the column of lasting insignificance: Oct. 2, 2011
by John Wilcock
SOME MISGUIDED BLOGGERS have criticized next week’s massive Washington demonstration because of its link to the tenth anniversary of the Afghanistan war along with a demand that it be ended. But this war, these critics claim, was justified; the protest should be legitimized for other reasons.
WITHIN A FEW DAYS, Californian officials are expected to announce whether the state will allow Americans Elect, a serious third party, to be on the ballot for next year’s presidential election. To get this far, organizers have submitted 1.6 million signatures, hoping the state will join Arizona, Alaska, Kansas and Nevada which have already gained ballot access. An additional 18 states are being targeted before the year’s end. Difficult as it is to get onto the ballot in every state, Ross Perot achieved it in 1992 and 1996. (Ralph Nader made it onto 45 states’ ballots in 2008). Investment executive Elliott Ackerman who’s staked the organization to a couple of million, claims that its sole political philosophy is that people should be greater than parties.
QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS. What exactly is dark matter? Are there extra dimensions in space? Does the Higgs boson, commonly referred to as the ‘God particle,’ exist? How did the universe form? According to Popular Science, the Large Hadron Collider, buried beneath the Swiss-France border --and costing $1billion a year to operate—“may answer some of these questions”. There now, aren’t you just suffused with relief?
PRESS RELEASE FROM the Journal of Consumer Research that we never finished reading:
THOSE HUGE NEW FREIGHTERS aren’t the only reason that the world of shipping is about to see drastic changes. Containers that can be collapsed in 30 seconds when not in use, ships that can transport 18,000 of the bulky beasts at a time, and expanded Panama Canal locks able to accommodate vessels a quarter of a mile in length: these are some of the elements detailed in Popular Science’s eight-page feature on The Future of Shipping. And the whole subject gets more expansive with the opening up of routes through the Arctic Ocean at the top of the world. Global warming has been melting the formerly icebound Northwest and Northeast Passages which by linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans will save shipping thousands of miles.
THE WILCOCK WEB: If there’s really life elsewhere in the universe, think of the money we could save by just waiting until they contact us….Surely we have some Iranian prisoners we can sell back to them for half a million dollars apiece? …..Beijing’s Global Times reported that a survey of 4,000 hotel owners nominated the Chinese as the world’s worst-behaved tourists describing them as “spitting, slurping smoking queue-jumpers” who hadn’t had enough travel experience to realize they were just as rude as the “clueless, loud and boorish” visitors to their own country… Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn't zigzag?.... Now you can scoot through the airline terminal on a wheeled scooter attached to your wheeled suitcase (micro-scooters.co.uk)…. “An ignorant person” quipped Will Rogers, “is one who doesn't know what you have just found out” …. Scientists can analyze anything these days so how could Coca Cola possibly still have a “secret” formula?.... One thing the X-Factor has instantly reaffirmed, is just how stubbornly delusional untalented singers are about how good they think they are…. How do you recognize a Kerry pirate? He’s got a patch over each eye…....Tony Bennett’s such a nice guy, it’s a pity he felt pressured into apologizing for his casual but sensible remark: that the motivation for 9/11 might at least have something to do with world reaction to America’s sometimes-murderous foreign policy…. Greed is becoming such a modestly inadequate word to describe the rapaciousness of bankers and all those other grabby billionaires….A study of nearly 1,500 Walmart shoppers revealed that 86% of them no longer believed that company had the lowest prices with most stating their allegiance had shifted to 99c stores…. …..420 has become the ultimate password... The night-vision camera on the 2012 Mercedes Benz scans constantly for human shapes in the road ahead and warns both driver and pedestrian… Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm…. Moving inmates to different prisons every month or two would be one way to counter the hold of prison gangs…..Designed for the rooftop of a house, Honeywell’s wind turbine costs $10,000 but works with winds as slow as 2mph…Almost one quarter of British parents have tried to impress their children by falsely claiming they attended concerts by bands such as the Beatles and The Who reports the Press Association “Progress isn’t made by early risers” explained Robert Heinlein. “It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways of doling something”….. When less than 50% of the electorate votes, any election should be invalid and all candidates barred from running again….. “We work too much, eat too quickly, socialize too little, drive in traffic for too many hours, don’t get enough sleep and feel harried too much of the time” says sociologist Judith Schor….After his wife said that watching 3-D movies gave her a headache, Hank Green modified a pair of 3-D glasses so she could watch them in 2-D and discovered he had a new business. So far he’s modified and sold 3,000 pairs --A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity--Robert Frost (1874-1963)
LETTER TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
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- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— 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