Now THAT was “Series Finale” — as opposed to what we got last night:
No “D.B. Cooper” (as I for one had hoped) no “sudden death” (like the one The Sopranos teased us with) Just “Coke”.
In fact not even “Coke”. The Mad Men “Series Finale” was The “New” Coke!
Mad Men has been widely, and to large degree justly, praised for capturing the zeitgeist of the 1960’s. But it didn’t “get” everything, and it’s easy to see why.
Matthew Weiner was born in 1965; meaning he was a toddler at the time the Man Men stalked the earth. I hate to pull rank (. . . .well actually I LOVE to pull rank) but I began my career as a writer that very year. I graduated from Communist Martyrs High in 1964 , was deeply into the avant-garde film scene and hanging out at the old Silver Factory. Stonewall was four years away but I was quite out. So was Frank O’Hara
whose poem Mayakovsky was saluted in one of the series’ best episodes.
My heart’s aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it’s throbbing!
then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.
I love you. I love you,
but I’m turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,
and I’ll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick
with bloody blows on its head.
I embrace a cloud,
but when I soared
That’s funny! there’s blood on my chest
oh yes, I’ve been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea
Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.
The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.
It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.
Weiner clearly found something in O’Hara’s verse, though the poet had noting whatsoever in common with him — and died the year after Weiner was born.
O’Hara had nothing in common with Vladimir Mayakovsky
But reading THIS ARTICLE I suspect he knew about the bathtub, and connected it somehow to the love the loss of whom the poem mourns.
Weiner “got” that O’Hara poem but he didn’t quite “get” Sal
Or Bob Benson
He was of course aware of them. But I doubt he know how much of a “down low” pick-up place P.J. Clarke’s was in those days. There are likewise other details the show maddeningly misses. It didn’t miss “Esalen” and all the “New Age” nonsense that the early 70’d was heir to. For those of us who recall that crap the way people were encouraged to hug, then ruthlessly read and then ceremoniously asked by their readers “do you want to know how I feel?” is all their in the Series Finale. But that’s not too difficult a target.
Weiner definitely understands Feminism; and being the good writer he is he doesn’t pontificate but rather dramatically explicates it in the storylines of Joan and Peggy. Still he’s an old-fashioned man at heart. The Don/Peggy relationship was truly refreshing (especially in “The Suitcase” the episode everyone agrees was the series’ best.) But at the last he wimps out by bringing Stan and Peggy together in a sudden sappy romance — that’s a lot funnier than I imagine he imagines. But hey you can’t have everything. Weiner “raised the bar.” So much so that he couldn’t move past it himself.
I think this Coke needs something to put it on its feet, don’t you?