the column of lasting insignificance: Nov. 20, 2010
by John Wilcock
IN AN ISSUE devoted to flying saucers, mysterious unsolved plane crashes and the Bermuda Triangle, Air & Space Magazine ran a six page story about Area 51, the secretive Nevada base at (dried-up) Groom Lake, 80 miles NW of Las Vegas where the high flying spy planes were born in the sixties (and, more recently, the unmanned drones that wreak havoc in Afghanistan). The story’s author, William B. Scott, wrote that he had been seeking unsuccessfully to visit the base for 40 years but has never gotten nearer than Highway 375 which is flanked by buried sensors that alert security about any vehicle that stops. The other alternative is to climb a mountain that overlooks the base from over 30 miles away. What is known, says Scott, is that maintaining the base costs $1 million per day, which has excessively lengthy runways, which are revealed in a satellite image reproduced in the mag.. Fortuitously helping to keep Groom Lake’s secrets, are the many wild tales (but no contrails) about UFO’s and alien beings. These are encouraged because they add to the confusion. “Without question”, Scott adds, “black world operators have become master at such deception to protect their work.”
THE WILCOCK WEB: Now that the military is insisting that we stay in Afghanistan for several more years, it looks like General Betrayus has turned out to be an appropriate pseudonym after all… And, BTW, didn’t we elect a certain president to bring the war to a close?…. War does not determine who is right -- only who is left …. Noting that mischievous readers have been moving the George W. Bush presidential memoirs to the ‘crime’ section in bookstores, the Guardian said that shelving books by category had become ‘tyrannical” and suggested that Richard Dawkins might place the Bible in the fantasy or science fiction section…. One short bathroom shelf should be enough for books in the new George W. Bush Presidential Library… Hey there, Alaskans: if you’re going to write in somebody’s name in the ballot wouldn’t it be a good idea to check the spelling before you vote?….The spillover from Mexico of an “imaginary crime-wave” is what justified Arizona’s “draconian” new law says FAIR’s Extra but the real criminals are the US gun dealers whose weapons back those deadly cartel killings south of the border…In a story about Proposition 19 (lamentably lost) Reason stated that 400,000 Californians smoke pot every day…. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public …….It won’t be long before there’s an inevitable angry showdown between Russian president Vladimir Putin and a very pissed-off Mikael Gorbachev….Have you ever noticed how the financial community’s excitement about the present is always tempered by its depression about the future? (And they’re always right) …. "What is the point of wars and warships and glittering statues” asked Socrates, “if the men who build them are not happy?”….Predictably, that skinflint Rupert Murdoch is not among the billionaires who have agreed to devote part of their wealth to helping other people instead of just themselves….Advertising will probably subsidize the cost of thousands of expensive new charging stations for electric cars. Costing mucho dollars but charging a mere couple of bucks per charge, they would otherwise never recoup their installation costs….. At least Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, 45, had the sense to find a younger lover. Her husband, the serial killer, is 86….UNCOMPLIMENT: “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily wrote Charles, Count Talleyrand…..Responding to Nicholas Negroponte’s prediction that books will be obsolete within a few years, one critic charges that Negroponte’s operation sent 100 e-books loaded with text to an African village without electricity…. Now that Apple has passed the $300bn mark, it’s within sight of taking over from Exxon-Mobil ($331bn) as the world’s largest company……..Ninety-nine per cent of lawyers give the rest a bad name…..And 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot…..”Piers Morgan mentioned (Tony) Blair’s family 87 times in his own memoirs” writes Kevin Maguire in the New Statesman, “yet the ex-PM seems not to have known Morgan, mentioning him zero times” ….Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film …..London’s Guardian says that Bob Geldof lost $3.5m when the government’s budget cuts axed an education contract with his online production company… Millions of people yearn to see the background scenes of Survivor (all those offstage areas never seen on the show). Unless they’re nuts they must be making a documentary movie for release when/if the series ends…. If it eventually came to a war with China, would that mean all the huge US debt would be expunged?….. I call him free who is led solely by reason--Baruch Spinoza (1632-77)
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
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— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--The Village Voice (continued) --Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column, ECHOÂ and Larry Adler, Woody Allen plays classic nerd, A sample Village Square column
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— Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
— Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
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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.
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
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