Fairs Festivals

Lebowski Fest coming back to Los Angeles this spring

Mike Ritto (R) and other enthusiasts wear costumes resembling characters from the movie "The Big Lebowski" at the Lebowski Fest LA Bowling Party in Fountain Valley, California.

Mike Ritto (R) and other enthusiasts wear costumes resembling characters from the movie "The Big Lebowski" at the Lebowski Fest LA Bowling Party in Fountain Valley, California.  (Reuters)

The dudes, dudenesses, and duders—or El Duderinos, if you're not into the whole brevity thing—are coming back to their hometown of Los Angeles.

Fans of “The Big Lebowski” have been gathering for festivals to celebrate the movie for more than 10 years, for a total of more than 90 festivals in 30 cities, according to Lebowski Fest founder Will Russell. And on March 3 and 4 they will continue the tradition in the City of Angels.

Now this here story about to unfold started back in 2002 when Russell was in what he calls a not very good band. He and his bandmates would spend a lot of time quoting “The Big Lebowski” to each other.

“We probably would have been better if we practiced more and quoted less,” Russell told Travel + Leisure.

They were selling t-shirts at a tattoo festival when some guys in a nearby booth heard their quoting spree and joined in. At that point, they realized they weren’t the only ones who loved Lebowski quotes, and decided to throw a party to celebrate the movie.

They gathered at a bowling alley to screen the movie and hold a trivia and costume contest, thinking 15 or 20 people would show. More than 100 came, and it’s grown from there. Now Lebowski Fests attract thousands.

The events in L.A. will stick to the original formula (not the compromised second draft). On Friday, March 3 “achievers” (attendees in Lebowski language) will gather at The Wiltern to watch the movie and hear music by the Kyle Gass Band. The band is perfect for the event, Russell said—way better than The Eagles and maybe even Creedence. They really tie the festival together.

“They wear costumes from the movie and always have secret surprise,” Russell told T+L. “One year Jack Black showed up dressed as Evel Knievel. They always work with at least one of the actors from the film.”

Also at the party will be Leon Russom, who played the real reactionary sheriff of Malibu—“I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?” “I'm sorry, I wasn't listening”—plus other actors, including Ralph’s checkout girl Robin Jones.

Russell also hinted there could be other surprise guests.

He could even be talking about the Dude here. Jeff Bridges has come to a few festivals in the past.

Then on Saturday, the party will continue at Fountain Bowl (near the In-N-Out on Talbert, not Radford). Achievers will compete in costume and trivia contests, and maybe bowl if they don’t mind rolling on shabbos.

Russell said every year the costumes get more creative. Along with dressing as memorable characters, some choose to dress as quotes from the movie. For example, a man dressed as a giant globe with a hammer hitting his head was “world of pain.” A woman with a piece of poop in her hand and a lampshade on her head was “new shit has come to light.”

While Russell said there’s no official attempt to complete the “ Lebowski challenge”— keeping pace with the Dude by drinking a white Russian every time he drinks one on screen and smoking a joint every time he smokes one—“that unofficially happens.”

“People who like the movie are like-minded people, they all get along and become instant friends,” he said. “If you throw out line of dialogue someone can usually quote the next line back to you.”

That’s even more important in today’s political climate (in the parlance of our times), Russell said. In fact, he finds some of the movie’s quotes applicable to current events—“shut the f--- up Donny” and “you’re out of your element Donny” are two, so is “this aggression will not stand, man.” Of course, that’s just his opinion, man.

“People need a place to come together and enjoy themselves,” Russell said. “Politics is so divisive and ugly, but Lebowski Fest is not that. We’re all there for the same purpose, that we love the movie. It’s really important during these times to have a place to go with like-minded people and enjoy yourself.”

In other words, the Dude abides.