Lebowski mysteries, part one
In anticipation of the Lebowski Bash coming to the Vancouver Retro Cinema Fest on Saturday (September 29), we offer some thoughts on a few of the seemingly endless riddles posed by the Coen brothers’ greatest film.
Today: was the Dude really one of the authors of the original Port Huron statement (but not the compromised second draft)?
The Port Huron statement was produced by the Students for a Democratic Society in 1962. Jeffrey Lebowski would presumably have been in his late teens or early 20s at the time, meaning that he’s in his late 40s or early 50s when we first meet him on September 11, 1991 (the night the Chinaman pees on his rug).
This checks out, kinda—Jeff Bridges was 48 when the film was made, but the beard and patterned sweat pants have an aging effect. The question, rather, is whether somebody of the Dude’s aggressively non-commital demeanor would possess the substance or even the interest in helping fashion the seminal manifesto of the New Left.It’s entirely possible. The Dude wouldn’t be the first or only American student radical to fall into indolence and disrepair. By the time he’s flopping around LA after dark and buying milk with a cheque, Jeffrey Lebowski has watched the ‘60s die many times over as sinister influences invaded the government, with the presence of George HW Bush in the White House as the final blow.
In other words, the Dude is perhaps acutely aware that America has become a banana republic with a “former” intelligence chief in the highest visible position of power. You’d go bowling, too—either that, or you’d sell the fuck out, buy a new car, and accept the Eagles into your life as a symbol of your total capitulation to the forces of darkness and shit.
But we know the Dude would never do this, because he is—per the Coens’ oft-stated debt to Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe—a truly moral man. Perhaps the last moral man. He’s certainly incapable of dishonesty (or he’s not very good at it, at least), and he clearly stands for truth and beauty. That’s why Creedence matters to Jeffrey Lebowski, and defiance in the face of the fucking Eagles is worth taking a pounding over.
So yes, Jeffrey Lebowski might well have been one of the fiery young idealists behind the original Port Huron Statement (not the compromised second draft), except that I couldn’t find his name anywhere in this article.
So no, he actually probably isn’t. It’s just pillow talk.
You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.