Ed. note: Earlier this month we dispatched our own version of Windy City Heat, Johnny Moreno, to Kentucky to check out the 7th Annual LebowskiFest. Bowling, drinking, partying and Lebowski seemed right up our alley. We were all too right. I'm still not sure that Moreno has fully recovered but here's his journal detailing his two days wallowing in all things Lebowski...

The LebowskiFest Journal


Day One:

5:25 pm: The hotel I’m staying at is housing a good portion of Achievers for the LebowskiFest. There’s also a national basketball tournament in town. Between the two occupants of the hotel, you can’t tell who on my room floor is smoking weed.

At the hotel bar, I meet up with a long time Achiever and have a couple of White Russians, my first ever. They go down remarkably easy. We chat movies for a while then head on over to the Opening Party for the 7th Annual LebowskiFest. In a rare moment of vulnerability, I let my guard down since big crowds trigger an undefined aggression. Which is a fancy way of saying the alcohol is starting to do its thing. Luckily, the Executive Lawn is located just kitty-corner to my hotel, The Executive Inn, which will come in handy later on in the night when I run out of money for beer.

7:10pm: At the Executive Lawn, The Achievers are a bunch of planners. Sleeping bags, folding chairs and pillows litter the place. Not a bad idea considering gates open at 9pm and the screening for The Big Lebowski doesn’t end until well after one in the morning. Though as it turns out, some of The Achievers find it perfectly fine to lie out in the grass and feel a living, breathing Earth existing under their body.

Which is a fancy way of saying some are passed the hell out.

Walking around The Executive Lawn, taking in the atmosphere, it’s cool to see a bunch of people brought together by a similar movie. Any kind of festival you see with a bunch of bands brings together people with different tastes in music but LebowskiFest is such a niche festival that it makes for a truly unique experience. People are brought together from around the world by a movie. Just a movie. A helluva movie but at the end of the day, just a movie.

7:55pm: More and more people are starting to file in before the first act comes on. On my second go around, the line for beer has doubled since I first arrived. At the back of the line, I can’t even see the table where people are getting their beers. I decide when I get up there I’ll buy two, to save myself the time of having to go back and forth from the line to the front of the stage.

It’s amazing what kind of rationale drunks use to overindulge.

Slow and steady, the line moves forward. I look back and the line now cuts through the food line and around the block. You know, if there were a block.

8:00 pm: The Dude, dressed in a robe and sunglasses (even though it’s now dark) steps on my foot, says, “oh, my bad, man” and keeps walking. In line, I hear somebody behind me say, “Fuck that, dude, I have diabetes.”

And then a girl says way in front of me in line, “Did I just hear someone say they have diabetes?”

8:15pm: The first act, Pleaseeasaur, is announced. Having never heard the band, there are no expectations. The first song is about TV news. The one guy on stage is wearing a cheesy wig, a bad gray suit and singing about how his news is the best in town. He’s flanked by two screens on each side of him that periodically show a graphic that simply says, “TV NEWS!” So far, I’m loving it. Then there's a song about a Bowl of Hot Noodles.

In line, I can now see the beer table.

Jim Hoosier, who you’ll recall as Liam, Jesus’ bowling partner in The Big Lebowski, makes his way through the crowd, shaking hands and taking pictures. Hoosier, over the years, has become the Mayor of LebowskiFest. The way I heard it, he answered an ad in his local bowling alley about a casting call. He didn’t think much of it and as it turned out, not only did he get the part, but for a lot of people here at LebowskiFest, he’s the hero of the movie. During the whole fest people stumble over each other for a picture. And for a man who drinks Crown Royal and MGDs all day, he’s a very gracious man, never turning down a picture and signing anything anyone puts in front of him.

Pastry Chef Duff Goldman and Jim "Liam" Hoosier.

8:21pm: Finally, I have the two delicious beers in my hand. Even though it’s night, it feels like its 90 degrees out. The image of everyone breathing the same air, sweating and jammed into the lawn area is enough to send me into a full scale panic attack. But alcohol follows through and the fear subsides.

The one guy on stage, Pleaseeasaur, now has two mannequin look-alikes attached to each shoulder and they’re all dressed in the same Italian looking, pizza parlor outfit. He’s singing about how he and his two brothers have the best pizza in town. The brothers names are Toni, Tony, Tone.

With my hand finally free, I can snap a couple of pictures of the performance. The guy is really selling the singing, though the actual music sounds like a midi version of some bad commercial songs from the eighties. Had this guy been doing this with a sly smirk, he would’ve never been able to pull this off. The music is cheesy, the lyrics are funny as hell, the stage production is remedial but the fact that he’s able to really sell the seriousness of everything makes his whole set legit.

As he exits and everyone cheers, a cute brunette in front of me turns around and says, “that guy was so…” stops, looks around and then says to me, “you’re not my boyfriend.”

“Not yet anyway.”

She says, “I like your hat,” and walks away.

8:45pm-ish: The line for the bathrooms has now become longer than the lines for beer. People have taken to the woods and pissing in the bushes but from this angle, you could swear they’re fishing.

Somewhere in there is a beer line.

9:00pm-ish: Comedian Brian Posehn takes the stage. You know Brian from tons of shit. Though you may not recognize the name, you definitely know his face. His awful, awkward face. As he says on stage, he looks like Mr. Beaker from The Muppets.

Being a fan of his, and a longtime fan of stand up comedy in general, I was definitely looking forward to Brian’s set. As Brian goes into a bit about being on the road and not seeing his wife, a couple of drunk guys next to me start heckling. One boos. The other laughs. Whether Brian hears it or not, he’s a professional and moves on without missing a beat.

Looking over at the two drunk guys, one is laughing as his friend, completely lost in his own body, is doing that wobbly dance where your eyes are practically shut and the body is doing that kind of hula-hoop thing.

10pm-ish: Brian Posehn kills and leaves the stage saying how he wants to see the movie and smoke a joint like the rest of us. Part of me wonders if he’s holding. The other part is hoping he’s holding.

I head to the bathroom as Brian exits the stage, trying to beat the rush. He says he’ll be at this year’s San Diego Comic Con and I recall seeing him at last year’s Con, at our hotel bar during the whole Thomas Jane debacle.

The line at the bathroom isn’t bad, about seven people in front of me, another three behind me. Of the eight port-o-potties, two are for the women and as we’re waiting, not moving, I ask the guy in front of me if they’re empty. He’s not sure. I give it a shot and the first door I open blindsides me with the smell of vomit that assaults me on all fronts. I don’t even step foot in there. After knocking on a few doors, I find an empty can, do my business and get out of there.

11pm-ish: At this point, around 11 o’clock, the movie starts and even though this is the reason why we’re all here, to bask in the awesomeness of The Big Lebowski, some of the people are here just to hang.

The Acheivers are shouting line after line, laughing at everything. The most subtle gesture tears everyone up.

Two dollars a beer is too good to stop drinking now, though when I get to the beer lady, she tells me it’s now three dollars. I’m not entirely sure it was three the whole time, but by now it’s too late to argue. I find an empty spot of grass and pop a squat, set my beers down and talk to some Achievers.

During a lull in the conversation, I lean back on my elbows, check out the movie and tilt my head back, looking at the sky.

*****-ish: Somebody nudges my shoulder, says, “you all right?” It’s Maude. She says, “you were passing out on my leg.”

On my way out of the venue, I cut through the beer line and head back to the hotel. Behind me a bunch of drunk Achievers are yelling. I can’t tell if it’s for the movie or not.

Stay tuned for Day Two of The LebowskiFest Journals including The Bowling Party!

Extra Tidbit: Additional photography courtesy of LebowskiFest.com. For additional info on PLEASEEASAUR go HERE.
Source: JoBlo.com



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