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

the column of lasting insignificance: June 4, 2011
by John Wilcock

“No acceptable narrative for a broader Sudan has ever existed, nor a sense of nationhood; nor the harmony and tranquility associated with a normal state. Instead the country has experienced discrimination and division, strain and struggle, fragmentation and friction, bickering and brutality. These were the underlying causes of the long north-south Sudanese civil war…Africa’s longest, claiming 2.5 million lives and displacing more than 4 million people”.

--former ambassador Richard S. Williamson writing in Current History about Sudan’s plan next month to split into two countries—or maybe return to civil war


LONG BEFORE THE
new wave of pot-smokers crested in the Sixties it was obvious that it would be impossible to stamp it out. There’ll never be a society in which some people don’t seek to get high and if one thing is hard to get they’ll seek another. Which is why any “war on drugs” is so pointless.
    Obviously all laws are specific, so marihuana-like herbs are not marihuana, and therefore not illegal. All kinds of plants were soon being sold—ketamine and the hallucinatory salvia being among the most popular --invariably followed by belated attempts to ban them, a fruitless, never-ending pursuit. Now prohibition is getting even harder as designer drugs continue switching from herbal to chemical ingredients. Demand is growing so fast, reports Bloomberg Businessweek, that a UN narcotics control board has urged governments to prevent their manufacture and trafficking. Products such as Spice, Mr. Smiley, Voodoo Magic and K2Solid Sex line the shelves of head shops, usually described as something innocuous like bath salts. Invariably they are legal by default. “You’re basically playing a game of whack-a-mole trying to keep ahead” says William E. Marbaker of Missouri State Highway Patrol’s crime lab. And, often untested, the opiates can be dangerous, even lethal, hundreds of times more potent than heroin and causing “racing heartbeats, high blood pressure and nausea”.

LARRY HAGMAN’S HOUSE was always such a delight to visit. Sprawled atop 43 acres of Ojai’s Sulphur Mountain with panoramic views, it was richly stocked with the superlative taste of the longtime TV star and his wife Maj. From the stylish entrance hall where a six-pack of cowboy hats perched above a carved oak table holding some of his awards, onwards to rooms embellished with an African drum, Alaska totem pole or Mexican folk art, it had all the elegance of an art gallery with none of the sterility.

Larry Hagman Hallway
The front hallway in "Heaven"

    It has been the scene of stimulating parties where theater folk from local stages or the Ojai Music Festival (of which Larry was a patron) mingled with the likes of flame-haired British designer Zandra Rhodes some of whose garments and prints—estimated in the $600 range—are now on sale along with so many other fragments of the eventful Hagman life.
    Yes, that’s right, everything must go! The heavenly house is empty now, its contents to be sold next Saturday at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills in 413 lots. The auction will be streamed live. The Hagmans, have moved to Malibu, and Heaven is for sale at $8.5million.
    Among the artworks on offer are paintings and Hokusai-type prints by Larry’s daughter Kristi: “Here you see evidence”, she says, “of his many pursuits, from hunting and motorcycle ‘love rides’ with Mom, to Dad’s visionary dedication to renewable energy Here you find pieces from an eccentric passionate life that continues to surprise”.

Larry Hagman
Larry as "JR"

    Starring as the villainous oil tycoon JR Ewing in Dallas (1978-1991). Hagman has listed, in a 150-page catalog, dozens of artifacts from the show, along with his Western garb, his executive producer chair, ostrich skin boots, ringed deerskin jacket and pants, a Colt revolver, sporting and hunting clothing, games and promotional items, a painting of Southfork Ranch and Dallas cast photographs. Dozens of other items include a Scottish tartan kilt and cap, the red hat he wore with his Santa suit when he visited the White House in 1985, a replica pair of Hamilton-Burr dueling pistols (expected to fetch $1-2,000), Larry’s student passport from 1946 and an embroidered, sequined matador cape given to him by the Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin ($1,000 to 2,000).
    Visitors to the 26-room Hagman mansion, Heaven, always noted the pictures and memories of Larry’s mother, the much-loved singing, dancing actress Mary Martin (who died in 1990) and the auction includes a vast collection of her memorabilia: posters, photographs and a musical score of Broadway’s 1949 South Pacific in which she starred with a cast (including Larry) all of whom signed the white cap she wore in the show and the inscribed silver plate the cast presented to her. There are also a pair of her vintage travel trunks ($400-600); an inscribed silver box “Mary from Noel” (Coward) and a first edition signed copy by artist Arthur Rackham of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan which Mary played on stage and in film.

HeavenLondon Daily Mail

    Hagman’s acting career began in 1956 but it was almost a decade later with his breakthrough role in I Dream of Jeannie (his co-star was Barbara Eden) that he became star and in 1979 Dallas became a huge hit mainly due to his role rescuing it from oblivion after the early episodes. Hagman, now 79, plans to reprise the JR Ewing role in a new version of Dallas in the fall.

IT MAY NEVER be necessary, but instructions on how an inexperienced layman could land a jumbo jet were featured in last month’s Popular Science. Of course, it would be imperative to first be able to access the secured cockpit and then to get in touch with some control tower where an experienced pilot was able to convey instructions. “It’s much like a VCR where you’ve got certain commands you have to set up to record, only much more difficult explains Dale Wright, of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. But once you punch in the correct settings on the right instruments and then hit autopilot, the airplane does the rest.

IN THE WAKE OF some major break-ins at pharmaceutical warehouses, Big Pharma has begun to realize that minimal security has enabled criminal gangs to get away with literally tons of drugs. The average value of the 54 major pharma thefts reported last year was $3.7 million which were repackaged and sold back into the supply chain, usually to back street dealers. “Nobody is selling Lipitor on the street” the FBI’s Tom Hauck told Fortune which reported on a sting the FBI conducted by setting up Pills Plus Inc. to buy the stolen goods. “We wanted these guys coming to us, not us chasing them” Hauck explains. A major concern has been that the illegal medicine can lose their potency or turn toxic before they are used and there have been some casualties. Apart from vowing to tighten up security, the industry is now planning “an electronic pedigree’ or audit trail that can measure medications as they move through the system.

THE WILCOCK WEB: There must be some way that the millions being spent on alleviating the floods in one state could be used to transport some of the water to its scorched-earth neighbors….You're never too old to learn something stupid…. More than a billion people already have access to the internet, which means that the number of internet protocol addresses (they identify each owner) will soon be exhausted. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority are working on a new overlay (IPV6) which may initially slow things down…..“The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other”, mused Will Rogers. “The one that's out always looks the best”. …A mass execution of everybody who’s been on death row for more than ten years would certainly reduce overcrowding…...There are almost eight times as many distilleries in the U.S. than there were ten years ago….. Midnight marauders were caught sweeping up hundreds of dollars from coins that had been tossed into Rome’s Fontain de Trevi…..What kind of moron can’t wait 24 hours to download a song if it’s going cost $10 more?..... Moscow’s restaurant king (100 eating places) Arkady Novikov kicked off his ambition to become a world restaurateur by opening a huge namesake place in London. (Russian food? Smoked meats, game, black cod, dumplings)…A correspondent to the London Times said a better way to run elections was for everybody to vote for the candidate they liked the least with the winner being the person who got the fewest votes….Why should colleges that are run for profit get government subsidies?..... It’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of newsprint than the Los Angeles Times’ Ministry of Gossip column whose concept of news is to boldface the names of people you’ve never heard of, having lunch somewhere…. Sixteen pages of ads in last week’s Hollywood Reporter congratulated the new Walk of Fame star-holder Simon Fuller, 51, producer of TV’s Idol show which is now seen in 42 countries…..Jenny Diski devoted 1,500 words in the NYTimes magazine to the “unspeakable” word (which she didn’t use) listing various classic books in which it had appeared. She mentioned when politicians and others had misspoken the word “cuts”….. Nothing you can't spell, will ever work, quipped Will Rogers…With almost two-thirds of its population (and its government) Palestinian, why isn’t Jordan the much-desired Palestine state?....Hostesses from Hong Kong Airlines are taking classes in wing chun, a martial art said to work within seconds.....The Guardian’s John Walsh writes that the prison gates were probably opened to let those 500 Taliban prisoners out and that the so-called “tunnel” was just a cover story…... .“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”—Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55)

5/28/11

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

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.