Lebowski Bash Lives and the Dude Abides at Market Square Park

Dudes and White Russians unite at "Bring Bowski Back" this Sunday at Market Square Park.
Dudes and White Russians unite at "Bring Bowski Back" this Sunday at Market Square Park. Photo by Lennie Ambrose
While brainstorming ideas for the Second Sunday Revival series at Market Square Park, the Downtown District's Programming and Events Manager Laurette Canizares found herself asking, “Hey, do they do the Lebowski Bash anymore?”

A celebration of the Coen Brothers’ 1998 cult film The Big Lebowski, which has spawned everything from quotables to the “slowest growing religion in the world,” Lebowski Bash first came to Houston about a decade ago, courtesy of Jason McElweenie and early adopter Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Canizares, a proud supporter of Saint Arnold “since 2005, when they were in a barely there, shoddy warehouse complex off old Hempstead Road,” is excited to not only revive it with a new "Bring Bowski Back" event, but to bring it to Downtown Houston.

“A lot of it is just my love of craft beer and the Dude,” jokes Canizares.

Unlike previous installments of the Second Sunday Revival series, which were afternoon affairs, "Bring Bowski Back" festivities on August 11 will run from 5 to 10 p.m. Though partly to accommodate a screening of the film, the change should also see summer temperatures that are a bit more forgiving – not that Canizares is worried.

“I think in general most Houstonians are used to the temperatures. We’re hardcore,” says Canizares. Besides, she adds, “that’s why there are splash pads and frozen alcoholic beverages to get us through.”

Speaking of alcoholic beverages, if you’re worried about knocking back the Dude’s cocktail of choice, Canizares is ready and waiting for you with a margarita machine full of frozen White Russians. Her logic is simple: “Nobody’s going to drink a cream-based anything in the heat of August, but if you make it a slushie, everybody wants it.”

If you can’t stay for the entire "Bring Bowski Back" bash, Canizares says 6 to 8 p.m. is a “sweet spot,” where you can see Swimwear Department (on stage from 6 to 7 p.m.) and the trivia and costume contests. If you can stay for the screening at 8:30 p.m., Canizares expects hilarity watching The Big Lebowski surrounded by so many Duderinos. But, if you come at 5 p.m., you can see something even more special: Lennie Ambrose, Saint Arnold’s chief marketing officer and an ordained minister, “uniting people in the love of the Dude” under a “larger-than-life” bowling pin alter created by Fifth World Collective.

At least one couple partaking in a Dudeist Priest wedding at the bash are friends of Canizares. They asked if they could get married and, in the spirit of the Dude, Canizares responded with, “You can do whatever you want. Yes, come get married.”

Though admittedly not a Dudehead herself – “the White Russian is not my first choice of beverage” – Canizares says she can see the appeal of the film, pointing to the brilliance of the Coen Brothers, the talent of Jeff Bridges and, of course, memorable characters like the Dude.

“He’s like the laziest authoritarian figure you’ll ever find,” says Canizares. “I also think a lot of the themes as far as smoking grass and drinking all day and hanging out in your robe probably resonate with a lot of people just as a lifestyle.”

Bowling is also a huge theme in the film, so from 5 to 9 p.m., the Downtown District will shut down one city block on Preston (between Milam and Travis), lay down some AstroTurf, and set up a few huge pins for a little human bowling. If the idea of climbing into a giant inflatable ball and tumbling 20 feet doesn’t seem like enough of a challenge, Canizares has a playful suggestion.

“Folks can get in and challenge themselves, maybe drink a couple of frozen White Russians and see how well that settles while they’re rolling down the lane,” says Canizares with a laugh.

"Bring Bowski Back" is the penultimate event in the Second Sunday Revival series, so if you can’t make it you still have one more chance at Sunday Funday during September’s Got Vintage market. It includes not only a retro market, but a DJ, fashion show, and an appearance by Omar Lisandro of STRUT. And like "Bring Bowski Back," it’s free.

“Everything’s free. I can’t emphasize that enough,” says Canizares. “If you can’t make this one, there’s free stuff going on all the time.”

Like the Dude, we can all abide by free.

"Bring Bowski Back" is scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. August 11, at Market Square Park, 301 Milam. For more information, visit Free.
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Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.