John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Although technically, it should be the "Dude Abiding Park."
Ascribe this victory to the all-consuming cosmic energy of The Big Lebowski: Over the cries of a vocal minority of residents, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has designated a green space as "Dude Chilling Park."
The official title of Guelph Park – derived from the family name of Queen Victoria – remains on the books. But for all other purposes, it is now strictly a "Dude Chilling" zone, for when visitors approach they see this sign (and perhaps this dog):
The saga of "Dude Chilling Park" – which Lebowski purists no doubt will correct as "Dude Abiding Park" – began in November when an artist covered the original Guelph sign with a fake but totally relaxing Dude version. The new sign was a reference to a nearby public sculpture depicting a person taking a load off in a major Dude-worthy recline:
The park board wound up removing the sign, however. The suspiciously groovy new name struck some homeowners as inappropriate for the park, which reportedly has a history of drug users milling about. Canada's Global News sums up the beef:
There is some debate in the community about whether or not the name is in reference to a statue in the park, or people who like to "hang out" there.
Steven Bohus of RAMP, the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant, says his organization was not consulted about the sign.
"A lot of the residents feel that this isn’t a game. There is a school there, there’s a parent advisory committee, and I don’t think this is a joke."
Bohus says neighbourhood residents have worked hard to clean up the area.
But this week, after hundreds of residents joined a petition in favor of the sign, the park board voted to allow it to remain hanging. As parks commissioner Niki Sharma told Global News, looking like she's wondering why she's on TV for this: "We were really impressed by the community that came out and said, 'You know, we love this sign. It really resonates with us and our feeling toward our local park.'"
"Dude Chilling Park" – just one more milestone in the vast cultural assimilation of The Big Lebowski, which has already inspired nationwide Lebowski Fests, a tribute book involving 80 authors, and even a quasi-religion called Dudeism. (Church motto: "Come join the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism.") Grab a White Russian, boys, His Dudeness is on a roll:
Top image: Jeff Bridges at a 2011 Blu-ray release event for 'The Big Lebowski' (Lucas Jackson / Reuters). Bottom: Dudes posing at a Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky (gregthemayor / Flickr).