This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Kojak, Hopper, and Max Headroom

Posted by: James Lileks under Photos, Praise, Technology Updated: November 26, 2013 - 12:39 PM

My weather app says it's 22, but it feels like Nine. Unless you're naked, in which case it's considerably colder. How do they calculate wind chill, anyway? Do they presume a certain amount of exposed skin - face, hands - and go from there? No one who's outside right now and starkers would think "oh, nine sounds about right." There's just three settings, really. Coat and no hat, coat hat gloves, and ABSOLUTE ZERO.

Anyway. Today:

MYSTERIES "He was also instrumental in catching Captain Midnight and the Playboy TV hacker, experiences he remembers with equal doses of relish and disgust." This account of the history of TV intrusions brings back the tale of the Max Headroom Takeover, which remains unsolved. Never mind the the technical obstacles to hijacking a broadcast signal - it's the fact that the interlopers built a set, figured out how to hide their identity in a perfectly zetgeisty way, then didn't bother to come up with a script.

It's still creepy.

Max Headroom was a quintessential high-80s cultural product, a pre-internet look at the computerized dystopia towards which we might be heading. People thought at the time he was computer generated. No: lots of latex. He made an appearance in a music video called "Paranomia" by the Art of Noise, which was remarkable for using all the interesting developments in musical technology and video and coming up with something rather empty. (Godley and Creme's video for Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" was a similar experiment. You see something new being born, and it's just . . . not . . . right.)

MOVIES There's a Kojak sequel in the works. Who's up for the role? Well, Hollywood isn't exactly overabundantly endowed with bald tough-guys at the moment, so naturally it's this guy. Could be good; Ang Lee is set to direct, supposedly, so it could be a "reimagining" of the character that "reboots" the character into today's gritty New York, etc etc. Better to set it in the 70s, complete with bad cars and burned-out neighborhoods and sweaty desperate junkies. A reminder for those who think the 70s was happy shiny disco time where everyone had fun and wore bell-bottoms.

I met Telly Savalas once, in Los Angeles. Poolside at the Sheraton Universal, where he had a suite. (The hotel's bar was called "Telly's," and had a caricature of him over the door. Guests who dropped in for a beer were often surprised to find the Man Himself sitting around, relaxing.) I was working on a laptop, which was not a common sight in 1994. He waved me over and said he wanted to take a look at that thing. I ran him through the paces, showed him what it could do - not much, in retrospect, although it could "log on" to a BBS and "interface" with "modemers." Elementary programming in Hypercard. He seemed interested and thanked me and that was that. Nice guy. Gave off an air of substantial contentment, which is a good thing to have. More on his bar - which wasn't his at all, it seems - right here in this LAT piece.

ART If the word "Stunning" wasn't used on the internet to describe anything that's not "awesome," I'd say these are stunning, but that's not quite right. You will not lose your sense or spatial orientation as though you had been struck with a claw hammer. How's this: You may be impressed by these photos inspired by Hopper paintings.

I read somewhere - the standard phrase one uses to mean "won't Google, for fear I will be proven wrong, negating my entire position" - that the unsettling quality of a Hopper painting was due in part to perspective lines that never made sense. Of course it's the scenes themselves, silent moments of tenebrous unease and melancholy, but also the lines. Here's one of the Hopper-inspired photos:

For what it's worth. Anyway, it's a great series - one is NSFW, but it's art! so it might pass scrutiny. Not sure whether Hopper put giant cats in his work, though. If he did, it explains why he quit the city and just did seaside landscapes.

DCVotD Or,  Video of the Day. If you have a big monitor, put this on full screen and get about 16 inches from the screen. Yikes.

There were two choices. He chose wisely.

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