Malcolm in the Middle, the Butthole Surfers

DAVE: Or maybe Malcolm in the Middle fronting for the Butthole Surfers.

Malcolm in the Middle [pictured], sitcom which ran from 2000 to 2006. It stars Frankie Muniz as the title character Malcolm, one of four sons (later five) in a comically dysfunctional lower middle-class family. When Malcolm’s oldest brother is sent to military school, that leaves Malcolm as the middle child of the three boys still at home. Malcolm is an adolescent with a genius IQ of 165, forced into special classes for gifted children that are made fun of by the other students. The show was critically acclaimed and highly influential.

Francisco “Frankie” Muniz (born 1985) was one of the most popular teen actors at the height of his career. He gave up acting in 2008 to pursue a career in open-wheel car racing. From 2012 to 2014, he was the drummer for indie rock band Kingsfoil, so he did actually end up in a band.

Butthole Surfers, rock band formed in San Antonio, Texas in 1981 by singer Gibby Haynes and guitarist Paul Leary. Emerging from the 1980s hardcore punk scene, Butthole Surfers quickly became known for their chaotic live shows, black comedy, and a sound that incorporated elements of psychedelia. Although respected and with a loyal fan base, Butthole Surfers had little commercial success until their 1996 album Electriclarryland, containing the hit single “Pepper”, which went to #1.

“Urkel joining the Wu-Tang Clan”

LANE: Yeah, what’s next – Urkel joining the Wu-Tang Clan?

Steven “Steve” Urkel [pictured], fictional character from the sitcom Family Matters, which aired from 1989 to 1998. The sitcom revolved around a middle-class African-American family called the Winslows who lived in Chicago, and Steve Urkel was their nerdy neighbour. Originally scripted as a one-off character, he proved so popular that he quickly became part of the regular cast, and eventually, the main character.

The charter was portrayed by actor Jaleel White (born 1976). He has gone on to have a successful career in film and television, as well as bringing out his own strain of cannabis products called Purple Urkel.

Wu-Tang Clan, previously discussed.

“That kid from The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”

DAVE: Yeah, now their front-man’s that kid from The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

When the Dead Kennedys reformed in 2001, Brandon Cruz replaced Jello Biafra as lead vocalist. A Californian surfer and skater, Cruz had been the frontman for punk band Dr. Know in the 1980s. Brandon Cruz left the Dead Kennedys in 2003.

Brandon Cruz (born 1962) is best known for his days as a child actor, playing Eddie Corbett on the sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-1972), with Bill Bixby playing his dad. He continued working as a child actor for several years after the sitcom was cancelled. Cruz won a Former Child Star Lifetime Award from the Young Artist Foundation in 1991, and has worked as an assistant editor on animated TV series South Park.

Jello Biafra predictably did not approve of his replacement, describing the new incarnation of Dead Kennedys as “a karaoke band”.

[Picture shows Brandon Cruz in 1972]

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]

Harry Potter

RORY: I’ve dreamt of going to Harvard since I was a little girl.

CAROL: Yeah, a lot of four year olds dream of that. It comes right after meeting Harry Potter.

Harry Potter, the schoolboy wizard who is the protagonist of the popular Harry Potter book and film series, the novels written by English author J.K. Rowling, previously mentioned. In the films, he is played by English actor Daniel Radcliffe.

Rory was four years old in 1988-1989, and the first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, so Rory could hardly have been interested in him as a toddler anyway. Presumably Carol is thinking of her young clients in the present day.

There’s a little mistake in the writing here. Rory never actually tells Carol that she’s been dreaming of Harvard since she was four – only that she was a little girl. We know she was four because Lorelai told Max in Season 1, but somehow Carol knows about it too.

“Holed up in the Chelsea”

RORY: I don’t know. Your parents just made it sound like . . .

CAROL: Like I was holed up in the Chelsea with a needle sticking out of my arm screaming “Sid” at the top of my lungs?

A reference to Nancy Spungen (1958-1978), American girlfriend of English punk rocker Sid Vicious, and a figure of the 1970s punk rock scene. The two of them were habitutal heroin users, and eventually Nancy’s body was found in the bathroom of their room at the Hotel Chelsea in New York, stabbed to death. Sid Vicious died of an overdose before he could be brought to trial.

Their story is told in the film Sid and Nancy, previously discussed [pictured]. Carol seems to have all the same references as Lorelai as well.

Stalking Tom Waits

CAROL: I worship [Tom Waits]. I even mildly stalked him once … Last year, I heard he was staying at this hotel so I went there everyday and sat in the lobby, drinking massive amounts of coffee, waiting for him to walk by.

I can barely speculate which hotel Tom Waits could have been staying in the previous year. The only concert he had in 2001 was one in his home town of San Francisco, and he took a trip to Copenhagen in Denmark early in the year. He attended the ASCAP Awards at the Beverly Hilton in May, which might be what Carol is referring to (if so, she was in Los Angeles at the time for some reason – where the Palladinos live, probably not coincidentally).

Like Lorelai, Carol worships Tom Waits and drinks huge amounts of coffee. Her mild stalking of Waits at a hotel is replicated later by Lorelai, who stalks Bono at his hotel in exactly the same way.


DARREN: Anyone know the artistic movement Matisse championed and referred to as the Wild Beasts?

JENNIFER: Oh, Fauvism!

Fauvism is the artistic style of les Fauves (“the wild beasts”), a group of early twentieth century modern artists whose works emphasised seemingly wild brush strokes and strong colours. Henri Matisse was one of the leaders of the movement.

[Picture is The Red Room by Henri Matisse, 1908].


LORELAI: So, that painting there, wow. The colors are so great, I can’t stop staring at it. It’s just beautiful.

DARREN: It is. It’s by a student of Matisse. I think he caught the master’s colors wonderfully.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), French artist known for his intense use of colour and fluid, original draughtsmanship. He is commonly regarded as one of the leading figures of modern art.

From 1907 to 1911 he taught art at the Academie Matisse in Paris. Most of his pupils were American or Scandinavian. I have been unable to identify the painting shown as the work of any of his students, or to discover its provenance. If anyone knows what it is, please leave a comment!

Chopin, Padarewski

DARREN: Jack, which Polish composer –

JACK: Chopin!

DARREN: Patience . . . became Prime Minister of his country?

JACK: Paderewski.

Frédéric Chopin, born Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849), Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic period, who wrote primarily for solo piano. He was one of the earliest musical celebrities, and he has maintained his reputation as a poetic genius and one of the great musicians of his generation.

Ignacy Jan Padarewski (1860-1941) [pictured], Polish pianist and composer who became a spokesman for Polish independence. He was appointed prime minister in January 1919, and signed the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. He resigned in November 1919, and continued his musical career, rarely visiting Poland again.