LORELAI Mmm. Kick-ass wine.
EMILY: How poetic.
LORELAI: It’s got a nice smell: earthy, vibrant. I can taste the Italians’ feet.
Lorelai is referring to grape-stomping or pieage, a traditional winemaking technique where the grapes are crushed by human feet – evidence of the practice can be found in pictures from ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. Since the Middle Ages this part of the winemaking process is nearly always done by machinery, and even in ancient times there were wine presses to do most of the work.
However, grape stomping has never been completely abandoned, and survives in small pockets. These days it is often a fun event at cultural festivals and wine festivals, and some vineyards will charge you for the pleasure of partaking in the activity.
The popular idea of grape stomping being part of the winemaking process can probably be traced back to I Love Lucy. In the 1956 episode Lucy’s Italian Movie, while on a trip to Rome a film producer suggests Lucy audition for his new movie called Bitter Grapes. Lucy thinks it must be about winemaking, so finds the only winery left in the area that still makes wine using grape-stomping so she can practice the technique in advance.
This probably explains why Lucy-loving Lorelai immediately connects the wine to Italian feet in particular.
[Miss Patty’s standing in front of big drums.]
MISS PATTY: I danced on these drums at the Copacabana in 1969.
MISS PATTY: Yeah, it was a great act. I wore bananas.
The Copacabana is a famous nightclub in New York City, first opening in 1940 at 10 East 60th Street; many top entertainers have performed there. The club had a Brazilian decor and Latin-themed orchestra, and their showgirls wore bananas on their heads in the style of Carmen Miranda (who appeared in the 1947 film Copacabana). It seems Miss Patty was one of the famed “Copa Girls”.
[Lorelai has entered wearing a leopard print cowboy hat]
RORY: What are you wearing?
LORELAI: Hey, we have already argued about the sweatshirt.
RORY: Yes but we have not argued about the hat.
LORELAI: What hat?
RORY: The one on your head, Annie Oakley.
Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter who won a shooting match while still a teenager. She later joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and became an international star who performed before royalty and heads of state. While performing, she generally wore a Western-style outfit, including a cowboy hat.
Lane looks for an opportunity to find her mother in a good mood, and approaches her after she made a sale of a reputed Queen Anne chair to a customer.
Anne (1665-1714) was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1702, and Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1707 until her death.
The term Queen Anne when applied to furniture usually describes styles from the mid 1720s to the mid 1760s, even though this is after the reign of Queen Anne. Queen Anne furniture is characterised as being smaller, lighter and more comfortable than its predecessors, and Queen Anne chairs have elegant curved legs and cushioned seats.
Naturally the chair shown in the episode looks nothing like a Queen Anne. The customer even begins by questioning its authenticity and saying that it looks wrong, suggesting that the Kims are selling their antiques under very loose labels. When the customer asks for evidence that the chair is Queen Anne, Mrs. Kim says she will write a letter to that effect, which isn’t any proof of provenance at all.
Rory’s teacher Ms. Caldecott tells the class they will be debating “Did Charles I receive a fair trial?”. It’s not clear which class this is – it may be History, and Ms. Caldecott has replaced Mrs. Ness as the teacher for the subject this semester, or it may be Government.
Charles I (1600-1649) was the king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1625 until his death. Charles was in conflict with the Parliament of England, which tried to place limits on his royal prerogative – the authority and privileges which belong to the monarch alone. Charles believed in the divine right of kings, and that he was subject to no earthly authority, but could rule as he pleased through the will of God.
From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War, was defeated in 1645 but still refused to accept demands for a constitutional monarchy. He was tried, convicted, and executed on charges of high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished before being restored in 1660.
At his trial, Charles was held responsible for all the damage done to his country during the Civil War, including the deaths of 6% of the population. He refused to plead, claiming that no court held authority over a monarch, and that his authority to rule came from God and from the laws of England. He said that the trial was illegal, and its power only came from the force of arms.
The court challenged the idea that a monarch was immune from prosecution by the state, proposing that the “king” was not a person, but an office whose occupant had to govern by the laws of the land. They went ahead with the trial without the king’s royal assent. Charles was not present to hear the evidence against him, and had no opportunity to question witnesses, so there would be material for both sides of the debate.
LORELAI: Hey, four menus, a coffee and an anvil please.
LUKE: What’s the anvil for?
LORELAI: For Rune.
Lorelai is referring to a common trope in cartoons where an anvil is dropped on a character’s head with hilarious results. It seems to have first been used in Disney animated films, and was perfected by Warner Bros. in their Looney Toons cartoons. (Possibly not a coincidence that Lorelai sees Rune off with a “Bye, Loon”.
The comedy anvil drop may have its origins in real life. A traditional celebration on the Fourth of July in America was launching an anvil into the air with gunpowder from atop another anvil, then watching it fall onto the other anvil with a thud. Presumably everyone stood well back during this exciting spectacle and hopefully nobody got an anvil on the head.
RUNE: That’s Lorelai?
RUNE: Did you see how tall she is?
Lauren Graham (Lorelai) is 1.75 m tall (just under 5 foot 7 and a half inches), while Max Perlich (Rune) is 1.62 m tall (around 5 foot 3). There’s a height difference in Lorelai’s favour – somewhat increased by heels – but Rune ridiculously compares her to a basketball player, an East German maid, and a freak of “bearded lady” proportions.
(The East German comment refers to the decades-long systematic doping of East German athletes with steroids and testosterone for the purposes of cheating, leading to some impressively large and strong athletes. The program ended in 1989 with the fall of communism, but unfortunately the men and women involved – some of whom were only eight years old at the time – are still experiencing physical and mental health disorders because of the doping. Lorelai is in the right age bracket to be an East German maid who was doped as an athlete in the 1980s: picture shows 1980s East German athlete Marita Koch, who holds the world record for the 400 m, partly due to steroid use).
Lorelai rarely has any trouble attracting men, so having a date openly and constantly insult her physical appearance must be a bizarre experience for her.