The Big Lebowski festival in Eugene hopes for return of the Dude, Jeff Bridges

EUGENE, Ore. – When last he attended Eugene’s annual “Big Lebowski Party,” the Dude, Jeff Bridges, warned fans that he was “carrying a beverage.”

The Coen Brothers’ cult –classic film “The Big Lebowski” is what “the Dude,” Jeff Bridges calls his most famous role even while receiving six Academy Award nominations and the Best Actor Oscar for the 2010 film “Crazy Heart.” Still, this 62-year-old movie star, who lives on a cool ranch in nearby Montecito, California, is not crazy when it comes to his role as Jeff Lebowski. For instance, jeffbridges.com states how this famous actor says he “relates to The Dude more than any of his other roles,” and to get as “cool” as the Dude, Bridges says he mediates for half an hour each day to get centered. While his official website would not confirm or deny that Bridges will again attend Eugene’s annual “Big Lebowski Party” May 3-4 at the David Minor Theater & Pub, jeffbridges.com did explain his fondness for the film and last year’s Big Lebowski reunion event with John Goodman who played the key role of Walter Sobchak in this 1998 comedy film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

The Dude Abides in Eugene this week

The fact that the Dude may return to Eugene for this big bash to celebrate this story of how some men the Dude’s age are prone to passive suffering and being jerked around, is not lost on Rick Levin who writes for the Eugene Weekly.

For instance, Levin’s overview of the Dude is a classic: “As an archetypal resident of L.A.’s shadier streets, the Dude abides, a latter-day California Buddha in the Holy Temple of Slackerdom, plum mystic and stoned immaculate, a knocker of pins, drinker of Caucasians. ‘He’s the man for his time and place,’ says the man in the cowboy hat, his purple baritone of a voice rumbling like warm milk in your stomach. ‘He fits right in there.’ That’s the Dude: an icon of that other, less epochal apocalypse, where the bastard 20th century simply whirled around and collapsed like pins in a bowling alley, barely noticed and ten swept for a brand-new set.”

Levin then reminds fans of the Dude – who enjoy the fact that the ladies, their girlfriends, their wives and mothers all don’t seem to get the Dude – that there are many great moments in the film (if you’ve not seen it lately) that makes it well worthwhile to visit Eugene for this annual Big Lebowski fest, or simply rent the DVD tonight and enjoy a beverage with the Dude.

For instance, Levin writes in the April 26 edition of the Eugene Weekly that “there is a moment in The Big Lebowski when the Dude, realizing he’s been followed in his car, attempts a fantastic feat of California-style multi-tasking: With his eyes glued to the rear view mirror to watch the progress of the pursuer, he somehow manages simultaneously to steer, drink a brewski and polish off a tiny smoldering roach. Almost. Taking one final tug on the joint, it drops burning into his lap, whereupon the Dude – screaming – upends the bottle, pouring beer into his crotch to extinguish the fire. Doing a good 15 miles per hour, the Dude loses control and crashes into a dumpster, whereupon his car does a single endo about a foot into the air.”

Levin then asks “what more could you ask from a film” in this tour de force of deadpan comedy.

The Big Lebowski rocks Eugene

News travels fast around Eugene; especially when it’s about “The Dude,” who reminds those who party around here that the real Dude may return this week for the annual Big Lebowski Party.

When Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) -- who, in real life, owns a trendy bar in the New Orleans “French Quarter” -- told fellow Pole, Jeffrey “the Dude” that “coming to Eugene really ties the film’s mojo together nicely” a few years ago; fans went wild. “So cool,” said one local dude.

While Poles love their “wodka, piwo and nalewka,” because -- as any fan of the Dude knows -- the drink of choice for this annual Big Lebowski event is Polish vodka and Kahlua coffee liqueur and milk; also known as a “White Russian.”

The Dude says he drinks White Russians because the milk or cream in the drink coasts his stomach and protects “the Dude” from common hangovers. In turn, “the Dude” is quick to point out his caution “to be careful if you’re holding a beverage,” that’s code for be careful because I’m just mixed a White Russian and I don’t want to spill it.

Moreover, the real life Jeff Bridges is way too cool to actually get drunk in public silly any longer, but if “the Dude” does, he believes in the sheep’s milk yogurt mixed with water and salt cure that’s also known as kefir, or the primo-Hollywood hangover cure for the rich and famous “Dudes” who still don’t get it.

Let “The Big Lebowski” guides you in 2012

The other big news for fans of “the Dude,” is “The Big Lebowski” is now out on blue ray and lots of extras about Dudism.

Also, Jeff “the Dude” Bridges released a pretty good second album last December that’s filled with songs and lyrics that fans say “the Dude would sing.”

Moreover, “the Dudes” Hollywood pad is still on the market so “be careful if you’re holding a beverage,” because it’s all for “the Dude” right now.

Dudism spreading in a time of recession

One reason why there’s so many “Dudes” in Eugene and other West coast towns is there’s plenty of old bungalows -- that “Dudes” such as the one actor Jeff Bridges who starred in “The Big Lebowski” – would enjoy living in; now, it seems the original property that was featured in this 1998 Coen Brother cult film is on the market down in Venice, California.

“Calling all Dudes, His Dudenesses, Duders and El Duderinos: these Venice, California realtors have six-bungalow property for sale – the very same featured in the 1998 Coen Brothers’ comedy, “The Big Lebowski,” as home to Jeff Bridges ‘The Dude’ – at the mere asking price of $2.3 million, stated MSN entertainment recently.

In turn, L.A. media have also noted that this property – that was used as a film set for key scenes with Bridges when playing the “Dude” is now being eyed by Bridges himself and other stars of the film who have a fondness for the laid-back bungalow style of L.A.’s retro Sixties homes that have often been used in various Hollywood films.

As of May 1, the Dude’s pad is still on the market, say local L.A. real estate representatives.

What’s Dudeism philosophy?

Dudes here in Eugene claim to be the coolest; they even model themselves after actor Jeff Bridges portrayal of Jeff Lebowski as “the Dude” in this 1998 cult film that’s now attracted more than 100,000 fans into becoming Dudeist priests, states dudeism.com.
The Big Lebowski is more than just a comedy film says fans here in Eugene who has taken on the persona of “The Dude” based on Jeff Bridges portrayal of Jeff Lebowski.

In fact, Mark and Patrick are two University of Oregon graduates who, like The Dude, are unemployed and avid bowlers who don’t go so far as calling themselves slackers, but admit to that role as well.

“We just became Dudeist priests,” say the two friends, and according to the dudeism.com web site that means they’ve joined “the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism.”

Also, one of the top Dudes in Eugene – a Dude named Harper – said that for this week’s annual Big Lebowski festival “we have more folks dropping by to bowl with us and to hang during the evening showings of The Big Lebowski.”

A film that went from cult to religion

“Dudeism is an ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh…lost my train of thought there. Anyway, if you’d like to find peace on earth and goodwill, man, we’ll help you get started. Right after a little nap,” states dudeism.com.

Moreover, the fans – such as Mark and Patrick who’ve been ordained as Dudeist priests – say “it’s easy as going on the Dudeism web site where, according to the site, more than 100,000 “Dudes” have already been ordained.

“While Dudeism in its official form has been organized as a religion only recently, it has existed down through the ages in one form or another. Probably the earliest form of Dudeism was the original form of Chinese Taoism, before it went all weird with magic tricks and body fluids. The originator of Taoism, Lao Tzu, basically said "smoke ‘em if you got ‘em" and "mellow out, man" although he said this in ancient Chinese so something may have been lost in the translation,” states dudeism.com.

The Dude as a guru to millions of fans

“The Dude became an unintentional guru of sorts in 2005, when the Church of the Latter-Day Dude was born online,” states an overview of Dudeism in a recent edition of Mental floss.

“Over the years, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen have solidified their status with more than a dozen critically acclaimed films, but none have had quite the same impact as the Big Lebowski. A sleeper-hit in theaters, the immensely quotable movie took off after its home-video release, and it’s often referred to as the First Cult Movie of the Internet Age,” adds Mental floss.

In fact, the film has inspired endless analysis, with one theory that the film is a critique of the Gulf War. According to Mental floss, “it has also reinvigorated bowling, buoyed the sales of White Russian cocktails, and brought back the word ‘dude.’”

Mention “the Dude,” and “you will probably get some dude smiling at you because they know,” quips Mark who dresses in short pants, baggy tee shirt while sporting long, and un-kept hair like the Dude.”

Mark and Patrick also note that there’s plenty of “Dude materials out there” for fans who want more of the Dude. “Yea, there’s the special collector’s edition of The Big Lebowski that’s awesome with lots of special features. And, Amazon has a box set of quotes and other stuff from the Dude that my brother needs and is getting,” adds Mark while getting ready for an afternoon of bowling with Patrick and other “dude” friends here in Eugene.

Also, Mark and Patrick like to point out that Jeff Bridges “has many dude friends in Eugene. Yea, Jeff hangs here, and he really is the Dude, man.”

The Dude works for kids in need

At the same time, the official Jeff Bridges website features news about the actor and the Dude supporting President’s Obama’s initiative to “End Childhood Hunger by 2015.”

In turn, Bridges has teamed up with his former Big Lebowski and other dudes in the L.A. music scene to form the “End Hunger Network” aimed at encouraging, stimulating and supporting action to end childhood hunger in America.

Also, in 2010, Bridges became a spokesman for the “No Kid Hungry Campaign” of the organization “Share our Strength” that pushes back against the Hollywood and celebrity “greed machine,” and asks all Dudes to pay it forward and help U.S. kids who need food in America today.

Bridges states on his website that the goal is to present and undertake a “state-by-state strategy to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015.” While such lofty goals may have not been on the Dude’s radar back in the day of The Big Lebowski, Bridges asserts he is “the Dude,” and the Dude abides.

Image source of Jeff Bridges, the Dude, from the cult film “The Big Lebowski” basking in the glow of dude-fandom at a recent public event. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Br

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