Mad Men Season 5 – 1966 is coming to a close. Three episodes left.
What a wonderful, strange trip it’s been!
We’ve been treated to a homicidal fever dream, a self-esteem whippit emergency, a conference room honor beat-down, The Award Winning Banquet Table of Self-Doubt, a Tibetan elevator malfunction . . . and much more. It’s been a veritable Magical Mystery (Date) Tour so far, and I have nothing but high hopes for a strong finish.
Sadly though, my compadre Don walks out on Tomorrow Never Knows; he doesn’t quite get The Beatles yet.
But thankfully I do because they are taking over the city of Louisville starting today. It’s Abbey Road On The River for the next five days around here, an open air musicfest featuring scores of bands playing scores of variations of scores of Beatles songs all day/all weekend long. Score!
I picture myself in a boat on the river (well, near a boat at least), toasting in the Good Day Sunshine, surrendering to the void. It is not dying Don, go with flow.
If you’re in town, come down to the waterfront and say hello. Just shout out “Pizza House” and I’ll find you.
Kentucky Derby 138 was run this past Saturday. It’s quite a big deal in these parts of the Ohio Valley. The smell of money, mint, and horseshit has been accumulating for weeks.
I’m in pressing need of one big score so I can retire to an island soon, while I can still enjoy myself. I relied upon years of hard-earned horse sense and handicapping skills to decide on a trio of possible winners. Assets were liquidated. Bets were made.
The fact that it’s Monday morning, and I have arrived punctually at The Cube, and I am drinking tepid, institutionally-prepared coffee should sufficiently indicate the day was less than a financial success. I am keeping my day job for now. In the parlance of the railbird, charitably it is phrased my horses “finished up the track”. And I have a suspicion one of them may still be out there running (or more accurately, jogging lightly, trying not to tax himself too much, in my opinion).
All the study and diligent handicapping work went for naught. I could have saved myself time and effort and just played the Mad Men hunch play horses — Daddy Nose Best, Creative Cause, El Padrino, Liaison, and of course, the natural winner I’ll Have Another. Roger would have walked out with some serious coin.
The winner is obvious when the race is peered at through the bottom of Draper’s old-fashioned glass.
Anyway, Grantland re-published “The Kentucky Derby Is Depraved and Decadent” by Hunter S. Thompson. A genuine gonzo description of the his visit to the 1970 Derby, incidentally occurring the same weekend as the Kent State killings. It’s regarded as his breakthrough piece.
Season 5 of Mad Men has displayed a menacing aura of the surreal so far and this excerpt from the Good Doctor’s article doesn’t seem too far removed from that depiction of 1966.
He had done a few good sketches but so far we hadn’t seen that special kind of face that I felt we would need for the lead drawing. It was a face I’d seen a thousand times at every Derby I’d ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry — a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis; the inevitable result of too much inbreeding in a closed and ignorant culture. One of the key genetic rules in breeding dogs, horses or any other kind of thoroughbred is that close inbreeding tends to magnify the weak points in a bloodline as well as the strong points. In horse breeding, for instance, there is a definite risk in breeding two fast horses who are both a little crazy. The offspring will likely be very fast and also very crazy. So the trick in breeding thoroughbreds is to retain the good traits and filter out the bad. But the breeding of humans is not so wisely supervised, particularly in a narrow Southern society where the closest kind of inbreeding is not only stylish and acceptable, but far more convenient — to the parents — than setting their offspring free to find their own mates, for their own reasons and their own ways. (“Goddam, did you hear about Smitty’s daughter? She went crazy in Boston last week and married a nigger!”)
So the face I was trying to find in Churchill Downs that weekend was a symbol, in my own mind, of the whole doomed atavistic culture that makes the Kentucky Derby what it is.
I, for one, was immensely relieved to see Bert Cooper padding around the 37th floor of the Time-Life building; back in the offices (but apparently still without his own) of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
When last we saw Bert, he has just dressed down Don, calling him “cynical and craven” (project much there Bertram?!) then beckoned for his shoes and wished the underlings luck on his way out the door.
Whether his return was a natural result of a unique personality – “(Hilton) he’s a bit of an eccentric, isn’t he?” (again – project much Coop?!) – or a blustery indication of an approaching dementia or perhaps entirely something else, it just feels right to have the old patriarch around, wingtip-less. But I still miss the bonsai tree.
(It occurs to me Bert is the ideal party guest for a white carpet shindig, no?)
To celebrate Bert’s continuing SCDP presence, I snuck into his personal library and misappropriated a couple of volumes of his own writing. I shall endeavor to publish pertinent passages on this here blog over the course of the season when I come across something relevant.
Today, I found some of his impressions of this season’s first episode of Mad Men, “A Little Kiss”.
From Haiku for the Completely Self-Interested, Volume II, by Bertram Cooper –
A spell put on Don;
Lavender haze morphs purple
Due to Zou Bisou.
“Don’t deserve this” glare is the
Look of love, no? Oui.
Baby Kevin craves
Smirnoff in his formula?
“Where’s Harry?” “Who cares?”
Rog bought time; visionary
gets room with a view.
One wet lunch bag, dropped.
Human tsunami floods to
Lobby for fairness.
The fifth season of Mad Men kicked off this past Sunday. A few quick thoughts on how it ended:
I find it very interesting that in the work week beginning June 6, 1966, a new receptionist named Meredith oversees a SCDP lobby teeming with African-American job seekers. Need I ask this? Are the Mad Men writers this good? (Of course they are.)
Anyway, a SCDP lobby full of black job applicants was exciting because of the possiblities. Maybe we get a new, darker face in the secretarial pool because of the white guys’ fraternity pranks.
If they publicly advertised that they are an equal opportunity employer, the dynamics of public relations may require them to walk the walk, at least tokenly (need I say pun intended). Unlike today for the most part, the press may actually feel it’s their responsibility to follow up on such an issue. And the agency may find Equal Opportunity isn’t as easy to fake as the phantom second floor was. There could be a threat of negative publicity. The guys might decide the agency has to live up to that gag advertisement to some degree. And that would be a wonderful thing.
Yes, racial justice might just get its foot in the door at SCDP. Let’s just hope the John Deere does not return.
It’s time for The Eleven O’Clock Haiku News from Louisville!
Sieged and suffering,
Misrata loves company.
Drones for Muammar.
To pass the crown? Just win one
ere you abdicate.
Rain – insane amounts!
Glub, glub. Gurgle. Growing gills!
Thanks for tuning in —
The Haiku News, where,
In seventeen syllables,
We give u the World!
The Masters started this morning. “A tradition like no other” – the product tagline reads.
I started playing golf at around the age of fourteen when I couldn’t play baseball any longer. My dad liked the game but he couldn’t find much time to play. He was an Arnie fan whom grudgingly grew to appreciate Nicklaus. I connected with Dad by learning as much as I could about the history and trivia of golf. And I waited for him to get out of work late on Sundays when we’d speed over to some course to squeeze in nine holes before dark.
So I was a natural sucker for the way the PGA and USGA decided to market their sport with all the Tradition and Father/Son folk heritage they deployed then, and still do now; it must work in the market. It was decades before I looked past the billboard and recognized the actual tradition of discrimination and elitism and privileged entitlement that pervades the game and the industry of golf. This reality-check ruined my “love of the Game”. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy golfing. I still enjoy hooding a 4-iron and thwackin’ the ball, low, with a gentle draw, into the teeth of a stiff ocean breeze. That’s still fun. I just don’t get into the plot of their TV show much nor “Cherish the Tradition” anymore.
But it still is The Masters and there’s money to wagered and won here. Below is my team for the week. The pool I’m in is won by the lowest total team score and I’m posting it for all the Internetz to be witness and thus testify to my genius in golf prognosticating. NostraLOMus of the Links predicting the future with a three-piece, high-spin, HEX dimpled, Calloway crystal ball.
- Phil Michelson
- Hunter Mahan
- Matt Kuchar
- Rory Sabbatini
- Luke Donald
- Nick Watney
Do me proud guys. Just do it!
- Bert dies of a rare foot fungus
- Joan and Roger’s lovechild will be named Coop DeVille in honor of a deceased Bertram, and new sponsor Cadillac.
- Sally dies from taking the brown acid
- Betty dies of acute diverticulitis
- Roger commits suicide after it’s discovered he was arrested in the Stonewall raid
- Don and Megan move to Wisteria Lane (???)
- Peggy quits work and reunites with the baby she abandoned
- Greg leads a MASH unit in a suicidal counter-charge which reverses the Tet Offensive and wins the Vietnam War for the United States (this is all explained in a letter from the DoD read aloud by Joan in the breakroom)
- A title card will appear briefly on-screen after each commercial break; it will read – “The following four and half minutes of Mad Men is sponsored by . . . (your company name here) “
BURN IN HELL YOU MONEY CHASING WHORE.