Friday, October 19, 2012

Why should you go to Lebowski Fest Chicago November 9 & 10?

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It first came to Chicago in 2008, which was also the first Lebowski Fest I attended. The movie party at Portage Theater had sold out, and I'll never forget the first time I heard a packed theater yell, "Over the Line!" in unison.

This next LF Chicago will be my tenth LF overall, and a record 3rd this year (I also attended the first Lebowski Fest Milwaukee in addition to my annual pilgrimage to Louisville for the Annual what-have-you that started it all).

Inside a Wisconsin bowling alley last June, Founding Dude Will said to me, "I hate to say it, but I think Milwaukee turned out better than Chicago."  My immediate recognition that I had no defense for my hometown - for even though LF has returned to Chicago every year, it hasn't sold out since that first time in 2008. This is why I chose to dust off "Leblogski" and write tonight.

Achievers and Amateurs, I present to you five reasons to attend Lebowski Fest Chicago in early November:

Poster from the 1st Lebowski Fest Chicago
5. Portage Theater
Especially for a movie most have only seen in homes and with small groups, the experience of watching this movie in large glory is vastly underrated. Most aficionados will cite other Coen Brother efforts as more cinematic, but there are gems from the 30 foot tumbleweed barreling down a barren Los Angeles to a beautiful setting for a Folgers eulogy.

Don't be surprised if you pick up on more hidden jokes too (such as how Donny's head is perfectly framed within the Dude's arm when we hear him first say, "That's just your opinion, man").  I'm looking forward to the palpable anticipation of the Jesus Introduction... The ovation that begins at the first notes of "Hotel California" is a traditionally great moment at all Lebowski Fests.

Jeff, Paul, Daniel, Tom, Izaak
4. The Dudes
Fair Warning, I'm very biased but, Chicago is the best "Dude" venue of any Lebowski Fest location. We saw the Best Dude color barrier broken when Izaak won and at last year's LF Chicago longtime Achiever Favorite Paul broke through to take home his first prize. Both made their LF debuts in Chicago, and both have wonderfully different personality traits that encompass The Dude in any form.

The two most famous "Dudes" in Lebowski Fest History: Tom (who was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the 10th Annual Fest) and Jeff (with the best ultra-inside-Lebowski nickname of "Mr. Jamtoss") will be making their official LF debut as the musical act "The Dudes Abide" before the movie. These two have a new tradition of playing the night before the Annual Movie Party, but it's great to see a performance from them officially posted.

[Handicapping this year's race: Tom and Jeff are retired/ineligible and Izaak might be taking it easy. Daniel has been picking up momentum in fan appreciation, but it will be tough to prevent a Paul repeat.]

3. Liam
James Hoosier will be there. He was Liam in the movie. This is an awesome thing. We all know he has zero lines (and was barely able to not look into the camera or laugh during his few scenes). But he will be polishing balls the Liam way and will be belly shaking and pointing accordingly.  Word has that his bowling game is almost back to a level that will get him to the next Round Robin... If he's not too busy glancing at Maudes he might vie for a high bowling score of the night.

Chicago is lucky to have Liam attend. He represents a lot of what is unique to the entire inside world of fandom. In any other element he is James Hoosier. A man that likes to post on Facebook about how proud he of the military service of his new son in law and occasionally whines about NFL games. In a bowling alley of Achievers he becomes a personification of something much greater.

Dave, and his special lady friend, at a past LF Chicago
2. All of us
Let me make something very clear. The Portage Theater is a great experience because it's filled with like minded people with an common interest. The Dudes Abide don't have any recorded music available for purchase or download. James Hoosier is not an actor. The attendees make Lebowski Fest. The people are the party.

It hurt to see Chicago not sell out in recent years - hurt like a boombox to the midsection. I've heard the New York Fests are attended by people too hip to wear a bathrobe to a bowling alley. I don't want Chicago to be like NY. I want more people like Dave - who I don't know but have seen at every Chicago Lebowski Fest. Dave is the best Chicago-based creative costumer. He has shown up with a heavy porcelain toilet strapped to his chest ready for head dunking, a bowling lane ready for others to step over his line, and most recently was seen as an oversized Dude Jellie Slipper. I can't wait to see what he has developed for this LF.

There is zero debate amongst anybody who has seen him in action... He is the best Jesus in Lebowski Fest history. I don't want to post pictures in case this post is successful and convinces someone to attend for the first time. The Jesus has arrived in a limo, he NEVER breaks character, and for all I know goes door to door surrounding the Portage Theater informing parents that he's a pederast.

He was only challenged once - by a Burlesque Dancer (a "She'sus") who danced and peeled off a purple jumpsuit that created a moment that I will always hold dear in my LF memory... But even that couldn't dethrone him.

You all have a date Friday November 9 & Saturday November 10. Hope to see you all there!
Poster designs by Bill Green