Fellow Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason & Chaough shareholders,
Does someone love me? That’s everyone’s question, isn’t it, like the I Ching chick says. (Sorry, Bobby Draper, but it’s not “Are we Negros?” though that’s an interesting question too.) Anyway, love. The answer isn’t the point; it’s the asking that matters. You know you’re alive because you’re asking for love.
A creative died this week. Rest in peace, Don Draper—I mean, Frank Gleason. Your creative, though we saw little of it, is said to have made CGC what it was. (Don, you’ll come later.) Rest in piece, also, the 666-plus terrible ideas the group thought up for Chevy, whose idea of a pitch meeting, apparently, is a gun to the head. And finally, let’s kill the flashbacks. Why is it that, when the present is so fully realized, nuanced and well executed, the past is always so corny? Don’s running from his childhood, yes, maybe not only because of its psychosexual trauma but also because it was overdetermined and poorly acted. As for the future, the gritty 1970s series Sally in the City is going to be so good.
Don’s feeling a lot of emotions right now, and he takes it out on the booze by smashing bottles, not emptying them. So Don’s not dead yet, except a little more on the inside with each passing day. Ken might stumble through a soft-shoe routine and end on a Freudian slip, but Don is really falling. He fell for Sylvia, hard; starts to falls down the grand staircase as an injection of “proprietary” “energy serum” rushes over him but is righted by his libido; falls head over heels into the depths of the drug-fueled creative inanity and manic idea hunting, another day at the office; falls down on the job by failing to come with anything even comprehensible for Chevy; almost falls to his knees at Sylvia’s door, handsome and forlorn and even just a tad tiresome; and then finally, actually falls to the floor of his apartment, where the carpets are still white but the rest is dark, dark, dark.
Let’s count the whores this week. There were literal ones: the Jinkx Monsoon impersonator who rejects the whorehouse home remedy for the flu—sleeping it off in the basement—in favor of more scientific approaches like putting an ear to his back, popping his cherry and feeding him soup. For her troubles, she’s thrown out of the whorehouse, her luggage literally thrown at her; Don’s mom calls him trash and beats him with a large wooden spoon. It’s all a little much.
Speaking of bad moms, there was also Betty, at last thin, blond and gorgeous, who calls Sally a whore for either letting Megan pay her to babysit her brothers or for using that money to buy a rather short skirt. She also more or less calls Don trash for living in New York City, but don’t worry: Henry’s going to run for office, and that will prevent elderly Negro women from breaking into rich white people’s apartments and robbing them blind … somehow.
Finally, there’s the entire staff of SCDPCGC, whores to the last of them lately, as Don climbs up on his high horse to claim, “every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse.” He’s right that cars seem to bring out the worst in them, but let’s open the floor for discussion as to who are the real hustlers and johns in Don’s world, whether he’s confusing causation with correlation and whether he really understands what a creative director does.
Young Ms. Draper is doing everything right: reading Ira Levin, dressing in kicky little outfits that piss off her mother (who’s probably just jealous that, even with the weight loss, she still couldn’t fit into them), staring down intruders with her father’s cold eyes and even colder intonation and hardly budging an inch when Don, in his own stunted way, tries to apologize for putting her in danger. Her moments with “Grandma Ida” should be studied for their expert pacing and incredibly tricky moments of power exchange. Perhaps someone could fool Sally into believing she knew Don because Sally doesn’t know him at all. Even more heartbreaking is the likelihood that Sally partly believed in Ida because she wanted to believe someone loved her father and that at some point he was capable of being loved.
In the words of Ginsberg, who surely had some of the best lines of the week, “I believe I’m the only person in the Time & Life Building who’s not out of his mind.” (My editors may well disagree.) But I’ll now drop trou and prepare for Dr. Hecht’s next injection. They make me feel like Peggy felt when Stan complimented her ass: alive.