You, Me and Cousin Dupree

On July 17th of 2006, three days after You, Me and Dupree — a film both produced by, and starring, Owen Wilson — was released in cinemas, the following open letter, addressed to Owen Wilson’s brother, Luke, was posted on Steely Dan‘s official website. In it, the band humorously take a pop at Owen’s post-Bottle Rocket output and claim their song, Cousin Dupree, has been “ripped off” by his latest film.

Two weeks later, Owen Wilson released the following statement in response, in which he jokingly referred to another of Steely Dan’s songs, Hey Nineteen:

“I have never heard the song ‘Cousin Dupree’ and I don’t even know who this gentleman, Mr. Steely Dan, is. I hope this helps to clear things up and I can get back to concentrating on my new movie, ‘HEY 19.”

Transcript follows.

(Source: Steely Dan; Image via.)


The Residential Suites at Longworth
“Where Value is King — And So Are You!”

Corpus Christi TX

July 17, 2006


Hey Luke –

Hey man – it’s, like, Don and Walt, we’re the guys from Steely Dan, the group, we won those Grammies that time, maybe you recall? You know, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”? “Reelin’ in the Years?” “Hey Nineteen”? “Babylon Sisters”? Right, that’s us! So how’s it going?

Cool, we hope. We both really liked that “Bottle Rocket” movie that you and your brother did. We both thought it was way rocking! – even though the end was a little sad, you know, the overall thing was so great. In fact, it’s the only movie that you and your brother did that we can really agree on, the two of us… we usually like the same kind of things, but not always exactly the same things, if you can get to that.

Anyway, the reason we’re writing, aside from the fact that there’s no show today and we’re stuck in this dump in Corpus Christi – well, man, something kind of uncool has come to our attention and we’ve got to, like, do something or say something before the scene gets out of our control and something even more uncool happens. This doesn’t involve you directly, man, you seem pretty cool, even when you’re playing some pretty bogus parts in bad movies all the time, we realize that it’s not entirely your fault and that you’re entitled to have whatever low standards you want in terms of what’s cool to get involved with for the, you know, bread or whatever.

It’s your little brother Owen C. that’s the problem. We realize what a drag it is for you to have people coming to you about his lameness all the time and we’re really sorry to be doing the same thing – believe us, usually that’s not what we’re all about. But it so happens that your brother has gotten himself mixed up with some pretty bad Hollywood shlockmeisters and that he may be doing, like, permanent damage to his good creds and whatever reputation for coolness he may still have – let’s face it, ‘Bottle Rocket’ was a ways back already.

What we suspect may have happened is this: some hack writer or producer or whatever they call themselves in Malibu or Los Feliz apparently heard our Grammy winning song “Cousin Dupree” on the radio and thought, hey, man, this is a cool idea for a character in a movie or something. OK, so the “cousin” idea was no doubt eliminated so as not to offend the Fundamentalist ticket buyers in the Flyovers. Nevertheless, they. like, took our character, this real dog sleeping on the couch and all and put him in the middle of some hokey “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” ripoff story and then, when it came time to change the character’s name or whatever so people wouldn’t know what a rip the whole thing was, THEY DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO THINK UP A NEW FUCKING NAME FOR THE GUY!

Anyway, they got your little brother on the hook for this summer stinkbomb – I mean, check the reviews – and he’s using all his heaviest Owen C. licks to try and get this pathetic way-unfunny debacle off the ground and, in the end, no matter what he does or what happens at the box office, in the short run, he’s gonna go down hard for selling out like this and for trashing the work of some pretty heavy artists like us in the process. You know the first fucking thing you learn, right? Instant karma is a fact, Jack. So your spaced out little bro is generating some MAJOR harsh-ass karma for himself by fucking us over like this – I mean, we’re like totally out in the cold on this one – no ASCAP, no soundtrack, no consultant gig (like we got from the Farrelly Bros. when they used a bunch of songs in their movie, “You, Me and Irene” or whatever). No phone call, no muffin basket, no flowers, nothing.

And Luke, think of yourself, man. Do you want to go down as the brother of the Zal Yanovsky of the 21st century? Maybe this reference is a little obscure for someone of your generation (X? – Y? – ZERO?), but it would be worth your while to look it up in some counterculture encyclopedia or something. Because being the New Zallie’s brother is definitely NOT A GOOD THING to be.

OK, then. So not to worry, man. Check it – whatever redress we get from the suits at the studio, that’s strictly between our badass attorneys and theirs – we wouldn’t even think for a Hollywood minute of getting Owen mixed up in all that bullshit… After all, Donald even liked “The Big Bounce”. Really!

But, hey, Luke, man – there is one petite solid you could do for us at this time – do you think you could persuade your bro to do the right thing and come on down to our Concert at Irvine and apologize to our fans for this travesty? I mean, he wouldn’t have to grovel or eat shit or get down on his hands and knees and ask forgiveness – we don’t want him to do anything he’s not comfortable with – but he would have to cop to the fact that what he and his Hollywood gangster pals did was wrong and that he wishes he had never agreed to get involved with this turkey in the first place. He just tells the audience and the band and the crew that he made a bad mistake and that he’s sorry – is that so fucking hard? What the hell, you’re his big brother. If you lean on him a little bit, I’m sure he’ll do the right thing. You don’t owe him anything, after the way he and Gwynnie Paltrow double-timed you in “The Royal Tenenbaums”. So you just tell him – he’ll come down to Irvine, apologize on stage, then we’ll load him up with cool Steely merch and he can party with us and the band. Otherwise, if this business goes unresolved, there are some pretty heavy people who are upset about this whole thing and we can’t guarantee what kind of heat little Owen may be bringing down on himself. When negative energy like this attaches itself to someone because they allow themselves to get involved in stuff that is not spiritually aligned for them on all levels, there can sometimes be some very harsh trips that go down. Your bro may be creating an extremely retrograde reality matrix for himself with his whole sellout moviestar game and there may be some righteous dues to pay, amen.

For example, there’s this guy who works for us sometimes, he’s not necessarily the kind of folks you want to know or hang with, but, if you happen to get in a barfight or some kind of hassle in a foreign country, he’s your best fucking friend in the world. You guys must go to the movies a lot – you know what a Navy Seal is, right? Well, this dude’s like that, only he’s Russian. This particular guy – of course, he’s a big fan of ours, but he may not have even heard of “Bottle Rocket” – hardly anybody has – I mean, one time we saw this guy, WITH HIS BARE HANDS, do something so unspeakable that – but, hey man, let’s not even let it get that way, you know? Let’s just help Owen C. do what’s right, let’s play past this particular screwup, and then he can get back to his life and his family and his beautiful moviestar-style pad or whatever, none the worse for wear, and with some groovy new tee’s and hoodies and maybe a keyring or a coffee mug in the process. Alright? Well, alright!

Regards & etc. Don and Walt

P.S. Tell Owen to bring his bongos if he wants to sit in —

P.P.S. We’re now seeing that according to Wikipedia, Owen is older than you are. But you seem a lot more mature somehow… don’t you?”