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A crucially important election culminated in an unforgettable night of historic firsts and fresh new starts for our United States of America. Consider the following boundaries the winner has broken:

First President to have a pending court case for child rape.

First Presidential candidate in recent memory to be vehemently endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, an organization that wishes to disenfranchise and violently subdue people of color and non-Protestants.

First President to have a pending court case for massive fraud.

First President in recent memory to enact racial segregation in their business holdings.

First President to claim he would not honor the results of a people’s election, contradicting and undermining the very foundation of our republic.

First President to encourage assassinating the other major candidate, contradicting and undermining the very foundation of our republic.

First President to insinuate that he does not pay taxes like every other citizen, contradicting and undermining the very foundation of our republic.

First President to insist that the electoral process was rigged, contradicting and undermining the very foundation of our republic.

First President to create policy to not allow an entire enthnicity to enter the country.

First President to criticize women openly at a political gathering for having periods.

First President since the fall of the USSR to be friendly with the Russian government, and implicitly okay with its human rights abuses.

First President to insult and impugn a decorated military veteran.

First President in recent party alignment to completely lose the majority of his base’s support at some point, and in some cases ignite their rage.

First Presidential candidate to be ostracized and disapproved of by Every. Single. Major. American. Media. Outlet. (Except Fox News, presumably)

First President to be a failed businessman for several decades.

First President to publicly deny climate change and blame it on a Chinese conspiracy over 50 times.

First President to try and prevent a judge from doing their job because of their race.

First President to proudly helm a bigoted conspiracy against the sitting President and later vehemently deny being a part of.

First President to mock the handicapped in a public forum.

First President whose confidant and chronicler vehemently disavowed them as a sociopath.

First President to vocally support a nation leaving the EU, with disastrous results.

First President to go on a national stage and political debate and brag about the size of his penis.

First President to imply he would have sex with his daughter.

First President whose electoral surge on November 8th caused the DOW to fall more than it did on 9/11.

First President to have a reality TV show.

Not to mention… the First Vice President to advocate electrocuting gay people.

All those who voted for him, who didn’t vote, who thought Hillary was just as bad, who voted third party because it felt right and sensible. This is absolutely, DIRECTLY thanks to you. Are you proud of what you’ve achieved? Look at yourself and realize that this nation has fallen irrevocably because of YOU. Thousands, perhaps millions, will suffer and be discriminated against through legislation imposed by this Congress, this Supreme Court and ultimately, this man. Many of my friends will face persecution and harassment because of you, even if you idly stood by your party or assumed everything would be fine. We have become forever shamed as a nation through your vote, and our position in the global economy and hierarchy will certainly plummet. I feel endangered by this leader’s insanity, capriciousness, bullying tendencies, paranoia and insecurity, and I’m the most privileged kind of person out there. What have you done?

Sources: the numerous print articles in this collection and this one, plus this and this and this and this, in addition to the telecasts of the 2016 US Presidential debates and primaries and trump’s Twitter feed 

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My 100 Favorite Albums

Hello! It’s me again, the old-fashioned music nerd. Believe me, I have colossal lists of rankings and best-of’s regarding modern pop, reaching from 1950 to this year, and maybe someday I’ll share those to spread awareness of the music I love. But I was bored and decided a much more elegant, simple, and reader-friendly approach was better for now. So here are the albums I gave my highest rating: A+. Almost all of them I heard before I went to college, and well before I started rating records on Twitter or writing blog posts here. Thanks to some minor tweaking here and there, I have settled on a mostly unchanging list of 100 (though one is repeated in a different format). Like I said, there is tons and tons of other music I absolutely adore that didn’t quite make this lofty standard, so hopefully that caveat will compensate for a lack of certain types of representation here.

In my eyes, A+ records are transcendent. They’re the absolute superlative best and are remarkable in at least a few respects. They’re typically era-changing, genre-defining records that are thoroughly entertaining. These are symbolic and significant, more than anything. This ranking cultivates a sense of my personal taste and preferences relating to genre and songwriting, as well as historical importance and inclusiveness. I obsessively revisit and relisten to these records, as they are my favorites. Their influence and quality are long-lived, and they can surprise and delight for a lifetime as well as demand attention on first listen.

I would hope that, depending on how literate my followers are about older music (no shame if you aren’t), this list would inspire cheer and superlatives as well as some incredulity about how [x] isn’t on here. In lieu of ranking these already magnificent records against one another, I figured it would be easy on the eyes to just list them in roughly chronological order. In addition, it’s easier on my end to just post the album art, which should be easy enough to interpret, especially since these are some of the most famous covers ever. (You may notice a lot of LPs by the greatest band in history at the beginning. Protip: That’s because they’re the greatest band in history.) Obviously, this list is subjective, although after listening to over 1500 albums, I would recommend all of these to the highest degree. Here we go! 

MY TOP 100

original_445

rubbersoul

beatles-revolver-cover-art

pet-sounds-4f118e10ec1e0

frank-zappa-mothers-of-invention-freak-out-album-cover

thebeatles-sgtpeppers-1024x1024

the-doors-1967-strange-days

are_you_experienced_-_us_cover-edit

who-whosell

beatles-magical-mystery-tour-cover-art

beatles-white-album

the-kinks-1000

rolling-stones-beggars-banquet

were_only_in_it_for_the_money

thezombiesodesseyora

original_441

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the-who-_-tommy-cover-art

led_zeppelin-led_zeppelin-frontal

george-harrison-all-things-must-pass

john-lennon-plastic-ono-band-cover

beatles-let-it-be-cover-art

simon-and-garfunkel-bridge-over-troubled-water-front

front

the_stooges_-_fun_house_-_front

the-rolling-stones-sticky-fingers

who-s-next-cover

cover_5631419102008

alice_cooper-killer-frontal

led-zep-iv

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3039377-inline-i-3-the-dark-side-of-the-moon-cover-pf-dark-side-copy

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brian-eno-here-come-the-warm-jets

tigermountaineno

big_star_-__radio_city

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music3-1-76477fc107f9f9a4

ramones

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pink_floyd_animals_cover_battersea_power_plant_pig

cd-hard-rock-van-halen-van-halen-importado-remaster-20630-mla20195019219_112014-f

outlandos-damour-4f7460e507a69

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pink_floyd_-_the_wall

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talking_heads-fear_of_music

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iuftfmr

179600691_67adf36154the-joshua-tree-u2

beatles-past-masters-vol-2

pixies

pauls-boutique

pixies-doolittle

nirvana_nevermind_8236801x1

the_flaming_lips-transmissions_from_the_satellite_heart-frontal

weenchocolateandcheese410111

weezer-blue-album

pavement_-_wowee_zowee_sordid_sentinels_cd_cover

clouds_hi

radiohead-the-bends-1373309752

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075596201322

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1280x1280

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fugazi-the_argument

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the_strokes_-_is_this_it_cover

shins

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yankee-hotel-foxtrot-50c9e07aaf27f

cover907

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1000x1000

brian-wilson-smile

beachboys_smile_cover

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in-rainbows2

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them_crooked_vultures_cover

archandroid_cover

music-the-new-pornographers-together

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 —

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Soon You’ll Leave And Then I’ll Lose You

The Monolith

“On A Carousel”, the Hollies

The Monolith, Season 7 Episode 4

-…-

            “On A Carousel” is a jaunty tune by the Hollies, a tragically overlooked Sixties pop band from Britain. Closing an episode which features Don’s return to the workforce, it was probably chosen for its lyrics. They blatantly evoke his Carousel speech (maybe the highest point of his career thus far) while being guilelessly optimistic, a fresh and powerful tone the series only used every once in a while. Everyone is trying to go back to the normal order of things in this hour, which is one impetus for Don to “do the work” instead of descending into boozy self-destruction yet again. In fact, the track can be taken as a detached, macro-level perspective on all the changes, repetition and loss of Mad Men, just when the series was beginning to taper off. From a distance, this show is just a bunch of unfortunate figures vying for position, going in circles and trying to break free, thinking this time they might be able to get off the ride. It’s quite beautiful and nostalgic, and a pleasant place to end this musical journey.

-…-

-…-

            As you may be able to tell, I quickly became enamored with ending songs on Mad Men, looking forward to the next one and what it would reveal about its episode, hoping for retro tunes I knew to be re-contextualized in a new and clever format. So by the end of the series, I was listening to Sixties music with this show in mind, considering the tracks I would have picked to close out different installments. They would have to be by a significant group, and say something thematically relevant in an appropriate tone, while originating from a chronologically accurate period. So here are a few alternative choices. Feel free to look them up at your leisure.

-…-

“Angel Of the Morning”, Merrilee Rush, Collaborators

“The Seeker”, the Who, Person To Person

“Somebody To Love”, Jefferson Airplane, At the Codfish Ball

“No Expectations”, the Rolling Stones (instead of “Satisfaction”), To Have And To Hold

“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”, the Byrds, The Summer Man

“Who’ll Stop the Rain”, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Forecast

“Uptight”, Stevie Wonder, Blowing Smoke

“Border Song”, Elton John, The Milk And Honey Route

“(Evening) Time To Get Away”, the Moody Blues, The Quality Of Mercy

-…-

            Many thanks to all of you who read through this whole project. This is where I leave you. But know first that there are plenty of other pleasant songs featured on Mad Men if you’re as obsessive about it as me. And of course, there’s so much more to get out of it than just the music. For those of you who haven’t finished it, or only went through once, it’s worth a rewatch. Keep the record spinning.

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You Are Far Away And I Am Blue

The Jet Set

“What’ll I Do”, Johnny Mathis

The Jet Set, Season 2 Episode 11

-…-

            The climax of The Jet Set exemplifies the classic TV trick of using an old-fashioned song full of superficial splendor and overdone pathos to underscore melancholy or sordid scenarios. Obviously, the lyrics of this crooner chestnut reflect Don’s distance from his family and everyone else, in a physical and emotional sense, but the real kicker is the fact that it’s from the perspective of the jilted lover, not the fleeing party. Poor Betty is beside herself after suspecting his infidelity and kicking him out of the house. She literally has to deal with his baggage (in an editing choice that would be corny if it weren’t so short and stark). There’s also intrigue: Don calls an unknown person and identifies himself as Dick Whitman, striking exactly the mirror image of the iconic opening credits pose.

-…-

-…-

“Every Day”, The Milk and Honey Route

            Another throwback song, after Don addresses the problem of his dual identity and finally reconciles that he can still be a good person with the demons in his past. At the end of his deconstructive hero’s journey, he gives up his last possessions to another damaged young man who wants a better life. “Every Day”, by early rock and roll hero Buddy Holly, recalls an era before the show started, beginning to wrap up the series by addressing problems and dysfunction that were wrought before the first episode in the setting of a veterans’ fundraiser. With Betty’s cancer diagnosis, its lyrics also have a menacing undercurrent to them. The inevitability of death haunts Mad Men to the very end.

-…-

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The Warmth Of Your Love

A Day's Work

“This Will Be Our Year”, the Zombies

A Day’s Work, Season 7 Episode 2

-…-

            This may be the most archetypal sunny & sentimental track from Mad Men’s later seasons, so it makes sense to use it just when everyone is starting the process of sorting everything out and getting back on their feet. Furthermore, it feels right that it figures into the hesitant rejuvenation of Sally and Don’s relationship after the horrifying climaxes of season six. Like the season premiere, A Day’s Work is showing the state of affairs in 1969. The agency seems to be regrouping and improving, but only in fits and starts.

            Of course, it wouldn’t be Mad Men music without a little muddying of the waters, as the baroque satisfaction of the melody and lyrics stands in stark contrast to Peggy’s romantic travails. And yet, she’s nobly trying to move on from her affair with Ted. Everyone is having their relationships tested, and on Valentine’s Day of all days. Pete is unsatisfied, in an unfamiliar place and being elbowed out of romance and work. Because of secretary troubles, Joan moves up a floor next door to Roger, which could make them clash. Don and Sally share a sweet dinner together, patching over the heartache of last season. It seems that everyone is throwing themselves into this new order of things with unusual optimism.

-…-

-…-

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, Christmas Comes But Once A Year

            It’s an understatement to say that Sally has a complicated relationship with her father. This season four episode closer reflects the early stages of her disillusion, with a tale about a different kind of fantasy being shattered. Teresa Brewer’s well-known, adorable holiday carol makes the depressing reality more bearable. Lies are exposed, affairs are coming to light, and a little girl narrates it on a lonely, loveless Christmas.

-…-

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Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye

The Quality Of Mercy

“Porpoise Song”, the Monkees

The Quality Of Mercy, Season 6 Episode 12

-…-

            Not much overtly happens in this episode, and this song isn’t that lively either. But as a tone setter, both are top notch. The drowsy, ethereal production pairs with Don’s insular guilt, loathing and self-medication as he shuts himself off from everyone. Coming from an unfairly derided “kiddie” band who were quite good once they decided to mature, “Porpoise Song” seems to be (beyond its druggy trappings) a farewell to innocence, and that’s certainly what Sally Draper is going through. They’re slow motion disasters – something has to give, and soon.

-…-

-…-

“By the Waters Of Babylon”, Babylon

            Another ruminative, hard to pin down track. It’s performed diegetically (the show’s composer is actually in the band!) in a club where Don hangs out with some hipster friends. The episode Babylon has a penchant for Hebrew culture and iconography, given that Don is familiarizing himself with second-generation Jewish immigrant Rachel Menken. Her people’s struggles with exile and longing resonate with Don, who reinvented himself after a tragedy but is always a little uncomfortable.

            He also happens to be doing research for an Israeli tourism client at the time. While chatting about the subject, Rachel explains that Babylon is the promised land, a Shangri-La of sorts. Their relationship seems like that, too good to be true, ships passing in the night and so forth. She makes a point of telling him ‘utopia’ literally means ‘the place that cannot be’. Their exchange gives the folk standard at the end additional significance.

            This episode introduces the complicated romantic history between Roger and Joan, as well. She feels out of place and trapped, despite his good intentions. Meanwhile, Peggy tries to find her own utopia by introducing a creative idea while participating in a female focus group. It’s the first step for her in a long, hard battle against the male-centric workforce. While everyone in this episode is wanting to go to a place that may not exist, the band mournfully sings “By the Waters Of Babylon”, getting the show’s plot on track through the unlikely catalyst of the Middle East.

-…-

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I’ll Never Tie You Down

A Little Kiss

“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”, Dusty Springfield

A Little Kiss, Part Two, Season 5 Episode 2

-…-

            “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” is a sweeping, dramatic Technicolor song to kickstart an era, if the episode’s earlier musical number didn’t already do it well enough. Like some moments in the show’s plottier episodes, it gets somewhat lost in the shuffle, but that’s sort of the point. There’s a huge cultural revolution encroaching on SCDP, and this free-spirited tale of swinging and female empowerment leads us along with it. The one relevant element of its lyrics is their similarity to Megan’s predicament – she doesn’t have any expectations or impositions for their marriage, and she learns the hard way that Don has real trouble conveying intimacy.

-…-

-…-

“Telstar”, The Inheritance

“Love Is Blue”, The Flood

            Season five’s lively premiere brings to mind two other episode closers, both fantastical and luxurious palate cleansers far removed from the show’s usual knotty thematic toppers. Despite having no extraneous connection to any storyline or theme, these hit instrumental pieces capture the mood of the office at their respective times: brimming with vitality in the former, and wistful in the latter.

            “Telstar” is a musical shock for such an early episode, brimming with innovation and futuristic sounds as Don and Pete take off in a first-class jet. It betokens the influx of modern technology and youthful trends, signals toward a new setting and shows a plane ride for the first time on the series. The stage is certainly being set here for the 1960s as we know it.

            Meanwhile, “Love Is Blue” is more classical and melancholy, taking an even-handed approach to ending a story about Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, which could have easily lapsed into preachiness or obvious sentimentality. It reflects on the difficult dichotomies of a whole decade while representing the peace and love that no one can completely attain.

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