Mad Men: “Tea Leaves”

This episode begins with Bobby and Sally trying to zip up Betty’s dress. It seems that she’s gained a lot of weight recently. Henry calls for Betty from the staircase, as they’re late for a political function. But when he comes upstairs he finds her in bed, refusing to go. Henry gives her a kiss and leaves.


Meanwhile, Don and Megan get ready to meet Heinz for a dinner, and Megan has no problem fitting into her dress. She’s talking to her mother on the phone, and then hands the phone to Don, who doesn’t understand her because he doesn’t speak French. Don hands the phone back, and Megan hangs up. Don says that they have to beat Heinz to the restaurant.

At dinner, Megan begins somewhat awkwardly. When asked how Don and Megan met, she accidentally blurts out that Don was divorced. She rebounds by asking Raymond and his wife, Alice, about their teenage daughter, Emily. Alice says that she’s too old for camp but too young for a job, and complains that Emily plays her music too loudly. Raymond asks Don if he’s heard of the Rolling Stones. Don says that he is, and Raymond mentions the song “Time is on My Side”. He says that he’s imagined them singing “Heinz is on my side” instead. He mentions that the Stones are going to be in New York, and asks Don if he can get them to record it for them. Don, clearly not excited about the idea, says that it doesn’t quite work that way, be he’ll see what he can do.

The next morning Pete and Lane wait for Roger to show up for a meeting, only to be told that Roger has scheduled it for his office. They go to Roger’s office and inform him that Mohawk called, and it’s now just a matter of time before they come back to SCDP. Pete says that he thinks Roger should handle the account, dismissively adding “since you were here when they were here, they think you know their business”. Lane then mentions some of Mohawk’s business troubles, and Pete mentions that Mohawk will need a dedicated copywriter. Roger says that they won’t accept a woman in the role and asks if they’re still paying Don. Pete says that Don won’t do such a middling task. Pete tells them to hire a local guy with experience and be done with it.

We then see Harry walk up to Don’s new black secretary, who is named Dawn, which Harry says has caused confusion in the office. Megan opens the door to Don’s office and offers Harry a frosty good morning, He walks in and tells Don that they have backstage access to the show that evening. Don asks how interested the band is, and Harry said that the manager “sounded greedy”. Harry says that she show starts at 8, and suggests that because the band is notorious for being late that they could stop and get dinner on the way, an idea that Don quickly and coldly shoots down.

In Rye, Betty sits on the sofa, reading the newspaper and munching on snacks when there is a knock at the door. It’s Pauline, and she’s worried about Betty’s weight gain. She suggests that Betty go see a doctor to get some diet pills.

Back at the office, Peggy walks in to Don’s office, and Roger giggles when she thanks Dawn. Roger says that he has good news for Peggy, and she excitedly asks if it’s about Heinz and the Rolling Stones. When Roger says that it’s not, she calls Harry a liar. Don says that the good news is that Mohawk is coming back. Peggy says that it’s great news and mentions all the work she’s done for them. Don says that her plate is full, and Roger says that they’re going to want “someone with a penis”. Don tells her to start the search for a copywriter, and Roger emphasizes that it’s his account, and he wants someone good.

At the doctor’s office, Betty awkwardly asks for the diet pills. Doctor Horton isn’t going to just give them to her, and he insists on giving Betty a full exam. He says that the reason most middle-age housewives gain weight is because of mental issues, not physical ones: boredom, loneliness, etc. During the exam he finds a spot on Betty’s thyroid that he’s concerned about. Betty comes home and calls out for Henry. Finding that he’s not at home, she calls Don, who reassures her that everything will be OK.

Meanwhile, Peggy is in her office, going through portfolios of available copywriters. She tosses portfolios that are too thick or too thin, or those that might be from females. She then finds one she likes:


Stan agrees that the work is good, but he discards the portfolio when he finds out that the creator is named Michael Ginsberg. Peggy objects, and we think Stan is going to say that SCDP won’t hire a Jew. Instead he says that Peggy has been working on Heinz for so long, she won’t want someone else coming in and taking the credit for getting the account. Peggy says that it’s for Mohawk, not Heinz, and Stan says that he hopes she likes it, as he will be her boss one day. Peggy says she likes working with talented people, and that she’s going to bring him in.

We then see Betty in the bathtub. Henry knocks on the door, and says that he’s spoken to a friend, and that she has an appointment scheduled for tomorrow. Betty is reluctant, but Henry convinces her to go. The next morning, Betty runs in to Joyce Darling at the doctor’s office. Betty and Joyce, who obviously has cancer, have a brief conversation, and Joyce invites her to lunch. Betty agrees.

Back the office, Peggy meets with Michael Ginsberg. He asks about Don, apparently unaware that Peggy is the one who will be interviewing him. He continues to ask about Don, and shares stores of trying to meet Leo Burnett. Peggy tries to get him to focus, and Michael says that he’s seen his portfolio. She says that she likes his work, and he says that he likes hers. She asks him for a résumé, in which he apparently references Alan Ginsberg. Peggy has seen enough, and she begins to dismiss Ginsberg. He tries to save the interview by saying that he insulted her because he is honest and apologized because he is brave. Michael then says that he has no life, and that he will “live here”, which Peggy replies would make him like everyone else. Peggy pauses, and says that if Don interviews him that he can’t act like he is now.

At lunch, Joyce and Betty have tea and discuss how Joyce is coping with cancer. Betty says that she’s “leaving behind such a mess”. She laments how Megan and Don will never say a nice word about her after she’s gone. She asks Joyce what cancer is like, and she says that it’s like being out in the ocean, and you can see people on the shore, but you’re just getting farther and farther away, no matter how hard you paddle. Your thoughts are then interrupted by everyday concerns, like what to make for dinner, then you realize that you’re just tired and want to give in. The two are then approached by a fortune teller named Cecilia, who offers to read their tea leaves. Joyce eggs Betty to do it, and Cecilia says that she’s a “great soul” who “means so much to the people around her”. Betty begins to cry, and Joyce hands Cecilia a couple of dollars and asks her to go away.

Back at SCDP, Roger stumbled in to Peggy’s office, obviously worse for wear after a business “lunch” with Mohawk Airlines. He asks if she hired Ginsberg, and she says that she didn’t, because he acted “crazy”. Roger asks how that’s any different from any other copywriter, then insists that Peggy hire him. She says that Don will hate him, but Roger orders her to bring him back in. He says that he wanted Mohawk to know they had a Jew on the payroll, and that it makes the agency look more modern.

We then see Don and Harry backstage at the Stones concert. Harry tries to get backstage, but is rebuffed by a member of the security team. Don, hoping for more success, gives the man $40 and asks if he’ll let them know when the band gets there. The two step aside, and are approached by a young girl, Bonnie, who asks if they will trade her joint for a cigarette. Don says that she can just have a cigarette for free, but Bonnie says that she just wanted to make sure they weren’t cops. She pulls out a joint and Harry lights it. She then looks at Don as if to ask if he wants some, but he shakes his head. A friend of Bonnie’s comes over, and they ask what Don and Harry are there for. When they say “advertising”, the girls compare them to characters in the TV show Bewitched.

In Rye, Henry gets in to bed and puts his arm around Betty. She kisses him deeply, and the two have sex.

Back at the concert, Harry tells the girl that Charlton Heston “gets the best stuff”. He says that he went to Heston’s house and he came out naked. Bonnie’s friend comes up and takes Harry away to meet with Klein and the band. Don is therefore stuck with Bonnie. Bonnie asks if they really think that the Stones will do a TV commercial; Don says that they did one for cereal back in England. Bonnie says that it must have been a “long time ago”, to which Don says that it was three years ago, and suggests that Bonnie was 11 when it happened. Bonnie smiles at Don, then takes off his tie and puts it around her own neck. Don asks if she saw someone do that in a movie. Bonnie tells him to relax. He then asks her what she loves about the Rolling Stones. She says that she feels Brian Jones, that he’s a “troubadour”. Don asks her to clarify that she feels romantic. She says that Don is like a psychiatrist. Don asks she knows about psychiatrists. She asks for his business card so she can try working the doorman.

In Rye, Betty dreams that she had died. Her family sits around the dinner table dressed in black. Henry says “If” over and over again. Betty says that she’ll make breakfast, but no one can hear her. Sally gets up from the table, picks up Betty’s chair, puts it on the table, then leaves the room. Betty tries to apologize, but Sally can’t hear her. We then see Betty wake up from her dream.

Bonnie tells Don to relax and stop checking his watch: the Stones will show up when they show up. Don asks what she thinks will happen, and she says that she will get in to Jones’ dressing room and “stare at him” while he tunes his guitar. Don then asks what she thinks Jones will want. Bonnie says that “they” (Don’s generation) don’t want “them” (Bonnie’s generation) to have any fun, because Don’s generation didn’t have any. Don just says that his generation is worried about their generation. Just then, Harry comes running up, and excitedly says that the Stones want to do the commercial. Just then someone screams that the Stones are here, and everyone runs in the opposite direction of where harry has just come from. Don asks who he was talking to.

When then see the two of them in Don’s car, and Harry apologizes to Don as his finishes off 19 of the 20 White Castle hamburgers he has bought. Harry says that they can try again tomorrow at the Stones show in Asbury Park, but Don says not to bother, that the Stones’ manager saw right through them. He offers Don the last burger, and Don is amazed that Harry ate almost all of them. Harry replies:

You know what? Let them get their own. You bring home a bag of food and they go at it, and there’s nothing left for you. Eat first. That’s my recommendation to people who say they’re getting married and having kids: eat first.

Don tells Harry that he has to go, that he has to get home. Harry begs him to let him stay just a few more minutes. He then tells Don that the young girls are “so much fun” and are all on drugs. Don says that Harry is on drugs, as he signed The Trade Winds. Harry pauses and wonders what they’re going to tell Raymond. Don says they’ll say that the Stones aren’t a good match for Heinz. Harry says that he’s going to leave the bag, as wife Jennifer has him on a diet. He also says that they should “do this again”.

The next morning, Megan wakes Don up because it’s time for them to visit her friends on Fire Island. He asks if Betty has called, and she says no. Don then motions for Megan to come sit next to him on the bed. He says that the doctors have found a tumor on her neck, which Megan says is terrible. She asks why he didn’t tell her earlier, and Don says that he didn’t know how she would react. She says that they will deal with it, no matter what, and starts to talk about the kids. Don cuts her off and says that he doesn’t want to have that conversation. Megan says that it’s time to go, but Don says that he’s not going. He says that Megan is only 26 years old, implying that she can’t understand death. Megan counters that Don was fine to go to a concert last night, but can’t be bothered to see her friends. There’s a pause, and Megan walks over to Don and says that there’s nothing he can do about Betty’s situation. Don takes Megan’s hand and gets up without saying a word.

Meanwhile, Sally and Bobby play with sprinklers in the front yard of the Francis’ house. Betty sits in a lawn chair, holding Gene, while Henry sits next to her. She kisses Gene on the head.

The next workday, Don interviews Michael. He seems impressed with Michael’s work, and Peggy is surprised that he’s calmer and more professional than in her interview. The interview apparently a success, Michael gets up and leaves. Don congratulates Peggy on finding him. Don tells Peggy to get Michael set up to go to work.

Back in Rye, Henry and Betty are watching TV when the phone rings. Both think it’s the doctor calling with the test results, but come to find out it’s a call for Henry. But then another phone rings. This time it is the doctor, and Betty picks up the phone and finds out that the tests came back negative: the tumor on her neck is benign! Betty is obviously happy, but it a bit overwhelmed. She says that’s it’s “nice to be put through the ringer and find out that [she’s] just fat”. The two hug and Betty begins to cry.

At the office, Pete gathers everyone into the reception area for an announcement. Puffed up like a peacock, he announced that Mohawk has decided to return to SCDP. Pete acts as if he was the only one responsible for the news, and mentions that he has hired a new copywriter for the job. He dismissively mentions that Roger will be handling the day-to-day dealings with the airline, but “everything [Roger] knows, I’ll know”.

Don sees Roger storming off, and chases after him. The two go to Don’s office and pour themselves drinks. Roger says that he’s tired of having to prove his worth at SCDP. There’s a moment of silence, and Don says that Betty has cancer. The two then talk about what life would be like without Betty. Roger leaves, but not before asking when everything is going to get back to normal.

Don calls the Francis house, and Henry answers. Henry says that she’ll be OK. Henry says that they’re about to eat as an excuse to get off the phone with Don. Henry hangs up the phone; Betty asks who it was, and Henry says nobody. Megan walks in to Don’s office, and Don tells her that Betty will be fine. Megan says that it’s good news. Don calls her an optimist, but Megan says that Betty just needs an excuse to call him. Don then offers to take Megan to dinner.

When then see Michael coming home to his apartment. His father sits and reads the newspaper. When he finds out that his son has gotten the job at SCDP, he sings a prayer.

The episode closes with Betty and Sally eating ice cream sundaes. Betty asks if Sally is going to finish her sundae, but Sally says that she’s full. She asks if she can go watch TV. Betty gives her permission, then sits and finishes Sally’s ice cream.



– This episode was written by Erin Levy and Matthew Weiner and directed by Jon Hamm.

– The event Henry wants Betty to go to involves the Junior League of New York. The Junior League is a non-profit organization “aimed at improving… communities through volunteerism and building their members’ civic leadership skills through training”. Famous members and associates of the Junior League include former First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Margaret Chase Smith (the first female elected to the US Senate), actress Katharine Hepburn, actress and ambassador Shirley Temple Black and author Eudora Welty. The group was founded in 1901 as the “Junior League for the Promotion of the Settlement Movement”. It’s interesting (to me, as an Anglican) that Junior League founder Mary Harriman was inspired by the Cowley Fathers, an Anglican religious order that focused on the plight of the poor (and was also the first successful monastic order to be established in England since the Reformation). Like most civic groups in the United States (such as the Jaycees or Knights of Columbus), the Junior League has been experiencing a decline in membership for years now, although the group has declined at a slower rate than most other organizations.

– In case you didn’t keep up during the offseason, January Jones got pregnant between seasons 4 and 5. However, by the time this season started filming she had lost most of her pregnancy weight, and in fact she’s wearing a fat suit throughout much of this episode (the bathtub scene later in the episode used a body double).

– As I said in the previous recap, I don’t speak French… so forgive me if I’m way off here, but here’s a best guess at the phone conversation Megan had with her mother at the beginning of the episode: “Ben oui il fait chaud, bien sur… Je bois beaucoup d’eau… Ah, tu me manques aussi. Un instant…” (“It’s certainly hot, for sure… I’m drinking a lot of water…. I miss you too. One moment…”). She hands the phone to Don, who says hello, then says that he doesn’t understand her. He looks at Megan and says “Moustiques?“, which she translates to “mosquitoes”. He hands the phone back to her, and she says “OK Maman. Dit à Papa que j’attend que j’aime aussi“, which I think means “Okay Ma… Tell Dad that I love him, too”.

– As a fan of both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins, I know that H.J. Heinz is indeed headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In fact, the Steelers play their home games at Heinz Field!

– “Time Is on My Side” was written by “Norman Meade” (a pseudonym of Jerry Ragovoy) in 1963. The song was actually written for Kai Winding, a jazz trombonist who had an interest in going in a more “commercial” direction. Winding’s version was produced by legendary producer Phil Ramone and included background vocals by Dionne Warwick,  Dee Dee Warwick and Cissy Houston. A gospel version was recorded as the b-side of Irma Thomas’ single “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)”. The Rolling Stones recorded two versions of the song: the “US version” (from the album 12×5, released on September 26, 1964, and where the introduction is played by an organ) and the “UK version” (from the album The Rolling Stones No. 2, released on January 15, 1965, and where the into is played by a guitar). It’s the “UK version” that people are most familiar with, as it has gotten the most airplay and appeared on the most “best of” compilations. The American version was their first Top 10 hit in the US, and it lead to their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

– The Rolling Stones recording a jingle for Heinz beans? It’s not as outrageous as you might think! The Stones did record a jingle for Rice Krispies in the UK:


Also, Heinz Baked Beans are a beloved brand in the UK, much like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is here in the US, so it’s not impossible that the Stones would have done the jingle for SCDP.

– The Stones played at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium Music Festival in Queens on July 2, 1966, so we know the episode starts a couple of days before that. In addition to the Stones, the festival featured The Trade Winds, The Standells, The Ugly Ducklings, The Ronettes, The Rogues, The McCoys, and The Syndicate of Sound. Tickets were only $5 ($33.22 adjusted for inflation). However, many Rolling Stones fansites point out that the band played as little as 15 minutes per show on the 1966 North American Tour. For example, here’s the set list from the band’s final stop that year in Hawaii:

1. Intro / Not Fade Away
2. The Last Time
3. Paint It Black
4. Lady Jane
5. Mother’s Little Helper
6. Get Off Of My Cloud
7. 19th Nervous Breakdown
8. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

8 whole songs? Wow! Here’s a picture of Mick Jagger from the Forest Hills show, as printed in Life magazine:


More pics from the Forest Hills show are available via this Google Image search. Lastly, the tennis club was the home of the US Open tennis tournament from 1915 until 1977… and guess what else? Like St. Paul’s School (from last week’s recap), the stadium is slated for demolition. Hooray for more condos?

– Here’s a teeny, tiny scan of the poster for the festival:


– As mentioned in last week’s recap, the financial and labor problems of Mohawk Airlines were real, and led to their merger with Allegheny Airlines in the early 70s. The combined airline eventually become known as US Airways.

– I don’t remember if we knew the names of the “Mohawk guys” before (I think we did, but am not 100% sure), but their names are Hank and Jack. According to Roger, Hank likes vodka and Jack likes Jack Daniel’s.

– Any hardcore Rolling Stones fans out there? What’s with Harry’s crack about their manager “sound[ing] greedy”? At the time, the Stones were managed by Andrew Oldham. Oldham was barely out of high school when he started a career as a music publicist, including promoting The Beatles and Bob Dylan’s first visit to the UK. In 1963, when Oldham was only 19, a friend suggested that he see a new group called the Rolling Stones, and Oldham instantly saw the potential to market them as a kind of “anti-Beatles”. Oldham pitched the group to Dick Rowe of Decca Records (the man who had infamously passed on The Beatles, saying “guitar groups are on their way out”). I don’t know if this counts are “greedy” or not, but one of Oldham’s smartest moves was to create a management company that retained ownership of all the Stones’ master tapes, which were then leased to record companies like Decca. In any case, while it was smart, it wasn’t Oldham’s invention: he got the idea from Phil Spector.

– I know this is probably just thinking too hard, but does anyone care to guess which “Eyetlian” restaurant with the great veal parm Harry is talking about? I googled for around 20 minutes but didn’t come up with much.

– As soon as Harry leaves Don’s office, we transition to Betty eating Bugles on the sofa. Bugles were a new brand product at the time, having been test-marketed in 1965 and made available nationally early in 1966. General Mills released two other snacks at the same time: flower-shaped Daisies and tube-shaped Whistles. Although identical to Bugles except for their shape, these two snacks were discontinued, and Bugles remained popular for a long time afterwards (my mom bought them a lot when I was a kid, but I remember them disappearing for a while in the late 90s).

– As Betty reads the newspaper and eats Bugles, you can see an re-run of The Andy Griffith Show playing in the background. The episode is called “Guest of Honor”, and it originally aired on February 26, 1962. I don’t think the episode has any particular meaning with regards to Mad Men, but just in case, here’s the synopsis from IMDB:

The town decides to celebrate Founders’ Day by picking a stranger at random to be the town’s ‘Guest of Honor’. Unfortunately the person they choose turns out to be a thief whose just been kicked out of the neighboring county.

(By the way, I want to send a huge THANK YOU to DVD Talk forum members slappy and SkullOrchard, who helped me track down the name of this Andy Griffith episode!)

– When Pauline knocks on the door, Betty turns off the TV with a remote control. Older viewers might have gotten a nostalgia kick out of the sound effect. The first remotes were purely mechanical devices (no batteries needed). Inside the remote, a hammer struck a small metal tube, creating a specific sound, and circuitry inside the TV listened for that specific pitch (remotes with multiple buttons used multiple hammers that created slightly different pitches). It was possible to create the same pitch inadvertently and accidentally change the channel – for example, by dropping a set of keys on a glass table. I also have vague memories of my cousins playing pranks on older family members at family reunions: the older men would be gathered around an old TV in a rec room watching a sporting event, and one of my teenage cousins would stand at the back of the room and make the clicking sound with his mouth just at the right (wrong) time, like when the quarterback released the football, or the long putt was headed towards the cup. In any case, their distinctive clicking sound is why a remote control is sometimes called a “clicker”.

– Incidentally, I forgot to mention this last week, but the exterior shots of the Francis house were filmed at the Stimson House in Los Angeles. The house, which dates to 1891, has a colorful history (you should really click the link to read more!):


You might also recognize the house as a funeral home in Pushing Daisies.

– It’s hard to know exactly what “diet pills” Pauline was referring to. During World War II, soldiers were given amphetamines to keep them alert, and doctors noticed that one of the side effects was appetite suppression. So the drugs were later prescribed to civilians as a weight loss drug. However, doctors were well aware of the potential for abuse and addiction with amphetamines, so aminorex fumarate was developed in 1965 as an alternative. However, this drug was prone to cause pulmonary hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs), so it was withdrawn in 1968. Another option (unlikely given the conversation Betty and the doctor have later) was a cocktail of thyroid hormone and laxatives, diuretics and amphetamines. This was also seen as too dangerous and the therapy discontinued. However, the doctor does examine Betty’s thyroid, so it’s possible that he is giving her the hormones.

– According to the diplomas on the wall, Doctor Horton graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (and possibly Beloit College… it’s really hard to read the second diploma, even in HD). The interesting thing about Penn is that it’s a private, Ivy League school, whereas every other university in the United States that’s “University of [state name]” is a public school. For you Europeans, in the US a “private” university receives no direct taxpayer funding, while “public” schools do. In places like England, the distinction can be much more difficult.

– Awwww! When Betty makes her panicked call to Don, he calls her “Birdie”. Sweet!

– As mentioned in previous recaps, the iconic Volkswagen ads of the 1950s and 1960s were created by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB). William Bernbach was of the opinion that print ads didn’t sell more products, but instead created “brand ambassadors” who would evangelize the product. DDB’s creative on the campaign was Helmut Krone, who liked simplicity in general, but, in the case of VW, had no choice, as VW’s entire ad budget was only $800,000 in 1960 (around $5.8m in 2010 dollars). One VW ad had a lasting impact on the American English language: the famous “Lemon” ad (which says “we pluck the lemons; you get the plums”) led to the word “lemon” becoming a common word for a faulty car. Most US states adopted laws in the 70s and 80s to protect consumers against faulty cars; such laws are called “lemon laws“. Here’s the “Lemon” ad, contrasted with one of the knock-off ads Peggy complains about:

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

– “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 1. In the King James version, it reads: “Judge not, that ye be not judged”.

Hammacher Schlemmer is a catalog retailer in the United States. Founded as a hardware store specializing in hard to find items in 1848, the company claims to have the oldest continually-published catalog in the United States. The company was one of the first businesses in the United States to have a telephone installed (1878) and was perhaps the first to use electric lighting in its showroom. In 1926, the company moved to its present location at 147 East 57th Street (as seen in the ad on the show). Because this was an upscale neighborhood, the company began stocking luxury items, and moved the hardware department to the basement. In the 1930s, the company began advertising new inventions, like pop-up toasters, and the company later began selling “outrageous” items, like used London taxicabs and home bowling alleys. By the late 70s, the company returned to specializing in the gadget items they are known for today.

– NYC mayor John Lindsay was first mentioned in “The Summer Man” (recap).

– Wow… January Jones’ body double was kind of… obvious, huh? The double had a considerable amount of back fat, but a second later we see Betty from the side, with almost no back fat to speak of.

– We first see Joyce Darling back in season 1’s “Marriage of Figaro”, at the Draper’s dinner party.

– The nurse appears to be named “Megan Dale”, although it’s hard to make out (yes, even in HD).

– Michael Ginsberg might not think so, but Leo Burnett was very much a real person. I’ve mentioned him several times before in the recaps, but Burnett (October 21, 1891 – June 7, 1971) is one of the biggest names in advertising history, and is ranked up there with William Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Time magazine rated Burnett as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Alan Ginsberg was an American poet, who led the post-WWII Beat Generation along with Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. Ginsberg is most famous for “Howl”, a poem which has many references to drugs and heterosexual and homosexual sex. One line (“who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy”) caused US Customs to seize Howl and Other Poems as they were being imported from the printer in London. Additionally, on June 3 1957, a bookstore owner and the publisher were arrested on obscenity charges. At trial, judge Clayton Horn decided that the book had literary value, and the charges were dismissed. “Howl” went on to become the most beloved poem of the Beat Generation.

Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) is, of course, a book written by Adolf Hitler when he was imprisoned for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. Hitler dictated the book to close confidant Rudolf Hess. In it, Hitler traces his history and explains the huge “Jewish conspiracy” in Western Europe and America; he then explains how he will defeat it. Hitler made a lot of money off the book in the early days of the Nazi party, such that he owed 405,500 Reichsmarks in back taxes (that’s around $8 million in current money). Amusingly (well, as “amusing” as things with Hitler get), der Fuhrer fought the issue in tax court until 1933, when he was named chancellor, after which the case against him was “mysteriously” dismissed.

– At lunch, Joyce complains that “everything tastes like sawdust”. This is a common side effect of chemotherapy.

Tasseography is the practice of divining the future from tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediment. The practice dates to medieval Europe, when fortune tellers began predicting people’s futures from molten wax or lead. In the 1600s, such people switched over to tea, then a new drink imported from China. Obviously, the title of this episode, “Tea Leaves”, comes from the fortune teller at lunch.

– I’m not gonna waste time trying to look it up, but who is the “other Jew” Roger refers to? Mister “Darkest Before Dawn”? Is it Harry? There’s has long been suspicion of Harry being a “secret Jew”, thanks to the occasional Yiddish phrase he uses, although that could come from his working with TV executives (who were, in fact, mostly Jewish).

– Ah. I see that Allen Klein has taken over for Andrew Oldham as the Stones’ manager. As mentioned earlier, Oldham created a management company for the band, and he sold his share to Klein in 1966. Mick Jagger was initially impressed with Klein’s business sense, but the band eventually came to feel that Klein was cheating them, so they fired him in 1970. Klein sued, and the band were eventually forced to give him the rights to most songs recorded before 1971 (this is why many Stones “best of” records come in “pre-1971” and “post-1971” versions). Yes, I guess in hindsight you could call Klein “greedy” (especially since he died in 2009).

– Don’s $40 bribe of the security guy is worth $265.75 in modern dollars.

– Wow that’s really… random: after Don and Harry are rebuffed by the doorman, they step to the side, and a girl can be seen wearing an “Adohr Farms” t-shirt. Adohr Farms (that’s “Rhoda” backwards, by the way) was once one of the largest dairies in Los Angeles. This article from the Los Angeles Times has some of its history. It’s kind of interesting: in 1916, a man named Merritt Huntley Adamson Sr. started a dairy, largely thanks to his rich wife, the heiress Rhoda Rindge Adamson. Her parents were the last owners of a giant land grant dating back Spanish colonial control in the 1800s. It was huge, and included the entire modern city of Malibu. How did it end up in Mad Men? I have no idea:


– I love the “are you a cop? If you are you have to tell me” line. It seems that people have been using that one for 50 years!

– The American sitcom Bewitched ran from 1964 to 1972 on ABC. Strangely, the two girls call Don and Harry “Durwood and Mr. Kravitz”, even though there was no “Durwood” on the show (did the mean Darren?) and Mr. Kravitz (George Tobias) was the nosy next door neighbor, not Darren’s boss (Darren worked for McMann and Tate advertising agency; although Larry Tate (David White) was a regular on the show, McCann was only seen twice in the show’s entire run.

– It looks like Harry wasn’t joking about Heston walking around naked. This picture appeared in a 2008 Village Voice:

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Apparently it’s not known whether Heston smoked weed or not. There is almost no reference on the Internet to Heston smoking marijuana, except for comments about the line in Mad Men. Heston was a liberal Democrat through much of the early 1960s, so it’s not impossible that he did smoke weed back then. This article at the Hollywood Reporter website says that Heston’s son, Fraser Heston, could not be reached for comment about the marijuana issue, indicating that it hasn’t been covered in books or documentaries about Heston.

– Having said that, it’s almost inconceivable that Bonnie – high or not – would not know who Charleton Heston was at the time. He was one of the biggest box office draws of the day back then. I wonder if Wiener was trying to show Bonnie’s youth and inexperience or if he was trying to show her apathy for mainstream culture with the line.

– In 1965, Heston appeared in a movie called Major Dundee with Richard Harris, father of Jared Harris (Lane Pryce).

– Bonnie was played by Hayley McFarland. You might remember her as Tim Roth’s daughter “Emily Lightman” in the Fox series Lie to Me.

Brian Jones founded the Rolling Stones in early 1962. In fact, it was Jones who came up with the band’s name. According to Keith Richards, Jones was on the phone, trying to get his as-yet-unnamed band a gig, when the venue owner ask him for the band’s name. Jones panicked and looked around the room. He saw a copy of The Best of Muddy Waters on the floor, and the first track on the album was “Rollin’ Stone Blues” (the band were known as the “Rollin’ Stones” at first; the G would come later. And to this day I don’t know if the official name of the band is “The Rolling Stones” or just “Rolling Stones”; album artwork uses both). Jones would be eclipsed by Jagger and Richards as the band moved away from covers and into original works. This intensified after Oldham left. Jones began behaving erratically, had multiple drug arrests (which greatly complicated obtaining visas for touring) and contributed less and less musically to the band. Jones was kicked out of the band on June 8, 1969. Less than a month later, Jones was found at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Sussex. Although ruled an accidental death, many valuable items were found to be missing from his house, and every few years a new conspiracy theory seems to crop up alleging that Jones was murdered.

– Jack Ruby was, of course, the Dallas nightclub owner who shot and killed JFK’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Just as Bonnie talks about jumping on Jones as he walks down a hallway, Ruby shot Oswald as he was being led down a hallway as he was being moved from Dallas Police Headquarters to the county jail. Although Ruby allegedly killed Oswald in outrage, Ruby’s alleged mob connections have always been fertile ground for conspiracy theorists.

– “Lady Jane” is a Rolling Stones song, off their 1966 album Aftermath. The Stones played it live on this tour. However, the band have not played it live since Brian Jones’ death. The song was the b-side of the “Mother’s Little Helper” single in the US, and that single is something of an oddball in US chart history, as both songs ranked on the Billboard music charts: “Mother’s Little Helper” reached #8 and “Lady Jane” reached #24.

– In the background at the concert, you can see a poster for an upcoming Joan Baez concert. I can’t seem to find absolute proof that she played Forest Hills on August 8, 1966. But I did find this picture of a folk musician named Peter Rodman backstage with Baez. Rodman says that the picture is from Forest Hills in 1966, so there’s that.

– According to this post at Esquire, Harry’s choice of White Castle for his post-concert binge is an accurate one. Apparently White Castle was much more common in New York City (and especially Queens) than other fast food chains at the time, even McDonald’s.

– Yes, the Stones did play the Asbury Park Convention Hall at Asbury Park, New Jersey, the next evening, July 3, 1966. From SCDP’s office at 1271 6th Avenue (that’s Avenue of the Americas for people outside NYC), it would have taken around 90 minutes to get to Asbury Park by car (at least today, I don’t know what the road situation was in 1966).

– The Trade Winds were a pop band based out of Rhode Island. They had a minor hit, “Mr. Lonely”, which hit #73 on the Billboard charts, under the name The Videls. When member Norman Marzano left the band, remaining members Peter Andreoli and Vincent Poncia, Jr. renamed the group The Trade Winds. They had two minor hits, “New York’s a Lonely Town” (#32) and “Mind Excursion” (#51), before changing their name again to The Innocence, where they had two more minor hits: “There’s Got to Be a Word!” (#34) and “Mairzy Doats” (#75). They were slightly more successful as a songwriting team, penning songs for The Ronettes and The Crystals, and Poncia would go on to produce records for Ringo Starr, Melissa Manchester and Kiss.

Fire Island is an island off the coast of New York. It is a barrier island of Long Island, and as such lies to the east of it. It’s thought that the name is a corruption of the Dutch word vijf (five), for the total number of islands in the area. It was (and still is) a popular getaway spot for people from New York City. Two areas in particular, Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove, have been popular with the gay & lesbian community for decades, and are often referred to as such in popular media (Shel Silverstein did a piece about the gay clubs in the area for Playboy back in 1965, the 2004 song “Gay Messiah” by Rufus Wainwright talks about Fire Island’s gay culture, and the Village People wrote a song about the island on their debut album). Fire Island was also mentioned by gay characters on Will & Grace and 30 Rock.

– I think it’s safe to assume that the next workday (when Don interviews Michael with Peggy) was Tuesday, given that Monday was Independence Day.

– Apparently Michael did an ad for Bigelow Carpet:

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It’s kind of funny (given how hard Pete is trying to land Mohawk Airlines) that the Bigelow brand was bought out by the Mohawk Group. I don’t know if the ad is authentic or not, but according to this old newspaper article, Bigelow’s offices really were at 140 Madison Avenue.

– I also don’t know if the ad for Half and Half tobacco was real:

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but I certainly recall similar provocative images in contemporary advertising:

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Many, many more examples here.

-Needham Harper & Steers was an ad agency founded in Chicago in 1925 as Maurice H. Needham Co. Thanks to the corporate takeovers of the 1980s, Needham Harper merged with Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) and BBDO to form the Omnicom Group. At the same time, DDB and Needham merged their operations to become DDB Needham, which was renamed DDB Worldwide in 1996.Needham’s New York office only dates from 1951, when the agency opened an office there to get in on the emerging TV market.

– The “letter” Michael refers to in his interview with Don is his famous “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco” ad from “Blowing Smoke” (recap).

– Betty and Henry are watching The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet when the phone rings. A few bloggers have noticed that every time we see Betty watching TV in this episode she’s watching wholesome, family shows. I think this is overblown. American TV specialized in “wholesome, family shows” back then, and in both cases we see Betty watching TV during the day, when standards and practices required the most inoffensive, vanilla shows to air. After all, children could be watching, right?

– Perhaps the most controversial line in this episode comes from Henry: “Well, tell Jim His Honor’s not going to Michigan because Romey’s a clown and I don’t want him standing next to him”. He’s talking about NYC mayor John Lindsay, and how he doesn’t want him seen with Michigan governor George W. Romney, the father of former Massachusetts governor and current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Many conservative viewers thought the “clown” line was pretty tasteless, especially given that George Romney is dead and can’t defend himself. After all, Romney couldn’t have been much of a “clown” since he was elected to the governorship as a Republican three times in a heavily Democratic state, each time with larger and larger margins of victory. So he must have done something the people there liked. I also don’t understand why Henry would be so hostile to a fellow moderate Republican: Romney was a big supporter of civil rights for blacks, and vigorously opposed the nomination of conservative Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. It seems like Linsday and Romney would get along fine, actually. But this swipe at Romney, combined with the comments about conservative Heston earlier in the episode, made many wonder what Weiner is up to in this election year. Having said all that, the line has a parallel with actual history: despite being a very popular Republican, Romney refused to even be seen on stage with Goldwater in 1964.

– I wonder how many American homes had multiple phone lines in 1966? It seems likely that Henry might have that, with him being a close aide to the mayor of New York… but I wonder how many other homes had such a luxury?

Ervin “Pete” Fox was a baseball player who played for the Detroit Tigers (1933–40) and Boston Red Sox (1941–45). He played in the Pacific Coast League for a year, then managed several minor league teams and worked as a scout for the Tigers. He died of cancer on July 5, 1966.

– The prayer Michael’s dad sings is the “Blessing of the Children”, typically sung before Shabbat dinner. As is the custom, Michael’s dad puts his hands on Michael’s head and sings the following:

Yesimcha Elohim k’Efraim ye chiMenasseh
Yevarechecha Adonai v’ishmerecha
Yaer Adonai panav elecha vichuneka
Yissa Adonai panav elecha, v’yassem lecha shalom

It translates to:

May God make you like Ephrain and Menasseh
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord show favor and be gracious to you;
May the Lord show you kindness and grant you peace.

The prayer is a Jewish custom, not a commandment or requirement. The blessing is based on the blessings Jacob tendered to his grandchildren Ephraim and Menasseh.

– This episode’s closing song is “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music.


I can’t put my finger on it, but I like this episode even less than the season premiere. I’ll give this one a 5 on the initial viewing, and a 5 on the second viewing.

I suppose the big moment in this episode is supposed to be the scene with Don and Bonnie, but I’m not sold on the idea. Frankly, I see the hiring of Michael as much more important. Throughout the seasons, Don Draper was always the cool guy in the room. But between the Rolling Stones and Michael (not to mention Megan and all her “hip friends” from the birthday party), Don is now the square old guy. I’m guessing that how Don deals with this will become a big part of this season.

One line that really stuck out to me was Raymond’s line that “back in Pittsburgh, everybody’s pretty much who you expect them to be”. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of Don Draper, no? I think that Don has, to a degree, made peace with Dick Whitman, especially now that Megan and all the important people at SCDP know.

One thing I do worry about – and folks, I really worry about this – is Mad Men becoming self-aware and collapsing under its own weight. You’ll find no bigger fan of the show than me, but I think I’m starting to see cracks in the facade. Of course, how Weiner handles those cracks makes all the difference. Last season wasn’t quite as over the top as this one, but I still wasn’t sold until “The Suitcase”, and then the show knocked it out of the damn park!

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

4 Replies to “Mad Men: “Tea Leaves””

  1. A few comments:

    On Bewitched, “Durwood” is often how disdainful witch-and-mother-in-law Endora (Agnes Moorehead) referred to Darren. I don’t believe Endora ever referred to Darren by his actual name on the entire run of the series.

    Very cool VW ad. The Wolfsburg factory mentioned in the ad is still up and running and is now one of the largest and most advanced car factories in the world.

    We have Bugles on the grocery shelves here in the Netherlands.

    If you were a left wing nudist in the 1960’s, you were probably smoking weed.

  2. Hey Liz!

    Yeah, I forgot that Endora called him Durwood, Dunwoody, Dave, David… almost anything BUT Darren! You’d think I’d remember that, as I had a MAD CRUSH on Elizabeth Montgomery, and watched “Bewitched” all the time as a kid because of it.

    I’m not sure about the timeline for the “left wing nudist smoking weed”. Most of what we think of as “the 1960s” was actually 1967-1973(-ish), at least as far as “hippie culture” goes. And Heston had certainly swung to the right by that point. Although it’s entirely possible that Heston *did* smoke weed back then, too.

  3. Like your recaps and the interesting info her. Just thought I would help you with the Darkest before Dawn question you posed. Roger is referring to Dawn, the black secretary, and how she and the hiring of a Jew makes the agency look more modern. There is no other Jew and certainly not Harry!

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