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

the column of lasting insignificance: May 28, 2011
by John Wilcock

BERNIE MADOFF’S MOTHER presumably had some influence on her wayward son. “The greatest swindler in history wasn’t the only cheat in the family” says Psychology Today, reporting that Mama Madoff was once investigated by the SEC for failing to file financial reports for her brokerage firm, but withdrew her registration before it could be revoked. Her name is not mentioned in the mag’s essay but Williams College psychologist Susan Engel uses the affair to bolster an argument about the lack of empathy which, the mag suggests, indicates the level of caring about somebody else’s problems. “I am certain” speculates Engel, “that Bernie Madoff did not get the kind of influence in his childhood that how you do things is more important than whether you succeed”.

LADY GODIVA’S RIDE, naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry is a lovely tale but not quite true (who’d a thought it?) says BBC History Magazine footnoting the 12th century legend recorded by Roger of Wendover that the winsome babe’s escapade was to protest her husband’s imposition of heavy taxes. “In truth” the magazine comments, “Godiva and her husband were pious

Lady Godiva by John Collier
Lady GodivaTrue or not, this is the version we prefer to believe.

benefactors of the church and no harsher landlords” than any of the other rapacious barons of that particular era.

EUROPE’S RISING ISLAMOPHOBIA
, an essay in the Nation, purports to be a diatribe about the so-called ‘racists’ who express alarm about infiltration by what they see as a steadily increasing Muslim population. But almost every example this story offers, seems to make a stronger case for Islam’s enemies.

  • Thirty-seven per cent of the German population feel the Federal Republic would be better off “without Islam”
  • Former Berlin councilman Thilo Sarazzin says Muslims are “unwilling” and “unable” to integrate, they sponge off the welfare system and because of their higher birth rate will soon outnumber indigenous Germans
  • Orianna Fallaci’s…best-selling books insist that Islam is a thoroughly violent and totalitarian creed striving for world domination
  • Polls showed 80% of French voters in favor of banning the full veil
  • Alice Schwarzer writes that “tolerating” the religion means tolerating forced marriages, honor killings, burqas, female genital mutilation and polygamy
  • Conservatives call for limiting immigration because of Islam’s antipathy to gay rights and feminism
  • Pia Kjaersgaard’s Danish People’s Party, the country’s third biggest, claims that Muslims “are at lower stage of civilization with their own primitive and cruel customs like honor killings, forced marriages, halal slaughterings and blood feuds”
    The Dutch Freedom Party, with 16% of the electorate, “blames the easy-going model of Dutch multiculturalism for exposing the Nederlands to Islam and thus for undermining the very tolerance it naively extended to Muslim peoples”

All these factors are listed in Paul Hockenos’ story which defends the magnanimity of what has been described as “the politically correct elites”. It also includes the subtitle:

In large part the Islamophobic trail was blazed by intellectuals, a surprising number of whom had roots in progressive politics.

One of Hockenos’ final comments is:

“Of all the specters haunting Europe, none are as potent—or as potentially destructive to democracy--as Islamophobia”.

To his unpolitically-correct critics, that sentence is entirely correct with the deletion of the last seven letters.

GOING GREEN is a reputation that most eco-conscious folk like to claim for themselves, but it’s not always an honest one. “While 85 percent of US consumers report buying green goods, only 8% do it most of the time” reports AARP Magazine, pointing to the growing number of 50-plus Americans rebelling against the expensive side of environmentalism, “believing that value-for-money, trumps value-for-planet”. And the research group Crowd Science claims that one quarter of those polled over 55 think that shopping green “makes no difference”.

“No one could have gotten worse reviews or been the subject of crueler jokes than I did starting out. Every critic wanted to kick me. Every comic wanted to laugh at my expense. The terrible crime? Sitting at a piano singing heartfelt songs. Nobody could have been more surprised than I was, to find I wasn’t hip”
--Barry Manilow talking to the Mail on Sunday’s Alan Jackson

RARE EARTHS, needed for everything from nuclear reactors to iPods, are more and more in demand but less and less available seeing that China has pretty much monopolized the supply. It’s not that most of these silvery metals--of which cerium, neodymium and lanthamum are the most common--are hard to find, but that most countries have failed to develop supplies, which are usually difficult to extract, occurring in small batches embedded in radioactive minerals. China’s sources, however, come from a single massive iron ore mine in Inner Mongolia which last year provided about 90% of the world supply. Since then, China has been tripling prices and restricting supplies causing near-panic In the auto and computer industries which favor rare earths for their ability to acquire and shed electrons and store power.

SEEKING SOMETHING TO DO? ”If you have 700 hours to spare and can shim a rotor assembly to within .0001 of an inch, here’s a hobby for you” says Air&Space, its subject being ‘building your very own helicopter’. It’s not that hard, the mag proclaims, although for the non-techie, probably impossible. Pointing out that five companies make kits, the mag appears to favor the Helicycle from Idaho-based Eagle R&D whose entry-level kit for a one-seater begins at $28,000, about the price of an SUV. Before they finish assembling their model, owners are required to spend a week with one of the company’s instructors who has been holding back a couple of critical components. As of last year, 47 Helicycles were flying. Of course, not everybody has the necessary assembly skills. “Some people should only be building wheelbarrows” observes Al Behuncik, a dealer for the Arizona-based RotorWay company. He claims he can take a new A600 Talon from crate to flight in 350 hours, although a newcomer is likely to spend twice that time. After a series of accidents in the early days of craft built from helicopter kits, the FAA warned that “95 percent of the crashes happen at low speeds near the ground”.
    Incidentally, the American Helicopter Society is still offering $250,000 to anybody who can produce a human-powered helicopter that (unaided by lighter-than-air gases) can hover nine feet above ground for one minute. Current record is held by a Japanese team whose craft managed 20 seconds.

A DOG’S DNA doesn’t sound like it might count for very much, but on the Italian island of Capri, Mayor Ciro Lembo has mandated that owners of the 1,000 local dogs should submit samples to the police so that when doggy droppings are not cleared from the sidewalk, they can be identified and their keepers fined.

THE WILCOCK WEB: It’s possible to feel sympathy for Maria Shriver and still think she must be pretty dumb not to know for ten years that her husband, the guv, was screwing somebody in their office…. AdAge reports that Tina Brown’s new Newsweek is getting more ads but not as many as say, Time, its bigger (and now very different) rival. “We’re not rushing to put ads in Newsweek” one ad buyer told the trade mag….Britain’s former prime minister Gordon Brown is applying to be the IMF’s new worldwide boss. He’s the foolish finance chief who, defying advice, sold half of Britain’s gold reserves in 2007 when it was worth one-third as much as it soon became….That little plastic widget in cans of Guinness and Boddington’s beer that enables the liquid to form a thick, creamy foam, will soon be replaced by a (cheaper) new device: a lining of hollow fibers on the interior wall of the can that traps the necessary bubbles until the can is opened….. Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?....According to researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Michigan State, kids in US schools are two grades behind more than 30 other countries in learning maths…..If your car is silver, white or black it’s likely to be worth up to $500 more at trade-in time, advises the National Automobile Dealers Association, which adding that these colors are the ones car thieves prefer…. … Enabling speeds of 12mph, the new WaveJet surfboard is powered by batteries and costs $4,500 ….NBC’s The Event and ABC’s V, which started promisingly have both become sort of ridiculous…….Claiming that a supermarket is a better place to find a mate than a pub, England’s Asda has teamed up with UKDating.com to match singles according to their shopping habits….”Everyone thinks of changing the world” griped Leo Tolstoy, “but no one thinks of changing himself”…. In a letter to the Santa Barbara Independent, Grant Marcus says that if there’s really a shortage of land on which to install solar collectors why not use the space under existing transmission lines?…. For about $1,100 the Hong Kong McDonald’s offers a McWedding with invitations, a buffet for 50 people and a wedding “cake” composed of stacks of apple pies…“Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose.”---George Will (1941- )

5/21/11

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

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 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.