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Today's Inspiration

May 28, 2012

Important foreshadowing quote:

You are a grimy little pimp.” — Lane Pryce.

On par with theme encompassing “Who is Don Draper?” quote from the previous season.

11:04pm  |  77 notes   |  mad men |  season 4 |  lane pryce |  pete campbell |  FORESHADOWING! |  mad men unbuttoned 
May 11, 2012
Lady Lazarus and A Chat About Death, Part 1

With all the death talk this season (cancer scares! nurse killings! snipers!), many Mad Menites are wondering if Matt Weiner is in the mood to finally pay up and off somebody. Rumors swirled last season about Greg Harris and Roger Sterling, but this season the likely friends we have on offer are either young sad Peter or young happy Megs. Let’s consider Pete first:



Do you remember all the way back in “Pilot” where there was some scoffing discussion of a small consideration called the death wish? Don may have blown it off then, but he’s not laughing (down an elevator shaft) now: the man is facing mortality somewhat brutally at the hands of his heedless young wife. Who wasn’t laughing all the way back in 1960? Why, Pete Campbell, of course, who has always understood the morbid urges we all feel: the man and his erstwhile rifle have been hurtling down that metaphorical Freudian highway onto an oncoming car for five seasons now. And now, he’s kind of literally hurtling down that highway. With a re-introduced rifle. And he’s a bad driver!



Speaking of metaphors and psychology, this episode is named after Sylvia Plath’s famous, stunning poem “Lady Lazarus”, which in large part is about the speaker’s fractured identities making it impossible for her to liiiiiiive. Based loosely on autobiographical circumstances, the speaker details her various suicide attempts, and the struggle to reconcile her reluctant, warring body and mind with the facticity of life. Pete, who attempts to mirror Don (and is now seeking out a brown[haired] Betty of his own) while maintaining a complex and frighteningly sad inner life of his own, has to balance his multiple personalities as well in what is becoming an increasingly tenuous situation.



Note well:

It’s the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute

Which is clearly how Pete has begun to view his existence of coming home on the 525 train. Pete hasn’t attempted to kill himself (yet), but ever since his woeful Job-ian cry of “I have nothing”, it’s been clear he feels he’s dying a small death each time he lives a life he has begun to see only hollowness in. This was also an issue Plath wrestled with, loving her complicated and destructive husband and young children as well as seeking to free herself from it in due course.

Footnote by Natasha Simons

3:31pm  |  55 notes   |  pete campbell |  sylvia plath |  lady lazarus |  mad men |  natasha simons 
"There’d been no escape. What did she so desire to escape from? Such a captive maiden, having plenty of time to think, soon realizes that her tower, its height and architecture, are like her ego only incidental: and what really keeps her where she is is magic, anonymous and malignant, visited upon her from outside and for no reason at all. Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disc jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else?"

Thomas Pyncheon, The Crying of Lot 49

What do you think Pete’s reading material means?? Consider the captive maidens (Betty, Beth, Peggy to some degree) and the women questioning that malignant magic (Megan, Joan) in your answer.

April 19, 2012

A Meditation on Mailer, Pete Campbell and The Language of Men

"His anger often derived from nothing: the set of a pair of far lips, the casual heavy thump of the serving spoon into his plate, or the resentful conviction that the cook was not serving him enough." —Norman Mailer, "The Language of Men"


Pete Campbell presents a whole different kind of masculinity issue than does our mainstay Don. From S1E1 Pete’s been a mess of insecurities, all stemming from the essential Pete nugget that he simply doesn’t know very much about people. Wavering between the petulance of a child and the brimming over-confidence of a teenager, Pete is his own worst enemy.


He’s quick to lash out — recall this is not the first time he’s been in a fight at the office. He punched poor Kenny for his indelicate comments about fair Pegs back in season 1! Of course, that might have had something to do with his extreme jealousy of Ken — this comes only a few episodes after Ken gets his first story published in The Atlantic. And he’s become so used to shooting off his passive-aggressive sniping comments and being ignored that when Lane actually challenges him to a fight, he’s floored. He’s not used to being directly confronted or spoken to about much of anything, really.

Here’s Mailer again:


"He became aware again of his painful desire to please people, to discharge responsibility, to be a man. When he had been a child, tears had come into his eyes at a cross word, and he had lived in an atmosphere where his smallest accomplishment was warmly praised."

Pete has some…issues with recognition and pride, no? He craves it desperately, and yet he’s either so unctuous or so biting that even when he does good work, people are reluctant to reward him. This man, who was so spoiled in his youth, finds that his peers don’t like him at all. When he pitifully says at the end of “Signal 30” that “This is an office. We’re supposed to be friends”, we get the sense that he actually means it. That SCDP holds the only friendships he’s ever known! This coming on the heels of Don telling Megan that the people at work are not her friends only underscores Pete’s essential misunderstanding about other people and his innate loneliness that comes from being excluded.



As decent as Pete has become at his job, he’s never gotten over his puppy love with Don Draper, the man he has been trying to get a reaction as long as he’s graced our screens. When flattery didn’t work, Pete turned to subterfuge. None of it seemed to work very well, but Pete is still giving Don the biggest steak.


"…with his heart aching he lunged toward Hobbs. He had no hope of beating him. He merely intended to fight until he was pounded unconscious, advancing the pain and bruises he would collect as collateral for his self-respect."

"[He] began to wonder about the things which made him different. He was no longer so worried about becoming a man; he felt that to an extent he had become one. But in his heart he wondered if he would ever learn the language of men."

So then of course, Pete does get called on his pervasive misanthropy and reflex anger toward the rest of the world. And in every glance and gesture, Pete has always tried to ape the standard masculinity: he tries to dress like Don, he blusters through work drinks living up to Roger, he commits adultery after the both of them. And yet even when he’s embraced the trappings of masculinity, he still can’t connect. He hates himself for it because it’s not what he wants, and Don hates him for it because it seems like such a poor imitation of the thing he himself does. Everything Pete does has an air of forcedness to it, because it just doesn’t come naturally to him — the language of men.


*Footnote by Natasha Simons





July 5, 2010

One of 1961’s biggest singles. Inspired by the hip-swiveling dance craze.

It even made Peggy twist.

"I don’t like you like you this," says Pete, who is more accustomed to the Charleston. 

June 28, 2010
Pete’s prep school style circa 1957: dustily well bred.

Pete’s prep school style circa 1957: dustily well bred.

3:15pm  |  57 notes   |  Fashion |  Pete Campbell 
May 12, 2010
While women like Betty wore dresses that flowed out from their waist lines and bubbled out over their shoulders, men’s dress style contracted. Collars were smaller, lapels narrowed, silhouettes shrank, belts thinned, and ties got skinny. The postwar man was streamlined.  Dennis Black, a storeowner for the men’s clothing line J. Press, believes that the demand for a smaller suit came from post-war exhaustion:
“When guys came back from World War II they were shattered. Their only thought was to get into college and get a career started. Their lives had been complicated enough by the war. And that simple, stable look… I mean, for years we lived off IBM and the FBI [employees], because that was the look. It’s the simplicity of it all.” 
Pete Campbell just wants simple fun, everybody!

While women like Betty wore dresses that flowed out from their waist lines and bubbled out over their shoulders, men’s dress style contracted. Collars were smaller, lapels narrowed, silhouettes shrank, belts thinned, and ties got skinny. The postwar man was streamlined.  Dennis Black, a storeowner for the men’s clothing line J. Press, believes that the demand for a smaller suit came from post-war exhaustion:

“When guys came back from World War II they were shattered. Their only thought was to get into college and get a career started. Their lives had been complicated enough by the war. And that simple, stable look… I mean, for years we lived off IBM and the FBI [employees], because that was the look. It’s the simplicity of it all.” 

Pete Campbell just wants simple fun, everybody!

4:33pm  |  103 notes   |  Fashion |  Skinny Tie |  Pete Campbell 
October 9, 2009
From Pete’s favorite magazine:
Dial Soap Ad from the June 1963 issue of Ebony.
"Don’t you wish everybody did?"

From Pete’s favorite magazine:

Dial Soap Ad from the June 1963 issue of Ebony.

"Don’t you wish everybody did?"

8:56am  |  13 notes   |  Advertising |  Pete Campbell 
September 15, 2009
Pete Campbell understands you.

Pete Campbell understands you.

5:20pm  |  36 notes   |  advertising |  pepsi |  Pete Campbell