I Get Mental Disability Check

People keep shaming me. Here is the proof – I deserve a Mental Disability Check! This is my annual Check-up and Recertification.

In Pynchon’s book, Vineland, we are introduced to Zoyd Wheeler who gets a mental disability check, and, HAS a daughter named Prairie. I HAVE a daughter named Heather, she is the greatest Un-daughter in literary history. She is in my family tree next to Mary Ann Tharaldsen, who lived with Thomas Pynchon in Oakland and Mexico. Heather was conceived in Oakland. There was a fight over MY daughter, and my stepdaughter, Britt, Mary Ann’s only child. Many people have claimed I am not fit to have a child. Some say I am not fit – to live! I am not qualified to live – here! Why?

I just got a increase in my SSI check. I am now getting $771.00 a month. I run my newspaper off this amount – at home. Some people hate me and my newspaper, and demand I stop writing about them. I claim I am saving and archiving a Alternative Lifestyle that might be on the way back as millions realize the Trumpire was an alternative universe, the most far out thing that ever happened to many citizens of the world.

What I am putting forth, is, I am the real Zoyd Wheeler, who may be based on Ken Kesey. There is not many words about the Tom and Ken connection. There are tens of thousands of words about Tom and his book ‘Vineland’. Zoyd is cuckoo! I am cuckoo! I have been on the bus with Ken. I am one of the most prolific writers of our age – and the most unsuccessful. I’ve been away. I am…………….away!

I am going to run for Mayor and Congress in order to give my enemies the joy of revealing I am a Stalker, and Alley Valkuries was right. I will be tar and feathered and run out of town on a rail to – Vineland – that used to be Glenwood, that was once a part of Fairmont. Indeed I will got before two City Councils to get Glenwood renamed, Vineland. I will make it a Thomas Pynchon tourist trap. We will hold the annual Zoyd Wheeler Discovery Festival where the results of the Witch Hunts will be read aloud as I sit in a pillory.

John Presco a.k.a. Zoyd Wheeler

“mental disability check”

This instantly identifies Zoyd as a sixties character with a sixties scam. In the late sixties, Bay Area actor/writer Peter Coyote (b. 1941) wrote and performed a then-popular song called “ATD” celebrating the coolness of getting onto ATD (Aid to the Totally Disabled) for feigned mental problems to avoid having to work at some evil-collaborative (i.e., straight) job. The trick, of course, was convincing your caseworker that you were a nut. Zoyd’s annual window-dive is a comic version of a now-classic ritual-scam turned into a media circus (as are most remains of the sixties). Given the importance of the Tube in Vineland, it’s no accident that what was originally a private act of financial desperation has become a filler on TV news (complete with a fake window). Of course, as it turns out, this particular scam is not Zoyd’s idea.






it—$500 up front. Pynchon used the money to skip town.

Two of Pynchon’s Cornell friends, his future girlfriend Tharaldsen and her then-husband, David ­Seidler, had moved to Seattle and encouraged Pynchon to join them. Tharaldsen says Pynchon arrived “depressed—very down.” She worked for Boeing, and hooked him up with a job writing technical copy for their in-house guide, Bomarc Service News. The aerospace giant was just then developing the Minuteman, a nuclear-capable missile that likely inspired Pynchon, years later, to cast Germany’s World War II–era V-2 rocket as the screaming menace of Gravity’s Rainbow. (One of the joys of tracking Pynchon is tracing the far-flung interconnections in his work to unlikely real-world experiences—dating an NSA worker; seeing Charles de Gaulle in Mexico; fooling around on a primitive music synthesizer in 1972.)

One colleague remembered Pynchon as ornery and solitary on the job. But he managed to turn in V. eighteen months after signing the contract, meeting his own arbitrary deadline on the nose. After a few months of intense editing by mail, he used the $1,000 to quit his job at Boeing, vowing never to work for a corporation again. He called it his “escape money,” and he wanted to make it last—by running again, this time to Mexico.

Ken Kesey Biography


Ken Kesey was one of Oregon’s most famous, critically acclaimed, and controversial authors. His rise to literary and cultural prominence was the product of his distinctive skills and experiences.

Kesey was born on September 17, 1935, in La Junta, Colorado, and in 1946 he and his family moved to Springfield, Oregon. In both high school and at the University of Oregon, Kesey was a champion wrestler. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism in 1957, Kesey attended Stanford University’s creative writing program under the tutelage of acclaimed historian, novelist, and short story writer Wallace Stegner. While at Stanford, Kesey participated in U.S. Army experiments involving lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and mescalin. These hallucinogenic experiences would change Kesey’s outlook on life and inspire his writings.

He published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962 and the quintessential Oregon novel Sometimes a Great Notion in 1964. Both novels explore what Kesey saw as the conflict between modern industrial society and individuality, a struggle between conformity and freedom. This struggle was also central to Kesey’s personal life, where he turned to psychedelic drugs to find personal liberation.

Vineland is a 1990 novel by Thomas Pynchon, a postmodern fiction set in California, United States in 1984, the year of Ronald Reagan‘s reelection.[1] Through flashbacks by its characters, who have lived the sixties in their youth, the story accounts for the free spirit of rebellion of that decade, and describes the traits of the “fascistic Nixonian repression” and its War on Drugs that clashed with it; and it articulates the slide and transformation that occurred in U.S. society from the 1960s to the 1980s.[1][2][3]


The story is set in California, United States, in 1984, the year of Ronald Reagan‘s reelection.[1] After a scene in which former hippie Zoyd Wheeler dives through a window, something he is required to do yearly in order to keep receiving mental disability checks, the action of the novel opens with the resurfacing of federal agent Brock Vond, who (through a platoon of agents) forces Zoyd and his 14-year-old daughter Prairie out of their house. They hide from Brock, and from Hector Zuñiga (a drug-enforcement federale from Zoyd’s past, who Zoyd suspects is in cahoots with Brock) with old friends of Zoyd’s, who recount to the mystified Prairie the story of Brock’s motivation for what he has done.

This hinges heavily on Frenesi Gates, Prairie’s mother, whom she has never met. In the ’60s, during the height of the hippie era, the fictive College of the Surf seceded from the United States and became its own nation of hippies and dope smokers, called the People’s Republic of Rock and Roll (PR³). Brock Vond, a federal prosecutor, intends to bring down PR³, and finds a willing accomplice in Frenesi. She is a member of 24fps, a militant film collective (other members of which are the people telling Prairie their story in the present), that seeks to document the “fascists’ ” transgressions against freedom and the hippie ideals. Frenesi is uncontrollably attracted to Brock and the sex he provides, and ends up working as a double agent to bring about the killing of the de facto leader of PR³, Weed Atman (a mathematics professor who accidentally became the subject of a cult of personality).

Her betrayal caused Frenesi to flee, and she has been living in witness protection with Brock’s help up until the present day. Now she has disappeared. The membership of 24fps, Brock Vond, and Hector Zuñiga are all searching for her, for their various motives. The book’s theme of the ubiquity of television (or the Tube) comes to a head when Hector, a Tube addict who has actually not been working with Brock, finds funding to create his pet project of a movie telling the story of the depraved sixties, with Frenesi Gates as the director, and the pomp and circumstance surrounding this big-money deal create a net of safety that allows Frenesi to come out of hiding. 24fps finds her and achieves their goal of allowing Prairie to meet her, at an enormous reunion of Frenesi’s family. Weed Atman is also present at the reunion as one of many Thanatoids in the book—people who are in a state that is “like death, but different.”

Brock, nearly omnipotent with D.E.A. funds, finds Prairie with a surveillance helicopter, and tries to snatch her up in order to get to Frenesi, but while he is hovering above her on a ladder, the government abruptly cuts all his funding due to a loss of interest in funding the war on drugs because people have begun playing along willingly with the antidrug ideal, and his helicopter pilot flies him away. Later he tries to come after Prairie and Frenesi again, but is killed when he crashes his helicopter. The family reunion allows everyone to tie up all their loose ends, and the book ends with Prairie looking into the beginning of a life no longer controlled by the fall-out of the past.


Throughout the novel, Pynchon’s technique is recognizable. From a cameo of Mucho Maas (from The Crying of Lot 49) to a bizarre episode hinting at Godzilla, Pynchon’s “zaniness” pervades the novel. For example, Pynchon laces the book with Star Trek references. He has his characters watch a sitcom named Say, Jim, about a starship all of whose officers “were black except for the Communications Officer, a freckled white redhead named Lieutenant O’Hara.” The numerous references to films rigorously include the year of release in a manner unusual for a work of fiction. Several characters are Thanatoids, victims of a particular karmic imbalance.

In addition, the novel is replete with female ninjas, astrologers, marijuana smokers, television addicts, musical interludes (including the theme song of The Smurfs) and metaphors drawn from Star Trek.

Chapter 1

Revision as of 19:44, 11 March 2013 by Dalbert (Talk | contribs) (Page 9: Add YouTube link)

Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.

Page numbers refer to editions with 385 pages, where the story begins on page 3. Not sure if there are other editions with variant pagination. Please let us know otherwise.

Jacket Flap

Read Vineland’s original book jacket flap here.

“less than harmonic convergence”
The Harmonic Convergence was a planetary alignment occurring in 1987 that was heralded by New Age astrologers as ushering-in an age of peace, rather than war, as a prelude to the Mayan “end of history” in 2012.

Page 3

Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

“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.”
Nice prolepsis going on in this opening sentence which subtly telegraphs Vineland themes. The pacific experience of drifting awake — and Zoyd would definitely be drifting — in filtered sunlight one summer morning is contrasted by the foreshadowings of threats — creeping figs (a highly invasive plant) connecting to federal prosecutor Brock Vond who is referred to throughout as a “creep” and a “megacreep,” notably on pp. 108, 141 and 189. And those “squadrons of blue jays stomping around…” — blue jays are scavengers and considered “adaptable, aggressive and omnivorous”; they also have a reputation as raiders of other birds’ nests, stealing eggs, chicks [1]. In Vineland these blue jays will morph into squadrons of “private vigilantes” in blue planes, on p. 221. And, natch, there’s that ominous Orwellian year of 1984. Of course, the reference to a “vine” in the novel’s opening sentence, even if it’s creeping, is appropo. Finally, the color blue figures prominently in Vineland, and particularly Frenesi’s blue eyes. Read more about the color blue in Vineland

It’s also worth noting how this book begins, as does Gravity’s Rainbow, with a protagonist waking from a portentous dream, with light percolating in.

“Zoyd Wheeler”
Rhymes with void, shares Z with Zuniga. Zoyd’s last name perhaps references Wheeler Hall at University of California at Berkeley, at the epicenter of student unrest in the 60s.

The suffix -oid is like -ish; think humanoid, freakazoid, etc. So Zoyd is Z-ish. What comes to mind about Z? It’s the last letter of the alphabet, so Zoyd is near the bottom. “Boyd” might be a good name for the heroic, hard-charging hero of an adventure or detective story, but not Zoyd. What else? Getting Z’s means sleeping, so perhaps Zoyd is sleepy. Z is the first letter of zero, and the one-zero dichotomy shows up often in Vineland. Finally, remember Z for Zorro and the leftish 1960’s political film Z

blue jays


The blue jay [Cyanocitta cristata] does not range west of the Rocky Mountains. The birds Zoyd hears are Stellar’s jays [C. stellari], with dark heads and a more uniformly blue body.

“mental disability check”
This instantly identifies Zoyd as a sixties character with a sixties scam. In the late sixties, Bay Area actor/writer Peter Coyote (b. 1941) wrote and performed a then-popular song called “ATD” celebrating the coolness of getting onto ATD (Aid to the Totally Disabled) for feigned mental problems to avoid having to work at some evil-collaborative (i.e., straight) job. The trick, of course, was convincing your caseworker that you were a nut. Zoyd’s annual window-dive is a comic version of a now-classic ritual-scam turned into a media circus (as are most remains of the sixties). Given the importance of the Tube in Vineland, it’s no accident that what was originally a private act of financial desperation has become a filler on TV news (complete with a fake window). Of course, as it turns out, this particular scam is not Zoyd’s idea.

Zoyd’s daughter would likely be Prairie Wheeler, thus her name might connect to the Tibetan Prayer Wheel, a mechanical device used as an equivalent to the recitation of a mantra. The prayer wheel consists of a hollow metal cylinder, often beautifully embossed, mounted on a rod and containing a consecrated paper bearing a mantra. Each turn of the wheel by hand is considered equivalent to orally reciting the prayer. Variants to the handheld prayer wheel are large cylinders that can be set in motion by hand or attached to windmills or waterwheels and thus kept in continuous motion.

Note that Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is up around where the fictional town of Vineland is supposed to exist.

“country music was playing out of somebody’s truck radio”
Good Mendocino atmosphere throughout; clearly, Pynchon has been there.

“Count Chocula”
An actual cereal that made its first appears in 1971, along with another monster-themed offering from General Mills, Franken Berry. Wikipedia


Plant genus including Thapsia garganica; roots used medicinally as a purgative, diuretic, and emetic. Contact with the sap can cause intense itching and blisters.

Channel 86

86 = to remove, take out, discard. During Prohibition, a popular NY speakeasy called Chumley’s had an entrance at 86 Bedford Street. Customers generally used a more discreet entrance accessed through a neighboring courtyard, and this was the entrance used by the police when staging a raid. When warned of an impending raid, the bartender would shout, “86, everybody!”, meaning that patrons should quickly exit through the safer, public entrance.

“Froot Loops again”

Froot Loops is a brand of breakfast cereal introduced by Kellogg’s in 1963. A stoner favorite, they appear in Inherent Vice too.

“Nestle’s Quik”
A chocolate flavoring for milk mix that was developed in the U.S. by 1948. It was introduced in Europe in 1950 as Nesquik and that name was adapted in the U.S. in 1999.

“Cucumber Lounge”
A phallic name, for sure. And cucumbers are one of Humboldt County’s major crops, right up there with marijuana.

“the Log Jam in Del Norte”
And another phallic club name playing off the county’s logging industry.

Del Norte County in Northern California – so Pynchon has sharply indicated both the date and the location of the action.

Page 4

“elegant little…chain saw, about the size of a Mini-Mac”
Mini-Mac = the Mac-10 machine pistol of US make. Zoyd’s lady-like chainsaw goes well with his drag costume, and the effeminate clientele (drinking “kiwi mimosas.”) It also makes a nice almost-rhyme with Sheriff Willis Chunko’s gold-handled chainsaw on page 373.

Page 6

“orientational vibes”
Great satire on gay men who like to dress like lumberjacks, possibly inspired by the Monty Python song, “I am a Lumberjack and I’m OK”. Watch the video…

Page 7

“Six Rivers Conference”
To the south of the eerie and mysterious Seventh River? (See p. 49.)

Six Rivers National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the northwestern corner of California, with a U.S. Mail address in Eureka, CA. The Six Rivers Youth Football Conference is also headquartered in Eureka.

“nacreous pretty saw”
Referring to the mother-of-pearl grips on “Cheryl’s” chainsaw.

“hotshot PI lawyers”
PI = Normally short for personal injury, but here perhaps purchase of information, as noted on p. 24.

The context definitely suggests Personal Injury, not Purchase of Information. “these are all folks now who like to sue…” and PI lawsuits are what they’re bringing.

“George Lucas and all his crew”
The forest sequences of the Star Wars sequel were shot in the area.


The act of passing [jumping] through a window. Defenestration is the act of throwing something [or someone] out of a window.

Page 8

…say there Lemay!
General “Bomb them back to the Stone Age!” Curtis Lemay ?

His partner, Van Meter, was calling from the Cucumber Lounge…
The name is likely a tip of the hat to Solomon Lee Van Meter, Jr. (1888-1937) who’s brilliant idea was to invent a parachute that was strapped onto the pilot instead of attached to the plane itself, as early parachutes were. He also invented the quick-release mechanism called the ripcord. His patents were granted in 1916. From the Aviation Museum of Kentucky website

Or mebbe to Homer Van Meter, gunman and right hand man for John Dillinger, filmically portrayed by the likes of Elisha Cook, Jr., (1957) and Harry Dean Stanton (1973). The best line from the Wikipedia page linked above has it that “There are conflicting accounts of Van Meter’s personality, although all agree that he was an inveterate clown and prankster.”

Or perhaps Van Morrison, a singer popular in the sixties (and beyond).

Vineland County

Northern California Counties

There is no Vineland County on the California map. Pynchon appears to have created Vineland County from parts of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties. However, on page 43 of Inherent Vice, Pynchon writes “Scott had been playing with a local group known as the Corvairs, till half of them decided to join the northward migration of those years up to Humboldt, Vineland, and Del Norte”. This leaves out Mendocino, which was part of the “hippie migration”, and best fits the name Vineland, since it’s the only one of the three that’s been a major grape producer in the past. Jump to page 317 for more evidence that Vineland lies on the border between Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

Page 9

“cop vehicles…playing the ‘Jeopardy’ theme on their sirens.”
The first of many TV show / theme song references, this one to the popular game show Jeopardy! which began airing on March 30, 1964. Listen on YouTube.

“unrelenting…bickering…[caused by] unquiet ghosts”
A pre-hint of the Thanatoids?

Page 10

“one of those gotta-shit throbs of fear.”
An apt description, if you’ve ever felt it. Pynchon seems big on these visceral fear reactions; see also p. 45 (“intestinal pangs of fear”), p. 116 (“stone bowelflash”), p. 207 (“a throb of fear went right up his asshole”), p. 299 (“rectal spasms of fear,”) and elsewhere.

Zoyd’s longtime pursuer, DEA field agent Hector Zuñiga
To hector is to harass. Pynchon often alludes to opera in his work, and in Georges Bizet’s French opéra comique, Carmen (1875), there is the character Zuniga (without the tilde), an officer who arrests the beautiful gypsy Carmen after she is involved in a fight with another woman at the cigarette factory where they work. Synopsis

“Dream on, Zoyd.”
Pynchon seems to be using the authorial voice with slightly higher profile than previously, speaking directly to characters (and readers) with comments like this.

“Hector stood over by the toilets pretending to play a Zaxxon machine…”
Zaxxon is a 1982 arcade game developed by Ikegami Tsushinki and released by Sega. The game gives the player the experience of flying a fighter craft through a fortress while shooting at enemy entities (missiles, enemy gunfire, etc.). Wikipedia

The name may be a play on “rave on,” but it’s also been suggested that it might derive from huevon, a Spanish word meaning egg, but also referring to a testicle — hence someone with “big balls.” (Pynchon did live in Mexico for a while…) In any case, Wayvone is also a remittance man, someone who gets paid a small but regular amount of money to stay out of trouble in some far-away place. Pynchon seems fond of the type — there are several in V. and Gravity’s Rainbow, and the latter even has a remittance horse (named Snake). Is it pronounced “wavy one”?

In Chicano slang, a lazy man [“heavy balls” making activity difficult or distasteful].

Double-sole shoes & mid-80s Cerruit suit

“Ralph Jr. was all dolled up in a Cerruti suit, white shirt with cuff links, touch them you die double soled shoes from someplace off-shore, the works.”
Cerruti suits have been around since the 1950s, a symbol of prestige and excellence in men’s suits. Italian designer Nino Cerruti (b. 1930) is the creator of the line, which continues to this day (as does Mr. Cerruti). In the 1980s, Wayvone’s look was fashionable with the greed-is-good Wall Street crowd.

The expensive foreign suit and shoes (inappropriate for rural Northern California), the Italian designer, the oblique reference to his father’s City occupation, his perhaps-Italian name (way-voh-nee, rhyming with cojone or maybe Capone, a Capone-of-the-Waves i.e. a California Capone?) all stereotype him as a Mafioso.

Page 12

“technical virgin”
Meaning Zoyd has more-or-less resisted Zuniga’s attempt to “turn” him into an informer/betrayer. The sexual metaphor prefigures many references to Frenesi’s pussy (which she blames for driving her far beyond this stage).

“Wheel of Fortune”
Wheel of Fortune is an American Tube game show, hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White. It is the longest-running syndicated game show in American television history.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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