Mad men, vagrants and secret symbols


I'm the type of person who doesn't like to come into a new TV series in the middle. Not that I watch much TV, but when I do, I'm pretty loyal from the pilot onward and don't like wondering what I missed. Of course, with iTunes, it's now possible to download episodes of certain shows that have deals with Apple for less than the price of a gallon of gas. So it's been with AMC's new series Mad Men.

With Baby Jack taking up so much of our lives, my wife and I missed the first half-dozen episodes. In fact, I didn't know anything about the show until I heard some colleagues discussing it at the office over lunch one day.

If you haven't checked it out yet, do! It's set in an advertising agency in NYC during the early1960s and features one of the best-looking, most authentic sets in recent memory. Danish teak in every room, ashtrays and cigarettes in every scene, and wonderful attention to detail in the costumes, musical selections, and, sadly, the characters' treatment of women and minorities. Even the pacing of the show matches that of a show made in 1960 vis-à-vis today. (Which might be a turn off to those raised on Aaron Sorkin, but not me.)

Created by a former Sopranos producer/writer named Matthew Weiner, the show uses flashbacks much the way David Chase did for Tony Soprano to help fill in the backstory regarding the childhood of its protagonist—in this case, Don Draper, the creative director for Sterling Cooper advertising agency.

Other than plugging the show with the hopes of boosting its ratings and, therefore, doing my part to help secure a re-order for next season, I wanted to write about something I learned on a recent episode (gotta love shows that work all kinds of cool, accurate trivia into their storylines). I had no idea, but apparently there's a code of symbols that vagrants once relied on (and perhaps still do) when stopping for the night. With a piece of chalk, or a knife, they'd etch a symbol like the ones you see below into a fence post or a backdoor to alert future tramps who might be passing through. The images below come from this site, which has many more for the mildly curious. For the very curious, I really do urge you to catch the reruns on AMC or head over to iTunes and download the episodes. I'd be surprised if you didn't like "˜em.

Anyone agree? Disagree?

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