Places Journal excerpt: A Tiny Orchestra in the Living Room
In “Signal 30,” an episode of Mad Men set in 1966, several characters attend a dinner party at the suburban home of Pete Campbell, an account executive at a New York advertising agency, and his wife, Trudy. But for Don Draper, the agency’s Manhattan-dwelling creative director, the very prospect of an evening in Cos Cob, Connecticut, is dreary. “Saturday night in the suburbs?,” says Don to his wife, Megan. “That’s when you really want to blow your brains out.”
In the next scene, just before Don and Megan arrive, Pete is in his living room with another colleague, Ken Cosgrove, showing off his latest purchase: a new stereo system, encased within a wood-paneled cabinet. The gleaming console occupies the entire length of the room, in front of the picture window. The hinged lid is open, and Pete and Ken peer inside the cabinet while listening to a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Pete: Incredible, right? You expect to open the doors and see a tiny orchestra in there.
Ken: That would be amazing.
Pete: And it’s a beautiful piece of furniture. It’s seven feet long. Wilt Chamberlain could lie down in there.
Ken: Why would he want to do that?