Rory’s List of Punishments

Grounded for 7 months (which is until the Christmas holidays)

No TV

No stereo

No phone

No reading of books or magazines

Has to do all the housework, including laundry and dishes

Gets a beating

No oxygen, no breathing

Lorelai gets complete control of the TV remote and the stereo as long as she wants

Lorelai gets to choose every single meal

Lorelai gets a special present every month

Has to replace the Go-Go’s album she left on the bus

Sent to bed without any supper

A bad night’s sleep

Rory has spent her time on the bus writing up a list of strict punishments for herself for going to New York and missing Lorelai’s graduation. When she gets home and sees Lorelai, she adds even more punishments, until they become so ridiculous that in the end, Rory appears to escape having any punishment at all – except one extremely horrible bus trip, and the knowledge that she has badly hurt and disappointed her mother (not to mention betraying her boyfriend Dean, not that she seems too concerned about that at present). I can perfectly believe that Rory had a very bad sleep that night.

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.

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.

Subway

RORY: Where you going?

JESS: Subway.

RORY: I thought we were gonna walk.

JESS: It’s fifteen blocks. Come on, I think you’ll like it.

The New York City Subway System is a rapid transit system owned by the government of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority. It opened in 1904, and is one of the world’s oldest public transport systems, one of the most used, and the one with the most stations, with 472 in operation. Stations are located throughout the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx.

There is/was a concentration of record stores in the East Village, and the one that Jess takes Rory to could very well be located in this area. If they caught the subway near Washington Square, and got off at the Bleeker Street, Broadway-Lafayette Street, or Second Avenue subway station, that would take them around fifteen blocks into the East Village, saving them about 25 minutes of walking.

It’s amusing that Rory is so prepared to walk for another half hour or so – she’s already had a long walk to get to the park! You’d think she’d be glad to catch the subway.

High Fidelity

JESS: There’s a record store you should check out. It’s run by this insane freak who’s like a walking encyclopedia for every punk and garage-band record ever made. Catalog numbers . . . it’s crazy. The place is right out of High Fidelity.

High Fidelity, 2000 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears, based on the 1995 British novel of the same name by Nick Hornby, with the film’s action moved from London to Chicago, but otherwise faithful to the book.

The film stars John Cusack as a music-lover named Rob with little understanding of women who owns a record store called Championship Vinyl. He and his employees Dick and Barry (played by Todd Louiso and Jack Black), armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of music, compile “Top 5” lists for every occasion, and openly mock their customers’ tastes. Eventually, Rob is able to produce a mixtape to please his girlfriend, Laura (played by Iben Hjejle).

High Fidelity was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise for its witty dialogue, strong performances and solid soundtrack. It’s been voted one of the best romantic comedies, and one of the greatest films of all time. It was made into a 2020 television series.

It’s interesting that Jess compares the record store he is taking Rory to with one out of a romantic comedy – especially one where a smart but emotionally obtuse young man learns to express his feelings.

EDIT: Thank you to High Fidelity fan Alisa for supplying the correct name of the actress playing Laura.

“We saw The Bangles here”

JESS: How well do you know Manhattan?

RORY: I’ve been here a few times. We saw The Bangles here.

JESS: When was that, twenty years ago?

The Bangles, previously discussed.

Rory refers to “Concert Interruptus”, when she saw The Bangles on their reunion tour in New York, in February 2001. Jess is polite about it when he knows Rory thinks they’re great, although he can’t possibly think they match his idea of what’s “cool”.

O’Oh

This is the song which plays while Rory and Jess walk through the streets of New York to get a hotdog and then go to the subway. It’s a 1992 song by Yoko Ono, first released on Onobox, a comprehensive 6-disc collection of Yoko Ono’s work from 1968 to 1985. It included 20 previously unreleased songs, of which “O’Oh” is one.

The lyrics are about a couple enjoying the Fourth of July celebrations in Central Park together, so it’s a song about New York. Some of the lyrics are:

I never knew we could be so nice to each other

I never thought we’d be laughing together

I never knew life could be sweet and simple

I never thought that was possible

Not only does the song suit the setting they are in (although it’s May, not July, and a different park), but the lyrics are about how Rory feels about Jess. The surprise of finding that being with him is not only sweet, but simple – you can feel how easily the two of them get along, how effortlessly they laugh together.

Rory finally gets to meet Jess away from Stars Hollow, and he’s not surly, not bitter, not sarcastic – he’s sweet, he’s nice, he’s funny, in a way she never thought possible. She has taken any number of practical, physical, and emotional risks to come to New York to see him, and she gets the softest of landings, as Jess finally opens up to her, now that he’s received unexpected proof of how much Rory cares for him.

There is a real flipside feeling to the choice of song, because when Rory had her sweetest and most romantic experience with Dean (sitting in the car wreck on their anniversary), the song chosen to accompany it was by John Lennon. Now her sweetest and most romantic scene with Jess is accompanied by a Yoko Ono song. (Both songs have Oh in the title, also).

It is as if Jess and Dean are her Yin and Yang – Dean the Yang which complements her, and Jess the Yin which matches her. With Dean, there is an attraction of opposites; with Jess, an attraction of like minds, or twin souls.

Sting, Screech

LORELAI: Hey, try to seat us next to a celebrity on the Concorde, like Sting or Screech or someone.

Gordon Sumner, known as Sting (born 1951) [pictured], English musician, singer, songwriter, and actor. He was the frontman, songwriter, and bassist for new wave rock band The Police from 1977 to 1984. He launched a solo career in 1985, and incorporates elements of rock, jazz, reggae, classical, new age and world music in his compositions. He has won 17 Grammy Awards, 3 Brit Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, received the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement, and been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As a member of The Police, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. One of the world’s best-selling musical artists, he is regarded as one of its greatest living songwriters, and one of the great musical stars of the twentieth century.

Samuel “Screech” Powers, a character from Saved by the Bell, previously discussed. Portrayed by Dustin Diamond (1977-2021), Screech was a geeky high academic achiever who lacked common sense and social skills.