"I noticed Lebowski t-shirts were the only things that were selling. We put a picture of The Dude in the window and people started calling us the Lebowski shop."
If there is a more overused and overextended film descriptor than "cult classic," I've yet to hear it. It doesn't take much for a particularly shitty C-movie or critical bomb with a surprisingly high Netflix rating to find its way into Bad Movie Night viewings and ironic rooftop film festivals, as viewers recite lines notable not for their gift of expression, but for their shocking disregard for narrative cohesion (yes, we're guilty as charged). But there is one such "cult" film whose followers actually adhere to it with earnest religious devotion. Not "religious" in the descriptive sense, but the real thing, as the spiritual bond these men and women share with the source material is as real as any I've encountered in a temple. They recite its lines like scripture, gather for communal viewings and bowling outings, and pore over its canon with academic-level scrutiny. But more than anything, they see its hero's way of life as a plane of existence to aspire to, not unlike the ones achieved by Jesus in the wilderness, Moses at Sinai or the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. Say what you will about the tenets of its message, dude, at least it's an ethos.I'm referring of course, to the The Big Lebowski, the 1998 Coen brothers film that introduced the world to the character played by Jeff Bridges known simply as The Dude. And if Lebowskism is something of a creed, its church might just be a small converted children's book shop on Thompson Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
There, you'll find a large selection of Lebowski-inspired T-shirts, from "No one fucks with the Jesus" to "I don't roll on shabbos," a naked blow-up doll named Maude floating along the ceiling, a Lebowski kit including a severed toe, a bowling alley, a Shakespearean rendering of the film called Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, and of course, a rug that ties the room together.
You'll also find Roy Preston, proprietor of The Little Lebowski Shop, clad in a bathrobe and listening to Credence Clearwater Revival, or if he feels like stirring things up, The Eagles. In the slideshow below, Preston explains how he got into the Lebowski business, his favorite line in the movie, and why through it all, the Dude abides. Click through to hear, like, his opinion, man.