I still remember where I was the first time I heard a Frank & Walters song. It was 1996 and I was working the register at Euclid Records. We’d just gotten in a 3-song promo disc from Setanta Records and that was a cause for a bit of excitement, even if I didn’t recognize the oddly-named group. Setanta was hip and cool and terribly British–which enhanced the coolness of their releases. I put the CD in and let it spin and the song “Colours” came blasting out and immediately I wanted to run up and down the Central West End, grabbing strangers and forcing them to listen to this wonderful song.
The full-length album–Grand Parade–became one of my all time favorites. I took some flak for that, too. There’s nothing subtle about the Franks. Many times you can spot the hooks coming like a train in a tunnel, and there’s bombast and zero subtlety and damn near every song sounds as if it was lifted whole stock from a 1980′s John Hughes film.
Over the years since Grand Parade I tried to keep up with the Frank & Walters, but too often their music just didn’t hit the highs of that 1996 album. By the turn of the century, I expected to not really hear from them again.
And so color me gobsmacked that there’s a new Frank & Walters album out, and color me double gobsmacked that the damn thing is wonderful. The record is called Greenwich Mean Time and I am captivated by it. I mean yeah…the songs are gooey and a bit saccharine and obvious and absolutely un-subtle, but so what? There’s a place in the world for grandiose, treacly, teenage anthems, and thank heavens there’s a band like the Frank & Walters to be wide-eyed believers even still at playing them. I mean to say, if your gift from the music gods is writing songs that sound like 1985 Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy should be dancing madly to them, that’s something worth celebrating, right?
I’m not saying I want every band to do this, but I’m so happy that there’s at least one band who does, and does it this well.
Last night I concluded a 6-week odyssey to watch all seasons and thorougly catch up with the acclaimed AMC series. This show is near and dear to my heart. I have a brother who is 13 years older than I who went to work as a paper boy and newsstand clerk at Ahmann’s newstand back in the early 1960′s. For whatever reason, he began collecting MAD magazines, and I believe he had every issue from mid-1960 through 1968 or ’69 or so. He also had a healthy collection of the paperback book reprints of MAD’s greatest hits. When he moved on to college, marriage, career, etc, he left all of that behind in our house, and our mother decided to pitch it all.
My 12-year-old self rescued that collection, and became enamored with the juvenile humor of MAD during those classic years. What connects that to Mad Men the TV series is that the 1960′s were MAD Magazine at its high point, where the source of parody was 70% aimed at consumer culture and advertising. MAD’s offices were indeed on Madison Avenue in New York City then, and thus they took great glee in skewering the Ad Man Culture they were awash in.
I should also point out that I grew up at the tail end of the era we see in Mad Men. I well remember parties where as a kid I was either sent away to a babysitter or confined to my bedroom or the finished basement. I well remember dinner parties and kids playing outside after dark (how the heck else do you play hide and seek?) Mad Men brings me instant nostalgia, either for those experiences, or the virtual experiences I inherited by reading a decade’s worth of old MAD Magazines. I do love the show so much.
And so, without further ado, I give you the Popnarcotic Mad Men Character Death Pool Odds, to be updated with the passage of time. These odds are strictly for reference. Please kids, no wagering.
(Assumes death by the end of Season 6, sometime in 2013/14, show currently expected to go at least 7 seasons, with broad hints that 7 may be the final one.)
(To be dead, the death needn’t happen on camera, but only needs to be referenced in the show itself by characters.)
Bert Cooper: Even
Herman “Duck” Phillips: 5-2
Dr. Greg Harris: 4-1
Grandma Pauline: 7-1
Dawn Chambers: 8-1
Freddie Rumsen: 9-1
Glen Bishop: 10-1
Thomas Vogel (Pete’s Father-in-law): 12-1
Bobby Draper: 15-1
Rebecca Pryce: 18-1
Roger Sterling: 20-1
The Field (Any character with 5 or more separate episode appearances in the show’s run whose death is acknowledged by characters on the show): 25-1
Michael Ginsberg: 30-1
Henry Francis: 30-1
Trudy Campbell: 30-1
Betty Draper: 35-1
Stan Rizzo: 35-1
Pete Campbell: 40-1
Harry Crane: 40-1
Megan Draper: 40-1
Lane Pryce: 50-1
Joan Harris: 50-1
Sally Draper: 50-1
Don Draper: 200-1
Peggy Olson: 500-1