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the column of lasting insignificance: Jan. 7, 2012
by John Wilcock

The columns that follow are from
December of previous years

THE WILCOCK WEB: The official excuse for remaining in Afghanistan is so that it doesn’t become a safe haven for Al Qaeda. So why aren’t we occupying Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia?….When a state finds itself billions of dollars in debt, why is nobody held responsible? It wasn’t just some unavoidable accident….. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons: Las Vegas is opening two paid-admission museums about the Mob that ran the city before it went respectable….Thousands of closed-circuit cameras monitor streets in the U.K., and now that some of their output is being streamed on the Internet, viewers are invited to report crimes they see happening—and be rewarded if their reports have an effect….With a site called Anti-Social you can turn off “distracting” parts of the Internet for as much time as you specify. “It’s amazing how much work you can get done when you turn off your ‘friends’” says the pitch…. Marihuana energizes the mind….There’s something extremely suspicious about that ubiquitous series of Smile Train ads which appear in virtually every magazine you’ve ever heard of ….”I have a very sissy job”, Christian Bale told Esquire, “where I go to work and get my hair done and people do my make-up and I go and say lines and people spoil me rotten … The Smithsonian just loaned its $2m Monopoly board for an exhibition at (where else?) New York’s Museum of American Finance. The cards are gold-plated, the board studded with gemstones and the tokens and dice are solid gold …. Bumper sticker: Too poor to buy a politician… Global warming in Siberia has prompted the emergence of woolly mammoth corpses, hidden for thousands of years, and now being dug up for their ivory tusks…. Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.--Voltaire (1694-1778)

THE WILCOCK WEB: How about holding back those billions we donate to Egypt and Afghanistan until they hold honest elections?….London Times columnist Vernon Bogdanor advocates copying the democracy of 5th c, BC Athens and selecting pols randomly instead of electing them, because “ordinary citizens are quite capable of undertaking complex government tasks”….Amazon has been accused by the London Daily Mail of running fake reviews by rival publishers criticizing each other’s books….The Scottish Tartan Authority (who knew?) says too many men with kilts aren’t wearing anything underneath, and baring all is “childish and unhygienic”…. India’s Gou Brands Private have distilled an aftershave from cow’s urine….”The trouble with being punctual” laments Franklin P. Jones, “is that nobody’s there to appreciate it”….Why must we continue to accept cable companies’ regional monopolies when competition would end blockages and lower costs?… Italian antiquarians have angrily denounced as unauthentic, Silvio Berlusconi’s addition of a new penis to the ancient statue of the god of Mars, replacing one chipped off in ancient times….Idaho’s Solar Roadways has been granted $100,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop photovoltaic panels that can be embedded in roads and parking lots to produce energy… “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity” quoth some heavy-thinker…Is there any connection between the facts that Mexico, one of the world leaders in violence and murder, doesn’t believe in the death penalty?…. A rousing round of applause for the most fascinating actress currently on television, Archie Panjabi, 38, celebrating her supporting actress Emmy award nomination for The Good Wife…. Those petroleum-based packing bubbles that get stuffed into parcels to keep the contents from shifting about are about to be replaced by a new type, a form of fungus from mushroom roots made with one-eighth of the energy and environmentally better…. The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next …..A group of Harvard students have devised a soccer ball that just has to be kicked around for a while and then it can be connected to an LED which provides three hours of light …..“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing” —Socrates (469BC-399BC)

THE WILCOCK WEB: The corruptness of the Senate has no better illustration than the tradition that allows a solitary senator to hold up just about any legislation until his bribe is big enough….Egypt rejects as “interference” the observers we planned to send to ensure fair elections. No comment though on the interfering way we hand them billions of dollars a year….… Unless they want to get fooled again, voters in 2012 should give their votes only to candidates who sign an iron-clad pledge to end the un-winnable war immediately….Every day, 400 names of suspected terrorists are added to the National Counter-Terrorism Center’s watch list says its director Michael Leiter….And, rumor has it, that all of TSA’s millions of searches, pat-downs, shoe-shuffles and confiscations over the past few years hasn’t identified a single terrorist ….That phony Taliban leader we’ve been bribing for years to talk to us, isn’t the only imposter in Afghanistan; there’s also Hamid Karzai who’s been pretending to be a democratic president…. A major aim of the aircraft industry, says New Science, is to reduce weight in planes by replacing miles of copper wiring with an intricate sensor-linked wireless system…. ….London’s famous black taxis are being made in China with a left hand drive, for use in Paris…. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience…. .. How could otherwise serious people take a self-promoting nonentity like Fran Lebowitz, mistress of the obvious utterance, seriously? ….With the installation of 3G connections, climbers reaching the 17,000ft base camp on Mt Everest are now sending videos and emails….. Nude models wearing dresses sprayed directly onto their bodies took part in a recent London fashion show (Google ‘Fabricon Spray-On’ to see the process …. A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it…..Don’t waste money jailing the organizers of cockfights—just use their own knives to cut them up a bit…. …”If you don’t have enemies in life, you have never stood up for anything”—Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

THE WILCOCK WEB: Welcome to the land of seduction and sin says a sign in the Copenhagen airport… Despite the millions they are paid, Big Pharma’s lobbyists can’t even be bothered to write different speeches for different congressmen to parrot …..A pasta palindrome: Wonton (?) Not now…..Dustin Zuckerman’s Tool Library in Santa Rosa is just one of dozens springing up around the country where impoverished workers can borrow tools rather than buy them… Historians now claim that it wasn’t a stroke that killed Vladimir Lenin, but syphilis…. DEFT DEFINITION: Bozone --The substance surrounding stupid people, that stops bright ideas from penetrating…. India, too, is building a wall to keep out immigrants —this one a 10-foot fence (costing a billion dollars) which will stretch for 2,135 miles along the Bangladesh border…..Amsterdam’s The Open Organization of Lock-pickers (TOOL) has found its lock-picking sessions to be such a popular hobby it is planning to inaugurate branches in Germany and the U.S…. Fuji is about to market a $600 camera with twin stereoscope lenses able to shoot 3D photos and videos….Japanese couples are getting married on the 21st floor of an Osaka skyscraper which houses a replica of an English village chapel… Why do universities need to pay consultants to teach them how to save money?…. “Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon”—Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

THE WILCOCK WEB: If Dubai finds itself in financial trouble why doesn’t it just print more money like the U.S. does?…. …..When Gone With the Wind premiered in Atlanta 70 years ago on December 15, black actress Hattie McDaniel was banned from attending….Banning old-fashioned cathode tube televisions and seeking more efficient designs of fridges, freezers and washing machines are next year’s projects by the European community’s “energy police”. The same folk who declared the incandescent light bulb obsolete….Secret Service agents slip up on their security duties and are punished with a paid vacation? Nice job....Have you ever wondered why companies, cities, states don’t make a priority of paying down their debt so that so much of their budget wasn’t seized for interest every year?… ….Santa Barbara Independent columnist Nick Welch suggests that for the same $1m a year we spend on each U.S. soldier, we could hire 600 Talibanistas (at double their current wages) to put down their guns and go home …..Earning most votes from readers to the question by U.S. News & World Report about which entertainer they’d like to see run for office was Tom Selleck….. The slump in property values has halved the price of islands for which a dozen are for sale off Australia’s Queensland coast, costing about the same as a two bedroom house elsewhere….. Meanwhile, researchers in the region have developed an apple that can stay fresh in the refrigerator for months…Thriller writer James Ellroy, 61, claiming that “the American language has become horribly mangled”, adds: “I find the canonization of rock ‘n roll especially puerile: institutionalized rebelliousness of the worst sort”…..But he also said: “I want to find the guy who invented sex and ask him what he’s working on now”... Xerox has invented a washing machine with two cylinders, which uses minimal soap and water. Nylon beads interface with the laundry for the spin cycle ….“Most of the cost of drug development is the price of failure” – says Merck’s strategy chief Mervyn Turner explaining that developing the new high-tech wonder drugs, fashioned from living cells, might take eight years and cost more than a billion dollars….. “Growing old is compulsory” said Enid Blyton, “but growing up is optional”… …As it costs more to make a penny than it’s worth, why make any more? We could probably get by with the 300 million already in circulation…. "Political correctness is to thought what sentimentality is to compassion"—source unknown

THE WILCOCK WEB: Italy’s Supreme Court justices serve only nine years. Doesn’t that sound like a superior idea?…And when you think of how many miscreants escape punishment due to our Statute of Limitations, Roman Polanski’s re-indictment after 30 years seems a bit strained…. …. The criminal who runs Afghanistan says the U.S. will need to be there for another 20 years but optimists suggest that he may clean up his act and steal only ten per cent of the $30 billion a year that it’ll cost American taxpayers…. Alaska’s Kodiak Kenai Cable Company is seeking stimulus funds to extend its undersea fiber optic cable to come ashore at ten remote communities…. The Monopoly company allowed early Christmas buyers to buy boards that included their personal favorite places…. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana….. A cure for gerrymandering, suggests Boston Globe columnist Joe Keohane, would be for congressional districts to be redrawn to have each corner right angle, eliminating the crooked constituencies in which pols try to contain only their own voters….NBC should can those incompetent closed captioners…. Forty years after the Apollo expedition (on which 400,000 people worked) at least 10% of the population still believes that the Moon expedition was faked and that the astronauts never went there reports the Skeptical Inquirer …..Why join the Army when you can get better paid for killing as one of Blackwater’s U.S. mercenaries?…..Reacting to the news that Japan’s birthrate had dropped lower than ever, Mitsubishi bank managers sent its employees home early that day to enjoy some “family time”….And British banks assert that electronic transfers are so much cheaper than processing checks that the latter will be phased out within a few years…. …The boss of the ACLU cut his salary back to a mere $302,000. Well, presumably he’s a lawyer, so that works out to only about $860 an hour….Harvard grumbles that it’s down to its last $26 billion…...The Borders book chain went bust in England….”By acting bravely we become brave” says London columnist Matthew Parris, “and not the other way round”….Did you ever notice how many famous people there are, that you’ve never heard of?… ….Technology is the knack of organizing the world so that we don’t have to experience it—Max Frisch (1911-91)

THE WILCOCK WEB:Global warming would be reduced if all the politicians going to Copenhagen to talk about carbon emissions would stay home and keep quiet” wrote Timothy Stroud in the Daily Telegraph. “The hot air being produced by politicians to show that they care is ludicrous”….. Now that we know that Harvard law school grads start work at around $160,000 it’s easy to see why lawyers charge such rip-off hourly rates…. Eddie Murphy’s 2002 movie Adventures of Pluto Nash which reeled in a pathetic $7.2 million, and basketball star Michael Jackson’s 1994 dud baseball career are among Parade magazine’s list of 50 Biggest Flops…... After 62 years, the last of the weekly crossword puzzles constructed for the Nation by Frank W. Lewis appeared this week….. And the 125-year-old Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul (1,400 miles) closed down….Five white tigers newly installed at China’s Chongqing Wild Animal Park which had lost their savage instincts while starring in a circus, ran away in terror when a supposedly ‘dead’ chicken--thrown to them for food--woke up and squawked….. British police have started tracking, and taking to court, hackers who steal “virtual goods” from such cyber games as Runescape…. A new version of Rubik’s Cube entails twisting a plastic globe until six colored balls drop into their correct slots….. The ancient art of crafting dry stone walls without any reinforcement, is under threat in England by theft of the stones for garden decoration. Now some walls are being strengthened with cement …Research scientists in China claim that fruit bats practice oral sex…. Somebody should make a 21st c. version of Citizen Kane, but with the acquisitive Rupert Murdoch as its anti-hero…..What we have in this country is socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor—Gore Vidal (1925--)

THE WILCOCK WEB: So there never were any billions after all? Just vast columns of duplicitous figures on paper, manipulated by criminals known as financiers (plus endless print runs of $$$ bills backed by nothing but faith)…. Heading Advertising Age’s “Dubious Attempts at Public Relations” list for 2008 was RECESSION SPECIAL—“a godsend for flacks everywhere(giving) them the hook they needed for lame press releases claiming that some marketing solution was the cure”….London’s biggest white elephant, the Milennium Dome, will be the scene this year of an $8 million production of Ben Hur with a live chariot race, crucifixion, sea battles and a staged orgy…. Starting early, Frankfurt stages its annual trade fair for the suppliers of Christmas decorations on Jan 30…. Deft definition: Glibido: All talk and no action…..Computer experts at UC San Diego showed that a locksmith provided with the right software can duplicate keys from a photograph…. Canada’s Iboga Therapy House reports encouraging success with using the West African psychotropic herb to wean addicts off heroin….When the organizations that do this sort of thing ranked female representation in the world’s legislatures for 2008, the U.S. came in 69th—below Cuba, Nepal and Kyrhgyzstan….. Almost 90 years after getting the vote, women now hold 15% of Congressional seats….Another bargain provoked by the money crunch: the 164ft yacht Alibella is for sale at a mere $30 million, a reduction of almost $12 million over last year’s price…. A Mintel survey notes that 134 new beers have been introduced in the U.S. this year… … A neo-fascist party in Italy hoping that Benito Mussolini’s name will live on, is offering couples $2500 to give their babies the former Fascist dictator’s name…..New: a bicycle lock that screeches at 100 decibels when tampered with (www.sglocks.co.uk)….…..A new T-shirt in the color of London’s major business paper bears the slogan Financial Crimes ….”Force and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues”—Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

THE WILCOCK WEB: If those five mass-murderers responsible for 9/11 are so eager to plead guilty and be executed, it sure would save a lot of time and money if they were just taken out and shot….If you watched black and white television as you grew up, says University of Dundee researchers, it’s likely your dreams will still be in monochrome… Red Bull’s new cola drink (made in Switzerland and not yet nationally distributed here) contains 30% more caffeine than its better known rivals… Naïve males wonder why a politician would need a ”stylist” costing $54,900; a hairdresser ($42,225) and a make-up lady ($68,400) to pose as an ordinary hockey mom?…..There’s no limit to the inhumanity of Mexican criminals who prey on their compatriots. A paper in Culiacan, El Debate, reports that a prime target for theft are villagers returning home from the U.S. with Christmas gifts for their families are routinely robbed as they cross the border….Deadline is Dec. 30 for your 25-word suggestion about what Dubya should do when he leaves the White House (retirebush@thenation.com)… Madonna has decreed that when Guy Ritchie gets to have their two kids to stay, they must have a macrobiotic diet, no television and be read to at bedtime from the haughty star’s book, The English Roses….New York, New York—the Vegas resort—devoted two pages in Los Angeles magazine to its slanderous ad: All the fun of New York without the hot garbage smell…. The Euro (€) is ten years old next month…. Ben & Jerry’s turned down a suggestion from the People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) to reduce the suffering of cows by substituting human breast milk in its ice cream…..”China is a poor country” says Chaz Miller of the National Solid Wastes Management Association, “so our recycled paper has become their forest, in a way”…After a tip-off. DEA agents discovered a hydroponic nursery containing 200 marihuana plants in a second floor storage room at Miami’s Mall of the Americas…. People who value their privileges above their principles soon lose both—Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969)

THE WILCOCK WEB: Media critic Jon Fine predicts (in Business Week) that 2008 will be the year when daily papers start to drop their ad-thin Saturday editions… Who was it decided that a simple majority was not enough to win in the Senate, but that a two-thirds majority was required? And how did they get away with it? And why can’t it be repealed?…. The Village Voice now devotes ten back-of-the-book color pages to hooker ads, mostly under the category of “Asian body work”….Spreading fast are cashless vending machines which take credit cards instead. Pennsylvania-based USA Technologies already has 20,000 of them in service….Gastropubs, an idea imported from England, are a growing trend, explained by Ken. D. Friedman of NYC’s Spotted Pig as “Take over an old bar; keep it the same with a better chef”….With Dubai as its first test market, London’s Ad-Air agency is starting to install advertising signs the size of three football fields on the flight paths of airports around the world….”Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it” quoth William Arthur Ward….Harper’s magazine says plants can warn each other of danger…. Contradicting the notion that the 14,000-strong Starbucks chain is putting mo-and-pop coffee houses out of business Taylor Clark’s book about the company says there were 585 coffee houses in the U.S. 20 years ago and now there are 24,000 (10,000 of them Starbucks)….Of the U.S. Tax Courts’ 450,000 employees and retirees, 5% owe a collective $3billion in back taxes according to the US Senate Finance Committee…Motorola is planning a cell phone that can be recharged via embedded solar cells…. Some say that cell phones are causing the death of the bees by interfering with their navigation…. Cautionary palindrome: —Carl Jung(1865-1961)

THE WILCOCK WEB: The seeds of the jatropha plant, which grow in the most arid soil in Mali on the edge of the Sahara desert, are being turned into diesel oil and touted as a solution to the country’s energy needs…. Cider drinking has increased by 50% in Britain over the past years and is now a $4 billion a year business…Apart from the doctor, the only man who should be allowed to have an opinion about an abortion is the father….Plagued by excessive 10% absenteeism, General Motors is planning to award a free car to workers who complete a year of perfect attendance… “If you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed; if you do read the newspapers you are misinformed” alleged Mark Twain…. The World Congress on Neck Pain meets in Los Angeles on Jan 22…. Studies show that if you look away before answering a difficult question it will improve your concentration….A new restaurant in Germany allows diners to order from a touch screen on the table, delivering the meal without waiters via a spiraling metal contraption from the kitchen upstairs….The only problem with common sense is that it’s not very common—Voltaire

THE WILCOCK WEB: Any magazine whose readers combine greed with stupidity would be a rewarding one for an advert offering a “free” $1 coin in return for “delivery and processing”, vide the full page ad in the National Review….Outsourcing has been so rewarding to India, that the country is now itself outsourcing jobs, led by software giant Infosys which is spending $250,000 buying call centers in Mexico and China…. When one is in love, one begins to deceive oneself, mused Oscar Wilde, “and one ends by deceiving others”….Cute-sy title of the tabloid published at West Point’s military academy: Pointer View….. People who know best advise removing the cotton from the aspirin bottle. It’s there to stop breakage in transit, and meanwhile attracts unwanted moisture….With three quarters of the planet composed of oceans and seas, and drought predicted for most of the world in the future, it’s only a matter of time before somebody figures out that solar distillation is the obvious solution…. Farmers in North Carolina are prohibited from using elephants for plowing…. “I never think of the future” mused Albert Einstein, “it comes soon enough”….More than two million South Koreans pick up television beamed directly from the studios onto their cell phones or other portable devices…. With selective inbreeding, Japanese scientists have produced a frog with transparent skin to study the effect of drugs on its internal organs without killing it…. A study by the World Health Organization concludes there is little variance in the number of abortions between countries where it is legal and countries where it isn’t. The main difference being that it is safer in the former….We do not deal much in fact when we are contemplating ourselves—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

THE WILCOCK WEB: Greedy billionaire Rupert Murdoch is a notable absentee from Business Week’s “50 Most Generous Philanthropists”. Could the media tycoon even be included in the Top 1,000?….In its continuing quest to be the Middle East’s most “Western” center, Abu Dhabi plans to launch an English-language daily next year having already recruited a former Daily Telegraph editor along with 200 other European and American journalists…….What was the best thing before sliced bread?… After Sao Paulo banned advertising billboards, Clear Channel -–the world’s biggest outdoor advertising agency—sued, as it worried that other cities might get the same idea…. The New Yorker reports that it receives 600 poems each week…..Probing the recent scandal in which Brit TV viewers made telephone calls trying for a jackpot, investigators claimed that $15 million had been earned by false pretences…. Big decisions are taken at small meetings, small decisions are taken at big meetings goes a Chinese proverb…. Japan’s low 1.4 birth rate coupled with its opposition to immigration is shrinking its population by one million people per year and within two decades the economy will face collapse forecasts Paris’ Le Monde….The Spanish government is showing in Senegal a movie it made to dissuade immigrants from making the perilous trip to the Canary Islands.... “Modern government is no longer interested in getting things done” says Roland White, "but in giving the impression of activity"....It may be 15 more years before it’s complete, but plans are in place for a 12-mile underground expressway—the nation’s longest —under the Santa Ana mountains connecting California’s Riverside and Orange counties….. A new Japanese camera automatically takes a picture only when it detects a smile…. The more things are forbidden the more popular they become—Mark Twain (1835-1910)

THE WILCOCK WEB: Last month was the 60th anniversary of the ballpoint pen, invented by a Hungarian newspaper editor Lazlo Biro. But BIC captured the market, helped by the French government approving its use in schools in 1965….. After yet another gibe from the British press about the expected influx of immigrants when Romania joins the EU next month, the country’s biggest paper, Libertatea, fired back by accusing the Brits of exporting “pedophilia, drunkenness and hooliganism" …Undeterred by the weak dollar, affluent American tourists are still flooding into London prompting the flagship of the InterContinental chain to charge $9,000 a night for the best suites in its newly refurbished hotel….. Reminiscing about the druggie habits of his younger days, novelist Stephen King told the Sunday Telegraph: “You take a hit of cocaine and it makes you a new man but the first thing the new man wants is a hit of cocaine”… For about $500, England’s Number One Pig Consortium allows investors to choose a pig which is then raised and slaughtered before being packaged and delivered in cuts…..….Since it started airing its Deal or No Deal show, NBC has split with its partner almost $25 million income from viewers’ text messages…. “There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth”—Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

THE WILCOCK WEB: Eyebrow transplants are the latest craze among people who want to look like their favorite celebrity says Dr. Richard Rogers who charges about $3,800 for transferring hair from the back of the head to the eyebrows….. Extending the easing of its gambling laws, Britain will allow poker--for limited stakes--in pubs from next fall …..“Carbon offsetting” is the new charge by travel companies added to airline tickets based on what they term “the CO2 emissions of the flight” and the cost of compensating for them….. The fastest growing section of the luxury fashion business is accessories and especially oversized handbags some of which Gucci ($1000), Channel ($1700) have been fetching outlandish prices….. Thousands of pounds have been invested by various companies in making commemorative plates for the anticipated (so far unannounced) wedding of Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton….. Friendly tax breaks and accessibility are credited with London’s appeal to billionaires according to Forbes which says that of the city’s 23 billionaires, only a dozen are British whom the best known is Sir Richard Branson ($2.8 billion)….Using plastic resin instead of wood pulp for the pages, London publisher Charles Melcher will produce a series of waterproof books for reading in the bath or at the beach…..A new powerful pogo stick, the Flybar 1200, costs $400 and can bounce its rider six feet in the air…Denying charges that his tactics turned Oscar campaigns “nuclear”, Harvey Weinstein said that what he actually did was “democratize the process” from being merely a studio club. “Every year, the studios would award themselves Oscars. If you were an independent it was pretty hard to get in there. The fix was in”…..WalMart discovered that stores that employed greeters who said ‘hello’ and offered assistance to customers reduced shoplifting by 35%…“People are never more dangerous than when they have nothing left to believe in except God” –- J.G. Ballard

THE WILCOCK WEB: Britain’s Labor government spent more than $2 billion on ‘consultants’ last year, many of whom charged almost $5,000 a day for their advice. What do government departments actually do if so many of their plans come from outside?…Britain’s richest teenager Daniel Radcliffe, 16, received $200,000 for the first Harry Potter film, $13 million for the latest…. “American movies today are aimed at three kinds of audiences: kids, cokeheads and those seeking any kind of loud and vulgar stimulation with which to fill up a gaping inner emptiness for a couple of hours”— Michael Potemra in National Review….If your car could go straight upwards, says the astronomer Fred Hoyle, space wouldn’t be remote at all--only one hours’ drive away…. London publisher Headline plans to draw attention to its books next year by making them slimmer than, and taller than, existing formats…A new mini espresso-machine in a leather case plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter socket. Cost: $1,000… Venice authorities, studying a $125 million plan to pump millions of gallons of water into the sand below the city hoping to stop it sinking any further, was warned that the sand would rise at different levels and damage scores of buildings. One expert called the idea “science fiction”….. ….On sale at some stationers: antiversary cards for bitter folk who seek to celebrate the date of their divorce….One way to solve Britain’s overcrowded prisons crisis writes Joan Bakewell in the Independent is to send home the 4,500 women in prison, all but a handful for minor crimes, and use the space for men…..An intellectual, explained Aldous Huxley, is “a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex’…. -- If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion—George Bernard Shaw…. Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström forecasts that telephone calls will eventually cost nothing. “You don’t pay for each email or each web page you unload; it’s the same with phone calls. That’s where it’s going. It will be free…“There is more to life than increasing its speed” -- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)


[John Wilcock is celebrating the new year
on Florida’s Marcos Island


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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.