the column of lasting insignificance...
—for July 27, 2016 by John Wilcock

“It’s all well and good to sit around and make fun of the funny things that conservatives say and the hilarious gaffes that they make, but one of the only reasons that it works is that Democrats let it happen. They never seem to be able to fight back, never seem to be able to figure it out. They really cannot talk about the philosophy that motivates their actions and their legislative deeds”
—Author Thomas Frank talking to The Progressive about the lack of challenge to conservative dreams of an ”unshackled” business class

WEALTHY CHINESE are getting used to being fawned over, claims the Economist which cites the way that holders of gold and platinum “routinely expect luxury shops to pamper them with cocktails, massages….and ever more exotic and exclusive events to maintain their sense of superiority”. Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook (CTF), the world’s largest jeweler, recently organized a weekend of cruises, property tours and a gala auction for wealthy families who spent more than an annual 1m yuan ($158,000). But for such super-rich Chinese, a lavish weekend is not enough explains Adrian Cheng, a CTF director. They also expect a personal butler to fetch them and fuss over them.
     Another market worth $multi-billions is cosmetic surgery which has ballooned due to China’s growing wealth and obsession with the celebrity culture. Double eyelid surgery, liposuction and nose jobs are reported to be the most common procedures at People’s Ninth Hospital in Shanghai which conducted 50,000 operations last year The eyelid operation costs 6,000yuan ($950), a nose enlargement 3,500 yuan. Some plastic surgeons have called for the imposition of higher standards after 20,000 complaints about last year’s surgeries.

IN ITS ISSUE devoted to celebrity investors, Forbes featured Justin Bieber, Venture Capitalist, as its cover story. The young singer’s 15 million albums have grossed $150m during his 157 cross country tour dates, the mag reveals, and has plowed millions into tech start-ups. He has partnered with Ellen DeGeneres in a social gaming company, Sojo Studios; and shared deals with billionaire Ron Burkle and Ashton Kutcher, his typical initial investment being $250,000. About his ongoing transition from ‘teen idol to adult icon’ he says: “It’s not really a transition, it’s just opening doors. I’m trying to make music that’s a little bit more mature and that can appeal to all ages, and I’m not trying to lose my younger fans”.

Myth #2: “If you shoot an intruder who turned out not have a weapon, stick a kitchen knife in his hands and be sure to drag the body inside the house before you call the police”.

This has to be the most common of the armed defense myths, and may well be the most dangerous…Your altering of the evidence will be seen by judge and jury as proof you’re lying about the situation…And you will be found out. Do you know the fingerprint pattern consistent with a man who had picked up a knife before being shot, as opposed to a fingerprint pattern consistent with a man having a knife out in is hand after being shot? The detectives know…The jury will no longer believe you when you say you had to shoot. You can discuss the injustice of it all with the other inmates in the prison exercise yard.
[from “The Eight Dangerous Myths of Self-Defense” in Gun Digest]

SHARK TANK, the ABC reality show that invites inventors to air their ideas before a panel of potential investors, has heard 152 pitches from entrepreneurs since its 2009 debut, about half of which have walked away with an average of $180,000. So says Inc. which unfolds the tale of Pork Barrel BBQ which rocketed from sales of $5,000 to $3 million, and from four outlets to 5,000 stores, after its debut on the sixth episode of the show. Among the 60 businesses (out of 20,000 that apply each season) the mag lists Citikitty, a toilet-training system for cats, which tripled its sales to $1million within a year.

SHIPPING FRESH VEGETABLES across country results in a lot of spoilage and Paul Lightfoot thinks there’s a better way. His company, BrightFarms, is right in line with the locavores who believe the food we eat should come from nearer to home and how much nearer can you get, Lightfoot asks, than from a nearby roof? BrightFarms has deals with several companies to build and manage hydroponic greenhouses on store rooftops, parking garages and empty lots. Stores sign long-term contracts to buy lettuce, tomatoes and various herbs, with a guarantee that prices will never rise above inflation.

Dear reader,

Today's column is on of the almost 500 columns I ran on the Ojai Orange site between 2006 and 2014. These will, of course, be free as is everything on my sites, and has been for the past decade or so. But, I do request that if you find these columns interesting, that you consider sending a donation, which you could possibly write off as a gift for my birthday on August 4, when I will be 90.

Chapters from my autobiography, Manhattan Memories will continue to run on ojaiorange.com.
—JW

...

John Wilcock
The Gables
701 N. Montgomery St.
Ojai, CA 93023

A NATIONAL ID CARD has always filled some people with paranoia, conjuring up images of a police state or at least “an intolerable expansion of government” as the Tea Party might term it. But now its time has come, suggests a writer in Mother Jones, capping a 20-page section about the influx of money into elections and its connection with voter fraud. Most European countries provide citizen ID cards, the mag says, quoting a native of Singapore who boasts that his card doubles as a library card, serves as identification when applying for overseas visas, opening a bank account and even helps identify the other party in an accident. Social security cards and drivers licenses already enable the government to track us, but we seem content with “a system with all the downsides and none of the upside of true national ID”.

ITALIAN COMIC Beppe Gallo, 63, is making waves by calling for the Euro to be abolished, people to stop paying taxes and for banks to be allowed to go bust. Rome’s L’Espresso reports that while performing in public squares, he’s been calling retired premier Silvio Berlusconi “a sex-mad psycho dwarf” and his petition for a clean-up of parliament garnered 350,000 votes. Next year he’s predicted to enter the political arena.

THERE’S WIDE DISAGREEMENT between some of the vintage TV stars of the 1970s and the studios who don’t agree with how valuable they think they are. What it’s all about, says Variety columnist Ted Johnson, is merchandise revenue. “Cast members, noting the continued visibility of their shows on everything from slot machines to action figures to, of course, DVD box sets, are pursuing legal action against studios, often claiming the latter are concealing the amount they’ve made off the actors’ likenesses …studios (on the other hand) view many of the plaintiffs’ assertions about merchandising revenue as wildly overstated” Johnson writes. Two of last year’s suits involved Mike Connors from Mannix and James Best on Dukes of Hazzard.

credit Yes! magazine

POWERED BY AN ADULT (for steering and safety) and up to ten children pedaling, the Dutch company De Café Racer says its kid-powered bicycle is an efficient replacement for the regular school bus. It can reach 10mph and comes with canvas cover for rainy days, a music system and an auxiliary electric motor for when the hills are too steep for pedal power.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Perhaps the highly paid office workers at Dunder Miflin might consider bailing out a bankrupt Scranton?..... Uruguay is about to pass a bill legalizing the sale of marihuana. Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro says: “We believe that the prohibition of certain drugs is creating more problems than the drugs themselves”… Religious leaders and art historians will share the platform at the Getty Museum next month to discuss ‘What Does Heaven Look Like?’…. Asked by a TV interviewer in China what she wanted to be when she grew up, one six-year-old replied: ”A corrupt official”…...Why should Ralph Lauren be hired to make uniforms for the next Olympics when their greed screwed us up so badly on this one?.... Too many hapless farm animals are being forsaken by clueless city dwellers who thoughtlessly adopt them and then, for one reason or another, change their minds. E-magazine requests that if metropolitan homesteaders must have pets, they should pick them from local shelters….”Computers make it easier to do a lot of things” mused the late Andy Rooney, “but many of the things they make it easier to do, don’t need to be done”.….There’s nearly always drought in one place with floods in another. Maybe those fire-fighting planes could carry water a bit further?….Hollywood claims that Morgan Spurlock financing his movie (Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold) entirely from sponsorships has become a necessary part of doing business because ticket sales no longer are sufficient……. After noting that too many employees pee on the seat, councillors at Sörmland, Sweden, seek to make it mandatory for men to sit down when using the toilet…...And Comedy Central features a disgusting, would-be comic named Tosho-o whose idea of hilarity is to show video of guys lowering their pants and shitting as they skateboard or roller skate.....Hedge fund manager Daniel Shak is suing his ex-wife Beth for 35% of her valuable shoe collection (1,200 pairs) which he claims she hid away during their divorce settlement…. An unexpected shift back towards the use of straight razors caused Gillette's share of the market for replacement cartridge blades to drop to a mere 80%, prompting the company to advertise that its blades lasted for up to five weeks, observed Fortune“Creativity is intelligence having fun” opined Albert Einstein….. Spurred by Mitt Romney’s plans to install a car elevator in his La Jolla beach house, numerous “billionaires and A-list celebrities” have forked over $55,000 to American Custom Lifts to install similar elevators in what Forbes describes as their modern palaces….”It is not an exaggeration to say that every rhino on the planet is now in mortal danger” warns a South African conservationist after reports that an average of 50 of the rare species a month are being killed in the country…. The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, fighting to retain a monopoly over the building of coffins, is being sued by the monks of St Joseph Abbey who want to build their own….. “Five enemies of peace inhabit with us : avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace”—Francesco Petrarch (July 20, 1304 – July 19, 1374)

This column first appeared on 7/21/12

comments? send an email to John Wilcock



National Weed (1974, issue #3)

it's here...
Marijuana--The Weed That Changed the World


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Over the past year, my combined medical and support costs from a stroke I had in April 2014 have been more than $100,000. If you'd like to help, use the Paypal donate button, or better yet, buy one of my books, and thank you. —JW


comments? send an email to John Wilcock

recent columns

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
Week of June 8, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
Week of April 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
Week of April 16, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
Week of April 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen--Travels: Tokyo-Rick Kennedy recalls; Japan on $5 a Day; About Chapbooks; Magic in South America
Week of April 9, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen (continued)--Theory & Practice of Travel Writing; Remoteness of Callanish; Jim's Paris dinners
Week of April 2, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen--The Quest for Magic: Around Europe by VW bus; Regarding armchair travelers; Pisa's Leaning Tower; The magical Alhambra
Week of March 26, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library; In the Cannes
Week of March 19, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Week of March 12, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
Week of March 5, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 27, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
Week of February 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
Week of February 6, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
Week of January 30, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
Week of January 23, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve--Andy Gets Shot: Max's Kansas City; Jane Fonda's gesture; Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Week of January 16, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eleven (continued)-- We go to Rutgers, Ann Arbor ... What people say about Andy
Week of January 9, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eleven -- Andy Warhol First encounter....People talk about him....His movies...
Week of January 2, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Ten (continued)--The 'Movement' splits: Eldridge Cleaver Year of the Great Hoax…The OZ trial
Week of December 26, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Ten--Tom Forcade's smuggling funds High Times; Rolling Stone's underground sabotage
Week of December 19, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine (continued)--Rip Torn on stardom… Robert Mitchum's gift; London: Julian Beck’s critique; Emmett Grogan and the Diggers; Greece: The Junta, Charlotte Rampling, and art hero Daniel Spoerri
Week of December 12, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine--Bob Dylan in the Village, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Richard Neville and OZ, What Does London Need Most?, The International Times
Week of December 5, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon; The Shinjuku Sutra
Week of November 28, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight--Art Kunkin's LA Free Press; In LA with Hunter Thompson, Lenny Bruce; Visit by Warhol; Hakim Jamal plays god; The San Francisco 'Be-In'; Underground papers meet
Week of November 21, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seven (continued)--The Underground Press; Army revolt:  fragging officers; Bowart goes to Millbrook
Week of November 14, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seven--The singing Tit-o-Gram; The East Village Other; Art & Forgery; Birth of Black Power; The Underground Press
Week of November 7, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
Week of October 31, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six—The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
Week of October 24, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Five—Reefer Madness (continued)--Jan and Stan change my life; The man who turned on the world
Week of October 17, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Five—Reefer Madness--The man who turned on the world; Tested by Harvard professors; Jan and Stan change my life
Week of October 10, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Four—Into the '60s--London's underground press; Jean-Jacques Lebel burns US flag; Everybody's friend: Jim Haynes; Lenny Bruce and the kitchen tapes
Week of October 3, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Four—Into the '60s--More Working at The New York Times; Mexico On $5 a Day; What Richard Condon taught me; Henry Miller's wise words
Week of September 26, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--The Village Voice (continued) --Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column, ECHO  and Larry Adler, Woody Allen plays classic nerd, A sample Village Square column
Week of September 19, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--More trouble with our star novelist; Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column; Jean Shepherd’s phantom novel
Week of September 12, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
Week of September 5, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Gilbert Seldes' The Lively Arts; Norman Mailer’s Voice column; Giving parties to meet strangers
Week of August 29, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
Week of August 22, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Jack Kent Cooke tells me to stay in Canada; Becoming a New Yorker ;A new Village newspaper; The casual wisdom of Steve Allen
Week of August 15, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
Week of August 8, 2015

- column archives: 2006 - present




in the press...

Now on Boing-Boing!

JOHN WILCOCK: Leaving the trial, I realized Kennedy had just been killed.
February 12, 2015

The New York Years - Boing-Boing

July 13, 2012

Manhattan Memories: an autobiography
By John Wilcock (Lulu.com, 2010)
excerpt from A Book Review By Marshall Brooks
Provincetown Arts Annual 2012/13

On the Ground
IF
John Wilcock had lived in the Garden of Eden he would have started the world’s first under- ground newspaper there. One can easily picture it: a paradisiacal incarnation of John’s 1960s legendary tabloid, Other Scenes, featuring a lively threesome on its cover and an interview inside with the snake, who, it turns out, really dug (in the argot of the day) cool, mellow people. An Eden on $5 a Day guide would have been sure to follow, precursor to the dozens of travel books that John Wilcock actually has methodically researched and authored over the years, beginning with Mexico on $5 a Day in 1960 for enterprising guidebook publisher Arthur Frommer. Still traveling the world at age eighty-four, no moss grows on John Wilcock, which Manhattan Memories makes clear. But there is more.

(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
reviewed by Steve Heller in Imprint
On the Ground
The Underground Press, as it was called, was a groundswell of media activity running the gamut from radically political to seriously satirical. A new book, On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S. (PM Press) Edited by Sean Stewart (who between 2007 and 2009 owned and operated Babylon Falling, a bookstore and gallery in San Francisco), recalls the Underground epoch. Through interlacing interviews with Emory Douglas (Black Panther), Paul Krassner (The Realist), Art Kunkin (The L.A. Free Press), Abe Peck (The Chicago Seed), John Wilcock (Other Scenes), Jeff Shero (The Rat), Trina Robbins (Gothic Blimp Works) and many more (including Al Goldstein of Screw), the remarkable journals that shaped my life (and career) are revived as oral history.

(read more)




November 28, 2011

The Book Bench - Loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department
New Yorker Online
Check out the first installment of Ethan Persoff's serialized comic-book biography of the publisher and writer John Wilcock.

(read more)



October 22, 2011

The New York Years

An authorized comic book biography of John Wilcock,
art by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

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.

(read more)



January, 2011


The Return of the World's Worst Businessman

Sneak Peak “The Return of the World's Worst Businessman”
Tyler Malone
PMc Magazine

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,...

(read more)




Monday, November 15, 2010

A Reader Comment from the recent New York Times Frugal Traveler post
RN—Sydney, Australia

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,

indifferent to self promotion and the hoarding of gold, it is great to see John get a dash of recognition.

(read more)




Wednesday,
October 27, 2010

A Budget Travel Pioneer on a Time When $5 a Day Was Real (Frugal) Money
nytimes.com: Frugal Traveler

by Seth Kugel
John Wilcock at the New York Times

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.

(read more)


and in print...

Manhattan MemoriesManhattan Memories
An Autobiography
by John Wilcock

"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."

-From the preface of Manhattan Memories, by Martin Gardner
order from lulu.com
also available at amazon.com (in paperback or for your Kindle)
and other online booksellers