This One Picture of Telly Savalas Refutes All Fears That Progress Has Ended



Intrigued? From my latest Daily Beast column:

I started receiving People magazine recently, and as I was leafing through its ho-hum 40th anniversary issue, I stumbled across this 1974 cover featuring Telly Savalas, the man who mainstreamed baldness into everyday life (screw you, Yul Brynner!) and portrayed Kojak, one of the most memorable small-screen detectives up to that point in TV history. This cover, I submit, is as sharp a rebuke to the "progress is over!" crowd as Samuel Johnson's stone-kicking hissy fit was to Bishop Berkeley….

The middle class can't afford nothing no more, Amazon's warehouse workers are "today's coal miners," and even bomb-crazy and jihad-suffering Middle Easternersare more optimistic about the future than Americans and Europeans. The Experts (with a capital E!) have spoken: We've reached The End of Progress….

bear with me here. Cue up Telly's incomparable semi-parlando rendering of If. Get lost in the Aegean-deep pools of Telly's eyes and marvel at his gold-chain-and-bracelet set. As you contemplate a naked celebrity torso apparently unfamiliar with any form of exercise, let's count the ways in which the world has not just gotten a little bit better but a whole fucking lot better since Kojak was on the case.

Read the while thing, baby.

NEXT: Waste, Bureaucracy, and PR Stunts: The Case of the Red Cross

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  1. My mom loved Savalas. She had a picture of him on the refrigerator.

    I don’t think there was a picture of me on the fridge.

    I know there wasn’t a picture of my dad on the fridge!

    1. Not even a cross over the bed?

    2. Who didn’t really luv ya, baby?

    3. Perhaps Telly Savalas knocked your mom up?

  2. This cover, I submit, is as sharp a rebuke to the “progress is over!” crowd as Samuel Johnson’s stone-kicking hissy fit was to Bishop Berkeley….


    1. It is difficult to watch Gillespie’s mind deteriorate in front of us like this, is it not?

      1. At least he’s getting paid while it goes.

    2. The comparison is apropos, but not well-known in this century – I would have added the quote “I refute it thus.”

      Boswell – Life of Johnson page 333, for those interested.


    That being said, Kojak was a damn good show but SO DEPRESSING.

    1. It was a great show and Telly was also in Kelly’s Heroes. Nick is completely unworthy of commenting on a guy with that kind of resume.

  4. I think Nick was under a contractual obligation to use the term “male privilege” in this article.

  5. What is this I don’t even

    1. This is the time Nick jumped the shark.

        1. Means headed downhill, fast

    2. Hipster self-destruction. Seriously, it’s time for Reason to replace some staff. Freshen up. Bring back Postrel. Bring us more Cathy Young. Less Welch and Suderman.

      1. Postrel ain’t coming back.

      2. ENB! ENB!

        1. New Postrel.

          1. Wasn’t around for Postrel, but I really like ENB.

        2. ENB is at least easy on the eyes and has a good sense of humor. So, yeah, I am down with that.

      3. I like Welch. I’m just gonna throw that out there.

        1. I like him when he’s not saying stupid things.

          1. …and cowering in fear on The Independents. Talk about a lost opportunity for the Libertarian movement – although Kmele Foster is excellent.

        2. Welch periodically uncorks some savage rants. So he’s got that going for him.

          1. I vote too chilly for Reason czar.

      4. You know, it wasn’t so long ago that Cathy Young was constantly derided for her “on this hand; on the other hand; a pox on both their houses” formula.

    3. I literally have no idea what this article is about.

      1. I gave it a fair shot. I even re-read it. Nothing.

      2. I think Nick’s trolling us at this point.

        1. It’s the end of the month. Quota time.

      3. It’s part of their election special. This is either to encourage dead people to vote, or to vote for Kojak militarization, or, or … nothing.

  6. So in 1974, I would have looked great on a beach. 40 years later my same body looks like shit – that’s progress? No thanks.

  7. I agree. We’ve obviously come along way in terms of male body hair grooming. Today, he’d get that chest hair waxed right off.

    I’m not sure about the rest of Nick’s thesis, though.

    1. What? Males that remove hair from anywhere except their back are creepy as hell.

      1. I don’t like body hair. Live with it.

      2. Clean shaven faces are creepy?

        1. Let’s poll some Millenials.

          *Strokes beard pensively*

  8. Google image minibikini; you won’t be disappointed.

    1. It didn’t mean the same thing in the ’70s.

  9. Enjoy the new Libertarian Dawn – always just around the corner.

  10. The Dirty Dozen is a good movie.

  11. Big Joe had his shit together.

    1. well, someone had to keep Oddball in line

  12. Kojak (and Telly Savalas) was awesome. I get the part about having more choices, but it’s like my wife always says when scrolling through the channel guide – 200 channels, and we only ever watch maybe 10 of them. Most of it is complete dreck. Hell, I’m 37, so the only way I know that Kojak was an entertaining show is from watching it on TV as an adult. IOW, I chose to watch Kojak over Here Comes 19 Kids and Bigfoot Hunting Ghosts with the Kardashians.

    Also, while there truly are some excellent TV shows out there these days, there are many more which are excessively praised because they’re some combination of really dark or violent or profane. I fucking love me some profanity, but those things in and of themselves don’t really make a program quality.

    And christ, Nick, did you have to feed the “cosmotarian” stereotype by toeing the leftist line on GamerGate? Are Radfems suddenly a key libertarian demographic now rather than being some of the most repulsive of leftists?

    1. I’m strongly of the opinion that the percentage of absolute drek in entertainment remains pretty constant, while the amount increases. Yes, there are hundreds of channels and we only watch ten. But, in the first place, we don’t all watch the same ten, and in the second place in the ’70’s there were about five channels if you were lucky and maybe a show a day worth watching by today’s standards, not counting reruns of proven viewer bait.

      We remember the popular culture of eras past so fondly because, mercifelly, we don’t actually remember that much.

      1. The choice is what I find more impressive than the quality. Quality is subjective. I do think the quality of TV has risen dramatically, but not because of reality TV shows. Yet those shows draw lots of eyeballs, so evidently lots of people with different tastes than me enjoy them.

        What isn’t subjective is the variety and choice. So I can find shows that I think are of high quality, but so can others with different tastes.

        1. I think the quality of writing on TV shows jumped when season long story arcs became the norm. Which is odd, because that’s about when I pretty much stopped watching. I lack the stamina, I think. I read fast, so that video is a fairly slow rate of information transfer for me.

          This ties in with an observation I made years ago about filming novels:

          Victorian (and earlier) novels devote a lot of space to description, which a camera can do in secnds. Modern novels devote a lot of space to dialogue, introspection, and the like. That has to be done by actors speaking in realtime, which is slow. Victorian novels often make good movies. Modern novels usually have to be cut a great deal, and better films are often made of novellas or short stories.

      2. You are absolutely right. The bottom remains about constant. The top, however, fluctuates. Some eras really do produce great or special art. And while there was just as much dreck back then as now, the good shows and good movies were on the whole superior to what passes for good now.

    2. Nick needs to feed the trolls (or, alternatively, slur the Austrians) at least once a month to keep up his cred in the Beltway and among libertarians who voted for Kerry in 2004.

  13. The comments on that article are interesting. Mostly, people are trying to argue that life actually sucks, maybe not for them, but certainly for everyone else. Except the rich, of course.

    It is one thing to say that we still have a ways to go, but it’s another to focus on all the bad stuff to the point where you can’t even acknowledge that things ahve gotten better.

    What exactly is it about some people that leads them to focus on what they aren’t happy with so much? I really don’t get it.

    1. It’s a religion for them. It’s basically a way for them to feel superior – they’re smarter than everyone, because they know how badly things are going, and why won’t anyone listen to them?

      1. Maybe. I think it is more likely boredom. I think most in my generation (yes, I’m barely Millenial) really and truly want to leave a legacy. But how can you do that without problems to solve? And how can the legacy be noteworthy if the problems aren’t big ones? You don’t get remembered for making incremental gains.

        I also think boredom enters into it in another way. It’s like my friends who say they detest drama, but whenever I talk with them, it’s always about all the drama in their’s or other’s lives.

  14. Our choices have vastly expanded…now we have Soma, the Feelies, ultra-efficient birth control, tourist expeditions to primitive reservations…

  15. my classmate’s sister-in-law makes $85 /hr on the laptop . She has been without a job for 5 months but last month her pay was $17446 just working on the laptop for a few hours. site here….


    1. 205 hours a month is more than a few. Heck, it’s more than full time.

      1. This is progress. I used to receive my marketing scams on my rotary-dial land line.

      2. For most people making $85/hour, 50 hours/week is their standard workweek.

        1. For most private sector people making $85/hour, 50 hours/week is their standard workweek.

          Small quibble, but I otherwise agree.

  16. Some people are just really invested in believing that everything is getting worse, and nothing you say will convince them otherwise. That’s a pretty good sign you’re dealing with somebody who has a religious belief, not a factual one.

    I make a hobby of collecting magazines from the mid-20th century, and let me tell you, there has never been a time when people weren’t concerned about their jobs, their health, and trying to save money. But in 1955, if you had a hernia, you pretty much just lived with it, and if you had an air conditioner, it cost you the equivalent of about $3500 in 2014 dollars. We travel more, live longer, and have more entertainment options than ever before. Anybody who tries to tell you things are getting worse is massively historically ignorant.

    1. I have to say that my take on the cry of “there’s no more progress!” Is that it translates to “things aren’t moving the direction I want them to!”

      For which the reply is “Sucks to be you”

    2. If your a woman who wants to work or gay and don’t want to live in the closet your better off as well. We’re better off in so many ways. It’s just important to remember the source of the good – ourselves, not government.

    3. I understand why people feel a need to remind others that there is still a ways to go, and still problems to solve. They believe in something and don’t want it to be forgotten.

      What I don’t understand is the people who claim that progress hasn’t been made, or who just write off the progress that has been made as frivolous or unimportant.

      1. It is not that progress hasn’t been made. It is that “progress” is never uniform. Progress has certainly been made in a lot of areas. I have no illusions about what the past was actually like. That said, just because things have gotten better in some areas doesn’t mean things haven’t gotten worse in other areas or that things can’t or necessarily are not getting worse over all.

        It is just as dumb to think the future is on an endless upward trajectory as it is to think it is forever on a downward one. Things really can and sometimes do get worse and sometimes get worse in really horrible and tragic ways.

    4. One problem is that people are short-sighted, with no recollection of the past; believe that wealth is the natural order of things here in the U.S.; and also believe that no policy can be undertaken, or calamity can occur, to erase the wealth, since they have no idea where the wealth came from in the first place.

  17. My God. See what branding has done to the literary world?

    I’m guessing this is some sort of sooper self conscious attempt to make up for quoting Bob Murphy in the latest print edition.

    I’d like to see Nick write a half dozen articles with a parsimonious style worthy of a depressed Lutheran. Actually, I’d settle for seeing if Nick could write a half dozen articles without waving his literary dick around in a now-decades-long attempt to make Bret Easton Ellis and Michael Chabon look restrained by comparison.

    1. Actually, I’d settle for seeing if Nick could write a half dozen articles without waving his literary dick around in a now-decades-long attempt to make Bret Easton Ellis and Michael Chabon look restrained by comparison.

      I think that’s probably the only real criticism of Nick here. He just likes to write silly stuff like this. Gotta do something with that English PhD.

      1. For all the righteous rage related to the crassly and frankly sexist rhetoric around GamerGate, here too we’ve come a long way (baby)

        Crassly rhetoric?

        Does he really have a PhD in English or were are you just being facetious?

        1. {(crassly and frankly) sexist} rhetoric

          English majors, much less PhDs (those sad, sad souls), don’t spend a lot of time worrying about prescriptive grammar.

        2. Does he really have a PhD in English or were are you just being facetious?

          Classic. Wikipedia says Nick has a PhD in English from SUNY Buffalo.

      2. It’s the free market telling Nick that English degrees are only good enough to get you a job writing shit for The Daily Beast and deservedly mocked in the H&R comments.

  18. Pointer for Nick;

    Stay away from the keyboard when you are stoned.

  19. What in the unholy fuck is this post about?

  20. cf. Bryan Caplan, “pessimistic bias.”

    1. I loved him on Welcome Back, Kotter.

  21. I like him when he’s not saying stupid things.

    That’s what people say about you.

    1. That’s what people say about you.

      What? That ever happens?

  22. I remember the episode of Kojak where he starts questioning a young woman in her apartment, and when the answers to his questions don’t flow forth with haste, he slaps her around…

    However, he does say afterward, “sorry for the spankin’, sister…”

  23. Nick Gillespie is a feminist white knight? Say it ain’t so! Feminism is literally the handmaiden of marxist statism.

  24. Feminism is literally the handmaiden of marxist statism.
    So many definitions, so little time.

  25. I love Gillespie rants. This one was over the top, ’tis true. But I appreciate a writer who is willing to risk going over the top on occasion.

  26. Wait wait wait. When did we progress from the “minibikini”?

  27. I started receiving People magazine recently,

    Seek help.

  28. Telly was far better than Donald Pleasance.

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