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“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — I’ll admit it right up front: I don’t get it.

“The Big Lebowski” mania, that is.

But a man at Lincoln Center set me straight the other night.

“It’s the greatest movie of all time,” he told me.

Sarah Jarvis agreed.

“I’ve seen it 23 times,” she said.

So of course she dragged her daughter, Talia, to the center’s outdoor theater for the 16th Lebowski Fest.

“We just got off the plane from Toronto,” she said. “In New York for the weekend and can’t think of a better way to start it off than seeing this movie.”

She was joined by hundreds of like-minded fans. Many were dressed up in bowling shirts, bathrobes and short, red-haired wigs, like their favorite characters from the film.

“I just love watching it over and over and over again,” one told me. “I’ve seen it over 100 times, and over time it cheers me up. It’s like listening to your favorite record.”

The 1998 Coen Brothers’ comedy starring Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” has spawned maniacal fandom from people like Will Russel, who is from Louisville and has put on the Lebowski Fest for 16 years. But this was a first.

“It’s a special, silent screening of the movie, where everyone will be wearing headsets to hear what’s on the screen,” he told me.

Neighborhood noise regulations, you see. So from the outside it sounded pretty quiet.

With the headsets, you could hear the dialogue most people had heard over and over and over again.

“The Big Lebowski” is kind of a buddy movie of mistaken identity – a kidnapping, bowling – in which people abide and things will not stand.

Lebwoski-head Adam Bertocci actually kind of translated the movie in Shakespeare’s English, and Simon and Shuster published his book. Why? How?

“I literately thought of Shakespeare and ‘The Big Lebowski’ at the same time, and it kind of snowballed from there,” he said.

I’m a big fan of comedy, but I never got it. I tried again and thought, “Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but I just don’t get this cult devotion.”

Bertocci also tried to set me straight.

“I believe that ‘The Big Lebowski’ is the kind of movie that rewards multiple viewings and multiple interpretations,” he said. “I enjoy coming back to it and seeing new things.”

I saw one thing after I left the screening: A big ole White Russian. It’s “The Dude’s” favorite drink.

Of that, I’m a fan.

Find more from the “Sweet Spot” here.

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