Dead Kennedys and Jello Biafra

LANE: But how’d you know I was me?

DAVE: The Dead Kennedys shirt was a tip off.

LANE: Good thinking. Hey, uh, isn’t it a drag that Jello Biafra isn’t singing for them anymore?

Dead Kennedys, punk rock band formed in San Francisco in 1978 with its classic line-up of Jello Biafra (lead singer), East Bay Ray (guitar), Klaus Fluoride (bass), and D.H. Peligro (drums). One of the defining hardcore punk bands, their lyrics were usually political in nature, satirising political figures, authority, popular culture, and punk itself. From 1978 to 1986 they attracted controversy for their provocative lyrics and artwork. They released four albums and one EP before disbanding acrimoniously in 1986.

Jello Biafra (born Eric Boucher in 1958), former lead singer and songwriter for the Dead Kennedys. In the mid-1980s, Biafra became an active campaigner against the Parents Music Resource Center, a committee formed in 1985 with the goal of increasing parental control over the access of children to music, via labelling music with Parental Advisory stickers. Biafra’s campaigning culminated in an obscenity trial between 1985 and 1986, which resulted in a hung jury.

In 2000, Biafra lost a legal case initiated by his former Dead Kennedys bandmates over songwriting credits and unpaid royalties. In 2001, the band reformed without Biafra. Although Dead Kennedys have continued to perform live over the years, they have not released any new material since the release of their fourth studio album, Bedtime for Democracy, in 1986.

[Picture shows Dead Kennedys in the early 1980s; Jello Biafra is second on the left]

Ted Williams

LUKE: Taylor, no, no, no, no, and every day from now on ’til the end of my life, I am gonna come in here and say, “Taylor, no!” And when I die, I’m gonna have them freeze me next to Ted Williams, and when they find the cure to what I died of and they unfreeze me, my first words are gonna be, “How’s Ted?” followed closely by, “Taylor, no!”.

Theodore “Ted” Williams (1918-2002), professional baseball player and manager who played his entire career for the Boston Red Sox, from 1939-1960. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

Ted Williams died in Florida of cardiac arrest at the age of 83 on July 5, 2002. Although his last will and testament asked that he be cremated and his ashes scattered in the Florida Keys, his son John-Henry and his younger daughter Claudia chose to have his remains cryonically frozen.

Ted’s elder daughter, Bobby-Jo Ferrell, brought a suit to have her father’s wishes recognised. John-Henry’s lawyers then produced a “pact” signed by Ted, John-Henry, and Claudia, agreeing that they would all be frozen, in the hopes of being together again one day. Ted’s signature was found to be genuine, and Bobby-Jo dropped the case due to lack of funds. Publicity from the case increased the number of enquiries to cryonics organisations.

Ted Williams’ biographer, Leigh Montville, claims that Williams’ signature on the pact was a practice autograph on a plain piece of paper, around which the family agreement was written. He had signed the pact Ted Williams, as he did for autographs, while legal documents were signed Theodore Williams.

John-Henry Williams unexpectedly died from acute leukaemia in 2004, and was also cryonically frozen by Alcor in fulfilment of the family agreement.

Note this is another baseball reference from Luke.

[There are picture available of Ted Williams’ frozen head, but they’re frankly a bit disturbing, so I’ve gone with one from during his career].

Insanity Plea

RORY: When did you see me with Dean?

JESS: At that stupid summer insanity plea the town put on.

An insanity plea, otherwise known as a mental disorder defence, is an argument put forward during a criminal trial that the defendant is not guilty for their crimes due to a psychiatric disease at the time the crime was committed. Using this as a defence goes back in law to the very beginnings of recorded history, and although it’s popular in fiction, it’s rare in the US – used in about 1% of cases, and then, only successful about a quarter of the time. The person who succeeds in winning their case this way will usually have to undergo psychiatric treatment in an institution instead of a prison sentence, or as part of their prison sentence.

Gloria Allred

LORELAI: How dare you accuse my face of that! My face is calling Gloria Allred when we get home.

Gloria Allred (born Gloria Bloom in 1947), attorney known for taking high-profile and controversial cases, especially those involving the protection of women. She represented Nicole Brown Simpson’s family during the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Central Park and Washington Square Park

JESS: Just hanging out . . . in the park, mostly.

RORY: Central Park?

JESS: Washington Square Park.

Central Park, a 843 acre park in Upper Manhattan, New York, the fifth-largest park in the city. Opened in 1858, it is the most visited park in the US, and the most filmed location in the world.

Washington Square Park [pictured], a 10 acre park in the Greenwich Village district of Lower Manhattan, New York. One of the best known of the city’s public parks, it is a cultural icon and popular meeting place. It is notable for its arch, modelled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and its fountain. The ground was first made into a park in 1849.

Jess says that Washington Square Park is “cooler” than Central Park. Apart from its location in fashionable Greenwich Village, it has a history of street performers, and protests and demonstrations. It has been a focal point for students, artists, musicians, and writers in the Beat, folk, and hippie movements. Robert Louis Stevenson once met Mark Twain here. Buddy Holly spent time here helping guitarists with their technique, and Barack Obama held a rally here. It’s a popular spot for filming, and Amy Sherman-Palladino’s show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has filmed scenes here.

Washington Square Park, with its Beatnik and counter-cultural heritage, seems like the perfect place for Jess to hang out. I’m not sure if this is meant to suggest that he and Liz live in this area (if so, only with the kind of magical rent control that appears in TV shows like Friends!).

Jess obviously isn’t attending school, because he went back to New York right near the end of semester and its too late to start at a new school. This is breaking the law, but I guess he’s fallen through the cracks in the system as nobody knows where he really lives.

“Angry girl for an angry arm”

LANE: Okay. Here – angry girl for an angry arm.

RORY: Oh, cool! Thank you.

LANE: You’re welcome. [Lane puts a sticker on Rory’s cast]

The sticker Lane puts on Rory’s cast is one of Emily the Strange, a fictional character from graphic novels, comic books, and merchandise. She is a Gothic little girl with long black hair, a short black dress, and white Mary Jane shoes.

Often accompanied by four black cats, Emily is frequently depicted with crossed arms or her hands on her hips, and has cynical sayings such as “Get lost”, or “Glad you’re not here”. The sticker Lane gives Rory says, “I want you to leave me alone” – possibly the message Lane wants Rory to send to Jess.

Emily the Strange was created in 1991 by Rob Reger for his company Cosmic Debris Etc Inc, in San Francisco, and designed by Nathan Carrico for Santa Cruz Skateboards. The first Emily the Strange graphic novella was released in 2001, the year previous to this episode.

Emily the Strange bears a marked resemblance to a character named Rosamund from the 1978 children’s book Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, but after several years of protracted legal wrangling, both sides resolved their differences.

Geneva Convention

LORELAI: You know, you’re bound by the rules of the Geneva Convention, Mother, just like everyone else.

The Geneva Conventions are treaties and protocols that establish international legal standards for humanitarian treatment during war. The singular Geneva Convention refers to the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of World War II. Lorelai melodramatically compares her being asked to wait for a meal to someone being tortured during wartime.

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?

Willamette University of Law

PARIS: Professor Bomar of Willamette University of Law has prepared a lengthy summary that I’d like to use in my remaining time.

The Willamette University College of Law is a private law school in Salem, Oregon, founded in 1883 and part of Willamette University, which was founded in 1842, and is the oldest university in the Western United States.

It is pronounced wil-AM-it; Paris mispronounces it to sound more like William-ette.

Professor Bomar is fictional.

EDIT: Huge thanks to blog reader Dan Gray, who is from Oregon, for correcting me on the pronunciation of Willamette.

Death Without Dignity Act

PARIS: And referencing their last point, which erroneously cited South Carolina as a state that has neither a statute nor common law which prohibits assisted suicide when we know that North Carolina is the proper citation, their subsequent argument falls short of even a level of speciousness due to the fact that it doesn’t even have a ring of factual truth, let alone a substance. And after all, the absence of prohibition against assisted suicide is a far cry from a statute that actually legitimizes the practice, a state of affairs that exists only in Oregon, sadly enough, under the 1977 Death Without Dignity Act.

Paris mistakenly calls it the Death Without Dignity Act of 1977; it is of course the Death With Dignity Act. Her correction of the other team on legislation in North and South Carolina is correct, however.