Monday, September 28th, 2009

The Footnotes of Mad Men: Suburban Rococo

Oh, no! The world is tugging away at Don Draper's individuality one thread at a time! First it started with the sexy maypole teacher pointing out that Don's nihilistic quest for self-indulgence is no different from all the other 'bored' Ossissingite daddies-he's even donning the same shirt as them! Then Roger characterizes Don's personal brand as someone else's (The Ogs). Some barbituated crazed kids think of him as just another spook (the nerve of those wayward hippies!). And Don's own hearth, the place where he puts up his feet and thinks about the majestic Mohawk nation, has been invaded by a home designer who undoubtedly has put the same 'modern Chinoiserie' design into the homes of hundreds of other stylish couples. I guess none of us can be too different, huh? We're all muscle and blood after all.

§ Throwing open her arms, the matronly designer introduces Don to his new living room. A kind of suburban rococo design with Eastern flourishes. The first piece: a 'Chinoiserie breakfront.' Chinoiserie is just a fancy French way of saying "sort of Asian." Chinoiserie became all the rage in 18th century France when Louis XIV decorated Versiailles with new andmost fanciful European interpretations of Chinese styles. It had a resurgence in 20th century design. Next to the breakfront, is a 'Japanese influenced Dunbar couch.' The low slung, brass footed loveseat is a fixture of mid-century design but the Japanese twist is a direct toss to Bert Cooper's Japonisme-themed office . (WHO MAKES UP THESE DESIGN TERMS?!) Japonisme is, yes, a French term that translates into Japanism. There was a heightened interest in Japanese graphic arts, textiles and fashion at the turn of the century (similar to the Western love affair with Art Nouveau).

According to the Met, early woodcut prints that made their way west showed that "simple, transitory, everyday subjects from 'the floating world' could be presented in appealingly decorative ways." Hmm. So then we take it that both Roger and Bert seeped their way into the Draper home this week!

§ Then, of course, there was much discussion of Footnotes' favorite, David Ogilvy. The Ogs' 1963 book 'Confessions of an Ad Man' is like a compendium of very clever bumper stickers about how to be a smart, classy man in advertising and in general. It reads like magazine writing; punchy and easily digestible. For instance:

H.L. Mencken once said that nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. That is not true. I have come to believe that it pays to make all your layouts project a feeling of good taste, provided that you do it unobtrusively. An ugly layout suggests an ugly product. There are very few products which do not benefit from being given a first-class ticket through life.

Ogilvy's books are core curriculum in ad school, so understandably some modern young ad men tend to sneer at the Ogs philosophy. I asked Awl-pal and young(ish) advertising guru, Mark the Copyranter about his relationship with Ogs:

NVC: How am I supposed to feel about Ogilvy's eyepatch ad? I'M CONFLICTED.
MC: Ah, the very successful Hathaway man, campaign, of course. But stupid, nonetheless. I read 'Ogilvy On Advertising'… a long time ago. Didn't much care for his theories because I was a YOUNG AD REBEL
NVC: When you rebel against Ogilvy what are you rebelling against?
MC: British stuffiness, copy-heavy logical ads. The visual is the hero, baby! Any good madman believes this and was taught this in ad school… It's better to dramatically visualize a product's benefit, than say it. Because, then you can exaggerate (LIE) without as much rebuke. Plus, it looks cooler in one's portfolio.

Ah, could you imagine what Don's flash portfolio would look like? (With a Tumblr attached!) Wish I had a fainting couch to swoon on.

§ Speaking of sumptuous items that would only lead to our panties tangled about the ankles, what do you think Peggy's Hermes scarf looked like!? Well it could have been Jackie O's Hermes zodiac-themed kind, or this perfectly girly number adorned with pink butterflies. Or how about this purple scarf patterned with DUCKS! Wonder how many other girls were wrapped in such "elegance and success"?

So how hard to stand out nowadays.

So very much more can be found at The Footnotes of Mad Men.

52 Comments / Post A Comment

mathnet (#27)

I JUST HAVE TO SAY THAT I TOTALLY KNEW PEGGY WAS GOING TO SLEEP WITH DUCK as soon as we saw him trying to recruit her a few weeks ago. (Huh, what's that? Everyone else knew, too?)

Oh! Also? I so wanted the closing-credits music to be Sixteen Tons. So that made me happy.

Don kept getting taken and possessed cornered last night. It was so depressing. Can't wait to watch it again at 4:00!

OMG and I felt so horrible for Vincent Kartheiser when it took him forEVER to button his jacket with one hand during his please-put-me-on-Hilton scene with Hamm.

P.s. The DVDs–which I watched for the first time this rainy weekend–have some great extras. Suck it, On Demand Digital Microchip Magical Recording Device Robot!

mathnet (#27)

Correction to my "listening" "skills." 10:45 tonight. WTF

sunnyciegos (#551)

I totally recognized the back of Duck's head in the opening scene. Honestly, I always thought he was kind of foxy? Is this wrong?

EMBRACE IT! Team duck!

Also, Don was just all about yelling at the ladies this week! It was like "NO NO NO THIS ISNT ABOUT YOU!"

Also, I am not feeling that teacher woman. One more wise crackin' brunette. Oh, Don. But really best episode of the season!

mathnet (#27)

Yeah, I totally agree about the teacher whom "Sally" has a crush on. Lame.

And Don was obviously so right about moving the end table and lamp, duh.

One of my favorite lines: "Real estate. It's so scary."

mathnet (#27)

Sorry, Francine! What you said was, "Real Estate. That's scary."

(Still my favorite line of the episode.)

tralafel (#1,221)

Mine was "You stare at the sun every day?"

tralafel (#1,221)

OR! Roger on the sunrise: "Average."

katiebakes (#32)

I really liked those black (maybe navy?) and white chairs with the lattice-looking print that were installed in the Draper home. Please for me to have? (Is that linguistic Chinoiserie?)

mathnet (#27)

I WANT THEM TOO. And the new paint color is gorgeous!

According the a lengthy (SURPRISE) Slate piece on the home makeover:

"The black-and-white cane print on the high-backed side chairs is especially fashionable and goes a long way toward reviving the room without being too advanced."

mathnet (#27)

Mad Men lady? How long is Don's commute each day?

31.4 miles!

mathnet (#27)

Huh. OK, so. . . what. Like an hour on the train? Just trying to know* everything about Don and his life.

*become intimately aware of

It looks as though Don is willing to get indiscreet in his home town (a la maypole lady)

mathnet (#27)

Oooooh, yes. And Betty even made a remark in this episode about how "it's still a small town."

Nrbelex (#1,742)
mathnet (#27)

I am, so thanks!

Do you think he would have committed fewer infidelities if they'd lived closer? I mean, if it weren't so believable for him to spend the night in Manhattan? And if it didn't feel quite so much like changing worlds to go home?

Were there any closer towns where they could have lived instead (status, race, etc., taken into consideration)?

belltolls (#184)

Don got taken alot this episode–and for a guy who understands the secret dreams of people –it was more than a little surprising. When he threw the glass out the window on the country road we all said, "Something bad is going to happen to you Don Draper!" But the hallmark of the episode was indeed corruption: of design, realtions and the last vestiges of personal honor. Yummy.

What about the Pete v. Peggy divide? Was ok of Pegs to come in and be like, "fuck you, pay me." Whereas Pete was genuinely working for the Norther Aviation account. Then again, Bert wouldn't have had shit on Don if it weren't for Pete's original awfulness and divulging Don's secret.

I'm just glad people are getting laid again on that show. JEEZ.

sunnyciegos (#551)

But Pete is in the business of bringing in clients and presumably he gets a commission on top of salary (?) whereas Peggy is creative and is at the mercy of her overlord Don Draper.

Loved the last moment between Peggy and Don, the morning after. HIM: Fender bender. HER: Awkwardly flutters hand over yesterday's dress.

mathnet (#27)

Also! OK it's, like, six or seven hours to Niagara Falls, right? So did he mean it when he said they were a couple of miles away, or was he lying to the good-for-nothing teenagers, or wrong? Or is he supposed to have driven all the way there, passed out bloody, awakened in the morning, and made it to work that day?

Couple miles to the nearest motel I believe.

mathnet (#27)


Chairman Meow (#820)

Didn't Ho-Ho, when he was first introduced a few episodes back, claim to have read Ogilvy's book which Sterling is now reading in proofs? Was that another Ogilvy book? Or does Ho-Ho have better connections than Sterling?

Hmmm. I think Ho-Ho said "I could have taken this to Ogilvy."

And Don was like, "Why didn't you?"

And then Pete was all, "I get black people"

LondonLee (#922)

And he pronounced it O'Gilvy as it was Irish.

LondonLee (#922)

Bugger, I meant 'as if it was Irish' of course

LondonLee (#922)

…and I've just seen Jared's post below saying the exact same thing. Forget I even spoke in the first place.

@ Lee! I just spent 20 mins going through your cheeky blog. You write about biscuits!!

I picture you saluting the Union Jack as we speak!

LondonLee (#922)

No, but I am wearing Union Jack underpants.

bettyblack (#829)

Ho-Ho bragged that he had read the galleys of O'Gilvey's manuscript.

So he managed to leverage family connections to get his hands on the unpublished proofs. That's why he thought he knew everything about advertising.

When I was a young college dropout office drone back in the mid 70's, a Hermes scarf really was a big deal. Getting one as a Christmas gift from the boss was better than a raise. Trading sexual favors for one was not unknown (NOT ME!!I tended more toward Lee's doofus style in "Secretary", but that's another unwritten novel.)

I could only imagine! I mean, Jackie O is wearing one and then your boss hands it to you? All Choire gives me is red hot Cheetos. :(

Jared (#1,227)

Yes, Ho-ho mentioned he was reading the proofs of the "O'Gilvy" book. And it was a few miles to the motel, not to Niagara.

Your welcome.

mathnet (#27)

Thank you!

But which one's Ho-Ho?

bettyblack (#829)

Jai Alai boy.

mathnet (#27)

I forgot to tell you how much I miss Joan. :(

Ho-Ho was the boy millionaire with the PELOTAS!

mathnet (#27)

Ohhhhh, of COURSE!

adriana (#1,654)

Yeah, I miss roaming those hillsides.

About a million years ago I used the term Chinoiserie in therapy for some reason and had to explain it my therapist. She didn't know what it meant and got kind of pissy with me. A couple of weeks later she decided to increase my fee. So I decided it was time to quit.

Your shrink will always get pissy when s/he realized you're smarter.

It was very empowering to quit.

Waiting room reading is always a big tell.

sigerson (#179)

"Chinoiserie" is one of those words whose meaning I know but whose pronunciation is a mystery to me. Like when I referred to a "synecdoche" as a "sin-ick-dosh" and everybody at the dinner party laughed at me.

AH! I do the same thing. Also, ENUI?! It always comes out sounding similar to EMU-EE. I had to use the closed captions to know how to spell this bitch. It sounds nothing like how it is spelled:


mathnet (#27)

OMG you guys totally just reminded me of how happy I was? In the Valentine's Day episode when Betty runs into her now-"party girl" ex-roommate? When Don called for room service and pronounced vichyssoise correctly. IT HAS A ZZZZZZ SOUND AT THE END, PEOPLE. I would never laugh at you two for your mispronunciations because as far as I know, you're not designery or writery poser assholes. And neither am I! But when the idiots on Top Chef (or two particular ex-boyfriends of mine!) do it. . . I START KILLING DEER.

You have good taste? (TRIPLE ENTENDRE. An-tawn-dree)

LondonLee (#922)

It's ENNUI, pronounced On-Wee

I still have no idea how to pronounce "Synecdoche" which is why I will never see that movie in case I have to talk to someone about it.

the teeth (#380)

It's pronounced pretty much like a drunkenly spoonerized 'Schenectady.' The worst thing about that film is the title — it's one serious groaner of a dreadful, overly clever pun.

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