Saturday, April 6, 2013

SOTW - April 6, 2013 (A Mad World)

[Editor's note:  Sometime today, Early Evening will celebrate page view number 5,000. For those four or five of you who actually care enough about what I write to look at it 1,000 times, thanks! Seriously, I deeply appreciate all of you who've taken the time to read this blog. It's been a blast!]  

When this glorious spring weekend nears its end, when the referees' whistles are silent and the Sunday sun has set, the nation will turn its eyes to the television and the greatest show there is (and ever has been, in your writer's opinion). Set in the metro grit of 1960's New York, AMC's Mad Men is brilliant for not only the way it looks, but even more for what it says. This tale of high-powered advertising executives and those that are affected by their world of ego and ambition forces the viewer to confront both yin and yang: faithfulness and betrayal; empathy and indifference; brutal honesty and naked pretense; tolerance and prejudice; tireless devotion and flip laziness; courage and cowardice; genius and plagiarism. These recurring themes of the human experience are all found here in dense and often disturbing 60-minute doses. Anyone who refuses to consider them must reach for the remote. The revolutionary style of the show is always there, but it's more garnishment than entree. It should go without saying that I love Mad Men and think it's the kind of intelligent entertainment the world needs more of.

Since our theme this weekend is brilliance set in 1960's New York, let's turn to a real world example of just that. The Velvet Underground were nothing if not brilliant. Drawing their energy from the same trash-littered sidewalks that Don Draper & Co. traverse in the show, the Velvets shifted from the dark to the light as their career progressed and pop success became more of a goal (they never found it). The VU's Warhol-led ascendancy tracked the same late 1960's period that we expect to see in this season of Mad Men, so we can consider this a period study of sorts. Your  Song of the Week for April 6, 2013 is a VU masterpiece and one of the under-appreciated anthems of American music. It is easy to visualize Jack the banker, Jane the clerk, and the song's narrator standing on the same corner with Draper as he tugs on a Lucky Strike and stares off into space searching for some unanswerable. May your cup be filled this weekend.


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