“In the U.S. there is basically one party—the business party. It
has two factions called Democratic and Republican, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population”
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.”
IF YOUR LIFE has been filled with joyous experiences, says AARP magazine, why spend the rest of eternity sealed in a run-of-the-mill casket? “That’s part of the reason a Singapore philanthropy partnered with local nursing home to come up with a concept known as ‘happy coffins’”. Among recent commissions of the Lien Foundation is the one shown. The mag says that before designers begin work they discuss with the recipients “their lives, passions and dreams”.
HISTORY PLAYED “an ironic joke” on the younger Bush
Brothers back in 2000 says the Spectator. “The embarrassing brother won the presidency and the responsible one got stuck outside”. They’re referring to former Florida governor Jeb Bush, now 57, whom they predict will be a presidential candidate in 2012 despite ”his relatives’ shortcomings”. Jeb apparently disavows such ambitions but the magazine warns that this is a familiar stance--“the coy fellow who poses as a non-candidate until he becomes one”.
WHAT A BUSY FELLOW Elon Musk is these days. With the launch of his Tesla car and the ambitious plans of his Space X company to offer joy rides into the stratosphere, you’d think he has enough on his plate. But he’s become an irresistible subject for magazine stories about various other activities, and in the latest, he tells Inc. about his ideas for easing the congestion on crowded highways. “The simplest” he says, “is to use aerospace engineering to double-decker the freeways” He plans to start a company to prefabricate aluminum risers to erect above the road. “It’s a no-brainer—easily done. They would look quite pretty”.
OLD BONES AND ASHES of dead saints have been the product of phony
sales of religious relics for so long that around 400AD even St. Augustine himself denounced “hypocrites in the garb of monks hawking the limbs of martyrs, if indeed (they were) martyrs”. Today, in scores of religious centers around the world where gullible acolytes gather, slivers of the True Cross (centerpiece of the alleged crucifixion) have always been a best-seller. There are enough of them, wrote John Calvin in 1543, to form “a whole ship’s cargo that more than 300 men could carry”.
The ingenuous explanation for this endless supply is that the cross (where is it?), constantly renews itself, no matter how many splinters are removed. Yeah, and Noah obviously needed an ark the size of the Serengetti. But no worries: should the holy timber ever run out, another popular relic is a “pilgrim’s token”, a clay figure supposedly incorporating ashes of the True Cross.
Famed researcher Joe Nickell confesses that he has one of these, quoting in the Skeptical Reporter some sarcastic comments by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) in his Canterbury Tales. Chaucer, if he lived today, would not be surprised by the present economic scene. “Greed” he explained. “is at the root of all evil”.
A POPULAR CANDY which disappeared in the ‘80s in on the way back: Turkish Taffy, made by the Bonomo company until bought by Tootsie Roll Industries which changed the formula and eventually closed it down. “A Hershey bar you can eat in 30 seconds; Bonomo’s takes 30 minutes” explains the founder’s grandson, Wayne Bonomo, about the sticky treat that was known for the way buyers cracked it on the table to break it into little bits. After a long search, the company’s new owners found a manufacturer in Pennsylvania and will revive the treat that once sold more than a million bars a year.
DESPITE THE EXPANSION of the radio telescopes that search endlessly for signals from extra-terrestrial sources, not everybody approves of this enterprising mission. One scientist is quoted by the Economist as stating that humans have a moral obligation to announce their presence but the mag says that broadcasting signals into outer space “is tantamount to ringing a dinner bell for any carnivorous, cannibalizing or anti=social aliens who might be listening”.
PERSONAL: Thanks to all the folk who emailed me after the recent NYTimes blog about my early travel books.. One New York lady even said she’d like to travel with me, but didn’t give an address, so I hope you’re not just teasing, m’dear. I’d love to have company. And btw, can anybody suggest somewhere I can drive to in the West (moderately-priced) that would be a good place to spend Christmas? Ojai, can become so boring.
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)
this link to a friend
Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email
comments? send an email to John Wilcock
- Complete column archives:
2006 - present
— Dear Readers...
– Week of January 25, 2017
— 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, donâ€™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 Hoaxâ€¦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: Â 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 Sixâ€”The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
– Week of October 24, 2015
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fiveâ€”Reefer Madness (continued)--Jan and Stan change my life; The man who turned on the world
– Week of October 17, 2015
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fiveâ€”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 Fourâ€”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 Fourâ€”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, ECHOÂ 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 Shepherdâ€™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 Mailerâ€™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...
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
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
The Autobiography and Sex Life of AndyWarhol
by John Wilcock
Edited by Christopher Trela
Photographs by Shunk-Kender
Village Voice and Interview cofounder John Wilcock was first drawn into the
milieu of Andy Warhol through film-maker Jonas Mekas, assisting on some
of Warhol’s early films, hanging out at his parties and quickly becoming a
regular at the Factory. “About six months after I started hanging out at the
old, silvery Factory onWest 47th Street,” he recalls, “[Gerard] Malanga came
up to me and asked, ‘When are you going to write something about us?’”
Already fascinated by Warhol’s persona, Wilcock went to work, interviewing
the artist’s closest associates, supporters and superstars. Among these were
Malanga, Naomi Levine, Taylor Mead and Ultra Violet, all of whom had been
in the earliest films; scriptwriter Ronnie Tavel, and photographer Gretchen
Berg; art dealers Sam Green, Ivan Karp, Eleanor Ward and Leo Castelli, and
the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Henry Geldzahler; the poets Charles Henri
Ford and Taylor Mead, and the artist Marisol; and the musicians Lou Reed and Nico. Paul Morrisey supplied the title: The Autobiography and Sex Life of
AndyWarhol was the first oral biography of the artist. First published in 1971,
and pitched against the colorful backdrop of the 1960s, it assembles a prismatic
portrait of one of modern art’s least knowable artists during the early
years of his fame. The Autobiography and Sex Life is likely the most revealing
portrait of Warhol, being composite instead of singular; each of its interviewees
offers a piece of the puzzle that was Andy Warhol. This new edition
corrects the many errors of the first, and is beautifully designed in a bright,
Warholian palette with numerous illustrations.
The British-born writer John Wilcock co-founded The Village Voice in 1955,
and went on to edit seminal publications such as The East Village Other, Los
Angeles Free Press, Other Scenes and (in 1970) Interview, with Andy Warhol.