Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mad About the Men: Seven Twenty Three

Spoiler Alert. Season3, Episode 7:

Teacher knows best.

And it was quite enjoyable to watch ‘Miss’ take Don Draper over her knee last night and give him a good tongue lashing. In fact, this entire episode was really about Don getting shown his arse, and I have to say I rather enjoyed it.

He was on splendidly grouchy form and all the more handsome for it: late to the office and dressed-down by Conrad Hilton, shouting at Peggy (even though we kind of agreed with him), shouting at Betty, getting told by Sally’s teacher that he’s just like all the other guys and finally, taking a joyride, drink in hand, picking up a couple of hitchhikers and finding himself face down and bloody on the shag pile of a cheap hotel room. The New York Hilton, this was not.

But perhaps his greatest loss, his most profound reduction came in the unlikeliest form of a tete a tete with Burt Cooper. The mild-mannered, sock-footed eccentric showed his teeth and essentially blackmailed Don into signing a three-year contract because after all, ‘who’s really signing this contract anyway.’ It was all done so quietly, so disturbingly. Suddenly you understood how this man had built his empire, and it wasn’t by serving drinks in a room full of Rothko.

Like a phoenix from the ashes though, we are certain Don will rise again. Probably next week.

Peggy and Pete had a nice little scene together about the Hermes scarf and for once Pete actually flexed some fairly admirable moral muscles. Peggy just wanted the pretty thing in the box and hey, who can blame the girl. As usual though, Pete’s best intentions sent Peggy down the road to ruin as she ended up in bed with Duck, whose wooing speech will traumatize my memory for weeks to come. Duck, apparently, likes it in the morning. Gag.

In other news of not-so-dangerous liaisons Betty met with Henry Francis as the ghost of her Kentuky-Derby-party-past came back to haunt her too. She was clearly expecting him to make an advance and was obviously miffed when he didn’t. But patience, dear Betty, patience. It will come. Her random and amusing moment of the week was buying that fainting couch on a whim, oh and that fabulous little beat when she hung up the phone in Don’s office and checked the locked drawer in his desk without even thinking. It’s these tiny glimpses that make these characters so fantastically real. Keep checking Betty, one day you might find it open.

Imagery of sleep, unconsciousness, sunrises, eclipses and so on were abound. The meaning of these could be stretched into a PhD thesis at this point. I’ll leave you to dwell on that.

Line (s) of the week:
Duck on the ad agency Grey: “It’s a Penn Station toilet with venetian blinds.”
Peggy to Pete: “Stop barging in here and infecting me with your anxiety.”
Next Week: More Pete Campbell. Finally!

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekend Docket: Our Fave Pizza With A Side of Vintage

We've been waiting a long time to spill the beans on our favorite pizzeria Lucali's, located in Carroll Gardens. On our first visit we waited down the street at Brooklyn Social for almost two hours for the fateful call alerting us our table was ready. Once inside we got cozy in the dimmed, candlelit room (yes, the owner/pizza maker preps his creations by candlelight), where the walls don't exist between the kitchen and the dining room. The crust is bubbled up to perfection, the sauce deliciously fresh, and the basil is free. Our favorite topping is pepperoni. It's cash-only and BYO, so don't forget your favorite red wine or beer. 

When there's a long wait, we usually walk the two blocks to Brooklyn Social, a vintage bar that pays homage to the Italian social club that once occupied the windowless bar. The vintage feel of the space (e.g. pressed tin ceiling, surviving club photos that decorate the walls...) comes off unpretentious and neighborhoody. The Riposto cocktails are unique: the mixologists have definitely taught us a thing or two about aperol and old-fashioneds. 

Lucali's: Henry Street @ Carroll, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Social: Smith Street @ Carroll, Brooklyn

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dead Man's Bones

Stemming from a love for noctural creatures and things that go bump in the night, Ryan Gosling and best friend Zach Shields (who first met while dating the McAdams sisters) enlist an untrained children's choir otherwise known as the Silver Lake Conservatory to sing along to their dark melodies, backed by their own raw and still developing musicality. Not that the latter should raise suspicion. The sum of all parts is incredible and just the right amount of ghoulishness. They embark on their tour next month.

October 15
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mad About the Men: Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency

Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 6:

"It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood."
Macbeth, Act 3, sc. IV

And so it goes with this season of Mad Men. Blood begets more blood. American Gothic anyone? Last week it was Gene mopping up the foetal blood in Betty’s dream, this week it was gobs of the stuff dousing the employees and ruining Joan’s green dress as Guy McKendrick’s foot was unceremoniously sawn off by a runaway John Deere tractor.

Guy walks into an advertising agency…. And has to be carried out on a stretcher. Boom boom.

The Yanks quite literally, took down the Brit. Happy 4th of July Sterling Cooper.

‘The British are coming’ indeed. We blundered in with our plum-in-mouth accents, said lots of things like, ‘quite,’ and ‘rather,’ only to lose one of our finest men! He went to Cambridge don’t you know and will now, ‘never golf again.’ Thus this brightest of corporate lights was extinguished. An account manager without a golf game, is like Don Draper without a mistress.

Themes of transatlanticism were writ large and in big bloody letters across the entire episode and though they provided general comic relief it was a touch heavy-handed for my liking. But hey, I’m biased. The subject of the re-organisation was amusing, as was seeing Sterling’s name left off the chart entirely, “I’m being punished for making my job look too easy,’ he said. Another golden nugget from the Silver Fox.

It was also Independence Day for Joan, facing down the barrel of her last day at Sterling Cooper, to be saddled with a husband who is half the man that she is. In case we needed any reminder of her prowess, we watched her deftly wrangle the tourniquet around McKendrick’s ankle, so much more the doctor, so much more the one with ‘brains in her fingers,’ than her husband will ever be. Ah Joan… let me count the ways.

There was a legitimate ghost story underplaying all this, with Sally Draper convinced that her new baby brother was the re-incarnation of her dead grandfather. This equated to Don’s worst nightmare: a man in his house just like his dead father-in-law! Horror. As usual Betty’s questionable mothering techniques managed to exacerbate the situation when she claimed the fairies baby Gene is in contact with had left Sally the creepy Barbie doll under her pillow. Brilliant. Cue: the Betty Draper Guide to Good Mothering.

Curve-ball of the episode was the re-introduction of ‘friendly-man-at-country-club-bar’ as Conrad Hilton. And so, Draper falls on his feet again. I had an inkling it wasn’t to be the last we saw of that man’s face. Few people get that amount of face-time with Don, unless he’s sleeping with them.

All in all a bitty episode, more humorous than of late, but I think with a lot of seeds planted for some pretty messed-up stuff to come. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of Joan’s ample bosom.

Line of the episode: Betty to Sally: ‘Go bang your head against a wall.’
Next week: Glimpses of man looking just like Don Draper collapsed on the bedroom floor??

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend Docket: Island Hopping

It's the last weekend to watch the Flying Piano, Mr. Jones and Fred the Amazing Stunt Pig, and view archaeological findings from a four-century old village settlement at the New Island Festival on Governors Island. For the hungry there's lunch and dinner made from local ingredients and inspired by Dutch/European cuisine then served on a 400-ft table. But we'll probably be too full to partake after our brunch at Locanda Verde, where we plan to stop on our way to catch the ferry to the festival. We'd mentioned this Tribeca restaurant in a previous posting, when we first stopped in for lunch only to be re-awakened to the virtues of fresh ricotta. 

Catch the free ferry to Governors Island, departing from the Battery Maritime Building next to the Staten Island Ferry. 

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St., NYC 

Open call for prison architects.

Pavement was one of our first indie bands, their songs incorporated into the soundtrack of our youth. Below are a couple of our favorite videos. Clicking through is like taking a time machine back to the 90's and stepping foot onto the matted grass in a plaid flannel-donned crowd, the patchouli-scented incense cloud looming over us as we watch Pavement share the stage with cardboard cacti... 

They're reuniting in NYC to end the summer (unfortunately not until 2010!) with an epic number of 4 shows in Central Park. Tickets went on sale yesterday and we were able to secure our tickets for one of the shows. 

Central Park Summerstage at Rumsey Playfield
September 21-24, 2010 @ 7pm
Tickets on sale at Ticketmaster

Friday, September 18, 2009

Steven Alan Announces Spring 2010

Double happiness from our favorite designer. Watch this and note one of our new favorite songs at the end, by The Rural Alberta Advantage. [Our beloved Canadian friend tipped us off to this band awhile back. It continues to be on our playlist.] 

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Bowery Ballroom, NYC
October 7, 2009 @ 8pm

Steven Alan Spring 2010 from Steven Alan on Vimeo.

Last Days of a Midwest Summer

Note that TLF always enjoys NYC in the summertime. But nothing compares to escaping the city to bask in the sunny heartland for our last days of the season.

When we weren’t getting fat on backyard BBQ (brats, peanut butter burgers, provoleta and ribeyes covered in chimichurri), buzzing off Kessler whisky sours and margaritas or adding ice and rock salt to the spastic ice-cream maker, we were hitting the roads with our vintage, matching bikes. We pedaled past miles of cornfields and rustic barns, the old grain silo, the old blacksmith workshop, and the 50’s-era carwash with the Dodge Dart that’s still parked and for sale if anyone’s interested.

Then past more cornfields.

Now, Talbott’s market stand is closed for the season. The leaves are turning. And so we stored the green bikes in the garage till next season.

Farewell, Illinois.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mad About the Men: The Fog

Spoiler alert. Season 3, Episode 5:

Out of the darkness and into… the pitch black fog.

Sunday’s episode was probably the darkest of the season so far, and that’s superlative indeed to bestow on a show that astounds in its ability to constantly make us feel like something terrible is about to happen.

Last night it started with that spliced shot of Sally Draper wiping Betty Pearson’s blood on her cheek –wtf? - and it dove down into the depths from there on in.

The entire sequence when Don was in the hospital solarium waiting for Betty was infused with a strange, dream-like quality. Don’s watch stopped, and so did time, as it slid by in the same blissed-out drugged state that Betty was in as she wandered through forests and hallways, chatting with her dead parents. (note that this was the second reference to a watch this episode – Ken Cosgrove was very proud of his Birds Eye watch too…)

This episode was really about Betty’s isolation and frailty, stripped of make-up, her face like a child’s, her hair plastered to her head with sweat, she was a long way from the petulant woman-child we have seen in recent weeks. All of this was starkly reinforced when Don reminded Dennis – the other expectant father in the solarium – that ‘your wife’s in the boat, you’re on the shore.’

That pretty much sums up the experience of most of the women in the show if you ask me. Even Peggy found herself in the boat this week, begging Don for a raise, sadly reminded of her past by the baby gifts in Don’s office and desperate for equality. ‘You have everything,’ she says to Don, ‘and so much of it.’

Oh yes he does, and is he about to have the hots for teacher?? Please. No. The weight of Dennis’s comments in the solarium about a baby being a chance to ‘be a better man,’ were too explicit to be lost on Don. Please Don. Be a better man, or at least if you’re going to be a bad man, pick a better woman to be bad with (Rachel Menken, where are you??)

Back at the office, we got a nice chunk of Pete Campbell time this week, sulking again about the state of his accounts. He actually came up with a pretty good idea about marketing Admiral TV’s to ethnic minorities, but as usual handled it with his trademark incompetence and pissed everybody off. The scene in the elevator with Hollis was painful and classic Campbell, as was him storming out of lunch with Duck when he returned to poach some talent (did you spot the line of flying ducks, behind Duck, in his office at Grey? Ha)

Line (s) of the week:
Don: “They waste paper because they throw out bad ideas.”
Betty on Don “He’s never where you expect him to be.”
Next week: the big boss from England is visiting Sterling Cooper.

p.s. why did Dennis ignore Don in the hospital when he saw him later? Any thoughts?

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend Docket: Game Day

TLF grew up craving sunshine and hot climates. But more and more, Autumn is fast becoming our favorite season. And as the sun sets sooner and the temperature drops, another thing comes to mind. College football. Oh, you know you loved it way back when. We still do. Which is why we'll begin shutting ourselves indoors on weekends. Call it what you will: nostalgia, camaraderie, the memory of freezing our asses off as we stood shivering in the rain with paint on our faces and our torsos, the tailgate parties, the collective dejection of defeat and the euphoria of winning. It's still there, only now we're in our pajamas eating buffalo wings on our sectional instead of sharing the team blanket across four sets of knees, chanting until our voices grow hoarse as we battle for the ol' oaken bucket, hoping to defeat IU one more time. Boiler up! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School Days

We don't miss those mysterious stomach pains that used to sneak up on us the weekend leading up to our first day of school, nor the scoliotic posture rewarded us for hauling 30 lbs of books to and fro. That doesn't mean we still don't fantasize just a little about being hypothetically shipped off to school with a trunk full of uniform blazers, ties and caps. Here, some inspirational vintage photos, Brit-style. They seem to know a bit about nuancing the every day uniform across the big pond. (Note: a young Benjamin Britten in striped blazer.)

Band of Outsiders, GQ, August 09

Band of Outsiders, Fall 09 NY Fashion Wk. Photo by Akira Yamada.

Paul Smith Collection

Thom Browne for Black Fleece

A.P.C., Fall/Winter 10

Mad About the Men: The Arrangements

Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 4:

Several carefully planned story arcs came to fruition this week and still the paternal theme that’s hung like a shadow over the season so far, reigned supreme.

In the Draper household Grandpa Gene continued to show Sally the only bit of attention and affection she ever seems to get, though when he started putting salt on his ice cream we knew the time bomb in his head must surely be ticking. He started the episode by sharing his last wishes with a sulky and vitriolic Betty, and ended it dead – leaving poor little Sally once again, alone. In the meantime he taught Sally to drive and had little Bobby wielding knives and playing dress-up in his war trophies. Nice.

At the office, the ludicrous aspirations of the client looking to make Jai-Alai, “as big as baseball,” gave Don an opportunity to flex his philosophers muscles once again, giving the son of a cold, disappointed father a chance to salvage his money and run before embarking on what everyone knew would be a fool’s mission. But Don is a man who once scorned, doesn’t give you a second chance. He warned the upstart, the upstart didn’t listen and so Draper happily took the three million dollars with his conscience clear. (Great little moment when he sent the ball through the ant farm and later we saw Joan killing all the ants – metaphor? Maybe, maybe not)

In Betty news… she’s still a cold, heartless bitch. She continues to drink and smoke her way through pregnancy and ignore her children. We learnt, from Grandpa Gene, that she was a fat child – no surprises there (remember in the first episode this season when Don tells her to eat something?) and she stamped her feet like a bratty kid when her father tried to share his funeral plans with her, protesting “I’m your little girl!” The Betty Draper Snow Queen Award for this episode, however, went to the moment when she left Sally on the steps in her tutu, distraught after the death of Grandpa Gene.

The rise and rise of Peggy “I am one of those girls” Olsen continues as the Patio pitch came full-circle and everyone realized the Bye Bye Birdie ad was a pile of shite. Best moment of the episode was Peggy’s smug little grin in the conference room when the clients said they hated it – that’s right, you told ‘em so Peggy. She knows it, and most importantly Don knows it, you can bet some reference to that maypole dancing woman from episode 2 is going to be brought back into play soon enough.

There was also some general Joan frivolity - which I always enjoy - when she out-copy-writer-ed Peggy and told her how to craft a roommate ad that would really get noticed. Though those two are like two cats prowling round each other, Peggy knows a good thing when she hears it. This little scenario also gave Joan the best line of the episode, when she read Peggy’s original ad and said, “It reads like the stage directions from an Ibsen play.”

Finally, it would be wrong to overlook the slow, painful penny dropping in Sal’s wife’s head as he gave that thoroughly convincing rendition of the Bye Bye Birdie number in their bedroom – far more excited by that than any potential action with her between the sheets. It was all pretty tragic.

Line of the week: (second to Joan) Don to Bobby: “Bobby, it’s a dead man’s hat. Take it off.”
Next week: Looks like Sally Draper’s about to go off the rails and someone at SC has been cooking the books.

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Friday, September 4, 2009

Karen O and The Kids

Karen O. of Yeah Yeah Yeahs rocks our world. Her single All Is Love (off the WTWTA soundtrack) was just released on iTunes. Miss O. co-produced, wrote and performed the songs along with a gaggle of rockers nicknamed "the kids" that include but are not exclusive to members from Deerhunter, YYY's, Dead Weather, Gris Gris, and Queens of the Stone Age, not to mention a children's choir that will most likely endear us even more to the film adaptation of one of our favorite childhood books.
Scheduled to release September 29 on DGC/Interscope.
Track listing:
01. Igloo
02. All Is Love
03. Capsize
04. Worried Shoes
05. Rumpus
06. Rumpus Reprise
07. Hideaway
08. Cliffs
09. Animal
10. Lost fur
11. Heads Up
12. Building All Is Love
13. Food Is Still Hot
14. Sailing Home