the column of lasting insignificance: Apr. 14, 2012
by John Wilcock
IT’S UNCERTAIN how long the Supreme Republican Court will pretend to discuss the health bill before they ban it, but isn’t it time somebody challenged the Supreme Republican Court itself? No other country allows presidents to nominate members of their own party for a lifetime appointment, so it’s hard to find justification for their limitless tenure reigning unquestioned over everybody else. Term limits should apply to ALL politicians, especially bigoted judges who consider themselves above the law. And why shouldn’t recall procedures apply to prejudiced ‘justices’ who defy the wishes of at least half of the country?
WHO NEEDS PINK SLIME when hamburgers can be made of meat grown in the laboratory? Well, it’s not quite ready yet, but eventually a process using stem cells from cattle muscle will be able to produce huge sheets of man-made meat with one cow theoretically fulfilling the role of a million of today’s slaughtered animals. A team led by Dutch professor Mark Post of Eindhoven University aims to reduce the world’s reliance on livestock which currently exploits almost a third of the world’s ice-free land.
THE FLYING CAR, an unrealized dream item for almost a century, may actually be within sight, with a dozen flying cars currently in development, and one—the $279,000 Transition—being almost ready to launch. It’s more of a plane than a car, with wings that fold up at the touch of a button and a requirement that pilots
undertake 20 hours of flying experience to acquire a license under the FAA’s “Lite Sport” aircraft category. Initially, the cost will hopefully restrict the Transition to specific users rather than the public at large. “Most people can’t parallel park” designer Chris Malloy told the Economist, “so I can’t see most people owning one of these without killing themselves”.
The Devil’s Dictionary
by Ambrose Bierce
Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught-
EVER SINCE BRITAIN’S Liberal Democrats shelved some of their dearest principles to share the take-over government with the Conservatives in opposition to the discredited Labor party, discontent has been growing. “Many Lib Dems mourn their past as a party of instinctive opposition with a leftish tinge” comments a columnist in the Economist, quoting one minister’s opinion that “we should not try to be a better opposition party than Labour, but a better governing party than the Tories”. LibDem leader Nick Clegg, who acts as deputy prime minister in the coalition government, admits that it is “a shitty time to be a liberal”.
IT WAS OBVIOUS from the start that an organization like Groupon was, if not worth its reputed $12bn, was obviously unsustainable at anything remotely like that level in the long run. Not only do people get sick of so-called “bargains” but the dispensers of same begin to realize how much money they are sacrificing. “Are Daily Deals Done?” asks Fast Company, reporting that despite its robust growth, Groupon lost $256.7million last year; Living Social, part-owned by Amazon, lost $558m and "the world bid farewell" to 798 deal sites. A typical assessment would be that of Peter Shelsky of the eponymously-named smoked fish company in Brooklyn who talked of “shitty deals” and described Groupon adherents as bargain hunters. “They only want to spend the coupon value and they’re often rude—which is amazing because you’re basically giving them stuff for free”.
CHINA WAS SO ANGRY with Norway when a jailed dissident, Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel Prize that it snubbed that country’s ministers, banned the import of its salmon and suspended talks on a free trade agreement. But now, reports the Economist, Norway’s prime minster Jens Stontenberg has confirmed that his country is not going to apologize and, small as it is, it has the strength to resist, not to mention that as one of the eight members of the Arctic Council it could block China’s accession to the region’s undersea resources and shipping routes.
RICE PAPER WRAPPING, the stuff that dissolves so you can eat it along with what it wraps, is growing in popularity with vendors. It actually isn’t rice paper any more, but some kind of soluble plastic which (Fast Company explains) can be found encasing everything from clothing to pesticides to detergent such as Procter & Gamble’s Tide pods, just launched with a $150m marketing program. “Our films are already in your laundry room and kitchen” declares the MonoSol company’s, CEO P. Scott Bening. Now he plans to bring them to the mouth with edible film that is “soluble, biodegradable, even flavorful”. Ideas under development include tubes of flavored powder that can be slipped into water bottles; spice strips; and self-contained packets of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and oatmeal that can be dropped right into hot water without the need to be unwrapped.
THE WILCOCK WEB: Apple made $13bn profit in this last quarter and as millions of idiots are willing to pay virtually any inflated price for their latest gimmick, so why can’t they bring back the jobs from China and make their products in this country?....And although we read a lot in the newspapers about good and bad —mostly bad—things happening in China, we never read about what the Chinese are being told about the US ….An LA Times poll discovered that the longer Romney campaigns, the less popular he becomes….And a letter in that paper asked how could any woman call herself a Republican after the party “exposed itself as completely anti-woman”, noting that 45 GOP senators had voted against access to contraception….…. George Will said that Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose ….….If you insist too long that you’re right, you’re wrong….”What happens to courtesy titles in gay marriages?” asks columnist Alexander Chancellor in the Spectator. “Might Sir Elton John’s partner, David Furnish, become Lady John?” …. Facebook has turned friendship into a numbers game, writes the Washington Monthly’s Charles Peters, with “its success partly based on exploiting the self-absorption that has become one of the more unattractive features of modern life”… Oscar Wilde commented that whenever people agreed with him, he always felt he must be wrong…….Bureaucratic red tape is holding up the export from South Africa of 15 litres of elephant sperm badly needed because very few of the 39 male African elephants in this country’s zoos (which has almost 200 female elephants) are capable of breeding….The NYTimes says 900,000 of Florida’s residents are licensed to carry guns… ”Keep skunks and bankers at a distance” says The Ol’ Farmer….Volvo’s new models include an airbag attached to the bonnet, designed to minimize the impact when a car hits a pedestrian….At least one London supermarket says that sales of grey squirrel meat are soaring, especially since reports that the voracious North American grey squirrel has largely driven out Britain’s indigenous red squirrel “Eat ’em, to beat ‘em” is a popular slogan …..If humans were fattened up at the same rate as chickens, says a University of Arkansas report, we’d weight 349 pounds by our second birthday ….. Fox is working on an alleged “comedy” starring the obnoxious Russell Brand for the fall …. …..Aiming for a healthier workforce, the Google cafeteria has made desserts smaller while moving soda to the bottom of the cooler and placing bottled water at eye level….Jim Henry, a retired lobsterman living in Mystic, Conn, just celebrated his 98th birthday by self-publishing his first book, Fisherman’s Language (works with a dot.com) already in a third printing… …..With its aging fans dying off, the market for once-valuable porcelain Hummel figures is slumping, says Bottom Line…. For an extra two bucks, Burger King is offering to deliver its food orders within a 10-mile radius of its Washington, DC stores, an experiment that may be extended to other cities… ….More than half of India’s rural households have a mobile phone but no toilet…. “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”—Epicurus (341–270 BC)
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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