The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘1960s’

End of an Era

April 9, 2013 | by


Annette Funicello’s death, at age seventy, occurred one day after the Sunday night premiere of season 6 of Mad Men. The pilot of the show, you will recall, was set in the year 1960: the same year Annette Funicello segued from The Mickey Mouse Club (which aired from 1955 to 1959) to her career as a singer and performer in a passel of musicals produced in Hollywood, before the British Invasion transformed youth culture. Mad Men’s narrative trek through the decade now compels its protagonists to face the increasingly surreal and riotous mayhem of America’s social and political panorama in the late 1960s: the shift from “We Shall Overcome” to black power. Our total plunge into Vietnam’s quagmire. The generation gap. Two assassinations in 1968: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Plus, of course, the incipient women’s movement. All that, set against a sound track ruled by the Doors, the Stones, and the White Album incarnation of the Beatles, whose aural evolution defined the whole epoch. 

According to one school of thought, the “real” 1960s did not unfold until well after JFK’s death, definitely after the onset of the Beatles’ psychedelic phase in 1966 (“Strawberry Fields Forever” in lieu of “She Loves You”), and eons after the earlier half of the decade was sweetly personified by Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in a slew of beach movies, replete with “Twist”-era rock-and-roll dance music. Of course, it was that earlier part of the 1960s—the Annette Era, so to speak—that first created Mad Men’s buzz. The meticulous re-creation of the fashions, manners, and mores of 1960–63 reminded (or taught) viewers how drastically different the first part of the decade was from the latter. Read More »


New York Photographs 1968–1978

November 3, 2010 | by

What turned me away from painting was a realization that the streets and parks of Boston provided me with subject matter that I could not conjure up in my studio. At that point, a blank canvas drew nothing but a blank stare. So, with a newly purchased 35mm Leica loaded with tri-x film, I began my forays into downtown Boston to photograph. The kind of photographs I took then related to my art school days, when I would amble around the city making quick pencil sketches of people on park benches and subways.

After roaming around Vermont in the summer of 1964, I decided to move to Cambridge, MA where I took a full-time job in a commercial art studio. I was by this time married to my first wife and our plan was to save up enough to live for a year in Europe. Instead we wound up in New York, arriving by U-Haul in the summer of 1967. Rents were cheap, and we could now get by on my part-time work in advertising studios. I had abundant free time, and I took full advantage of it.

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Mad Men Unbuttoned

August 23, 2010 | by

In Mad Men Unbuttoned, Natasha Vargas-Cooper sheds light on the reality that inspired everyone's favorite TV show. Drawing on references from John Cheever, Mary McCarthy, Coco Chanel, and Draper Daniels (the real-life Don Draper), she illustrates the challenges of making another cultural period come to life. She recently answered my questions via e-mail from her home in L.A.

How did this book come about?

Last year I had quit my job in labor politics, left my boyfriend of five years, fled from Brooklyn and moved back in with my parents. Then my dog ran away. After a bout of some well earned wallowing, I sprang up at 4 A.M. and decided I’d rewatch the show. I popped in the DVDs, started a blog for kicks, figuring I’d be putting my degree in history to work. I got a call from HarperCollins about a month later.

Can you talk about the themes that give the book its structure?

I think the show depicts the social fissures that began to appear during the late 1950s and eventually entered the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. The show has three main prisms through which it examines these changes: advertising, domestic life, sex. (I'm specifically interested in Peggy’s sex life since she is at the mercy of all the shifts in sexual mores given her age.) So the main themesof the book are the anxieties and exuberance that come with such accelerated change.

Why are people so delightfully geeky about the details and cultural theory behind Mad Men?

We’re watching the foundation of out modern taste come together—that’s fascinating! The show lends itself to a gleeful analysis. Its use of culture is deliberate. References to pop culture or politics aren’t thrown in to be cute or suggestive, but to enhance the themes of the show or our understanding of the characters. I think the audience appreciates not being treated like a mope so they get jazzed about it.

In the chapter on the books of Mad Men, you use original artwork as stand-in covers for classic literature (see below). Did you commission these specifically?

Yes I did. I saw Christina Perry’s Mad Men posters floating around online and I instantly fell in love with them. When we were trying to get the rights to reprint the covers like Atlas Shrugged and The Group and I thought, "These aren’t really in line with the mood of the show. I’d like to have some original art work, so why not get the poster lady?"

Have you ever tried to sneak onto the set of the show? Hunt down Matt Weiner in one of the coffee shops near the studio?

Nope, I’m big on dignity.

Do you dress up or throw Mad Men parties? Read More »

My Lunch With Terry Southern

June 22, 2010 | by

Photograph by Pud Gadiot

As most editors eventually learn to their chagrin, encounters with one’s literary heroes usually end up as disappointing and deflating experiences. But in the early eighties, I had a lunch with the great Terry Southern that was sheer perfection on every level.

As a sixties adolescent of the standard issue sort I had my psyche and to some extent my erotic imagination comandeered by Southern. There was Candy, of course, one of the great dirty books (or “dbs,” as Terry called them) of our time. Oh, how my idiot friends and I enjoyed repeating lines like “Give me your hump!” and “When I was in Italy, I got so much hot Italian cock that I stopped menstruating and started minestroneing.” into the ambient Brooklyn air at an inappropriately loud volume. But even better, to me, was The Magic Christian, wherein the multimillionaire prankster Guy Grand oh so grandly and ingeniously sends up the stupid adult world in ways I could only dream about. I must have read it in its Bantam paperback edition a dozen times. And mirabile dictu, when I became an editor at Penguin in the early eighties, I discovered that both of these books were out of print (wtf?) and was able to repay Terry Southern the favor by arranging to reissue them in trade paperback. Read More »