CHAPTER 4

Lotsa action in this chapter. Zoyd goes off to harvest crawfish at RC and Moonpie's. Then there's a flashback to his hippie wedding with Frenesi -- followed by a flashforward to a short scene with Prairie. Zoyd delivers crawfish to Vineland restaurants with funny names. He meets his old pal Van Meter in a bar and they talk about Frenesi. Zuniga is there too; he has, it seems, escaped from Dr. Deeply's Tubal Detox clinic. In a flashsideways we meet Rick and Chick, Vato and Blood, and the Marquis de Sod.

Suddenly, maybe-the-cops (actually it's Brock Vond) seem to be after Zoyd. (Why? Pynchon never explains this very well. It may have something to do with Frenesi, Zoyd's ex-wife, and Vond's jealousy of her -- despite the fact that she's got a new husband, hasn't seen Zoyd in years, and is still in Vond's tight grasp. More likely, Vond is after Prairie; his motivation is only suggested, but it's possible that he wants to recreate his earlier sexual liaison with Frenesi. If (as Vond later claims) he is really Prairie's father, this would be incest!) In any case, men-in-uniform bust into Zoyd's car, which someone else is driving, and break into his house. Suddenly, Zoyd is on the lam. He calls Dr. Deeply to come get Zuniga, but before the Doc shows up Zuniga identifies Brock Vond as the source of Zoyd's cop problems. Zuniga says he wants Frenesi to make a movie. The Doc arrives and takes Zuniga away. Zoyd and Prairie talk in bed (in a borrowed camper) about Frenesi. Zoyd mentions "a deal." Prairie goes off with Isaiah.

 

p. 35 "imbrication"    An overlapping, like leaves, or certain geological strata.

p. 35 "depraved yuppie food preferences"    Go get 'em, TP!

p. 35 "RC and Moonpie"    Names taken from Big Bill Liston's fifties hillbilly hit, "Gimme an RC Cola and a Moonpie."

p. 37 "Beer riders"    A nice conceit, typically Pynchonian: kamikaze rednecks racing through the tule fog.

p. 37 "behind a 409" 409 = a big V8 motor.

p. 37 "white presences, full of blindness and sudden highway death..."   Echoes the "white visitation" of Gravity's Rainbow, as well as Melville's whiteness of the whale. Also a pungent evocation of graveworms: There's more death in this phrase than meets the eye, foreshadowing the Thanatoids.

p. 37 "...all at once, there in the road, a critter in a movie..."   A Japanese horror movie, no doubt! (See note, p. 65.)

p. 37 Dick Dale  Dale, a left-handed Californian (two strikes against) guitar player, was dubbed "King of the Surf Guitar" in the 1950s – and there's some truth to his claim that he invented surf music. He made a surprise reappearance in a commercial for the Nissan Armada in 2004 and 2005.

p. 39 "Can love save anyone?"    "Save" is Calvinist/Christian terminology -- another reference to the binary distinction between elect and preterite, one and zero.

p. 40 "Mr. Sulu"   The navigator on Star Trek.

p. 41 "The Steam Donkey"    A bar named after the logger's mechanical badass winch.

p. 41 "...she rilly freaked when she found out she was pregnant"   As we'll see in the final chapter, Vond's last escapade is mostly an attempt to abduct Prairie. So the paranoid reader might ask: Is Frenesi merely a convenient mechanism to set up all of the important stuff in the book? Or is she simply Patty Hearst in reverse?

p. 42 "...time to go to commercials..."    Zoyd remembers expecting life to be like TV -- a dangerous side-effect of TV addiction. The passage goes on to note that Zoyd was "Sent...gaga by those mythical days of high drama..."

p. 42 "Le Bucheron Affame"   Probably The Starving Logger, but possibly The Starving French Goat Cheese.

p. 43 "Humbolaya Restaurant" = Humboldt County + Jambalaya (with tofu etouffe, yet!).

p. 43 "After a short recorded program of themes from famous TV shows..."   The telephone "hold" circuit at NEVER plays TV themes, which is like calling Alcoholics Anonymous and getting a medley of "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" and "Hey Bartender." But of course, the "VE does stand for "Video Education"...

p. 43 "'Ti Bruce"    'Ti = Creole/Cajun shorthand for petit = little, hence Ti Bruce = Little Bruce. Can chef 'Ti Bruce be a gag on Bay Area chef and sausage-maker "Big Bruce" Aidells? Seems unlikely...but you never know.

p. 43 "Little Charley and the Nightcats singing 'TV Crazy'"   Real band, real song.

p. 44 "script possibilities"    Presumably, an off-the-cuff creation of a believable cover story concerning some vehicle's provenance.

p. 45 "another one of those intestinal pangs" of fear. See also p. 10, 116, 207, 299.

p. 45 "the slowest fast food in the region"   Hilarious riff on trendy California health-food pizza.

p. 46 "The Marquis de Sod."    Hazardously funny.

p. 47 "those old split 30's during the vampire shift"   TV ad lingo, referring to 15-second TV spots (splitting a 30-second commercial break) often on in the wee hours. Vampire shift is a Pynchon usage, we think; more common is "graveyard shift."

p. 47 "A lawn savant..."    An amazing goof on "La Marseilles" ("allons enfants...")

p. 48 "more liens than the tower of Pisa...more garnishes than a California burger"   Bad, bad puns. Bad, bad Pynchon.

p. 48. "Pat Sajak in The Frank Gorshin Story"   Gorshin was a hollow-eyed comedian and TV celeb from the late fifties, sort of a cross between Dan Duryea and Richard Widmark. He was probably best known as The  Riddler on the Batman.

p. 49 Bodhi Dharma Pizza  Ginsberg, Kerouac, and many of the other beat writers were deep into Zen Buddhism, including the famous zen koan that asks Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?  Some of that trickled down to the hippies, their (sort of) spiritual descendents.

p. 50 "Brock Vond"    Another badass "V." Pynchon has a long-standing history of bad guys whose names start with "V." In this case, as we will see, the V stands for Vampire as well as Villain.

p. 51 "eightfold pizzic mandala" Extending the Buddhist riff on "Bodhi Dharma Pizza" on p. 49: Eightfold because pizza is always cut into 8 slices, which reminds Pynchon of the eightfold path of classic Buddhism. Also, pizza is round, like those beautiful symbols of that eightfold path. And we’re all stoned.

p. 51 "all those long-ago political wars"  Presumably referring to the decades of class struggle that form the subtextual background for this novel – from the (IWW) Wobblies at the turn of the 20th Century and the general labor strikes of the 1930s through the freedom rider/Black Panther/ hippie/yippie activism of the '50s, '60s and '70s, and on into the battle for existence carried on by progressive people against ever-increasing attacks by the legions of corporate evil headed by Nixon and Reagan in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.

p. 52 "Baba Havabananda" = have a banana. Groucho Marx meets Swami Satchidananda at R. Crumb's?

p. 55 "like a time machine departing for the future..."   Fine writing.