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The Dude Abides OKC allows fans of The Big Lebowski to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary

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Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Coen brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski has more cultural impact today than it did when it underachieved at the box office.

Jeff Bridges’ The Dude and John Goodman’s Walter are just two of the quirkily indelible characters that have become immortalized in gifs and memes across internet culture.

The Dude Abides OKC is a free event honoring the movie’s legacy with a trivia contest, costume contests and half-price bowling split between Fassler Hall and Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge, 421 NW 10th St., 8 p.m. Saturday.

Organizer Tobi Coleman is hoping the first gathering of Oklahoma Lebowski fans becomes an annual event. Coleman and her son Justin run Revolve Productions (AMP Festival, Wanderlust Pop Up Shops), and they’ve contemplated putting together a Lebowski-themed event for long enough to contact the founders of Lebowski Fest, which started in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2002 but has been held all over the country.

“We reached out a few years ago to see if it was possible to bring [Lebowski Fest] here to Oklahoma City, but they’re not doing it all over the country anymore,” Coleman said.

The rejection gave them the impetus to put together an event worthy of Lebowski’s 20th anniversary.

“Fassler Hall and the Dust Bowl is the perfect setting because it’s a vintage bowling alley,” Coleman said.

Many of Lebowski’s most memorable scenes take place in a vintage bowling alley.

The event begins with a trivia contest and costume contest. Each costs $10 to enter, and the money goes to the prizewinners. The costume contest is divided into three categories: The Dude (Bridges), Walter Sobchak (Goodman), Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore) and two supporting character winners, which can be any role, including John Turturro’s bowling ball-licking Jesus Quintana, Sam Elliott’s The Stranger and everything in between.

T-shirts featuring quotes from The Big Lebowski from The Okay See clothing company will be for sale for $15 at the event. | Photo provided
  • T-shirts featuring quotes from The Big Lebowski from The Okay See clothing company will be for sale for $15 at the event. | Photo provided

A panel of three judges will determine an overall costume contest winner.

The trivia contest will consist of five rounds of written questions, to prevent answers from being yelled out. Coleman said she and her son have watched the movie at least three times per week over the last month to prepare trivia questions. The party will move to Dust Bowl following the trivia contest.

“As big of a fan as I am and as many times as I’ve watched it prior to the last few months, I’m surprised at some of the stuff I didn’t catch or remember,” Coleman said. “We’ve got some hard questions; if they know them, they deserve to win.”

It’s not a trivia question in the contest, but Coleman said she was surprised to discover the fact that The Dude is technically in every scene of the movie. Even the scene that features German band members, including Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, ordering pancakes features The Dude and Walter driving their van in the background.

“The Coen brothers really sneak that stuff in there,” Coleman said. “They have deep thought about the things that they make. I’m interested to go back and watch some of their other movies to see what I’ve missed.”

The Big Lebowski earned $17 million at the U.S. box office, barely above its 15 million budget, but thanks to memorable characters, quotes and objects like the Persian rug at the center of the mistaken identity caper that “really tied the room together,” the movie’s legacy has lived on. The Library of Congress added the film to the National Film Registry in 2014.

“Everybody knows someone like The Dude,” Coleman said. “It’s a person who has skated through life, never really held a serious job, the fact that he gets caught up in this crazy sequence of events. Those kind of guys always have stuff happen to them and have great stories to tell. I think we all know someone like that or wish we were that person. I think that’s why [the movie] resonates with a lot of people. It has so many lines that are memorable and that you can shoot off in a general conversation or use on a daily basis.”

The Coens based The Dude on a real-life Hollywood producer named Jeff Dowd. Fans of The Dude’s easygoing lifestyle have become so common that it has even inspired its own religion, Dudeism.

Journalist Oliver Benjamin founded Dudeism in 2005, which is a combination of Taoism and Greek philosophy, mashed with the Dude lifestyle. There are an estimated 450,000 ordained Dudeist priests worldwide as of May 2017.

Dudeist priest Rick Hall will be performing free vow renewals for interested couples. Hall is available to marry couples for a $30 fee to cover county costs, but Coleman said no one has signed up to be married in 2018.

“We have had people contacting us, asking if we will do it next year because they want to plan wedding around it. [The event] ought to really grow,” Coleman said.

There will be $15 T-shirts for sale, and all “Caucasians,” (what The Dude calls the drink White Russian) will be available at the upstairs and downstairs bar for $3 with vodka from Prairie Wolf Spirits. COOP Ale Works will also supply beer.

Coleman said that she bought 160 feet of bamboo to recreate the bar in The Dude’s house, all the way down to the blue ice cube tray, and found an era-specific silver frame that houses The Dude’s picture of Richard Nixon bowling. Of course, the infamous rug will make an appearance.

“We searched high and low to find all of the elements,” Coleman said. “It’s not the exactly the same rug, but it is so close that you can’t tell it’s not the same. We don’t feel like we’re producing an event; it feels like a giant party for everyone that likes the same movie.”

Print headline: Roll on Shabbos; The Dude Abides OKC allows fans of The Big Lebowski to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary.

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