Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell on Mad Men (one of my favorite TV shows), practices stuff-free simple living–and he appears to be at least as committed to it as bloggers like Naomi Seldon, Tammy Strobel, and Everett Bogue. Here’s what Kartheiser told the UK Guardian:

"Like, I don’t have a toilet at the moment. My house is just a wooden box. I mean I am planning to get a toilet at some point. But for now I have to go to the neighbors. I threw it all out."

(As he says this, I’m wondering whether this is just another of the parts Kartheiser might be trying on for size, but to prove the point he later takes me back to his house, which really is an empty wooden box, a small one-room bungalow on a nondescript Hollywood street and indeed it has no lavatory.) Is that a Buddhist thing, I wonder, or an early midlife crisis thing?

"It started a couple of years ago," he says. "It was in response to going to these Golden Globe type events and they just give you stuff. You don’t want it. You don’t use it. And then Mad Men started to become a success on a popular level and people started sending me stuff, just boxes of shit. Gifts for every holiday, clothes. One day, I looked around and thought ‘I don’t want this stuff, I didn’t ask for it’. So I started giving it to friends or charity stores, or if it is still in its box I might sell it for a hundred bucks. I liked it so I didn’t stop."

Does he have a bed?

"I do," he concedes, "but that might go…"


"Actually, that was the big discussion today, when a friend came over: I was wondering, should I have a screen in my home? It seems like the next step. I haven’t had a mirror for six or seven years, though I admit that causes a lot of problems when I have to tie a bow tie. Or if I have to, you know, comb my hair for something. I’m forever looking in the mirrors of parked cars."

It sounds a bit like an extreme reaction to the venal material desire of Mad Men (and Money). He’s not worried about this tendency at all?

He laughs. "I probably should be worried. Sometimes, I look around my house and think: is this normal, Vinny? I mean it’s a bit more than just a remodel…"

Vinny, if you ever want to blog about simple living for, we’re here for you! (Thanks, Boing Boing!)

As long as we’re on the topic of minimalist living, we might consider its opposite: has an interesting Q&A with Randy O. Frost, co-author of the new book, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. One interesting snippet:

Q: Different cultures have different attitudes toward objects. Can we blame hoarding behavior on American materialism?

A: I think it might make it worse, but it’s clearly not a major component. If you take someone who’s highly materialistic, who buys cars as a part of their identity, these are outward signs to the world saying, "This is who I am." In hoarding, the interest is not to show the world who you are, but to experience the objects. Though I suspect that any culture that has a large number of inexpensive and accessible objects is probably going to be one where there’s more hoarding.

Jeremy Adam Smith


Jeremy Adam Smith

Jeremy Adam Smith is the editor who helped launch He's the author of The Daddy Shift (Beacon Press, June 2009); co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct (W.W. Norton

Things I share: Mainly babysitting with other parents! I also share all the transportation I can, through bikes and buses and trains and carpooling.