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Monday, September 28, 2009

Where were you in 62?

Like quite a few others I am mad about Mad Men, though (also like quite a few others) I came late to the scene. I saw seasons 1 and 2 on DVD from the library, and am going to have to catch up on Season 3 as time permits at the kids' house (they have one of those fancy TV's that let you save stuff).

I graduated from college in 62, and then worked in Manhattan that summer and fall in magazine publishing and advertising. Revisiting this time through the eyes of those who weren't even born (to them it might as well be a 1776 costume drama, I keep thinking!) is pretty heady. Yes, people DID drink and smoke like that! Yes, women WERE treated that way. Worse, we accepted it. assumed that it was OK!

Last night I watched American Graffiti for the first time. Don't ask me why (OK I'll tell you - I had recently seen Francis Coppola's wonderful film, The Conversation, and had been curious about his other early work. ) Coppola produced American Graffiti because George Lucas (himself still an unknown, before Star Wars) needed a "name" attached to the project. Coppola had just made The Godfather. Harrison Ford has such a small part in this film that he doesn't even get a mention in the star credits. Richard Dreyfus was unknown. Suzanne Somers is on screen for about ten seconds. Ron Howard had to audition for his part.

I loved this movie. Though it took place in 1962, it is really about the end of the fifties - just as Mad Men (so far) is. This is the high school perspective. But it's just as real to me. Almost as in the Peanuts cartoon, adults barely appear.

It's about cruising, which is what teenagers did in the fifties and very early sixties. Oh how I remember that! Driving with a carful of friends through the Steak-n-Shake lot just to see who was there! Then deciding to go check out the OTHER Steak'n'Shake. This involved driving back down Main Street, another chance to see who was there, and with whom. How important it all seemed!

Another world.

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