The second annual? Better.
More people, all bathrobe’d and movin’ with a purpose, no car accidents this time, just a happy mass of humanity abiding. Waiting in Laurelhurst Park Friday night after KUFO staffers had passed out wristbands, and later filling the Bagdad Theater and Pub 12 blocks away, we were loudly calm – noisy but orderly. The banding was more orderly this year than last time, too: started earlier than I expected, nipping potential “line bloat” in the bud, and it stayed one line (there were two lines last year and a bit of a scramble to get wristbands to all).
Getting in line in the first place was orderly, too. More people were headed to the park than a year ago, and more people were aware that the march was happening. Waiting for the eastbound #15 bus I met a man and woman, and he said “I forgot about it! I would’ve gone if I’d remembered!” Soon after on the bus, I overheard “There’s someone headed to the park.” While I was walking the last few blocks to the park, passerby asked me what all those people in robes were doing. I started to wish I had a silly answer for them, but the real answer was cool enough and unexpected enough to seem like the silly answer. (What would be a good silly reason for 600 people in public in robes? That we’d have an invisible pillow fight? I can also think of horrifying reasons, but I don’t want to be horrifying right now.)
To bemused looks, I and my berobed brethren beat boots (okay, consonance done) to Laurelhurst Park. Before 8 p.m., the KUFO street team had set up the front of the first line at a shelter where they held the wristbands, and the line of people weaved from there to past a playground. Among the waiting people were two guys hawking a painting of the Big Lebowski characters aligned like Jesus (that Jesus, not that Jesus) and the Apostles in The Last Supper. They weren’t pushy about it, and to that I say thank you, man. Stay mellow. I lined up, and we all waited, visiting in the meantime.
“What was the entertainment before the film last year?” one guy asked me. “Chaos was the entertainment,” I said. Having a ticket-selling line at the theater as well as the line of marchers led to hard feelings while we loaded into the Bagdad a year ago, because many people couldn’t get in that way. The Bagdad’s DVD player started skipping while playing Fatboy’s trailer compilation. The crowd once it was inside was more aggressive than hosts/DJs Cort and Fatboy liked, and a lot of us weren’t happy with the DVD player going wonky, so the DJs cut bait and got the film started. (They dropped their planned false start of the film. They were going to start showing Lebowski from a DVD copy, but when The Stranger first mentions “the Dude,” we would’ve started seeing Rick Astley instead.) No riot, but, um, there was room for improvement, in both the event and the mood. In the meantime, this time, there was marching to do.
This time, once we were all with wristbands, we conversed, had beverages and substances, beverages and substances I probably shouldn’t mention, and called to other friends who were still on their way or somewhere else among the hundreds. The helpful “We’re over here! I’ll step out of line right now!” and the amusingly unhelpful “We’re by the big tree” sounded out. (That’s like saying you were near some grass.)
The first signal that Something Was About To Happen was a drumbeat. Those of us along the north side of the park could see a marching band – the Transcendental Brass Band – silhouetted on the south side of the park, backlit by the gas station across the street. And we heard them, no problem. Somewhere around the same time, but blocked from our view by the mass of comfy humanity, Cort, Fatboy and the “achievers” who’d won the chance to go bowling with the DJs before the march reached the park. Fatboy carried a rug – that sounds dirty – and got us moving. We took over SE 39th’s sidewalk, with wave after wave of marchers. Drivers passing us honked, yelled, and asked questions. “Is it a pajama party?!” someone asked. “Can be!” I yelled.
Then arrived, we did. Ten blocks down 39th and two blocks down Hawthorne and we filed past the McMenamin’s event staff, showing off our wristbands to show we were 21 and over and legally allowed to enter and to drink. The beer line turned out to be three lines: the two bars in the theater lobby, and an extra line in the balcony where a satellite drink-slinging station was set up between the balcony seating and the upstairs restrooms. “The Dude,” a version of the White Russian that Jeff Lebowski likes imbibing, was being served up alongside other types of alcohol at all three stations. (Thanks to sponsor 42Below Vodka. (I HAVE NOT BEEN PAID OR COMPENSATED FOR THAT PLUG. I didn’t even drink that night! But I want to keep the Bagdad people happy. How were the drinks?))
And the pre-film entertainment? NOT Chaos this time. Troublemakers. A band called the Troublemakers set up on the stage below the screen while people found seats. And soon after they started playing, people started dancing. Yet another sign that the vibe this year was happier and bouncier. (I danced, too. I shall admit this in public. I admit it HAPPILY. I’m also happy I impressed Cort with my dancing. Next goal: impress women with my dancing!) After we sang along to the Troublemaker’s cover of “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” Cort and Fatboy announced the next month’s KUFO Midnight Movie – to be announced later and somewhere else not here (I’ve learned the hard way not to say it too early) – and introduced the movie.
And the crowd, filling every seat and even sitting in a few places in the aisles, started happily watching.
We saw the film, and it was good. Yeah, yeah, oh yeah. (That’s been a strangely satisfying line to recite this past week.)
I ducked out early, wanting to be home at a manageable time so I’d be awake and functional for Star Trek the next morning. I walked all the way to Potato Champion, fortified myself with a small serving of fries and pesto mayo, and talked with a very earnest guy about X-Men because of the Wolverine movie that came out that day. (I warned him not to see it. “Several people I trust say it stinks.”) And the fries gave me the strength to keep walking, now through a drizzle, to home. A watered Lebowski was what I was. (Shoot. I wanted that to sound dirty. Oh well.)