Junior Leadership Program in Washington

RORY: But if I win then I have to be vice president next year. Plus, I’ll have to spend my summer in Washington for some junior leadership program, which means six straight weeks of me and Paris together in a dorm room.

The program that Rory and Paris will be attending in Washington DC during their summer vacation seems to be similar to the real life Global Young Leaders Conference, where high school students from the US and around the world learn communication, decision-making, and negotiation while interacting with real life leaders, diplomats, lobbyists, and journalists. There are also visits to embassies and cultural landmarks.

Unlike the six weeks Rory has in front of her, the real life program only lasts for ten days, students are housed in a hotel, not a dormitory, and it costs thousands of dollars to attend. Rory never even mentions paying, so perhaps Chilton are footing the bill, or Rory and Paris will be offered scholarships.

The Ritz

ZACH: Enjoy your champagne and caviar at The Ritz, Your Highness.

Zach refers to the Ritz-Carlton chain of luxury hotels, first begun by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, and perhaps most famously, the founder of the celebrated Hôtel Ritz in Paris, opened in 1898. The name was bought and franchised by Albert Keller in the US, with the first Ritz-Carlton hotel opening in New York in 1911.

Zach may be specifically thinking of the Ritz Hotel in Manhattan at 50 Central Park South. Originally the Hotel St. Moritz, it was bought in 1999 and had just opened the previous month to this episode, in April 2002.

Ermenegildo Zegna

JACKSON: Oh, thanks to my best new friend Ermenegildo Zegna.

Ermenegildo Zegna (born 1955), Italian entrepreneur and CEO of the luxury fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, founded in 1910 by Zegna’s grandfather, after whom he is named. Ermenegildo Zegna Group is the largest menswear group in the world by revenue. Although there are only a few Zegna boutiques in the USA, Jackson could have bought his suit at any number of department stores, including Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Neiman Marcus.

Florida State and U. Mass

LIZA: Of course, we’re breaking up ’cause we’re transferring to different schools. He’s going to Florida State, I’m going to U. Mass . . . although I’m kinda going to miss this place.

Florida State University [pictured], a public research university in Tallahassee, Florida. Founded in 1851, it is the oldest higher education institution in Florida. It’s student activism in the 1960s and ’70s earned it the epithet, “the Berkeley of the South”.

University of Massachusetts, the only public research university system in Massachusetts. It has five campuses (Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and a medical school in Worcester), a satellite campus in Springfield, and 25 campuses in California and Washington. The campus in Amherst is the largest, and the oldest, dating back to 1863, when it was called Massachusetts Agricultural College. It became Massachusetts State College in 1931, and was granted university status in 1947.

44th Street

TOURIST: Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you. Which way is 44th?

RORY: Oh, um, that way.

44th Street is two blocks north of the bus terminal, and Rory has sent the tourist south instead. As Jess says, they will hopefully soon notice that the street numbers are getting smaller rather than bigger, and turn around. (The tourist made a rookie mistake by not asking at least one other person for directions!).

44th Street is in the theatre district, with numerous hotels, clubs and restaurants the tourist may have been looking for. It’s also the site of The Algonquin Hotel, at 59 West 44th Street, so this minor interaction feels like a hidden homage to Dorothy Parker.

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.

Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are grilled or steamed sausages served in the split of a partially sliced bun. The sausage used is a wiener (Viennese sausage) or a frankfurter (Frankfurter sausage). In the US hot dogs are often topped with ketchup or mustard, and might be garnished with onions, chilli, or pickles.

The sausages used in hotdogs were imported by Germans, and allegedly, the first hot dogs in the US were sold on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri by an immigrant from Frankfurt called Feuchtwanger in the late 19th century. A competing origin story is that they were first sold by Charles Feltman at Coney Island, in 1867.

Hot dogs were always a working class street food sold at stands and from carts, closely connected with baseball. They have a particular connection with New York City, but are ubiquitous throughout the US.

Jess takes Rory to a hot dog stand for lunch; it’s where Jess eats every day. Although Jess seems a bit apprehensive that it won’t be “fancy” enough, Rory immediately declares it as “perfect”. Like Luke, Jess has quickly got the idea that a big part of keeping a Gilmore Girl happy is to make sure she’s well-fed! Jess has taken Rory for an iconic New York City lunch.

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!).

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.