"Are you a Lebowski Achiever?" the flier asks. If being one means a fondness for bowling alleys, white Russians, thrift-store velour pullovers, and quoting dialogue such as "You're entering a world of pain" -- then yeah, the Big Lebowski cult has to number somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. And Saturday's Lebowski Drive-In in downtown Oakland is the place to be. When it was first released in 1998, the Coen Bros. movie about an archetypal slacker's misadventures with his bowling buddies and menacing hoods who pee on his rug mostly rated a Big So-Whatski. The Dude (Jeff Bridges), his pals Sobchak the addled Nam vet (John Goodman) and Danny (Steve Buscemi), the Nihilists, and a bowling-ball-licker named Jesus (John Turturro) arguably captured a certain stoned Los Angeles nowhereness, but the movie tanked at the box office and passed quickly from sight. For you and me, maybe. But not for the Junior Dudes and Dude-ettes who glommed onto home video versions, memorized the lines ("The Dude abides"), and coagulated on message boards and Web sites with the similarly afflicted. All of a sudden, there were conventions and magazine covers and blogs. Even Bridges admits to watching it on TV.
Oakland has a multitude of Dudes, which is probably what inspired Oaklandish, the Jack London Square hipster art gallery and "Oakland pride" Web site (Oaklandish.org), and the Nonchalance art group to organize a Lebowski edition of their outdoor movies-in-a-parking-lot series. Saturday at 8 p.m. there's a screening of The Big Lebowski at Lot 69 on Harrison Street between 15th and 17th, followed by a 10:30 after-party at Oaklandish (411 2nd St. between Broadway and Franklin) featuring "blacktop bowling," trivia and costume contests, and a chance to meet Mr. Pin. Admission to both is a reasonable five bucks. Care to know more? E-mail email@example.com -- Kelly Vance
His mother was a prostitute who killed and dismembered a process server; life informs fiction in F. Collyer Reed's short-story collection, Trash. Dig through it with him at Spellbinding Tales in Alameda (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Growing up in Burma as a member of the rural Padaung tribe, Pascal Khoo Twee developed a passion for the writings of James Joyce; after Burma closed its universities, Twee made his way to Cambridge. He discusses his memoir From the Land of Green Ghosts at Oakland's A Great Good Place for Books (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Experiencing your own energy crisis? Maybe there's a rolling blackout in your chakras. Ebun Adelona signs copies of her book Save Yourself at Premalaya (1713 University Ave., Berkeley) (Fri., 7 p.m.). ... Work that sixth sense with Bob Garner, expert extrasensory perceptor, Fortune 1000 corporation head, and author of Masters of Motivation at Borders San Ramon (Sat., 1 p.m.). ... Words meet music at the grand opening of UC Berkeley's Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library in Morrison Hall. A dedication ceremony and reception follow a concert of works by Corelli and Tartini (Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; concert begins at 2:15 p.m.). ... Land the job: The Apprentice winner Bill Rancic reads from You're Hired at Barnes & Noble Walnut Creek (Sun., 2:30 p.m.). ... From The Bible to Of Mice and Men and beyond: All Alameda County public libraries mark Banned Books Week with special displays, starting today (Mon., 10 a.m.). ... The million-plus Armenians killed as a result of the Ottoman Turkish government's genocidal machinations find a voice in the novels of Micheline Aharonian Marcom, author of Three Apples Fell from Heaven and Daydreaming Boy. Meet the Mills College prof at Bookshop Benicia (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Past, present, future -- everything's connected, right? Cryptonomicon and Quicksilver author Neal Stephenson summons strange new and old worlds in his panoramic novels, which he discusses at Cody's Telegraph (Tues., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
Park 'n' Grin
Thursday is the fifth annual World CarFree Day . It might be difficult to realize it out on the freeway, but in downtown Oakland the city and various local businesses are taking the concept pretty seriously. Commuters and residents are being urged to use alternate transportation -- bicycling, public transit, carpooling and vanpooling, telecommuting, rickshaws, pedi-cabs, skates, and even (gasp!) walking -- in order to save wear and tear on the planet caused by fossil-fuel-burning private vehicles. The City of Oakland and the CarFree Steering Committee (wouldn't "No-Steering Committee" be more apt?) are throwing a lunchtime transportation fair at Frank Ogawa Plaza, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with music, prizes, and voices of pedestrian outrage. Oakland is one of only seven cities in the United States (295 in Europe) to actively participate in CarFree Day. We're righteous. Get out of your clunker and hoof it. You'll be glad you did. For more info, visit CarFreeCity.US/Oakland.html -- Kelly Vance
Why did the ballywak cross the road?
Eddy Joe Cotton, storytellin' hobo of the Yard Dogs Road Show ranks, sez that a ballywak's a chicken. Our old friends over at Merriam-Webster, in the meantime, define "bailiwick" as "1: The office or jurisdiction of a bailiff," and "2: A special domain." So we could just call Slapdash Ballywak a hastily put-together, piss-poorly-spelled pair of events, and leave it at that. But we know better. The collaboration between the Yard Dogs and Liminal Arts promises "two nights of creep joint cabaret," and although they're requesting cabaret attire from their patrons and even setting up tables for you to rest your weary beans on, we're betting this ain't gonna be no tourist-teeming Teatro Zinzanni. Musicians, poets, contortionists, People Who Eat Strange Things, and damsels in various states of undress are all on the menu, with the Sour Mash Hug Band, Sansa Asylum, and the Hobo Goblins confirmed. Doors at 9 p.m., showtime's at 10, and tickets cost $10 at the door. Enter Liminal at 1919 Market St., Oakland. 510-823-6927. -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - October 25, 5:13 PM
What the Fork - October 24, 5:18 PM
Culture Spy - October 23, 11:07 AM
Culture Spy - October 21, 10:18 AM
Legalization Nation - October 21, 9:38 AM