Fountain Bowl Rolls with Lebowski Fest

Categories: Events, Film
After wading through a nearly full parking lot of cars--some, according to their plate frames, from as far away Valencia, Riverside and, yes, Kentucky, which is where Lebowski Fest started 12 years ago (Louisville, to be exact)--your intrepid reporter tonight ran into Barry Asher, the "master bowler" depicted above to close out the Coen brothers' movie The Big Lebowski.

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Asher, one of the top 50 pro bowlers of all time and the owner/operator of the Champions pro shop at Fountain Bowl, was a bowling technical adviser on The Big Lebowski, which Jeff Bridges and John Goodman have cited as the favorite film of their storied acting careers. Asher also played a role in making sure the bowling half of this year's Lebowski Fest LA, which kicked off Friday night with a Lebowski screening and Kyle Gass Band show in Beverly Hills, came to his home alley.

Informed inside the alley "This is fucking weird" of every Fountain Bowl lane occupied and many of those on the hardwood or milling about dressed like characters in the 1998 movie, Asher patted his informer on the shoulder and replied, "You got it, buddy." The sight of a beaming Asher, his concern of a "clusterfuck" averted, was quickly followed by three Walter Sobchaks, two Jeff "Dude" Lebowskis and three Maude Lebowskis. And after that, many, many more of those characters and others.

Now, here is something I noticed about these real-life imitations of the celluloid heroes. The size of the faux Walters: spot on. (As Goodman is, well, burly). The paunchy Dudes: pretty damn close. But the Maudes? Well, think of actress Julianne Moore as Twiggy and most of the gals trying to ape her tonight in the viking/bowling ball breastplates from Jackie Treehorn's Gutterballs as Melissa McCarthys. One, who was closer to Moore-size as she lined up with her bowling ball, obviously impressed some people huddled around her lane I was downing a Newcastle next to. Admiring her particular viking/bowling ball outfit--which your reporter found no different than many others on display here--one amazed fellow remarked, "and she rolls, too."

The next most-imitated character from the film out tonight was The Stranger, who was played by Sam Elliott and appears very briefly in the picture. One Stranger spotted in the Fountain Bowl bar appeared to be wearing stage makeup. There were also women wearing bowling pin headdresses like the ladies in The Dude's trippy Gutterballs dream, some of whom drew the attention of people passing with cameras. Indeed, you noticed a lot of snapping of photos or taping of videos of people dressed up like Lebowski characters. As previously told to me by Lebowski Fest co-founder Will Russell, who may have belonged to the Kentucky license plate out front, revelers just love bowling night because they get to "live" the movie. Obviously, it's important to capture that moment of living the movie on film, videotape or digital space.

A few guys were in robes, ala The Dude is in the opening scene, but one lament would be there were no--upon super close inspection--Bunny Lebowskis (the character played by Tara Reid, before she got revolting).

Based on rudimentary math, the Fountain Bowl head count would have come to 684 as of 7:30 p.m. (the event was to run from 7-11 p.m. Saturday). But keep in mind that could have been the Limey brewski, compounded by three Kona Brewing Firerock ales and two glasses of tempranillo shiraz before hitting the FV, doing the counting. At any rate, there were more lovers of this trippy modern noir comedy coming through the front door at that time of the tally. So it beats me who wins the office pool.

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