Thursday, July 2, 2015

Writing Away From Home—and Here Again, Soon

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Just wanted to update everyone that I'm currently recapping True Detective over at Basket of Kisses. Please go check it out if you're interested in finding my writing somewhere! No old magazines this time...and lord knows I have a computer filled with those. Just finding some pictures to post here today has been difficult because I have to scour through a year's worth of Good Housekeepings (1969-1970, specifically). If there's any interest, by the way, I'd be happy to post the ones that didn't make the cut!

I'll still be updating Fashion and Grammar Gripes as well, while I complete my memoir about my dad and train for the NYC Marathon. (I'm raising money for a nonprofit called End Distracted Driving—they go to high schools all around the country and educate kids about the dangers of distracted driving, which was how I lost my dad [the teen driver who hit him with her SUV was on her cell phone]. You can find my fund-raising page here—every little bit helps: https://www.crowdrise.com/EndDis/fundraiser/lauracarney) The going has been tough so far, but I'm determined. Six miles today. I'll write about it here later.

After my half-marathon in September 2014 in Philly


Stay tuned this weekend for a post about this incredible party I went to about a month ago with the biggest Mad Men fans in the world!

I'll also be updating here a bit in the next year about my wedding plans. So far, we have the venue and officiant picked out, the bridal party has been chosen and my mom is quite ahead of the pack with her bridal shower plans.

Still have to narrow down our catering and photographer...not to mention how we're going to save this money in a year (the wedding is set for May 28, 2016, two days before the real anniversary of the day we met—May 30, 2003). Oh, and we also have our florist, my lovely and very smart and resourceful sister-in-law, Jessi Wilson. She's started her own floral business and is already being featured in wedding blogs all over (and check out that awesome logo—I contributed some illustration work, which I do on the side).

Here are some shots of our venue, Casa de D'avid in Wrightsville, PA.

Manjushri

And here's my latest idea for a save-the-date (David Kin, our officiant and the owner of the venue, has some balanced rocks in his front yard—you can see them in the nighttime view above):

Be back soon!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Good Housekeeping's Throwback Thursday, Mad Men Edition: "Person to Person"

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"Fire and Rain,"
by James Taylor (October 1970)

Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.
I walked out this morning, and I wrote down this song,
I just can't remember who to send it to.
I've seen fire and I've seen rain.
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I'd see you again.

Won't you look down upon me, Jesus,
You've got to help me make a stand.
You've just got to see me through another day.
My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way.
Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain.
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I'd see you again.

Been walking my mind to an easy time,
My back turned towards the sun.
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around.
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line
To talk about things to come.
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain.
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I'd see you baby, one more time again, now.

Thought I'd see you one more time again.
There's just a few things coming my way this time around, now.
Thought I'd see you, thought I'd see you, fire and rain, now. 




In the second episode of Mad Men, entitled "Ladies Room," Don Draper sits in his office with his creative team, which consists of four men. Their task is to create an ad for Right Guard, a men's deodorant. The best the junior ad men have come up with is an illustration of an astronaut in space, juxtaposed with a rocket. Don insists that women will be the ones buying this product, so they should be focusing on what women want. He tells them, "Let's bring it down to Earth. You think they want a cowboy. He's quiet and strong. He always brings the cattle home safe. You watch TV? What if they want something else? Inside. Some mysterious wish that we're ignoring."


Don's question relates to the premise of the episode at hand, but really it sums up the central theme of the entire series. He thinks they want the strong, silent type, a cowboy. He asks his underlings if they watch TV—which is probably where he got this idea in the first place.


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
The dominance of Hollywood in American culture arose only 30 or so years before the time we're watching in "Ladies Room," 1960. In times of crisis, as the nation experienced via two World Wars and the Great Depression, people tend to want to go to the movies. Throughout the 1950s, our country reverted to remarkably more conservative values. In the decades before World War II, women were making headway in the Equal Rights Movement. They were entering the workforce in greater numbers—and their doing so became a necessity during the second World War. But when the men came back, equipped with horrible visions in their heads that they'd likely not share with anyone, the women went back to the home.


And so we find Betty, an intelligent, well-educated, beautiful woman, depressed by only the second episode of this series. And we find Don, confused about what role he's meant to play in life, and certainly confused about who he is—he came back from the Korean War a different person, quite literally. And he is already disillusioned about his marriage to Betty, as evidenced by the big reveal at the end of the pilot episode: This handsome young gallivanting ad man—whom we've watched score a winning goal at work, seek comfort in the arms of a sexy young artist and share Mai Tais at a flirtatious business meeting with a new female client—has a home in the suburbs and a wife and kids? And this is supposed to be normal?

But it was relatively normal to experience that type of disappointment in such a patriarchal system, which was developed as a protective measure at a time when staying safe, working hard and having strong family values was of utmost importance. It was a romantic time, to be sure, because most of the culture was basically deluding themselves.



Don expresses this delusion about Betty when he first describes her to Anna via a flashback in season two ("The Mountain King"). We've learned by this point that Don has stolen his name and remained married to Anna Draper out of obligation. He's been providing for her financially and the two have become friends. And when he describes Betty, he calls her beautiful and "happy." This is done for humorous effect, of course, as the viewers know only the former is true.


Joseph Campbell often lectured at places like Esalen in Big Sur, the unnamed retreat Don goes to in the Mad Men finale, "Person to Person," in his retirement years (before that he was a professor at Sarah Lawrence college—meaning his students were mostly female). As Campbell explains in one lecture, collected in Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation, "One of the boldest things you could possibly do is marry the ideal you've fallen for. Then you face a real job, because everything has been projected onto him or her. This goes beyond lust; this is something that goes way down. It pulls everything out....What you have married is a projection. You have married something that has been projected from yourself: the mask that you've put over the other person....


"What shows itself through the mask of the projection is a fact. The mask is your ideal. This fact does not coincide with the ideal; it is imperfect. What do you do about what is imperfect? Jung believed that the idea is to reject all projections....Jung calls the individual who identifies himself with his persona a mana personality; we would call him a stuffed shirt. That's a person who is nothing but the role he or she plays. A person of this sort never lets his actual character develop. He remains simply a mask, and as his powers fail—as he makes mistakes and so forth—he becomes more and more frightened of himself, puts more and more of an effort into keeping up the mask.

"Then the separation between the persona and the self takes place, forcing the shadow to retreat further and further into the abyss. You are to assimilate the shadow, embrace it. You don't have to act on it, necessarily, but you must know it and accept it. You are not to assimilate the anima/animus—that's a different challenge. You are to relate to it through the other. The only way one can become a human being is through relationships to other human beings. And the first way is that of compassion. This is not desire. This is not fear. Buddha, Christ and the rest have made it very clear that we've got to get past those two."


Carl Jung
The anima and animus he talks about are concepts coined by Carl Jung for the "inner feminine side of a man" and "the inner masculine side of a woman," respectively. His idea was that one tends to be attracted to someone who reflects back that inner image most perfectly.

The 1950s saw a time of lots of people falling in love at first sight and then marrying that person soon after. Contraceptive measures existed, though they were less effective than the birth control pill—which wouldn't be widely available until the 1960s—and most people believed religiously (or at least culturally) speaking that you had to get married to have sex. And that the point of having sex was to have children. The problem with this lifestyle...well, there were many problems...but one central problem was that young adults lost the opportunity to figure out who they were before taking on the responsibility of caring for others. What we're watching Don do in the first few seasons of this series—engage in multiple romantic liaisons—is not strange in and of itself, because it's something we all tend to do these days as young adults. It only becomes illicit and provocative because he's doing it while married and during a more Puritanical time.


I'd argue that Don does manage to find a little more of himself via each romantic entanglement, as Joseph Campbell promotes. I think he does find a way to experience more compassion for others, and ultimately for himself. Think of the times the women in his life say they wish him "peace." In the end, he does experience love with women who are more compassionate than Betty (which is ultimately why viewers dislike her so much).

In interviews, when people call Don an "anti-hero," Matthew Weiner often bristles and explains that he's actually an average person, that he's meant to represent the American male at a very specific time in history and the problems that man would experience as a result of repressing so much.

But the reason Don Draper is such an intriguing character is that while, as he indicates to his employees in that scene in "Ladies Room," he is such a construct, he is—contrary to what Weiner claims—a construct hiding not an "everyman" but an exceedingly sensitive, creative, gifted and intuitive person.

And there is nothing at all average about that.

It's often said that when there is dysfunction in a family unit, usually only one person, one member of the unit, expresses the truth about the dysfunction to the outside world, and it's often via physical or mental problems of their own. They are a mascot, if you will. And that person is often seen as "the problem child," because they can't just go along with whatever negativity is happening and pretend it's not happening.

It's often the most sensitive member of the family, the one with the most compassion. It's the one who feels the others' pain the most who can't just fall in line, the one who has a harder time keeping up the mask.

In the "family" of Mad Men, that person is Don. Because he is surrounded by artificial people—characters who mostly keep their true feelings under wraps. He is not the only person struggling with this—it's a widespread cultural problem. Most creative and compassionate people, who seek pure expression of themselves and their art, would have a big problem with this. They are truth-seekers—they are the ones who are our true mirrors in this world. Imagine how difficult it must be to fulfill that role in society while also engaging in a huge cover-up of your true identity, breaking off all ties to where you come from, denying it as part of who you are and not allowing yourself to truly connect with others for fear of revealing that cover-up?

It's enough to drive someone mad. Or at least give them a nervous breakdown.

And it's the reason why, though I was on the fence for a while, I believe we are meant to think Don helped create the Coke ad. And there's absolutely nothing cynical about that.


Good Housekeeping, 1971
In his lectures at Esalen in the 1970s, Joseph Campbell explained that most people don't truly face the need to integrate all these parts of the self until they reach midlife, which is where Don sits currently. He says Jung called the experience "enantriodroma," which in Greek means running in the opposite direction of something. Jung described it as practically always occurring "when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time, an equally powerful counter-position is built up, which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control."

Campbell explained that this midlife phenomenon is especially influential if one is trying to be effective as an artist. You must discover, he says, "that anybody in the world is imperfect, and that imperfection is what keeps the person here....that nothing alive fits the ideal. If [as an artist] you are going to describe a person, you must describe the person with ruthless objectivity. It is the imperfections that identify them. It is the imperfections that ask for our love. The thing that turns a litterateur [French for "literary critic"] into a poet or an artist, a person who can give humanity the images to help it live, is that the artist recognizes the imperfections around him with compassion. The principle of compassion is that which converts disillusionment into a participatory companionship. So when the fact shows through the animus or the anima, what you must render is compassion. This is the basic love, the charity, that turns a critic into a living human being who has something to give to—as well as demand of—the world. This is how one is to deal with the anima and animus disillusionment. This disappointment will evoke. That's reality evoking a new depth of reality in yourself, because you're imperfect, too. You may not know it. The world is a constellation of imperfections, and you, perhaps, are the most imperfect of all. By your love for the world, you name it accurately and without pity, and love what you have thus named."

Good Housekeeping, November 1970
And so when Don can experience empathy, can see himself in several different characters this season—in Diana, in the veterans, in Andy, Stephanie and Leonard—this compassion starts to develop in him. His being an artist is something he really can't help—he was born that way. And he has always struggled with his drive to create art—it's always been a drive he hasn't fully understood. In season four's "The Summer Man," he says, "We're flawed because we want so much more." It's difficult for him to put into words that fulfillment he's seeking: It's not just the need to feel normal and accepted, despite his impoverished, abused background (and he often does not succeed in that realm—he is always breaking down in front of the wrong people, or acting out sexually or drinking to numb the pain), and it's not just a desire to express sensitivity and still be respected as a man.  He needs to feel, as Peggy says in season seven's "The Forecast," that he has created something of value. That is at the heart of his bond with her. Because she is the same way.

This is what has always fueled his desire to create the perfect ad. It has come up time and time again, throughout the series, and mostly in his conversations with her.


In season one's "The Wheel":
Don [drunk in the office in the middle of the night]: Are we on fire?
Harry [in underwear because he's sleeping at work]: Don, no. I dropped a cigarette in my waste basket.
Don: Harry, come here. I want to talk to you.
Don [slurring his words]: Harry, I want to talk to you.
Harry: I can explain.
Don [pointing at Kodak's new slide projector]: What is the benefit of that thing?
Harry: Um. It sells projectors to people who already have them.
Don: Yeah, and the wheel...stacks...you store your slides in it, and it's ready to go.
Harry: I took pictures for the paper at Wisconsin. The machinery's definitely part of the fun. It's mechanical.
Don: What'd you take pictures of?
Harry: Girls, mostly. You go up and ask them their names afterwards, like you're going to put it in the paper. And some other stuff...artsy-craftsy stuff.
Don: Artsy, like what? A reflection of a tree in a pond?
Harry: Worse. I did a whole series that was just handprints on glass.
Don: Black and white, I suppose.
Harry: Of course. I was always fascinated by the cave paintings at Lascaux. They're, like, 17,000 years old. The bison get all the attention, but there are also all of these handprints...tiny by today's standards. With paint blown all around them.
Don: Signature of the artist.
Harry: But...I thought it was...like someone reaching through the stone. Right to us. "I was here.".... You OK?
Don: That will be all.

In season two's "For Those Who Think Young":
Duck [to Roger, encouraging him to bring in some young talent to sell coffee]: No one under 25 drinks coffee anymore, just Pepsi. They pour it on their Frosted Flakes.
Don [to Roger later on]: Young campaigns don't necessarily come from young people.




Don [to Peggy and the boys on the Mohawk campaign]:
Just because it has sentiment doesn't make it sentimental.
Peggy: Sex sells.
Don: Says who? You are the product, you feeling something. That's what sells.

In season seven's "The Strategy":
Don [to Peggy over the phone from home]: I'm always working, Peggy. So are you.

Don [to Peggy later in the office]: I want you to feel good about what you're doing, but you'll never know. That's just the job. Living in the not knowing....You can't tell people what they want, it has to be what you want....Whenever I'm really unsure about an idea, first I abuse the people whose help I need. And then I take a nap. And then I start at the beginning again. See if I end up in the same place.



In season seven's "The Forecast":
Don: What do you see for the future?
Peggy: Well.... Is that on there?
Don: No. I'm just curious.
Peggy: I'd like to be the first woman creative director at this agency.
Don laughs.
Peggy: That's funny to you?
Don: No, I'm impressed that you know exactly.
Peggy: What else is there?
Don: That's what I'm asking. Let's say you get that. What's next?
Peggy: Land something huge.
Don: And then?
Peggy: Have a big idea. Create a catchphrase.
Don: So you want fame.
Peggy: Yes.
Don: What else?
Peggy: I don't know.
Don: Yes you do.
Peggy: Create something, of lasting value.
Don [laughing]: In advertising?
Peggy: This was supposed to be about my job, not the meaning of life.
Don: And you think those things are unrelated?




In my last recap, I mentioned a flashback in season one's "The Hobo Code" in which Don/Dick's stepmother explains her philosophy of life: "My mama always said, life is like a horseshoe: It's fat in the middle, open on both ends and hard all the way through."


If Don is going through his midlife crisis, he's experiencing the thickest part of the horseshoe and about to make his "return." As I talked about last time, (quoting Wikipedia and an article about midlife), "'during one’s youth and senior years, feeling satisfied and happy tend to peak and then dip during the middle years of life. This appears as a U-shaped curve on the time line of a lifespan, which correlates to the time between 40 and 60 years of age. Some people experience more difficulty in reconciling their feelings of turmoil while others transition more easily.'

"In the article 'Initiatory Experience,' Kenda-Ruth Kumpf writes, 'A midlife crisis sufferer seeks to recapture the first experience of splendor and regresses mentally to that time and place, hoping for a do-over—a replay. It is necessary to return to the prior innocence, but to repeat the former mistakes is to follow the familiar path that led to his present midlife collapse. Once at the original place of innocence a person is yet changed and must choose a new path, applying the experiences and maturity earned and learned from his journey to this point. Regressing is a backwards movement, whereas returning is using the past as an experience to propel growth and forward movement. To re-turn is to turn again toward something, but unlike a regression, it is revolutionary. Midlife is a tumultuous experience for many—whether it is a crisis or not. Revolution itself is turmoil. But accepting revolution is the first step to proceeding through it."



A "return to the prior innocence." That might explain why I found myself calling Don "Evil Fonzie" for the entirety of "Person to Person." Of course he'd dress just like he had in the early 1950s—or at least the way he would have if he hadn't become a businessman. Notice how out of place he looks with the grease monkeys in Utah, trying to break the land speed record. And the wink at the audience—a middle-aged man driving fast cars—was hilarious.

But what really threw me costume-wise in "Person to Person" was this:


On her necklace—that's the "U-shaped curve" of midlife.

It's also a horseshoe.

It got me thinking: Where else have we seen these on Mad Men?

It turns out, we've seen them a lot. (Or at least references to horses.)

Don's knight cufflinks
Sal's horse-head bookend
The folding blind in Cooper's office in seasons one, two and three

The knight in chess ad that Don has always kept outside his office
Betty's riding, of course
The horse on Harry's desk in season one's "The Wheel"
The horses in the Kodak ad
This photo of Adam and Dick
The Chevalier campaign (this is the one
Peggy and Stan are fighting to keep in the finale)
And look closely at the pattern on the curtains in Grandpa Gene's old room.

In a Rolling Stone interview a few years back, Matthew Weiner discussed his original screenplay for Mad Men, which was called...you guessed it..."The Horseshoe": "You see a lot of horseshoes in the show," he explains. "It had a line: 'Life’s like a horseshoe. It’s open on both ends and hard all the way through.'"

In her article "Horseshoes Are the Door of Life," Amanda Badgero tells of the symbol's origins:

"In North America the horseshoe is by far the most well-known good luck charm. We see it constantly represented in jewelry, wall hangings and even furniture. But why do we consider this symbol one of such good luck? Traditionally, horseshoes have been crafted by blacksmiths. This action alone gives the horseshoe good luck powers due to the fact that blacksmithing was considered to be an extremely lucky trade because the work required the use of one of the main elements—fire. The horseshoe is used as an ancient religious symbol in Assyrian and Egyptian cultures; it is often seen depicted in historic sculptures and hieroglyphs meant to signify the enigmatic 'door of life.' Any symbol that has an open end such as a horseshoe is considered female because it symbolizes how life enters the world....

"Many believe it is the shape alone that gives horseshoes their magical powers since it replicates the very shape of the pagan crescent or horned moon from which it is believed that horseshoes draw their power. When being used for protection, the horseshoe was hung over barn and stable doorways with its open end pointing downwards. It is said that no witch will pass under an upside-down horseshoe.


"There seems to be a bit of a discrepancy over which is the correct way to hang a horseshoe. For the majority of people in the countries of Europe, the Middle East and Spanish Colonial Latin America, the horseshoe is placed with the open end down so that the luck may pour down on you. In Ireland, Britain and North America, the shoe is positioned in the upward position to ensure the 'luck does not run out.'"

The goddess Diana
And a brief history of the talisman appears in an article on luckymojo.com: "There is good reason to suppose that the crescent form of the horseshoe links the symbol to pagan Moon goddesses of ancient Europe such as Artemis and Diana, and that the protection invoked is that of the goddess herself, or, more particularly, of her sacred vulva. As such, the horseshoe is related to other magically protective doorway-goddesses, such as the Irish sheela-na-gig, and to lunar protectresses, such as the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is often shown standing on a crescent moon and placed within a vulval mandorla or vesica pisces."

Don having a flashback, in season three's "Shut the Door, Have a Seat"

As such a feminine symbol, it makes sense that Don's stepmother would embrace it as her life motto (passed down from her own mother) then, despite how unfruitful her vulva mostly was (though she did finally successfully give birth, to Don's brother Adam, whose name refers to "the first man"—and is probably also a nod to Don/Dick's not being her real son).



And it makes sense then that Don's father would die via a horseshoe to the face.

Betty admiring Don's award
Sally: "Was it an award for good horses?"

And that when Don receives an award in episode "5G," it would be shaped like a horseshoe.



And that Adam would find him after spotting a photo of him holding it in the newspaper.

And that the award would break, swinging upside down like a pendulum, after a hungover Don slams the bathroom door. It switches from the upward, more American position, one that symbolizes conserving luck, to the downward-facing, European position, one that allows luck to "rain upon" him.

The predictable in his life is soon to give way to chaos.


Much like the pendulum of this show has switched from having a patriarchal vibe to a more matriarchal one, in accordance with the times, but we'll get to that in a moment.

We don't see much mention of horses or horseshoes after the first season of Mad Men; Weiner only made it up to page 80 in that original screenplay, after all. And that's what made the appearance of that necklace on the finale so exciting.


The pendant the counselor wears is a Native American form of the horseshoe, called a naja. An article on River Trading Post explains:


"The inverted crescent pendant on squash-blossom necklaces, called the 'naja' by the Navajo, is found in various design forms throughout the world cultures. As a crescent, this form goes back as far as the Paleolithic period. It is mentioned in the Book of Judges as an ornament worn around the necks of camels. In the Phoenician culture, Astarte was the goddess of fertility and she was represented by the inverted crescent as well. As pendants, the inverted crescent has also been found in ancient Roman and Crete artifacts. During the Middle Ages, the Moors rode out of the East and conquered lands in a westerly direction, including eight centuries of occupation in Spain. They adopted the symbol as a bridle ornament, and thought the inverted crescent would protect both themselves and their horse from the 'evil eye.' When the Spaniards came to South and Central America, they brought that same idea with them for the protection of their horses and their soldiers. Thus, the Moors taught the Spanish, who taught the Mexicans, who taught the Navajo their belief systems and metallurgy.


"Coming from another direction in North America, the inverted crescent symbol was on various types of trade goods brought from the East coast by other Europeans. The crescent pendant was used from the early 1800s on, by the Shawnee, Delaware, Cheyenne, Comanche and Navajo tribes, among others. However, metalwork of various European influences was found in the Southwest as early as the 1700s. At this time, the Navajo were fierce warriors who more often raided but occasionally traded with their neighbors, the Plains Tribes....By the 1820s, Southern Plains metalworkers had learned the processes of cutting, stamping and cold hammering. Through contact with either the Spanish and/or the various Plains Tribes, the Navajo adopted the symbol of the inverted crescent for their horses. The naja was put on the horse headstall, the front center band of the horse bridle, and later, the naja moved into the realm of necklaces. 


"'At one time, every Navajo who could afford a silver headstall had one on his horse,' said Grey Moustache (a Navajo silversmith who worked the art from the late 1800s into the 1900s) in a 1930s interview. In early 1900s photographs of Hopi dancers, the naja can be seen as a central component of beaded necklaces. The ability to work in silver, leather and other metals allowed the Navajo to move their culture from a warrior society to more of a merchant society. Where prestige and wealth had come from raiding, it now came from herding, and various art forms. Silverworking was a very important part of this change....


As the article mentions, the naja often appears on something called a squash-blossom necklace, which "is truly an Indian creation," according to goddessfindingsjewelsforthespirit.blogspot.com. "However, it developed slowly and has roots deep in non-Indian culture and history. The principle part of the necklace is the crescent-shaped pendant....As generations came and went, the pendant...became symbolic with the various ceremonials.

"As most ceremonials were related to the agricultural cycle, the naja was associated with crop fertility. Once silver beads came into fashion around 1880, what more logical place was there to display the naja than on this string of beads? Arthur Woodard, in 1938, pointed out that the Navajo and Zuni beads were originally Spanish-Mexican trouser and jacket ornaments which were fashioned to resemble the pomegranate. The pomegranate was a common Spanish decorator motif, often seen carved or painted on missions in Mexico and often a clothing decoration....Because the Indian ceremonials largely dealt with the agricultural cycle, and the first jewelry was worn during these occasions, coupled with the fact that the beads along with the chain looked like pomegranates or squash blossoms, all have tended to portray the necklace in a crop-fertility ceremonial light...."

This is the high priestess Tarot card, which did not appear in the reading Anna gave Don in season one's "The Mountain King," but it would have been apt if it had. Notice the crescent shape on the card and its background of pomegranates. Here is its typical meaning: "Commonly this card is associated with the card reader or the querant. Because it is also focused on 'secrets,' it also interprets when a secret is kept or revealed, when you are holding onto the truth or revealing it. The card is associated with mystery, when powerful feminine influences and support are currently in force for the querant."


Hold on, those pomegranates look kind of familiar. Oh, right:

There it is, on the left.



Good Housekeeping, November 1970
For the counselor at the Big Sur retreat, the person who is ultimately Don's savior at the end of this story, to be wearing a naja brings Don's story full-circle. Life is like a horseshoe—an upside-down horseshoe. His stepmother tells the story to a representation of male energy gone amok—the hobo—in Don/Dick's childhood home. After a late-night conversation with the hobo, Don/Dick subconsciously absorbs his philosophies—he has always had trouble settling in one place. But a lot of that restlessness comes from the fact that his personality is so imbalanced. In every flashback of his childhood home that we see on Mad Men, Don's stepmother is consistently cruel to him. His resentment of her, and ultimate mistrust, would have made it very difficult for him to learn how to balance his masculine and feminine sides.

Good Housekeeping, November 1970
In her article "Balancing Masculine and Feminine," Ayal Hurst explains how this works:

"The balance of male and female makes us whole. We all have a feminine side and a masculine side to us....This makes total sense, as we all come from both the masculine and the feminine—a mother and a father: egg and sperm. Neither is more or less important than the other—they simply offer us different and very necessary parts of our being.

"The aspect of the masculine contains (in brief) the more rational, direct, practical, assertive qualities, while the feminine is the creative, intuitive, feeling, visionary part. The feminine also contains the ability to look inward, as the masculine quality is outward directed. Just as it is necessary to be able to cope with the world and its demands, as the masculine part of our being does so well in its pure, non-distorted state, so too, being introspective is a crucial aspect of who we are. In our society in general, the feminine aspect of our being, (as with women in general), has been labeled 'less than.' For a man, in some ways, showing feminine qualities, or feelings, has even been forbidden. If a man is seen as sensitive and introspective, he is laughed at and labeled a wimp. Therefore, for a man, often it becomes dangerous to show feelings or let others in, as there is a great fear of ridicule and rejection.

"Why this has come to be is a long story, but the gist of it is, it is unbalanced to think that either aspect of our being, whether it be our masculine energy or our feminine energy, is stupid, less than or something to be demeaned or denied. It is clear as crystal that one without the other doesn't work to create life, whether that means the creation of various aspects of our life and dreams, or the creation of a child. The old and unbalanced masculine programming that most men were given tells one that when you are introspective you are doing something wrong. Your feminine part knows you must go inward to be a clear human being. Women are also told that to be assertive, proactive and use one's own power and abilities—the masculine aspect of oneself—is not appropriate. When the pure essence of the masculine energy is distorted, it turns into aggression. When the true essence of the feminine is distorted, it becomes resentful and withdraws love and connectedness. The feminine energy is all about relationship, connecting with love and support and nurturance, sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. The masculine, in its true essence, gets the job done in a way that is reliable, trustworthy, protective. When the masculine is balanced, it responds and communicates in such a way that others feel safe, physically as well as emotionally.


"If a man gets very much out of balance by denying his feminine inner self, he will most likely have difficulties in that he will not be able to be in touch with his feelings, and this can lead to difficulties in relationships with others, not to mention oneself. A man, or woman, who denies the feminine, may substitute the lack of warmth that they feel in themselves for ambition, for ego attainment and accomplishment....mind over heart, in other words."




In an episode in the first season of Mad Men, "Babylon," Don is up early making a Mother's Day breakfast-in-bed for Betty. As he climbs the stairs with his tray, he steps on a whirligig toy, falls backward and hits his head.



The fall inspires a flashback to a time when he fell down the stairs during his brother Adam's birth. He is told to stand up and not to cry. He then complains about all the crying and screaming he heard during the birth, and denies Adam as his brother. Then he looks at his stepmother cradling Adam.


The horseshoe, when placed in the U shape, is the same shape as a cradle. It is the nurturing, plentiful side of the feminine. But when placed pointing downward, it represents the vulva, and the birth while standing, popular with Hebrew women in Biblical times—in other words, it is not only luck showering down upon you, but the propelling of the child out into the world. It is the separation of mother and child. When Don/Dick falls in this scene, both in the Draper household and in the past, it is headfirst, the way a baby enters the world.


It is why Don's U-shaped award turns downward into this ultimate representation of the feminine that he is repressing. And it's why Don encounters issues of women's fertility again and again on this show. Think about it—the 1960s setting is at the emergence of the birth control pill. For the first time, women have a choice about whether or not to give birth. The first female character to become pregnant on this show is Peggy—and she psychologically denies the pregnancy, then gives up the child because she'd rather have a career and cannot think of a way to also be a mother. Then, Betty becomes pregnant accidentally, and though she and Don are close to separating, they stay together for the sake of the child. Then Joan gets pregnant via Roger after a street mugging; the story line entails her getting another abortion, but she chooses to keep the child instead, albeit as a career woman and single mom. In his fantasies, Megan is pregnant, though she has very little interest in that in real life. He is consistently rejecting women who he thought would be great mothers but turned out to be duds (Betty and Megan), and then running into the arms of pseudo-prostitutes (like the one who molested him as a child). Every time he finds someone who he thinks could be "the one," the one who will finally give him the nurturing he never received, they either disappoint him or can't be attained (e.g., Rachel Menken, Suzanne, Sylvia, Diana)—and then they are forever instead "the one who got away."


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
And then, in some final strange twist, his last semblance of a family, Anna Draper's niece Stephanie, whom he once helped in her efforts to become a mother by giving her money (that phone call was one of the happiest moments Don experienced this whole season), has actively rejected motherhood because she just plain doesn't like it. While outwardly Don defends her, and runs after her from the group meeting to tell her he can move to L.A., that he can help her deal with the fallout of this, subconsciously, Don is defeated. Like a child in his bed on the farm in Illinois, Don watches Stephanie leave and come back in the middle of the night, carrying that lantern of yore. And in the morning, she is gone, just like every other mother figure who has abandoned Don—or whom he has abandoned before she had a chance to. He says, "People leave and they don't even say goodbye."


So to have the downward-facing horseshoe appear in front of Don around the neck of a caring woman makes it clear that Don must now find a way to be comfortable with this, with the power of a woman, to stop repressing his emotions—which he does quite literally after he gets off the phone with Peggy, his closest thing to a "better half": After saying goodbye to her, he doubles over, his stomach heaving, attempting to hold back a maelstrom of tears. And instead he rests on the ground, exhausted, immobile.

When Don tells Peggy he's done nothing with his name, she says,
"That's not true." This line mirrors her response to him
in season four, when Anna died, and he said he'd lost
the only person who really knew him. It's also what
Don's stepmother says when his father says
they are no longer Christians.

Another interesting thing happens here. Look at this scene from another angle:



Don tells her he can't move, as he stares off blankly. We are meant to assume he's been sitting there like this for some time. And she turns him into a real boy.

In most fairy tales, it is the stepmother who thwarts the hero's journey (as I mentioned when I talked about motherless heroes in a previous recap). But it is the fairy godmother who comes to his aid.

Here's what else it looks like:



"From Matthew 14:22-32: Peter spoke up, 'Lord if it is really you, order me to come out on the water to you.' 'Come!' answered Jesus.  So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus.  But when he noticed the strong wind, he was afraid and started to sink down in the water.  'Save me, Lord!' he cried. At once Jesus reached out and grabbed hold of him and said, 'What little faith you have! Why did you doubt?' (vv 28-31). [The modern-day explanation]: In the early hours of the morning, far out on the lake, the disciples find themselves in the middle of a fierce storm. The churning water, the huge waves, the howling wind toss their boat about and the disciples strain every muscle as they try to row against it. They are caught up in a situation that is chaotic, terrifying and hopeless. Above the wind they hear a voice: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid!’ The disciples see Jesus walk on the wildest of seas and he is in no danger. Unlike the other Gospel writers, Matthew has something to add to this story. He focuses on Peter, who swings between faith and lack of faith again and again. Peter is typically impulsive and has a strange request, 'Tell me to come out on the water with you.'....Peter had accepted the risk of faith by answering Jesus’ call and climbing over the rim of the boat but his fear overwhelms him when he feels the force of the wind and sees the size of the waves. He shifts his attention from the power of God in Jesus to his own limitations and fears."

"I wonder if I've broken the vessel," Don says to a stranger on a plane in the start of season seven.

Perhaps, as Diana Bauer's ex-husband had advised, Don has found Jesus after all. Or at least some semblance of faith, one that can denounce the fears he's carried inside his whole life. (Also, the actress playing the counselor is Helen Slater, the original Supergirl, so make whatever Christ-figure connections you will of that one...)

By the end of this episode, of this series, Don has experienced an awakening of sorts, one that is necessary in order for him to return to his regular life renewed, able to give to the world in a whole new way. As his meditation instructor says, "a new day, new ideas, a new you." He is seized by the possibility of something new.



"Now it's not always possible to know by what it is you are seized," Joseph Campbell explains in Pathways to Bliss. "You find yourself doing silly things, and you have been seized, but you don't know what the dynamics are. You have been struck by that awakening of awe, of fascination, of the experience of mystery....I've talked about kundalini yoga, the Indian system that equates the spiritual development of the soul with a serpent's journey up through the body through seven stations, or chakras. The bottom three centers represent the survival drive, the sex drive and the drive to power...when the kundalini serpent reaches the fourth chakra, the soul experiences the awakening of awe, and in the Indian system, this is symbolized in the hearing of the sacred syllable 'aum.' The apprehension of this sound opens a dimension of mystery into the universe, and the sense of wanting to understand that mystery is the beginning of the spiritual life. In the kundalini system, the fourth chakra is at the level of the heart. It is at the heart, as they say, that the hands of the devotee touch the feet of the god."

At the heart. As Ayal Hurst said, the man who lives in imbalance, without expressing his feminine side, is living "mind over heart." Only minutes after Don gets off the phone with Peggy, what does Peggy tell Stan? She tells him "you're always here...and here," pointing to her heart. When have we ever seen Don do that?


At the end of "Person to Person," Don has just experienced an emotional breakthrough—he's seen himself in another man who feels unloved, and expressed compassion. He is ready, as he tells Diana earlier in the season. He's ready to move on to a new level of consciousness.

And to have him chant the word "om" is just perfect on so many levels. "Om" embodies the essence of the entire universe—it's the word that encompasses all other words.

"According to Indian spiritual sciences," says an article on religionfacts.com, "God first created sound, and from these sound frequencies came the phenomenal world. Our total existence is constituted of these primal sounds, which give rise to mantras when organized by a desire to communicate, manifest, invoke or materialize. Matter itself is said to have proceeded from sound and 'om' is said to be the most sacred of all sounds. It is the syllable which preceded the universe and from which the gods were created. It is the 'root' syllable (mula mantra), the cosmic vibration that holds together the atoms of the world and heavens. Indeed the Upanishads say that 'aum' is god in the form of sound....Another ancient text equates 'aum' with an arrow, laid upon the bow of the human body (the breath), which after penetrating the darkness of ignorance finds its mark, namely the lighted domain of true knowledge. Just as a spider climbs up its thread and gains freedom, so the yogis climb towards liberation by the syllable 'om.'"

Via his midlife crisis, Don has been in exile from his life for most of this season. As I've mentioned before, he has gradually had the surface aspects which once defined him stripped away—his job (when he was put on leave), the companionship of his wife (when Megan moved to L.A.), the trust of his colleagues, the trust of his daughter, his autonomy at work once he goes back, his dignity sexually (he's coerced into a threesome and has several one-night stands), his role as the pitch-maker (he hands this over to Peggy in "Waterloo"), his notion that wealth buys happiness (he learns it surely doesn't), his family (he sees that his sons can manage somewhat well without him as he gazes at them through the kitchen doorway), his marriage, his enjoyment of his work (he becomes increasingly apathetic), all of his furniture, a million dollars, the chance to start anew with a new relationship, his apartment, the respect of his employees, his business and creative autonomy, his specialness as a creative (at McCann, he becomes just a cog, as predicted), his suit and hat (he carries his possessions around in a plastic Sears bag the last few episodes), his car, his hairstyle, his family's dependence on him (when he learns they don't need him to come home during Betty's illness), his niece's respect (she considers him an interloper) and his ability to come and go as he chooses (he has to wait six days to get out of Oklahoma, and then another six to get a ride home from the retreat). In the end, he doesn't even have electricity anymore. All that's left is the companionship of new friends, the ocean and "Mother Sun."

As Joseph Campbell explains in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, "From the standpoint of the way of duty, anyone in exile from the community is a nothing. From the other point of view, however, this exile is the first step of the quest. Each carries within himself the all; therefore it may be sought and discovered within. The differentiations of sex, age and occupation are not essential to our character, but mere costumes which we wear for a time on the stage of the world. The image of man within is not to be confounded with the garments....

"The asceticism of the medieval saints and of the yogis of India, the Hellenistic mystery initiations, the ancient philosophies of the East and of the West are techniques for the shifting of the emphasis of individual consciousness away from the garments. The preliminary meditations of the aspirant detach his mind and sentiments from the accidents of life and drive him to the core. 'I am not that, not that,' he meditates: 'not my mother or son who has just died; my body, which is ill or aging; my arm, my eye, my head; not the summation of all these things. I am not my feeling; not my mind; not my power of intuition.' By such meditations he is driven to his own profundity and breaks through, at last, to unfathomable realizations. No man can return from such exercises and take very seriously himself as Mr. So-and-so of Such-and-such-a-township, U.S.A.—Society and duties drop away. Mr. So-and-so, having discovered himself big with man, becomes indrawn and aloof. This is the stage of Narcissus looking in the pool, of the Buddha sitting contemplative under the tree, but it is not the ultimate goal; it is a requisite step, but not the end. The aim is not to
see, but to realize that one is that essence; then one is free to wander as that essence in the world.

"Furthermore: the world, too, is of that essence. The essence of oneself and the essence of the world: These two are one. Hence separateness, withdrawal, is no longer necessary. Wherever the hero may wander, whatever he may do, he is ever in the presence of his own essence—for he has the perfected eye to see. There is no separateness. Thus, just as the way of social participation may lead in the end to a realization of the All in the individual, so that of exile brings the hero to the Self in all. Centered in this hub-point, the question of selfishness or altruism disappears. The individual has lost himself in the law and been reborn in identity with the whole meaning of the universe."


It's a shame that so many viewers look at a place like Esalen and the New Age teachings there as a self-indulgence, or a representation of the cult of the individual in the 1970s. While some of that may be true, I don't believe Weiner's purpose in placing Don there is meant to communicate, "Yeah, he's gonna be even more self-interested than before, because now all he'll want to do is analyze himself, and preach his granola ideas!"

Meditation encourages quite the opposite—it's apt for Don's journey so far this season, because it promotes the complete absence of the self and the rejoining of the universal community. After Don has lost everything, is "saved" by a compassionate female counselor and then gets in touch with his inner feminine side by consoling a crying man (who has just gotten in touch with his own feminine side, and expressed Don's greatest fear—that he is unwanted), he is free to wipe the slate clean and start anew. He no longer has to go back to the real world obsessed with self, because he has cleared his largest blockage.

And even more apt, the pronunciation of the word "aum" imitates the arch of midlife, or the shape of the horseshoe, exactly what Don has been coming to terms with:


Matthew Weiner had this mantra in mind when he started writing the seventh season. Just check out the sound made at the one-minute mark in Don's Accutron pitch (as delivered by Freddie Rumsen) in "Time Zones" (this was a clip attached on reddit.com, so I can't take credit for finding this):






Many people remarked that the scene in the boardroom at McCann, of Don, Joan, Pete, Ted and Roger, largely resembled DaVinci's The Last Supper. Don is certainly in the Jesus position; and, like Jesus, he was about to leave his friends. And though he wasn't crucified and didn't die in a literal sense, he did die metaphorically. Because his experiences on his trip have led him to identify with the greater consciousness instead of just with himself. He has learned to identify with that which lives in everyone, and therefore he has experienced a "reincarnation of himself in all others."


And it's exactly that kind of universal consciousness that the Coca-Cola commercial communicates.

Weiner has foreshadowed this commercial throughout the seventh season, and a bit in the sixth. Almost nothing in this series is a coincidence. For example, nobody could have been prepared for Lane's hanging in season five. So Weiner inserted smaller details in the episodes leading up to it—the Mickey Mouse doll Lane wants to give his son has red, white and blue balloons around its neck, and it slumps down on a table as if suspended by them; his Mets pennant points at the collar of his coat on his coat rack like it's an arrow, designating the noose. These details, subconsciously absorbed, make his violent death seem inevitable.

In season three, Don has a meeting about the renovations of Penn Station. In trying to convince the developer to ignore New Yorkers' unhappiness about the project, he says, "I was in California. Everything is new, and it's clean. The people are filled with hope. New York City is in decay. But Madison Square Garden is the beginning of a new city on a hill."

In season four, Anna's niece Stephanie says she just wants to know who's in charge. Don tells her that she is (she's a woman, and therefore a consumer). He says if she doesn't like it, she should stop buying things. And Stephanie says, "Don't think that's not possible." (This also foreshadows her later rejection of motherhood.)

In season four's "The Beautiful Girls," Don has a meeting with Fillmore Auto Parts. They are struggling to decide whether they want to appeal to gifted mechanics or regular men. Ken says in the meeting, "What if there were a way to market to both groups? 'Fillmore Auto Parts: Where the pros go, and everyone's welcome.'" Don interjects, "That's not a strategy. That's two strategies connected by the word 'and'. I can do 'where the pros go,' or I can do 'everyone's welcome,' but not both." And Ken says, "Sure you can."

The Coke ad would be an all-inclusive concept. In that sense, Ken would be right—Don could "do both." He wouldn't be advertising to one specific type of person, as he said he had to for Fillmore Auto Parts, and it wouldn't be the kind of campaign McCann wants to make for Miller Lite beer (in the meeting, they describe a very specific demographic).

Don would be creating an advertisement that appeals to everyone.

In season six's "Crash," in which everyone's been asked to spend the night at SC&P to work on Chevy, Don seems on the verge of developing the Coca-Cola ad, or something like it. In a B12/energy-serum-induced mania, he finds what he deems the perfect ad, and excitedly calls in Peggy and Ginsberg.


Don: I've got this great message, and it has to do with what holds people together. What is that thing that draws them? It's a history. And it may not even be with that person. But it's...it's like a...well, it's bigger than that.
Peggy: And that makes them buy a car?
Don: If this strategy is successful, it's way bigger than a car. It's everything. I keep thinking about the basic principle of advertising. There's entertainment, and then you stick the ad in the middle of the entertainment like a little respite. It's a bargain. They're getting the entertainment for free, all they have to do is listen to the message. But what if they don't take the bargain at all? What if they're suddenly bored of the entertainment? What if they turn off the TV?
Ginsberg: You gotta get your foot in the door.
Don: Exactly. So, how do I do that? Let's say I get her face-to-face. How do I get her attention? I have a sentence, maybe two.
Peggy: Who's "her"?
Ginsberg: Promise them everything. You know, you're gonna change their life. You're gonna take away their pain.
Don: That's good.
Ginsberg: Then you hit them with the one-two punch. What's the answer to all of life's problems? A Chevy.
Don: No, it's not.
Ginsberg: Then, it's oatmeal?
Don: No.

Granted, Don is a bit distracted by trying to win back Sylvia in this scene, and that, much to Peggy's dismay, is largely what he's talking about. After being awake for three days, he giddily runs off to try to convince her to let him in the backdoor, but passes out on the floor of his apartment instead. But I do believe he comes up with something bigger than a Chevy ad or a come-on line or even an ad for oatmeal (the entire episode, he's obsessed with finding an ad in which a mother is feeding a child) that night, and much like Paul Kinsey, he doesn't write it down clearly enough and can't make sense of it the next day.

In season six's "A Tale of Two Cities," Don has a run-in with a composer at an L.A. producer's party Harry takes him to, and the exchange never amounts to anything. This is likely someone who could help him write the jingle for the Coke ad later on.


Musician: So most of the pictures don't have a lot of score right now—they like pop songs. You know, kids wanna hear a hit.
Don: I think ads are going that way, too.
Musician: What kind of ads do you do?
Don: Well, we represent Chevrolet, Mohawk Airlines.
Musician: Where are they?
Don: The Northeast. Samsonite Luggage, Life Cereal.
Musician: Well, if times get tough, I'm gonna look you up, Donny. I dig jingles, and I hear the bread's outta sight.

The bread for that Coke commercial surely would be.


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
Add to all this the fact that in "Person to Person," Joan starts her own film production company, and she specializes in making TV commercials.

I know, I know. It bothers me, too, that a very real man, Bill Backer, wrote this commercial in real life. And so maybe all the foreshadowing was meant to signify what was coming, not that we're supposed to believe that Don's experience of enlightenment leads to writing an ad.

But even if it does, why is that so incredibly cynical? It's an example of an artist developing his art form to the next level. Don has always been a creative, and always will be. Except while he was once a "litterateur," he is now an artist. By incorporating the spiritual into his art, he will reach the stage of shaman.

"In primal societies," Campbell said in a lecture to female students at Esalen, "the shaman provides a living conduit between the local and the transcendent. The shaman is one who has actually gone through a psychological crack-up and recovery. The young boy or girl approaching adolescence either has a vision or hears a song. This vision or song amounts to a call. The person experiences a shivering, neurotic sickness. This is really a kind of psychotic episode, and the family, being in a tradition that knows about this thing, will send for a shaman to give the young person the disciplines that will carry them out of this dilemma. The disciplines include enacting certain psychological rites that put the individual back in touch with society again, of singing his or her song. Of course, what this individual has encountered by going deep into the unconscious is the unconscious of their whole society. These people are bound in a small horizon and share a limited system of psychological problems. And so the shaman becomes a teacher and a protector of the mythic tradition but is isolated and feared; it's a very dangerous position to be in. Now, an older person can want to become a shaman in some societies, and so then has to undergo certain ordeals to gain the power that the primary shaman has gained automatically. In northeast Siberia and in many parts of North and South America, the call of the shaman involves a transvestite life. That is, the person is to live the life of the opposite sex. What this means is that the person has transcended the powers of his or her original gender, and so women live as men and men live as women. These transvestite shamans play a very large role in the Indian mythology in the Southwest—the Hopi, the Pueblo, the Navajo and the Apache—and also among the Sioux Indians and many others....I recently read the story of a woman who grew up in a  mining town in West Virginia. When she was a little girl, she went walking in the woods and heard marvelous music. And she didn't know what to do with it, or anything about it. The years passed her by, and, in her 60s, she came to a psychiatrist with the feeling that she had missed a life. It was, in deep, hypnotic memories she recalled this song. You recognize it, of course: It's the shaman's song. It is through attending to this song, this visionary image, that the shamans center themselves. They give themselves peace by chanting these songs and performing the rites."

I'm not saying Don will become a drag queen here. But he is balancing gender issues within. And he has had a "crack-up" and a "recovery." He is having a vision while meditating, much like a shaman, and I believe he would bring that vision to light, and like a teacher, share it with the world.

Over at Tom and Lorenzo, they pointed out several shots of characters dressed in red-and-white color combinations (the colors on a Coke can) this episode. It was just undeniable that Janie Bryant was in cahoots somehow on this. When I first saw Peggy's red jumper and white turtleneck in "Person to Person," it seemed so out of place that I originally thought it was supposed to be December 1970 (she just looked so much like Santa), and then when I saw the Halloween decorations in her office, I just assumed that's how busy with work she is—it's Christmas, but she's yet to remove her Halloween decorations.  It's Peggy—it could happen.

Of course, the reason I might connect her red-and-white dress to Christmas originated with Coca-Cola to begin with. An illustration done for a Coca-Cola ad in the 1930s showed Santa in the colors red and white (previously he'd been depicted in blue and white, green and white, etc.), and it was so popular that we've associated those colors with him ever since.

But the red-and-white appearances, and other forms of Coke ad foreshadowing, didn't just come to the surface in "Person to Person." They've been sprinkled throughout the whole season.


In "Time Zones": Don and Megan's white shirts against Megan's red sheets, the Bloody Marys on the all-white tables during Roger and Margaret's lunch, the TWA stewardesses in red and white, the red blankets and Peggy's white hat and red coat.






In "A Day's Work": Shirley's red-and-white dress, Don and Sally in the Cadillac (Sally's red hat, the red upholstery), the red and white flowers on Valentine's Day, the red lamps against the white ceiling in the diner and Sally's asking if she can get a Coke.










In "The Field Trip": Francine's red-and-white suit, Roger's red-and-white plaid blazer, Bobby's red-and-white jacket, the red-and-white barn, Joan's red-and-white dress, Henry's red tie and white shirt,  an episode of "The Little Rascals," watched by Don (in which they say lemonade "tastes sweet") and Betty's drinking cow's milk and saying, "It's sweet."




In "The Monolith": Don's drinking Coke, Lloyd's saying, "I'll tell you how great it is" while pointing at the Coke (though he's talking about computers), Caroline's eating a red apple, the vodka bottle Don pours into a Coke can that's red and white and Margaret's white dress in the mud in front of a red truck.







In "The Runaways": Stephanie's red-and-white bandanna bag, Megan and Amy's red and white dresses, respectively, Peggy's red-and-white striped outfit, the guitar player at Megan's party's red T-shirt and white pants, Sally's red-and-white comforter, Don's black polo shirt with red and white stripes, the red nipple in the white box (yes, I went there), the red flowers and Bloody Mary pitchers on the white table at the Algonquin and the red Algonquin awning against the white building.






In "The Strategy": the red-and-white lights outside Burger Chef, a red-and-white painting in Don's living room, Pete's red-and-white checkered jacket, Trudy's red-and-white cake, Megan's red-and-white peasant blouse, the red-and-white labeled beer Pete plants in the cake and Peggy's red shirt and white earrings.





In "Waterloo": Joan's red-and-white floral dress (even the way this shot is framed makes her look like a Coke bottle), the Coke bottle in the hotel room (in the middle of the floor), the red tomato juice on the white table in the diner and Sally's lifeguard outfit.


In "Severance": Diana's reading in front of a soda fountain with a Coca-Cola sign (this is where Don says he thinks he knows her), the red wine on the white carpet (!!!!), Ken's wife's red dress with the white towel on her shoulder, Joan's red coat on the white coat rack, the red-and-white tablecloths and Peggy's red thermos next to the white clock.






In "New Business": Don's red-and-white polo shirt, the red medal and white coat of the steakhouse chef, Pima's red-and-white three-piece suit, Megan's red and white luggage, Pete's red sweater and white shirt, Megan's white peasant shirt and red purse, the red of Stan's darkroom, Roger's red, white and silver outfit (he's like a walking inside-out Coke can), Diana's red, white and black bed and Don's missing furniture (which foreshadows the song lyric "and furnish it with love").




In "The Forecast": Roger's red, white and silver suit, his saying to Don, "You know I could have you killed for drinking anything other than a Coke around here," Joan's red and white flowers, the red tablecloth and white dishes in the Chinese restaurant, Sally's friend's red-and-white dress and her telling Don, "I always like the commercials," and Don's losing his home (which foreshadows a lyric in the Coke song, "I'd like to buy the world a home...").






In "Time and Life": Don's apartment's looking red and white, Roger's red handkerchief, Meredith's drinking Coke, the red tie on Pete, the red-and-white curtains, Joan's mother's red-and-white outfit, the red and white on Jim Hobart (and his saying, "We're rolling out the red carpet," and whispering, "Coca-Cola") and Don's red tie and white shirt (which we've never seen him in before).

In "Lost Horizon": Beverly's outfit, Don's saying, "I want to live here," while pointing at the all red-and-white living room on Meredith's mood board, the red-and white painting in the McCann board room, the Coke cans in front of each man, Joan's drinking Tab, the white mug on the red stove burner, the white roller skates with red wheels, Don's suit's matching his Cadillac (which is like an inside-out Coke can) and Hobart's red, silver and white tie.






In "The Milk and Honey Route": the Colgate tube, Pete and Trudy's talking about bees in the apple orchard (refers to lyrics in the Coke jingle: "With apple trees and honey bees..."), the red apples against the white tennis outfits, Pete's saying to Duck, "There have been whispers about Coca-Cola," Pete's secretary's red dress, Betty's white scarf with red bows on it, the Sharon Hotel's red doors and bright red Coke machine, Andy's white shirt with red stripes, the woman by the pool's all red-and-white bathing suit (now the connections become more blatant), Andy's asking Don, "You make commercials on TV?" the sun's gleam off the top of the broken Coke machine, the girl jumping out of the red, white and silver cake at the veterans' fund-raiser, the red, white and silver Lone Star beers, the song "Over There" (its lyrics contain the words red and white) and Andy's being pushed onto the bed—he and the covers and the lamp and the headboard all appear red and white.




In "Person to Person": the red-and-white baseball hat on one of the Utah kids, Roger's red tie and white shirt, Peggy's aforementioned red dress and white turtleneck, Joan's doing cocaine, Don's red-and-white plaid comforter in his hotel room, Joan's red dress, the red wine on the white table when she meets Ken, Joan's red-and-white dress, Stephanie's red-and-white peasant shirt and her red-and-white blanket that Don sleeps under, the Coke can in the Francis kitchen, Stephanie's red-and-white dress at the retreat, the Bloody Marys on the white table during Peggy and Joan's lunch, the counselor's red-and-white dress, Richard's red-and-white striped shirt, the girl dressed in red and white at the retreat, Peggy's asking, "Don't you want to work on Coke?" Don's roommate in the red-and-white jumper, the man in the red-and-white peasant blouse, Leonard's dream about being in the fridge, Tammy's Barbie and the red shirt on Stan hugging Peggy, who's in a white shirt.

Good Housekeeping,
November 1970


Good Housekeeping,
November 1970

Oh, and here's why I'm positive Peggy (and maybe Joan, too) ends up working on the Coca-Cola account:



Coincidentally the symbol for "om" is also associated with the colors red and white.


And the most famous story about an evil stepmother in the world incorporates the colors red and white constantly:

"Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, when the snow flakes fell like feathers from the sky, a queen sat at a window which had a frame of black ebony. And as she was sewing while looking at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle and three drops of blood fell on the snow. The red looked so beautiful on the white snow that she thought to herself, I wish I had a child as white as snow, as red as the blood and with hair as black as the wood of the window frame. Soon after, she got a little daughter who was as white as snow, as red as blood and had hair as black as ebony, and she was therefore called Snow White. And when the child had been born, the queen died. After a year had passed, the king took himself another wife."


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
Snow White (also a lyric in the Coke jingle, "snow-white turtle doves"), by the brothers Grimm, isn't just a tale about a wicked stepmother. It's also about a little girl's maturing. And just as the character of Don Draper becomes a new, more healthy version of himself by the end of "Person to Person," there are other characters who become new people, too. That's what the title of the episode means—two people connecting over the telephone, or one individual becoming quite another.

Every character in this series seems opposite in the end from how they started.


As I mentioned last week, Ted went from being a thorn in Don's side, constantly competing with him, and unhappy in his marriage to finding himself quite comfortable as a cog—albeit a cog who's stopped chasing after younger women and is settling down with a woman his age.
Roger started this series as a spoiled child, and spent much of it looking for meaning and exploring the youth culture after suffering a heart attack. Like Ted, he also chased after much younger women. But now he's finally fallen for a woman his age, who is challenging above all else. He's let go of his business a bit, after proving that he could lead it in Cooper's absence. And after announcing to Don that he has no heirs, that there are no more Sterlings, he has a conversation with Joan this episode about leaving half of his possessions to Kevin, a "rich little bastard." What becomes of his daughter, we'll never know, but he seems to have reached some level of acceptance about her choices.


The Pete of season one struggled with satisfying his ambition while dealing with some entitlement issues. He was the perfect foil for Don, because as a man who grew up in poverty and had reinvented himself, Don didn't live by normal rules. Pete believed highly in societal standards and was constantly saying things like, "It's not fair." Or "Why can't everything good happen at once." Unlike Don, he was ruthless in his treatment of others, based purely on his own moral code—he told on Freddie Rumsen after he peed his pants from drinking too much, and he informed Cooper about Don's true identity. He wanted to succeed while playing by the rules, and he could never fathom it when he watched people advance who didn't seem likely competitors (e.g., when he found out Peggy was going to work on the Clearasil account—Peggy's promotion from secretary to copywriter was completely inspired by Don's desire to stick it to Pete—he said, "I'm expecting the very best. Not some little girl.") In the past few seasons, we've watched Pete have some fairly humbling life experiences. He's been punched in the face more than any other character (deservedly, usually). We've watched him learn how to treat people with respect, often due to how badly he's felt when he hasn't been treated with it.

When he talks to Peggy after finding out SC&P is being absorbed by McCann, he tells her he has to stay with the company because he's never worked anywhere else. So for him to take Duck's job offer in the penultimate episode is a huge leap. He's never wanted to live anywhere other than the city, which he now considers "a toilet." And he's come to the realization that he needs his family after all.


This was foreshadowed in "The Better Half" in season six, when Duck met with Pete at his apartment (this was the first time he tried to get him to take the job in Wichita, KS).

Pete: Paint me a new portrait.
Duck: I'm glad you said that. How about seeing things from the client's side? There's a head of marketing job in Wichita that you'd be perfect for.
Pete: Anything back here on Earth?
Duck: You know, I've always liked you, Campbell, so forgive me for saying this. But if you do a little better, I can do a lot better.
Pete: I don't know what else I can do.
Duck: I've been you. And I went on interviews, and I realized I was filling the room with desperation. Five cents' worth of free advice: You gotta spend less time in this place [Pete's NYC apartment] and more at home.
Pete: This is a reluctant necessity. My mother's run amok.
Don: Pete, one day I looked in the mirror and I realized I had regrets because I didn't understand the wellspring of my confidence.
Pete: Gin...?
Duck: My family.
Pete: My family's a constant distraction.
Duck: You better manage that, or you're not going to manage anything.


Good Housekeeping,
November 1970
Betty is ending this series in a very different position than how she started (and Weiner has said in interviews that he knew he'd kill off Betty from the beginning). With as beautiful as she is, she's the type of character who'd enter a room and everyone else would disappear. She was very, very visible. So Weiner says he's made her into a person who, in the end, is barely even there. She is receding into nothingness. And yet she is strangely accepting of this. Her growth as a character has been to acknowledge that, like Pete, she doesn't always know the best way to do things. And she has to consider the feelings of others and stand up for herself when she knows she's right. Which is why she's able to commend Sally on her individuality, why she can take the risk of going back to school and why she can tell Don that he needs to stay away from the family as she dies. She is still not very likable up until the end, sitting there smoking her cigarettes, but we know that's she's refused to make her children watch her fight for her life. She wants to die peacefully, out of their sight. She had to watch both of her parents die and doesn't want to do that to them. And in so doing, she is fulfilling her best act as a mother yet.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this basically the same outfit
Peggy's wearing in that photo with Pete, above?


Joan, who we all thought until this episode was out for the count after her confrontation with Jim Hobart, proves to be a businesswoman after all in "Person to Person," and an entrepreneur at that.

She is happy. That's the most important part. In the first season, Joan was great at feigning happiness, or cheeriness, but like Marilyn Monroe, whom she mourns severely when she dies, she never seemed truly content. She was making do with her lot in life, really. And she never expected to be a person who identified with her profession, though it was clear even from the start how competent she was at it and how much she came alive when she walked around that office. By the end of the series, the woman who once told Peggy that if she was lucky, she'd be out in the country with a husband and kids and not have to commute to work at all after a year, is a single mom, working from home in the city, a millionaire and someone who refuses to compromise herself for any man (she's already had enough of that, thank you).
Notice her fresh face here—we almost never see Joan without makeup.


In the latest collection of Joseph Campbell's lectures, Goddesses, the teacher talks about women's representations in myth. This one, "On the Goddess," was given in the 1970s:


"Many of the difficulties that women face today follow from the fact that they are moving into a field of action in the world that was formerly reserved for the male and for which there are no female mythological models. The woman finds herself, consequently, in a competitive relationship with the male, and in this may lose the sense of her own nature. She is something in her own right, and traditionally (for some four million years) the relationship of that something to the male has been experienced and represented, not as directly competitive, but as cooperative in the shared ordeal of continuing and supporting life. Her biologically assigned role was to give birth to and to rear children. The male role was to support and protect. Both roles are biologically and psychologically archetypal. But what has happened now—as a result of the masculine invention of the vacuum cleaner—is that women have been relieved, in some measure, of their traditional bondage to the household.


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
Good Housekeeping,
November 1970
"They are moving into the field and jungle of individual quest, achievement and self-realization, for which there are no female models. Moreover, in pursuing their distinct careers they are emerging progressively as differentiated personalities, leaving behind the old archetypal accent on the biological role—to which, however, their psyches are still constitutionally bound. The grim prayer of Lady Macbeth before her deed, 'unsex me here!' must be the unspoken, deeply felt cry of many a new contender in this masculine jungle.


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
"There is no such need, however. The challenge of the moment—and there are many who are meeting it, accepting it and responding to it, in the way not of men but of women—the challenge is to flower as individuals, neither as biological archetypes nor as personalities imitative of the male. And, to repeat, there are no models in our mythology for an individual woman’s quest. Nor is there any model for the male in marriage to an individuated female. We are in this thing together and have to work it out together, not with passion (which is always archetypal) but with compassion, in patient fostering of each other’s growth.


"I have read somewhere of an old Chinese curse: 'May you be born in an interesting time!' This is a very interesting time: there are no models for anything that is going on. Everything is changing, even the law of the masculine jungle. It is a period of free fall into the future, and each has to make his or her own way. The old models are not working; the new have not yet appeared. In fact, it is we who are even now shaping the new in the shaping of our interesting lives. And that is the whole sense (in mythological terms) of the present challenge: We are the 'ancestors' of an age to come, the unwitting generators of its supporting myths, the mythic models that will inspire its lives. In a very real sense, therefore, this is a moment of creation; for, as has been said: 'No one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins' (Mark 2:22). We are to become the preparers, that is to say, of the fresh wineskins for a new and heady wine—of which we are already having the first taste."

Good Housekeeping,
November 1970
Hence, the main appeal of this show, really—to watch what our parents and grandparents experienced, to understand their perspectives better and to realize why we are the way we are today.

Peggy, Joan, Betty, Megan and Sally are characters who are trying things they have no role models for. They are trailblazers in every sense of the word.

Good Housekeeping,
November 1970














In my very first recap, I said, "From now until the end of the season, Iʼll set out to show you examples of those changing roles (and some fashion and beauty, too—promise), as seen through the eyes of characters like Peggy, Joan, Megan, Betty and even Sally, the womenʼs magazine readers of the series and—particularly in Joan and Peggyʼs case—the women whose ideas were changing history." And Matthew Weiner and his writers have made it very easy for me to do that.

An L.A. Times article recently revealed Weiner's feminist goals with the show:

"'I have a powerful mother, I have two professional older sisters, I have a professional, powerful wife, and there have always been a lot of women in authority on the show,' Weiner said. 'My mother was what they called a women's libber. I knew who Betty Friedan was, I knew who Gloria Steinem was, I knew who Bella Abzug was, I knew who Simone de Beauvoir was, and then intellectually in college, feminism was the most prominent idea.' When Weiner was fleshing out the
Mad Men universe years ago, two books, which he read in the course of a single week, were particularly instructive: The Feminine Mystique, by Friedan, and Sex and the Single Girl, by Helen Gurley Brown. 'I was like, well, a lot has changed, but not a lot has changed,' he recalled."

The fact that Peggy would be such an important character on the show was a surprise to everyone, even the woman who played her:


"In the pilot episode of Mad Men, Peggy Olson, a naive 20-year-old from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, by way of Miss Deaver's Secretarial School, arrives for her first day of work at Sterling Cooper, a Manhattan advertising agency, and is assigned to work for creative executive Don Draper.

"She quakes in fear around the poised office manager, Joan Holloway, and is such an outer-borough bumpkin that account executive Pete Campbell wonders whether she might be Amish. Nevertheless, there are hints that Peggy may be more formidable than she appears: When Don, hungover and waking from a nap in his office, asks her to go out to entertain Pete, she politely but firmly declines. 'I don't want to seem uncooperative, but do I have to?' In the nine fictional years since that moment, Peggy has grown to become Don's protégé, his rival and for a time his de facto boss. She also bought a brownstone, gave a baby up for adoption and burned through several doomed romances. The similarities between Don and Peggy have been widely noted—both are passionate about their work and have painful secrets in their past—but unlike Don, whose very identity is a lie, Peggy has a guilelessness that also makes her an accidental feminist.



"'Peggy wants to be the boss, and she has the same ambitions that Don has, and that's what makes her a pioneer,' Weiner said, 'that she didn't even think that she's not allowed to have it.'



"Or as Elisabeth Moss put it: 'She just keeps bumping her head up against this glass ceiling, not even recognizing that it's there.'


"Weiner said he always envisioned Mad Men as the 'parallel stories of Don Draper and Peggy Olson,' though he realizes now that it was 'probably unusual in some way that I thought about what Peggy wanted.' It took longer for Moss, who has received five Emmy nominations for Mad Men and another for her work in the miniseries Top of the Lake, to realize how integral Peggy's journey has been to the series—even though she's billed second after Jon Hamm.

"'It was really only in the third or fourth season when I heard other people saying things about her place in the show,' said the actress....'I was like, "Oh, no, no. It's Don Draper's story." There's still a huge part of me that believes that above anything else.'

"While Moss may not always be comfortable leaning in, she is thrilled that Peggy, with her personal foibles and professional triumphs, has been an inspiration to contemporary women. 'There's a lot of talk right now about equal pay for women. It's a conversation that's really present, and it's those women that Peggy's an inspiration to,' she said. 'She's always had a hard time finding somebody who loves her for who she is. You talk to any girl in 2015 who has a passion for something, and they're probably going to talk about how it's hard to find a man who respects that.'"


The first time Peggy experiences joy and creative fulfillment from winning an account, she goes out with her coworkers to celebrate. The corny music of the day gives way to Chubby Checker's "Do the Twist," and everyone squeals. Peggy joins in, and seductively twists her way over to Pete, who's sitting sullen in the corner. She very assertively asks him to dance with her. He says, "I don't like you like this." She glides back to the dance floor and joins the group again, a stripe of a tear down her cheek—which you'd miss if you didn't look carefully. This is a perfect example of the parallels between her and Don. Because when Don wins an account, it's party time. He can go out and get any woman he wants, fueled by the fire of his ambition. But it doesn't work that way for Peggy in 1960.


Good Housekeeping, November 1970
The Peggy of 1970, however, has a coworker who is in love with her. And it's not in the way Pete was, or how Ted felt or even anywhere close to the lustful pleadings of Duck (whose selfishness made her miss the Kennedy assassination—he unplugged the TV). Peggy has dealt with a long line of self-important men—remember when her activist boyfriend used her in an article decrying the false face of Madison Avenue? Even Stan, in the beginning, liked to act like he was somehow superior to her...but only in the sense that she was too uptight. Stan has come to learn that Peggy acts that way because she truly cares about her work, and he respects that. He's grown to care about excellence more because of her. But at the same time, his presence brings her back down to earth. He is reliable and nurturing, and he makes her laugh. You might say that she is the man in the relationship, and he the female role, but I think they're a little bit of both.

And isn't that how it's supposed to be?

"I always look at a character from the inside," Weiner said in the L.A. Times article, "so everyone, rightly or wrongly, is a person to begin with. And then they're informed by their class, their childhood, their occupation, their gender, their race."



The first line Matthew Weiner ever wrote for Mad Men was "I'm not going to let a woman talk to me like that."

How fitting then that by the last episode, the truest mark of each character's growth is how well they can give voice to the feminine—whether they are women whose ambitions are finally being heard and recognized or men who need to find balance within.

In an early episode in this last season of Mad Men, Stan says to Don, "Where you been? Ridin' the rails?" It's another example of Weiner's foreshadowing. Because when Don does finally head out West, he references Jack Kerouac's On the Road a few times. And by the end of his journey, he's really started to look like him.

Diptych courtesy of Steven Seighman

But Don ends up in Big Sur, another title of one of Kerouac's novels. And despite Kerouac's character's sordid state in the beginning of his quest in that semi-autobiographical book (he's deluged by depression and alcoholism), by the last pages he's headed back East in an optimistic light:

"I've fallen asleep in a strange way, with my hands clasped behind my head thinking I'm just going to sit there and think, but I'm sleeping like that, and when I wake up just one short minute later I realize the two girls are both sitting behind me in absolute silence—When I'd sat down they were sweeping, but now they were squatting behind my back, facing each other, not a word—I turn and see them there—Blessed relief has come to me from just that minute—Everything has washed away—I'm perfectly normal again—Dave Wain is down the road looking at fields and flowers—I'm sitting smiling in the sun, the birds sing again, all's well again.

"I still cannot understand it.

"Most of all I can't understand the miraculousness of the silence of the girls and the sleeping boy and the silence of Dave Wain in the fields—Just a golden wash of goodness has spread over all and over all my body and mind—All the dark torture is a memory—I know now I can get out of there, we'll drive back to the City, I'll take Billie home, I'll say goodbye to her properly, she won't commit no suicide or do anything wrong, she'll forget me, her life'll go on, Romana's life will go on, old everything (as I'm doing now)—and Cody, and George Baso, and ravened McLear and perfect, starry Fagan, they'll all pass through one way or the other—I'll stay with Monsanto at his home a few days and he'll smile and show me how to be happy awhile, we'll drink dry wine instead of sweet and have quiet evenings in his home—Arthur Ma will come to quietly draw pictures at my side—Monsanto will say 'That's all there is to it, take it easy, everything's OK, don't take things too serious, it's bad enough as it is without you going off the deep end over imaginary conceptions just like you always said yourself'—I'll get my ticket and say goodbye on a flower day and leave all San Francisco behind and go back home across autumn America and it'll all be like it was in the beginning—Simple golden eternity blessing all—Nothing ever happened—not even this—St. Carolyn by the Sea will go on being golden one way or the other—The little boy will grow up and be a great man—There'll be farewells and smiles—My mother'll be waiting for me glad—The corner of the yard where Tyke is buried will be a new and fragrant shrine making my home more homelike somehow—On soft Spring nights I'll stand in the yard under the stars—Something good will come out of all things yet—And it will be golden and eternal just like that—There's no need to say another word."




I'm sitting, smiling in the sun. All's well again. A golden wash of goodness has spread over my body and mind. All the dark torture is a memory. We'll drive back to the City. The boy will grow up and be a great man. There'll be farewells and smiles. Something good will come out of all things yet. There's no need to say another word.

Unless that word is "om." Or "Coca-Cola."

Or both. Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, founder of the Kwan Um School of Zen, famously said, "When chanting, sitting or bowing, only do it. Practicing will not help if you are attached to your thinking, if your mind is moving. Taoist chanting, Confucian chanting, Christian chanting, Buddhist chanting: It doesn't matter. Even chanting 'Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola…' can be just as good, if you keep a clear mind."



Seventies fashion came back in a big way as this show came to a close. Here's my last everything-old-is-new-again pic (head to the Good Housekeeping website for the full story).













And, finally, my last-ever doppelgangers:

Floral Designs by Jessi took this prescient pic
of me a few weeks before Don sat in lotus position

I know there won't be a next time, but just for old time's sake, "Sorry. I already went to high school."



















"Across the Universe,"
by Lennon and McCartney (1968)

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me.
Jai Guru Deva OM.

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe.
Jai Guru Deva OM.

Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe.
Jai Guru Deva OM.

Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Jai Guru Deva,
Jai Guru Deva,
Jai Guru Deva,
Jai Guru Deva,
Jai Guru Deva [fade out].