the column of lasting insignificance: May 21, 2011
by John Wilcock
GET OUT OF JAIL FREE
--headline on a story by William Greider in the Nation which, among other reasons, explains that “Criminal indictments would not be good for investor confidence”.
IT’S A MYSTERY why the have-nots (which include all dedicated Democrats) shy away from the subject of class warfare when that’s exactly what’s needed if there’s any hope of a redistribution of wealth. And, of course, it’s exactly that that Rush Limbaugh’s fans have seized upon. How dare anybody suggest that people who have more money than they’ll ever need give some of it up, voluntarily or otherwise, to help the millions who have barely enough to survive? Yet class warfare—a give-no-quarter fight between the have-nots and the plutocrats—is the only way this situation will ever change. “As long as those three catchphrases—class warfare, social engineering, redistribution of wealth—provoke the same Pavlovian responses from Republicans and Democrats alike, the rich have nothing to worry about” writes David Macaray in CounterPunch. “While the bottom four-fifths struggle to stay afloat, and the upper one-fifth cautiously tread water, the top 1 per cent continue to accumulate wealth at a staggering rate”. And he reprints an old joke:
THE CUPCAKE CRAZE has become such a phenomenon that it’s earned an eight-page feature in the May issue of the business magazine Inc. But even its multitudinous makers and bakers are beginning to wonder when the fad will fade and are pondering what they will do next. “The fashion seems euphoric” writes Burt Helm, “too good to be true” while dropping the names of fans such as Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Streisand.
FRESH-BAKED PASTRIES are a bigger draw in Shanghai than coffee, which accounts for the success of the Taiwan-based chain 85C, over its rival Starbucks. The latter sells pastries too, but they’re delivered from factories, whereas (reports Stores) 85C has glass-walled kitchens in which breads and cakes are made in plain view of customers. There are usually lines around the block. And, in contrast to Starbucks’ coffee prices of up to $4 a cup, 85C charges about half as much.
CONSIDER A WORLD without photographs of the past. That’s what we’re headed towards, predicts Scientific American, if everything is to become digital images with no long-lasting prints. Because current digital files will inevitably be obsolete in a few years, and then nobody will be able to read them—just like all the other defunct electronic systems and online storage facilities that have already disappeared. “Make a commitment”, SA advises, to keep copying your pictures “to whatever the latest storage medium happens to be”.
THOSE AGGRAVATING TELEPHONE machines that keeps you on hold while you wait…and wait…and wait for a real live person to attend to can be bypassed, it seems. AARP Bulletin lists Dial-A-Human.com or GetHuman.com through which you can look up the numbers of numerous companies and find a way to break through. It also mentions lucyphone.com where you’ll get the option of leaving your number and awaiting a call back when there’s actually somebody on the line.
FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE set by British tax protesters who have been picketing corporations, USUncut now has 40 local chapters reports In These Times which says that roughly a quarter of the largest US companies reported zero tax liability in a recent year. Citizens for Tax Justice estimate that corporate loopholes will cost the US Treasury Dept $365bn this year alone. Members of US Uncut have been standing guard with challenging signs outside the likes of Boeing (tax rebate of $75m on $9.7bn in profits) and GE. The major loophole allows US corporations to defer taxes on profits made overseas until brought back home (which may be never). Commenting on the 35% tax rate ostensibly imposed on US corporations, National Review comments: “We are the only major country to impose such a high national rate on all the international earnings of domestic companies, and then we complain that companies keep those profits overseas to avoid punitive taxation”.
RUNNING BAREFOOT is better for the feet because the initial thrust is on the toes rather than the heels. Thus, the Italian company Vibram has designed Five Fingers, a running shoe in which each toe is wrapped separately like in a glove. They’re about to go mainstream, reports Forbes. “The age of the modern running shoe that began in the 1970s with Phil Knight and Nike may just be entering its twilight”.
IN A STORY spreading over six pages, Advertising Age celebrated the 125th anniversary of 125 years of Coca Cola’s start as an advertiser, a campaign into which it was soon pouring a million dollars a year. (Today its annual ad budget is $2.9 billion). One of Coke’s earliest gimmicks was the distribution of coupons for a free drink, the first company to try that. And it’s managed to stay top of the heap, despite longtime rivalry from Pepsi which it even displaced from the #2 spot after the introduction of Diet Coke which now claims to sell 110 million servings per day.
THE WILCOCK WEB: The pathetically paranoid Chinese government has now declared war on flowers……“The first rule of American commerce now seems to be that one must not offend the Chinese Communist party. There hardly seems to be any need for an actual invasion” says National Review, commenting on changing the villains to North Koreans in the remake of the movie Red Dawn ….RON PAUL HAS BEEN CRAZY FOR SO LONG, HE’S STARTING TO MAKE SENSE –front page blurb from Esquire…....Convicted financial crooks who are found guilty should go to jail before their appeal not afterwards....In the contest for the biggest hypocrite, it’s hard to choose between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich….. “On a scale of 1 to 10 how weird would you say you are?” is one of the questions put to applicants who seek work at Las Vegas’ shoe company Zappos “There is no right answer to that question” says recruiting manager Christa Foley…..A rip-off outfit called the World Reserve Monetary Exchange is offering to send suckers five $2 bills for $48 plus shipping…. If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?…. I do not Twitter, therefore I have no “followers” except, perhaps, the readers of this column…. If you bought a gallon of print ink at the same price as
they charge for it in the cartridges, it would cost you $4,731…. If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?….As the spring climbing session begins on Mt Everest it will be possible for the first time to make calls, and send text and video from the new solar-powered base station at 17,060 feet. Last year 32,000 trekkers checked in here but only 486 climbed to the summit…. One-third of American companies provide coffee to employees, 54% of which describe the coffee as “tolerable” and 10% as “terrible….Sweden’s Karolinska Institute claims that drinking two or more cups of coffee a day reduces the chance of a stroke….Florida-based Green Secure Solutions is visiting supermarkets with a truck equipped to sanitize shopping carts which it claims “are brimming with bacteria”….In Portland, OR, Amy Henderson has opened Geezer Gallery to encourage pensioners to get off their butts and create art…. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman. ….Noting that even the wettest dog can shake itself dry within moments, researchers at Georgia’s Institute of Technology are working with Whirlpool to see if similar shaking motions can be simulated to speed up drying machines… “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.”---Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)
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— 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.
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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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