Shaun Cassidy

LORELAI: Yeah, I never leave home without all the essentials: mirror, makeup, picture of Shaun Cassidy.

Shaun Cassidy (born 1958), singer, actor, writer, and producer. He is the son of Oscar-winning actress Shirley Jones and Tony Award-winning actor Jack Cassidy, the half-brother of David Cassidy from The Partridge Family, and the brother of actor Patrick Cassidy.

While still in high school, he signed a record contract and forged a career as a teen pop idol. His biggest hit was “Da Doo Ron Ron”, which went to #1 in 1977. At the same time, he starred in The Hardy Boys Mysteries on television, and had a role on General Hospital.

During the 1980s and 1990s he concentrated on stage acting, performing on Broadway and in the West End. He wrote his first television pilot in 1995 while appearing in Blood Brothers on Broadway alongside David Cassidy, and has gone on to have a successful career as a screenwriter and TV producer.

Lorelai implies she had a crush on Shaun Cassidy when she was a little girl, although also, a bit oddly, that her make-up routine dates to the same period, when she would have been aged 8 to 12. This actually makes more sense for someone Amy Sherman-Palladino’s age, as she would have been around 14 at the end of Cassidy’s pop star career.

It sometimes feels as if the Palladinos forget that the small age gap between them and their fictional character Lorelai would still make a difference in the childhood years, and they can’t just give Lorelai all Amy’s childhood memories.

Woody Allen in “Annie Hall”

[Lorelai is fixing her makeup near the chalkboard. She sneezes and stirs up a cloud of chalk dust.]

LORELAI: Great, I’m Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

Annie Hall, 1977 satirical romantic comedy-drama film co-written and directed by Woody Allen, who also stars opposite Diane Keaton in the title role. It follows comedian Alvy Singer as he tries to understand why his relationship with Annie Hall ended a year ago. In real life, Diane Keaton’s original surname was Hall and her nickname was Annie; Allen and Keaton had dated several years before the film came out, and Annie Hall is at least partly autobiographical.

Annie Hall met with widespread critical acclaim upon its release, and was a commercial success – Allen’s biggest box office hit, adjusted for inflation. It won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, with a Best Actress for Keaton. It also won five BAFTAs and a Golden Globe. It is regarded as one of the best comedies, one of the best romantic comedies, one of the best screenplays, and one of the greatest films of all time.

Lorelai is referring to the scene where Allen’s character Alvy is talked into trying cocaine, only to wind up sneezing so that thousands of dollars of white powder goes everywhere.

“You didn’t say goodbye”

JESS: I mean, you ditched school and everything. That’s so not you. Why’d you do it?

RORY: Because you didn’t say goodbye.

JESS: Oh. Bye, Rory.

RORY: Bye, Jess.

Only at the very end of their time together does Jess ask Rory why she’s come to see him in New York – out of the blue, and skipping school to do so, which Jess recognises as out of character behaviour for the academically minded Rory.

Rory tells him it’s s because he never said goodbye to her before leaving Stars Hollow, as if she just wants closure. Jess says, “Bye, Rory”, to give her what she asked for, and she says, “Bye, Jess”, but the look she gives him through the bus window is so wistful that it seems as if she really wants him to say, “Hello”, to come back into her life. The bashful smile from Jess suggests he can tell that.

Note that Jess never said goodbye to Rory on the phone either, ending their conversation with “See ya”, as if he expected their relationship to continue at some point. That seems to be enough encouragement for Rory to come to New York, as if taking “see ya” as an invitation to come see Jess.

44th Street

TOURIST: Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you. Which way is 44th?

RORY: Oh, um, that way.

44th Street is two blocks north of the bus terminal, and Rory has sent the tourist south instead. As Jess says, they will hopefully soon notice that the street numbers are getting smaller rather than bigger, and turn around. (The tourist made a rookie mistake by not asking at least one other person for directions!).

44th Street is in the theatre district, with numerous hotels, clubs and restaurants the tourist may have been looking for. It’s also the site of The Algonquin Hotel, at 59 West 44th Street, so this minor interaction feels like a hidden homage to Dorothy Parker.

Boonesville

[Rory and Jess are walking toward her bus]

RORY: I think this one’s mine.

JESS: Yup, the sign says Boonesville.

The “boondocks” or the “boonies” is American slang for a distant or remote rural location, especially one with few amenities. “Boonesville” is obviously a town in the boondocks.

The word boondocks comes from the Tagalog word bundok, meaning “mountain”. It was coined by U.S. Marines fighting against Filipino guerrillas after the Spanish-American War (1899–1902), for the rough hill country there. Later, American troops in the Philippines during World War II shortened it, and after the war it began to be used more widely.

Although we can’t be certain what time it is when Rory goes to the bus terminal with Jess, the express bus she took in the morning takes two and a half hours to get to New York, so to arrive in Hartford by 5.30 pm in order to be at the graduation ceremony by 6 pm, she cannot plan to leave any later than 3 pm.

Assuming Rory met Jess in Washington Square Park some time after midday, they have had time to eat lunch and catch the subway to a record store before coming to the bus terminal (which should have only taken 15 minutes to Times Square on the subway). They could have easily spent two, or two and a half hours together in New York.

Rory probably thinks she has timed everything perfectly – oh, how wrong she is!

The Go-Go’s

JESS: Go-Go’s. You must have that one.

RORY: No, for my mom. This was her favorite group when she was my age, and it’s signed by Belinda. This would be the perfect graduation present. I’ve been looking for something all week long, and I couldn’t find anything and now I have Belinda.

The Go-Go’s, rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1978, the classic line-up consisting of Charlotte Caffey on lead guitar and keyboards, Belinda Carlisle on lead vocals, Gina Schock on drums, Kathy Valentine on bass guitar, and Jane Wiedlin on rhythm guitar. They are widely considered the most successful all-female rock band of all time.

Originating in the punk scene of the 1970s, their 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat went to #1 on the Billboard charts – the first (and so far, only) time this has been achieved by an all-female group writing their own material and playing their own instruments. Considered a cornerstone of the new wave movement, it had two major hits – “Our Lips Are Sealed” (#20) and “We Got the Beat” (#2). It spent six weeks at the top of the charts, and sold more than two million copies. Their follow-up albums were Vacation (1982) and Talk Show (1984).

The Go-Go’s broke up in 1985 to follow solo careers, and have regrouped several times in order to tour together. Their most recent album is God Bless The Go-Go’s (2001), and they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011. Although their 2016 performance was billed as a farewell tour, they remain active. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.

I’m not sure, but I think the album that Rory picks out is their first one, Beauty and the Beat. You can only see the back of it, but it has the same colour scheme as the debut album. It is signed by Belinda Carlisle (born 1958), the band’s lead vocalist. She had a successful solo career in the 1980s, with such hits as “Mad About You”, “I Get Weak”, and “Heaven is a Place on Earth”, the last reaching #1.

Note this is another all-female rock band that Lorelai likes.

Slint

JESS: Who’s Slint? …

OWNER: Grunge band out of Kentucky. Two albums, plus a double-A side single, disbanded in ’94.

Slint, an indie rock band (not grunge) from Louisville, Kentucky, formed in 1982 by drummer Britt Walford and guitarist and vocalist Brian McMahan. They named the band after a pet goldfish.

Their two albums were Tweez (1989) and Spiderland (1991); they released an untitled EP in 1994 (recorded in 1989), which is what the record store owner means by a double-A single. One side of the EP is called “Glenn”, and the other side “Rhoda”, and both tracks were intended to be released as singles (“Rhoda” was about a dog). They broke up in 1990, but reformed briefly in 1992 and 1994, and regrouped again in 2005, 2007, 2013, and 2014 for international tours.

Although Slint’s work received minimal attention at first, their second album was praised by the UK music press for its originality and emotional intensity, and became a major influence on post-rock bands such as Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. Spiderland is a favourite of Dinosaur Jr, P.J. Harvey, Pavement, and The Shins, and is regarded as one of the best albums of the 1990s.

The band have been likened to Pavement, one of Jess’ favourite bands, suggesting he would also enjoy Slint.

Note that the record shop owner is played by Chuck E. Weiss (1945-2021), legendary singer, songwriter and musician, known for an eclectic mix of blues, beat poetry, and rock and roll. He is referred to in the lyrics of several Tom Waits‘ songs, and is the subject of “Chuck E’s in Love” by Rickie Lee Jones. His most recent album at this point was Old Souls and Wolf Tickets (2001), and his parents owned a record store in Denver, Colorado.

Monkey Gone to Heaven

This 1989 song by alternative rock band The Pixies plays while Rory and Jess are in the record store. Written and sung by the band’s frontman, Black Francis, it was released as a single from their 1988 album Doolittle. The song received a positive reaction from critics and went to #5 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, and to #60 in the UK. It is considered one of the greatest songs ever.

Although the lyrics reference biblical numerology and environmental concerns, I think the song was chosen simply because it was a believable choice for a cool indie record store, and to indicate that Jess (a naughty little monkey!) is simply in heaven, being in a great record store with Rory, the girl he likes.

Irish coffee

EMILY: You’re not needed here, Lorelai. Go get your coffee, relax. You’re going to redo your makeup later, aren’t you?

LORELAI: Maybe an Irish coffee.

Irish coffee is an alcoholic drink consisting of Irish whiskey, hot coffee, and sugar, topped with cream. Although coffee and cream cocktails have been around since the 19th century, the modern recipe is attributed to Joe Sheridan, head chef at the coffee shop of Foynes Airbase flying boat terminal, in Limerick, Ireland. He added whiskey to passengers’ coffee around 1942 to give them a pick-me-up.

American travel writer Stanton Delaplane claimed to have brought Irish coffee to the US, after drinking it at Shannon Airport, 15 miles from Foynes. Due to his influence it began to be served in San Francisco in 1952.

Lorelai jokes that because she has to put up with Emily, she’s going to need alcohol to relax, not just coffee.