Tuesday, July 15, 2008

7th Annual Lebowski Fest

Every July for the past seven years now, hundreds of fans of the 1998 filmThe Big Lebowski gather in Louisville. The two founders of Lebowski Fest are from Louisville, hence the location. However, they have since taken it outside Louisville to cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, New York and to Chicago this past March (which was my first official Lebowski Fest). A couple were also held in Great Britain. They will visit San Francisco this September and are rumored to hold official Fests in Philadelphia and Tampa before the 8th Annual next summer.

It makes me cringe to call it a "convention." Festival is the more apt term, because it's more about one huge party segmented into separate events than a convention hall with people selling and sitting in booths. You won't find this level of live music at a Star Trek convention. People who attend the Fest are not limited - or consumed - by their fandom as you might see at a Star Wars thing... Meaning, we all know we have a love of this under appreciated movie in common - but it's great to find out what else we have in common. For example, talking about who the Amercian version of Daft Punk is with a couple from Pittsburgh. Or a very high level college basketball discussion from a crew of alums from Indiana University. I never would have met these people if we didn't first agree to go to a Lebowski Fest. However, there are costumes. And there are a lot of digital personalities meeting each other for the first time after many conversations on forums online. If you must label us, at least call us upper lower class nerds... but we prefer calling ourselves "Achievers."

Here is a collection of some of my more favorite pictures. Some were taken by me, most were taken by fellow Achievers.

Standing Room Only at the premiere screening of The Achievers. This documentary will be included as a special feature on The Big Lebowski 10th Anniversary DVD.

The Opening Party started with a performance by Pleaseeasaur

He was... odd...
I walked around a lot, talking to strangers in the method that all people who know me would not be surprised. Here's a picture of me with Jim Hoosier.

Jim Hoosier is a normal man from southern California. He was in a bowling league and answered a flyer that simply said, "Irish looking bowler" to be an extra in The Big Lebowski. He has zero lines. He's never been in another movie. But his character "Liam" looms large in the hearts of all Achievers and was treated as a celebrity all weekend. Here's a picture of "Liam n' Me" (FYI, that's a quote from the movie)

Then stand-up comedian (and actor from most recently The Sarah Silverman Show) Brian Posehn took the stage.

It was very clear that he was a fan of the movie too, and had instant rapport with the over 900 people there.

The night (officially) ended with a screening of the film.

This happened in about 8 hours time. From 6 PM over at the Executive Inn Hotel to see the documentary to the credits rolling at the Executive Lawn just before 2 am. The night wasn't done for me, as I joined fellow Achievers for a nightcap at the Executive West Hotel until about 3:30 am.

After a brief touristy trip to "The Highlands" section of Bardstown Road for lunch and what-have-you with four other Achievers, I returned to the Executive Lawn shortly after 4 pm. Snow Monster was already playing. I was amazed when I finally walked up to the stage and saw that they were just an electronic beat machine, a six year old drummer and five year old front woman.

Their set didn't last too long, it ended before joke got old (i.e. Pleaseeasear) - but they might have been overdue for a nap.

I really didn't pay too much attention to the next two musical acts. No offense to Broken Spurs and Everthus The Deadbeats - but I wasn't really there to listen to music... I was there to talk to fellow Achievers and play some of the great games they had. It really was awesome that all the games' proceeds went to local charities.

Here's a picture of two guys dressed as The Jesus and Jackie Treehorn playing the game:

By the way, the shirt I'm wearing in this picture is one I made myself. It's a quote from the film, "That's Marvelous."

Also at the Garden Party, available for free, was Cornhole (or "bags" or "bean bag toss game" or my favorite name that I saw one place "Super Sack Toss")
Here is a man dressed in a Nixon mask playing, along with close-ups of the boards

I spent a lot of the time talking with a crew of four from Cleveland. Here's a picture of two of them, showing the backs of their custom made bowling shirts:

Let the record show that the phone number is accurate. They paused the DVD to read the number off the side of Walter's van.

Somewhere around this time I got someone to take my favorite picture of the fest. I was happy to settle for just a picture of the costume, but one of the foursome from Cleveland walked over and offered to take a picture with me in it:

I don't expect many people to get this costume. The best costumes (in my opinion) are not of actual characters, but of actual lines from the movie. Maude Lebowski says, "her co-star in the beaver picture" This costume won the Best Costume contest for a key factor in their costume. They weren't just a "beaver picture." They built the frame large enough so people could take their picture with them - to be a part of the costume. So this way, I - TQ - was able to "co-star" in the said "beaver picture."

Here are two more costumes which are not characters, but lines from the movie: "Sex offender with a record" and "strong men also cry"

Which now brings me to the next band that played: Kentucky Prophet

During one of their songs, they invited people to participate in a dance competition. The winner was this girl from Dayton who I met a few hours earlier.
(note that almost ALL WOMEN there were there accompanied by their boyfriend/husband... but I was not there to meet a special ladyfriend...)
Her prize for winning were a pair of kneepads that the John Popper (circa 1995)-esque front man threw out to the crowd.

Let me just say that I'll be searching YouTube for the next few weeks looking for footage. Her dance was highly sexual and greatly benefited by the Sex Offender with a Record gyrations. I also laughed at how her boyfriend was absolutely loving the exhibition.

Regrettably, I missed most of Mike Doughty's set. I was looking forward to his musical set the most. Although I wasn't that big of a Soul Coughing fan, I do have two of his solo albums on my iPod and wanted to hear him. But it was 97 degrees out there, and I decided to leave the Garden Party early to stand in line for the Bowling Party. The one point from his set that shocked me - he played the song Circles. Although I thought he didn't play Soul Coughing songs - from what he saw he didn't have a playlist. It appeared he was announcing songs more to his partner on stage than to the crowd, and he was also asking for suggestions from the crowd. I bet someone yelled out that Soul Coughing song.

So I was in line just in front of this guy, again his costume was one single line, "Tattoo it on your forehead"

The Bowling Party's doors opened at 8, and I walked up to these two asking if they had room for one more on their lane:

These two are Louisville natives. They are married to each other and I must say are my current model for what I want my (if it ever happens) Marriage to be like.
Not only did she love the fact that he took a month to grow a goatee they both don't really like, custom dye/stich/customize a puple jumpsuit to bowl in and take off his wedding band in place of a fake 300 game ring BUT ALSO she died her hair grey to dress as another character (Smokey) from the film. The Jesus rolled a strike, then in slow motion re-enacted the character for which he was dressed as Strike Dance. Meanwhile, "Liam" (who was Jesus' bowling parter), ran over to our lane just in time as Our Jesus ended his dance with a point to him. When Liam pointed back, like how it was in the movie, the entire bowling alley erupted in cheers laughs and applause!
He went on to win the award for Best Jesus costume

Meanwhile, there was another band I didn't see or hear: ...soihadto...
This is the band featuring "Duff" from the Food Network show Ace of Cakes. For an upcoming Ace... episode Duff made a cake for the 10th anniversary of The Big Lebowski for this Fest. Here is a picture of the cake before it was absolutely devoured by Achievers:

I did get a nice chuck of the cake myself. It tasted awesome. It was "White Russian" flavored. (which is the preferred beverage of the movie's main character)

Now let's go over some of the other costumes from the Fest:
Marty the landlord:

The specific line "Not on the rug, man" was the inspiration for Not On The Rug Man superhero - one of the Best Costume finalists:

This foursome from Canada was dressed as actual characters: Saddam, Gutterballs girl, Maude and The Stranger

The Dude calls The Big Lebowski a "human paraquot" (this is the Best Costume finalist based on this line)

Knox Harrington, the video artist, was only in one scene of the film:

Another person dressed up as Marty the landlord, and performed "the cycle"


The Pope was a Best Costume Finalist (again - from a single line "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" said by The Dude to Jackie Treehorn)

This finalist for "Best Dude" didn't win, but I liked his re-enactment of The Dude's pre-roll stretch

This Dude, real name Tom, won "Best Costume: The Dude" because not only did he wear jellies, but also had a bag phone and a beeper

This Walter, although there were others that looked more like John Goodman, won "Best Costume: Walter" because he was the only one who dressed in the scene when he confronts Larry Sellers. His costume was complete with Larry's homework in a plastic bag

This next costume, based on the single line "new shit has come to light" was a Best Costume finalist - but might have been discounted because a diffrent interpretation of the line won Best Costume last year

Best costume finalist, based on the line, "she's gotta feed the monkey" (said by The Dude to Brandt and The Big Lebowski)

Oh, and remember that foursome from Cleveland? They won Best Group Costume dressed as Talent Scouts for Jackie Treehorn Productions

The Bowling Party ended with the costume winners for Best Dude, Walter, Maude and The Jesus had a bowl-off for a giant check (a replica of the one used in the movie):

Welp, that about does her, wraps her all up. Things seem to've worked out pretty good

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