You’re In An Office Here You’re In An Office There What’s The Difference
Even on an ice floe, Don Draper is doing better than most. The first of our final glimpses of him is a fast pan from the floor up to him shaving his own neck while I’m A Man plays—such a spectacle of destitution! The husband’s a matinee idol, Megan’s agent coos. She knows I’m a terrible husband, Don tells his TWA seatmate. Not a terrible matinee idol tho! North of forty Don can still get it, powering thru a series of boilerplate suits thereby staying away from fashion trends like Tom Cruise in the early Nicole years. Too bad he’s the world’s most overqualified freelancer forced to relay decisions from the clubhouse like an ejected manager. Freddy Rumsen: face of the franchise.
It’s 1969, season of the little guy. Joe Namath, bête noire to both Don and Peggy but in different directions, just guaranteed the Jets a Super Bowl win and got it. In nine months, the Miracle Mets will win the World Series, prolepsis of which was not necessarily the point of the Mets pennant that hung so sadly in the late Lane Pryce’s office. That was just to demonstrate that Lane was a born loser. I have always thought the Mets’ 1969 validation meant that Lane wins posthumously. But as Partynextdoor would put it: got my cry from my decisions. [Joan: is this Avon-related, or do you just need someone to hand you a tissue?]
Freddy’s opening pitch to the camera seemed like a dazzling non sequitur at first, coming from the man who once drank an entire cove. Freddy’s own personal conversation piece is still having pissed his pants in a meeting. I been there, he reminds Don in a talk abt damaged goods. Don wrote the Accutron copy, and apparently lots more, in an act of Blazing World-level subterfuge, with Freddy as the Anton Tish cover. It’s funny that Oscar Mayer came up as a potential mark, bc if there’s anything Don knows it’s baloney. Freddy may be sober, but tmw Don will still be ugly inside.
New Yorkers are so weird abt California. They deplane at LAX and instantly turn into Tocqueville, or Noah Cross uttering ‘ORANGE GROVES??!!!!’ like a lazy lizard blinking in the sun. Something abt this much fertility upsets them. Pete Campbell, of all ppl, grasps this contradiction—New Yorker to the core, he has no problem with 75 degrees in January and Brooklyn Avenue being a street in East LA [holla!]. He does make the following note: the city’s flat and ugly and the air is brown but I love the vibrations. The other day I met a girl, a New York transplant, for tacos and when she asked why I moved to LA I said rather jauntily that I couldn’t remember. I was just trying to be Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential but Pete’s answer is better.
Weiner’s idea that for Don Draper time is a flat circle and California is both area and circumference is so supercalifragilistic bc he, Weiner, grew up in LA and must know the New York mindset abt it. All that penciled-in shade over the seasons abt Los Angeles being Detroit with palm trees and Don not knowing if Megan’s new house is in the city or the Valley is some of his slyest satire. Warhol’s first exhibition was in Los Angeles fr.-chrissakes. As ultimate west, California has always been a destination for the afflicted; not many murder vibes can belay that. To Pete the Beverly Hills Hotel is a chamber of horrors whereas Megan’s coyote-beset bungalow is to Don Dracula’s castle. But Pete can walk to lunch if he wants, Don can miraculously get a cab from whatever canyon he’s in, and #Californiana reigns. This episode cinched it with a clever sidewipe from a blue sky to a lampshade, from Megan getting out of a convertible to Ted insisting he’s not brown bc it’s January in LA, too. Not really tho.
On the flight back to New York, Don meets Neve Campbell, who makes a four-point landing right in whatever fine multi-mascara’d energy Sylvia left intact. He was thirsty she says of her late husband: he died of thirst. It’s a beautifully perverse way to talk abt a beautiful perversity, but Don is ever wary of being catfished. So he curves her, then opens his seat’s window sash to let the light in. Easy as pie, or bread pudding with blueberries in it.
Dead men’s ashes at Disneyland-I know abt this! There was an instance, or maybe an urban legend, where a party took advantage of an extended turn on the Haunted Mansion only to be found trying to ash-scatter. Pirates of the Caribbean seems more resourceful, but Tom Sawyer’s Island breaks with possibility. I’ve equated Don to Tom Sawyer before: from the country, not raised by his parents, a natural leader. In the hospital after the Guy MacKendrick accident, Lane told Don he’d been reading a lot of American literature lately, as in [The Adventures Of] Tom Sawyer. ‘That’s a good one’, said Don. Remember why, not how, the book ends: because if it continued it would become the story of a man.