Rory Meets Francie in a Parking Garage

[Rory walks through an empty parking garage. She hears a noise, and turns to find Francie]
FRANCIE: Good, you’re here. We need to talk.

This scene is based on the Watergate investigation by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who secretly met a contact known as “Deep Throat” in a parking garage between 1972 and 1973. Their information would help lead to the uncovering of the greatets scandal in US history, and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon.

In 2005, attorney Mark Felt would out himself as Deep Throat, after which Bob Woodward told everyone exactly where they had met – Space D3 in The Quotidian Underground Parking Garage beneath the Oakhill Office Building in Rosslyn, Virginia [pictured]. It has since become a tourist attraction.


RORY: Paris, the cafeteria workers serve hundreds of students a day. A little gravy spillage is natural.
PARIS: I see. So I should just sit quietly and shovel in whatever slop they throw my way like some inmate in the chow line at Leavenworth doing twenty to life? I don’t think so.

The United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth (USP Leavenworth) is a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas that was the biggest maximum security prison in the US from 1903 to 2005, after which it became a medium security prison.

Louise’s Father and the “Manson Girl”

LOUISE: I’m having [Thanksgiving] dinner with my dad.

MADELINE: Isn’t he still in jail?

LOUISE: Yes, but his company donated some treadmills for the inmates so he swung a special trailer for dinner that they’re gonna set up for us in the parking lot. We have it for about two hours and then one of the Manson girls gets us.

In the episode “Back in the Saddle”, Louise mentioned that her father was due in court, on mysterious charges (she didn’t bother finding out what he had been arrested for). Now it’s seven months later, and Louise’s father is undertaking his sentence – for whatever it was. Madeline refers to it as “jail”, rather than “prison”, possibly suggesting a shorter, lighter sentence (although sometimes people use the word jail for both jail and prison, so that’s not certain at all).

It does sound as if Louise’s father is in a low or medium security facility, since he is permitted to spend his Thanksgiving dinner in a trailer in the parking lot with his daughter (and possibly other family members, it seems unlikely only Louise would go and see him). These trailers are a reward for good behaviour given to model prisoners, so Louise’s father is clearly well-behaved – even the donation of treadmills to the prison would not be enough on its own. Connecticut is one of only four states that allow extended visits like this (the others are California, New York, and Washington).

Louise says the trailer then goes to “one of the Manson girls”, referring to the female members of the Manson family who were convicted for their crimes. In real life, they were incarcerated in California, and in high security prisons, so this could not have really happened. (Squeaky Fromme was in a high security mental treatment facility in Texas).

Interestingly, there is a state prison in Cheshire, Connecticut called the Manson Youth Institution, for men under the age of 21. Louise can’t be referring to that either, as they are young men, not women, and they are not permitted visits such as she describes.

It is just possible that Louise’s father is being held at the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut [pictured], a medium and low security prison and satellite prison camp which has facilities for both male and female inmates – so if Louise’s dad’s trailer wasn’t going to a “Manson girl”, it could feasibly be going to a female prisoner, at least. The facility in Danbury has often featured in pop culture, including Orange is the New Black.

George Michael

EMILY: What can we do in a bathroom?

LORELAI: Meet George Michael.

George Michael, born Georgios Panayiotou (1963-2016), English singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is considered one of the leading icons of the MTV generation, and a leading creative force in music production, songwriting, vocal performance, and visual presentation.

George Michael rose to fame as one half of the music duo Wham! Their first two albums, Fantastic (1983), and Make it Big (1984), went to #1 in the UK and the US, and their biggest hit singles include “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, and “Last Christmas”.

George Michael’s first solo single was “Careless Whisper”, which was released on Make it Big, and went to #1 globally. His debut solo album Faith was released in 1987, going to #1 around the world, and producing four #1 hit singles. He was the best-selling musical artist of 1988, and Faith won a Grammy in 1989. He released three more best-selling albums between 1990 and 2004.

Lorelai refers to the fact that George Michael’s sexuality became public knowledge after he was arrested in 1998 for soliciting an undercover policeman in a public toilet in Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverley Hills, California. The charge was public lewdness. He was fined $810 and sentenced to 80 hours community service. He later made fun of the incident in the music video for his song “Outside”.

George Michael was accused of taking part in anonymous public sex in a toilet on Hampstead Heath in London in 2006, and in 2006 and 2008, he was arrested for possession of drugs in public toilets in London. But that’s all in the future at this point.

A Frank Lloyd Wright Situation

LORELAI: Mom, you know, if you’re not a little nicer to your help, you might find yourself in a Frank Lloyd Wright situation … Mrs. Wright apparently had this major problem with her help. She was very rough on them and they totally hated her. So this guy who had worked for her forever, he had finally had enough … Anyhow, Mrs. Wright invites this whole posse of people over for dinner and they’re all sitting around eating, and Mr. Disgruntled Servant Guy goes outside and locks all the doors and windows and douses the whole house in gasoline and sets the place on fire … So the house is on fire, and people are freaking out, so they run to the doors but the doors are locked, so a few of them try to get out through the windows, but Mr. Angry-Puss is standing outside with an ax hacking them to death and so they all died.

Lorelai refers to the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). It’s often been speculated that he was one of the inspirations for the character of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead.

Although Lorelai typically gets her facts a little mangled, the seemingly outrageous story she relates about him is essentially true. The woman involved wasn’t Wright’s wife, but the woman he had left his wife for and was living with in a domestic partnership that was considered scandalous at the time.

Her name was Mary “Mamah” Borthwick, a translator who had left her husband and children to be with Wright in 1909, living together since 1911 (after her divorce came through), in a house Wright built for Mamah in Spring Green, Wisconsin, called Taliesin (“shining brow” in Welsh).

In 1914, their recently-hired servant Julian Carlton, a man from Barbados who was mentally unstable, set fire to their house and murdered seven people with an axe as they fled the burning structure. The dead included Mamah Borthwick, her two visiting children, aged 8 and 12, a gardener, a draftsman, a workman, and the son of Wright’s carpenter. Carlton attempted suicide straight after the attack, and starved himself to death in jail despite receiving medical attention.

Julian Carlton never did give a motive for his actions, but there’s some evidence that he had disputes with the workmen, and that he knew he was about to lose his job. There’s no evidence that it had anything to do with Mamah Borthwick herself, and the victims, apart from Borthwick and her children, were not dinner guests, but workmen employed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The devastated Frank Lloyd Wright rebuilt the house in Mamah’s honour, but it burned down again in 1925 after being hit with a lightning storm. It was rebuilt again, and this third version of Taliesin is now open for tours and events.

[Photo shows Taliesin as it was in 1911]

Winona Ryder

JACKSON: Does anyone here understand that a man has a right not to have his personal life debated in a public forum? I am not Winona Ryder.

Winona Ryder, professional name of Winona Horowitz (born 1971), actress. Her first role was in Lucas (1986), and she came to attention in Beetlejuice (1988). She rose to prominence with major roles in quirky films such as Heathers (1989), Mermaids (1990), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Reality Bites (1994), and Girl, Interrupted (1999). She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000.

After a performance in the critically panned Mr Deeds (2002), he career went into a decline for a while; at this time, her most recent film was the minor hit Simone, which had come out the preceding summer. Her career recovered in 2009, and since 2016 she has starred in the Netflix series, Stranger Things.

Ryder’s high-profile relationship with actor Johnny Depp from 1989 to 1993 made her easy tabloid fodder, as did her 2001 arrest for shoplifting, accused of stealing more than $5000 worth of designer clothing from Saks. Ryder explained she was clinically depressed and using painkilling drugs at the time. Sentenced in December 2002, she had to serve 480 hours of community service, and pay $3700 in fines, as well as paying Saks $6355 in restitution. This what Jackson is referring to – as it’s only a month before the verdict, the media would have been in a frenzy by this stage.

[Picture shows Ryder during her court case in 2002]

Ted Bundy

RORY: Well, Jamie must be special.

PARIS: Or Ted Bundy.

Theodore “Ted” Bundy, born Theodore Cowell (1946-1989), serial killer who kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials, he confessed to 30 murders committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. His true victim total is unknown, and is likely significantly higher.

Bundy was regarded as charismatic and handsome, and exploited this to win the trust of both his victims and society as a whole – hence Paris sardonic comment that a “nice guy” like Jamie may be too good to be true.

In 1975, Bundy was arrested and jailed for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. He then became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in several states. Bundy engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in 1978. He received three death sentences in two trials and was executed at Florida State Prison.

Bundy has been described as “a sadistic sociopath”, and “the very definition of heartless evil.” He called himself, “the most cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch you’ll ever meet”.


SHERRY: Didn’t you schedule yours?

LORELAI: Not quite. A half hour before I had Rory, I was eating a pepper sandwich and watching TV. [to Rory] You were almost named Quincy.

Quincy ME, mystery medical drama series which aired from 1976 to 1983 (Lorelai must have been watching a repeat). Jack Klugman stars in the title role as a LA medical examiner who routinely engages in police investigations. The show was inspired by the book Where Death Delights, by Marshall Houts, a former FBI agent. Quincy’s character is loosely modelled on LA “Coroner to the Stars” Thomas Noguchi.

Lorelai said that she spent several hours in labour before having Rory. I presume that when she says she was watching TV half an hour before having Rory, she means that’s what she was doing half an hour before labour started.

“She meant to run all those people down”

SHERRY: Maureen’s the instigator of this little soiree. She has her own publicity firm in New York …

MAUREEN: She meant to run all those people down, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Maureen refers to publicist, manager, and socialite Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grubman (born 1971). In 2001, after being asked by security to remove her vehicle from a fire lane, she intentionally drove her Mercedes Benz SUV into a crowd of outside an inn in the Hamptons, injuring 16 people.

Grubman was later charged with second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated, and reckless endangerment. The trial gained widespread media coverage because of the circumstances and because of Grubman’s profile and attitude. She is alleged to have said, “Fuck you, white trash”, before ploughing her car into the crowd. Later allegations were that she received special treatment from the police.

In 2002, Grubman served thirty-eight days in jail after reaching a plea bargain. She maintains that the incident was accidental.