- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
Page numbers refer to editions with 369 pages, where the story begins on page 1. Not sure if there are other editions with variant pagination. Please let us know otherwise.
. . . the Lakers would lose Game 7 of the finals to the Knicks
Friday, May 8, 1970. The final score was Knicks 113, Lakers 99. This means that the novel ends on Pynchon's 33rd birthday, a nice way to underscore the semi-autobiographical nature of Inherent Vice. Furthermore, this situates the ending of the novel just four days after the Kent State Massacre on May 4, 1970 - yet another way of telling us that the beach is being paved over and that the sixties have come to an end. Btw, it's working backwards from this certain time-marker of May 8th and using other time-markers noted in the Wiki chapter annotations that tells us that events in parts of chapter 16 and all of chapter 17 must take place during an "extra" day outside of chronological time in the novel (see chapter 16, p. 281 notes).
Ones and zeros
Binary code, the language of computers. Also mentioned in Vineland (pp. 90 and 115) and in Crying of Lot 49.
A nice pun. "Tubular," in surfer slang, means something like "awesome" or "cool." It refers to the tubes or curls of the waves. But in the context here with Doc and Sparky, the tubes in question are vacuum tubes, which were used on computers (and radios and TVs and speakers) before transistors. An anachronism on Doc's part, no? For after 1947 and the invention of the transistor, vaccuum tubes were no longer common in computer design.
Computer monitors of that era often used cathode ray tubes (CRT's). Television sets also used them, which is why TV is called "The Tube".
Pizza Man--He Delivers - since 1964
for a while went through the exercise
As Riggs Warbling drinks margaritas "without going through the exercise of pouring anything into a glass" on page 62.
Doc got on the Santa Monica Freeway
Doc Sportello isn't the only character taking a drive rather than turning in tonight. On May 8, 1970, Richard Nixon went public in a news conference about the war spreading to Cambodia. That night, at 4 A.M., the President called Manolo Sanchez, his valet, and asked him if he had ever seen the Lincoln Memorial at night.
So, off went the (possibly a little unhinged) President, his valet, and a too-small Secret Service contingent. Nixon had an impromptu "rap session" with 8 protesters at the Memorial. As 8 turned to 30 and then 50 protesters, the Secret Service became "petrified".
After about an hour, President Nixon took his valet on a tour of the Capitol. You can read about it (and get the text of Nixon's press conference)
here in the italics at the bottom of the page.
Nixon's presence in this scene is even stronger if you consider Doc's drive to be a wormhole into the conclusion of Gravity's Rainbow. In IV, Doc got on the Santa Monica Freeway, and about the time he was making the transition to the San Diego southbound. In GR, Richard M. Zhlubb (according to Steven Weisenburger in A Gravity's Rainbow Companion, Richard Nixon "circa 1970") takes a reporter on a drive on the freeways. Near the interchange of the San Diego and the Santa Monica (GR p. 755).
That makes two Nixons, one real and one fictional, out for a drive with Doc.
There is one passage in the speech that Nixon gave that day which can be read as Nixon announcing a domestic espionage program of the sort described in Vineland and intimated in Gravity's Rainbow and Inherent Vice. It surely would have borne scrutiny from any paranoid, professional or otherwise. Nixon is responding to a question about the Kent State killings:
"If there is one thing I am personally committed to, it is this: I saw the pictures of those four youngsters in the Evening Star the day after that tragedy, and I vowed then that we were going to find methods that would be more effective to deal with these problems of violence, methods that would deal with those who would use force and violence and endanger others, but, at the same time, would not take the lives of innocent people."
Fapardokly's triple-tongued highway classic "Super Market," ordinarily ideal for driving through L.A.
Better drive quick because the song is only a little over two minutes long. Listen to a clip at Amazon from Fapardokly's self-titled album. More info on the band leader at Wikipedia. Triple-tonging is a wind instrument technique used for playing rapid notes. I have no idea if the trumpet on the record is actually employing triple-tongue articulation, though the playing is pretty fast.
Gordita Beach Exit
On the last two pages of Inherent Vice, Doc Sportello is on the Santa Monica freeway which then merges onto the San Diego, heading south:
Doc figured if he missed the Gordita Beach exit he'd take the first one whose sign he could read and work his way back on surface streets. He knew that at Rosecrans the freeway began to dogleg east, and at some point, Hawthorne Boulevard or Artesia, he'd lose the fog.
This series of street names and off-ramps points to Manhattan Beach where Pynchon wrote much of Gravity's Rainbow while living in a tiny beach apartment in the north end of the city around between 1967-1971. The Manhattan Beach Boulevard exit to Doc house would Rosecrans . The Artesia exit is after Hawthorne. Google Maps; Much more about Pynchon in Manhattan Beach...
Though Doc Sportello shares some qualities with Zoyd Wheeler of Vineland, contrast Doc's reaction to driving in fog with Zoyd's, when Zoyd and other members of the "Corvairs" "surfadelic" band "play motorhead valley roulette," speeding into patches of ground fog hoping that "the white passage held no other vehicles, no curves, no construction, only smooth, level, empty roadway to an indefinite distance--a motorhead variation on a surfer's dream" (Vineland page 37).
In addition to the tule fog just mentioned, Vineland also describes a gigantic fog bank in Hollywood caused when the film community simultaneously opens its refrigerators and flushes its drugs down the toilet in fear of the Reagan administration (Vineland page 339). All of these fogs signify the obscurity of the future.
For the fog to burn away, and for something else this time, somehow, to be there instead.
The endings of Pynchon's novels have justifiably become famous, and these final paragraphs about driving through the fog, capped by this heart-breaking sentence-fragment, will be no exception.
Reminiscent of, and comparable to, the magnificent ending of James Joyce's "The Dead" ("snow was general all over Ireland...").