Reconnected everything & there was obviously a major malfunction.
There's either a dead board, broken wire, or a contaminated connector. The LCD was only driven 1 way instead of oscillating. There were bad columns on 1 side while the other side had good columns. Maybe it could be fixed by checking the voltages, cleaning the connectors or buzzing out a broken wire. The mane problem was the awful backlight. Another $30 for PLA diffusers might make it even, bringing it to $70. Not sure why it had 3 bright bands instead of 16.
The bottom end 32" TV is the $130 1366*768 Sansui. Realistically, as a picture frame, such a drop in resolution wouldn't matter. The lion kingdom is just going to abandon the picture frame instead of buy a TV though.
Anyways, the raspberry pi was underclocked to 400Mhz. It was a lot slower to update this 24 bit 2560x1600 display than 50Mhz UNIX boxes were at updating an 8 bit 1280x1024 display, 30 years ago.
The internet no longer seems to know how to remotely connect to an X server. The X server on raspberry pi's is run with -nolisten tcp which causes it to ignore all connections besides the console. Removing this argument makes it work, but the lion kingdom ended up having to delete lightdm & run X from the command line.