Saturday, August 02, 2008

Max. Headfuckery

I'm planning a post soon on "disturbing moments in pop and rock", but while I prepare that one I thought I'd mention that I have re-posted the article on Numbers Stations which features in the current issue of Analogue, and I've inserted some new bits into the text too. Hey, it's Goldmine Trash Edit News! In the post I mention "Threads", but another brilliantly disturbing broadcast is what was known as The Max Headroom Pirating Incident. some of our older readers will remember Max Headroom from his mid 80s prime-time show on the infant Channel 4, or from his Art of Noise collaboration "Paranoimia" (which was a bit shite to be honest). The aforementioned "incident" occured during a showing of Doctor Who (spooky already huh?) at about 11 pm one evening in November 1987. Some bloke (nobody knows who) managed to climb up the Sears tower in Chicago, jam the signal which was broadcasting WTTV Chicago across the region, and broadcast his own bizarre and creepy cryptic messages whilst dressed as Max Headroom (no one knows why). Again, the myth and mystery of the event makes this compelling viewing. The thing that gets me is: the bloke could have broadcast ANYTHING. He could have said anything he wanted to say. He could have dissed a few people he disliked or demanded ransom money. But instead...well have a look for yourself.

Isn't that strangely, grippingly brilliant? Or is it just me?

A similar incident happened on ITV back in the late 70s when someone jammed their signal and managed to transmit audio over the news. In this case, the scammer claimed to be an alien broadcasting a message to say that he was watching mankind and that if we didn't give up our warring ways we'd be in trouble (or something). Imagine watching telly some tea-time in 1978 and that happens! I'd have crapped myself! Because I was only six months old. But even if I had been an adult I would have been a bit worried I can tell you. It's referred to as the Vrillon incident and you can find that here. When I heard about these incidents I became quite hooked. In Poland in the mid 80s, Lech Walesa's "Solidarnos" movement jammed the national TV to transmit messages to the general public, you can find that here.

Talking of disturbing TV broadcasts, I often like to imagine myself as a youngster up late at night watching MTV in the early 80s when they used to broadcast videos by The Residents. The Residents were, and still are, off their heads. Sorry, make that "eyeballs"... I'll be posting something about their brilliant 1980 album "The Commercial Album" in a day or two but in the meantime watch this, it's the music video which accompanied the album's release and features 4 - four! - of that LPs songs (every song on the album last for just a minute) in one neat package. Every bit as creepy and weird as you'd want it to be...

By the way...Rihanna's new single is called "Disturbia", but it's not disturbing at all, it's just brilliant in the way that Rihanna usually is when she's not attempting a drippy love song.