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the column of lasting insignificance: Mar. 10, 2012
by John Wilcock

“While some in Washington, DC, are less corrupt than others, almost no one is innocent”
review in the weekly Standard of the book, Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat by former ‘dirty tricks’ FBI agent Mark Holland.

WHAT A CURIOUS TALE unfolds as the reader tries to unravel the story behind the new magazine, the Philadelphia Trumpet. It’s a highly professional, glossy production with a sophisticated and intelligent take on current politics, as well as the contemporary social and cultural scene. But it’s a publication that appears to have no visible means of support. It’s free, carries no advertising and is also available online.
      What’s the secret? An early clue comes in a story quoting Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986) who built up a worldwide ministry which, for half a century, published Plain Truth, a magazine which wasn’t taken too seriously because of its overbalance on religion. In the Trumpet (a near-clone of its predecessor) the God stuff is cleverly played down, its objective, genuinely informative and relatively unbiased stories dropping in a biblical quote or inserting a reference to God only as a mere footnote. An essay revealing the extent of China’s military build-up, for example, concludes: “Biblical prophecy speaks of a giant Eastern army coalescing in the end time, absorbing many Asian states, with China and Russia at the head”. Similar predictions are said to align Egypt with Iran.
      “Bible prophecy” says the Trumpet, “tells us that Jerusalem is the nucleus of end-time events” (Daniel 11:40).
      As a matter of fact, Armstrong felt that many Bible writings clearly augured the future, and his books (The Incredible Human Potential) usually tend to accentuate the positive. In his Seven Laws of Success, he stresses the need for education, resourcefulness and perseverance. “One of the great weaknesses in today’s Western society” the mag declares, “is the inability to delay gratification. We want what we want now.”
      Trumpet’s March issue includes stories on racism, the space race, the dangerous effects of technology addiction, the Vatican’s stance on Palestine, planetary profusion, the troop drawdown, the Falkland islands stand-off, job-hunting, enhancing creativity. They all make for interesting reading. (request@theTrumpet.com)

NOT A WORD of dissent was to be found anywhere when that 340-ton boulder began its $10million, 100-mile journey to the Los Angeles County Museum. Well, it’s ART, don’cha know, and therefore beyond criticism Michael Govan’s moronic director says, “It’s great; a real gift to the people”. Of course, the 10m smackeroos (stumped up by misguided one-percenters) could have been a real gift to some real people, the homeless for example.

ADVERTISING FOR SPIES is not the sort of thing you’ll see very often but an ad in some London magazines for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service reads: “We’re looking for people who can handle detail. Men and women with patience and determination. You see, we don’t care what you are or where you’re from. We don’t even care what you do now, only what you can do”. It invites applicants to learn more at sis.gov.uk/careers but adds a final for-your-eyes-only warning: “If you want to discuss applying, discuss it with us and no one else”.

THAT RECENT MOVIE, Wanderlust, which invokes the name of Elysium for a fictional Georgian commune where nudity reigns, recalls the 12 happy years of my life that I spent in the real Elysium, a nudist resort in the Santa Monica mountains. The first thing to get clear is that, in my experience at least, sex no more rules the roost in a nudist camp than in real life. “Nude is not lewd” was among owner Ed Lange’s most-quoted aphorisms, as was the “Leave your hang-ups here” sign beside the hot tub (capacity: 14).
      Because of its outré associations, Southern California is often assumed to be focus of American nudism but that isn’t actually true. Of the more than 200 resorts listed in the Guide to Nudist Resorts in North America in the late Seventies, only 24 were in the state and of these Elysium was the solitary one in the Los Angeles area. My decade-and more experiences in this delightful seven-acre resort, which ended when the place closed in 2001, are detailed in chapter 23 of my autobiography, Manhattan Memories (it’s also on Kindle). Here’s a postcard picture of Elysium for your amusement.

Elysium

WATCHING PAINT DRY is currently widespread all over the world as would-be contestants submitted pictures of themselves doing just that. Sixty-four chosen as finalists will attend the championships in a small town in northern England with the winner receiving $100,000 and a free house painting. Entrance to this year’s contest is already closed but you can see more details at ‘Watching Paint Dry championships’.

“Consumers will now routinely ask if they are eating free range chicken. Well we want them to ask if their servers are getting paid sick days, too.”
--Saru Jayaraman worker’ rights spokesman for Restaurant Opportunities which was told by thousands of workers that they cooked while ill because otherwise they wouldn’t collect a paycheck.

FINDING THEMSELVES WITHOUT a focus, many of the various ‘Occupy’ movements went back home to ponder what could be done next. Fortunately the magazine Yes! stepped into the breach and may turn out to be the ideal place for activists to stay in touch with each other, and eventually coalesce. “It won’t be easy or fast to take on the power of corporations” writes executive editor Sarah van Gelder, “but the Occupy movement opened up the conversation.” In response to those who say a public shift in consciousness is unrealistic, she says the same thing was once said about apartheid, but in hindsight its fall was inevitable. “The legitimacy of the system crumbled years before the structures of white rule collapsed. It was harming too many for the benefit of a few”. Among the features in the spring issue of Yes! are ‘People Stopped the Big Oil Pipeline’; ’Social Security Is Broke and Other Scare Tactics’; ‘Revoke Their Charters’; ‘Hey Banks! Watch Us Move Our Millions’ and ‘Four Ways to Flex Our electoral Muscles’.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Apologists keep explaining how we “accidentally” burned books in Afghanistan. Burning books is never an accident…. Italian police have been stopping drivers of Porches and other luxury cars, intent on trying to recover some of the $120bn avoided each year by tax evaders. “Dealers are overstocked with luxury cars these days” says one observer. “Nobody wants to buy them”….. Not to mince words, when we talk about “religion” what we actually mean is Catholics—who dominate the Supreme Court, aspire to ignore laws that govern the rest of us and who worship thousands of ‘leaders’—yes, thousands—in a hierarchy that likes to diddle young boys…OUR INEFFECTUAL POLS:I rise to introduce a bill that I have carefully crafted to fail” is the headline on a story in Bloomberg BusinessWeek about congressmen who work on bills “not to become law, but to score election-year points by forcing the other side to vote for or against them”….Meanwhile, what Dems are praying for is that Santorum becomes the GOP candidate…Designers of e-books are encouraged to add sound to their product –everything from conversation to symphony orchestras—with the aid of Booktrack’s “creator software” which the company is offering free…The three million calls to AAA to replace flat tires will drop considerably if experiments with Bridgestone’s “airless concept tire” are successful. The company says its after the $150bn market with a solid tire that’s made from aluminum, rubber and thermoplastic resin…. The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up…..For about five bucks via a Web service called Stageit viewers can watch live concerts from the private homes of musicians presented by Billboard star Evan Lowenstein….If they’re now investigating Saudi Arabia’s possible involvement in the 9/11 attack maybe they’ll reexamine George Bush’s role in letting that high-level Saudi family slip out a day later….”What Afghans are really asking for is for our sons, husbands, fathers and brothers to risk their lives to protect their women from their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers”--letter in the Los Angeles Times…..Be ready to CHANGE BANKS….Less than 0.1 percent of US homes have equipped themselves with solar panels….In reference to the way that Greece and other poverty-stricken EU countries have found themselves yoked into the unchangeable Euro, one German observer commented: “It seems to me that we have invented a machine from hell that we cannot turn off”…. The capacity of human beings to bore one another” quipped H.L. Mencken, “seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal”…..Since Florida’s Everglades have become infested with hundreds of voraciously hungry Burmese pythons, eight out of ten bobcats and more than 95% of the opossums and raccoons have disappeared say researchers from the University of California…. …..Learning that the average Chinese tourist spends $6,000 on a US visit and that 1.4 million of them are expected to come this year, tourism industry lobbyists are trying to get the red-tape-festooned and lengthy wait for visitors eased and shortened… …. A tourist in Kerry came upon a level crossing with one gate open and the other gate shut. ‘We’re half expecting a train,’ explained the Kerryman….. Do well and you will have no need for ancestors. —Voltaire (1694-1778)

3/3/12

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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.