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?"