Name that sequel

We liked the first couple of seasons of Mad Men, which series concludes today. For a good long while, we particularly liked one of the first episodes — punchline: it’s toasted. However, on reflection, it actually understated the power and ubiquity of all those cigarette ads, with jingles everywhere and everyone from Fred and Barney to Granny Clampett pitching Winstons (Winstons taste bad like the one I just had; no flavor, no taste, just a thirty cent waste). We didn’t much care for the Mad Men personal dramas of the characters as the narrative arc mimicked 1960’s dissolution, but the ad business was very interesting. Of course the carousel pitch is our favorite bit of great writing and great acting.

We moved to NYC in 1974 to be a banker trainee at First National City Bank, and rented a furnished fifth floor walk-up with a toilet in the hall and a tub in the kitchen, all for $169 a month. The offices in our 399 Park Avenue bank HQ looked like those in Mad Men; the building itself was non-descript. However, the other 3 corners at 53rd street were marvels: the Racquet Club, Lever House, and the Seagram Building, home to the iconic Four Seasons and the 24-hour Brasserie. Magnificent views of both NYC history and recent progress from our 12th floor cubicle. FNCB would shortly change its name to Citibank and spend $100MM to proliferate and popularize the ATM.

Our trainee class sounds like a parody. We had a proto feminist who was married to someone with a different last name, a dapper and on-the-prowl Asian American, a hip African American (who took us to the Cotton Club where Slappy White made us the center of his jokes), a cropped haired lesbian who did something nasty to the Asian, a Navy veteran who had been in Vietnam, and various other entertaining sorts, from muscle men to nerds. Our first boss was a gay Baker Scholar and nobody cared. How we ended up in the group is a story as well. As a recent college graduate who majored in the intellectual history of the middle ages and renaissance and who had read maybe two or three pages of a Business Week magazine, we were probably not the most qualified class member. However, a kind gentleman who was also a scion of a famous Philadelphia banking family introduced us to an SVP of FNCB at an alumni event; when we told him that FNCB had “lost” our résumé, he hurumphed “we’ll see about that.” We got the job.

1974 and following also has its appeals for a TV series. Hard to believe, but the WTC was only 4 years old then. In 1974 Watergate was in motion and Nixon would resign. Hilarity would ensue with Gerry Ford’s inane Whip Inflation Now campaign, soon to be followed by Ford to City: Drop Dead, and then the MAC, Felix Rohatyn, the blizzard of 78, the 444 day hostage crisis and so forth. Surely the mix of this with the Young Bankers from the previous paragraph could be made interesting for 100 episodes. If you know Matthew Weiner give him a call, and naming suggestions for the series would be appreciated.

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