Mad Men: “Seven Twenty Three”

This episode begins with three mysteries: Peggy in bed with an unknown man, a radiant (but sad) Betty lying back on a chaise longue, and a bloodied Don lying on the floor of a cheap motel.

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We immediately skip backwards in time a few days and see a more dapper Don getting ready for work. He puts his tie on, brushes his shoes, and carefully combs his hair. He walks downstairs, where Betty and her interior designer are looking at the newly redecorated sitting room. The designer asks him about it, and Don jokes that “it’s hard for me to judge when I can’t see a price tag”. She shows him the pieces she has chosen, then Betty asks what will go directly in front of the fireplace. The designer says nothing goes there, that the heath is the soul of the home, and that people gather there regardless of whether there’s a fire or not. Betty asks Don what he thinks; he says it’s “fine”. She counters that all he does at his job all day is “evaluate objects”. He looks around the room again and suggests that they move the end table a lamp to the other side of the sofa. He kisses Betty and walks away, and after he’s gone the designer agrees with his assessment.

At the office, Don and Roger share an elevator ride to Sterling Cooper. Roger says that he couldn’t sleep, and that he watched the sun rise. Don asks how it was, and Roger says “average”. Roger then mentions that David Ogilvy is writing a book, and that he has been asked for a quote for the back of the book. He then laments that advertising is held in such low esteem by the public, and that the book is not going to help. Roger says that the book – Confessions of an Advertising Man – should really be called A Thousand Reasons I’m So Great.

As Don approaches his office, he spies an eager crowd outside his office. Allison says that Conrad Hilton is waiting for him in his office. He sends Pete, Paul and Harry away, telling them to come back in 20 minutes, and tells Allison to hold all his calls. He walks in his office, where Conrad says that he has a personal matter that he doesn’t wants to discuss over the phone. After giving Don a hard time for being late, he then says that he doesn’t like that Don has neither a Bible nor pictures of his family on his desk. Don says that hes’ easily distracted. Conrad says he should have those things. Don quips that he might have been late because he was spending time with his family reading the Bible. Conrad gives him a stern look and asks if he’s nervous. Don says he caught him by surprise, and Connie lets out a belly laugh. He then says that because Don’s a married man he’ll have to imagine, but that he (Connie) has an “involvement”, but while his needs are being met, he has “significant needs”, so what does he do when his eyes start to wander (although he’s talking about women, the conversation is actually about advertising agencies). Don asks if he has a group of friends or advisers that might give him better counsel. Connie leans forward and says that he wants Don to handle the Waldorf Astoria, the New York Hilton and the Statler Hilton. “It’s just New York, but my eye has definitely stated to wander”, he says. Don says that it sounds like a good start. Conrad then walks out of Sterling Cooper, while the office looks at him as if he were a rock star. As soon as Connie has left, Don turns around… to a round of applause from the office.

Back the the Draper home, Betty hosts a meeting of the Junior League. It seems that Francine has left her post as secretary of the local office, and Betty is asked if she’d like the job. She says that she would. The meeting then turns to a proposed water tank that will drain the “Pleasantville Road reservoir”, making the area ugly and causing economic damage to the town. Betty says that she knows someone in the governor’s office – Henry Francis. The ladies look him up in a book, and find out that he used to be the GOP chairman of Westchester County. The ladies decide that they’d get better results if the (younger, prettier) Betty calls him. They write his number of a piece of paper and hand it to Betty.

Back at the office, Don hosts a meeting about Ho-Ho’s jai alai obsession. Pete derails the meeting by asking Don how he knows Conrad Hilton. Don says that they ran into each other at a party. He then dismisses the meeting. On his way out, Pete says that he knows that Roger will be the face of the Hilton campaign, but that he’d look to “do some legwork” for it. Don says that Pete is supposed to bring in the accounts and that he (Don) is supposed to beg to be on it. Don then asks what happened to North American Aviation. Pete says that his friend Russ, who works with Robert McNamara’s office, said that orders will soon go through the roof due to the action in Vietnam. Don tells Pete that once the orders come in, he’ll talk with him about Hilton.

Back at home, Betty calls Henry and leaves his secretary a message asking him to call her back. He calls back almost immediately. Betty asks Bobby to hang the phone up, and she is going to “the extension” in the other room. Bobby simply hangs the phone up immediately, before Betty can get to the other phone. She screams at Bobby, but thankfully Henry calls back again. Henry asks if she’s had her baby, then asks if she can get him registered to vote by November. A nervous Betty giggles at his joke. The two then agree to meet about the water tank issue the following day (Saturday) at a local bakery.

Peggy is in her office when Pete walks in. Peggy is opening a gift sent by Duck.. which turns out to be a Hermès scarf. Pete says that he doesn’t trust Duck. Peggy asks why, and says that they (Pete and Peggy) are important to Sterling Cooper. “Who is?”, Pete asks. He then asks her if Don put her on the Hilton account, then says that Duck sent him a box of Cuban cigars, which makes him wonder if they are all that hard to come by. Peggy is apparently clueless that Conrad Hilton, a sort of Bill Gates of his day, had been in their office that morning. Peggy says that she’s keeping the scarf; Pete says that Duck left because Don “squeezed him out”. Peggy says that it’s always Don versus the world, and that Don just didn’t like Duck. Pete agrees, but says that he’s worried about Duck (hinting that Duck may do something to get them “busted” by Sterling Cooper). He then tells her to send it back.

We next see Don walking into Bert Cooper’s office. Lane, Roger and Bert are all excited about the possibility of having Hilton as a client, and offer Don a glass of whiskey to celebrate. Roger asks how Don knows Hilton, and Don simply says that they move in similar social circles. Bert then says that there’s a bit of a snag: Don has no contract, and Hilton’s people want Don under one to preserve continuity at Sterling Cooper. Don looks shocked, and says that he’ll give Conrad his word. Lane says that Conrad will take it, but his lawyers won’t. He then hands Don a contract. Lane says that the contract is fairly standard, that it’s for three years, contains a non-compete clause, and gives him a healthy raise. Don says that it’s generous, but that he’ll have to “think about it”. Lane says that if he were given the contract he would be overjoyed. Bert says that they want to take care of Don. Don then says that he wants Conrad to know that this is important to him. Bert says that this is the way things have to be, not just for Conrad Hilton, but also for Sterling Cooper. He tells Don to take the weekend to go over the contract and think about it. Although Don is obviously unhappy, he’s says that he’d be happy to do so. Bert, in one of the greatest lines in Mad Men history, says that he met Conrad Hilton once and found him a bit… eccentric.

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We then go back to the mysteries. We see Don getting up off the floor of the motel room and Betty running her hands down her dress.

It’s now Saturday, and Betty shows up alone at the bakery to find Henry waiting for her. She orders an iced tea (with a straw) and Henry talks about how he likes coming back to Ossining to see what’s changed and what’s remained the same. Betty says that it was a big shock moving there after living in Manhattan, but that she’s grown to like it. Henry mentions that he lived in Manhattan “when he was married”. She then gives him a folder full of literature and a petition to stop the water tanks, as she doesn’t feel that she would “be a good spokesman” for the project. Henry says that he looked into it and says that the project is already under way… but perhaps if she knew someone that had some power… something could be done. He then orders apple pie… but asks Betty if he should get ice cream or cheddar cheese on it. She suggests one of both. There a brief silence, and Henry says that there isn’t much he can do about it… but he tells her not to give up.

Don spends his Saturday in the park with Sally. Her teacher, Miss Farrell, is making camera obscura boxes for that day’s eclipse. Carlton (Francine’s husband) complains about having to spend time with the kids instead of golfing. He then talks about how Francine used to be a teacher, and how he used to love watching her with all the kids… but not anymore. Carl then wonders why you can’t look at eclipse, and that he looks at the sun every day. Don, incredulously, asks him if he actually looks at the Sun. Carlton then says that he frequently sees Suzanne (Farrell) when he’s out running. Don is again surprised, this time that Carlton runs.

Back at the bakery, Henry says that he has to leave, but again tells Betty not to give up on her cause. Outside, two people are using some sort of contraption to view the eclipse. Betty, without thinking, looks directly at the sun, so Henry goes to shield her eyes. Betty says that she feels a little dizzy, so Henry tells her to take a deep breath. When she feels better, the two start walking up the street and Betty mentions that he never had time to visit the reservoir in the first place. Before she can say anything more, Henry points out a chaise longue in the window of an antiques store. Calling it a “fainting couch”, he says that Victorian women used to use them all the time. When asked how he knows this, he says that he used to move furniture. He then asks if he can walk Betty to her car, something she refuses since Ossining is “still a small town”. The two shake hands, and Henry promises to get in touch with her as soon as he knows something.

In the park, Suzanne starts a conversation with Don about the eclipse. He then asks how her summer is going, and if she’ll take a vacation (she say no, as she’ll only get August off). Although she is the one who approached Don, Suzanne immediately interprets his small talk as hitting on her. “You’re all the same”, she says. “with the drinking, the philandering”. Don takes a few steps away from the kids, which makes Suzanne say that the kids don’t know what “philandering” means. Don again asks if she wants him to change the conversation. She says that it’s difficult because “it” happens a lot. Don again says that they are just talking. Don says that where he’s from, teachers would say that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Suzanne asks if he’s “different”. Don asks if that’s impossible. Suzanne says all the men are wearing the same shirt. Don asks he how people in other places live. She says that they don’t have nearly as much, and they don’t get bored. Don says that he’s not bored.  A kid then says that he can see the eclipse, so Suzanne goes to him and they share a camera obscura. Don puts on his sunglasses and stares at the sun.

Back to the mystery. Peggy sits up in bed and looks over at the man in the bed.

We next see Peggy calling Duck using the “Clorox” code word they established earlier. Duck calls Peggy’s phone call a “pleasant surprise”. She says that she hasn’t changed her mind, and he asks him to stop sending her gifts. Duck says that he’s been having meetings in suite 600 of The Pierre Hotel, and he tells her that Hermès will be there 4:30, so she can give it back in person. When asked why he’s having meetings in a hotel, Duck calls Grey a “Penn Station toilet with Venetian blinds”. Peggy, laughing, says that she can’t go. Although Peggy still insists that he not call her again, the way she looks at the phone shows us that he’s convinced her otherwise.

Roger walks in to Don’s office, asking how his weekend went. “Short”, Don says. Roger makes a drink while Don gets out some lighter fluid to refill his lighter. Roger asks what Don’s attorney thinks of the contract. Don says he hasn’t heard from him yet… and Roger points out that it’s because Don never sent it to him. Roger asks if Don’s afraid of having a boss. Don says it’s not that. Roger asks if Don feels more “dangerous” without a contract, and if so it’s because he is. Roger says that Don is Sterling Cooper’s David Ogilvy, and that if he’d only sign the contract, the agency might be known as Sterling, Cooper and Draper in three years. Roger gets up to leave, but since Don hasn’t said anything he draws out his departure. After Don continues to sit in silence, Roger twirls the ice cubes around his empty glass and walks out… revealing Peggy, who has been waiting outside the door. She claims to need some illustrations approved for Martinsons’ Coffee, so Don waves her in. Peggy, with her impeccable timing, asks if he’s given any thought to who’s going to be on Hilton, and if they want a woman’s perspective on it, she… Don interrupts her, saying that the agency doesn’t have Hilton, and he berates her for bringing work under his office under false pretenses.When she tries to explain that she just wanted a crack at the Hilton account, Don tears into her:

“And you thought you’d come in here and ask for it because I never say no…. What do I have to do for you, Peggy? Tell me? You were my secretary… and now you have an office and a job that a lot of full grown men would kill for. Every time I turn around, you’ve got your hand in my pocket. You want a raise. You want this account. Put your nose down and pay attention to your work, because there’s not one thing that you’ve done here that couldn’t live without…. You’re good. Get better. Stop asking for things.”

Back at the Draper home, Roger calls Betty, ostensibly to talk to Don, but really to get Betty to lean on Don to sign the contract. Betty, of course, hasn’t heard a word of it until now, and Roger mentions that it’s a lot of money for the family. Betty says that Don will do what he’s going to do, and that she finds it disrespectful that he would go behind her back.

We then see Peggy arriving at suite 600 at The Pierre. She hand Duck back the scarf, then Duck invites her in for a drink. When Duck asks her what she wants to drink, she says “whatever you’re having”. When Duck says he’s not drinking anything, Peggy blurts out “whiskey”, which causes Duck to say that she “really is Don Draper’s girl”. The two sit on the sofa, and Duck runs through the list of Grey’s clients. It’s obvious that a woman is needed given their clientele. Peggy asks for the job of copy chief; Duck says perhaps once they get used to her. He says that she’ll definitely get more money. Peggy asks if she can go to Paris for the Hermès account’ Duck says that they come to New York… but she’ll never get anywhere at Sterling Cooper. Peggy says that she can’t leave the agency, and Duck tells her that “this” is what opportunity looks like. He takes her hand. When Peggy asks what he’s doing, Duck says that he’s thinking about all the times he walked past her and didn’t do anything. He leans over and kisses her. When Peggy asks what he wants from her, he says that he wants to “take her to the bedroom, lock the door, take her clothes off with his teeth, throw her on the bed and give her a ‘go round’ like [she’s] never had before”. Duck and Peggy stare at each other for a few moments, and the begin kissing passionately.

We see Betty sitting at the kitchen table when Don comes home that evening. She orders the kids upstairs, and Don senses that something’s wrong. When he asks, Betty says that Roger called and tried to pressure him about his contract. Don picks up the phone to call Roger, but Betty asks him not to. Don tells her not to worry about his job. Betty said that she wouldn’t, because she doesn’t know anything about it. She says that Sterling Cooper offered him a contract, but he didn’t “say a damn thing” to her, that she had to hear about it from Roger…. and why won’t he sign it? Don says that it doesn’t concern her, that she’s taken care of. She asks him again why he won’t sign it. Don says that he’s going to explain something to her about business, since she is, as always, turning this into something about herself. Don says that “no contract” means that he has all the power… they want him, but they can’t have him. Betty agrees.. why would that have anything to do with her? She says that it’s only three years… and aks him what the problem with it is. Does he not know where he’s going to be in three years? Don grabs his hat and walks about the door. When he slams the door on his way out, Eugene starts crying.

Don sips on a whiskey as he drives down a dark country road. Duck and Peggy make love. Don stops and picks up Doug and Cindy, a young couple hitchhiking their way to Niagara Falls. He is an average blue collar kid who doesn’t think he can get in to college, so they’re going to get married to keep him out of Vietnam. Cindy says that it’s a beautiful night, and that everything smells good… but then, everything does when you’re high. Doug, who calls Don “Cadillac”, says that they don’t have any money for gas, but they can give him some “reds” (phenobarbital). Don thinks for a second and asks for one… then makes it too. He washed it down with whiskey then chucks the empty glass out of the car window. We hear it shatter as it hits the pavement.

The next thing we see is Don and Cindy dancing at a cheap motel. The two seem to be having fun, and when Don asks how old she is (19), Doug seems to take offense. He grabs her away from Don and takes over the dancing. Don asks why he can’t go to school, a question Doug ignores. He asks Don if he wants to watch them dance, but then asks it again without the “dance” making it somewhat murky as to what exactly he’s asking. Don, well and truly toasted, sees his father sitting in a rocking chair in the corner:

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Archie recites the “hillbilly party” joke (a hillbilly knocks on the door of his new neighbor’s house and mentions a housewarming party with booze and sex; the new guy asks if he can bring anything; the hillbilly says that he can bring anything he wants, as it will only be the two of them). This makes Don laugh, which causes Doug to ask what he’s laughing at. Archie says that Don is “up to his old tricks” again, and that he’s a bum. Conrad Hilton, he says, wouldn’t be taken in so easily. Don’s hands, his father says, are as soft as a woman’s. “What do you do? What do you make?”, he asks. “You grow bullshit”. Don looks down, then back up at his father, who is now gone. Don, obviously all kinds of messed up, closes his eyes as he sits. Doug gets up, and Cindy says that she “gave him two” (of the pills). Doug asks how Don can still be awake. He then hits Don hand on the back of the head, knocking him out.

The next morning, we see Don slowly get up and look at himself in the mirror. There’s blood all over his nose. He spies a note from the couple that reads: “Mister, Thanks for the help. We left you your car. Your [sic] welcome”. He looks in his wallet and finds a single dollar.

We then see Peggy, in bed with Duck, looking around her hotel room. She claims to be nervous that housekeeping might come in. Duck says that he put the “do not disturb” sign on the door, and that he’ll call them later. Duck then tries to get some morning loving… and succeeds.

Back at the Draper’s house, Betty consults the interior designer, who is aghast that Betty has purchased the chaise longue Henry spotted in the antique store window. The designer says that Betty has ruined the entire room, and she begs Betty to tell people that the longue was not her idea.

At the office, a bandaged Don walks in. He tells Peggy (who is wearing the same outfit from the day before) that he was in a car accident. Peggy asks if he wants coffee. There’s a pause, then Don says no and walks towards his office. Before Allison can say anything, Don mentions his “fender bender”; Allison says that Bert is waiting for him in his office.

Don walks into his office to find Bert sitting in his seat. Bert curtly tells Don to sit (which he ignores). Bert tells the story of Sacajawea’s baby, who was carried on her mother’s back all the way to the Pacific Ocean, and somewhere along the way, that baby thinks that he discovered America. Bert says that Don has been standing on someone’s shoulders. Bert says that “they” brought him in and nurtured him like family… and now is the time to pay them back. He then says that Don can’t go any further on his own. He stands and takes the contract out of his jacket pocket. “Would you say I know something about you, Don?”, Bert asks. “I would,” Don says. “Then sign”, Cooper says. “After all, when it comes down to it, who’s really signing this contract anyway?” Don signs the contract, but demands that any and all contact between him and Roger cease.

That night Don arrives home. Betty is lying on the longue and looking wistful. “Don?”, she asks as he walks in.  He looks at her and says “I signed it”, then walks up the stairs, leaving her alone on the longue.

NOTES

– I noticed the redecoration a couple of episodes ago, but neglected to mention it. My bad.

– The new additions to the sitting room include a Chinoiserie bookcase, a Dunbar Japanese-influenced sofa, silk Dupioni drapes, Murano vases, and a “classic” Drexel end table.

“Chinoiserie” is a French term meaning “Chinese-esque”, or “Chinese-like”. It’s furniture or accessories styled by European craftsmen in a style that they imagined Chinese goods would be. It became fashionable in Europe in the mid 1600s thanks to a handful of genuine Chinese goods that had entered the European market. Demand was so great for all things Chinese that Europeans started mimicking them to meet a nearly insatiable demand. Delftware is a similar European product. Originating in the Dutch city of Delft, delftware was a European attempt to copy Chinese porcelain.

Dunbar and Drexel are real furniture companies. Dupioni is a specific type of silk, and Murano is a specific style of glass making from Murano, an island in the city of Venice.

David Ogilvy was previously mentioned by Ho-Ho (the jai alai nut) in “The Arrangements”.

– Connie tells Don that he wants him to handle the Waldorf Astoria, the New York Hilton and the Statler Hilton accounts. The Waldorf Astoria was originally built as the Waldorf Hotel by William Astor next door to his aunt’s home, with whom he was having a feud. After more feuding, he finally convinced her to move, so then John Astor built the Astor Hotel next door to the Waldorf. The two hotels were eventually merged into the Waldorf-Astoria, then the largest hotel in the world. Originally located at 5th Avenue and 34 Street, in 1931 the hotel moved to the high-rise building known today. Conrad Hilton bought the Waldorf Astoria in 1949. The New York Hilton is still the largest hotel in the city with 1,980 rooms. The Statler Hilton (known as the Hotel Pennsylvania before Hilton’s purchase and changed back to the original name some time afterward) is famous for having the longest continually operating phone number in New York City: PEnnsylvania 6-5000 (212-736-5000). The Glenn Miller Orchestra had a top 5 hit with the song “PEnnsylvania 6-5000” in the 1940s. Lastly, “Waldorf” and “Statler” were the names of the two old men who sat in the balcony and constantly heckled the cast of The Muppet Show. The old men were, in fact, named after the hotels.

– The Junior League is a volunteer organization for women dedicated to “promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers”. Famous members include Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Sandra Day O’Connor, Katharine Hepburn, Shirley Temple and Eudora Welty.

– Not to give away anything, but according to this guy’s blog, there was only one such reservoir in Ossining, and it was known simply as “The Reservoir”. He says that it was used as the town’s water source in the pre-WWII days, but was replaced with water towers shortly thereafter. So the campaign Betty is waging would have been long over by 1963. The reservoir is, however, located on Pleasantville Road.

– The blogger also elaborates on the town’s name. As I’ve mentioned before, the village was originally known as Sing Sing (after the Sinck Sinck tribe). But once the prison gained a measure of infamy, the city changed it’s name, first to “Ossingsing” and then “Ossining”.

Robert McNamara was an American businessman who most famously served as Secretary of War under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961 to 1968. McNamara served a number of other important posts: on November 9, 1960 he was named the first non-family president of the Ford Motor Company; he was also head of the World Bank from 1968 to 1981. He died on July 6, 2009.

North American Aviation was a major American aircraft manufacturer that built several historic planes for the US government, including the P-51 Mustang, the X-15 rocket plane, B-1 Lancer, and much of the hardware for the Apollo and Space Shuttle projects. The company prospered during the WWII years, but once the massive orders from that conflict died down, the company started having trouble. By the late 1950s, the company had moved to spacecraft and exotic airplanes almost exclusively. When Pete said that the company wanted to “get out of NASA and into the Pentagon”, he was talking about their need for greater revenue. The company eventually merged with Rockwell in 1973 and became part of Boeing in 1996.

– The Draper’s home phone number is WIlson 4-8038, or 914-944-8038. And yes, I called the number… and got a generic voicemail greeting.

– Back in the “olden days” most homes had a single phone. In many cases (such as my paternal grandmother’s house, built in the mid 1940s), the phone was even given a special “niche” in a hallway with a slot underneath it for a phone book:

Phone Niche

By the 1960s, it was somewhat more common to have more than one phone, although this was usually called an “extension”, since it was an “extension” of the “main” phone (I think, but cannot easily verify, that many early “extension phones” in homes did not have the ability to dial out,  so that while one could answer a ringing extension phone, if you wanted to dial out you had use the dialer on the “main” phone and then pick up the other phone to talk, hence the “extension” moniker).

– As far as I can tell, there is no place called “Mount Salem” in New York. There are, however, two towns called North Salem and South Salem in the area. North Salem is around 23.5 miles (37.8km) from Ossining, while South Salem is 21.4 miles (34.4km) away.

– It seems hard to believe today, but once upon a time, a public place having air conditioning was a big selling point.

Hermès is a high-end luxury brand from France. Founded in Paris in 1837, the company was founded as a saddle shop, but expanded to other leather goods (and eventually clothes) and has since become one of the top brands in the fashion world.

– The Cuban Embargo was first enacted in October 1960, but was expanded to include almost every trade good imaginable in February 1962. Famously, President Kennedy one day asked his aide, Pierre Salinger, to buy as many Cuban cigars as he could find in Washington. Salinger spent the rest of his afternoon and evening rounding up 1,200 Petit H. Upmann cigars (Kennedy’s favorite brand). When Salinger arrived at the White House the next morning, Kennedy called him into his office and asked if he had succeeded. When Salinger said that he had, Kennedy pulled the Executive Order out of his desk and signed it, putting the ban on trading with Cuba into effect. Ever since, Cuban cigars have held a certain mystique amongst American cigar smokers. Read Salinger’s own version of the story from the Cigar Aficionado archives here.

– As mentioned in previous Mad Men recaps, Conrad Hilton’s book Be My Guest was a popular paperback in its time, and complimentary copies are placed in ever Hilton hotel room.

– Don’s $5000 signing bonus would be around $34,800 in 2008 dollars. That’s nice, but hardly “star quarterback money”.

– “Swensen’s Bakery” appears to be based on Ossining Bakery, which is located at 50 N Highland Ave:

Ossining Bakery

– Apple pie with cheese is a fine English tradition that has scattered fans here in the United States. Many Americans seem confused by the entire concept and think it’s “disgusting”, while many folks think it’s as natural as can be. It doesn’t seem to be a regional preference either. Many New Englanders have heard of it, while Mid-Atlantic folks have not, while people that grew up near Waffle House restaurants in the South are familiar with the dish, thanks to it being one of the few desserts served there. I personally love it, and am especially fond of an old English saying from Yorkshire about it: “Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze”.

– There really was a total solar eclipse on July 20th, 1963. Get the details about it here.

– A camera obscura is a box which contains a lens, which projects an image on a wall (or, in this case, a side of a cardboard box) opposite the lens. The principles behind the camera obscura were discovered independently by Chinese philosopher Mo-Ti (470BC – 380BC) and Greek philosopher Aristotle (384BC – 322BC). The first modern camera obscura was built by Persian (or Arab) scientist Abu Ali Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haitham sometime between AD 965 and 1039. Although known in Europe by at least the 1200s (when English scientist Roger Bacon used one to observe a solar eclipse), they remained somewhat obscure (yuk-yuk) until the 17th century, when portable models became popular with artists. As mentioned in this History Blog article on my site, it’s alleged by some that the great Dutch artist Jan Vermeer might have “cheated” by using a camera obscura to make his art (he was an almost unknown painter before he met Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a maker of lenses).

His Master’s Voice was once a large record label, and the company had one of the most famous trademarks in the world: a dog listening to a gramophone. The trademark was based on a painting by English artist Francis Barraud:

His_Master's_Voice

When his brother Mark died, Francis inherited a fox terrier named Nipper and several gramophone recordings of Mark speaking. Whenever Francis would play the recordings, Nipper would walk over to the gramophone and place his head in the trumpet. Francis was touched by this, and painted a picture called “His Late Master’s Voice” from it. In 1899, Barraud sold the painting to the Gramophone Company, who eventually became known as “His Master’s Voice”. The company sold records, radios, gramophones (and later television sets) throughout the Commonwealth countries. Due to various mergers, acquisitions, licensing deals and spinoffs, uses of the trademark have become amazingly complicated; the only vestige of the original company left is the HMV line of record stores.

– Duck says that he’s been having meetings at “Suite 600 at The Pierre” all day. The Pierre is a luxury hotel located at 2 East 61st Street near Central Park. Opened in 1930 by Corsican expat Charles Pierre Casalasco, funding for the hotel was provided by a group of Wall Street financiers which included Walter P. Chrysler (founder of Chrysler cars) and Robert Livingston Gerry (grandson of Elbridge Gerry, the inventor of ‘gerrymandering‘, the practice of shaping an electoral district in such as way so as t ensure your party’s success in the polls). In 1959, when the hotel was owned by industrialist J. Paul Getty, 75 rooms were converted to private condominiums, and famous names such as Elizabeth Taylor, Mohamed al-Fayed, and Yves Saint-Laurent lived there. The hotel is currently owned by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of India.

– Completely off-topic, but nevertheless amusing: Elbridge Gerry’s last name is pronounced “GARY”, but “gerrymandering” is pronounced “JERRY-mandering”.

– Duck says that Grey has Hermès, Macy’s, Revlon, and H.J. Heinz baby food.

– Niagara Falls was America’s “quickie marriage” capital long before Las Vegas was even on the map.

– Goof (or maybe just too much product placement): the stationery in the hotel room indicates that Don, Doug and Cindy checked into a Knights Inn. However, the first Knights Inn didn’t open until 1974 in Columbus, Ohio.

– According to Don’s signature on the contact, it was signed on July 23, 1963 – hence the “Seven Twenty Three” title. Of course, we already have a date from the eclipse, so this isn’t a crucial detail as far as dating goes.

Sacajawea was a Native American guide that accompanies Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition to the Pacific coast in 1804. Very little reliable information is known about Sacajawea. Since no known image of her exists, the image on the Sacajawea dollar coin was based on a modern day Shoshone woman named Randy’L He-dow Teton.

– The song playing at the the end of the episode is “Sixteen Tons”. Allegedly written by Merle Travis, the most popular version of the song in the US was sung by “Tennessee” Ernie Ford in 1955. The chorus of the song goes:

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;
I owe my soul to the company store…

The last line refers to the “truck system”, where employees were paid in unconvertable currency (usually called “scrip”) that was only redeemable at company-owned stores, which sold goods to workers at inflated prices. Since many miners also lived in company-owned dormitories (rent for which was deducted from their salaries), it was easy for many miners to simply fall into debt with the mining company. The United Mine Workers union was created largely to combat this practice.

– Is it just me, or was this episode of Mad Men really heavy on the product placement? The Dunbar and Drexel furniture, the Hermès scarf, the bottle of Canadian Club in Bert’s office, the camera obscuras made from Old London Melba toast and Kellogg’s boxes, the Zippo fluid on Don’s desk, the Knights Inn stationery… it was just too much at times!

MY THOUGHTS

A solid episode, although I wasn’t a fan of the “mysteries” gimmick, especially when one of those mysteries (Peggy’s) had such an obvious solution. As soon as I saw Peggy in bed, I knew that she’d be sleeping with Duck… so there just wasn’t much of a “mystery” there.

How nice of Duck to give Peggy a Hermès scarf… and then reveal that Hermès is one of the companies that Grey’s represents! He probably got it for free (or at least at a significant discount). At least Pete got a box of Cuban cigars out of the deal! And while we’re on the subject, the thought of sleeping with Duck just squicks me out. I mean, I’m not attracted to late 40s\early 50 something men anyway, but especially Duck. Something’s just… creepy about that guy.

I hated that there was no Joan in this episode. I know that she’s supposedly no longer with Sterling Cooper, but couldn’t they show us what she’s up to? I trust that Matt Weiner will handle it well though… but I still miss seeing Joan (the sassy, competent office manager) and well as Christina Hendricks (the sexy actress).

Loved seeing Bert put the hammer down on Don. We’ve always known that Bert knew about Don’s history, and now it was Bert’s chance to throw it back at Don for once. I wonder if we’ll learn more about what he knows later this season.

The biggest part of this episode to me is Betty and her longue. At the beginning of the episode, the designer says that the hearth is the “soul of the room”, and now Betty has placed this giant piece of furniture there, blocking (or smothering) the “soul” of the room, and perhaps the home itself. Oh, and it reminds her of Henry Francis, not Don. Is this foreshadowing of Betty having an affair? And why is Suzanne Farrell both throwing herself at Don, yet appears to be repulsed by him at the same time? I get that Don might put off that vibe… but come on, woman! She was the one talking to him at the park, and yet she was jumping all over him for sins he hadn’t even committed yet (and it didn’t even appear that Don was especially interested in her any way).

As always, I can’t wait until next week!

3 Replies to “Mad Men: “Seven Twenty Three””

  1. Jim,

    Thanks for the pingback and the very thoughtful blog posting. I am from Ossining and literally grew up on the banks of the reservoir. I was born in 1967 after the useful life of that pond, but it well could have been known as the Pleasantville Road reservoir in 1963 when it was in use.

    The Ossining Bakery, to my knowledge, would be one of many bakeries in the village at that time. Babyboom era-Ossining’s downtown, prior to the arrival of the local shopping center, was quite vibrant and did have a Woolworth’s (Wentworth’s) on Main Street. It certainly is fun to conjecture.

  2. Nice one again Jim-really liked this episode-I agree Duck and Peggy freaked me out. I love the eclipse scene and wondered about it’s significance. Seeing Don draper taken down and forced to sign the contract kind of made me sad. It’s hilarious to me that you called the Draper number.

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