April 23rd, 2007

Can you see me now?

Remember Van Eck Phreaking?  No, not the obscure Dutch painter, but a "process of eavesdropping on the contents of a CRT display by detecting its electromagnetic emissions."  Yeah, that  Van Eck Phreaking!  I first came across the concept in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon (still my favorite of his books).  Now that CRTs are going the way of VHS tapes, the problem is history, right?


Cambridge University computer security researcher Markus Kuhn has figured out how to spy on flat-panel monitors as well.  Check it out here.  The results are impressive.  Or ominous, depending on your point of view . . .

  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Part 5

THE EXQUISITE CORPSE, Alfred Chester, Simon & Schuster, 1967.

I'm holding a cheap pb edition of this novel, and it comes with a memoir of the author by famed UK editor Diana Athill (and why do I always read her last name as "Anthill"?)


I suspect this essay is integral with all editions after the first.

In any case, Athill tells a bittersweet tale of her friend Alfred Chester,



a gay man living a scattershot life of some drama and whimsicality and style, before succumbing to what appeared to be clinical schizophrenia. In short, a life as emblematic of the Sixties as one could ask for.

The novel is still available from Black Sparrow:


Unread by me yet, the book certainly sounds as if it manages to capture the zeitgeist rather well. I know that the short opening chapter, in which a man berates his own reflection, is surely enticing.

Anyone else have experience with this book?

Happy Birthday, Cheetah!

It blew my mind today to discover that Tarzan of the Movies chimpanzee sidekick, from 1936 on, the far-famed Cheetah, is still alive and has just turned 75!  Happy Birthday, Big Guy!!

  Yes, that is a Sponge-Bob Squarepants hat that the birthday boy is wearing!  How cool is that?  And drinking a diet Coke -- I guess they broke out the cigars and champagne later.

  An article purporting to be written by Cheetah, which will make you cringe and wince in shame at our species for having produced a writer capable of such incredible crap, yet containing some interesting information withal, is available here.

   Cheeta's last role was in 1967's Dr. Doolittle, opposite Rex Harrison, where he played Chee-Chee.  Actually, Cheetah was only a stage name:  his real name is Jiggs.

In retirement, Cheetah lives at C.H.E.E.T.A., a primate sanctuary in Palm Springs, where he's embarked on a second career as a painter!  Check this out!

  • Current Music
    Bungle in the Jungle

Black White + Gray

Black White + Gray = a new documentary about Sam Wagstaff at the Tribeca Film festival. 


Wagstaff was Robert Mapplethorpe's lover, a collector whose vision helped create and shape 20th century photography as an art form. Patricia Morrisoe's gripping 2001 Mapplethorpe biography has compelling portraits of both Wagstaff and Patti Smith, and would  be a good literary jumping-off point for anyone unfamiliar with Wgastaff's legacy to 20th century art, which is substantial.  I gather Smith has issues with the completed book, which pretty much functions as a dual bio of her and Mapplethorpe, but it remains one of the best portraits of contemporary artists in their youth that I've encountered.  The NYT article ends by quoting a 1971 poem by Smith. I found this Youtube video shot recently in Barcelona, whichI think showcasess the same poem.


Solve My Story Problem

I wrote the paragraph below about seven or eight years ago, but have been unable to connect them with a story.  Maybe it doesn't lead to a story, but on the odd chance that anyone has any suggestions, I thought I'd throw it out there and see what people had to say, if anything.  As an inducement, I thought I'd offer a copy of Softspoken for the best suggestion.  So if you'd care to help me out....
In the eighteen years during which he had supplied images of the dead to the city's daily newspapers, Hugo Lis had photographed more than ten thousand corpses, the victims of shootings, knifings, decapitations, car crashes, accidental electrocutions, wild dogs, and so forth.  The majority of those pictures, despite the relative anonymity of the victims, had been run on the front page above the fold, often in conjunction with the photograph of a half-naked starlet or singer; and when asked--as he sometimes was--to explain this apparent opposition, Hugo would reply that in a place where life has little or no meaning, the dead tend to acquire a certain glamour.  Mexico City had seventy-five thousand streets and death was a celebrity on each and every one.  He had visited homes in which his photograph of a family member's bloody remains had been snipped from a newspaper and now served as the centerpiece of a shrine.  It was as if the violated flesh and its public exploitation were deemed truer emblems of a loved one's memory than the sunny smile of a confirmation photo or the purposeful, forward-looking pose of a graduation shot.  Or perhaps the implicit passion and drama of a violent death lent the departed a Christ-like pathos, thereby engaging the Catholic sensibilities of the populace.  His own attitudes toward the subject, though no less formalized, were not in the least circumscribed by faith or emotion.  Death, to Hugo Lis, was merely a way of life.