Lil BUB is a magical creature who's caused a mythical impact on her over 2.4 million (as of this writing) Facebook fans thanks, in part, to the careful marketing and image management by her "Dude," Mike Bridavsky. For this perma-kitten-sized cat (she barely tops the scales at four pounds), born to a feral mama in a toolshed in rural Indiana, that's a lot to live up to.
Yet one look at BUB's goggly green eyes and bazooka bubblegum pink tongue, which hangs over her underdeveloped jaw (she was also born without teeth and has 6 toes on each paw), and most cat-lovers are immediately smitten. She can never be just any old cat to her fans. Her likeness inspires artists to paint her portrait, create murals of her and otherwise celebrate her remarkable differences. Through BUB we learn that what makes us different is what makes us all stars in the Bubverse and we love her for that.
BUB's Dude utilizes BUB's curious likeness for good (he gives back to other rescues, created the ASPCA's Lil BUB's Big FUND, and supports small businesses who work with him to develop a line of BUB-centric memorabilia) in addition to bringing home the tuna for his growing family.
We've seen internet celebucats rise and fall, some clearly pushed towards a goal of making a buck and leaving it at that. I wouldn't write about BUB if that was the case, but I do admit that the more merchandising surrounding BUB, the more I'm going to buy it (full disclosure, I'm the graphic designer who created the carton design for Lil BUB's "Bubblehead" figure and you can see it HERE).
So last night, when I had the chance to travel to Beacon, NY to see BUB again (you can check out my last visit with her HERE), even though I was recovering from the flu, it wasn't going to stop me. (and No, I wasn't contagious!)
It was a dark and rainy (not stormy), night. It didn't deter BUB's fans from waiting outside Audioccult for a chance to see her. The meet and greet was to celebrate the launch of BUB's first musical endeavor entitled, "Science & Magic." Owning a recording studio, BUB's Dude knew it would be a perfect fit to create a selection of original songs that include BUB's signature "squonks" (since she doesn't meow as most cats do, Dude calls it "Squonk").
If these songs could be seen, they would look just like BUB. In the song entitled: Rebirth you can hear BUB snoring in the background, but it's so subtle you find yourself transported along with the music into a technicolor wonderland (where you'll undoubtedly begin dreaming of BUB, too).
©2015 Robin AF Olson.
Although I don't regard myself as a music critic, I enjoyed each song and I felt they captured a different part of BUB's personality. I also thought the album cover art was fabulous and certainly worth adding to any collection BUB memorabilia.
I spoke with a few "Bubbies" (a term I'm using to refer to BUB's fans) who were waiting on line. One couple took the day off and drove from Rhode Island to see BUB. They work at Hasbro in the Media Dept creating videos. They have a bank of monitors running all sorts of content day and night. It is now a tradition to run Lil BUB's Magical Yule Log video on a loop for the week between Christmas and New Years.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Waiting for BUB.
Another couple drove over 120 miles (each way) to see BUB and were happy to do it. There was a dad, a bit embarrassed, holding a place in line for his two teenage daughters. While we continued to wait in line a woman came up to us holding a stuffed plush Lil BUB in her arms. She held it out to us and said "Hi, I'm 52 years old, how old are you?"
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Dopey me, already enchanted by the idea I'd be seeing BUB again soon.
I was scheduled to have a few minutes to interview Lil BUB and her Dude, but they'd hit bad traffic and arrived late with no time to spare. I took the bad news well, okay I whined a bit, wishing I'd get more than a fleeting moment with her, but knowing that BUB was also still recovering from a near-death scare last month made me wonder if she should even be away from home at all.
BUB accidentally broke her leg, which required surgery to repair. For most cats this wouldn't be a big concern but BUB has osteopetosis and that makes her bones more brittle and thicker. Though the surgery went well, the recovery from anesthesia did not. With BUB's small size meant it was harder for her to breathe and coming out of sedation didn't go well at all. BUB had to have a tracheotomy and the 36 hours following were touch and go. I don't even want to think about a world without BUB, but while most of us had no idea, BUB's family must have been suffering terribly with worry.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. BUB's fur hasn't grown back yet from her surgery.
As Mike detailed on BUB's Facebook page, BUB is doing well and had the very best of the best care. As of last night I was told she's continuing to do well, but in all honesty, I think she looked tired and the cat-mom in me wanted to take her home and tuck her into bed. Now that her Dude is a daddy (to a human son), is married and has family obligations, there are hints on social media that perhaps BUB won't be traveling as much in the future. It made this night even more important to those of us who could meet with her.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Lil BUB Ready to greet her fans.
The shop door opened and we were ushered into the small record store. I really enjoyed the decor as it was filled with oddball collectibles, along with a smattering of carefully curated LPs (yes, vinyl!). The shop owner, Sean, and his wife were cordial and had the event well organized. We were to sanitize our hands (even though we couldn't touch BUB), then bring our LP over to the table for Mike Bridavsky and Matt Tobey to autograph it for us, then we'd get a few seconds with BUB.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. DUDE signing an autograph while my friend Adria meets BUB for the first time. Can you see that BUB-enduced glow in her expression?
Considering they had nearly 100 people in line, every single person was warmly greeted, treated kindly, and made to feel they would have a special moment with BUB. They made sure everyone had at least a few photos to take home with them, too.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Ever get the feeling you're being watched by a magical being from another planet?
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Selfie with BUB, her DUDE and moi.
Good Job, BUB, Good Job, Dude.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Hee hee.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. A sweet moment between BUB and her DUDE.