Mockumentary on River Norths Walking Dude surpasses 10,000 YouTube hits
17-Jan-09 A waggish video unknowingly starring River North fixture Walking Dude has been viewed more than 10,000 times on YouTube, rolling over to five figures this week.
Presented as a trailer for a forthcoming film, the video about Walking Dude asks the question, Whats his deal? Walking Dude is unquestionably stylish but may very well be homeless. He is often seen walking north of the Loop on a seemingly endless path.
Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and WGN-TV as well as Google Current and numerous blogs have noted the video since it first appeared on YouTube on August 30, 2006.
David Jones, a former advertising agency creative director who recently opened his own ad shop, says he started producing the video after becoming fascinated and somewhat obsessed with Walking Dude.
It was sort of like those guys who chase tornados. I would camp out for days at a time with no luck, and then one day, WHAM! I get amazing footage.
Jones has been working on the video for seven years. I have hours of footage of The Dude, including a lengthy interview with him where I ask a few questions and he mostly lies to me about his life, Which was cool, of course.
What he finds most interesting about Walking Dude is that he is generally lucid and articulate. He isnt outwardly crazy, although other behavior suggests otherwise. When you follow him for any length of time you find his path is kind of like a moth zig-zagging back and forth.
Jones has also interviewed people who have seen Walking Dude and have a similar fascination. Ive talked to cops, taxi drivers, professionals who work nearby. Everyone has a different story about him and everyone is certain that theirs is the right one.
So, what is his deal? Jones is not entirely sure. He drinks quite a bit, claims to have worked at a nightclub on Rush Street in the 60s, sells random hot or fake items like watches, stamps, and perfume to taxi drivers and utility workers. He doesnt want any exposure, doesnt want to be on camera, has no interest in talking to me or anyone else most of the time. Funny how someone so conspicuous would want to try to keep a low profile.
The pseudo-documentary, or dudementary, is not yet finished. David says it is difficult to make a film about a person who doesnt want one to be made but that, he says, is a fascinating challenge.
When I interviewed him, I paid him for his time. When I returned and tried to expand upon the whole thing, promising to pay him and remaining very respectful of him, he did not want to be involved and didnt seem to recall our previous conversations.
He notes that more recently, Walking Dudes hair has turned gray. Still stylish, however.