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RIP, Mr. Horkheimer. We'll keep looking up!
August 20, 2010 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Jack Horkheimer, host of "Star Gazer" (formerly known as "Star Hustler") has died. See this excellent post on Horkheimer's work.
posted by achmorrison (106 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Farewell, farewell, fellow stargazer.
posted by EarBucket at 6:24 PM on August 20, 2010


I said it before: "His enthusiasm and absence of scholarly snobbery engaged my interest more than even watching the first moon landing on TV when I was 13. Sorry, Neil."

a constellation of .
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:29 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]



posted by katillathehun at 6:33 PM on August 20, 2010 [16 favorites]


This episode aired 25 years ago this week.
The passions of Carl Sagan and Jack Horkheimer fueled my passion for all things outside of the influence of the earth and now my last space hero is dead.

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posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:37 PM on August 20, 2010


My eighth grade science teacher took the opportunity during our astronomy unit to play a new Jack Horkheimer episode every single day. While it became something of a running joke at the time, I've looked back on that voice and that demeanor with real fondness every now and then over the past few years. I think if the teacher had as much energy and interest as Horkheimer did, the star bug might have actually stuck with me.

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posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:39 PM on August 20, 2010


Horkheimer's last episode, for August 30 - September 5 of this year.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:41 PM on August 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


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I loved him as a little kid. The space music was so peaceful.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:41 PM on August 20, 2010


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posted by Countess Elena at 6:42 PM on August 20, 2010


I remember as a kid watching him open every episode by walking down from the Cosmos into the field-of-view on a beam of light. He's looked like a frumpy old Uncle his whole TV career, but to me, as a kid, it seemed strangely god-like -- as if Zeus' cousin Larry was going to explain the Secrets of the Universe to you. I loved it.

Jack, if there is any kind of consciousness after death, if there is any possibility that you can read this, I want to say two things:

First, thank you for inculcating a life-long love of astronomy and stargazing in a young nerdy gay boy who watched way too much PBS as a child.

Secondly, thank you for introducing me to Debussy.

Love ya, Jack.

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posted by Azazel Fel at 6:45 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Awwww, I'm sorry to see Mr. Horkheimer go. Keep looking up, Jack!

*
Just for you, a star.
posted by Elsa at 6:46 PM on August 20, 2010


What a great man.
posted by koeselitz at 6:47 PM on August 20, 2010


Great interstitial programming on PBS for years.

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posted by Gridlock Joe at 6:47 PM on August 20, 2010


I am genuinely saddened by this news. I love that guy.
posted by ND¢ at 6:48 PM on August 20, 2010


The peaceful space music was Debussy's Arabesque.

*keeps looking up*
posted by rlk at 6:52 PM on August 20, 2010


...and keep looking up.
posted by hubs at 6:54 PM on August 20, 2010


This was the best part:

Colorful to the end, "Horky" offers this amusing, self-penned epitaph in his online bio:

"Keep Looking Up was my life's admonition,
I can do little else in my present position."


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posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:55 PM on August 20, 2010 [26 favorites]


well damn
posted by edgeways at 6:56 PM on August 20, 2010


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So many of my old Doctor Who VHS tapes from Iowa Public Television either before or after (and sometimes both) have Mr. Horkheimer letting us know what was happening in the stars in the mid to late 80s. And like Doctor Who, he was something that my father and I could always bond over; no matter how distant we may have been on Earth, we always had that in the stars -- both in the fictional Whoniverse and the Horkheimer universe.

Keep looking up, indeed.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Time for bed.

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posted by quakerjono at 6:58 PM on August 20, 2010


They don't make them like Horkheimer anymore--entirely free of pretense, and seemingly a great guy.

Nonetheless, whenever I hear that Debussy, I get really antsy--my local PBS station used to play Star Hustler between episodes of Dr. Who and Blake's 7, and I was practically feral by the time he finished his 6-minute schtick. Plus, this was in NYC, and the only star you could ever see was the sun.

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posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:59 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to watch him years ago and remember when he announced that he was changing the name of the program from "Star Hustler" to "Star Gazer." He said something along the lines of, "Let's face it, 'hustler' doesn't mean the same thing that it meant when we first started this program."

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posted by cropshy at 7:00 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by Scoo at 7:00 PM on August 20, 2010


Shit. I hate it when I'm reminded about someone's existence by their passing. I used to love his segments, played before Dr. Who, and had completely forgotten about them.
posted by mollweide at 7:01 PM on August 20, 2010


Oh, goddammit, on preview.
posted by mollweide at 7:02 PM on August 20, 2010


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posted by oonh at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2010


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goddamn :(

I love his little laugh and his sign off. I still think Star Hustler was a hella cooler name.
posted by symbioid at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2010


I, too was enjoyed watching his show in my youth (for many of the reasons mentioned above).

I remember that WQED Pittsburgh used to air Star Gazer in the last five minutes before they went off the air (at either 11:55pm or 1:55am). Needless to say, I caught many an episode during college. On the very first one I had seen in quite a few years, I was shocked (shocked!) to learn that he was transitioning for Star Hustler to Star Gazer. Either way, he was the most enthusiastic voice of astronomy that I've ever heard, and I'll miss him.

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posted by Phredward at 7:06 PM on August 20, 2010


Truly, his hairpiece will be missed.

The backyard aspect was neat. All the hemisphere could step outside and watch the same show.
posted by Trochanter at 7:10 PM on August 20, 2010


Oh, how sad. His segments were always so full of the basic wonderment of looking up at the night sky, and he always spun an adventure to witness. I'll miss seeing him.

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posted by hippybear at 7:11 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by umberto at 7:16 PM on August 20, 2010


This sucks.

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posted by Sailormom at 7:21 PM on August 20, 2010


I, too, associate him with Tom Baker-era (and some latter Doctors) Doctor Who and my gawky teen years, and I loved the sort of goofy, out-there-gay, funny-creepy avuncular quality to his routines, coupled with the genuine love and earnest (remember life before omnipresent irony?) enthusiasm. I also loved that he called his show "Star Hustler," with a wink wink...oops, does "Star Hustler" sound sleazy? How 'bout "Star Gay-zer?" That's better, right?

Wish more people kept looking up. There's perspective up there.

So long to the second most important gay astronomer out there (after St. Frank).


posted by sonascope at 7:21 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kept looking up, but when I looked back down, he was gone. He will be missed.

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posted by chambers at 7:24 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Star Gazer is available as a podcast in iTunes (and presumably on his own website) in both five and one minute versions. Grab all you can now, and play them back at the right times in the years to come. The skies spin like clockwork, and Jack can guide you through for as long as you want him to.

Jack's no small reason why I went into astrophysics.
posted by ewagoner at 7:32 PM on August 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


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I love Jack Horkheimer. He was a good man who was passionate about the heavens and who just wanted to share his love and his knowledge with everyone. I still get goosebumps listening to the Stargazer theme music (Debussy's Arabesque #1 by Isao Tomita). Aww, keep looking up.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:35 PM on August 20, 2010


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posted by Songdog at 7:40 PM on August 20, 2010


I used to "endure" him every night to get to SCTV right after. He was so good that "endurance" became "admiration".

RIP Star Hustler :(
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:41 PM on August 20, 2010


Oh man.

*looks up*

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posted by -t at 7:43 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by Smart Dalek at 7:45 PM on August 20, 2010


*
posted by fixedgear at 7:50 PM on August 20, 2010


Used to be damn near asleep when his show would come on whatever Las Cruces Cable channel carried it. Back when I started to grind my own mirrors and make plans for a backyard 8" reflector.

Damn. Loved this guy.
posted by blixco at 7:51 PM on August 20, 2010


Oh no, this made me cry. I have very distinct memories of lying on the living room floor around age six, watching him talk about the Perseid showers (which usually begin on my birthday). I'll miss him very much.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 7:53 PM on August 20, 2010


Awww shit! He popped into my mind randomly just last weekend and I was totally psyched to see he was still around. (And that MS Frontpage still did websites.)

At least I have a decade or two of shows to catch up on.

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posted by Cyrano at 7:55 PM on August 20, 2010


thank you for introducing me to Debussy
The peaceful space music was Debussy's Arabesque

Isao Tomita - Arabesque No1
among the best of community television
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posted by hortense at 8:16 PM on August 20, 2010


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posted by gubo at 8:18 PM on August 20, 2010


Now he belongs to the ages...
posted by Senator at 8:24 PM on August 20, 2010


Oh, I loved Jack and am so sad to hear about this. Seeing him and hearing the Debussy Arabesque on PBS always made me happy, and inspired me to take astronomy in college.

Nth'ing "keep looking up". :-(

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posted by pianoboy at 8:25 PM on August 20, 2010


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Keep looking up, indeed. With the utmost respect in the world, they better bury him in that god damned member's only jacket.
posted by cavalier at 8:26 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


God Dammit. Now I'm sad. It's so rare to see someone who has such an unsullied passion and childlike joy in what they did.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:27 PM on August 20, 2010


I had no idea it was Debussy! What a beautiful piece in its entirety.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:28 PM on August 20, 2010


What a wonderful nerd. Rest in Peace.

Has anyone seen an obituary mentioning his personal life or survivors? I understand from the homo-network he had a male partner, at least a few years ago. Curious if that is true and if so, will be acknowledged anywhere. Not relevant to his life's work, but relevant in his obituary perhaps.
posted by Nelson at 8:36 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by CitoyenK at 8:38 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by Ink-stained wretch at 8:41 PM on August 20, 2010


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posted by Bummus at 8:48 PM on August 20, 2010




Holy crap! I was just talking about him today and I did my Horkheimer impression at the office. Someone even asked me if he was still alive. I said yes. I was right...but only for a few hours. Weird.

Farewell, farewell, fellow stargazer!

Keep looking up!
posted by inturnaround at 8:50 PM on August 20, 2010


Thanks to insomnia and Jack Horkheimer, I learned about various seasonal meteor showers.
posted by crataegus at 8:59 PM on August 20, 2010


I'm still looking up, Jack.


posted by Halloween Jack at 9:12 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by longsleeves at 9:16 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by humanfont at 9:17 PM on August 20, 2010


…………………
posted by intermod at 9:21 PM on August 20, 2010


I used to occasionally catch Jack on WXXI in Rochester and later on KCET in L.A. - my recollection is that it was always late, late at night. Even though I wasn't introduced to his show until late teenhood, he was so enthusiastic and infectious that I felt like I had grown up watching him anyway.


posted by usonian at 9:24 PM on August 20, 2010


I feel like a part of my life growing up in Miami has been taken from me. I don't think I would have ever owned a telescope if it wasn't for him. What a great way to turn kids on to astronomy and science.

I absolutely LOVED both Star Hustler and the Miami Science Museum's planetarium.

I think I'll go listen to Isao Tomita's take on Debussy's Arabesque and cry now. I need the catharsis.

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posted by donttouchmymustache at 9:38 PM on August 20, 2010


When I was living in crappy little rooms in Utica, where I didn't know a soul, I spent a lot of time walking alone at night and trying to make out what stars and planets were visible over the city. Jack Horkheimer, strange two-dimensional visitor from another climate, was the only person in the world showing any sign of enthusiasm for anything I was doing. He was my very specialized Stuart Smalley telling me to go out there and watch those stars!
posted by pracowity at 10:22 PM on August 20, 2010


Tears are running down my face as I type this. Jack Horkheimer's Star Hustler (so it was back in the day and so it ever shall be as far as I'm concerned) was one of those awesome things (along with D&D and Doctor Who) that made being a nerd fun, even in the face of the all the mockery of my peers when I was a kid. Now Doctor Who is a bona-fide cable hit and the gaming culture spawned by D&D is an ubiquitous part of the cultural landscape. Tomorrow, I'm buying a telescope for my goddaughter and nephew.

Thank you, Jack. Ad Astra. We'll always keep looking up.

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posted by KingEdRa at 10:23 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, how I loved his show. As a little kid looking up at a great big sky, his friendly enthusiasm was the greatest to me. It fueled my ongoing love affair with the wonders of the universe.
posted by vespertine at 10:37 PM on August 20, 2010


Mr. Horkheimer and 'Star Hustler' were an indelible part of my childhood; I haven't seen his program in years, but I'll miss it, and him, just the same.


posted by hackwolf at 10:42 PM on August 20, 2010




I loved his voice. I loved his delivery. And I loved his passion. To the stars where you belong.
posted by ericb at 11:01 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by lampshade at 11:17 PM on August 20, 2010


That dude was awesome. ✷
posted by fartknocker at 11:19 PM on August 20, 2010


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posted by spinifex23 at 11:27 PM on August 20, 2010


"Horkheimer's last episode, for August 30 - September 5 of this year."

Are you sure?
posted by Eideteker at 11:39 PM on August 20, 2010


--=+

thanks for everything.
posted by mwhybark at 11:55 PM on August 20, 2010


ewagoner: "The skies spin like clockwork, and Jack can guide you through for as long as you want him to."

What a fantastic eulogy.
posted by mwhybark at 11:58 PM on August 20, 2010



posted by pjern at 12:19 AM on August 21, 2010


I raised two kids on Star Hustler. We'd go out just after Dr. Who and look up.
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posted by cookie-k at 1:10 AM on August 21, 2010


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posted by travertina at 2:31 AM on August 21, 2010


In my teens, Jack was the welcome end to an evening of tv watching. The local station that carried his show put it on at sign-off around 2am.
Yes, kids, there was a time when tv stations actually, purposely went off the air every day.


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:28 AM on August 21, 2010



posted by Samizdata at 5:20 AM on August 21, 2010


Cool.
posted by Samizdata at 5:30 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


We thought he was nerdy when we were kids but he always made us run out and look up at the stars right after we saw one of his shows.

BTW: "Look up due west as the sun sets kids. Venus is the brightest object just after the moon... Extra points if you can find Mars, Saturn and Jupiter (later in the evening)."

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posted by Increase at 5:36 AM on August 21, 2010



posted by meinvt at 6:01 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by jrewing at 7:22 AM on August 21, 2010


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posted by sswiller at 7:27 AM on August 21, 2010




His mini-show came on before Doctor Who on Saturday nights on WYES (New Orleans).
posted by Legomancer at 7:54 AM on August 21, 2010


A great guy, full of enthusiasm and geekery. I'll miss him.
posted by jiawen at 8:02 AM on August 21, 2010


Here's an interesting profile about "Foley Arthur Horkheimer" (aka Jack) from the Miami Herald (1982).

Here's his self-penned bio.
posted by ericb at 8:25 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


*
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2010


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posted by Brody's chum at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2010




I first saw him on the PBS station in St. Louis in the mid 1980s, and I think his debunking spiel about 'eggs standing erect' (i kid you not!) during the equinox was part of that first time viewing his show. Hilarious! I was a fan ever since and tried to catch his show whenever I could.

What I liked best about him was his raw enthusiasm for interest in space. He never pretended to be a scientist, or to bludgeon his audience with dry descriptions of what they could experience by just being outside for a few minutes at the right time.

Jack, we will Keep Looking Up! and always think of you when we do! I hope there's a star, nay, a galaxy cluster named in your honor!!
posted by kuppajava at 9:57 AM on August 21, 2010



posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2010



posted by gamera at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2010



posted by exlotuseater at 12:01 PM on August 21, 2010




...everything that I thought to say has already been said, so, again,


posted by foonly at 1:13 PM on August 21, 2010


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posted by myopicman at 3:06 PM on August 21, 2010


Heck, I'm going to say it anyway...I used to watch Star Hustler in the late 80's/early 90's on KVIE, sandwiched between The Good Life (or was it Inspector Morse?) and High Flight. In subsequent years, I'd periodically check out his website, and was always reassured that he was still around. I can't recall anyone else with such an unrestrained, infectious joy about what they did, although Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox come close. And for me, Tomita's version of Debussy's Arabesque No. 1 is irrevocably linked to him. I think he's amply deserving of a crater, or a galaxy, or something. Must dig through some Hubble images.

What a full and productive life...and now every time I get depressed by the people in the previews for The Colony trying to Lord of the Flies-it up (not to mention a lot of the news these days), I can remember Jack Horkheimer, and, well, Keep Looking Up.

★ again, just because...
posted by foonly at 4:31 PM on August 21, 2010


he was the best thing about insomnia, truly... and Tom Baker. So sad about this

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posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:17 PM on August 21, 2010


Keep looking up.

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posted by eriko at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2010


Rest in peace, Jack. ★
posted by IndigoRain at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2010


As a 12 year old in the 80s I would watch Jack Horkheimer before Dr. Who, catching him on Vermont's WCFE signal from Quebec City, and again in Ottawa, and later in Montreal. I got so excited about one of his segments that I made my dad go outside at 11pm on a Saturday and take exposures of the moon for me, months later when the film was developed they didn't turn out.

For the next 20 years I lived in large cities, but two years ago I moved to a national park and started watching Jack again, putting his weekly suggestions to good use, even once alone at the top of a mountain with Jack playing from a podcast on my iPhone. Times have chanced, but Jack Horkheimer has been a constant for decades, lighting up my night sky like no one else.

All I can do is keep looking up.


posted by furtive at 10:48 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]



posted by roll truck roll at 11:32 PM on August 21, 2010



posted by Twang at 12:14 AM on August 22, 2010


furtive: "As a 12 year old in the 80s I would watch Jack Horkheimer before Dr. Who"
That's right! That's when I'd see him on TV as well. I remember seeing him quite frequently, but I couldn't recall the context. Thanks!

RIP, Jack.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:43 AM on August 22, 2010


I absolutely LOVED both Star Hustler and the Miami Science Museum's planetarium.

Me too. Staying with my grandparents during the summer in Coral Gables was lonely for a shy kid — I spent awed hours in the cool confines of the science museum and public library. Much later, newly married and (barely making a) living in the glittering chaos of Miami Beach, watching affable Jack's Star Hustler on a tiny television was something of a reassuring nightly ritual.

Impossibly far, strange or familiar, stars remind you how the past isn't all black and that the universe can still light our way with wonder. Or so Jack taught me.
posted by Haruspex at 1:57 PM on August 22, 2010


Admiral Haddock:Plus, this was in NYC, and the only star you could ever see was the sun.

Much how Sesame Street was aimed at urban kids, maybe an astronomy show aimed at urban kids would do just as well.

Unfortunately, the show would be the same every episode and sign off with a drunken Rip Torn slurring: "keep staring at the sun, assholes.".

*
posted by dr_dank at 8:47 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In South jersey, during my childhood in the early 80s, he came on after SCTV, after Dr Who. I was just thinking about him recently. This is not happy news. I'll miss the guy.


posted by grubi at 6:28 AM on August 23, 2010



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