Call me Otto.
Clearly, I’m not as stupid as I appear to be or pretend to be, that wouldn’t be possible although it might be preferable to the marginal state of bliss that I occupy now as I try life with double elephant ears for pockets,while I wander from the concrete shithole that I call home.
No, I’m not stupid. Ya see it’s a combination of the oversight committees of my internal legislation combined with poor intelligence gathering that is responsible for the current comedy of errors that I laughingly call my so called existence. It’s not Trump’s fault nor Pelosi’s fault that keeps me from dreaming the American dream.
I'm all about the Dream.
Dude is the American dream for me.
Dude is Jeff Bridges.
Dude is my idol.
I love the Dude, man. When I found out the Dude was coming to town, I rubbed a couple of nickels together and headed to the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman house where Mr. Kodak himself screened movies for his guests until he decided that his work was done and he shot himself in the heart at this very house. Somehow, I had another double sawbuck so I took the tour of the house, checked out the elephant head in the lobbyoverlooking a giant organ and an array of flowers. I strolled into the exhibition hall and looked at the photos on display taken by Jeff Bridges. Next, I bought my ticket for the flick that Dude was going to introduce in the theater.
I’m an hour early. I walk down to the front. Figure for the money I’m paying, I might as well get as much indoor times as I can. Rochester is one cold, dark, dangerous town. So, there I am sitting safely, minding my own business when out of nowhere, a gray hair walks up to me and spying my unhidden camera says in a real snotty voice..“You can’t take pictures in here.”
Wait a minute, I think to myself. I’m in the home of the guy who popularized photograpy, the guy who made the art available to the masses as well as the messes and here’s some drainer telling me I can’t take pictures even though I’m using a Kodak camera loaded with Kodak film and I’m wanting to take a picture of a guy because HIS photographs are on display in the exhibition section of the museum. In other words, I’m a photographer in the birthplace of photography trying to take a picture of a photographer and somebody tells me “no”.
I should be more specific about the drainer. She looked a lot like Barbara Bush in Bar Bar’s days as first lady with the shocking white hair. The imitation was breathtaking. Part of the breathtaking aspect was the “perfume” she was wearing. Imagine the smell of lilacs inside a trash bin, well that was the stench that was taking my breath away. I whiffed her before I saw her and by the time I saw her, she was in my face telling me what not to do.
God I hate that.
I had paid six bucks to get in and six bucks is a whole different ballgame to me than it is to the fake Barbara Bush. Six bucks has bought me four days and four nights of winter warmth at Movies10 which costs a buck to get into the show and once you’re in, if you play your cards right, you can hide out for twelve hours. Six bucks is what I paid to get a picture of Jeff Bridges. Six bucks should entitle me to that.
BarBar stalked away leaving a trail of fetid flower stank residue. The guy sitting next to me, another early arrival, looked astonished or alarmed or whatever you call an expression that is a combination of thunderstuck bemusement and outrage. I'm no stranger to that expression. I get and give that kinda look quite often
I had been talking to this guy a few minutes earlier and I can tell you what kind of guy he was. He was the kind of fiftyish guy whose favorite movie is the original Sands of the Kalahari, a copy of which he and his wife Beatice had been trying to find for the last five years. He looked like the type of guy who takes notes.
He told me his name was Ice.
I don't need notes to remember stuff like thia so I never take 'em.
I would hesitate to call Ice a dude although he was too old to be a nerd, to tall to be a dweeb, too small to be a doofus, too friendly to be a dork and too well informed to be a nimrod. I guess he was just a normal guy . Still, even he didn’t know what to make of the fake BarBar.
I said to Ice, “There ain’t no signs around here that say you can’t take a picture.”
Ice reached into his pocket and pulled out one of those fancy phones.
“I didn’t see any signs either,” he said with a ‘we’re all in this together but you’re the one who got busted by a fake Barbara Bush as if you were Al Franken on a plane’ kind of wink.
I wondered if the photographic prohibition was posted on my ticket. I looked at the ticket which didn’t look much like a ticket,just a crumpled piece of green paper featuring a large ADMIT ONE.
Nowhere on this ticket did I see anything about not taking pictures.
I showed Ice my ticket and he pulled out HIS ticket and goes right to the fine print.His ticket cost thirty five bucks and since we were sitting right next to one another the main thing his fancy ass ticket bought him was more writing because his ticket said that photography was prohibited at the request of the artist.
Let’s see…no prohibition on my later cheaper ticket …clear prohibition on Ice’s reserved more expensive ticket. This pretty much sums up my life. Forget about being reserved. Show up early and the cheaper you live, the more freedom you have.
So me and Ice sat there like twin particles ready to collide at the edge of a black hole. Something was about about to happen but nobody knew exactly what. I wondered if perhaps Ice's last name was Jones.
We both got out our cameras and our contradictory tickets. I’m trying to feature the Dude prohibiting photos in a situation like this and I can’t see it.
One thing we know about the Dude…he abides.
I’m tawkin’ bout the Dude who always adhered to a pretty strict drug regimen to keep his mind, ya know, limber. What kind of limberminded photographer like Jeff Bridges would bar other photographers from taking pictures of El Duderino himself.
Also, I hoped to ask Jeff a few questions. Did he do his own bowling scenes and because of the whole brevity thing did the Dude prefer being called El Duderino, Duder, His Dudeness or simply the Dude or Dude?
Decisions were soon to be made.
Making decisions without accurate intelligence is like applying mathematical theories to non-mathematical facts. It’s like grabbing a pool rack and putting the rack into sink full of swamp water in the hopes of creating a liquid triangle or a fertle delta. It don’t work. I’ve tried versions of that experiment many times if not most of my life.
And once again, at the Dryden, I found myself trying to rack up innocent water although this time I was closer to Ice than to actual water. I’ve also learned that when you subtract mathematical theory from contradiction, you eventually wind up with paradox. Ice, although heavier than water floats upon it. Paradox means you face a crossroads of two clear ,equally balanced, oppositional ideas options that are uncompromisingly win/win or lose/lose in their execution.
Sink or swim
Contradiction also abides
Then, the curtain rustled and out comes the Dude himself in the person of Jeff Bridges. Dude looks exactly like he does on screen except a whole helluvalot smaller. As I decided whether or not to take his picure, at least ten guys ran down the aisle like stealth bombers in hoodies and beards, snapped off several rounds of flashes and then ran back down the aisle, out the door, into the parking lot, into their POS cars and down East Avenue towards Wegman’s before BarBar could even get her panty hose unwadded.
Dude didn’t look like he minded the snapping. I suppose it helped that the stealth crew snapped him before he even had a chance to give two shits.
Dude, as Jeff ,started to speak about how misunderstood his father Lloyd’s career had been as Sea Hunt became a mixed blessing for the Bridges family. The money was the good part. The bad part was that the viewing audience thought that Dude Dad Lloyd actually was a skin diver, actually was Mike Nelson the role his Dad had played on the teevee show. Dude said most of his life somebody has been coming up to him all teary eyed and saying “Thanks to your father, Mike Nelson, I’ve become a skin diver and all my children want to become marine bilogists or harbor masters.”
Imagine, confusing an actor with a role that he played
One of my childhood friends had the same confusion, sort of. I guess that’s why he started calling himself “Mike” and strapping a waste basket on his back, sticking a garden hose in his mouth, putting a pair of underpants over his face and a huge pair of rubber galoshes on his feet, he would “skin dive” by crawling around on his belly in his backyard in the rain until he reached the end of his hose and crawled back before his air ran out remembering all the while to keep the crawl slow as to avoid the bends.
Good thing my friend didn’t see High Noon when he was a kid, otherwise he might have grown up either a craven coward or a “boy not a man” as Katy Jurado had called Dude’s Dad when Dude Dad bailed out upon the return of Frank Miller as the clock ticked real time towards noon.
In real time at the Dryden, Dude was five feet away and looking straight at me, I was coming to a conclusion of my own. It was the flash in his face not the photo itself that the Dude objected to and wanted to minimize with the small print on the fancy ticket. Since my disposable didn’t have a flash, all I had to do was wait until Dude looked away for a second and I could snap his picture as I felt that I had the right to do. In all likelihood, the flashless picture wouldn’t come out anyway. Dude wouldn’t know that I had taken a picture that didn’t come out and everybody would have a win. Paradox confronted and overcome. Slick as snot on a doorknob.
While I waited Dude kept rappin’ and looking right at me while he spoke.
The way he was looking at me, reminded me of the phenomena of paired neurons. You see, when we watch somebody do something that we’ve done, paired neurons fire off in our brain similar to the neurons firing off in the brain of the person who is doing something that we’ve already done. If you play the guitar and then go and watch somebody else play the guitar, you are having a whole different neurological experience than a person who doesn’t play the guitar. And the guy playing the guitar can usually recognize you in the audience because he can feel your neurons firing in synch with his which makes him play the guitar better which makes you get more into his performance and fire more neurons which makes his guitar play even better and refire etc ad infinitum.
Anyways, this is the way that Dude was looking at me.
Certainly, I was firing ‘you are the Dude" neuronic vibes to the Dude but to my amazement he was firing back 'no YOU are the Dude’ neuros back at me.
I wondered if anybody else noticed.
I took a quick look over at Ice who was trying to pair up with the vibe and cop off it but he was unable to but he was taking notes, just as I suspected.
I turned my attnetion from Ice back to the Dude who took my glance at Ice as a vibe breaker rather than an icebreaker. Dude looked away.
My opportunity arrived.
I snapped my camera.
The camera didn’t flash.
Dude never noticed.
The whole transaction didn’t count.
Like an at bat that takes six pitches; two fouls and four balls.
And just like that, except for reflection and analysis minus thought and regret, it was pretty much over. Dude never looked back. He finished his spiel and took a seat in the middle of the theatre to watch the screening of his Dad's old flick. He didn't take any questions from the audience. Pretty sure he snuck out early.
My job was done as well. I didn't sere any sense in keeping my seat way over to the right of the screen in front of the vacated rostrum.
I went up to the balcony and found some degree of calm along with an opportunity to reflect using my feelings rather than my thoughts to process what my intuition had gathered.
Certainly, paired neurons were firing between the Dude and me. What was he doing that I do? What was he doing that I was going to do in the future? What had I done that he had done? What did he know that I knew that only we two knew? What did I know that he NEEDED to know and was surprised to find out that I knew it and knew that he knew that he needed to know.
Or vice versa.
First, I felt that it was the Big Lebowski film that had brought us together but my intuition told me that the neuron firing was too intense for that shallow of a conclusion. There is a big difference between a guy in a movie and a guy who's a fan of that movie, not that Jeff wasn't a fan of the Dude. Even I know that.
I recognize the difference between illusion and delusion. Movies themselves are an illusion created by light and dark. Believing that movies are real and not reel is a delusion.
Dude had been in movies, I considered my whole life to be a movie or if not a movie, at least a book and if not a book at least a story and if not my WHOLE life than at least the last three hours of it or maybe my short term life was three hours within which a story could be noted, imagined, located, decided and written by somebody else and that was the purpose of my life and after that I would disappear and exist only in words that stay or in the memories of everyone who read those words.
If this was true, then I was a fictional character.
Now, one thing a movie star knows a lot about is fictional characterization. Stars earn their money playing them. When Jeff looked at me, his realization neurons fired off this message. "the guy in front of me with the crappy camera is LIVING what I do for a living. He's a fictional character in a story and he doesn't understand that a) he's fictional b) he's in a story c) as a fictional character he's got a lot more in common with the Dude than I do and d) this whole realization/connection/ neuron firing thing (myself included) is part of the story that this guy is the only fictional character within but also the unreliable narrator of.
That's exactly the moment that Jeff ricocheted my "you are the Dude" vibes to him with an even more powerful "no dude, you Are the Dude, dude vibe back at me just before I turned away and looked at Ice and snapped my flashless photo.
With that, I realized the truth of my situation. I was fthe fictional part of a factual story.
I was part of a faction.
I was and am a factoid like Thornton Krell.
That's my story folks although I didn't write it.
Ice Rivers wrote it.
He gets the credit or the blame.