the column of lasting insignificance: Feb. 26, 2011
by John Wilcock
FARMS AND GARDENS are drawing increasing attention these days as people want to know more about their food and where it comes from. In the early days of this country, writes Jane Handel, small farmers and landholders were the backbone of American democracy, considered to be the people best equipped to safeguard democratic ideals. But, she says, “the proponents of agribusiness and factory farming along with their lobbyists in Congress have created a stranglehold on what we eat (leaving us) in thrall to industrial agricultural interests”.
WILLS AND KATE, the young Royal couple are due to marry on April 30 but until then, says Rod Liddle, the world can expect to be inundated with endless rubbish from the tabloid press with their “long sharp noses for filth and discord”. Already, the Spectator columnist reports, have been criticisms of commoner Kate’s clothes and hairstyle and will inevitably be “frantic digging for dirt” about her family. The media on these occasions, he charges, “behaves like a deranged dog determined to bite off its hind leg”.
LONDON’S BID FOR the 2012 Olympic Games was strongly criticized by skeptics when it was made (and granted) five years ago, and now all the gloomy predictions are coming true. Specifically, it’s not just what it’s going to cost (at least $18bn) but the outrageous demands of the International Olympics Committee which include 40,000 reserved hotel rooms, 500 air-conditioned limos with uniformed chauffeurs, a $500m Olympic Village for competitors and no spectators allowed to wear anything with a brand for unapproved sponsors (police and customs’ confiscation of unofficial items). Authorities ‘are required to obtain control of all (outdoor) advertising for the duration of the Games’ and billboards must be in French as well as English (French is the IOC’s second language). These are only a few of the conditions in the “Olympic technical manuals”, reports the Spectator, which have been kept secret from the public for years until repeated Freedom of Information requests finally got them released.
THE WILCOCK WEB: If the Republicans go ahead and cut the subsidies to PBS, it can only improve public broadcasting which will be obliged to use more imagination about their programming, to do better with less money….Congressional leaders are still resisting televising their proceedings because they’re aware of how often ESPN’s cameras might reveal that attendance is so meager….A study by something called Neuroscience Letters reports that chewing gum reduces stress and improves subjects’ “postural stability” improving their ability to stand still without wavering……. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad…. Alex Trebek said that Watson, the IBM computer, could neither hear nor talk, but the questions were addressed simultaneously to all three contestants and the answers from Watson were in a human voice. What a ridiculous contest. They stuff a computer with billions of words from every reference book known to man and expect a human to know more?…...In the small Spanish hill town of Trevelez, a Muslim child was offended by a mention of ham and reported his teacher to the police for offending his religion….. ”People always call it luck” says novelist Ann Tyler, “when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have”…. According to The Week, Germany’s Andreas Muller, 39, won a $30,000 Mini Cooper car by allowing the firm’s logo to be tattooed on his penis…. Supreme Court Justice Uncle Thomas apparently hasn’t spoken during court arguments for five years. Pity he can’t keep his wife quiet, too….A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory…NYT critics complain that this year’s Oscar selections were “a white-out” but it surely would have been even more racist to say, “Hey, better get some black names in that line-up or we’ll have Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott on our tails”….The frauds and criminals who run companies such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and AIG Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and AIG have not been prosecuted for ripping off billions because
the SEC and so-called regulators are as deeply involved in the crimes themselves suggests Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi in an anarchy-inspiring piece “How Wall Street’s Crooks Evaded Jail”….The spreading worldwide war of the haves versus the have-nots will inevitably reach America sooner or later....”Sidewalk Rage” becomes the latest outdoor hassle pedestrians have to deal with, according to a Wall Street Journal story headed ‘Get Out of My Way, You Jerk’ and compared the speed of different pedestrians (tourists: 3.79ft per second; people heading for work: 4.41)….In a not-too-complimentary interview in Los Angeles, talk show maven Laura Schlessinger talks about surviving frequent criticisms: “Most everyone who has ever attacked me got away with it…I’ve been bitten up one side and down the other and I’m still here."...A basketball with an internal sensor developed by InfoMotion Sports Technologies transmits an analysis of each shot to your computer ….”The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins”—Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55)
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— From the archives... The religion of Violence & Statistics, otherwise known as college football; WPA II; Would it be called Indiastan or Pakindia?; Who you Gonna call? Crime Predictors; Being a Bank means you never having to say you're sorry; Oil vs. Democracy, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— From the archives... The Mother of All Family Feuds, Otaku Means Geek in Japanese, Affirmative Action or 'It all depends on who you know', The Moonies are packin', and of course, the Wilcock Web......
— Dear Reader,
— Dear Readers...
— John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, donâ€™t forget the Republican Paradox
— 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
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library;
In the Cannes
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
— 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
— 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
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon;
The Shinjuku Sutra
— 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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixâ€”The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— 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
— 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.
- column archives: 2006 - present
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