the column of lasting insignificance: November 29, 2014
About seven months ago, much to my surprise, I had a sudden stroke which temporarily took away my memory and to a large extent incapacitated me. I'm now a lot better but still prefer the computer to the typewriter and hope soon to resume the weekly column which first appeared in the first issue of the Village Voice of which I was a founder all those years ago.
A stroke is a curious malady which tends to incapacitate in some ways but leaves the rest of you unchanged. I read dozens of magazines to get the material for the weekly column and soon plan to resume doing that. I've written well over 1,500 columns so far, many of them from the scores of countries about which I have written all-too-soon dated travel books.
Anyway, to get back to the subject, when I get out of this place, in about a month's time, I'll have to start looking for a new place because the greedhead owners want to sell the house for much more than its worth, which means we'll all have to find new digs that we can afford.
So now is the time when it makes sense to share a place with somebody, with me paying half the rent and utilities. I'm highly responsible and easy to live with. In addition to my weekly column, I have done interviews with Marylin Monroe, Steve Allen, Woody Allen, Marlene Dietrich, and dozens of others. Subjects of my travel books include Japan, Mexico and Greece, to name only a few.
What would be fabulous would be to share space with a writer or artist but that's not essential, of course. Just some easygoing type with a sense of humor will do fine, although I enjoy working with other people no matter what the project might entail.
So there it is. Maybe if you know somebody for whom I'd make a good roommate—any sex, any age, anywhere—have them sift thru my columns or my website wherein can be found much of my life.
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— “I like to be the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place. Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens.”
— “Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains - daisy chains - of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between 'his,' 'her' or 'their' wish and yours.”
— “What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke. Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.”
— “The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.”
— “I suppose I have a really loose interpretation of 'work,' because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don't always want to do. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.”
— “I try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.”
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in the press...
Now on Boing-Boing!
JOHN WILCOCK: Writing the Book "Mexico on 5 Dollars a Day" (Part One)
June 5, 2014
July 13, 2012
Manhattan Memories: an autobiography
(The complete review begins on p.175)
December 1, 2011
On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S
November 28, 2011
The Book Bench - Loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department
October 22, 2011
An authorized comic book biography of John Wilcock,
This is a book length comic series on John Wilcock. People who enjoy focusing on underground and alternative media are occasionally familiar with John's work, but most often the response is "who's that?" Outside of small press historians and collectors, John remains very unknown. Which makes no sense, the more you learn about him. We're very excited about the opportunity to tell his story. Art for THE STORY OF JOHN WILCOCK is by me and co-conspirator Scott Marshall. Story comes from an extended and ongoing year-long interview with Wilcock, himself. The focus is John's years in New York, roughly 1954-1971.
“The Return of the World's Worst Businessman”
John Wilcock is not what you would call a household name, and yet, he has had a measurable impact on art, journalism and culture-at-large over the last century. He co-founded Interview with Andy Warhol. He also was one of the co-founders of The Village Voice. He has written for countless print and online publications: Frommer’s, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The East Village Other, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Ojai Orange, etc. So why, one feels inclined to ask, is he relatively unknown? The answer seems simple: Wilcock has called himself “the world’s worst businessman.” This self-description makes sense because listening to him one hears the voice of a writer and a traveler and an enthusiast, not at all the voice of a businessman. In an age when it seems like everyone is all about business—art as a business, fashion as a business, everything as a business—it is refreshing to hear someone self-identify as “the world’s worst businessman.” It seems less like he has failed as a businessman and more like he has refused to become one. In addition to all his other accomplishments,...
Monday, November 15, 2010
A Reader Comment from the recent New York Times Frugal Traveler post
Not only did John Wilcock shake up staid publishing in the USA, from the Village Voice to the East Village Other, his influence extended to several continents, including Australia & the UK, where - in his mild mannered way - he pushed the boundaries of image and speech. The counter culture was nothing but a dull puddle, until John kicked out the jams and ignited the Underground Press, which attracted absurd prosecutions, that of course boosted circulations. An unsung hero of the sixties,
It was the first handwritten letter I’d received in 5 years. Or maybe 10. Signed by John Wilcock, a man I’d never heard of, and postmarked Ojai, Calif., it was waiting for me when I returned from my São Paulo-to-New York summer trip. Mr. Wilcock wrote that he had been an assistant editor at The Times Travel section back in the 1950s, and had written the first editions of “Mexico on $5 a Day,” “Greece on $5 a Day” and “Japan on $5 a Day” for Arthur Frommer in the 1960s.
By George, I thought. This man was the original Frugal Traveler.
"A GOOD WAY to describe John Wilcock is to say that he is a talented bohemian counter-culture journalist who once played a major role in the emergence of America’s underground press. Born 1927 in Sheffield, England, he left school aged 16 to work on various newspapers in England, and on Toronto periodicals before moving to New York City. There in 1955 he became one of the five founders of the Village Voice in which he and co-founder Norman Mailer wrote weekly columns. Wilcock called his column “The Village Square”, an intended pun. He and young Mailer were not quite friends, although Wilcock was at times annoyed, but always amused, by Mailer’s monstrous ego."