“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.

“Istanbul is Constantinople”

LORELAI: I do know Instanbul is Constantinople, so if you’ve got a date in Constantinople, she’ll be waiting in Instanbul.

Lorelai refers to the 1953 novelty song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”, with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy and music by Nat Simon. Written on the 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans, the lyrics humorously refer to the official renaming of the Turkish city Constantinople to Istanbul. It’s said to be a response to the 1928 song “C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-N-O-P-L-E”, recorded by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra.

It was originally recorded by Canadian vocal group The Four Lads and peaked at #10 on the charts, becoming their first gold record. It’s been covered several times, and Lorelai might be thinking of the 1990 version by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants, from their album Flood. Released as a single, it went to #61 in the UK, and has been used on the soundtracks of several animated series, including Liquid Television and Tiny Toon Adventures in the 1990s.

The song is a part of the repertoire of the Yale a capella group, The Duke’s Men of Yale. As we later discover that Richard was in a different a capella group at Yale, is it possible Lorelai first learned the song from her father?


DARREN: Do you know which French city famous for its water was the capital of collaborationist France?

LORELAI: Oh, me? Um, Evian, Perrier, uh, Le Crystal Geyser?


Vichy is a city in central France on the river Allier, a spa town and resort famous for its warm mineral springs, the direct result of historical volcanic activity – although the volcanoes have been dormant for more than a century. During World War II, it was the seat of government for Vichy France from 1940 to 1942. Officially independent, Vichy France adopted a policy of collaboration with Nazi Germany.

Lorelai quickly says the first brands of mineral water she can think of. Evian has been bottling mineral water from Évian-les-Bains in the French Alps since 1829. Perrier bottles its carbonated mineral water from Vergèze in Southern France, beginning production in 1898. Crystal Geyser is actually an American company, founded in Calistoga, California in 1977.

Westport, Connecticut

Westport is a town of 27 000 people in Connecticut on Long Island Sound, part of Connecticut’s affluent “Gold Coast”. Only 50 km or so from New York City, it is the ninth richest city in the US. It would be about an hour’s drive from Stars Hollow.

It is a favourite location in fictional works – it was the home of Samantha and Darrin Stephens on Bewitched, and Lucy and Ricky Ricardo move here to start a new life in I Love Lucy. It also features in the film The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

Old Fashioned Drinks

While Luke is serving customers at the diner, Kirk and two young boys come in, ordering old fashioned soda shop drinks. It soon transpires they were sent by Taylor, making a point how necessary such a soda shop is, which Taylor wants to install in the space next to the diner, owned by Luke. Kirk already works for Taylor, and the two boys are presumably in his Boy Scout troop.

Egg Cream: Previously discussed.

Black Cow: Traditional name for a root beer float, which is root beer with vanilla ice cream. In some areas, the ice cream has to be chocolate in order to be called a black cow, and others say brown cow instead. (Root beer is a North American soft drink made using the root bark of the sassafras tree, or the sarsaparilla vine, Smilas ornata). Frank J. Wisner, owner of Colorado’s Cripple Creek Brewing, is credited with creating the first root beer float in 1893. The North American fast food chain A&W Restaurants are well known for their root beer floats.

Chocolate Phosphate: Traditional soda fountain drink, which is chocolate syrup and acid phosphate added to club soda. Acid phosphate is a mixture added to drinks which gives it a slightly tart flavour, and aids carbonation – a partially neutralised solution of diluted phosphoric acid made with salts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It’s recently come back into fashion as a mixer for soft drinks and cocktails.

Note also in this scene, references to ham on rye sandwiches and Coney island, previously discussed.

A Confederacy of Dunces

This is the book Jess is reading when his girlfriend arrives to meet him.

A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by John Kennedy Toole, written in 1963 but published in 1980, eleven years after Toole’s death by suicide. It became a cult classic, then a mainstream success, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. The title refers to an epigram from Jonathan Swift’s essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

The protagonist of the novel is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but lazy thirty-year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown district of New Orleans in the early 1960s. He has been called a modern Don Quixote, an eccentric and idealistic slob who disdains pop culture, and believes that his numerous failings are the working of a higher power. Due to a car accident his mother gets in, Ignatius must work for the first time in many years to pay off her damages bill, moving from one low-paid job to another and having various adventures with colourful characters in the French Quarter of the city.

The novel is famous for its rich depiction of New Orleans and its dialects, many locals seeing it as the best and most accurate fictional depiction of the city. A bronze statue of Ignatius J. Reilly is on Canal Street in New Orleans. It has been adapted for the stage, including as a musical comedy, and has often been planned as a film. These various attempts to adapt it for the screen have come to nothing (often with the slated lead actor dying, and once with a studio head being murdered, not to mention Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans in 2005), leading to the belief there is a “curse” on it as a film project.

The novel’s title is a comment on how Rory and Lorelai see Jess and his girlfriend in this scene, as a pair of “dunces” who can barely hold a conversation together. However, it is also believable as a modern American classic that Jess might read, complete with a male protagonist who is an intelligent failure railing against the world, his fate, and modern life. This seems to be the sort of hero that Jess can relate to. Note that it’s also set in the American South – a literary setting which Rory is also drawn to, underlining how much they have in common.

General Sherman

MRS. KIM: This was Sherman’s shaving table … General Sherman, famous man, burned Atlanta, liked a close shave.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, previously mentioned. A general in the Union Army during the Civil War, he invaded Georgia with three armies in the spring of 1864. His campaign against Atlanta ended successfully in September of that year with the capturing of the city, and he gave orders that all civilians were to evacuate the city before giving instructions that all military and government buildings were to be burned, although many private homes and businesses were too. This victory made him a household name, and ensured the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln in November that year.

In fact General Sherman had a slightly scruffy beard, rather than being close-shaven. This seems to be another hint that Mrs Kim is not always honest about her antiques.

Archie Bunker’s Chair at the Smithsonian Museum

JAMIE: So, in your opinion, how was our nation’s capital?

RORY: Well, I got to see Archie Bunker’s chair at the Smithsonian Museum, so it was a big thumbs up for me.

Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Connor, from the popular sitcom All in the Family, previously discussed.

The Smithsonian Institution, a group of museums and education and research centres, the largest such complex in the world. It was founded in 1846 by the US government, named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Known as “the nation’s attic”, it has 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and a zoo, mostly located in the Washington DC area. It receives 30 million visitors each year, and entry is free.

Archie Bunker’s chair really is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington DC, donated by the makers of the television show in 1978. It was originally bought by the show from a Goodwill thrift store in southern California for $8.

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.