Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mad Men and Frank O'Hara (not again)

What a tease: "Meditations in an Emergency," tonight's episode of Mad Men, made no reference to Frank O'Hara's poetry. Instead, O'Hara's title served as a nothing more than a metaphor for the anxieties of the Cuban Missile Crisis. (The emergency of O'Hara's 1954 poem seems to be love, or life itself.)

I wonder whether the prominent use of O'Hara's "Mayakovsky" in the season's first episode ("For Those Who Think Young") was designed to elicit a lit crit sort of interest in the series. If so, it worked, at least on me. I watched every episode, followed every stilted conversation, often wanting to tell these people to turn some lights on. (I know, the show is "dark.")

Here's a brief passage from Frank O'Hara's prose-poem "Meditations in an Emergency," presenting the poet as sunny anti-pastoralist:

One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.
Related posts
Frank O'Hara and Mad Men
Frank O'Hara and Mad Men again

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

I thought last night's episode was chock full of great, punchy lines, even more so than usual: e.g., Peggy: "Tell the truth. Don't worry about the outcome. People respect that." Don: "I know you want everything the minute you want it. Sometimes it's better to wait until you're ready." Pete: "If I'm going to die, I want to die in Manhattan." Etc. Now, these lines aren't exactly poetic, but I do think they have an aphoristic quality to them so that when strung together one after another like they were last night, the result was something akin to poetry.

Michael Leddy said...

I liked Pete's line, but it seemed to me like a good line, assigned to a character. (If there's a reason that it fits Pete, I'm not clear on it.)

I'm the odd man out on the subject of Mad Men, and I know it — I just don't see what many people — whose taste I respect : ) —see in the show.