Page 382. " Mickey Rooney "
Mickey Rooney in a trailer for 'The Human Comedy' (1943)
Public DomainMickey Rooney in a trailer for 'The Human Comedy' (1943) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mickey Rooney (born 1920) is an American actor who has been working since 1922. He has worked in film, television and on the stage, and has won an honorary Oscar, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy.

As for his appearance in Gravity's Rainbow, Rooney was indeed in Germany with the Army at the time of the Potsdam Conference, but was unable to attend and meet Truman himself. However, Rooney's presence may be a reference to Hello Pal Comics. This series lasted for only three issues, but featured a character called Rocketman, as well as a photo of a movie star in each issue. The first issue featured Rooney's image on its cover. So, Rocketman and Mickey Rooney had already crossed paths before Pynchon brought them back together.

Page 385. " the smell of freshly brewed mate "
A cup of mate
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA cup of mate - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mate is an infused drink popular in South America, particularly Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Chile. It is brewed by steeping dried yerba mate leaves in hot water. It is drunk from a hollowed fruit shell through a metal straw.

Page 390. " It took the Dreyfus affair to get the Zionists out and doing "
A satirical cartoon commenting of the Dreyfus affair, 1895
Public DomainDreyfus' sword is snapped to mark his dishonour, 1895 - Credit: Henri Meyer

The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that shocked France in the 1890s and early 1900s.

In November 1894, a French artillery officer, Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment for supposedly communicating military secrets to the German embassy. In 1896, new evidence emerged suggesting that Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy was the real culprit. However, this evidence was suppressed by military authorities and Esterhazy was acquitted. Meanwhile, the French counter-intelligence department produced false documents further asserting Dreyfus's guilt.

Public distrust of the proceedings came to a head in January 1898 with the publication of J'accuse, Émile Zola's open letter, in a Paris newspaper. The fact that Dreyfus was of Jewish descent led many to argue that he had been convicted due to an anti-semitic bias.

The case was reopened, and the retrial of Dreyfus split France. Eventually, all charges were dropped and Dreyfus was reinstated in 1906.

Page 390. " When he was a little boy, back in Leningrad "

This is inaccurate.

It is earlier stated that Tchitcherine was born in 1905. Petrograd, now known as St. Petersburg, was only renamed Leningrad in 1924. Tchitcherine would have been 19 by this time. Whether this is an error on Pynchon's part, or whether Tchitcherine is simply applying the city's new name retroactively, is unclear.

Page 391. " SPOG, CIOS BAFO, TI "

SPOG stands for Special Projectiles Operations Group. CIOS stands for Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, of which SPOG was a subsidiary. BAFO stands for the British Air Force of Occupation, formed in 1945 from the Second Territorial Air Force. TI stands for the Technical Intelligence wing of the British Army.