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

the column of lasting insignificance: June 11, 2011
by John Wilcock

“Trader Joe’s is for overeducated and underpaid people, for all the classical musicians, museum curators, journalists— that’s why we’ve always had good press, frankly!”

--Joe Coloumbe, who founded Trader Joe’s in Pasadena, and sold it to a German grocery chain 20 years ago


EVERYBODY LOVES TRADER JOE’S
with its gourmet food at affordable prices. And some of us even love the store’s monthly catalog, whimsically titled the Fearless Flyer (“always free and worth every penny”). Its author is clearly an aspiring poet, in thrall to familiar pitchman jingles like “higher in protein and lower in carbs” and “most authentic traditional ingredients” or even “spicy but not too spicy, tangy but not too tangy, sweet but not too sweet”. (Is there a school that teaches this sort of stuff?) TJ’s amanuensis is fond of the occasional giddy flight such as “Suddenly these cheeses appear in our sights as though the masters of the universe are actually paying attention to our most wanton desires”. Well, that got my attention, mandating a close study of the hustle for Trader Jacques Spreadable Bleu. As for the Cabernet Pot Roast, it’s “a true one-pot meal that is destined to make your life easier and more delicious” and the Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup is “a velvety smooth concoction with a subtly flavored tomato base”. (As it happens, it’s delicious). Admittedly our fearless show-runner—if one might borrow the phrase—goes over the top occasionally. “We’d like you to think of TJ’s Country Italian Salad” the Fearless Flyer cajoles persuasively, “as your ticket to an Italian vacation, without the high price of a plane ticket, hotel accommodations and trip insurance. If you believe a salad can be such a truly economical alternative to actual travel—and we do—this salad fits the bill”.

Bargain(n) : “a transaction in which each participant thinks he has cheated the other.”—anonymous

LionfishTHE SCARY-LOOKING LIONFISH, a predator from the Pacific which was unintentionally introduced into the Atlantic, has colonized much of America’s East Coast and has become an ecological threat. Menacing or decorative, according to your point of view—they are popular in home aquariums—they have to be dealt with before they overwhelm native populations, say experts. But maybe the best way is to eat them. Pterois (their marine name) are a “delicious, delicately flavored fish” similar in texture to grouper” advises the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

THE WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANT is what some have called it, but it has probably served up more disappointment than meals—not from the meals themselves, but the frustration of potential diners unable to make a reservation. Two million people a year are reported to request a booking during the brief season, but only 8,000 find a place at the table. All this will end next month when elBulli, the gourmet paradise near the Catalonian fishing port of Roses closes down. Despite an average meal tab of around $400, the restaurant habitually loses money according to its ebullient owner Ferran Adrià who took charge in 1987. He finances the deficit with lectures and books, about one of which a New York chef forecast that his colleagues “will gape in fear, and awe, and wonder” and ask 'What do I do now?'.” The 2008 book, A Day at elBulli, included such recipes as pine nut marshmallows, steamed brioche with rose-scented mozzarella, rock mussels with seaweed and fresh herbs, and passion fruit trees.
    The restaurant, which employs 42 chefs and has become renowned for its wildly unconventional experiments with cooking, is often the subject of sarcastic comments for its use of such things as foams and liquid nitrogen. One of a score of items on a Synthesis of elBulli Cuisine reads: “Taste is not the only sense that can be stimulated: touch can also be played with (contrasts of temperatures and textures), as well as smell, sight (colors, shapes, trompe d’oeil, etc.), whereby the five senses become one of the main points of reference in the creative cooking process.” Despite some contradictory statements, the restaurant is predicted to reopen as a “creativity center” in 2014.

SARAH PALIN PRAISED! It’s not a notation you see too often these days and especially not in a scholarly shrine like the Atlantic, but that magazine’s June issue devotes eight pages to politics’ favorite scapegoat. True, the story is headed The Tragedy of Sarah Palin, but most of it is a lament for what might have been. Joshua Green brings attention to Palin’s early role as Alaska governor when she courageously took on the oil companies that were strangling her state. “Palin seems to have been driven by a will to advance herself and a virulent animus against anyone who tried to impede her” he writes, “But this didn’t prevent her from being an uncommonly effective governor while she lasted. On the big issues at least she chose her enemies well and left the state in better shape than most people, herself included, seem to realize or want to credit her for…What if she had tried to do for the nation what she did for Alaska? The possibility is tantalizing”.

EVEN UNDER the driest terrain in the desert, there’s usually water if you go far enough down and the invention of Peter Hoff’s Groasis Waterbox nurtures tree saplings with droplets for long enough for the roots to reach it, reports Popular Science which has awarded the device its Green Technology Grand Award. Once the tree has penetrated the dry soil far enough to be self-supporting, the box is removed and wrapped around another sapling.

“We’re so lucky as TV actresses because we get an intimate relationship with 150 people—our crewmembers—pretty much daily. When you do a movie, you get introduced to so many people, you don’t know their names, and then in two months it’s over, and you never see them again. With us, we actually have this family”.
--The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies talking to The Hollywood Reporter

AMERICA’S PRIVATE (for profit) prison system now houses 10% of the country’s prisoners but is coming under increasing fire from critics who charge it as being more dangerous and less open to rehabilitation than government facilities. The biggest of the companies. Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which has contracts with 19 state prisons and is estimated to gross $5bn a year, is accused of being run by “amoral penny pinchers” which lobbies the government to increase the already high state of detention/ “When every prisoner is a daily $100 bill, says Bloomberg Businessweek, “you’ll do everything you can to get as many of them as you can”. CCA spends up to $2 million a year to lobby for more “clients” but the company calls this figure “miniscule”.

After John McCain’s inevitable loss in the presidential election, the rightwing GOP will conclude that Mitt Romney was an unlucky hero and will nominate him in 2012, when he’ll lose again… (The Wilcock Web, Feb 23, 2007)

THE WILCOCK WEB: The UN’s former boss Kofi Anan and a group of “high profile world leaders” declared the 40-year-old “war on drugs” to be a failure and should be abandoned. But Obama and Mexican president Felipe Calderon are too myopic to take advantage of this excellent cover for doing something sensible, and turned down the idea, opting to continue what everybody but them knows is an extravagantly wasteful losing policy….….”Social desirability pressure” is what causes people to tell poll takers what they think they want to hear rather than their true beliefs according to UC Berkeley’s Alexander Janus. He reports In Social Science Quarterly that 34% of interviewees said that immigration should be kept at present levels but a more disguised poll assessed that figure at almost double….Why do you always choose the right man inside the USA and the wrong man in other countries?” was one of the questions submitted to an Egyptian website for the attention of Hillary Clinton on her visit to the country…. It will be 2013 before the $5bn undersea power grid is completed off 350 miles of America’s East Coast. But when completed it will be the base for the Atlantic Wind Connection which will produce as much power as ten coal-fired plants…. ….“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward” declared, Franklin Delano Roosevelt…. Frustrated with being the last place dealt with by the international financial markets, Samoa is to advance its calendar by one day so they’ll be the first…. Rabbit jumping began in Scandinavia but now has 22 rabbit jumping clubs in Germany and the sport is spreading across Europe. Twelve hurdles about 15 inches high line the course…..….Sponsored by a $517million contract from the … military, Northrop Grumman is building a 300-foot helium-filled airship which can lift 200 tons and stay aloft for 21 days….”The smug belief in our superiority exists” writes Richard Cohen in the Washington Post. “American exceptionalism ought to be called American narcissism. We look perfect only to ourselves”…. …Popular Science warns people carrying credit cards embedded with radio frequency identification (the device that enables the bearer to just point the card at a cash register) that any thieving passer-by with $70 RFID reader can point it at your pocket or briefcase and copy the number…..It would be costly to desalinate enough sea water to satisfy the parched needs of Beijing. But wouldn’t it be cheaper than transporting six trillion gallons of water per year 800 miles, relocating 350,000 villagers and building 400 sewage plants?....Wearing a suit with sneakers is “Hollywood’s current look” says the Hollywood Reporter…. “Humor can get in under the door” said G.K. Chesterton, “while seriousness is still fumbling at the handle”…. More than 250 wrongly-convicted prisoners have been exonerated by DNA testing in the past 30 years (17 of them were on death row) according to Brandon. L. Garrett’s new book Convicting the Innocent. In three quarters of the cases guilt was established a a result of faulty eyewitness identification….-“There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth”—Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

6/4/11

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

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.