Meditations on Last Night’s “Mad Men”

Maybe it was all the hype. But I found last night’s season two premiere of “Mad Men” to be, well, maddening. (Sorry, fans.)

Good thing I stayed up to the end. Because Don Draper’s plaintive recitation of a poem from Frank O’Hara’s “Meditations in an Emergency” saved the show like a walk-off home run at the end of a boring ballgame.

If you’re looking for a copy of the obscure 1956 book this morning, good luck. There are still 14 “used and new” copies on Amazon.com. And this $2,000 first edition creepily inscribed “For Chuck, darkly, pastorally, Frank.”

If I were Grove/Atlantic, publisher of the current paperback, I’d be cranking out a special edition this morning, replicating the minimalist black-and-white design depicted in the show.

For an outstanding essay about O’Hara’s poetry, including references to “Meditations,” check out “Alterity and Otherness,” written by Mark Tursi in September 2004.

As it turns out, the poem that Draper read was called “Mayakovski.” Here it is again, if you missed it (or nodded off):

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

Now, of course, the question is to whom was Don mailing the book? I guess we’ll all have to tune in next week to find out.