purple bowling onsie, steps up to bowl. It is one thing to watch the film alone, wonderfully enjoyable, but this viewing of The Big Lebowski seemed bigger than that, because everyone was so excited to be together collectively enjoying something that has been permanently stamped on pop culture forever.
When the movie ended bike taxis took the movie-goers to The Alley, where they received a free Caucasian with their movie ticket thanks to Finlandia Vodka. At The Alley there was trivia, a costume contest, and of course, bowling. Enjoying the movie was only half the fun it turned out. The people of Charleston really out did themselves, with creative costumes and an intimate knowledge of the film. It was hard to escape quotes and puns based on the movie, and everyone was perfectly fine with that, because after all, The Dude abides.
– Bennett Jones, CMH