Mad Men MoCon: Matthew Weiner ’87 Weighs In

It’s not unusual for alumni to air grievances about controversial administrative decisions. It’s also not uncommon for famous alumni to pay tribute to their Wesleyan experience, either in words or financial donations. But for a hugely distinguished alum to publicly criticize a major administrative decision (i.e., MoCon demolition) feels strangely unique.

Matthew Weiner ’87 (or someone pretending to be him), best known as creator of Mad Men, left the following comment on a recent Argus article detailing MoCon demolition plans. Scroll through the full comments for some further compelling alumni perspectives.

Another building we will see in books and wonder how could it ever have been destroyed.

It’s shameful that this is happening at Wesleyan. It shows such a supreme disrespect for the arts. How fascinating that a building of that architectural significance has to justify its financial value.

And on that note, what an interesting message to Donors: “Wesleyan has no memory, no respect for the arts, and no desire to keep its promises to the very patrons of its monuments.”

I went to Wesleyan during the Reagan years and we spent a lot of time having to prove the value of art. We were constantly under attack to justify it financially. I’m disappointed to see the same business Darwinism and specious logic of “the marketplace” applied to what is clearly an architecturally significant structure.

And what I find the most fascinating is that it’s considered a childish weakness to have an emotional attachment to this building.

Who decided MoCon was worthless? Who decided it wasn’t art? Who decided this was progress?

Whomever they were, they obviously forgot that a University’s true financial health is related to its standing in the mind of its graduates.

And yes, that is emotional.

19 thoughts on “Mad Men MoCon: Matthew Weiner ’87 Weighs In

  1. Pingback: Roth Kills MoCon, Quotes Dylan, Charms All – Wesleying

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  3. johnwesley

    @#1: it’s hard to judge whether Mocon is truly distinctive or merely novel in terms of architectural history. It’s interesting that no members of the arts faculty have voiced their opinion on the matter, perhaps rightly sensing, that the entire Wesleyan operating budget is one vast zero-sum equation at this point.

    The Jackie Gleason house (circa, mid-1950s), in Peekskill, NY, was quite the architectural wonder in its day:

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://blog.modernmechanix.com/mags/PopularMechanics/4-1960/gleason_round_house/gleason_round_house_0.jpg&imgrefurl=http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2007/12/28/jackie-gleasons-round-house/&usg=__Zt0w5f0AMgR1p4wfGO25fk206dU=&h=2606&w=1721&sz=1262&hl=en&start=12&sig2=i7md-89yEGWezxXWtvBKqg&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=bqvpJNY79_WnQM:&tbnh=150&tbnw=99&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djackie%2Bgleason%2Bhouse%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1T4TSHB_enUS325US325%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=3fyDS9HyHYfGlAfA_f39AQ

    But, it too, suffered from a leaky roof.

    There is also an article about the Foss Hill dorms published in the Sept. 1960 volume of _Progressive Architecture_ . I’m too lazy to attempt locating it where I am. But, if anyone else would like to and report back, I’d love to know what it said.

  4. johnwesley

    @#1: it’s hard to judge whether Mocon is truly distinctive or merely novel in terms of architectural history. It’s interesting that no members of the arts faculty have voiced their opinion on the matter, perhaps rightly sensing, that the entire Wesleyan operating budget is one vast zero-sum equation at this point.

    The Jackie Gleason house (circa, mid-1950s), in Peekskill, NY, was quite the architectural wonder in its day:

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://blog.modernmechanix.com/mags/PopularMechanics/4-1960/gleason_round_house/gleason_round_house_0.jpg&imgrefurl=http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2007/12/28/jackie-gleasons-round-house/&usg=__Zt0w5f0AMgR1p4wfGO25fk206dU=&h=2606&w=1721&sz=1262&hl=en&start=12&sig2=i7md-89yEGWezxXWtvBKqg&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=bqvpJNY79_WnQM:&tbnh=150&tbnw=99&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djackie%2Bgleason%2Bhouse%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1T4TSHB_enUS325US325%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=3fyDS9HyHYfGlAfA_f39AQ

    But, it too, suffered from a leaky roof.

    There is also an article about the Foss Hill dorms published in the Sept. 1960 volume of _Progressive Architecture_ . I’m too lazy to attempt locating it where I am. But, if anyone else would like to and report back, I’d love to know what it said.

  5. alum78

    I visited Wes this year with my senior child and was completed disappointed that MoCon was closed. It was one of the first things I wanted to show him. There was a lot of drama walking down the steps, checking things out before you decided with whom to sit and hanging with the work-study attendants at the base of the stairs. The memory is visceral.

  6. alum78

    I visited Wes this year with my senior child and was completed disappointed that MoCon was closed. It was one of the first things I wanted to show him. There was a lot of drama walking down the steps, checking things out before you decided with whom to sit and hanging with the work-study attendants at the base of the stairs. The memory is visceral.

  7. Zach Post author

    I purposefully left open the possibility that it’s not actually Weiner.

    But it seems pretty strange and unlikely to me that someone clearly with the perspective of an ’80s Wes alum would pretend to be him. What’s the incentive? And if you’re going to pose as a popular alumnus, why not go with someone more famous and controversial—like Michael Bay, or MGMT?

    Confusing “its” with “it’s” is an embarrassingly common grammatical error, even among successful and well-educated adults. It’s far from “egregious” and isn’t proof of anything.

  8. ib

    This is not Weiner commenting on our newspaper’s site. I doubt the real Matthew Weiner would write with such egregious grammar errors (the original post on The Argus has him writing possessive “its” as “it’s” multiple times). Just saying.

  9. ib

    This is not Weiner commenting on our newspaper’s site. I doubt the real Matthew Weiner would write with such egregious grammar errors (the original post on The Argus has him writing possessive “its” as “it’s” multiple times). Just saying.

  10. Anon

    Yeah, why doesn’t he just donate to save the building?

    Or maybe even, gasp, convert it for use in the arts.

  11. Anon

    Yeah, why doesn’t he just donate to save the building?

    Or maybe even, gasp, convert it for use in the arts.

  12. alum '09

    Also, he is someone who DOES have the means to make a large enough donation to keep MoCon afloat, which is exactly what’s needed to save the building. Realistically, saving MoCon cannot come from our main budget / endowment / etc. But a generous alumnus donation would do the trick. Poster #1, who described Weiner’s comment as a “thinly veiled ‘I won’t donate’ comment,” was right.

  13. alum '09

    Also, he is someone who DOES have the means to make a large enough donation to keep MoCon afloat, which is exactly what’s needed to save the building. Realistically, saving MoCon cannot come from our main budget / endowment / etc. But a generous alumnus donation would do the trick. Poster #1, who described Weiner’s comment as a “thinly veiled ‘I won’t donate’ comment,” was right.

  14. alum '09

    Yeah – it’s all well and good to bemoan how the arts are underlooked and the arts should trump money, but there really are more important things. I love MoCon, but I love keeping need-blind financial aid and ensuring all students who deserve to go to Wesleyan can go to Wesleyan more.

  15. alum '09

    Yeah – it’s all well and good to bemoan how the arts are underlooked and the arts should trump money, but there really are more important things. I love MoCon, but I love keeping need-blind financial aid and ensuring all students who deserve to go to Wesleyan can go to Wesleyan more.

  16. distilling the argument

    Here’s the dilemma: We WANT to save/convert MoCon, but Wesleyan’s current condition only allows us to spend on the things we NEED.

    But, based on previous reporting here and in the Argus, it does not appear to cost Wesleyan very much each year we leave MoCon standing.

    We may not be able to afford right now the millions it would cost to “save” MoCon. But give it 5, 10 years and we might begin to look differently on the situation.

    I say hold off on demolition plans, and pay the however many tens of thousands per year it costs to keep MoCon standing so we can at least have the OPTION to save it down the line when we are in better financial shape.

  17. distilling the argument

    Here’s the dilemma: We WANT to save/convert MoCon, but Wesleyan’s current condition only allows us to spend on the things we NEED.

    But, based on previous reporting here and in the Argus, it does not appear to cost Wesleyan very much each year we leave MoCon standing.

    We may not be able to afford right now the millions it would cost to “save” MoCon. But give it 5, 10 years and we might begin to look differently on the situation.

    I say hold off on demolition plans, and pay the however many tens of thousands per year it costs to keep MoCon standing so we can at least have the OPTION to save it down the line when we are in better financial shape.

  18. anon

    I love the art this man makes, but he doesn’t mention building code costs and its current impracticality. MoCon is an empty building that costs money. If this really is Weiner, I respect him less for leaving a thinly veiled ‘I won’t donate’ comment on a blog post. A university’s financial health is related to its standing in the minds of graduates, but its comprehensive health is somewhat related to the quality of life of current undergraduates, who need resources rather than monuments to nostalgia.

    How architecturally significant is MoCon? I’m genuinely curious. And I write this as someone who would rather not see old buildings destroyed, mostly because new buildings are so often unattractive.

  19. anon

    I love the art this man makes, but he doesn’t mention building code costs and its current impracticality. MoCon is an empty building that costs money. If this really is Weiner, I respect him less for leaving a thinly veiled ‘I won’t donate’ comment on a blog post. A university’s financial health is related to its standing in the minds of graduates, but its comprehensive health is somewhat related to the quality of life of current undergraduates, who need resources rather than monuments to nostalgia.

    How architecturally significant is MoCon? I’m genuinely curious. And I write this as someone who would rather not see old buildings destroyed, mostly because new buildings are so often unattractive.

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