the column of lasting insignificance: Mar. 10, 2012
by John Wilcock
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.
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).
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’.
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)
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- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— Dear Readers...
— John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, donâ€™t forget the Republican Paradox
— 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
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library;
In the Cannes
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
— 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
— 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
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon;
The Shinjuku Sutra
— 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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixâ€”The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— 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
— 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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
— Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
- column archives: 2006 - present
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