Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hip to be Square

At the bowling alley, emulating The Dude:
..."The Big Lebowski," the Coen Brothers movie about an aging slacker who calls himself the Dude, and who, after a thug urinates on his prized rug, becomes caught up in a Chandleresque mystery.

Played with slouchy brio by Jeff Bridges, the Dude's chief pursuits involve bowling, avoiding work and drinking White Russians, the sweet cocktail made with vodka, KahlĂșa and cream or milk.

The movie was a flop when it was released, but in the decade since, "The Big Lebowski" has attracted a cult following, and as the film's renown has grown, so has the renown of the White Russian, or, as the Dude calls them, "Caucasians." The drink is the subject of experimentation at cutting-edge bars like Tailor, in SoHo, which serves a crunchy dehydrated version — a sort of White Russian cereal.

....To see the White Russian renaissance in full bloom, it is instructive to attend a Lebowski Fest, the semiannual gatherings where fans of the movie revel in the Dude's deeply casual approach to life. There, the White Russian is consumed in oil-tanker quantities.

This was much in evidence at a fest held last month in New York, where 1,000 or so "achievers," as the movie's buffs call themselves, took over Lucky Strike Lanes, a bowling alley in New York. The White Russian demand was such that, in addition to two bars, a White Russian satellite station had been set up and bartenders were in back mixing vats of reinforcements.

It turned out that management was following a directive from the event's organizers. "When we line up a venue, we always have the White Russian talk," said Will Russell, a founder of the Lebowski Fest.

Russell has learned from experience to lay in provisions. He recalled an incident at an early festival in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky

"Milk sold out within a one-mile radius of the bowling alley" where the event was held, he said.

"We had to go to every local mini-market and gas station to satisfy the requirements of the achievers."

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