ELECTION BY AUCTION is pretty much what it seems to have come down to now that we have corporations pretending to be people, Super-PACS and self-interested billionaires all outbidding each other for the right to enhance their privileges. “Nothing in political history will have matched the relentless firepower of next fall’s living room wars” writes Walter Shapiro, commenting on “the ad clutter that helps explain why Americans hate politics”. In an essay titled ‘The Campaign-Industrial Complex’ in Washington Monthly, he estimates that ‘Politics Incorporated’ may raise and spend over $7 billion this year “which would put the industry roughly on a par with Visa”.
The real crisis facing American politics is what elected officials have to do to raise the money for all those ads declares Lawrence Lessig in Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It. Lessig, who was on the faculty of the University of Chicago’s Law School at the same time as Barack Obama, now finds himself pointing out the “growing alienation” of his former colleague from the financiers who
are backing his rival, resulting in gloomy appraisals that “by not completely kowtowing to Wall Street, Obama risks losing the White House”.
Nevertheless, Obama is expected to raise and spend a billion dollars through his fund-raising ties to the ultra-rich, adding to voters’ “corrosive cynicism about government and accentuat(ing) Democratic disillusion with the president.”
Fund-raising never stops, Lessig asserts, not even for senators at the start of their terms, and campaign reform is as much a liberal fantasy as hand-gun regulation. “The core of the problem is that the same Congress that has prospered from the current system would be called upon to change it”.
AFRICAN BILLIONAIRES might sound like an uncommon species to some people, but the Economist reports that they’re a growing category, and “harbingers of hope (who) exemplify how far Africa has come, and give reason to believe that its recent high growth rates may continue”. The world’s wealthiest black person is listed as a Nigerian cement tycoon, Aliko Dangote, whose $10bn fortune is three times as large as Oprah Winfrey’s. Africa’s economies, from Ghana in the west to Mozambique in the south, are growing faster than any other region in the world, the magazine claims, adding that 60million households have incomes larger than $3,000, a number that’s expected to reach 100 million by 2015. The news is not all good, however, with the majority of the continent’s billion people still below the poverty line. Africa’s population is expected to double over the next 40 years.
“I’m accused of everything from being a cat torturer to being a rapist to being overly concerned about my hair to being too rich to being so poor that my socks are dirty. The only ones I have left now to look forward to are some kinds of combination of bestiality and pedophilia”
-- WikiLeaks' Julian Assange talking to Rolling Stone about the pressures he’s been undergoing on the eve of a decision by Britain about whether to deport him to face trial in Sweden
VAGUE ANXIETY is the most common reaction when the subject of North Korea comes up. The hermit kingdom always seems to be on the verge of making trouble, maybe even of the nuclear sort. ‘No good options exist’, the pundits always say…It’s the six-party talks or another Korean War”. That’s how Asian expert Ross Terrill puts it in the weekly Standard. But, he adds: “Fortunately, a good option does exist, that would terminate the problem of nukes on the Korean peninsula. Talks would switch from Pyongyang’s ‘intentions’ and weapons to the shape of a reunified Korea”. Reunification—turning back the two Koreas into one. Is it likely? No. But possible? Of course. Terrill’s rationalization explains: “The reward for 28-year-old Kim Jong Eun would be respect from all Korea and a personal achievement absent in the life of his father and grandfather. Educated in Switzerland, with some knowledge of the West, he is young enough to glimpse redemption from His family’s horrible record by permitting peaceful reunification or the Korean people. Hawks and doves have a rare opportunity to unite in this project, a possible goal and susceptible to subtle negotiation.”
“What I learned is that acting is, to a large extent, trying to stave off self-doubt long enough to be natural and real onstage. I’m at the point in my career where I should be learning a huge amount from every job I do, and unless something’s going to give me that, I’m not really very attracted to it”
—Daniel Radcliffe talking to Parade on the eve of the release
of The Woman in Black, his first post-Harry Potter film
NEW YORK’S FIRST underground paper, the East Village Other, began in 1965 and closed down seven years later. Thus, this year marks the 40th anniversary of its demise, a landmark that will be celebrated with a series of events including a panel discussion (Feb 28) and a party.. “Initiated by poets, painters, artists, seers, perverts and prophets: wrote co-founder Allen Katzman, “EVO shared its pages with the likes of Buckminster Fuller, Timothy Leary, Robert Crumb, Ishmael Reed, Allen Ginsberg, Lenny Bruce, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Baba Ram Das, Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman-- the conspiracy of the 1960s. It went just as it came – in a hail of livingness. In true American phantasmagoria, it was a legend in its own time.”
By an accident of fate, I was EVO’s editor from issue no. 3 onwards after returning from Japan, where I had been revising my travel guide, to find that the lady I had been dating, Sherry Needham, was now dating Walter Bowart, known to all as the inventor of this trail-blazing offset newspaper. All hail the noble Walter; a genuine innovator who sadly died at 68 in 2007. I was obliged to move on after a month or two, committed to a return to Japan, but I stopped en route to edit Art Kunkin’s Los Angeles Free Press which had been founded earlier that year as America’s very first underground paper.
The panel on Feb. 28, to be livecast at http://nytimes.com/eastvillage will feature Ed Sanders, Steven Heller, Claudia Dreifus, Dan Rattiner and two who still live in the neighborhood – EVO editor Peter Leggieri and writer and activist Alex Gross. It will be moderated by John McMillian, author of Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America.
THE WILCOCK WEB: Well-meaning essays comparing the US health service with the cheaper (and better) ones that other countries offer but almost all shy away from the obvious answer: healthcare costs will NEVER drop as long as it’s run by for-profit companies….Like the late Joseph Kennedy, today’s smart billionaire asks: Why settle for a mere congressman when my SuperPac might buy me a president? .....The first thought that comes to mind when contemplating Supremo John Roberts is, How can a fella so well-educated be such a fool?.... “The modern Conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy,” says John Kenneth Galbraith, “that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness”…..A Georgia newspaper publisher says he has “hundreds” of pictures given him by visitors who pose in the nearby street holding their hometown newspaper and one woman carried the picture of her mother on a stick so she could boast she’d been everywhere….After a small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital, his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was. 'No change yet,' said the nurse…..“Talk to people about themselves” said Disraeli, “and they will listen for hours”— The American Automobile Association has deployed vehicles capable of recharging stranded electric vehicles in six regions so far, and plans to eventually cover the entire country…More and more couples are choosing cemetery funeral homes for their wedding parties reports the AARP Bulletin…....Reporting on the Olive Garden’s efforts to recover from a slump in sales, Smart Money attributed it to the chain introducing “culinary forward dishes—most notably, Gorgonzola and pear ravioli with shrimp to the menu, and then wasting millions of dollars promoting them. Customers balked ….Politicians who leave office for whatever reason should be permanently banned from being able to lobby their former colleagues....China‘s near monopoly of tungsten production (needed to toughen steel) will soon face competition from mining by an Australian firm near Plymouth at England’s southwestern tip….In his prison autobiography, Malcolm X commented that “a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers” …..Since the Southern California station KCET was replaced by KOCE as the local PBS outlet, it’s become pretty much irrelevant to many viewers especially in places where it has been dropped by Time-Warner ….. “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt” advised Henry J. Kaiser….. Customers at Legends Outlets Mall in Kansas can text the valet parkers to get their cars ready without having to wait in the cold… When the Cold War ended, the Soviets agreed to convert 500 metric tons of weapon-grade uranium into fuel for American nuclear plants, reports Wired, and when the program ends next year, the equivalent of 20,000 Soviet missiles will be lighting “the same US homes they were built to annihilate”… …Chance decides matters better than ourselves—Menander (342-292 BC)
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
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— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, donâ€™t forget the Republican Paradox
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— 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
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
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— 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 Hoaxâ€¦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: Â 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 Sixâ€”The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
– Week of October 24, 2015
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fiveâ€”Reefer Madness (continued)--Jan and Stan change my life; The man who turned on the world
– Week of October 17, 2015
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fiveâ€”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 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
– Week of October 3, 2015
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourâ€”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, ECHOÂ 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 Shepherdâ€™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 Mailerâ€™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
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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
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
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.