The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance: Dec. 4, 2010
by John Wilcock
“The US computer industry..employs only 166,000—fewer than in 1975 when the first PC was assembled—while the industry in Asia employs 1.5 million workers, engineers and managers…they make the products Americans know as Dell, Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Intel. The US government can confront (this) by altering bottom-line incentives for multinationals based here…by laying a stiff penalty on corporations that continue to offshore more production than they create at home”
—William Greidert in The Nation.

IT CAN’T BE MUCH LONGER before people start to realize what a ridiculous amount of time they’re wasting on Facebook and Twitter and all the other vapid social sites. Too embedded worldwide to fade away and, of course, invaluable in certain circumstances, Facebook will nevertheless eventually start shedding its more fad-obsessed members as more and more of them come to appreciate that there are also advantages to being disconnected.

Ari Melber’s radiantly explicit “review” or explication of the Facebook movie, The Social Network, quotes an early e-mail said to have been sent to a Harvard friend in which Zuckerman boasts he has info on thousands of students. The friend asks how he did it? Zuck: I don’t know why...they “trust me”...dumb fuckers.

A recent book, Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers dealt with some of the drawbacks of this near-universal digital involvement, among them—ironically—social isolation (from real life). There’s a backlash brewing, suggests John Mecklin, editor of the super-slick Miller-McCune (the non-profit magazine of an educational foundation) who wrote that digital gadgets and ever-increasing interconnectedness “are losing their cool”. Mecklin says he talked to Powers who suggested that “young people are beginning to question the idea that having ever-more digital screens, networks and applications will bring happiness and success…let’s figure out whether the Web is the greatest productivity tool ever invented or a destroyer of initiative and long thoughts”.

WHAT’S THE POINT of the US Treasure storing all that gold? asks James Picerno in an Atlantic story illustrated by piles and piles of it—part of a hoard worth $300 billion. “In an age of soaring deficits, our gold reserves earn no income, incur huge storage costs and save no practical purpose short of a politically unworkable renaissance of gold-based money.” Picerno writes.

QUOTING FROM SOMETHING called ChinaHush, Utne Reader illustrates a new solution to easing congestion on the roads. It’s the Radical Straddle Bus which runs atop the highway itself, straddling two lanes of traffic and allowing room in the middle for cars to pass underneath. Cheap to build and easy to install, claims the Shenzhen Hashi company, it will make its debut on a 115-mile stretch of road in Beijing next month and will allegedly cut traffic congestion by at least 25%.


Radical Straddler
Radical Straddler

AS EVERYBODY HAS recently learned, banks are the biggest legal crooks known to our civilization and hardly a day goes by when they’re not thinking of another charge with which they can gouge the public. The latest example is with that innovative system in which small loans were made available to Third World peasants to start businesses. Of course, in no time the profiteering banks jumped in to turn it into a big business (for them) with interest rates so high that the idea has now been corrupted into near extinction. Long gone are the days when we thought banks were responsible, honest or even concerned about the communities they bleed. “Want to get away with murder? Become a bank” writes columnist Allan Sloan in Fortune, calling them “the biggest danger to the U.S. capitalist system”, the current scam being ‘the foreclosure fiasco’. With friends like these, Sloan concludes, “the capitalist system doesn’t need enemies”.

THE RICHEST MAN in Europe is how Forbes describes its cover-man, Bernard Arnault, the listing of whose companies occupy an entire page in the magazine and range from Pucci, Dior and Donna Kazan to Hennessy, Krug, Moet and Chandon and Hublot watches ($21,000 each). Arnault, 61, has 60 brands in his stable, the mag says, and is worth $39bn while supervising 2,468 stores around the world and currently thinking about opening in Lhasa, Tibet. His LVMH empire is the world’s “largest purveyor of luxury goods” and described by Vogue’s Anna Wintour as “pretty much unstoppable”.

AND SPEAKING OF GREED, what a bunch of selfish snobs most Indian tycoons are, says a columnist in Hong Kong’s Asia Times, pinpointing the likes of steel baron Lakshmi Mittal who spent $65m on his daughter’s wedding or liquor magnate Vijay Mallya who drapes himself in gold and diamonds. This in a land where millions try to survive on a dollar a day or less. Instead of giving to the poor or building schools, writes Sudha Ramaachandran, the moguls concentrate on “flaunting their wealth”.

Case in point, Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, whose 27-storey house with three helipads and a cinema in Mumbai is bigger than Versailles and cost $1bn.

“Most contentiously, (Andrew) Hacker and (Claudia) Dreifus contend that professors’ research gets in the way of education (by which they mean teaching). What if colleges and universities were to shed their research components so they could focus on education?” they ask. --Review in The American Prospect of ‘Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids-and What We Can Do About It’.

OH, THE IRONY of that lawsuit in Santa Barbara against the Boy Scouts who are now being chastised for not noticing that one of their Scout leaders was molesting young boys, at more or less the same time as the Scouts were being reviled and attacked for not allowing young gay lads to join the organization. Of course, pederasts and gays are not necessarily the same, as gay organizations have always claimed, presumably maintaining that screwing young boys is okay as long as the ages of both partners is acceptable. And what age would that be?

End the UnWinnable War

FRIENDLY PARKING TICKETS are being dispensed to drivers by the Cambridge, MA. transportation department which claims it wants to debunk the idea that giving out a ticket is a hostile action. What makes the ticket different is that it’s illustrated with a yoga pose, part of a public art project by Rhode Island School of Design professor Daniel Peltz. Reporting the story, Stores magazine says victims “shouldn’t let the citation salutation upset their inner tranquility and instead should opt for yoga”.

CONSUMERS ANXIOUS TO ADD new boasts to their resumes are taking it to extremes, reports the Journal of Consumer Research, sleeping on beds of ice in the growing number of Ice Hotels and eating bacon-flavored ice cream, for example. “(People are) attracted to these activities and products” the report’s authors write, “to build their ‘experiential CV’—a desire connected to people’s striving to use time efficiently and productively”.


Manhattan MemoriesMY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Manhattan Memories, might make a good Christmas present for somebody and of course buying one (lulu.com or amazon.com) would be giving me a Christmas present, too! If you have a Kindle the book only costs about ten bucks.

"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



THE WILCOCK WEB: The corruptness of the Senate has no better illustration than the tradition that allows a solitary senator to hold up just about any legislation until his bribe is big enough….Egypt rejects as “interference” the observers we planned to send to ensure fair elections. No comment though on the interfering way we hand them billions of dollars a year….Considering how big Sarah Palin’s ego will be by 2012, how could she resist running for the top job? ….… Unless they want to get fooled again, voters in 2012 should give their votes only to candidates who sign an iron-clad pledge to end the un-winnable war immediately….Every day, 400 names of suspected terrorists are added to the National Counter-Terrorism Center’s watch list says its director Michael Leiter…. Of course, rumor has it that all of TSA’s millions of searches, pat-downs, shoe-shuffles and confiscations over the past few years hasn’t identified a single terrorist ….That phony Taliban leader we’ve been bribing for years to talk to us, isn’t the only imposter in Afghanistan; there’s also Hamid Karzai who’s been pretending to be a democratic president…. A major aim of the aircraft industry, says New Science, is to reduce weight in planes by replacing miles of copper wiring with an intricate sensor-linked wireless system….New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff ran one of his own cartoons in a recent issue. It was just as unfunny as those of his contributors….London’s famous black taxis are being made in China with a left hand drive, for use in Paris….Beer drinking is sharply declining in Germany, of all places, where product from the four biggest global brewers share less than one-fifth of the market, but 1,300 local breweries have prospered until recently…. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience…. .Many of the mince pies and puddings that English super-markets are already selling will be past their sell-by date before Christmas…. How could otherwise serious people take a self-promoting nonentity like Fran Lebowitz, mistress of the obvious utterance, seriously? ….With the installation of 3G connections, climbers reaching the 17,000ft base camp on Mt Everest are now sending videos and emails….. Nude models wearing dresses sprayed directly onto their bodies took part in a recent London fashion show (Google ‘Fabricon Spray-On’ to see the process)….. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s unisex hospital gowns, which can be opened at either side, are being tested in the Cleveland Clinic…. A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it…..Don’t waste money jailing the organizers of cockfights—just use their own knives to cut them up a bit….The only antidote to TSA woes is to lay off flying for a while…”If you don’t have enemies in life, you have never stood up for anything”—Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

11/20/10

===========================

Share

Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

comments? send an email to John Wilcock

===========================

recent columns...

- 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, 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...

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)



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



The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol

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.