Car References in This Episode

“I can go from zero to studying”

Rory quips that she can go from “zero to studying in less than sixty seconds”.

This is a riff on the term “zero to sixty”, meaning to accelerate from a standstill to sixty miles per hour. It’s used to indicate how quickly a vehicle can accelerate, and is often used more generally to indicate a rapid movement of some kind.

“Grind it till you find it”

Gypsy calls Jackson “Mr Grind-it-till-you-find-it” when she’s fixing his truck and finds the transmission is damaged.

This phrase “grind it till you find it” is used derisively to describe people who grind the gear stick while shifting gears in a manual vehicle, trying to find the correct gear. It does indeed ruin the transmission.

It’s just minutes from here”

LORELAI: It’s gonna be Harvard [that Rory’s going to].

SHERRY: Well, I certainly hope so. It’s just minutes from here. Did you know that? …I’ve already clocked it – two point seven miles, which is nothing. I’ve already checked out the best late afternoon route for her to take to come over after classes.

Lorelai has already driven to Harvard University – how can she not be aware how close it is to Sherry and Christopher, that she also just drove to? The fact that Cambridge is right next to Boston must surely be a bit of a giveaway.

I’m not sure exactly where Sherry and Christopher live, but the Bunker Hill area in Charlestown is 2.7 miles from Harvard, which is a nine minute drive [pictured]. This is the oldest part of Boston, and Christopher did say he’d like to live somewhere historical. Any further west, north or south, and they wouldn’t be living in Boston, and any further east, they would be too far away.

If so, for Rory to visit them, she would need to take a bus, and would still have a walk of at least twenty minutes. The other way would be to take the subway, which would require a change in the middle, and there would then be a ten minute walk. A fifteen minute bike ride might be easier.

The knowledge that Rory going to Harvard means her spending a lot more time with Christopher and Sherry must surely be making it seem less attractive to Lorelai.

“She meant to run all those people down”

SHERRY: Maureen’s the instigator of this little soiree. She has her own publicity firm in New York …

MAUREEN: She meant to run all those people down, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Maureen refers to publicist, manager, and socialite Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grubman (born 1971). In 2001, after being asked by security to remove her vehicle from a fire lane, she intentionally drove her Mercedes Benz SUV into a crowd of outside an inn in the Hamptons, injuring 16 people.

Grubman was later charged with second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated, and reckless endangerment. The trial gained widespread media coverage because of the circumstances and because of Grubman’s profile and attitude. She is alleged to have said, “Fuck you, white trash”, before ploughing her car into the crowd. Later allegations were that she received special treatment from the police.

In 2002, Grubman served thirty-eight days in jail after reaching a plea bargain. She maintains that the incident was accidental.

Jan and Dean

LUKE: I know a little about cars, that was all gibberish.

KIRK: Oh, well, would you mind not telling people about this? I’ve cultivated a reputation as sort of a car aficionado and in reality, all I have is a Jan and Dean record.

Jan and Dean, rock duo consisting of William Jan Berry (1941-2004) and Dean Torrence (born 1940). In the early 1960s, they were pioneers of the California Sound and vocal surf music styles popularised by the Beach Boys. Their song “Surf City” (1963) was the first surf song to reach #1. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Several of their songs are about cars, including “Drag City” (1963), “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” (1964), and “Dead Man’s Curve” (1964).

In 1966, Berry had a serious car accident on Dead Man’s Curve in Beverley Hills, two years after writing a song about it. He was in a coma for two months, and had to recover from brain damage and partial paralysis. He returned to the studio in 1967, almost a year to the day since his accident.

“Jess, where did you get the money?”

LUKE: Jess, where did you get the money?

JESS: … Remember I work for you?

LUKE: … I don’t pay you enough to buy the car.

JESS: I saved up my pennies and I bought the car from Gypsy. She gave me a good deal. That’s how I got the car.

Luke has trouble understanding how Jess was able to buy a car. Lorelai helpfully suggested that Jess probably stole it, and with the uncanny ability Jess has to mind-meld with Lorelai, he also teases Luke by saying he mugged someone.

I’m not sure why this is all such a mystery. Jess’ car may be roadworthy, but it’s in poor condition otherwise, and Jess says Gypsy sold it to him at a bargain price. That could have been as low as $500, and is unlikely to be more than $1000.

Jess has been working at the diner every day for about a year, which was probably a full-time job over summer vacation, probably getting around $4 an hour. As little as 125 hours work could have paid for the car, and Jess, like Luke, has frugal habits, and is probably a good saver. (He also cleaned Lorelai’s gutters, and may have taken on other chores around town).

Even though there’s nothing at all unbelievable about Jess having an old car, it does get explained later in the episode.

Jess Gets a Car

In this episode, Jess gets an old car, which has been identified for me as a 1989 Honda Accord SEI. Jess seems to have the Tuscany Taupe Metallic colour, which came with beige leather interior trim. It is in very poor condition, which is believable for a high school student owning it.

Lorelai is not happy to discover Jess has a car, and refers to him needing to be stopped “before he kills again”. Apparently Rory getting even the tiniest injury needing medical attention is the equivalent of her being killed. However, Lorelai has learned her lesson, because she immediately offers to butt out, leaving Luke to handle the issue for himself.

Rosa Parks

TAYLOR: Well, that’s not indicated here, but it doesn’t matter, because protesting is not allowed in the town square, period. It’s un-American.

LUKE: You mean like the Revolutionary War?

BABETTE: And Rosa Parks?

TAYLOR: That’s different. They were against the British and buses. No one likes the British or buses.

Rosa Parks (1913-2005), an activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1955, she refused a bus driver’s order that she vacate her row of seats in the “coloured” section of the bus to make way for white people, once the “white” section was full. Her act of civil disobedience helped inspire the black community to boycott the Montgomery bus company for over a year. In 1956, the courts decided that bus segregation was unconstitutional.

Rosa Parks became an international icon of resistance to segregation, and collaborated with civil rights leaders such as Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. Although widely honored in later years, she also suffered for her act; she was fired from her job, and received death threats for years afterwards.

Rosa Parks received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. California and Missouri commemorate Rosa Parks Day on her birthday, February 4, while Ohio, Oregon, and Texas commemorate the anniversary of her arrest, December 1.

Comically, Taylor thinks that Rosa Parks was protesting buses, which he appears to approve of! Is Taylor against public transport?

Torque

LORELAI: He continued talking and I just sat there thinking about Peter Cutler. How was Peter Cutler? Where was Peter Cutler? Was there any chance that Peter Cutler would appear and kill the man sitting across from me talking about torque?

Torque is the rotational equivalent of linear force in physics an mechanics, and is also known as rotational force. Torque forms part of the basic specification of an engine: the power output of an engine is expressed as its torque multiplied by its rotational speed of the axis.

The fact that torque is a homophone of the word “talk” has led to it often being chosen as the title of columns, blogs, magazines, and TV programs about motoring, or for car enthusiasts.