- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
"Inherent Vice" has a number of meanings. See Inherent Vice Title
The cover illustration is by Maui artist Darshan Zenith (see his Official site). The piece is called "Eternal Summer," and subtitled, "A 'Retired' Caddy Hearse Greets Daybreak at a Beach Surf Shop." Prints of the painting can be purchased here. The 1959 Cadillac Hearse is parked in front of the "Endless Summer Surf Shop" (namechecking the Beach Boys Greatest Hits collection and Bruce Brown's 1966 surfing documentary!).
More info at Inherent Vice cover analysis
Book jacket description
Pynchon himself wrote the copy to the book jacket description of Against the Day (text here). It is possible that Pynchon did the same for Inherent Vice.
Under the paving-stones, the beach!
"Sous les pavés, la plage" - slogan dating from the 1968 Paris student riots. Wikipedia Literally, it refers to the paving stones thrown at the police. Figuratively, it refers to the ideal life to be found beneath the confines of society.
Like Against the Day, Inherent Vice has no dedication. Pynchon dedicated previous novels to friends and family: Mason & Dixon ("For Melanie, and for Jackson"), Vineland ("For my mother and father"), and Gravity's Rainbow ("For Richard Fariña").
Country Joe & the Fish T-shirt
A Berkeley-based rock band most widely known for musical protests against the Vietnam War, from 1966 to 1971
Shasta is a soft drink brand that reached the peak of its popularity in the 1980s. Wikipedia. Note that Pynchon has named characters after soda before, e.g. Wicks Cherrycoke in Mason & Dixon.
However, more to the point, "Shasta" is name-connected to Mt. Shasta, long believed by some to be where the Lemurians came after Lemuria sunk into the sea. They also believe in the presence of Bigfoot here, as well as wolfmen. See Mt. Shasta and the Lemurian Connection. Located near the northern end of California, Pynchon would likely have been familiar with this mythology.
They stood in the street light through the kitchen window there'd never been much point in putting curtains over and listened to the thumping of the surf from down the hill. Some nights, when the wind was right, you could hear the surf all over town.
Like Vineland, and http://gravitysrainbow.pynchonwiki.com/wiki/Gravity's Rainbow], here a Pynchon book begins with light coming through a window. Also like Vineland, the sentence structure and rhythm is just slightly jarring - that '...in the street light through the kitchen window...' seeming to echo Vineland: "Later than usual one summer morning in 1984, Zoyd Wheeler drifted awake in sunlight through a creeping fig that hung in the window, with a squadron of blue jays stomping around on the roof." In both cases, it's just a little odd that Pynchon doesn't refer to the light 'that shone' through the window. And that creeping fig makes an appearance on page 33 of Inherent Vice.
Just south of Hollywood, and one of the most desirable locations in Los Angeles. Hancock Park was developed by the Hancock family and is named after developer-philanthropist G. Allan Hancock, with profits earned from oil drilling in the former Rancho La Brea, home of the famous tar pits. Wikipedia
Can't Buy Me Love
This well-known Beatles hit has a curious connection with two other Beatles tunes touched on in The Crying of Lot 49.
She Loves You is cited outright and there is the parody title I Want to Kiss Your Feet in reference to I Want to Hold Your Hand. Can't Buy Me Love was recorded on 29 January 1964 at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France along with the German language version of She Loves You—Sie Liebt Dich, and Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand—the German Language version of I Want to Hold Your Hand. Wikipedia
'fro pick in his baggies for protection
An "Afro" pick, aka a comb for the Afro hairstyle; this doesn't necessarily mean Doc has an Afro, only that he borrowed one "for protection."
Evelle Jansen Younger, District Attorney of Los Angeles County 1964-1971, Attorney General of California from 1971-1979. Wikipedia
1959 Cadillac Biarritz
a luxury version of the Eldorado. Wikipedia.
This fictional Los Angeles beach town where Doc lives and works is, according to the article "Thomas Pynchon and the South Bay" Pynchon's fictionalized Manhattan Beach where he is believed to have lived in 1969-1970 while working on Gravity's Rainbow And in Vineland, Gordita Beach is where Zoyd Wheeler lived "shortly after Reagan was elected governor of California" (on Jan 3, 1967):
- Zoyd was living down south then, sharing a house in Gordita Beach with elements of a surf band he’d been playing keyboard in since junior high, the Corvairs, along with friends more and less transient. The house was so old that all of its termite clauses and code violations had been waived, on the theory that the next moderate act of nature would finish it off. But having been put up back during an era of overdesign, it proved to be sturdier than it looked, with its old stucco eaten at to reveal generations of paint jobs in different beach town pastels, corroded by salt and petrochemical fogs that flowed in the summers onshore up the sand slopes, on up past Sepulveda, often across the then undeveloped fields, to wrap the San Diego Freeway too. (p. 22)
The Corvairs surf band figures in Inherent Vice, as well.
Section of Manhattan Beach west of Sepulveda Blvd, filled with family homes. Generally more upscale than Doc's neighborhood.
Channel View Estates
Echo of "Channel Valley Condoms"—"If you lived here, you'd be home by now"— from the Firesign Theater's "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All." Also continues the theme of rampant Tubaholism from Vineland.
Hunter S. Thompson ran unsuccessfully for mayor and sheriff of Aspen, Colorado in 1969 and 1970. Wikipedia Unsure if "freak power" was a term Thompson coined?
Pynchon apparently wrote a letter to his editor, Cork Smith, in the 1960s saying that he was working on two books: one on Mason & Dixon, and one loosely inspired by Godzilla. See Crying of Lot 49 Chapter 3] & Vineland, page 142.
If Used-Car dealer Cal Worthington didn't exist, someone would have to invent him. Famous for his TV ads throughout California and his dog "Spot" [usually an exotic animal] the many parodies of Cal never exceed his own bizarre ads. YouTube
Sad but true, as Dion always sez.
"Runaround Sue" ("Here's my story, it's sad but true...") was a 1961 hit for Dion DiMucci (b. 1939). Dion only said it once, but then again he "said" it everytime the song was played. Have a listen on YouTube...
wasn't that they were fucking, exactly, but it was something like that.
This sentence structure is a Pynchon trademark found throughout his works: "not X, exactly, but Y..." For instance, Gravity's Rainbow, pg 137: "...you begin to wait for something terrible-- not exactly an air raid but something close to that."; Gravity's Rainbow, pg 580: "Not as an enterprise, exactly, but at least in the dance of things."
Frederick's of Hollywood
Famous retailer of lingerie, started by Frederick Mellinger (inventor of the push-up bra) in 1946. The original flagship store was a landmark on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Wikipedia