the column of lasting insignificance: Jan. 15, 2011
by John Wilcock
CLASS WARFARE is the title of a show we’ll never see on television because the elitist crowd who prepare the schedules think that audiences are not interested in viewing a discussion of the issues most on people’s minds. These, of course, include the greed of banks, corporation rip-offs and the unceasing need to bribe politicians. Politics, oddly, is rarely the subject of a group discussion on television, apart from the bland punditry of the same old, same old, tired group that bore us every Sunday morning.
RACIAL DISCRIMINATION has not been erased in this country, merely redesigned, suggests Michelle Alexander, the method enhanced (and disguised) by bringing two million African-Americans under the control of the criminal justice system. “Once you’re labeled a felon…the old forms of discrimination—employment, housing, denial of the right to vote and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly (again) legal” she writes in The American Prospect. “The drug war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, despite the fact that studies consistently indicate that people of all races use and sell drugs at remarkably similar rates…in 2000, African Americans made up 80 to 90 percent of imprisoned drug offenders in some states.…As a nation we have managed to create a massive system of control that locks up a significant percentage of our population—a group defined largely by race—into a permanent, second-class status”. Ms. Alexander’s story was headed The New Jim Crow, a reference to the segregation laws that endured until 1965.
AFTER YEARS OF WORK, Austin cartoonist and musician Ethan Persoff, who’s currently art director of Evergreen Review, has finally finished archiving all 146 issues (3,000 pages) of Paul Krassner’s Realist which all sensible baby boomers grew up on. Beginning in 1958, Paul, with some cynicism and much humor, documented our changing times methodically and skeptically with such thoroughness that only a random list of names—Patty Hearst, Scientology, Groucho Marx, J. Edgar Hoover, Norman Mailer, Bill Gaines—can give a clue to the wide range. Check out The Realist/Archives.
CHINA DAILY has added Houston to the five other cities in which it is now publishing in this country and is currently offering free trial subscriptions. The paper’s appearance is surprisingly familiar to Western readers, and totally different from the rather staid version offered to visitors to Shanghai, so much so that a recent issue devoted almost half a page to a picture of a barely-covered model, illustrating a story headed The Naked Truth About Nude Art. It seems that newlyweds are among the main customers of the growing number of photo studios that specialize in
INCREASING NEWSPAPER CIRCULATIONS is not a phenomenon seen in most of the world, but India is producing more papers with increasing readership every day. Rising literacy (only 65% of adults can read), and the fact that only 7% of Indians use the Internet, are the main reasons for growing readership. But newspapers are also cheap: four rupees a copy (about 10c.)
NEWSPAPER WARS have arrived in Israel where the 75-year-old Yedioth Ahronoth (Latest News) has just been overtaken by the country’s newest daily Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today) which happens to be owned by Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, 77, who also owns resorts in Macau. Both papers claim daily circulations of 300,000 and claim to be read by about one-third of Israel’s population, but whereas the newcomer is free—one of almost 200 worldwide free dailies—Yedioth costs about $1.35 a copy.
V IS BACK, with its undisclosed mission. When it previewed in the fall. one critic speculated that they are here to eat us.
THE WILCOCK WEB: Some economists are predicting that, in 2011, the collapse of the Euro as currency will soon be preceded by Portugal’s return to the escudo, followed by the rebirth of the Irish punt and the Spanish peseta…. Why do we continue pouring billions into a country that believes anybody who criticizes Islam should be executed for “blasphemy”?…. Just before Christmas, one of Bernie Madoff’s investors generously decided to return $7.2bn her husband had made from the fund while insisting he was “in no way complicit” in the fraud. Come to think of it, what could possibly have raised suspicions?…. “By all means marry’ advised Socrates, “if you get a good wife you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one you’ll become a philosopher …. Scientists have figured out how to remove a single gene from the mosquito’s DNA which is the one the produces malaria. Now if they can spread it into a few trillion others”…. Judging by the saturation advertising for $10k watches, every rich guy must have a dozen of them ….. Evening news is where they begin with "Good evening," and then proceed to tell you why it isn't…. Lan Chile’s airline magazine IN, lists three places where both you and your dog can share a coffee: Sarasota’s Flying Dog Café, Mexico City’s Bow Wow Deli and Tomyto in Santiago. It doesn’t say if finicky pets can choose tea……..”Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it” observed George Sand….Why Can’t Kanye West Shut the Hell Up? was the title of an essay in last month’s Esquire…. Oakland pot grower Matt Cohen predicts that eventually tourists in northern California will be able to stay at ”bud ‘n’ breakfast inns….Pierre Le Guennec, who did electrical work at Picasso’s homes, turned up at the Picasso Admin’s Paris office with 175 undocumented works he claims the artist gave him ….If millions of shoppers are now able to manipulate coupons so that they pay
only pennies on the dollar, why don’t companies just abandon coupons and lower their prices?…. “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years” wisely remarked Samuel Ullman. “People grow old by deserting their ideals”…. If anything goes wrong with your Kenmore washer or dryer, just dial an 800 number and hold the phone to the machine which beeps what’s wrong with it so the technician can tell you how to fix it….Jamaica’s new airport will be named after Ian Fleming who wrote his James Bond books while living on the island….Tampico, IL. (current population: 772) was where Ronald Reagan was born 100 years ago on Feb 6…. A score of Massachusetts police departments have forked out $3,000 for the MORIS smart phone which has a built-in fingerprint scanner connected to the national database….Critics of Britain’s belated attempt to enter the speed=train business, claim that the projected line between London and Birmingham (estimated cost $25bn) works out at $750,00 for each minute saved….Ah, if only all the militant Shiites and militant Sunnis could agree to meet somewhere and kill each other off thus satisfying their frequently declared wish for universal martyrdom… Islam vs. infidels in Egypt. Is this the overture to a wider war?….”Seek not happiness too greedily” Lao Tzu (6th c. BC)
John Wilcock’s weekly column has been appearing around the world since its debut in the first issue of the Village Voice in October 1955
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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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
— 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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