Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mad Men episode and the “Career Girls” Murder

I’m old enough to actually remember that prehistoric era portrayed in Mad Men (1963). This program has excellent acting, plot twists, character development — but the best part is that early ‘60s feel. They capture that period so thoroughly, right down to the last detail — you’re THERE. From ten to eleven p.m. on Sunday evenings, the clock gets turned back forty-six years.

American Dreams had that same quality, especially their first season. That program was about an extended family in Philadelphia, also in 1963. (The show ran from 2002 to 2005.)

Both of those shows use hundreds of minute details to portray that era. People’s haircuts/hairstyles, “current” slang and dialogue, clothing styles, homes and furniture, cars (obviously), and brief snippets of TV shows, newscasts and “current” radio hits — it’s like the last 46 years haven’t happened yet.

American Dreams, in particular, made heavy use of then-popular radio hits in the background. Sometimes it would be a minor hit that I hadn’t heard in decades, and I’d be so busy thinking “wait, I remember that, who was that, it was…” that I’d miss some of the dialogue.

In last Sunday’s Mad Men episode, somebody’s car radio was playing a small part of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech that he made during the March on Washington (August ‘63). After a few sentences, the news shifted and there was a brief “and two women in New York’s Upper East Side were found murdered in their apartment.” And then somebody either turned off the radio or changed the station.

But I knew exactly which murder case the radio announcer was talking about. It was all over the news for weeks on end, at least in the Northeast where I was living at the time. I hadn’t thought of that incident in decades, and Id forgotten that it happened on the same day as the March on Washington.

Two “career girls” (when was the last time anybody used that phrase) were stabbed to death in their apartment. Here’s a link to that story.

Can’t wait until next week’s Mad Men episode to see what ancient memories get jarred.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I share your delight in seeing nostalgia pieces done with skill and attention to detail. I enjoyed watching American Dreams sometimes. But I have also enjoyed some other shows that focused on the 1930s and 1940s, in part because I could better understand my parents' experiences.

I haven't seen Mad Men, but on your strong recommendation, I will.

October 14, 2009 at 1:53 AM  
Blogger rockync said...

I hadn't heard of Mad Men - what channel carries them?
I'm also old enough to remember the 60s but this case is only a vague memory, perhaps because it was eclipsed by the King speech and, of course, the assassination of Kennedy.
Funny that it was noted the first suspect was a negro but the race of the actual killer when finally arrested was not mentioned.
Actually, it is amazing to me that the other detectives even bothered to look any further for a suspect, but even in those days sometimes justice was served - although in the same year of 1964 3 civil rights workers would be murdered in Mississippi and that I DO remember.
Younger people think our time was all about sex, drugs and rock'n roll and while we did have good times, there was a lot of unrest, tension and violence in this country. Remember how it was before the FOI act and before search and seizure laws? We were an embattled generation, and these days I wonder where all the radicals of my time have gone. Seems like the whole peace and love movement just faded away. Sometimes I feel very alone...

October 14, 2009 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

I have never seen this show, but everyone I know who has says it's quite good. Oh, and ha ha, you're so old. ;-)

October 14, 2009 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

I know what you mean Tom, having ancient memories is sometimes a joy and other times, well.

A song, a smell, triggers all sorts of forgotten events and people.

I was recently contacted by an old acquaintance from the early 60s, and it was amazing how we remembered things differently.

October 14, 2009 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

That brought back the memory of the news cast from the song "Silent night and the six o'clock news". Two student nurses being murdered. Seems back then was a safer time. Murder was rare. Now sadly it's an every weekend event.

October 14, 2009 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

rockync wrote: "I wonder where all the radicals of my time have gone."

They're dentists, Realtors and funeral directors. They joined the PTA and Chamber of Commerce. They're up to their chins in mutual funds and silent partners in a company that operates a local chain of fast-food outlets. Most of them voted for both Bushes and Clinton. Most became their parents.

October 14, 2009 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: I can't think of anything off hand that focused on the 1930s and '40s, other than slapstick (3 Stooges, Little Rascals, etc.) and a few movies that were made in the late '40s.

Mad Men is very dark -- sort of the seamy underside of Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best. I didn't like the show at first but now I'm hooked on it.

Rockync: It's on American Movie Classics (AMC), Sundays at 10 p.m.

I had forgotten about the aftermath of that murder case, who was guilty, etc. It took me forever to find it on Google. I thought the murderer's name was Thomas Bean, so I Googled that name, but he turned out to be the murderer in another case that I never heard of. I finally remember one of the girl's names, or a similar name, so I kept re-spelling it until that case came up. I'd totally forgotten that there was a black suspect who ultimately got exonerated.

I certainly remember those 3 civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi. Several movies have been made about that, so at least it got the publicity it needed. "Mississippi Burning" was the best known but there were several TV movies about it before that.

I guess most of those '60s radicals found religion, became yuppies, or died (Abbie Hoffman).

Randal: Yes, it's worth watching, you young whippersnapper :)

Holte: That's true about ancient memories being triggered by the most innocuous things. I enjoy those YouTube videos that you post at your site. Sometimes it's a song I haven't heard for a long time, and sometimes it's a song I've never heard by a group that I liked. Thank God for YouTube.

Demeur: I remember that song by Simon and Garfunkel, where "Silent Night" is playing while somebody reads the news in the background.

I don't know if the crime rate was lower then or not. Violence is more random now. I think that's why the 2 "career girls'" murder got so much publicity -- it was random, and they lived in a plush neighborhood where those things aren't supposed to happen.

October 14, 2009 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Yup, I think that's what happened to them. "Most became their parents." So true.

October 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

It's rewarding when you see a program and know they put the work into getting the details right. Too many times they are half-assed about it. I wish they filmed that show here on the east coast so I could try to do background work on it.

October 14, 2009 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Reading up on this case, I now can see why my grandparents (who lived in NYC for a good long time and likely saw this case unfold in the press) treated so many current day police arrests involving African American men with a jaundiced eye. They REFUSED to even buy that OJ was guilty. And they would hint at things they use to see back in New York. I bet this was one of them. But they were VERY WRONG on OJ but I didn't have the heart to tell them.

October 14, 2009 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger jadedj said...

Well it would seem I am in good company here, being an old codger myself. I will check out Mad Men for sure.

Picking up on rocknyc's comments...I completely identify with your thoughts regards the radicalism of the sixties, and where did the ideals go. It seems that we learned nothing, or failed to carry through with them...present company exluded. I suspect S.W. Anderson is correct. How sad.

October 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

Where's your right-wing stalker? I would think with her verbosity and insidious wit, she could turn a walk down memory lane into a librul conspiracy without batting an eyelash. Ah, well, suppose I was wrong:)

Have you guys ever seen Crime Story? Cool as the proverbial cat, gritty, noone is very good looking and they used ex-cons for a bunch of the parts. It was the tv crime show to end all tv crime shows, IMHO. Set in Chicago in the 60's, then follows the mob to Las Vegas. You can't go wrong, trust me. I'll have to check out Mad Men, based on your recommendation, for sure.

October 14, 2009 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: You're right, it really shows when the producers of a TV show have done their homework.

With racism being so prevalent, I can see how reverse racism would happen (or whatever the term would be). Whenever a crime was committed by a member of a minority, people would assume that the person was framed or had a confession "coerced" out of him.

jadedj: I guess it's easier to recite politically-aware slogans than to carry them out and live by them.

Bee: I guess if a post isn't political, she doesn't have a slogan that applies.

Crime Story sounds cool; I'll have to check it out.

October 14, 2009 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

If anybody hasn't seen that socialist Ken Burns National Parks: America's Best Idea on PBS. It was wonderful, compelling viewing. Highly recommended. That should wake Lisa up.

October 14, 2009 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Holte: National parks? A bunch of socialists stole that land from private landowners, just so the unwashed masses could see it. We've been on the slippery slope to communism ever since then :)

I haven't seen any of that series yet. I know our local PBS station has been carrying episodes of it. I hope to catch some of it. Burns' "Jazz" series was excellent.

October 14, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger jadedj said...

The Smokey family owned all that land, didn't it Tom? A tragic story. The oldest Smokey had to go to work for the very people who took his family's land...just to make ends meet.

October 15, 2009 at 4:18 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

jadedj: Ah yes, the once-great Smokey family. And the Yellowstones and the Yosemites -- all great wealth producers who helped to create America. And then they all got decimated by those creeping socialists.

October 15, 2009 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Capital Project with their use of Law Students and DNA have proved what many of us have been saying for years:

Cases are not open and shut! Justice is not always done! These inexperienced Students don't need much talent because a little investigation often turns up a lot of doubt and innocence. They find when a heinous crime happens, the public demand something be done and the elected DA and the Police will finger someone poor, of color and/or defenseless, ignore and fudge evidence and send them to jail to the public's relief.

It's bad enough to frame an innocent person, even worse to lie to the public to believe the crime was solved and the streets are safer because.

Oh I could get into many examples. After being convicted it can take years to get them out, finding a judge that will actually believe that evidence and let you have a second trial.

Here's the kicker: Whereas all states have a fund for wrongly convicted felons (in most cases has to be specially approved by the legislature when means partisan debate and not automatic). Few states have procedures to investigate those prosecutors and police whose negligence caused this in the first place.

In other words: The Cop that framed you - walks away free!


October 17, 2009 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Distributorcap said...

mad men shows there is still some creativity and ingenuity left in tv...

"career girls"

try saying that today on a NY tv station

October 18, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: That's true, those 2 things together make it easy to fame somebody. I've never understood the public's eagerness to get somebody, anybody, caught and get a confession out of that person. Like you said, if an innocent person got framed, that means the guilty person is still out there.

And cops who frame a suspect should get a long long jail sentence.

Dcap: That term "career girls" sounds so out of date now. It would be like using slang from the 1920s -- the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas, etc.

October 18, 2009 at 2:24 PM  

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