Scott and Nutella Vontz Auditorium, whose architect owing to some sort of mental condition...
This is a reference to the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, designed by architect Frank Gehry. It's indeed an interesting structure.
shviger evil eye
Shviger is Yiddish for mother-in-law.
Midwest... it was the golden age of arcades then...
Possible reference to Walter Day and Ottumwa, Iowa's Twin Galaxies.
Frank Henry Loesser (1910 – 1969) wrote the lyrics and music to Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among others. Jussi Björling singing Nessun Dorma, Deanna Durbin singing Nessun Dorma. Squillo "is a technical term attached to the resonant, trumpet-like sound in the voice of opera singers." Wikipedia
- References to opera are littered throughout Pynchon's works. Wagner is mentioned numerous times in Gravity's Rainbow.
The selection of Deanna Durbin as a contender for the "best" version of Nessun Dorma is bizarre: since Nessun Dorma is a tenor aria (ie written for the male voice), Ms Durbin's version would be considered an aberration at worst and a novelty trick at best by most operagoers.
it's Aretha Franklin, the time she filled in for Pavarotti at the Grammys back in '98
Here's the performance right here.
prewar classic seven
Prewar apartment with seven full rooms.
Yiddish for "slap" or, more particularly, "a slap in the face."
Space Ghost Coast to Ghost
A cult classic cartoon that ran from 1994-2004, known for its "surrealism, non-sequiturs and random, unpredictable parody humor". Wikipedia
Likud is the major center-right party in Israel. A secular party, it was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had lost power. In addition, it was the first time in Israel that a right wing party won the plurality of the votes. However, after ruling the country for most of the 1980s, the party lost the Knesset election in 1992. Nevertheless, Likud's candidate Benjamin Netanyahu did win the vote for Prime Minister in 1996 and was given the task of forming a government after the 1996 elections. From WIKI.
Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips and comic books for over 90 years, and has become an archetype of the evil criminal genius while lending the name to the Fu Manchu moustache. From WIKI.
See also Darren's rap about "old movie confusions" on page 283 where Warner Oland, who played Fu Manchu in the film franchise, is namechecked.
On page 9 of The Crying of Lot 49 Fu-Manchu makes an appearance on the face of an impersonating Dr. Hilarius as a treatment for hysterical blindness.
Lenox Hill Hospital, on Manhattan's Upper East Side in New York City, is a 652-bed, tertiary-care hospital and a teaching hospital of New York Medical College, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Long Island University and Pace University. It was founded in 1857 as the German Dispensary. From WIKI.
Another opera reference. The villain in this opera is the chief of the secret police.
Domingo ... Behrens ... legendary
March 1985; certainly legendary principals, and unique in that Ms Behrens gained her reputation based on her interpretations of the German repertoire, rarely venturing into Italian roles such as this one. But the New York Times's reviewer was unimpressed: . You can decide for yourself:  
a RICO beef
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them, closing a perceived loophole that allowed someone who told a man to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because he did not actually commit the crime personally. From WIKI.
Explaining to Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
The narrator jokingly refers to Windust as Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who played an FBI agent in the TV series The FBI.
Sam Jaffe (March 10, 1891 – March 24, 1984) was an American actor, teacher, musician and engineer. In 1951, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and appeared in other classic films such as Ben-Hur (1959) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). He may be best remembered for playing the title role in Gunga Din (1939), and the High Lama in Lost Horizon (1937). From WIKI.
Klaatu is a fictional humanoid alien in the 1951 science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still and its 2008 remake. Klaatu is famous in part because of the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto!" used in the classic film and its re-use in the Bruce Campbell cult comedy film Army of Darkness, as well as many other films. From WIKI.
just as the covert federal shutter fell
The way Pynchon describes the feds taking a picture of Ernie without his knowledge is consistent with Pynchon's dislike/distrust of cameras. Here his description seems to liken the camera's falling shutter (which, of course, doesn't actually "fall", rather it rotates and opens/closes) to an axe or guillotine, an assault. But it's in Against the Day where Pynchon more fully expands on his suspicion of cameras, portraying the camera as ""A weapon based on Time [...] With a Time-weapon you could become the most feared person in history." Against the Day, page 558.
the Hollywood Ten
Folks in Hollywood blacklisted as said they were Communists. See the WIKI.
A reconvergence of what the day scattered
Sappho was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost, but her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.
Pynchon is referencing this Sappho poem, also known as fragment 104(a):
To EveningThou bring'st the child, too, to his mother's side.
O HESPERUS! Thou bringest all things home;
All that the garish day hath scattered wide;
The sheep, the goat, back to the welcome fold;
Hesperus is the planet Venus glowing in the evening sky. (The V. motif again!) Pynchon quotes this very poem in Mason & Dixon, at page 96.
A notorious American serial killer and rapist known for abducting women in the 1970s. Wikipedia.
Strangers in the night, exchanging--
From the song "Strangers in the Night" made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1966. The first verse goes:
Strangers in the night exchanging glances
Wondering in the night what were the chances
We'd be sharing love before the night was through.
still believes the Rosenbergs were innocent
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage and executed in 1953. By 2001, revelations from the Venona Project indicating the guilt of Julius Rosenberg (but not Ethel) had been widely publicized, making Ernie's belief in their innocence even more of an old-Leftie-holdout position. See WIKI.
La cibaeñа is a girl or woman from the Dominican Republic region of Cibao.
Dominican street food.
General Tso's catibias, going along with the restaurant's Chinese-Dominican fusion, would be a catibias, kind of like a small Dominican calzone, filled with General Tso's chicken or pork, a popular Chinese dish which mainly has to do with the sauce.
Morir soñando (die dreaming) is a popular beverage of the Dominican Republic which has made its way to other Hispanic countries, usually made of orange juice, milk, cane sugar, and chopped ice. Sometimes vanilla extract is also added, or evaporated milk is used instead of regular milk. The recipe varies greatly depending on the region and family heritage. American observers have described the drink as resembling a Creamsicle. From WIKI.
An actual program with a history not different from what Windust describes, Mossad agents included. See the article by Michael Ruppert Promis
A Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin. See WIKI.
the Ofeq satellite
Ofeq is the designation of a series of Israeli reconnaissance satellites first launched in 1988. Most Ofeq satellites have been carried on top of Shavit rockets from Palmachim Airbase in Israel, on the Mediterranean coast. The Low Earth Orbit satellites complete one earth orbit every 90 minutes. The satellite launches made Israel only the eighth nation to gain an indigenous launch capability. Both the satellites and the launchers were designed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with Elbit Systems' El-Op division supplying the optical payload. From WIKI.
the Pollard case
Jonathan Jay Pollard (born August 7, 1954) is an American who passed classified information to Israel while working as an American civilian intelligence analyst. He pleaded guilty and received a life sentence in 1987. Because his crime occurred prior to November 1, 1987, he was eligible for parole and was released on November 20, 2015. From WIKI.
The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya is a private university in Israel founded in 1994 by Uriel Reichman. IDC Herzliya is a non-profit corporate institution that receives no government subsidies. The goal is scholarship that goes hand in hand with social responsibility. Degrees granted by IDC Herzliya are accredited by the Israeli Council for Higher Education and are recognized worldwide. From WIKI.
A sayanim is a Jew living outside Israel who volunteers to provide assistance to Israel and/or the Israeli Mossad utilising the capacity of their own nationality to procure assistance. This assistance includes facilitating medical care, money, logistics, and even overt intelligence gathering. Estimates put the number of sayanims in the hundreds of thousand. While not official Mossad agents and sometimes acting without explicit knowledge, they may work in the capacity of unregistered representatives of the government of Israel in their respective nations. From Meta.
No keystroke left behind
A reference to the 2001 'No Child Left Behind' Act, the George W. Bush administration's education reform which essentially mandated that each state implement a standardized testing program. Wikipedia
Politics & Prose
Independent bookstore in Washington, D.C. Website here.
Big Ben theme
as heard here.
an actual delivery website, went out of business April 2001.
Another opera reference, this time to Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer, about a Dutch sea captain, fated to sail the seas for eternity, or at least until he can find true love (which in the opera, he doesn't)
a chain of pharmacy and convenience stores, with locations seemingly everywhere in New York City.
The Bronx High School of Science is a specialized New York City public high school often considered the premier science magnet school in the United States. Founded in 1938, it is now located in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx. Admission is by an exam open to all grade-eligible students in New York City, reportedly taken by more than 20,000 students annually. Although known for its focus on mathematics and science, Bronx Science also emphasizes the humanities and social sciences and continually attracts students with a wide variety of interests beyond math and science. From WIKI.
a pun on Facebook?
Santiago, Chile, on 11 September 1973
The 11 September 1973 Chilean coup d'état was a watershed event in both the Cold War and the history of Chile. Following an extended period of social and political unrest between the conservative-dominated Congress of Chile and the socialist President Salvador Allende, as well as economic warfare ordered by U.S. President Richard Nixon, Allende was overthrown by the armed forces and national police. During the air raids and ground attacks that preceded the coup, Allende gave his last speech, in which he vowed to stay in the presidential palace, denouncing offers for safe passage should he choose exile over confrontation. From WIKI.
The Dirty War (part of Operation Condor) was a period of state terrorism in Argentina against political dissidents, with military and security forces conducting urban and rural guerrilla warfare against left-wing guerrillas, political dissidents, and anyone believed to be associated with socialism. Victims of the violence included an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 left-wing activists and militants, including trade unionists, students, journalists, Marxists, Peronist guerrillas and alleged sympathizers. Some 10,000 of the "disappeared" were believed to be guerrillas of the Montoneros (MPM), and the Marxist People's Revolutionary Army (ERP). The guerrillas were responsible for causing at least 6,000 casualties among the military, police forces and civilian population according to a National Geographic Magazine article in the mid-1980s. From WIKI.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization that was initiated in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference and formally created in 1945 by 29 member countries. The IMF's stated goal was to assist in the reconstruction of the world's international payment system post–World War II. Countries contribute money to a pool through a quota system from which countries with payment imbalances can borrow funds temporarily. Through this activity and others such as surveillance of its members' economies and the demand for self-correcting policies, the IMF works to improve the economies of its member countries. From WIKI.
School of the Americas
The US Army School of the Americas, is a United States Department of Defense Institute located at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia, that provides military training to government personnel of Latin American countries. The school was founded in 1946 and from 1961 was assigned the specific goal of teaching "anti-communist counterinsurgency training," a role which it would fulfill for the rest of the Cold War. In this period, it educated several Latin American dictators, generations of their military and, during the 1980s, included the uses of torture in its curriculum. In 2000/2001, the institute was renamed The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). From WIKI.
Zermelo's Axiom of Choice
In mathematics, the axiom of choice, or AC, is an axiom of set theory equivalent to the statement that "the product of a collection of non-empty sets is non-empty". The axiom of choice was formulated in 1904 by Ernst Zermelo in order to formalize his proof of the well-ordering theorem. For more detail see WIKI.
The United Fruit Company was an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit (primarily bananas) grown on Central and South American plantations and sold in the United States and Europe. The company was formed in 1899 from the merger of Minor C. Keith's banana-trading concerns with Andrew W. Preston's Boston Fruit Company. It flourished in the early and mid-20th century and came to control vast territories and transportation networks in Central America, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Ecuador, and the West Indies. Though it competed with the Standard Fruit Company for dominance in the international banana trade, it maintained a virtual monopoly in certain regions, some of which came to be called banana republics. From WIKI.
Mayan language spoken primarily in Guatemala and part of Mexico.