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.

Rory Finds Jess

[Jess is reading on a bench as Rory walks up behind him]

RORY: Hi.

JESS: How ya doing?

After all the effort Rory has made to come to New York, apparently on a whim, she seemingly just walks in a side gate of Washington Square Park and finds Jess straight away (Rory is looking pretty fresh for someone who’s been on a bus for hours and just had a long walk). He’s sitting helpfully on a prominent park bench right at the entrance. It is now presumably somewhere between midday and 12.30 pm.

I know Jess was very lucky, phoning Rory when Lorelai was drunk and had the stereo on loudly so they could talk in private, but it’s nothing to Rory’s luck in finding Jess! All she had to go on was that he often hung out in Washington Square Park, and without making any plans to meet at a particular day, place, or time, it looks as if she turns up and Jess is right there. I mean, even if Jess was in the park, it’s ten acres – it could take hours to search for him. And lucky he hadn’t gone to the toilet or to lunch just as she arrived!

It would have been more believable if Rory and Jess had some sort of agreement to meet in New York, but that would have made Rory much more sneaky, treacherous, and selfish. It has to seem completely spontaneous, so that the relationship between Rory and Jess can remain innocent.

None of the scenes in this episode were actually filmed in New York – they were all shot at the Warner Bros lot in California. This scene takes place in New York Park, Burbank. There is no side gate such as the one Rory walks through, and if she approached Washington Square Park straight down Fifth Avenue, she would come to the main entrance, with the famous archway. Needless to say, it doesn’t look like Washington Square Park, and the real park is far more crowded, especially on a sunny spring afternoon around lunchtime.

Directions to Washington Square Park

[Rory gets off the bus and looks around. She walks out of the station and onto the crowded sidewalk.]

RORY: Could you . . . um, excuse me, sir, do you know . . . do you know where Washington . . . excuse me, ma’am . . . Washington Square Park?

PASSERBY: End of Fifth.

RORY: Thank you! [to someone else] Excuse me, where’s Fifth?

Rory gets off the bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue, in the heart of Times Square. She asks strangers for directions – because the super organised Rory has of course headed off to New York without a map, or even looking at a map! Impulsive Rory has taken over, and she doesn’t check anything!

Someone eventually tells her that Washington Square is at the end of Fifth Avenue, upon which Rory starts asking people where Fifth Avenue is. Basically, Rory has been directed to walk along West 41st Street and across (or past) Bryant Park until she reaches Fifth Avenue – it’s three blocks and perhaps 10 minutes walk from the bus terminal. Once on Fifth Avenue, she can walk straight there – but it is a distance of almost two more miles, almost forty blocks, and more than half an hour on foot, carrying a heavy backpack!

Google Maps tell me it would be slightly quicker (by about five minutes) for Rory to walk straight down Eighth Avenue and then approach Washington Square Park on an angle via Greenwich Avenue, but I think the directions she received were less likely to get her lost or confused – just straight across, then straight down. The numbered grid pattern of Manhattan streets makes it relatively easy to navigate the city.

It’s more than two hours from Hartford to New York City by bus, so, presuming Rory was able to get a bus fairly quickly after leaving Chilton, it might be around 11.30-11.45 am when she arrives at the bus terminal. She still has quite a bit more of her journey ahead of her.

“Ask a New Yorker” informs us that New Yorkers are actually very ready, even eager, to give directions to tourists and strangers in town, but you should always ask at least a couple of people, because sometimes their directions aren’t that great. (They know their own small part of the city very well, the rest of it, not so much).

New Yorkers walk an average of five miles a day getting around the city, and they walk fast, so Rory is getting straight into New York mode by hitting the pavement and wearing out shoe leather. Hopefully all that walking around Stars Hollow has kept her fit – although at the start of the episode, she moaned about getting sore feet just walking to Sookie’s house …


Chateau Jean Georges la Jean Georges in Paris

RORY: You’re the graduate. You get to be pampered.

LORELAI: Okay, then I would like to go to Chateau Jean Georges la Jean Georges in Paris.

Lorelai refers to French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (born 1957), who arrived in the US in 1985, and moved to New York the following year, earning immediate plaudits for his innovative approach to classic French cuisine. Having already opened ten restaurants around the world, his first American venture was the bistro JoJo in New York, opened in 1991. He has since gone on to command numerous other restaurants in the US and internationally.

His restaurant Jean-Georges opened in the Trump Tower, Manhattan in 1997 to critical acclaim, and his Paris restaurant opened in 2001, the year before this episode broadcast. It is actually called Market, and it serves French-Asian fusion food.

I don’t think it’s quite as fancy as Lorelai imagines – it is decorated simply, and the dishes are fairly reasonably priced (considering it’s a tourist trap in Paris). I think she is imagining it to be like the Jean-Georges in Manhattan, which is haute cuisine, very sophisticated, and costs hundreds of dollars per meal.

“Community colleges have ceremonies”

RORY: Well, community colleges have ceremonies.

LORELAI: My community college doesn’t even have a lawn, they won’t necessarily have a ceremony.

Rory is correct: community colleges have graduation ceremonies, like any other college. You don’t need a lawn – they can be held in an auditorium, theatre, gym or even a separate hired venue.

The fact that Lorelai’s college isn’t having one, only her business class as a separate event, is obviously just to fit in with the restrictions of filming the episode.

Drum Set

SOPHIE: That’s a DW drum set with Zildjian cymbals.

This is the drum set that Lane tries out. DW stands for Drum Workshop, a drum kit manufacturing business in Oxnard, California, founded in 1972 by music teacher Don Lombardi and his student, John Good. Although Lombardi had only intended the drum-making to help cover the costs of running a music teaching studio, demand was so great that it soon became his primary business.

Famous drummers who use DW drum kits include Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Grohl from Nirvana and Foo Fighters, Scott Travis from Judas Priest, and Nick Mason from Pink Floyd.

The Avedis Zildjian Company, or Zildjian, is the largest cymbal and drumstick maker in the world. It was founded in Constantinople by Avedis Zildjian, an Armenian metalsmith and alchemist, in 1623, making it one of the oldest musical instrument manufacturers in the world. Avedis Zildjian made his first cymbals in 1618 while working for the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The family eventually emigrated to the US, setting up business in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1929. Business began booming in 1964, after Ringo Starr used Zildjian cymbals during The Beatles‘ famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

At one point, more drummers used Zildjian products than any other brand, and the list of famous customers is extremely long, but does include (besides Ringo Starr), Taylor Hawkins from Foo Fighters, Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones, Lars Ulrich from Metallica, and Phil Selway from Radiohead.

A DW drum set with Zildjian cymbals like the one Lane tries out would cost at least $1500 today.

Dawn Powell

LANE: Dawn Powell? I’ve never heard of her.

RORY: Nobody has, which is a shame because she wrote sixteen amazing novels, nine plays, and there are some who actually claim that it was Powell who made the jokes that Dorothy Parker got credit for.

Dawn Powell, previously discussed. Rory has already read her Selected Letters, and now is reading Novels 1930-42. Published in 2001 and edited by Tim Page, the five novels included in the single volume are Dance Night, Come Back to Sorrento, Turn Magic Wheel, Angels on Toast, and A Time To Be Born.

Powell’s novels are either witty, cynical bohemian works set in New York City, or earnestly sincere stories set in small town Ohio. This has led critics to wonder which was the “real Dawn Powell”, but I can understand Rory both longing for the sweet small town life, while aspiring to the intellectual rigours and fashionable life of the city. Like Powell, she is equal parts cynicism and sincerity, and like Powell, she was a precocious child and avid reader. No wonder Powell is her literary heroine.

It was critic Diana Trilling who reportedly said that Dawn Powell was the “answer to the old question ‘Who really makes the jokes that Dorothy Parker gets credit for?'”.

Nanooking It, Whale Blubber, and Mukluks

LORELAI: So you’ve been just Nanooking it this whole time, just sending out for whale blubber and mukluks? [adjusts thermostat]

Nanook of the North [pictured], a 1922 silent film documentary/docudrama written, produced, and directed by Robert J. Flaherty. The film follows the struggles of an Inuk man named Nanook, his wife Nyla, and their family as they travel, trade and search for food in the Canadian Arctic. They are shown hunting a walrus, building an igloo, and going about their everyday tasks. Nanook and his family are portrayed as fearless heroes, enduring rigours beyond the comprehension of most Westerners.

The film has been criticised for fictionalising events and presenting them as reality. For example, “Nanook” was really named Allakariallak, and Nyla (aka Alice) was not his wife, but one of Flaherty’s common-law wives. The cast were scripted to behave in a more “authentic” Inuit way, such as using traditional hunting weapons rather than guns, and acting as if they had little knowledge of Western culture. Many things had to be staged, because of the difficulties of filming with one fixed camera in a harsh environment.

Nanook of the North was ground-breaking cinema, capturing authentic details of a culture that was then little known to outsiders, and filmed in a remote location. Hailed unanimously by critics, it was also a box-office success, and is still viewed as an enthralling documentary. As the first full-length feature documentary to achieve financial success, it paved the way for the entire genre. Nanook of the North was remastered and released on DVD in 1999, so Lorelai and Rory could have actually seen it.

Whale blubber is an important part of the traditional diet of Inuit people, valued for its high energy value, nutritional content, and availability. Mukluks are soft boots, traditionally made from caribou hide or sealskin, worn by the Indigenous people of the Arctic.