"In terms of what people think about me, the truth of the matter is, I guess I care to a certain extent, but not enough to go out in the public and plead for some kind of new understanding of me. I served and now it’s time for the new man to serve. I have zero desire to be in the limelight.”
—George W Bush talking to AARP
THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION and the subsequent murder of the Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family, endlessly recounted in millions of words and pictures, never seems to entirely leave the news despite having happened almost a century ago.
Nicholas II had reigned since 1894, but had been unpopular since 1905 when his troops killed workers advancing on St Petersburg’s Winter Palace to complain of starvation pay. When the revolution began in 1917 the czar and his family, were first confined to a small house at Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains 900 miles east of Moscow and then—on Lenin’s orders—executed one night without warning.
Nicholas II and the Romanov family, photo credit: The Smithsonian
Reportedly the bodies were initially dumped in an iron mine before being either burned or buried in the woods. That’s what’s always been in dispute. In May 1979, scientists discovered skeletons buried in the woods outside Yekaterinburg and DNA tests seeming to prove they were the Romanovs. But were they? The Russian Orthodox Church denies the findings, says the Smithsonian, because they are seeking to be the ones to sanctify the family. This would enhance their cause of restoring royal rule to Russia.
“The monarchy was brutally put to an end and it was a tragedy for Russia” says Princess Vera Obolensky, who claims to be a descendant of the infamous 16th c. czar Ivan the Terrible”.
Recounting the entire fascinating tale, the Smithsonian amplifies this probably futile quest, but partly explains it with a quote from French historian Mirielle Massip: “Democracy is not popular, because democrats turned out to be total losers. Communists aren’t popular. Monarchism is something fresh and fashionable”.
DEATH WISHES: Bill O’Reilly joked about some Washington Post columnist—with whom, he disagreed—being decapitated; Glenn Beck performed a skit about poisoning Nancy Pelosi; Liz Trotta joked about assassinating Barack Obama; and Mike Huckabee “frequently features calls for Obama’s killing—‘to get what Kennedy got’”. What do these comments have in common? They’re all heard on Fox News, whose boss Rupert Murdoch (reports Extra, the magazine of Fair ) maybe set the tone by telling cable operators “Cancel us and you might get your house burnt down”.
THE RISE AND FALL of Arnold Schwarzenegger occupies six pages of the January Los Angeles magazine but it’s not too hard on California’s ex-governor even though writer Ed Leibowitz says he “prevaricated and bungled, switching sides as it suited him to save his political skin”. Ending his term with a pitiful 22% public approval rating, the action-hero guv who had ”vowed to cut up the state’s credit card” had actually tripled its debt” wrote Leibowitz, and “sometimes appeared like a hard-luck uncle reduced to pawning the family china”. On the positive side, though, with his Global Warning Solutions Act, Schwartzenegger “became the most important environmental warrior in both Hollywood and American politics…charming and cajoling enough heads of state and ordinary citizens to reduce their carbon footprint while there was still time”.
“Afghanistan is swimming in money which not only hasn’t ended the war but prolongs it, because everybody’s chasing it…It also causes corruption; Government officials take 10 to 40%. Next, local power brokers—who often include people we call the Taliban—get their share. The last 10 to 40 percent goes to those who do construction”
—Matthew Hoh in the Nation
STORIES ABOUT GOLD keep popping up in the business magazines as its value keeps climbing. Buying it, and selling it, both make news. Last year twice as much was melted down from scrap jewelry than was used to make new bling according to Fortune which reports that in November it reached $1,400 an ounce. It quoted a prediction that it might hit $1,800 this year (its all-time high was $2,387 in 1980). Of course, value and
price go up as well as down and gold fever is not eternal. “The ultimate asset bubble is gold” says George Soros—the biggest question being whether it will burst years from now or next week. The main motivations for buying gold, says Gold Newsletter’s publisher Brien Lundin, are the usual culprits: fear and greed.
IS THIS THE final chapter for Sarah Palin hopefully asks Robert McCrum in the Guardian, explaining that “Palin fever is on the wane. Her reality show ratings are on a par with Mad Men (respectable but not extraordinary) and her readers are deserting Planet Palin. Her first book, Going Rogue, was a No. 1 bestseller. However, her new one, America By Heart, failed to reach the top spot….but at least Obama writes his own stuff. Palin's book was cooked up by a team of ghosts”.
THE LONDON REVIEW of Books is about to drop its teasing erudite, erotic, personal ads. Here’s a typical example of what we’ll be missing in future:
"Why Mahler? Is Ibsen edifying? I don't have answers, but I do have tickets! Seeking inquisitive, appreciative, adventuresome lover of words and music, 60ish man, to share the experience, ponder the questions. email: BritLit1950@gmail.com"
HONG KONG AUTHOR Gordon. C. Chang (North Korea Takes On the World )
says that it may not be Kim Jong Ill’s tubby son who’ll assume the ultimate power when his father dies, but rather his brother-in-law, Jang Song Thaek, 64. Supposedly, the aging dictator wants his sister to protect young Kim Jong Un, but Chang speculates that she and her husband might take over themselves. “It would not be the first time in history that a boy king was cast aside by wily elders”.
“I want us to get back to doing things because they’re fun. I love to dance…That exercise is medicine. It’s better than most pills” --U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin
photo credit: China Daily
THE WILCOCK WEB: Financial analysts say banks have recovered enough to start paying out again. Does that mean paying interest on accounts? Are you kidding? Customers are much too insignificant for that. No, the money is to be spent on restoring dividends….If/when the revolution comes, it’s bankers who will be in the cross-hairs, not politicians….And, as difficult as it might be to do, reports the FDIC, nine million U.S. householders are so angry at banks that they’re trying to live their lives without using them…. What’s the difference between illegal gambling and what they do on Wall Street?.…. Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad’s new museum—an edifice complex if there ever was one—hasn’t even been built yet and it’s already being scorned. NYT architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussof calls it “a project that fails with an unpleasant thud” …..”Art is the only way to run away without leaving home” says Twyla Tharp….If a mass killer is also nuts, isn’t that an even better reason to eliminate him from society?….And is “alleged” always the most appropriate description for obvious murders? …. Suffused with full page movie ads, the New York Times Arts section devotes 60% of its space to advertising…. Bausch & Lomb’s new contact lens liquid simulates tears and is said to be the first that doesn’t sting…...Eyesight Kiosks offering customers a free opportunity to check their vision have started to appear in malls across the south.…...Movie ratings systems are outdated says critic Roger Ebert, suggesting that only three categories are needed: G for young audiences; T for teenagers and A for adults …. Half the people you know are below average avers Steven Wright… A letter-writer to the Nation suggests that banning advertising on television would not only improve the atmosphere but save everybody money (except the channels that supposedly belong to the public)…. SheriPEN’s purifier filters water via a hand-cranked ultra-violet light, which eliminates the need for electricity or batteries….Denver and Chicago have initiated bicycle-sharing facilities (pick-up and leave at racks around town, from $65 a year) and Honolulu will be next... “Be careful of reading health books- you might die of a misprint” warned Mark Twain…. In Russia’s Arctic province of Komi, bears have been digging up corpses from graveyards because of a shortage of other food…. Contrary to what you might guess, the AARP Bulletin reports that 80% of the oldest (65+) baby boomers feel they are “very knowledgeable” about technology….As of this month, another baby boomer turns 65 every eight seconds…. Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?…. As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.--Voltaire (1694-1778)
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
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Christo & Jeanne-Claude
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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
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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
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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 Andy Warhol
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.