The Big Apple

RORY: I’m just saying I’m no stranger to the Big Apple.

JESS: You are if you’re calling it the Big Apple.

The Big Apple is a nickname for New York City, first popularised in the 1920s by John FitzGerald, a sports writer for The New York Morning Telegraph. Its popularity since the 1970s is mostly due to a promotional campaign by the city’s tourism authorities to boost the city during a fiscal crisis.

Although Rory says she’s been to New York a few times, she only mentions The Bangles concert in 2001 and a 2000 shopping trip where she didn’t even get out of the car. This could very well be her third trip to New York (and the second where her feet touched the ground!).

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

This is the book that Jess is reading in the park when Rory finds him. It’s a 1968 non-fiction book by Tom Wolfe, a popular example of the New Journalism literary style. It’s a firsthand account of the novelist Ken Kesey and his followers, called The Merry Pranksters, who travelled around the US in a colourfully painted school bus called Further, whose name was painted as the destination sign. The bus was driven by Neal Cassady, the inspiration for Dean Moriarty from Kerouac’s On the Road.

Kesey and his Pranksters became famous for their use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD (“acid”), often added to the drink Kool-Aid at Acid Test parties. Kesey becomes idolised as a hero of the countercultural movement, and almost a priest of a transcendent new religion or cult. He forms friendships with the Hell’s Angels, and crosses paths with other countercultural icons, such as The Grateful Dead and Allen Ginsberg, but is unsuccessful in his attempts to meet psychologist Timothy Leary, who worked with psychedelic drugs. The Pranksters meet Jack Kerouac, who finds them overwhelming and resents them, a symbol of the hippies overtaking the Beat generation as the new counterculture. Eventually, the law catches up with them.

The book received modest critical acclaim, and is regarded as a faithful and sober account of Kesey’s activities, although it has also received plenty of criticism for Wolfe’s idolisation of Kesey, and his glorification of rampant drug abuse. Kesey himself noted that Wolfe was only with him for three weeks, and used no recording devices at all, but provided a reasonably factual account.

This book makes perfect sense for Jess to read – an updated On the Road, with a similar vibe to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It shows his interest in journalism as a literary art form.

Rory Skips School

Rory walks through Chilton’s front gates with Paris, Paris doing all the talking. As Paris heads to her locker, Rory looks around apprehensively, then walks back through the gates. She’s not only skipping school but also missing out on a meeting of the school paper which she told Lorelai she had after school, meaning she wouldn’t be at the graduation ceremony until 6 pm. This doesn’t seem like something a really keen journalist would do. Perhaps Rory hopes to make it back to school in time for the meeting.

Skipping school for no reason, especially at this crucial point of the school year, seems like something Chilton wouldn’t be very impressed about (let alone Paris). However, we never see Rory face any consequences for it. Perhaps she made up the work she missed, or Lorelai wrote the school a note or something to explain her absence.

Note that even while approaching the school with Paris, Rory is already looking away as if wishing she was somewhere else, or looking for an escape route.

Overseas Correspondent

JESS: You’re gonna be an overseas correspondent? … You’re gonna crawl around in trenches and stand on top of buildings and have bombs going off in the background and some wars raging all around you?

RORY: What, you don’t think I can do it?

JESS: No, I do. Just sounds a little too …. Just sounds a little too rough for you.

Jess is the first person to suggest that Rory doesn’t have what it takes to be a foreign correspondent or war correspondent, like her hero, Christiane Amanpour. He’s not trying to put Rory down, and he specifically says that she is capable of it, he genuinely doesn’t think it’s a good fit for her, or be something she’d enjoy.

Of course, he’s right – Rory has led a very sheltered life in the safe haven of Stars Hollow, and according to Lorelai, hates the outdoors so much she wouldn’t walk on wet grass until she was three. And Rory actually met a journalist who travelled to dangerous international locations, Rachel, and she doesn’t seem to have bothered even talking to Rachel about it.

Paula Zahn and Christiane Amanpour

RORY: I’m gonna be a journalist.

JESS: Paula Zahn?

RORY: Christiane Amapour.

Paula Zahn (born 1956) [pictured], award-winning journalist and newscaster who has been an anchor at ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, and CNN. Although in 2002 she had already scored dozens of interviews, and covered stories like the Waco siege and the September 11 attacks, her career really off took the following year.

Christiane Amanpour, previously discussed.

Jess seems to suggest that he imagines Rory being a journalist like Paula Zahn – an attractive, smart woman who starts at the bottom, probably at a local level (like Zahn did), and gradually works her way up to the major broadcasters and news services. It’s far more realistic than what Rory plans to do.

Pauline Kael

[there’s a knock at the front door]

LORELAI: Oh, that must be Pauline Kael rising from the dead.

Pauline Kael (1919-2001), film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. One of the most influential film critics of her era, she was known for her witty, biting, opinionated reviews which often ran counter to those of her contemporaries, and were highly personal.

Pauline Kael had only died the previous year to this episode, so Lorelai is saying that Pauline Kael must be rising from the dead to sharply critique the films that Taylor has offered her.

Charlie Rose

MISS PATTY: Transcript?

LORELAI: Yeah, Taylor, this isn’t Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose, television interview and talk show, hosted by journalist Charles “Charlie” Rose (born 1942). Rose interviewed thinkers, writers, athletes, politicians, entertainers, business people, leaders, scientists, and fellow journalists. It was broadcast on PBS from 1991 to 2017, only coming to an end when Rose was accused of sexual harassment. The show was then replaced by one hosted by Christiane Amanpour. Transcripts of the show were made available online after broadcast, and in fact many of them still are.

Notes of a Dirty Old Man

This is the book that Jess is reading on his bed when Luke comes in.

Notes of a Dirty Old Man is a 1969 book by Charles Bukowski, a collection of his newspaper columns for the underground Los Angeles newspaper, Open City. His articles showcased his trademark crude humour and attempts to provide a truthful viewpoint of events in his life. He writes openly about his alcoholism and hook-ups with prostitutes and married women.

Some of the quotes from the book sound like things that Jess could probably relate to:

  • The people walk with such an indifference I begin to hate them, but then again I’ve never really been fond of anything.
  • Is it possible to love a human being? Of course, especially if you don’t know them too well.
  • The people will always betray you. Never trust the people.

This kind of nihilistic self-hatred and detachment from others is heady stuff for a teenage boy who’s been kicked around, and I can imagine Jess reading this as a kind of wisdom needed to survive in the world.

Like Rory, Jess has a strong interest in journalism – but a very different type of journalism. Did he recommend this book to Rory? It seems likely. And likely that she would read it, too.

Rory’s Books from the Buy a Book Fundraiser

Rory buys several books at the fundraiser, but only a couple of the titles are visible. Gypsy the mechanic is volunteering her time to work at the fundraiser, and she points Rory to the astronomy section, as if Rory has an interest in this area, and Gypsy somehow knows about it. Both quite surprising things to learn! The Buy a Book Fundraiser is held outside the library, and may be raising funds for new books.

Inherit the Wind

A 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, fictionalising the events of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. This was a legal trial in July 1925 where schoolteacher John Scopes was taken to court by the state of Tennessee for teaching human evolution. There was intense media scrutiny of the case, with publicity given to the high-profile lawyers who had taken the case. The prosecution had former Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, while Clarence Darrow defended Scopes – the same lawyer who had defended child murders Leopold and Loeb, previously discussed. Scopes was fined $100, but the case was overturned on a technicality. The case was seen as both a theological contest, and a test as to whether teachers could teach modern science in schools.

The play gives everyone involved in the Scopes Trial different names, and substantially alters numerous events. It is not meant to be a historical account, and is a means to discuss the McCarthy trials of the 1950s, where left-wing individuals were persecuted as Communist sympathisers, under a regime of political repression and a fear-mongering campaign.

Rory might be particularly interested in the play because of the focus it places on the media, with reporter E.K. Hornbeck covering the case for a fictional Baltimore newspaper. He is based on journalist and author H.L. Mencken, previously discussed as one of Rory’s heroes, who gained attention for his satirical reporting on the Scopes Trial for the Baltimore Morning Herald.

Inherit the Wind premiered in Dallas in 1955 to rave reviews, and opened on Broadway a few months later with Paul Muni, Ed Begley, and Tony Randall in the cast. It’s been revived on Broadway in 1996 and in 2007, as well as in Philadelphia, London, Italy, and India.

It was adapted into film in 1960, directed by Stanley Kramer, and with Spencer Tracey starring as the defence lawyer, Dick York as the schoolteacher, and Gene Kelly as the Baltimore journalist. It received excellent reviews and won awards at the Berlin Film Festival. It’s also been made for television in 1966, 1988, and in 1999 (starring George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, and Beau Bridges). It seems likely that Rory watched the most recent version on television.

Letters to a Young Poet

A 1929 collection of ten letters written by the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, to a young officer cadet named Franz Xaver Kappus at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Austria between 1902 and 1908.

Kappus had written to Rilke, seeking advice on the quality of his poetry, to help him choose between a literary career, or one as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Kappus had been reading Rilke’s poetry when he discovered that Rilke had earlier studied at the academy’s lower school in St. Pölten, and decided to write to him for advice.

Rilke gave Kappus very little criticism or suggestions on improving his writing, and said that nobody could advise him or make life decisions for him. Over the course of ten letters, he instead provided essays on how a poet should feel and seek truth in experiencing the world around him. They offer insights into Rilke’s poetic ideas and themes, and his work processes.

Kappus did meet Rilke at least once, and despite his concerns about pursuing a military career, he continued his studies and served for 15 years as an army officer. During the course of his life, he worked as a journalist and reporter, and wrote poems, stories, novels, and screenplays. However, he never achieved lasting fame.

This is a book which features a future journalist – but one who yearns to become a poet. Is it a sign that Rory secretly wishes she could become a creative writer instead? Is she hoping that being successful in journalism will help her become a published author (it’s definitely a help in getting novels published, or at least considered). Is it even a hint that she will become a writer in the future, as she does in A Year in the Life, but is not destined to become famous from her writing? (Most published writers, even quite successful ones, don’t get famous, after all).

And is this correspondence between a poet and a student at a military academy meant to suggest that Rory is still thinking of Tristan, who went away to military school? Are she and Tristan actually writing to each other, or is the show leaving the door open for Tristan to possibly return in a future season, since they didn’t know how long One Tree Hill was going to last?

Ernest Hemingway

JESS: Okay, tomorrow I will try again, and you will . . .
RORY: Give the painful Ernest Hemingway another chance. Yes, I promise.
JESS: You know, Ernest only has lovely things to say about you.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), author, journalist, and sportsman. He is famous for his economical and understated style, which had a profound influence on 20th century fiction, while his public image and adventurous lifestyle brought many admirers. He produced most of his work during the 1920s to the 1950s, and was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.

Hemingway’s hard, lean prose style and strongly masculinist ethos (to the point where it sometimes seems misogynistic) seem at odds with the more diffuse, subtle writing that Rory seems to appreciate. The irony is that Hemingway was a journalist, which helped to hone his spare writing style.

I’m not sure exactly what Jess means by “Ernest only has lovely things to say about you”, but in his works, brunettes are usually good, while blondes are bad (hm, rather like Gilmore Girls). Hemingway married four times times, three times to fellow journalists, as Rory plans to be.