Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

L.A.’s Car-free Mad Man: Vincent Kartheiser

If you’re a car-free Angeleno who doesn’t miss an episode of Mad Men, you’ll love NY Times’ profile of Vincent Kartheiser, a.k.a. Pete Campbell in AMC’s Mad Men. The character may be kind of creepy — but the actor himself sounds like a very down to earth guy into a simple, car-free, and care-free lifestyle that could make many eco-minded L.A. inhabitants green with envy!

Forgetting that walking is actually a convenient way of getting around compact urban neighborhoods, Tricia Romano’s NY Times piece opens by saying mass transit is Kartheiser’s “only” mode of transportation. From there, Kartheiser shows the reporter how he gets around town via Metro — whistling and gliding down the stairs to the Metro Red Line station, talking car-free travel with a fellow imbiber at Gold Room in the Echo Park, and explaining that the transit ride to the Mad Men set gives him time to read, do puzzles, and go over lines.

According to Kartheiser, taking the Metro is simple:

“The buses stay on the streets they are on,” he said. “If you get on the 4, it’s going to stay on Santa Monica until it becomes Sunset. I don’t even know the names of most of the buses. Like the Fairfax bus — it’s just the Fairfax bus.”

and a lot less stressful:

“Instead of driving and being stressed out about traffic, you can work your scene, you can do your exercises or whatever on the bus. Everyone’s got their own deal.”

and more social:

“I like that my life slows down when I go places,” he said. “I have all these interactions with the human race and I can watch people living their life and not just in their car.”

News of Kartheiser’s car-free status got the eco-blogosphere buzzing. Sarah Goodyear at Grist writes: “It’s kind of nice to see transit portrayed in mainstream media as something to be enjoyed by a guy who obviously has other options.” And Alissa Walker at GOOD points out one similarity between Kartheiser the man and Campbell the character:

On last night’s Mad Men, there was even a possible wink to Kartheiser’s carless existence. A rival ad man hopes to entice Kartheiser’s character to join his firm by mentioning their newest client, Italian automaker Alfa Romero. Kartheiser looks at him blankly, and says, with deep conviction, “I don’t drive.”

Alissa hopes to identify more car-free celebrities to encourage more Angelenos to opt for public transit. Have you sighted any celebs on your favorite bus or rail line?

Photo: AMC