The Best References to Westchester in Popular Culture, 2010

The end of the year means end-of-year lists. As your local pop-culture blogger, throughout the year I keep my eyes out for references to our area in popular culture at large. I figured those references let us keep tabs on how the rest of the world—or at least Hollywood—views our little corner of New York. These were my favorite references in 2010.

10. Kanye West’s Literary Favorites
Kanye West is known for his introspective hip-hop lyrics but, in the song “Runaway,” a single from his most recent album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it’s guest rapper Pusha T that drops a local lyric. Pusha T makes reference to Ichabod Crane but, as this is a family blog, we can’t really repeat the rest of the line here. But we’re still glad that somebody is getting Washington Irving’s name out there in hip-hop circles.
(Watch the video—which still has explicit lyrics—and listen for Pusha T’s part around the four-minute mark.)

9. Andrew Jarecki’s Taste in Tabloids
Andrew Jarecki made his mark by directing Capturing the Friedmans, about an upper-middle-class family on Long Island accused of crimes against children. Now, in All Good Things, he turns his sites on another upper-class family associated with unsolved mysteries: The Dursts. Sure, All Good Things changes identifying names, but it’s still about one man—who just so happens to have a country house in Westchester—and the number of crimes he may have committed. There’s even a dogged D.A. character, named Janice Rizzo. (Does that sound like Jeanine Pirro to you?)
(Watch the trailer.)

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8. Fringe‘s Safe House
It’s hard to keep track of where the Fringe characters are, what with the alternate universes and everything. But, in the third-season premiere, one thing was for sure: Main character Olivia Dunham is in Tarrytown. Though trapped in the “wrong” universe, she remembers 302 Shadowgrove Circle as the address of a “safe house.” The address doesn’t exist in real life, but, as far as safe houses go, Tarrytown is such a lovely village to put one in—even if it is the wrong universe.
(Read the recap.)

7. Rabbit Hole‘s Lockup
David Lindsay-Abaire’s play Rabbit Hole decidedly takes place in Larchmont. The movie, which was released this year starring Nicole Kidman (Becca) and Aaron Eckhart (Howie), doesn’t really give away its location—and, in fact, it was shot in Queens. However, there is one Westchester identifier that is undeniable: When Becca’s sister is arrested and Becca goes to pick her up, they’re clearly leaving the Yonkers Police Department. (When I saw John Cameron Mitchell speak about the film at the Jacob Burns Film Center, he noted that a lot of the film was shot in Yonkers.) Yonkers, you are ready for your close-up…
(Watch the trailer.)

6. Eat Pray Love‘s Dismissal
…or maybe not. In Eat Pray Love, when the main character (Liz, played by Julia Roberts) leaves her marriage, she takes up with a younger man (James Franco, so we don’t blame her). But she only half buys in to his hippie-dippie lifestyle. When it comes time for her to prove she’s not taking him all that seriously, she refers to him, in voiceover, as “the yogi from Yonkers,” like that’s a crazy thing. I guess Yonkers still doesn’t get all the respect it deserves.
(Watch the trailer.)

5. Saturday Night Live‘s Jabs
It’s no secret that, as far as parodies of Governor David Paterson go, Saturday Night Live‘s were often the cruelest. But, hey, what did we ever do to them? When Fred Armisen, as David Paterson, starts to make fun of upstate, his aim is a bit too far south. He called Peekskill a “hellhole” full of freaks and rock-eaters. The mayor was not pleased. But, heck, it was still funny. See a video from The Rachel Maddow Show about the subject here—the one of the only ways you can really see the clip now that Hulu doesn’t always have entire SNL episodes anymore.

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4. Futurama‘s Vision of White Plains

When the Futurama crew needs to perform a ritual, they decide that White Plains is the best place to carry it out. But, since it’s a geeky sci-fi show, when they get there, the city is nothing but floating white platforms. (Get it? White Plains/white planes?) According to the Infosphere, or the all-knowing Futurama fan-maintained wiki, the city is not so great. “White Planes doesn’t have any other kind of technology or infrastructures. Therefore, we can assume it is not a civilized place,” it says. “Strangely, however, it does have a welcome sign.”
(Read the Infosphere entry on White Planes.)

3. The Social Network‘s Fashion Sense

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Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, grew up in Dobbs Ferry and graduated from Exeter. But that doesn’t stop Mark Zuckerberg, the main character in the Oscar-buzz-worthy movie The Social Network, from proudly wearing an Ardsley t-shirt. (Zuckerberg graduated from Ardsley Middle School.) There is also an Ardsley Athletics t-shirt spotted in the film, despite Ardsley’s lack of athletic prowess at the time. Still, as the L.A. Times reports, Zuckerberg told 60 Minutes, “They got every single t-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wearing right. I think I actually own those t-shirts.”
(Watch the trailer. You can see the t-shirt right before the one-minute mark.)

2. Mad Men‘s Big Move
I know, I know. I put Mad Men on this list every year. But we love the show for the constant and historical local shout-outs as much as anything else. This time, our favorite moment came courtesy of the Draper-Francis clan concerning their big move. When Henry suggests moving the family to Rye, Bobby pipes up with a quick, “Isn’t that where Playland is?” That’s exactly what I would have said.
(Read the episode recap.)

1. Anthony Bourdain’s Hudson Valley Dining Adventure
We love Anthony Bourdain for his fearless culinary travels—and also because he recognizes that, while he can go to Liberia or Beirut to try interesting foods, he can also come right here to the Hudson Valley. And he did. On the episode of No Reservations that aired February 8, he tried homemade sausage in Goshen, sampled authentic tacos in Newburgh, and ended the adventure at X2O in Yonkers, dining with Bill Murray.
(See the episode guide.) Watch a clip with Murray here:

Did you catch any references I missed? Let me know in the comments.

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