CHAPTER 1

Zoyd prepares to jump through a window, but the Log Jam bar, where he plans to do the deed, has gone upscale -- and seems to have a surprisingly large percentage of gay lumberjacks in it. Zoyd goes instead to the Cucumber Lounge, where the Media waits to record his jump through the window (which this year is a "breakaway" stunt window made of sugar). In the process we meet Ralph Wayvone Jr. and Hector Zuniga.

 

p. 3 "Zoyd"   Rhymes with void, shares Z with Zuniga.

p. 3 "mental disability check"    This instantly identifies Zoyd as a sixties character with a sixties scam. In the late sixties, Bay Area actor/writer Peter Coyote wrote and performed a then-popular song called "ATD" celebrating the coolness of getting onto ATD (Aid to the Totally Disabled) for feigned mental problems to avoid having to work at some evil-collaborative (i.e., straight) job. The trick, of course, was convincing your caseworker that you were a nut. Zoyd's annual window-dive is a comic version of a now-classic ritual-scam turned into a media circus (as are most remains of the sixties). Given the importance of the Tube in Vineland, it's no accident that what was originally a private act of financial desperation has become a filler on TV news (complete with a fake window). Of course, as it turns out, this particular scam is not Zoyd's idea.

p. 3 "country music was playing out of somebody's truck radio"   Good Mendocino atmosphere throughout; clearly, Pynchon has been there.

p. 4 "elegant little...chain saw, about the size of a Mini-Mac"   Mini-Mac = the Mac-10 machine pistol of US make. Zoyd's lady-like chainsaw goes well with his drag costume, and the effeminate clientele (drinking "kiwi mimosas.") It also makes a nice almost-rhyme with Sheriff Willis Chunko's gold-handled chainsaw on page 373.

p. 6 "orientational vibes"    Great satire on gay men who like to dress like lumberjacks, possibly inspired by the Monty Python song, "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK."

p. 7 "Six Rivers Conference"    To the south of the eerie and mysterious Seventh River? (See p. 49.)

p. 7 "nacreous pretty saw"    Referring to the mother-of-pearl grips on "Cheryl's" chainsaw.

p. 7 "hotshot PI lawyers"    PI = Normally short for personal injury, but here perhaps purchase of information, as noted on p. 24.

p. 7 "George Lucas and all his crew"    The forest sequences of the Star Wars sequel were shot in the area.

p. 9 "cop vehicles...playing the 'Jeopardy' theme on their sirens."   The first of many TV show / theme song references.

p. 9, 10 "unrelenting...bickering...[caused by] unquiet ghosts"   A pre-hint of the Thanatoids?

p. 10 "one of those gotta-shit throbs of fear."   An apt description, if you've ever felt it. Pynchon seems big on these visceral fear reactions; see also p. 45 ("intestinal pangs of fear"), p. 116 ("stone bowelflash"), p. 207 ("a throb of fear went right up his asshole"), p. 299 ("rectal spasms of fear,") and elsewhere.

p. 10 "Dream on, Zoyd."    Pynchon seems to be using the authorial voice with slightly higher profile than previously, speaking directly to characters (and readers) with comments like this.

p. 10 "Wayvone" = The name may be a play on "rave on," but it's also been suggested that it might derive from huevon, a Spanish word meaning egg, but also referring to a testicle -- hence someone with "big balls." (Pynchon did live in Mexico for a while...)  In any case, Wayvone is also a remittance man, someone who gets paid a small but regular amount of money to stay out of trouble in some far-away place. Pynchon seems fond of the type -- there are several in V and Gravity's Rainbow, and the latter even has a remittance horse (named Snake).

p. 12 "technical virgin"    Meaning Zoyd has more-or-less resisted Zuniga's attempt to "turn" him into an informer/betrayer. The sexual metaphor prefigures many references to Frenesi's pussy (which she blames for driving her far beyond this stage).