Saturday Odds & Sods: Is That All There Is?

Self Portrait After The Spanish Flu by Edvard Munch.

My sleep pattern remains wacked out. This lifelong night person has become a morning writer. I’ve even awakened before Dr. A a few times and fed the cat. Both she and PD were disoriented. Such is life during the pandemic.

I decided to use one of Edvard Munch’s lesser known works as this week’s featured image. It’s a reminder than one can survive even the worst pandemic. It also explains why he was such a Gloomy Gus. Of course, he was Norwegian; it goes with the territory.

This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller in 1968. They shopped it around before finding the perfect singer: Peggy Lee. I’ll have more about Miss Peggy Lee and our theme song after the jump.

We have two versions of Is That All There Is? for your listening pleasure: the Peggy Lee original and a swell cover by the woman whose name I cannot stop saying, Chaka Khan. It’s a mantra in my family and it should be in yours. Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan.

Our next musical pairing involves a title that’s similar to Miss Peggy Lee’s last hit. To add to the needless complexity of this post, they’re different tunes.

You say this, I say that. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Now that we’ve questioned everything, let’s take a dubious leap of faith and jump to the break

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Second Hand News

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1969 Avalon Ballroom concert poster by Rick Griffin.

The holidays are upon us in New Orleans. That means erratic weather: in the last week we’ve run both the heater and air-conditioner. It makes me want to re-shoot an old feline-centric Python sketch as Confuse A Human. I think Della Street might like that…

It was a harrowing week because of the horrendous slaughter in Southern California. I said all I have to say about it on Thursday. As a matter of fact, Crooks and Liars picked up Still Comfortably Numb. Thanks, y’all. I only wish it hadn’t been necessary to write it but the mass shootings keep on coming. That’s why I’m deliberately keeping it light this week. We’ve had enough blood and guts and bad news to last a lifetime:

The stupid keeps flying at us. My favorite this week was Tailgunner Ted’s insistence that the hairy loon who shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was a “transgendered leftist activist.” It made no sense whatsoever but it made me wonder if Cruz has read this Vidal classic:

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End of obligatory Gore Vidal reference. Let’s move on to this week’s theme song.

It struck me that Second Hand News is a perfect theme song for this feature. All I do is purvey second hand news, make a few jokes, and post some pictures and videos. Second Hand News is a frequent set opener for Fleetwood Mac, and it’s an excellent table setter for their, uh, set.

I just recalled the first time I saw the Buckingham-Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac. It was a 1975 (yeah, I’m old, deal with it) Bill Graham extravaganza at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium. It was dubbed, Day On The Green #3: The British Are Coming. Fleetwood Mac hadn’t quite broken out yet commercially and were fourth billed under Robin Trower, Peter Frampton, and Dave Mason. It was a great show and, oddly enough, Dave Mason later served a brief tour of duty in Fleetwood Mac as the irreplaceable Lindsey Buckingham’s replacement. Speaking of Lindsey, he’s just second hand news, just second hand news, yeaaaah.

We’ll begin with the studio version from Rumours followed by a 2012 live version with a smashing drum intro by the world’s tallest rock star, Mick Fleetwood.

I wonder if Lindsey could still grow the white boy fro he had in the 1970’s? If so, I am deeply envious. It’s possible that I might Go Insane with jealousy:

You didn’t take me literally did you? I would hope not. I am prone to exaggeration, after all. Now that I’ve painted myself into another corner, it’s time for the break.

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Mad Men Thread: Person To Person

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The most important thing Matthew Weiner learned from David Chase was this: Leave the Russian in the woods. In short, it’s okay to be subtle, ambiguous and  leave something to the viewers’ imagination. That’s exactly what Weiner did in the Mad Men series finale, Person To Person. It was something that was lost on the twitterati. It’s one reason I never live tweet Mad Men. That’s okay for sports but Mad Men requires that you put the fucking phone down and pay attention.

Unlike The Sopranos where people didn’t change because it was easier to be a wise guy, the characters on Mad Men *have* changed and evolved over the years. I just re-watched the first two seasons and was stuck by how jerky most of the guys in the bullpen were, even my main man Deadeye Cosgrove. He was not a monumental asshole like Pete Campbell but he was an entitled jerk who thought he was God’s gift to women. It was before he became a GIF dancer I suppose. Oddly enough, Harry Crane was the least jerky guy at Sterling, Cooper so he changed for the worst.

The ending has occasioned the most discussion online and elsewhere, but we’ll get to that after the break. First, a picture of Pete and the Pegster’s farewell:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: On The Street Where You Live

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I’ve made a few tweaks to this Saturday feature. Calling it Saturday Odd & Sods was so obvious that it didn’t occur to me until I had a Homeric insight yesterday. Homer Simpson, that is. D’OH.

In honor of the Mad Men series finale tomorrow, I have substituted the season-6 poster above for the usual Who in football helmets album cover. I’m either a substitute for another guy or the face, I’m not exactly sure which.

There will be some rather interesting Mad Men material after the break. But first this week’s theme song, which appeared in the pilot episode way back in 2007:

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Mad Men Thread: The Hobo Coda

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There was a lot going on in the penultimate (a word I love as much as eponymous) episode of Mad Men, The Milk and Honey Route. I’ll let the Guardian’s Will Dean explain the reference instead of cribbing from it:

The milk and honey route, from which this penultimate episode takes its name, was the hobo nickname for one of the train lines running through Utah. It got its name from the generosity of Mormons who would feed the itinerant travellers but, as this piece by the American sociologist Nels Anderson explains, the term has come to mean any route taken which has a promise of better things to come. It’s the route Don is on, wherever he’s headed. Anderson writes:

“What may be a milk and honey route to one hobo may not be so to another. A hobo may fare well on a route one time and another time fare ill. Again, it may be milk and honey for a road kid but not for an old timer.”

That reference, in turn, got me circling back to a flashback from Season-1, Episode-8, you guessed it, the Hobo Code. In that flashback, young Dick Whitman is made an “honorary hobo” by the real deal. Ever since those days, Don’s personal code has been flight, not fight. In this episode, he’s running away from his past as Don Draper and the demons that have haunted him since Korea. His plan, such as it is, is to keep running but other developments may get in the way.

Our old friend the dog abandoning headhunter Duck Phillips returns to tempt Pete Campbell and to drink his booze. More about that after the break but first a picture:

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Mad Men Thread: Lost Horizon

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Lost Horizon was a 1933 Utopian novel by James Hilton. It was adapted into a movie by Frank Capra in 1937 and laid an egg at the box office for a variety of reasons including a Utopia that resembled a Midwestern hotel lobby. Ronald Colman, an actor known for his pretty mug and mellifluous voice, starred as Robert Conway who found, lost and then once again found his Shangri-La. Sound familiar? Like Don Draper with an English accent? That’s *one* of the reasons the latest installment of Mad Men is  aptly entitled Lost Horizon.

Don Draper isn’t the only one who feels defeated and lost in the wake of SCP’s sale to the barbarian hordes of McCann and Malaka. There is buyer’s and seller’s remorse on both sides as the sale breaks up our old gang, and introduces an element of chaos into the well-ordered office of the large, impersonal, corporate ad agency. Loss pervades the entire episode even among those who are ostensibly winners: Don and Jim Hobart who landed his white whale. The only characters who are happy with the change are  a depressingly sweaterless Ted Chaough, Pete Campbell whose WASP credentials will help the heavily Hibernian agency, and Harry Crane: human cockroach. Harry is a survivor and he’ll thrive at McCann and Malaka because he *is* one, a malaka, that is. I hope that won’t be the last time we see Roger insult Harry but if it was, what a way to go out.

The customary random and discursive comments will follow the break and this picture of the Pegster strutting down the hall at McCann like a Mod goddess (modess?) near episode’s end:

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Mad Men Thread: Everything Must Go

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This week’s recap is late because it was like a bloody Carpenters song in New Orleans yesterday. John Phillips was obviously right: Monday, Monday can’t trust that day. If I recall correctly, the color of Roger’s jacket was a hue unknown to nature, electric blue. I had the electric blues yesterday: power flickers and internet wonkiness so I threw in the towel and decided to write this today. Too much information? Perhaps, but what’s a bit of oversharing among friends?

As much as I hate to agree with the conventional wisdom on anything, in this case I do: Time & Life was by far and away the best episode of the Season 7 rump of Mad Men. Glad I don’t have to give it a rump roast. There were plot twists aplenty, and it evoked some of the best past episodes of the series including this image of Pete Campbell in a wee punch-up at a fancy school in Greenwich, CT:

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Remember in Season-5 when dweeby Brit Lane Pryce kicked Pete’s equally dweeby preppie ass? Jared Harris who played Lane directed this episode and I think he gave Vincent Kartheiser some pugilistic pointers. More random and discursive comments after the break or is that round? I promise to answer the bell.

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Mad Men Thread: You Just Ooze Everywhere

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Thus spake Sally at the end of The Forecast. She was aggravated at having to play second fiddle to both Betty and Don in this episode so she let Big Daddy have it like one of those pesky no-neck monsters in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. It didn’t work. Don reminded her how much like both parents she is. I quite agree. She wanted the limelight just like they do and was snippy over her friend Sarah’s flirting with Don as well as a certain person’s obvious infatuation with Betty. More about that later.

The Forecast was clearly the best episode of Season-7 mach two thus far. In the previous episode, Don looked back whereas this time around he asked all and sundry what their dreams and hopes for the future were. Neither Sally nor Peggy took it very well. In Peggy’s case, she was upset that Don wanted her to look past advertising and discuss the big picture. Don is having a hard time coping with the agency’s success and is appalled that Ted Chaough’s vision of the future was confined to advertising. Ted’s career crisis is clearly over. Me, I was appalled that Ted wasn’t wearing a sweater. What’s up with that, Teddy boy? It’s not nice to make me er, sweat…

As Don groped for a bigger meaning to life, I was brought back to the song that concluded Severance: Is That All There Is? Don has at least moved on from the Zou Bissou Bissou memorial penthouse by selling it.

More random and meandering comments after the break.  The Veep  circa 1970 might have even called me a nattering nabob of negativism. Note that I don’t call Spiro T Agnew my countryman, he didn’t embrace his ethnicity until he ran for national office. Oy, such malakatude.

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Mad Men Thread: Don Draper’s Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

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There’s been a lot of kvetching among the Mad Men punditocracy and fan base about New Business. Much of it is based on animus towards Megan and her big scary teeth, and some of it is from people craving big plot developments. It *is* a still episode, but I’ve always liked Mad Men for its moments. It’s what the show is all about: moments and characters, not fast paced action. And yes, I, too, want to see Sally, Jim Cutler as well as Ted Chaough’s latest sweater. I suspect he’s moved on to sweater vests by now…

Viewers may be expecting big things from the last few episodes but, like Peggy and unlike Stan, Matthew Weiner doesn’t give a damn what others think. He’ll pursue his artistic vision to the, more likely than not, bitter end.

I’ll dive in to the deep end of  the episode after the break, but first the divine Mimi Rogers as Pima Ryan:

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Mad Men Thread: Is That All There Is?

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I was hoping the second part of Mad Men season 7 would be a mini-season of 8 episodes but we’ll have to be satisfied with a mini-mini-season of 6. Damn you, Matthew Weiner, you’re taking that David Chase disciple thing too far. On the other hand, better Peggy Lee than Journey…

Things have moved along at SC & P, which has become an independent subsidiary of advertising monolith, McCann, Erickson. The sale has left lingering tensions between the partners and other core characters and it pops up in scenes between Peggy and Joan and Pete and Deadeye Ken Cosgrove. R is for resentment, especially from Ken who is in for a royal screwing in this episode but we’ll get to that a bit later.

Don has divorced Megan and has reverted to his natural state as a feral bachelor. The rub is that while Don wants to cat around, he doesn’t like living alone. In short, he wants to have a wife to cheat on.

I’ll make some random and discursive comments about Severance after the break, but first one of my favorite images from the episode:

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Mad Men Mania

The final season of Mad Men starts next Sunday, which means I’ll be recapping the show once again. The Matthew Weiner cone of silence seems to be holding, so anything I say today is mere speculation but what’s a little speculation among friends? Season 6 ended with Don Draper being suspended from the agency. I think he’ll return and that the series will end with either his resignation or death. Megan will NOT be Sharon Tate but there will be allusions to the Tate-LaBianca murders. I’m not sure if Sally and Weird Glenn will run away and join the Manson … Continue reading Mad Men Mania

Mad Men Thread: Fly Me To The Moon

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The mid-season finale of Mad Men is an instant classic. Matthew Weiner successfully messed with us by titling it Waterloo. It meant that we expected a downer of an episode, instead the first half of Season-7 ended on a high note. I daresay it was a happy ending for everyone except for Bert Cooper and No Problem Lou. Who the hell expected a happy ending from Weiner and company? Surely not me. One reason for that was the moon landing as a backdrop, which was a tonic to the American spirit in the real world and helped the Pegster land the Burger Chef account on Mad Men.

The episode conjured up images of the Season-3 finale, Shut The Door Have A Seat, wherein our main characters resisted a sale to one of the big agencies and started the firm now known as SC&P. There’s, of course, a big old twist, but we’ll get to that after the break. First, a picture of Robert Morse going back to his roots and doing the old sock shoe:

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Mad Men Thread: Did you park your white horse outside?

The penultimate episode of the 2014 mini-season, The Strategy, is Mad Men at its finest. It has many interesting themes, images, and meditations about what constitutes a family in 1969. The episode title refers to Peggy’s pitch for the Burger Chef account but there are various strategies running throughout the episode. Peggy *thinks* she likes her traditional family strategy for the new account: Lou and Pete are onboard but both of them are mired in 1950’s expectations of gender roles. Don backs the Pegster at the meeting but expresses reservations in private. Despite their differences, he is still Don Fucking … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Did you park your white horse outside?

Mad Men Thread: Scout’s Honor

I’m in the minority among the Mad Men punditocracy (at least the ones I read) about this episode. They’ve been complaining about the episodic nature of The Runaways, it may be true but it doesn’t bother me a bit. The best thing about Mad Men has always been the moments and this episodic episode is full of them. I suspect they’ll be tied together momentarily… It’s random and scattershot comment time, but first a picture of the Draper siblings: Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Scout’s Honor

Mad Men Thread: Stanley Kubrick Meets Tom Seaver

Progess has come to SC&P via the big ass IBM 360 mainframe computer that Harry Crane has been whining about and finally scored. Jim Cutler decided to display it for all to see, and takes away the lounge that the creatives used to hang out in and do their best work. Ginsburg and the Pegster are not amused. The artist formerly known as Don Fucking Draper is so out of the loop that he doesn’t even receive the memo announcing the ceremony whereat Crane and Cutler wear hard hats for no discernible reason. It’s not a good look for either … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Stanley Kubrick Meets Tom Seaver

Mad Men Thread: The Big Cringe

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Mad Men has always specialized in uncomfortable, cringe inducing moments but Field Tripmay be the cherry on the sundae, or the bride and groom on the wedding cake. The latter analogy is the one that fits this episode best. Someone once told Don and Betty that they looked like the couple on a wedding cake. It was at that moment that I knew their marriage wasn’t going to last. The episode places Don and Betty on parallel tracks that end up converging in embarrassment. Don may learn something from his humiliation but Betty being Betty will learn nothing from her lesser mortification.

Time for my weekly windy, discursive, and pointedly pointless comments about this excellent episode but first another picture:

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Mad Men Thread: My Funny Valentine

I know some people who think Mad Men is as serious, somber, and depressing as a Bergman film. It can be all of those things, but it can also be very, very funny, more like Fanny and Alexander than The Seventh Seal. A Day’s Work is one of the funniest episodes ever: while still making serious points about racial and gender politics in 1969 and at SCP. The episode is set on Valentine’s Day, 1969 and has some elements of classic farce with all the mistaken identity shtick going down from Shirley’s flowers to Sally finding Lou (It’s Not My … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: My Funny Valentine

Mad Men Thread: Time Zones

It’s January 1969 and Mad Men has gone full tilt bi-coastal. Don has become Megan’s sidekick instead of being a rock star. We saw this immediately after she picked him up at the airport and insisted on driving. Don Fucking Draper riding shotgun instead of behind the wheel? It’s a new world. On to my customary random and discursive comments: Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Time Zones

Mad Men Thread: Favors

The Season-6 freight train gained momentum with another kick ass episode, Favors. It had everything I love about Mad Men from 60’s fashion to the generation gap writ large to a Moshe Dayanposter on a goyim’s wall. Nobody in the MM punditocracy has figured that one out, but another reference loops back to the Sharon Tate theory:Mark Lindsay lived in the murder house with Terry Melcherwho was the *real* target of Mason’s psychotic rage. Favors was an apt title for this week’s installment. There was more “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” action than at a session of … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Favors

Mad Men Thread: Hair and Death

The season premiere was called The Doorway and there were a shitload of them since Matthew Weiner and company are deep into symbolism in a rather unsubtle way. The doors had a lot to do with death and very little to do with hair, which may be just a harebrained idea on my part… On to random and discursive comments that may be even randomer and discursive than usual. Dang, that was repetitive: Hair and Harry: It’s finally the late ’60’s at SCDP and the men’s hair reflected that. It is no longer difficult to spot the difference between the … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Hair and Death

Mad Men Thread: She’s the apple that goes in the pig’s mouth

Thus spake Mere Marie (not to be confused with my friend Mother Mary) after her dinner with Herb the horrible (the Hagar of Jersey) and his twitty wife, Peaches. That’s right, ladies and germs, please give it up for Peaches and Herb: Okay, now that I’ve had my little joke (very little, actually) on to a discussion of For Immediate Release, which is hands-down the best episode of season 6 so far. It fits the classic Mad Men pattern; nothing much seems to happen plot-wise at the start of the season and then WHAMMO. This season’s whammo occurred in episode … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: She’s the apple that goes in the pig’s mouth

Mad Men Thread: Jesus Had A Bad Year

Don Draper has finally lost his shit. He’s been teetering on the edge forever, but the meltdown happened in the season 6 finale, In Care Of. Don’s gotten very drunk many times but he’s never gotten in a bar room brawl and ended up in the drunk tank before. It wasn’t even the point where Don hit rock bottom. Crash. He’s consumed with guilt over Sally walking in on him and now she’s showing signs of alcoholism as well. Hell, even Betty is more sympathetic than Don right now and I’m a confirmed Bettyphobe. Like his mentor, David Chase, Matthew … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Jesus Had A Bad Year

Mad Men Thread: Weird Glen Returns

I love it when characters from past seasons return to Mad Men. The minute Sally was under pressure by her putative school mates to come up with something, uh, groovy, I turned to Dr. A and said, “she’s calling Weird Glen for help.” Irony abounds, of course, because Betty *loathes* Glen and even fired Carla the awesome nanny/housekeeper over allowing Glen into the Draper home after he’d skeezed Betty out. Glen keeps bouncing back as does that dog abandoning shit, Duck Phillips. It’s time to bring back Salvatore Romano to give Bryan one more time at Batt… The Quality of … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Weird Glen Returns

Mad Men Thread: Let the wig do the work

The classic Mad Men pattern reasserted itself with this week’s episode, The Better Half. After a clinker/experimental episode, this one moved quickly and was full of surprises, Don, Peggy, Betty, Pete, Roger and Joan. It was a good ‘un, so without further ado, here we go: Torn Between Two Mentors: It was tough to be the Pegster, both at the office and at home. Don and Ted continue to circle one another like tom cats but at least they skip the spraying and butt sniffing. They both did some hissing at the Pegster over the margarine account. She tried to … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: Let the wig do the work

Mad Men Thread: The Crash

Style and substance go hand in hand in the best episodes of Mad Men. It is *always*stylish in a variety of ways and sometimes style overwhelms substance, The Crash is one of those episodes. It’s made up of some great moments:Kenny Cosgrove tap dancing and pretty much everything involving my boy Stan. BUT it didn’t hold up that well on a second viewing as the best episodes do. The style was trippy, man. The shots adminstered by Cutler’s Doctor Feelgood got them fired up and ready to go. Without Joan and Ted in the office, there was no adult supervision … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: The Crash

The Mad Men meet the Chevy Vega

It’s always good to have talented readers. An email from Alex Smith made its way into my in-box the other day: I’ve been following your Mad Men episode recaps/photo gallery posts all season and have really enjoyed them so I thought I would share something with you. As you briefly noted this week, there was a potentially huge teaser on Episode 6 of Mad Men that revealed the new account they’ve landed for Chevy’s “secret” new car which is identified as the XP-887. I quickly Googled “XP-887” and found out it is actually the notorious Chevy Vega. Seems like a … Continue reading The Mad Men meet the Chevy Vega

Mad Men Thread: A Rap Session About Margarine

The merger of SCDP and CGC is on, but the new agency remains a horse with no name. Hold on, that’s a Seventies song. Never mind. The overall theme of Man With A Plan was power. Don started the episode busting Ted’s sweaterless chops. Then he re-enacted the Story of O with Sylvia, but he ended up looking like a lost little boy who grew up in a whorehouse. Except for Sylvia’s breaking if off with Don, that whole storyline left me cold even if she did look fetching in that red dress, a color that is associated in Don’s … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: A Rap Session About Margarine

Instant Mad Men Analysis

I spent a long day Jazzfesting, so I’m not alert enough to write a complete post BUT I was blown away by the HUGE plot development this week. Sweater wearing Teddy Chaough and Don Fucking Draper as partners? Holy fucking shit. It’s as if Batman and the Joker went into business or something.So much for ennui in the Mad Men punditocracy, they’ll all be jumping out of their skins. I know I am. More tomorrow. This is an episode I cannot wait to watch again. Continue reading Instant Mad Men Analysis

Mad Men Thread: The Flood

I seem to be in the minority among the Mad Men punditocracy, they’re all like meh about The Flood, and I loved it. It’s partially because I lived through that period as a wee laddie, the murder of MLK was all everyone talked about for at least a week, including those who hated and feared what King stood for. It was before he became the “unifying I have a dream guy” as opposed to the rabble-rouser who was against the war, and supported the Memphis garbage men. Even then, of course, he was both, as we saw through the eyes … Continue reading Mad Men Thread: The Flood