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  • Lance Mannion
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Maybe he had polio as a child? Anyone who has ever had polio is not permitted to drive (though I'm not sure whether that was the case in the early '60s).


Similar to young New Yorkers who don't learn to drive. My mother never learned to ride a bicycle. She grew up in Brooklyn, and her parents thought it was too dangerous. I have met other women of her generation from Brooklyn, and it was true for them all. One woman was so excited to be retiring to a community in Florida, because the first thing she was going to do is learn to ride a bike.



Oliver's dialog cracked me up. :-)


I don't buy the car angle. It's a class thing. People in his class did not really drive. especially in NY where tons of people still don't know how to drive. Re: LA, there are cabs and Don wouldn't have had car either as I'm sure they cabbed it. Also, conferences- groups always go out together and mingle. I think he didn't like that he was deserted but car had nothing to do with it.


Love Oliver's dialogue.

Pete, as a non-driver, knew about taxis. He's a New Yorker for heaven's sake. The not driving didn't keep him stuck there, it just increased his sense of impotence without Don. As you say, Lance, it's a hugely symbolic thing.

Interesting irony on the casting for Pete. I've read a couple of interviews with the actor, who says he completely got the character of Pete from the get-go: "I've always known this character. You know, sometimes you get really lucky in your life, and that's what Pete Campbell is for me, for so many reasons. Mostly, it's a character that really sang to me. Right away, I knew this guy." (from

Dennis Perrin

Here's an angle you may have missed, Lance.


Just today, New York magazine had writer Colson Whitehead answer their "20 Questions". Pretty dull answers.
But to "When was the last time you drove a car?" , he said basically never. A NYC kid, he took driver's ed but never bothered to go for his license. It's a recurring question at NYMag, a lot of people they quiz just don't drive.

Don't blame them. After 5 years in SF, I let my NY license expire. Big mistake. Back on the East Coast, I've had to re-apply at the DMV. Next I have to take a five-hour course. Then I will have to take a driver's test like any 16 year old, but I'm 40. All of these things I have to to do are 30 miles away, a massive time-suck. I'm a competent and careful driver. But I dislike driving, and LA would particularly freak me out. Don't ever let your license expire is all I'm saying.



Nope, that had gotten by me. But you may be onto something. (The point about Don and Joan is the most convincing.) The thing it's persuasive because all the main characters are closeted in one way or another. It's like the idea that Jay Gatsby is actually a black man trying to pass. It's plausible because Gatsby---that is Jimmy Gatz---is trying to pass. That's the source of the Gatsby connection in Mad Men I keep harping on. All the mad men and all the mad women are closeted/passing, because they are pretending to be people they're not and trying to live lives they don't want to live and that make them deeply unhappy and it's driving them all mad.


Euro-trash? Why are they (Euro-)trash? I'm really wondering 'cause i was quite puzzled about the groupe of people in that Palm Springs' house. I was wondering it was some kind of a cult or something what might have been not too strange in those days (i'm a child of the eighties so don't know anything about those roaring days).

Pete Campbell

Great article... I have always hated Pete's character, but after reading your thoughts on his predicament, I feel sorry for him more than I hate him.

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