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Ken Honeywell

Ken Honeywell
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
March 20
Well Done Marketing
I'm in love with my wife; a writer and producer living in Indianapolis; partner at Well Done Marketing; founder of Tonic Ball, a benefit concert that's become one of the city's favorite annual events; co-founder of Second Story, a creative writing program for kids; a vegetarian; lead singer of Yoko Moment; a life-long New York Mets fan; a sucker for waltz time; crazy about Pernice Brothers; etc.


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 23, 2012 7:22AM

Twenty-Eight Flavors Of Enlightenment

Rate: 12 Flag


There's a great scene in "Far Away Places," Episode 6 of Season 5 of Mad Men, in which Roger Sterling and his wife Jane are about to drop acid at the end of a dinner party at Jane's psychiatrist's house. "How long does it last?" asks Roger.

I could have told him the answer.

I didn't take LSD a lot of times, but by the time I was taking it in the mid-70s, it was illegal. Timothy Leary had spent the latter part of the '60s trying to convince everyone that LSD was the path to enlightenment. That was both understandable and stupid. But I was a kid looking for enlightenment, and acid seemed as promising a path as any.

Actually, I'm not sure why I dropped acid the first time. Yes, I was a kid looking for enlightenment, but I was also a kid looking for thrills, looking for experience, looking to fit it.

But I can tell you this: the party scene in "Far Away Places" is the most accurate portrayal of an acid trip I've ever seen. Being on acid is not like the old movies they showed us in junior high health class, where people transform into devils and half your face melts when you look in the mirror. It's not like the swirling fly's-eye photography you used to see when hippies dropped acid on Dragnet and roasted babies in the oven.

It's like opening a bottle and hearing a symphony. It's like smoking an entire cigarette in one drag. It's like watching yourself across the room dancing with your wife. Time is meaningless, space is distorted. You can't be sure where you end and the rest of the world begins.

"Far Away Places," on the other hand, is divided neatly into three stories, all of which transpire on the same day. Our theme? Control: grasping for it, finding it (fleetingly), fighting for it, losing it, perhaps even giving it up. Every relationship is a power stuggle, and our viewpoint characters are all struggling powerfully.

The first story is Peggy's. She's nervous about her second pitch to Heinz and fights with her boyfriend Abe. Don makes it worse by pulling out of the pitch at the last minute and taking Megan with him. They're off for a last-minute business trip to a new Howard Johnson's in Plattsburg, and Don leaves Peggy in charge.

Bad idea. The client isn't buying, and Peggy insults him. She's frustrated because she's already taken his crappy direction and tried to give him what he wants, only to be rejected again. So she lashes out, telling the client, in so many words, that he's stupid and he should buy what she's selling. It's the same speech anyone who's ever made this sort of presentation has wanted to make, but we understand that it would be, as Stan the art director tells Peggy after the fact, suicide.

So what's a dead girl to do? How about a movie? Earlier, Abe has suggested they see The Naked Prey, and she goes by herself. But a man sitting behind her offers her a joint, and she accepts. Then she jerks him off while he watches the film. Finally, she's in control, having the situation well, as it were, in hand.

After the movie, Peggy washes up and goes back to the office, where she falls asleep on Don's sofa. She's awakened by a frantic call from Don. Peggy assumes he's upset about her behavior in the Heinz presentation--but we the viewers can see that something is clearly, and horribly, wrong.

Then there's truly weird conversation between Peggy and Ginsberg in which Ginsberg tells her that he's actually a Martian. And that he was born in a concentration camp. And that he's not sure he's not the only Martian on Earth. Peggy knows how he feels. She ends her strange-trip-of-a-day inviting Abe over to her apartment, still looking for a genuine connection.

Rewind. It's morning again, and Roger is suggesting to Don that they ditch their wives and take a road trip to the new Howard Johnson's in Plattsburg. Don has a better idea: he'll take Megan so Roger can go to a boring dinner party with Jane.

Only the dinner party turns out to be life-changing. Roger drops acid and embraces his hallucinations. Back home, naked in the bathtub with Jane, he watches the 1919 World Series and laughs with delight. Afterwards, Roger and Jane lie on the floor, red towels wrapped around their heads. They admit to each other that their marriage is over--that each was just waiting for the other to end it. It's a moment of uncommon clarity and tenderness for Roger--and ends with a shot of the two of them in each others' arms, red towels unfurling like pools of blood around their heads.

Rewind. Don, remember, is on a trip, too. The Howard Johnson's is all shiny plastic andNaugahyde, but Megan isn't charmed. She's miffed that she's missing the big presentation; in fact, she's tired of Don always being in charge of her life. "Get in the car! Eat ice cream! Leave work! Take off your dress! Yes, master," she yells. Don drives away, leaving Megan in the parking lot. At last: here's a glimpse of the Don Draper we're known and been conflicted about for four seasons.

Don soon calms down and drives back to HoJo's. But Megan is gone. The waitress tells Don she left with some men, and Don finds Megan's sunglasses on the pavement. He searches the hotel, calls her mother, but turns up no further clues.

Thankfully, Megan is at home. She's understandably furious; she hits Don, and he chases her around the apartment, and not in a sexy way. Finally, Don tackles her and they lie on the floor together, a mirror image of Roger and Jane. "Every time we fight, it just diminishes this a little bit," says Megan. "I thought I lost you," says Don.

And so all three trips to far away places have different endings. Don keeps his tenuous grip on his fantasy. Peggy is still looking for her power spot; one of the episode's final shots is Peggy walking through the office while the rest of the creative team walks in the opposite direction. (Also worth mentioning are the multiple shots of reflections in this episode: Ginsberg in the window, Roger's face in the mirror, Don's image through the conference room glass.)

And Roger? I have news for Roger. "How long does it last?" he asks.

The answer is, forever. Acid changes you. For the better, you hope. But for good.


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You may not get too many people commenting who will admit it, but I hear that the Mad Men depiction is pretty darn accurate. Good write up here.
Never too acid, now that I'm ready too, hard to find. R
my R's don't stick. now i think it did. R
Earlier in the week I saw Zsa Zsa Gabor as a Venutian. Now Ginsberg's is a Martian. When will I get back to Earth? Has anyone seen the bridge...
Hey, all. Thanks for reading. Come check out what we're doing at sometime, and think about submitting something.

Linnnn: I hear you.
wendyo: Sorry, m'dear. I have sworn off.
Damon: I think Ken Cosgrove's robot is building that bridge.
Great review as usual. Sad to see the return of the old Don, ecstatic to see Roger as someone other than a sad-sack, has-been persona which he's been living in for too long.

And uh, it's been over 40 years since my last LSD adventure, but I clearly remember cigarettes either lasting all night or disappearing in one drag. The writers and director were spot on in their depiction.

It was a strange journey this one. The big Salon writer claims Peggy is becoming Don, but I don't see her laying in a hallway anywhere, I see her trying to take control as you noted, in circumstances that are beyond her control. Always afraid of acid, after seeing some bad trips my friends had, no reference point for that one. But I felt a strange compassion for Roger's wife when she awakes after getting the intimacy she has always wanted and finding out it's over. Ginsberg to me is a badly written character that I can't fathom. Interesting viewpoints Ken, and thanks for the in the know view about acid, your review always elucidate this series in unexpected ways.
Interesting turn for Roger. It'll make for a better show if he now gets out of the doldrums. Maybe Peggy needs to have a go. And generation gapitis is threatening Don. Lots of promising storylines developed in this episode. Much better than last week.
Always a pleasure to watch the show and read your review. The acid scenes were perfect and I know. I remember acid well at the University in the sixties. I loved how the pattern on the carpet crawled and moved.
Im always amazed at where the writers take these characters. Don is such a good combo of bad and good. His past is so volatile and he has triggers all over the place but in the end he just wants love... don't they all. Things get complicated tho. Love is not simple even when it looks like it is from the outside. All those happy couples married for seventy years have inner stories to tell. MadMen tells the stories at a very deep level and you capture it all well in this review. Thank you.
I enjoyed this analysis and agree it was about control. I thought there were wonderful revealing scenes in it.

One of my favorites was Peggy having to deal with her boyfriends ego, as if his wanting to go to a movie is more important than her job. I kept watching her face...especially when she had to defend herself - on the day of a pitch! She will probably be the "Mary Wells" character because she's ambitious, she's good and most of all she's determined and calm in the face of major crap in her life.

I love that she tried to do a "Don" at the meeting, who has challenged clients at presentations. It was a risky move on her part and she didn't quite have the power to pull it off. She couldn't walk away and she couldn't dismiss them. So she lost. But it was a great power move. The client was jerking her around probably because he wanted Don and not a "girl" leading his team nomatter how good she is. And she IS good.

BTW, the movie she was watching was "Born Free".
PS. I loved Roger last night. He "got" it. That is such a great character. This opens the door to Joanie, the great love of his life AND his son, walking off into the sunset.
Of the three stories, I liked Peggy's the least. I Realize she's finding herself and making her way in a man's world, but her erratic behavior just didn't ring true for me. Why would she insult an important client on such a large account, especially when she's flying solo. Isn't she smarter than that by now? The movie theater encounter seemed off as well. Don's misadventure highlights how different life was before cell phones.
The theme was getting what you asked for. Which the Heinz buyer realized wasn't what he wanted. Better to be a customer than a lover in this show.

Megan thought she wanted love from an alpha male. But not quite so much.

Don wanted his fantasy but got a real person. Yikes. And doesn't he look rather pathetic as a man in love? Ewww.

Jane? She thought she wanted the truth. Couldn't handle it. Very well. God is she beautiful 1/2 naked.

Peggy wanted to channel Don, but lacked something. You could say it was a dick, but more likely a sense of desperation that can inspire greatness from the talented few.

Love is kind of icky. Especially when you toss in the relationship shit.

"why would she insult an important client "

She was close to pulling a 'Don' moment where she turns around an objection. The argument that the client 'felt it' and just needed to acknowledge it -- was close, but fell short.

If Don had been in the room, working the same angle, it might well have carried the day.
I always enjoy reading your analysis after an episode airs. You seem to always get it "right", including this time. The acid trip was very accurate and I know having grown up with the drug culture as a participating teenager. I'd say the woman crawling around on the floor is nothing I have seen, but the rest was well done.

I didn't like the Peggy scene at all and seemed a total about face for her in such a short time, not very realistic imo, but I never toked in a movie theater when a stranger sat next to me. Besides, teenage boys never needed a hand job..haha.

Things seem to be happening way too fast compared to the previous pace and 1968 didn't change us all overnight. 1969 was pivotal for me, and I did things I never would have before, but these characters are older than I was. I was still afraid of drugs even though I tried them. Seems like nothing bad is happening to people experimenting, but I remember a lot of things happening because of the drugs and they started right away. Suddenly car crashes and motorcycle accidents were killing off friends as well as overdoses, but high school has a lot more people in it. I lost some family members, too, so I gave it up except for a little pot.

@wendyyo, please do not try the LSD of today, it is much more potent and laces with other drugs so you may never know what you will get and could end up in a nightmare situation.