' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance
The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance: Nov. 12, 2011
by John Wilcock
“Three Strikes is one of a systematic web of laws designed to incarcerate the maximum number of people for the longest possible time; a web of laws that creates a self-perpetuating money machine for its creators – a cabal of corporations and lawmakers with the shared goal of growing America’s prison population for profit; a web of laws written by special interests and introduced by the legislators they have bought with campaign contributions. Just one small example of the way our democratic system of government has been hijacked by the corporate thugs, greed-heads and fixers of America’s sprawling prison cartel.
—Cynthia Johnston, NationofChange

ACUPUNCTURE IS BOGUS or so says Steven Novella, an assistant neurology professor at Yale, who suggests that its effects are largely due to the therapeutic ritual that surrounds it—“a subjective sense of well-being gained from the kind attention and relaxation”. Writing in the Skeptical Inquirer, Novella reports on clinical studies that have shown similar effects from placebos, in that even when toothpicks or dull needles have been pressed against the skin but without penetrating, patients have felt beneficial effects. Moreover, says the story, although there’s a presumption about acupuncture being an ancient Chinese practice “it’s neither very ancient or exclusively Chinese”.

Marie Le PenTHE UNEXPECTED VIEWS of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has focused Europe’s attention on a previously scary pol who will undoubtedly gain sensational coverage when she visits this country as all such candidates do to bolster their international credentials. Mlle Le Pen, 43, is the youngest daughter of the notoriously extreme right winger Jean-Marie Le Pen who scared the wits out of Europeans when his anti-immigrant, anti-abortion National Front party came in second at the last election. After five prexy defeats, the elder Le Pen transferred the leadership of the NF to Marine who has amazed everybody by talking of nationalizing the banks, curbing the money markets, exposing “the corruption of the elites”, forecasting the inevitable collapse of the Euro, and criticizing globalization. “I’m in favor of a sovereign state in order to protect out values, our customs and our way of life” she told the Nation. “We had foreseen this: globalization, just like communism, is totalitarian. We were told it was the way forward. Isn’t it high time we recognized we were wrong?”

CHINA’S MOST FAMOUS artist, the courageous Ai WeiWei, who’s constantly persecuted, prosecuted and pursued by Chinese authorities because of his continuous attempts to spotlight the country’s wrongs , fails to get a mention in Art in America’s survey of China’s current art market. That’s probably because the feature is all about the huge sums of money being spent on art by many of the country’s more than one million millionaires who, the magazine explains, have few other investment choices. “People don’t want to invest in the real estate market now and the Chinese stock market is not safe, “ explains Pi Li of Beijing’s Boers-Li Gallery. “So the money, like water, has to go somewhere”. What kind of cash are we talking about? Well, last year’s transactions in China’s art market totaled $26.4 billion with three pieces of contemporary Chinese art changing hands this year for more than $10m apiece.

BACK IN THE DAYS when they didn’t have “the Green thing”, writes Cathy Gray:

  • People took their bottles back to the store which sent them back to the plant where they were washed, sterilized and used again
  • They washed the baby’s diapers and let the sun and wind dry them instead of in an energy-gobbling machine
  • They walked upstairs and pushed a lawn mower, exercising by working instead of going to health club to run a electric-powered treadmills
  • They drank from a tap or fountain instead of turning to a plastic bottle every time they were thirsty
  • Kids rode the school bus or bicycles to school instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service
  • And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from 2,000 miles out in space to find the nearest pizza joint

Isn’t it sad” Cathy Gray asked in the Russian River Times, “that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn’t have ‘the green thing’ back then?

TOO MANY PRESENTS are creating miserable children, according to a UN report that suggests that what makes children happy is not endless toys and video games but more meaningful time spent with their parents and playing outside with friends and family. Two-thirds of all communication between adults and children reports Dr. Tessa Livingstone, a BBC producer, is giving directions and a quarter of children say they only talk to their parents once a week about things that matter. Writing in the Observer, Mariella Frostrup said parents have to find their way “in a world that is fast becoming a giant shopping mall where their sole responsibility is to covet the goods on display”.

VARIETY GAVE A NOD to the subject of position placement, i.e. the practice of plugging products in movies and television shows in a non-intrusive manner so that they seem a natural part of the plot. “There needs to be a believable reason as to why a product or brand appears” says Daphne Briggs, a former Sony executive, whose firm Propaganda GEM has a dozen offices including Los Angeles and Tokyo and has placed everything from watches and suitcases to cars in more than 700 films. Variety contends that subtle positioning has “evolve(d) into an indispensable art”.

STILL WRITING HIS perceptive column decades after founding the indispensable Washington Monthly, Charles Peters claims that “the age of greed” was forecast long before most people became aware of it in the Eighties. It began, he explains, with Wall Street firms buying up family firms and taking them public, allotting themselves a hefty cut. The downside was that the former owners found themselves “at the mercy of Wall Street’s habit of rating companies basis of constantly growing quarterly earnings” with the pressure from stockholders to cut expenses—like payroll—and in the current recession lose employees they would have liked to keep.

THE WILCOCK WEB: A letter in the Nation suggests that Obama should resign and turn his candidacy over to Hillary….In an ideal world, banks wouldn’t be allowed to gamble with depositors’ money. They’d return to their original purpose, safeguarding funds and lending them out to charge interest….It’s been quite a while since one country could capture another and absorb it into its empire. But as more countries become bankrupt can we now expect that China will buy them?.... …”U.S. Congressmen should have to dress like NASCAR drivers” suggests columnist Thomas L. Friedman, “ and wear the logos of all the banks, investment banks, insurance companies and real estate firms that they’re taking money from.

Banana Carving
A 23-year-old Japanese electrician Keisuke Yamada is making his name as a sculptor, carving intricate figures out of fresh bananas using a toothpick and a spoon.

The public needs to know”… The greedy Bank of America even charges customers to close their accounts (so close them anyway)… “An idea isn't responsible”, explained Don Marquis, “for the people who believe in it”….. The precious metal palladium, in everything from mobile phones to catalytic converters, is spewed into the road via exhaust fumes in such quantities that the British firm Veolia estimates it can extract 5kgs (worth $125,000) of it from the 30,000 tons of road sweepings it plans to collect and process….The inimitable, irresistible, irreplaceable Charlotte Rampling is the subject of a biographical documentary called The Look…..One way to spread the wealth, would be to allow those overpaid tycoons to serve on only one other board of directors apart from their own firm… ”When we ask advice” quoth the Marquis de la Grange, “we are usually looking for an accomplice" ….Often compared to the best of British television, PBS has made a deal to show some of its top programs (Frontline, Nova) over there—with commercials…....From now until May, the Norman Mailer Writers Colony (www.nmcenter.org) is inviting writers for from two to eight-week stays at the late author’s former home in Provincetown…. Italy’s top chef, Gualtiero Marchesi, 81, who has three Michelin stars, has created two special hamburgers for the Italian McDonalds featuring such ingredients as sautéed spinach, aubergine and ricotta… No matter where you are in the world, somebody once declared, you’re never more than 20 feet from a spider…. What may be the world’s most clue-less company, an outfit called Zafirro, is peddling (for $100,000) an iridium razor with sapphire blades. A cheaper version in gold sells for $18,000……. The K-11 EMF meter, a $60 device used to check out power lines and electromagnetic fields, has been selling by the hundreds of thousands, reports the Wall Street Journal, to ghost hunters who claim that it can detect ghosts and “transcend inaudible sounds into words”…..Hustler offered half a million bucks to Casey Anthony, the allegedly murderous mom, to pose nude for the magazine …. Tenants who pay $1m a year for the new luxury boxes at the renovated Madison Square Garden can choose to have a fireplace or a waterfall…Hey, thirty-five thousand isn’t a bad pay-off for being propositioned, even if it entails keeping your mouth shut…. A demagogue is a person with whom we disagree as to which gang should mismanage the country—Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913)



Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

send a comment to John Wilcock


recent columns...

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

The real, true, history...
Week of May 5, 2018

Alice, Alice at 85, seed money, supermax, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of April 28, 2018

About being in love..., Persoff and Marshall, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of April 21, 2018

The Candy Store
Week of January 20, 2018

From the archives... The religion of Violence & Statistics, otherwise known as college football; WPA II; Would it be called Indiastan or Pakindia?; Who you Gonna call? Crime Predictors; Being a Bank means you never having to say you're sorry; Oil vs. Democracy, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of December 9, 2017

From the archives... The Mother of All Family Feuds, Otaku Means Geek in Japanese, Affirmative Action or 'It all depends on who you know', The Moonies are packin', and of course, the Wilcock Web......
Week of December 2, 2017

Taxing land, not people, Is Socialism Scary?, Stars acting as assholes, Big Thinkers can be such Morons, and of course, The Wilcock Web...
Week of November 18, 2017

Dear Reader,
Week of August 23, 2017

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...
The New York Years
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 on West 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 Andy Warhol 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.