the column of lasting insignificance: Oct. 29, 2011
by John Wilcock
IT’S OBVIOUSLY UNTHINKABLE that unselfish humans would vote for a Republican to be the next president considering the agenda of the Wealth party. Barack Obama, for all his misadventures, is a brainy and decent man even if he’s proved to be pretty gutless. What he should have done, four years ago, was to say;
Aside from being forced into finally quitting Iraq, these are also the promises he should make for his second term. For the next year he should be reminded of this, firmly and frequently Because, of course, he should have another chance if only because—lacking a Democrat primary or a third party—what in heaven’s name is the alternative?
IT’S NOT JUST THAT Mitt Romney is religious, it’s that the religion itself is moronic, lacks authenticity and would bar belief to anybody with any common sense. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been around for more than two thousand years, yet Joseph Smith’s alleged gold plates have never been seen by anybody but him. They were said to be engraved. Why earthbound gold? In what typeface? In God’s handwriting? Any spelling mistakes? In which language? Was it translated? If so, by whom and how? Unanswered questions, all. Do we really seek a president who is ruled by this sort of nonsense?
IF COL. QADDAFI HAD SOUGHT a refuge, says Gita Boaron, he could have rejoined the family in the Israeli village of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, where hundreds of Jewish refugees from Libya have settled over the years. Gita told Israeli television that she shares a great grandmother with the late colonel. “She fled her Jewish husband for a Muslim sheikh” she declares. “Her daughter was the colonel’s mother."
THE OLD ROBBER BARONS of the late 19th century manipulated the law, bribed politicians and swindled the people so we can see that nothing’s changed very much. And many of those criminally rich overlords ran the railroads which you think might be different today. But not so, says Fortune which complains that as a result of mergers, four superpower railroads now take in more than 90% of the industry’s revenue, overseen by a regulatory agency that’s fallen down on the job. “Shippers claim the railroads have amassed too much power” the mag claims, “and the gaudy profits prove they’re gouging customers” by monopolizing their regions and fixing prices. Rates are skyrocketing, their power amplified by “an unparalleled set of antitrust exemptions”. A Citigroup report noted that profitability had increased 121% in the past six years. The Surface Transportation Board (STB), which is supposed to oversee the industry, is staffed by people who formerly filled prestigious railroad jobs, a familiar story.
BOB DYLAN ISN’T used to bad reviews, but that’s about his music of course. When it comes to his art, it’s a different story. “The show is no disaster; it’s just dull” wrote NYTimes critic Holland Cotter about he Gagosian gallery show of Dylan’s ‘Asia Series’ of paintings. “The color is muddy, the brushwork scratchily dutiful, the images static and postcard-ish. The work is dead on the wall”
THAT OLD FAMILIAR TALE about college sports in which “student -athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves” popped up once more as a cover story in the October Atlantic. The magazine charges that big-revenue football schools such as Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Penn State, earn up to $80 million in profits per year even after paying coaches multimillion dollar salaries. “The United States is the only country in the world that hosts big-time sports at institutions of higher learning (and) two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence—‘amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes.” Corruption, it commented, will almost inevitably follow.
CHINESE NUMEROLOGY points out that this year we experience four unusual dates, with two to come: 11/1/11, 11/11/11. And that's not all: take the last two digits of the year you were born and the age you will be this year and the result will add up to 111 for everyone! This is the year of MONEY. Also, this year, October will have 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays & 5 Saturdays. This happens only once every 823 years. These particular years are known as Moneybag years. [from the Internet]
LONDON COLUMNIST POLLY TOYNBEE suggested that a one-time 20% tax on Britain’s wealthiest ten per cent would “save services, save jobs, expunge the national debt, kick-start growth, and set the economy on the road to recovery.” A similar 20 percent tax on the wealth (42.7 trillion) of the ten per cent richest Americans would raise over $8.5 trillion, a sum that equals about 85 percent of America’s publicly held national debt.
THE WILCOCK WEB: The almost-bankrupt US Postal Service is about to throw away millions hiring un-needed “consultants’ for advice on how to generate more income. Here’s some advice for free: make senders of junk mail pay the same postage rate as anybody else ….If Hamas can get 1,000 would-be killers released in return for one soldier, they only need to capture five more Israelis….And, so what if the Ukraine chooses to re-align with the Russians? Why should the EC plead with the former Soviet satellite as if the Cold War never ended?….Wall Streeters’ idea of sharing the wealth is to pay more for security guards….Hard to decide who is more crazy, the billonaire Mumbai tycoon who built the 27-story house, or the critics who claim he hasn’t moved in because the western windows input too much “negative energy”….When New York’s mayor reported that nearby residents of Zucotti Park were complaining about the new noisy neighbors, he’d probably forgotten that he wouldn’t allow the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to occupy Wall Street….It’s becoming obvious that Cain isn’t able….Objecting to the new “redistricting (read “gerrymandering”) Arizona pols claim it is “political”. Duh…. We send Pakistan $$billions and they send us airborne rockets in return (no deaths so far)….Shipped all the way to Kyoto, Japan, to be refurbished, the tea house in the Huntington Library gardens, has now been returned and will reopen next spring….As if scaling mountains wasn’t pointless enough, now climbers want to set speed records?....Another 850 books with Hitler in the title were published last year….. “The world has moved on” writes Simon Jenkins, “It is surely time to consign the Nazis not to oblivion but at least to history"…. Those huge plastic bottles are being supplanted by trim water cooler units that plug into the water tap but include chemical-lined filters…. That supposed ‘hitman’ so often turns out to be an undercover cop, you’d think people would learn….Who did Muslims worship in the centuries before Muhammad was born?.... “You may forget with whom you laughed”, observed Khalil Gibran, “but you will never forget with whom you wept.”….. A homeless beggar in Serbia, Nemanja Petrovic, who goes for coffee while leaving a sign reading “Invisible Beggar” on the sidewalk beside his hat, always returns to find it full of donations, reports The Week….Has an innocent person ever taken the Fifth Amendment?.... Human beings, like mushrooms, grow in the dark” writes Stephen Marche in Esquire. “But the consequence of turning us all into image-managing self-presenters (ensured) that privacy would become an antiquated fetish”…. Always be ready to change your bank….NYC will have a lesbian mayor in 2014….Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has sold hundreds of contracts to Christians who plan for their pets’ aftercare when the owners are taken up by the Rapture. The company promises that their staffers are atheists who will remain here….“Loneliness is never more cruel” wrote Germaine Greer, “than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate”……. Crooks in banks are described as “rogue traders” when they lose millions, writes Peter F. Brown in the Guardian, so shoplifters should be termed “rogue shoppers”….Just because somebody identifies a problem doesn’t mean they’re obliged to find the solution…. Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist. –Epicurus ( BC 341-270)
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
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— 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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