Footnotes to ‘Bored to Death’: Season 3, Episode 5

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Although we enjoy Bored to Death’s hilarious story lines and overarching themes, we get at least as much pleasure out of its details — the literary references, the in-jokes, the real, New York City locations. So, this season, we’re publishing a weekly series of Bored to Death footnotes. Follow along with us after the jump as we go minute by minute through episode five, shouting out places we recognize and explaining some of the show’s oddball allusions. Feel free to point out anything we may have missed in the comments.

Image credit: Pardon Me for Asking

1:28 — Ray and George are playing bocce at Carroll Park in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. A local blogger published a detailed post on the shoot back in May, with plenty of cast photos. According to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, there are currently no fewer than 39 bocce courts in parks throughout the five boroughs.

2:25 — George tells Ray that he and Jonathan had planned a trip to Key West to visit Ernest Hemingway’s house, before their break-up. Travelers hoping to do the same can learn all about the American modernist’s stylish dwelling, which he moved into in 1931, at the Hemingway Home website. By far the most exciting detail we learned in our research: “The cats about the home and grounds are descendants of the cats he kept while he lived in the house, including many extra-toed (polydactyls), like the one Papa Hemingway loved.”

3:39 — Richard Antrem’s restaurant is threatening to put George’s out of business. “Sifton gave him a rave in the Times,” George complains, in one of the show’s few anachronisms. While Sifton was clearly still the paper’s restaurant critic when the episode was shot, he stepped down from the role in September to become its National editor. Eric Asimov, the Times‘ chief wine critic (nice work if you can get it!) has temporarily taken over the position.

3:59 — Here she is: the season’s most exciting guest star so far, Sarah Silverman! Who knew you could tell so much about a patient from his foot-massage technique?

9:38 — “I keep taking baths like Lady Macbeth,” Ray tells Belinda, confessing his guilt over cheating on Leah. In fact, it was obsessive hand-washing that consumed Shakespeare’s antiheroine; we’re thinking Ray may feel the need to over-cleanse certain other body parts.

10:18 — Another great guest star: Ted Danson’s real-life wife, Mary Steenburgen. They must love to share the screen, seeing as they also played themselves on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

10:21 — George recalls that he was a Whiffenpoof at Yale. Although this sounds like it might be a secret society of ascot-wearing homosexuals, it is in fact an a cappella group that really exists. In fact, the ensemble has been around since 1909, making it the nation’s oldest collegiate a cappella group. And yes, it’s true that Cole Porter was a member, way back in 1913.

13:36 — “I felt like Primo Levi,” Louis Green tells Ray, likening his night in jail to the experience of a Holocaust survivor who wrote the memoir Survival in Auschwitz and eventually committed suicide.

18:06 — Jonathan and Ray are shocked to learn that Louis is buying the groceries for Richard & Sons at what is “not even a nice supermarket.” As New Yorkers will attest, the C-Town chain is hardly upscale — but it is on Tumblr (its Williamsburg location, of course)! And its eagle-eyed blogger identifies the store featured on the show as the 2869 Fulton Street, Brooklyn location. Yeah, that’s pretty far out there.