My Own Private Lebowski

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Cult Classic typically stands for only we get it and everyone else can go fuck themselves

It was on a family road trip (this is too picturesque, it was that time when I was stuck in the car with my family for two days) when I was first properly introduced to The Eagles.  My dad playing the album “Hell Freezes Over,” in between bathroom breaks and cussing out my sister on a twelve hour car ride to California with “Hotel California” playing in the background, just no.  It wasn’t so much that I hated the music, it just seemed incredible dull—like if you were a six-year-old presented with the option of going to Toys-R-US for new toys (CCR) or Loews to help your mother pick out new carpeting for the home office (The Eagles), very much a no thank you experience.

No David, I don’t think Bobby’s room should be painted with rocket ships and shooting stars, I have picked out a beautiful color of beige.

To this day if I hear the song “Take it Easy,” it sends me into a psychotic rage, kind of like the woman who was charged with stabbing her roommate last year for refusing to stop playing The Eagles.  Apparently “she did not want to hear “Witchy Woman,” “Tequila Sunrise” or any other of Don Henley’s classic rock songs.”

Fast forward a couple of years after the family road trip, my parents were out of town and none of my friends could come over to take advantage of the no supervision possibilities.  I turned on HBO and this seemed interesting enough— a scruffy and overweight Jeff Bridges (Against All Odds will forever be cemented in my memory) just paid for half & half (69 cents) with a check! OK I am watching this now.  And then it happened, after a rough night in Malibu, The Dude takes a cab home while the cabbie is playing The Eagles.

“Jesus man could you change the channel?”
“Fuck you man, if you don’t like my fucking music get your own fucking cab.”
“I had a really rough night and I hate the fucking Eagles man.”

The earth moved and it was as if the movie was speaking just to me. I looked around, did anyone else hear that?  But no one was there to witness this event.  I had always assumed everyone else liked The Eagles and I was somehow “the other.” To this day “The Eagles Greatest Hits” ranks as the top selling album of all time, just behind “Thriller” and “Dark Side of The Moon.”  This is just wrong on so many levels and everything that came from The Big Lebowski seemed so right. A lot of people quote from The Jesus and while “over the line” is breathtaking, for me it was all about The Dude’s landlord Marty.  A sheepish, small, but pudgy man who invites Dude to his latest performing arts venture.

“Dude, I finally got the a venue I wanted the . . . I’m performing my dance quintet you know my cycle [. . .] I’d love it if you came and give me notes.”

After politely asking for The Dude to put the rent under his door Marty styles a fist in the tone of alright man.  Once the dance recital begins Marty is not really dancing so much as rolling around in a tight costume (a bunch of leaves dressed over a beige leotard).  The characters could have had a conversation about getting The Dudes money back from a boy who lives near an In-N-Out Burger at a separate location, but The Brothers chose to layer this and many other scenes with a particular brand of absurdity—something their more dramatic pieces could benefit from. John Goodman should have stayed around a bit longer in Inside Llewyn Davis, “George Washington Bridge? You throw yourself off the Brooklyn Bridge, traditionally. George Washington Bridge? Who does that?”

The Dude I grew up with resembled and sounded exactly like Jeff Bridges.  He had diabetes, but drank and smoked a pipe whenever he pleased because he was “The Dude” man.  The day before he died I sat next to him at The Rose Bowl and he asked me to get him a coke, the plan was of course to spike it with rum.  The Dude was my dad’s best friend who would typically sport a hat, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.

When I visited Terry ( AKA The Dude) and his wife Pamela he picked me up from the San Diego train station in a long white Cadillac convertible. I seem to recall the car having a red leather interior, but perhaps it didn’t? That just seems like the correct combination of color contrast for a dude like Terry.

I hadn’t been sleeping well, the kids I was working with were being huge assholes and I couldn’t escape their grip, even on vacation.  But the night after The Rose Bowl I was able to sleep. When I awoke I felt refreshed, the sun was beaming through the windows and it was like I had slept for decades with the living room eerily quiet despite the entire family cramming into my sister’s house.  Before I had a chance to get up my father calmly sat on the blow-up bed in my sister’s living room.

My father and mother had been in the emergency room most of the night with Pamela who had awoken to her husband having a heart attack in bed at a hotel room in downtown Los Angeles. Apparently there was a lot of commotion that night with the phone ringing and my parents scurrying, but I slept through it all. Terry had lived according to The Dude rulebook and had that “easy peaceful feeling,” that we all aspired to, but there were of course consequences.  His body couldn’t quite catch up with his spirit.

Terry’s funeral was at The Pancake House near the University of Oregon campus where his wife was a waitress when they met. John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” was playing to the photomontage of his life. Typically I would scoff at the music of John Denver, but not today.

Terry was the man for his time and place, a character who “fits right in there” and although The Brother’s most whimsical and psychedelic film didn’t fit right in there at first (it took a long time for the audience to catch up to this film and critics were very what the fuck?) it is beloved by those who follow its wisdom. Set in 1991, just six years before it was shot, seems a bit ridiculous, but so is everything in the film. The random more than the plot is what escalates the film to cult status– how long is The Dude gunna let that phone ring? Cult Classic typically stands for only we get it and everyone else can go fuck themselves!

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2 thoughts on “My Own Private Lebowski

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