Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

At The Angel Eyes Lounge

I’m taking a nap on the sofa in the back room of the Duder Bar, right, and I’m dreaming and then things get very strange because I realize I’m dreaming like the dream yoga guy, Chogyam Dada, was talking about the other day and I say...to myself...well fuck me...so this is what that guy was talking about. Where the fuck am I anyway...looks like the parking lot of some nightclub or something...big neon sign with a martini glass...some broad’s sexy neon eyes above it...some neon spike heels...some words…


You gotta be kidding...a topless bowling alley?

An early 1970s vintage LAPD black and white pulls up and parks in front of the joint. A big Orson Welles looking cop...overcoat and fedora...gets out of the driver’s side and slams the door. A rangy, hippy type...fedora also...off the wall Hawaiian shirt...gets out of the front seat and out of the back piles...swear to god...The Dude...also going Hawaiian...and Walter Sobchak in his Walter uniform. They all head inside ANGEL EYES talking and gesturing. Looks like they know each other.

I decide to check this out myself. A cab pulls up and a grinning Chogyam Dada gets out waving to get my attention.

“Hey, Hieronymus...glad you could make it...I told you you could...”

I wake up...look around. The back room of the Duder looks kind of peculiar.

“What the fuck was that!?”

I look for the number Chogyam gave me for the Dream Yoga Institute.

A couple hours later I am sitting at the bar trying to sort things out with Chogyam. We are both several cocktails into the conversation.

“So...what you're telling me is that you were dreaming that little scenario last night at the same time I was...and that we were both THERE...at this topless bowling alley...and the Dude and Walter and these other guys pull up...and you wanted me to go in and just sit down and order a round and then just nonchalantly chat with THE DUDE like nothing fucking was even a little OUT OF THE ORDINARY?”

“I would have introduced you Hieronymus...they would have been cool with you joining us.”

“Joining US?...you rolling with the Dude these days Chogyam? Would you mind filling in some blanks...connecting some dots. I know all the fictitious character as independent thought form bullshit...and hanging out in your “Imaginal Realm” bullshit...but man I was THERE ...somewhere. It was REAL Chogyam”

“Yes Hieronymus...it was real and still is. We can go there again if you want to.”

“How did I get there in the first place?”

“I have been leading you in your dreams. You don’t remember...weren’t going lucid yet... ”

“You’ve been in my head without asking? You hoodoo asshole! I should . . . ”

Louise brings us some more drinks and then quickly moves away.

“I thought you wanted to meet the Dude...”

After a long silence, during which I attempt to get some kind of grip on all this, I calmly speak again.

“So Chogyam...tell me about this Angel Eyes Strip Joint and Bowl...and who was the cop and the other guy.

With his Mississippi accent in full bloom....thickening on account of the Jack Daniels...Chogyam fills me in...

“Angel Eyes is a fictitious place. The cop is a hardon LAPD detective named Bigfoot Bjornsen and the other guy is a private eye named Larry “Doc” Sportello. They are both characters in a novel called Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon which came out a few months back. Book is really about Doc and his world. Here...I got an unauthorized copy before it hit the street."

He takes the book out of his bag and shoves it across the bar.

Angel Eyes now sits where the fictitious Club Asiatique once was located in fictitious San Pedro ...not real San Pedro…not far from fictitious Gordita Beach...where Doc lives...not real Manhattan Beach…where Pynchon lived in the 70s. Angel Eyes has stuff from Doc’s world and from the Dude’s world so, naturally, it got dreamed up so they would both have a place to hang. Welcome to the Dude’s Otherworld my friend. It has gotten more solid…more stable…with all the attention the book has gotten plus the continuing exercising of the Lebowskians by the fans like I was telling you about the other day. All the reviewers are saying that Doc and Inherent Vice are REALLY a lot like the Dude’s world. Rolling Stone even called it The BIGGER Lebowski. Don’t know about that, but, anyhow…looks like the Dude and Doc and their cronies are hanging out. How’s about a visit?”

Much later…I wake up inside Angel Eyes. Lots of blue-green and pink neon. Long bar full of customers…a mixture of fictitious characters and dreamers I figure. Some of the faces seem oddly familiar…create little ripples of déjà vu. Chogyam joins me grinning. We order our usuals. There is a stack of Angel Eyes postcards on the bar. I put one in my shirt pocket. There is a translucent blue green plexiglass stage with a pole at the far end of the room. A g-stringed, spike heeled dancer twirls to the throbbing music. Many other barely clad, to good to be real looking girls mingle with the customers. The wall opposite the bar is glass. Beyond the glass is an outrageous, neon bedecked bowling alley. The lanes are made of the same translucent blue green material as the stage. The bowling balls liquidly streaming down the lanes glow with colors not normally found in nature.

The Dude, Doc, Bigfoot, Walter and several girls are sharing a lane. Walter and Bigfoot are talking and gesturing to each other excitedly. The Dude and Doc seem to be sizing each other up. Chogyam is watching me stare at them. He provides a running commentary…

“Bigfoot and Walter are talking about going in together on some new private bodyguard thing. Doc wants the Dude to get his act together and join his operation…L.S.D (Location…Surveillance…Detection…dig…) Investigations, but the Dude wants none of it. They all like the attention they are getting in the press but aren’t sure they agree with everything that’s being spread around town. Tabloid headlines are beginning to appear in The Realm. Fictitious Hollywood scandal can’t be far behind. Are undercover reporters illicitly dreaming their way into Angel Eyes they wonder?”

The Dude drains his drink and walks away from the others toward the bar. He nudges his way up to the bar next to me and Chogyam, looks at us and smiles, then orders…

“Another one of those Caucasians please and a tequila zombie for my friend Doc.” Looking at me, “I don’t know, man…no accounting for some people’s tastes…” Recognizing Chogyam, “Hey, man…did you get home all right last night? You looked a little pale…”

“Yeah…I managed to make it OK Dude…”

“Good, man…we were worried…”

Finally, I manage to speak, “Can I ask you something Dude?”

“Oh…you know who I am?”

“Yes Dude, I do…your reputation precedes you…”

“That’s what I hear, man…what do you want to know?”

I look around at the scene at Angel Eyes, “How do you like the Angel Eyes spot here?”

“Kinda different from your usual neighborhood lanes, huh, man…but the Dude makes the best of it, man…you know. They even let me name it, man…”

“Oh yeah…Angel Eyes?”

“Its not all Creedence all the time, man…”

The Dude’s drinks arrive and he picks them up, turns and heads away.

“…sometimes its Creedence sometimes its Sinatra…great for P.I.s and sentimental cops, man…you know? You guys come on down and join us, man…having you guys around sort of ties the evening together…(suspiciously) undercover eyeballs, man, huh?…intrigue… like the man said…Come On Down!”

He is gone. Our surroundings fade for an instant, then return. We follow the Dude into the VIP bowling salon of Angel Eyes not knowing what is in store for us as we approach this spooky crew…

I hear a loud “pop” and jerk myself awake. I am in the back room of the Duder Bar sitting up now on the sofa. Dazed. I reach into my shirt pocket and pull out the Angel Eyes postcard.



Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fucking Chuang Tzu, Man! (A Modest Proposal)

Its is open mic night at the Duder Bar and things are getting stranger and stranger. Some regular who will go nameless brought the World Famous Bushman into the bar, proceeded to get him drunk and then got him to go on stage and do his thing. The audience is presently going nuts. The Bushman is not used to working indoors. Reminds me of a typical night at the Holy City Zoo back in the day...early Robin Williams and all...Rob Schneider and such... I'm not really comparing the World Famous Bushman to Robin or Rob, of course, but...

As a fitting end to his act, the Bushman lunges at a group of customers who have been taunting him and tumbles off the low stage into their laps. The crowd applauds wildly as chanting begins at the other end of the bar..."GorillaDude! GorillaDude! GorillaDude!..."

First Bushman now GorillaDude...figures...

Actually, getting GorillaDude to the Duder is my doing. GorillaDude is a street theater guy who has gotten people's attention around here lately...gotten a following...article about him in the entertainment section of the paper and all. GorillaDude, among other things, does a dead on impression of Jeff Bridges playing the Dude in the movie...voice, mannerisms, costume...the whole thing. When I first saw this I introduced myself, naturally, and told him to come on down. He immediately recognized that the Duder would be the perfect place to premiere this new take on the Dude he has been working on...plus make a surprise announcement that he knows will "make the entire entertainment industry beat down my door...or maybe just go bowling, man."

Duder DJ Ron finally retrieves the microphone, which is being passed around in the crowd...

"And now folks...live on our stage...direct from Fisherman's Warf...the living legend you've all been waiting for...stand-up philosopher...'Pataphysician...the King Kong of performance art...GorillaDude!"

There are cheers and then the house falls silent as this spookily accurate incarnation of the Dude shuffles to the stage, a large glass jar in one hand and dog-eared movie script in the other. His cheesy robe has a Chinese landscape pattern printed on it. He secures the script under one arm and unscrews the top of the jar. A large number of butterflies flutter into the air...the audience oohs and ahhhs. GorillaDude grins...props his shades upon his forehead...looks the audience up and down...and then speaks...

"Fucking Chuang Tzu, Man!"

People flail about, trying to catch the butterflies, but cannot. Someone cracks the back door of the bar open and the butterflies escape into the night...applause.

"Fucking Chuang Tzu thanks you, man...and I thank you! You guys remember Chuang Tzu, right? Chuang Tzu said he didn't know whether he was dreaming he was a butterfly, or it was the butterfly that was dreaming it was Chuang Tzu. You guys might have just helped some freaky reincarnation of ol' Chuang Tzu escape this crowded bar, man...so Chuang Tzu thanks you! If Master Chuang IS a butterfly, he's got better things to do than hang out here! Fucking Chuang Tzu, yeah... womanizer...trickster..maybe even the first bonafide reality hacking P.I....betcha didn't read about THAT in your Taoism for Dummies didja? Or about how he used the OTHER Butterfly Effect which he was hip to, naturally...to tweak the Tao in favor of his main 'client', King Xuan of Qi. Or...you guys are gonna really dig this, man...howz about his dreaming up of the first Human Flesh Search Engine? Got your attention yet?"

Bemused mumblings in the crowd. I pull out my cell phone and call Joey Zhuang, dudeist P.I. to the max and self proclaimed great "plus 100 generations or so" grandson of Chuang Tzu himself and tell him what's happening. Joey Z. says he'll be here in 15 minutes. GorillaDude holds up his script.

"So here it is folks! FUCKING CHUANG TZU, MAN!...the definitive feature length life story expose' movie of the great chi kungerino Dude himself. Set 2500 years ago, man...but with up to the minute street style verbalizations, of course..."

"Did Chuang Tzu abide, man?" Somebody yells out.

"What you talking about broham? You talking about fucking abiDANCE, man...but not just the 'tolerate and withstand' thing, which is just fine when the usual shit hits the fan, but also...the MAYBE, man...fucking Chuang abided in the MAYBE...Chuang was into paying attention. You guys may have heard this old Taoist tale, but here it is again anyhow...

"There was this old hippie pot grower...they DID have hippies and pot farms in ancient China you know...(laughter)...who had worked his hidden fields for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. Such bad luck, man...they said sympathetically. Maybe, the grower replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. How cool is that?...the neighbors exclaimed. Maybe, replied the old hippie as he lit up another one. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on this latest misfortune. And again, the grower answered...maybe. The next day, the sheriff showed up looking for the young man who had run off into the woods after being discovered making it with his daughter. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, the sheriff figured it could not have been the grower's boy and left. The neighbors congratulated the old grower on how well things had turned out. May...be, said the grower...

"Far out, man...what did Master Chuang have to say about taking er easy, man?" Another dude inquires.

"He had plenty to say about taking er easy...getting things done without doing anything...your basic archetypal effortless...ness, bub. Why to NOT EVEN TRY to amount to something special...all that hyper-casual Dudesmellow stuff...you name it. One more quick take from the script...then I'm going to pass along to you boys and girls the REAL news I have for you tonight.

"There was this guy who was so upset by the sight of his own shadow and so pissed off with the sound of his own footsteps, that he decided to get rid of both. The brilliant method he hit upon was to run away from these aggravating affronts...so he got up and took off. But every time he put his foot down there was another step, plus his shadow kept up with him with no problem ...heh ...heh. He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast enough. So he ran faster and faster, without stopping, until he finally dropped dead. He spaced out the brilliant insight that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would vanish ...poof! ...and if he sat down, poured himself a Caucasian and took er real easy...chilled deeply...there would be no more footsteps..."

"Caucasians! Cuacasians!" The crowd begins to chant. GorillaDude motions for quiet.

"Thank you all for you attentive appreciations and what-have-yous. I think you all agree that old Chuang Tzu deserves the best...so here it is...you guys can say that you heard it here first. Somebody get Variety and the Hollywood Reporter on the phone. Here's the pitch...drumroll please..."

"Fucking come with it GorillaDude! Come on, man..."

Joey Z. taps me on the shoulder just as GorillaDude segways into an unerring Rod Serling introducing The Twilight Zone impression.

"...imagine if you will...The Coen Brothers produce and direct FUCKING CHUANG TZU, MAN! starring Jeff Bridges as the Dude as Chuang Tzu, John Goodman as Walter as King Xuan of Qi, Steve Buscemi as Donny as the Ghost of Lao Tzu, with distribution consultation by Jeff Dowd, spiritual consultation by Oliver Benjamin and the Dudeists, extras by the LebowskiFest guys, writing consultation by me...GorillaDude...and overall deal massaging by you, sir..."

GorillaDude nods in my direction. I yell over the crowd's enthusiastic rumblings regarding GorillaDude's dazzling, killer box office bound proposal...

"Double White Russians for all!"

GorillaDude bellows back, "White Russians!? This is a fucking CHINESE picture, man..."

His protests are drowned out by the chanting of the crowd..."Dude Tzu!...Dude Tzu!...Dude Tzu!..."

Joey grabs my arm and leads me toward GorillaDude, "Introduce me to this guy H. P....tell him who I am..."

From somewhere...out there across the sands of time...Chuang Tzu smiles...then whispers conspiratorially...

"Howzaboutit you guys?"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dude Standard Time

I’ve agreed to meet this guy at the bar at three. I walk in at three on the dot, not knowing whether I will find the guy a couple drinks into his afternoon, or not there...but a message saying he’s running 15 minutes late…its always 15 minutes, or just not there.

This guy is one of my more unique old friends…Joey Zhuang…or Joey Dude as we have taken to calling him for the past few years. Joey grew up in the neighborhood, is half Italian and half Chinese, is a private eye with a reputation, and, as we have all told him on many occasions, inhabits his own time zone, which moves along with him like some strange bubble, spacing out anyone within a few hundred yards. Its not that Joey is always late or always early, its just that he does not wear the same watch as others in the general population. We call this anomaly in the space-time continuum Dude Standard Time…DST for short…and I must admit that the old Duder Bar probably inhabits this zone as much of the time as Joey Z…as does The Duderino Lebowski, of course…the father of DST. I guess we should not be too surprised at the way JZ handles reality, of course, since he claims that he can document that he is the "great...plus 100 generations or so later...grandson of Zhuangzi ...Chuang Tzu, to you...", notorious Taoist innovator, incorrigible prankster, and some say, early prototypical op for the King (ostensibly!)...a real "under the radar" way behind the scenes kind of guy.

Joey Z. became Joey Dude after we noticed that he was beginning to greet clients and other visitors…e.g. us…in his home/office, dressed in much the same way that brother Jeffer was dressed at the beginning of the movie. What clinched it was what is now considered an epiphany laden situation, which occurred a few months ago, during which I and a couple of others from the Duder went to the local Safeway to buy half and half, and encountered Joey in the dairy section obliviously dressed in full regalia…robe, jellies, shorts, and so on…sniffing at an opened carton of the designated liquid. He was shocked and embarrassed to see us, and…we truly believe…did not realize he had left the house in his bathrobe. He stammered that he was on the verge of a breakthrough and hurried away toward the checkout. From the point on, Joey Z. was not just Joey Dude to us, but Joey Dude…the Bathrobe Shamus.

Later the night of what has come to be known as the “Bathrobe Shamus Incident” he showed up at the Duder unquestionably looking the part of the near-celebrity tabloid darling…the solver of bizarre, off the wall cases…the notorious San Francisco P.I. that he is. Looks a little like Jackie Chan, FYI. We all had a huge laugh. Joey never took himself too seriously…and still does not.

But I’m going on and on…back to NOW. I enter the Duder and look around. No Joey.

Louise yells, “Joey called. He’ll be here in fifteen minutes.”

I walk on in trying to figure out where the familiar, booming, sonorously London accented voice is coming from. Hadn’t heard this voice for a couple years, but the lilting scotch/rocks laden tones are unmistakable…Reginald “Reggie” Hamm is in the house…

"Extreme BUSYNESS is a symptom of deficient vitality, and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity. Robert Louis Stevenson said that my dear friends.”

Reggie is holding forth at the far end of the bar. His small but captive audience is enthralled. He sees me and beams his Falstaffian grin.

“Hieronymus…you’ve finally arrived.”

“Reggie…you old fraud. I wish I had known you were coming, I’d have…”

“…half baked a…”

We hug. Reggie is a great champion of The Idler…that across the pond publication that self applies the following…

' The Idler is a bi-annual, book-shaped magazine that campaigns against the work ethic.

It was founded in 1993 by Tom Hodgkinson and his friend Gavin Pretor-Pinney. The title comes from a series of essays by Dr Johnson, published in 1758-9 in the Gentleman’s Magazine. The intention of the magazine is to return dignity to the art of loafing, to make idling into something to aspire towards rather than reject. As well as providing a radical and thought-provoking read, the Idler is also very funny.'

“And so Reggie…what brings you to our fair city?”

“The Long Now…”

“The what? Oh…you mean Stewart Brand and Brian Eno’s thing?”

“Of course Hieronymous…you and your Dudeists…I have heard the whole story, you know…you guys must attend the Long Now fund raiser. Tomorrow night. You guys claim to inhabit the long now, don’t you?”

“You could put it that way Reginald…without so much snark in your tone. Has The Idler Time Investigation Team discovered just how long NOW is yet…by the way…as they announced they were about to do?"

“Progress Hieronymus…progress. All in good time. I dare say, more progress than you and your Dudenicks are making, I’ll wager.”

“Sorry I’m late…”

Joey Z. strides through the door and heads down the bar with that “I just got laid and you didn’t” smile on his face. He extends his hand. I grab it and do one of our complex, over the top handshakes. Reggie marvels.

“You must teach me the secret handshake Hieronymous…”

“Reggie Hamm say hello to Joe Zhuang…”

Reggie seems to recognize the name.

“Private investigator Joseph Zhuang?”

“Yeah…that’s it. Have we met?"

“I’m afraid not. Read about you in the Weekly World News though.”

“Oh fuck…here we go again…I’ve been able to stop most of that shit. When did you see it?”

“Yesterday…at the airport…”

“What was it about?”

“You. Sounds like you get some interesting cases Mr. Zhuang.”

“You can drop the “Mr.” Reggie, “ I say. “This is Joey Dude, man…fuhgeddaboudit Z. Fuck it Joey! I told you you ought to write about your stuff yourself. Some drinks Louise…for the king of the tabloids.”

Joey look at me and glowers for a second before he cracks up.

“What the fuck…good for business, right? Long as they spell my name right...am I right?”

“Maybe my organization could hire you,” Says Reggie.

“Which organization would that be, Mr. Hamm?”

"Reggie, please, 'Mr.' Hamm was my father. The organization to which I refer is a branch of The Idler magazine...you might have heard of..."

"The Idler has BRANCHES? Yeah, I've heard of The Idler...buddy of mine in London turned me on to it years ago when it ran an article about a relative of mine..."

"Here we go," I mutter.

"No...really...not Chuang Tzu Hieronymus...another relative. Lin Yutang. Great piece in the Idle Idols section, or something like that..."

"Oh, how marvelous...Lin Yutang was your relative?"

"Great, great uncle, once removed..."

At this point, Reggie's un-natural memory kicks in.

"As I recall...that article...'Lin Yutang’s main principle is that the freedom to enjoy life is the ultimate spiritual good. The question of happiness – “entirely neglected by Christian thinkers” – is not to be deferred in the name of abstract rewards. What reward could be greater than a life enjoyed as it is lived? Play without reason; travel to see nothing; a -perfectly useless afternoon spent in a perfectly useless manner – these are the kind of activities that redeem the art of living from the business of living. Lin was tormented by the perception that...all nature loafs, while man alone works for a living...'

Joey rolls his eyes and looks at me, "He was also an inventor, you know. Wanted to live off of royalties. Patented a Chinese typewriter, but it never flew. Too bad. Didn't The Dude live off some invention in the movie?"

"Rubik's Cube inheritance...but it never made it into the movie"

"Too bad. Too bad uncle Lin's typer never...oh well. So Reggie...what would your branch of The Idler need my services for...seems kind of strange that..."

“Something we have to find. How long is the Now? Sounds like it would be right up your alley.”

“For a fee, I’ll tell you that right NOW Reggie. Fuck it…I’ll answer this one on the house…since you’re a buddy of my good friend here and all…”


“Now can be measured by measuring the time between just after before until just before after…OK?”

After a respectful pause...uproarious laughter. I request more drinks from Louise.

Much later, after Reggie has said his goodbyes, Joey whispers/slurs two pieces of information to me in what he calls "black op level confidence". First, he tells a tale about a mutual friend of ours finally relenting and taking him on an excursion into the mythical labyrinthine city of vice beneath Chinatown and North Beach…maybe even beneath the building we are sitting in now. Second, he says that...unbelievably...yet another distant relative has passed along to him a set of, up to now, unknown writings of grandpa Zhuangzi/Chuang Tzu...frighteningly ancient knowledge which could "change everything". We are both a little fucked up by this time and he knows that what he is telling me sounds like some hallucination. He manages to write the url of what he says is a TOP SECRET SITE before he stumbles out of the Duder and down the street.

“You mean you’re putting this stuff on the INTERNET?” I yell after him. “Even if it IS private you gotta be NUTS! Private for what…30 seconds after some kid bumbles his way into…”

Joey Z. has disappeared into the night.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Serious Dude

Its 3AM at the Duder Bar. Ron and Nancy asked me to close up, so I'm sitting here alone in the back corner booth making some notes about a movie I saw recently...the Coen Bros. (as in Ringling Bros. ?) latest...A Serious Man . I am also expecting a knock on the door. Two old friends, Diego and Lucia, asked if they could stop by after closing and use the Duder dance floor for tango practice...big contest coming up. They are not practicing at home because she kicked him out the other night. Should make for an interesting session...

...anyhow...some Pin Dudeist thoughts on the movie...

As I mentioned in an review I wrote of Cathleen Falsani's The Dude Abides, I sometimes think the Coen brothers should be named the Koan brothers. Their movies, or at least parts of their movies have always seemed like zen koans to me. This is especially true of A Serious Man. Our hero, Larry Gopnik, a physics professor, is first seen, giving a lecture on Schrodinger's Paradox...the notorious alive/dead cat...presented, as is his proof of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, on an immense blackboard filled with scrawled equations. Riddles "clarified"...right? "Proofs"...right? Hilarious...visually overwhelming and baffling to most in the audience (and classroom) I think...at least to me...

I hear Diego and Lucia screaming at each other as they approach the rear door of the bar. There is not a knock on the door...there is a banging. I open the door. They both greet me in a perfunctory fashion, place a boom box on a table near the dance floor, turn it on...still engrossed in their arguing...and proceed to tango. As they move, the arguing becomes bickering, then ceases completely, replaced by intense looks into each others angry eyes. If they dance like this in the contest, how can they lose?

Back to the movie...let the cognitive dissonance work its magic...

Larry Gopnik is introduced "explaining" a famous paradox. Then he goes home to another set of riddles. Larry's wife wants to leave him for an unctuous, weasel-tongued new ("Is his poor wife cold yet? Three years?") widower and Larry has no idea why. His son Danny (a true Dude in the making, as we will see)...days away from his bar mitzvah, is lost in a pot fog. Larry's unemployed and very twisted brother, Arthur, is crashing on his couch. And...his next door neighbor, Mrs. Samsky, whose husband travels, is tormenting him with her nude backyard sunbathing...which he discovers while on the roof adjusting his TV antenna so that Danny can watch F Troop with clarity...the prelude to the devolution...

Are these the baroque machinations of a trickster God? A latter day replay of Job's soap opera? A bad, carnivalesque secondary theater production staged by Larry David and art directed by Diane Arbus?

Odd twists and turns...a lot of ins and outs and what-have-yous...crop up at Larry's university as things move along on down the road. He's up for tenure and the tenure committee is receiving letter after anonymous letter questioning Larry's moral turpitude. On top of that (here comes a dash of Asian thought to flavor the stew folks), one of his students, a Korean young man named Clive Park, apparently leaves an unmarked envelope containing three grand on Larry's desk in an attempt to bribe Larry not to fail him. When Larry questions this, Clive's father shows up at his house and threatens to sue...(from the screenplay)...

Larry turns to Mr. Park.
Larry:...I, uh...See, if it were defamation there would have to be someone I was defaming him to, or I...All right, I...let's keep it simple. I could pretend the money never appeared. That's not defaming anyone.
Mr. Park: Yes. And passing grade.
Larry: Passing grade.
Mr. Park: Yes.
Larry: Or you'll sue me.
Mr. Park: For taking money.
Larry: So...he did leave the money.
Mr. Park: This is defamation
Larry stares at him.
Larry: Look. It doesn't make sense. Either he left the money or he didn't...
Mr. Park: Please. Accept mystery.

Yes Larry...the mystery, indeed. Seeking answers to all of these doings, which are getting "curiouser and curiouser", as Wavy Gravy would say, Larry seeks the advice of his rabbi and winds up having to consult with the junior rabbi instead, who admonishes Larry to..."Look at the parking lot, Larry"...a phrase which may work its way into our lexicon in much the same way as...well...shush...listen to me going on...better not go there just yet...

Anyhow...what the rabbi means is that Larry is looking at his life, as he would the mundane parking lot outside, with tired, world weary eyes. He asks Larry to imagine himself a visitor (from a primitive tribe?), someone who isn't familiar with autos and such, "somebody still with a capacity to wonder, someone with a fresh perspective...Things aren't so bad. Look at the parking lot, Larry."

Larry finally gets to talk with a higher level rabbi who tells him the tale of a dentist's weird discovery in a patient's mouth...the letters spelling "help me" in Hebrew engraved on the inside of the patient's lower teeth...and its aftermath...after awhile the dentist stopped worrying about what it meant...shaggy dogs continue to bark. Still not satisfied with the answers he is getting to his "What the fuck is happening here?" question, he tries to talk to the wisest rabbi in town who refuses to see him because...as his snide, puffy and aged secretary informs him...the rabbi is busy...thinking.

Not wanting to be left out of the party, synchronicity now comes stumbling down the road in the form of simultaneous car crashes...one involving Larry, one involving his wife's lover. The other guy is killed and Larry's wife insists that Larry pay for the funeral. Onward...

Bar mitzvah day arrives and Larry's son, Danny, is stoned. He makes it through the ceremony and is escorted away for the final step in the process...an audience with the oldest and wisest of the rabbis...the one who refused to see Larry. The boy trembles as the old man looks up at him and speaks slowly..."When the truth is found to be lies/And all the joy within you dies/Don't you want somebody to love."...then turns on the portable tape recorder that had been confiscated from the boy in class at Hebrew school. Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane...Danny's favorite band (the young Dude's Creedence?)...fill the room and the old rabbi smiles. Wisdom has been passed, once again, from old to young...

And so...is the young, new Dude able to chill? Not quite over yet folks. Back at the university, Larry finds out that he probably has been granted tenure. He also decides to do things the Korean way and take the money Clive left...to pay a criminal attorney now needed to keep his brother out of jail, actually...but that's a part of the story I won't divulge. Don't want to ruin every surprise for those of you who haven't seen the movie yet. Things seem to be looking up. The phone rings. It is Larry's doctor telling him that he has gotten the X-rays back...another detail I left out...and can Larry come in for a personal consultation immediately. No, it cannot be dealt with over the phone. Larry stumbles out of his office...

In the meantime at young Dude's school a storm approaches. The teacher gets a tornado warning and is told to take the students to the storm shelter next door. Outside, we watch as the teacher cannot get the door to the storm shelter unlocked. The tornado bears down as Danny, oblivious, tries to pay off an old pot debt...

Fade to black...and more black? Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you pardner. Take comfort in knowing that young Danny, the designated new Dude, will probably be bounced around a little, but just as probably will roll on out of this OK...to eat the bear another day. And abide...

Diego and Lucia conclude their tango practice and disappear into the night. Once again, the Duder Bar is empty...except for me...

...and the Koans...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Duder Home & Garden

I posted another version of some of these Pin Dudeist garden pictures back in June. I just got these new ones from my Zen/Pin convert, cultural attache and garden architect in Kyoto...Gerry Kudaka...so I decided to put them up here as well as in the ever growing DudeArt Exhibition and Museum at the old Duder Bar. Hope you find them an enlightening and amusing inducement and enhancement as far as your usual Dudeist meditative mind limbering exercises are concerned.

That rug really kind of holds the garden together...don't you agree?

Those Japanese Pin Dudeists must really be into gardening, man.

Notice how the foreground object subtly changes one's perception of the entire garden.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing...

...the bowling ball abides...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Strange Days?

You would be watching this instead of reading about it if the fucking mall cops hadn’t confiscated my video camera. Maybe somebody captured it with their cell phone. Here’s what happened…

It is September 11...day of infamy. 23 Pin Dudeist monks and I are at The Duder Bar, along with the other usual suspects and the owners, Ron and Nancy, who have become intrigued by the re-tuned vibe, the heightened hum, which has suffused the bar in recent weeks. Ron, is circumspect, however, responding to the increased level of outlandish synchronicity and surrealism that seems to be finding its way to his door with his usual, "same shit, different day" admonition. Maybe he is the most awake of all...

...anyhow...we decide that the only thing to do is commemorate the Dude’s well known act of prophecy in the first sequence of The Big Lebowski...namely, writing a check for the half & half dated Sept. 11…the day his rug gets pissed on...


(Tabloid headlines want to know…”IS THE DUDE A NEW NOSTRADAMUS?”)

...by embarking on a pilgrimage (we call it a meditation) in full Dude/monk gear to the nearest supermarket, opening and taking a taste of the old half & half and then lining up at the checkout and writing 23 checks for our respective purchases, all dated Sept. 11. This phase of the operation is followed, of course, by returning…en masse via public transit…to the Duder and, with single pointed attention…think Zen tea ceremony…watch as Louise, our sacred bartender and White Russian Master…using the newly purchased half & half…prepares the White Russians, which we then contemplate for a respectful time before imbibing, thus consummating the solemnity.

(Several of the 23 have had interface with either the CACOPHONY SOCIETY or the URBAN PRANKSTER NETWORK or both and acknowledge the inspiration factor implied in the above maneuver, by the way…)

Be that as it may…how shall I put it?…our shopping expedition does not go well. The mall cops patrolling the store perceive the invasion of the dairy aisle of the supermarket by 23 fully robed Pin Dudeist monks as a potential threat to the business establishment, the municipality and, indeed, the nation. They call for reinforcements and attempt to round us up but we scatter and proceed to shop in other areas of the enormous store. The real cops are called and we elect to exit sans half & half and head back to the Duder…not embraced by a rainy afternoon of defeat and gloom but by a hurricane of whoops and laughter. The idea of converging upon public transit is abandoned and off we bound in all directions…robes flapping. Back at the bar, we proceed with the “tea” ceremony with complete composure and protocol. A couple of cops arrive…stride up and down the bar sizing up what’s transpiring…then leave, waving at Ron and Nancy as they go.

Educational way to remember September 11, wouldn’t you say? But the day has just begun…and we find ourselves in the midst of a string of Strange Day Occurrences. Are we all stuck inside of a living koan? Is that a whiff of Suntory-satori in the air...or something else?


All are hungry by this time, so pizza is ordered. Someone, remembering FATHER GUIDO SARDUCCI’S (a Duder Bar regular from days past) game…enshrined on SNL’s Weekend Update…of “Find The Popes In The Pizza”…suggests that we find the Dudes in the pizzas when they arrive. It is surmised that on a day such as this, surely a Dudeist Miracle will occur. Forget about finding the visage of Jesus or Elvis on a potato chip. A wide eyed "delivery associate" arrives and through the, by now, pea soup White Russian fog, the Dude is, indeed spotted on one of the pizzas...

(This holy pie will wind up framed and on the wall behind the bar...itself the object of pilgrimage and adoration. Some will say that gazing upon it cures hangovers and various STDs, hence the throng of aspirants wanting a look each morning when the sacred grotto opens its doors...across the cases of oat soda...down through the ages...)

...then…we hear a roar in the street outside. What now?…we collectively wonder out loud. A tall, skinny gentleman dressed in late 19th century chauffeur garb, complete with scarf and goggles swaggers into the bar and stops in front of Louise.

“Your car, madam,” He announces as he offers his arm to her. She hesitates at this high weirdness, but we all encourage her to take the chauffeur’s arm.

We follow them outside where an immense roadster shaped like a bowling pin is surrounded by the curious. The chauffeur helps Louise into the car and they thunder off down the street.

Elliott, one of the monks, says, “Don’t worry…he’s just taking her through the park and back…”

Turns out Elliot knows a guy who just bought a roadside attraction/bowling museum in the mid-west…including the Pinmobile…and couldn’t resist.

We all go back inside where a video is playing on both of the TV sets behind the bar…we get a video today after all. I will not describe the video…and still don’t know who put it up…but present it herewith for your enjoyment and edification…

I notice a Stranger at the end of the bar nearest the door. Did he just come in? Cowboy hat...handlebar mustache...no...couldn't be. He watches me, grinning, as I walk over...extends his hand. As I get closer I realize the he's not the Stranger I thought he might be after all. Same accent though.

"So what do you think of all this?" I inquire.

"All what?" he replies, taking it all in.

"Where're you from friend...haven't seen you in here before..."

"The Circus," he responds, lifting his glass of sarsaparilla in a toast.

We click glasses and drain our drinks. The Stranger stands, turns to walk out the door, then looks back at me and the crowd of costumed monks and other Duder Bar folk and grins again as he drawls...

"Pardon my language young feller...don't like cussing...but you know what they say...same shit, different day...that's all. Catch you a little further on down the trail."

He turns and disappears into the night.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Duderino Groove

So I’m at the Duder Bar beating Bub and this 300 pound Chinese guy, name of Yang, who came in with one of those fancy, screw together pool cues, in a game of Fuck Your Buddy. As most of you probably know, Fuck Your Buddy is a sophisticated bar pool contest involving three players, each of whom has five balls to call their own…1-5, 6-10, 11-15. The object is to knock the other guys balls in while leaving the cue ball where the other guy can’t make your balls if you miss. The winner breaks. We are playing for a buck a game and, so far, I have run the table three times. I am about to break again when Yang speaks.

“You’re sure on a roll Hier…Hier…”

“Hier…ony…mus,” I state as I straighten up after another killer break. “Yeah…I’m in the Duderino Groove…”

“The what?” Yang queries.

Bub can’t resist, “Hieronymus is a Pin Dudeist, so I guess the…”

“Bub…you’re out of your element, Bub,” I interject. “The Duderino Groove is…”

“What the fuck is a Pin Dudeist…a DUDE who plays fucking PINBALL?” Yang interrogates, enunciating ‘pinball’ in such a way that it sounds like a case of the clap.

“Well, the Dude DOES just happen to play pinball…but the Pin in Pin Dudeist refers to the noble sport of tenpins,” I answer as I make another of Yang’s balls, “ …just think of Pin like you think of Zen…you know what Zen is don’t you Mr. Yang? And Dudeist, OF COURSE, refers to one who espouses and prolestizes Dudeism. If you don’t know what Dudeism is, Mr. Yang, look it up…”

“Yang is my FIRST name…bowling, huh? Obama bowls. So what is the point of Dudeism Mr. Hieronymus?”

I make a great combination shot on the seven.

“Reverand Moondog to you Yang…SIR. Point? No POINT. The Dude just ABIDES, man…and AS the Dude ABIDES…most of the time the Dude is in the Duderino Groove too, man. You know…the Dude is really comfortable in his own skin…in the zone, man. A great pinball artist once said…”

I love quoting stuff to assholes like Yang.


“…’one can enter a groove where there is no physical break between thought, action, and consequence. There is a zen of pinball, when the paddles become direct extensions of your brain, and you no longer feel the little buttons on the side of the machine, nor the spring as you let loose another ball.’…that’s the “His Dudeness Groove-ness” he’s speaking of, man. Same thing with pool…”

I smack in another ball.


“…the cue is alive…part of your arm…you are not shooting pool, man…pool is shooting you. Same with music…the drums play you…the guitar plays you…and El Duderino Groove-O can be like a contact high, man. I was lucky enough to be on the same stage…not playing music, but shooting film, with Art Blakey once…and also Jerry Garcia…and these Dudes were ALWAYS in the groove, man…in the pocket…and looking through the viewfinder…after awhile there was no separation. I was not shooting the music. The music and my shooting it were not two. Just like now and the six ball…”


Whack! The six…three rails into the corner.

“So, you’re stoned all the time?” REVERAND Moondog. What's the REVERAND bullshit all about anyhow?

“Fuck no the Dude is not stoned all the time. But there is a Dudeist State of Consciousness, or DSC, that the Dude abides in MOST of the time…if not interrupted by assholes who piss on his rug…that I like to call the Duderino Groove…like I keep saying, man. You know…flow like a fucking river. The universe plays the Dude, man…the Dude is the instrument that Doctor Universe wails on at three in the morning. Do I make myself clear…YANG…what’s your last name Yang?

“Yang,” says Yang.

“Yang Yang?”

“Si, El Duderino…or is it El Padre Duderino?”

“Oh…a linguist! Well, do you dance Mr. Yang Yang?”

“But of course…every well educated gentleman knows how to da…”

“Can we see you dance Mr. Yang Yang?”

“Here? Now?”

“As they say…if not here…where? If not now…when?

I put some money in the jukebox. Creedence. I put down my cue and begin to weave…way inside the old Duderino Groove-O now… around the table, down the bar and back. I continue to sway and grin as I circle Yang.

“Since you’re a well educated gentleman, you know what Fred Nietzsche said don’t you Yang Yang?”

“Well, I…”

“I would believe only in a god who could dance…said Fred. Dance Yang Yang…for god’s sake…dance!”

I grab Yang and whirl him around. By now, everybody else in the Duder Bar is moving…looking like one giant many armed, many legged single Duderino Grooving creature…holy rolling to Creedence…

Finally, Yang drops his bullshit and spins, dervish style, down the length of the bar and into the street, laughing uproariously the whole way…looking for all the world like some marvelously crazed dancing Buddha.

We hear wild applause and cheers from the assembled passersby in the street outside…

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Welcome to the DUDER BAR...man...

Ever since my “Laughing Buddha Trout Fishing In Mountain Stream Tattoo On Bald Biker Named Buddha” Suntory-satori, the North Beach bar I have been a regular at for decades has taken on a whole new shine. Now it seems like some kind of exotic, spellbinding power spot instead of a local dive. I have been to the Buddha Bar in Paris…and it can really dial you down to mellow while blowing your mind alright…but nothing compared to the hit I now get just walking into what I have re-named the Duder Bar.


So in I go…for the first time since the “Suntory-satori” occurrence. A blast of some kind of weird energy hits me in the face as I go through the door and knocks me back a step. Down the bar in the shadowy light a number of people are crowded around a tall, bald guy in Buddhist robes. Looks from a distance like the Dalai Lama, but how could that be?

The DUDER BAR, North Beach

The bartender’s voice booms out, “Hey Heironymus…get you ass down here…somebody you gotta meet!”

I squint as my eyes adjust to the darkness and stumble down the bar toward Louise the bartender. Couldn’t be the Dalai Lama…the Dudely Lama?…naaa…the ultra-reclusive, mythical Dudely here? The group of people part and a grinning from ear to ear Bruce Willis looking guy sets what looks like a double bourbon on the bar, puts his hands together and bows.

“Say hello to Chogyam Dada,” says Louise. “He knew you were coming and has he got a tale to tell…been hanging out with The Dude…”

I return this guy’s bow and give him a good look up and down. He drains his bourbon.

“…and Walter and Donny”…says Chogyam, finishing the thought in a deep Mississippi accent.

Louise shoves my usual double Caucasian across the bar and pours Chogyam another bourbon.

“So, are they down the street at the motel waiting for your ass, man…?” I reply sarcastically. “Where you from anyway…Chogyam? You don’t talk like Tibet…”

“Don’t be such a hard-ass Hieronymous…he was just telling us about all this far out stuff,” chimes in the ever present and always enthusiastic ‘Bub’.

“Well, please continue then, man,” I insist as I take a heavy pull upon the Russian.

Chogyam does so, “I’ll back up a little bit…the Cliffs Notes version is this…fictitious characters in books, plays and movies…are thought forms which actually exist and become more and more independent…and stronger the more they are ‘exercised’…the more attention is paid to them. For example, Hamlet has been exercised a lot because he has been played over and over in all the productions of the play.

“These characters, and other thought forms, exist in what I call the Imaginal Realm…the ‘Otherworld’…which interacts with what we call reality all the time. One way these characters show up and hang out in our world is in dreams…now pay attention because this is the important part. We interact with them all the time but usually don’t recognize these folks for who they are…unless we have a lucid dream…a dream where we realize we’re dreaming, then can take the time to talk to these strangely familiar ‘people’ who turn up, or we invite in…then remember it later.

“Tibetan Buddhism has a practice called Dream Yoga that we use to play around with lucid dreams for all sorts of reasons. With a little practice we can get several people in on the same lucid dream, and they can talk to each other in the dream…and talk to the thought form beings they find there, or bring there with their group intention to do so…

I begin to see where Chogyam is going with this, “So Chogyam, now you’re going to tell us…”

“Let him fucking finish Hieronymus,” Louise insists, so I shut up.

“Thank you sir,” Chogyam intones graciously in my direction. “Anyhow, a group of us at the Dream Yoga Institute are huge fans of The Big Lebowski…go to Lebowskifests…get ordained…so now I’m a Buddhist Dudeist…and so on, and what not…so we figure…we do all this dream yoga practice for spiritual reasons…let’s see if we can contact the Dude and Walter and Donny…they must be really chillin’ INTENSLY out there somewhere because of all the energy they get from the fans…people “getting into character” and all. So we did. Kinda strange…THEY don’t quite know what to make of us, or who the fuck we are wandering into the bowling alley looking lost…

“You just said fuck, man…” I have to point out. “I didn’t think a Tibetan Buddhist priest would cuss like that…and drink one straight bourbon after another, either.”

“You obviously aren’t familiar with the work of my teacher…Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, man…” Chogyam grins.


“Far out,” I offer….being familiar with the doings of Chogyam Trungpa, This guy may be OK after all. Full of shit maybe, but OK.

“I’m not ‘full of shit’ Mr. Moondog…as you were just thinking. I can take you to meet the Dude ‘in person’ if you’re willing to work at it a little. May take some time, but it will be worth it.”

Did this guy just read my mind? Maybe he’s not completely full of shit after all. I am familiar with the stuff he was talking about…just never experienced it. I decide to take him up on his offer. I will fill you in about who this guy is, how he wound up in the Duder Bar, and the results of my experiments at the Dream Yoga Bowling Alley with the Dude and company as time goes along.

On a final note for this installment, I’m including an image of the business card Chogyam Dada, who also calls himself the Salvador Dali Lama, gave me as we parted…