' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance
The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance: Apr. 28, 2012
by John Wilcock

"America’s biggest export is trash—the scrap paper and metal we throw away. The Chinese buy it, make products out of it, sell them back to us at enormous profit, and we turn it into trash again. America, that once made things for the world, is now China’s trash compactor ."
-- Edward Humes, author Garbology Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash

MITT ROMNEY’S FRIENDS and backers range from the merely greedy to the shamefully unscrupulous. One of them is Paul Singer, founder of the $19bn hedge fund Elliott Management, in which onepercenter Mitt is an investor. How Elliott makes its millions is by buying the debt of struggling economies like that of Peru and then suing them when they can’t pay up. Sadly, some judges go along with the rip-off which means more hard times for poor Peruvians. They must love America, over there. Fortune says the “joke” about Singer in hedge fund circles used to be that he’s “to the right of Attila the Hun”.

SPEAKING OF JUDGES it’s about time more of them used their commonsense and stopped jailing people for minor offenses (especially drugs). Two million prisoners behind bars in America—more proportionally than any other country in the world. Some of those judges should be in jail themselves and as for the Supremos, at least three of them shouldn’t even be in office considering how biased they’ve shown themselves to be.

ONE OF THE WORLD’s biggest mining companies, the British/Australian-owned Rio Tinto company which has been accused of desecrating almost every country in which it has operated, is under fire for what Robert Redford has termed “the worst corporate assault on America’s natural heritage”. Rio Tinto’s plan is to gouge a two-mile wide pit beside Alaska’s Bristol Bay, producing not just copper but 10 billion tons of toxic waste, threatening salmon, bears, whales, seals and eagles. A full-page ad in the New York Times asked the company “What part of NO don’t you understand?” in reference to the overwhelmingly negative 80% vote of locals that rejected the company’s plan. Rio Tinto has claimed that “Good community relations” are necessary to its success but nevertheless are challenging the vote in court.

ARIANNA’S HUFFPOST has become the most-visited of all the internet’s media sites and is launching clones in many European cities, often in partnership with the big daily newspapers there. Brazil and Japan are next in Arianna’s sights. London’s Daily Mail is close behind with viewers, one-third of them in America. Both the Mail and its leftwing rival the Guardian have hired dozens of editorial staff in this country. The New York Times’ website is among the top four with millions of viewers for whom it maintains a partial pay-wall.

SUNDAY MORNING PUNDITS tend to be “very narrow, very white and male, and overwhelmingly conservative declares Peter Hart in the Media Watch Group magazine FAIR. And it’s boringly true that the same familiar faces appear over and over again ad infinitum. The mag studied all four political shows and determined them as being “extra ordinarily friendly terrain for the right” with 43% of the guests categorized as middle-of-the-road Beltway political reporters. For less than a year, the internationally-known correspondent Christiane Amanpour hosted ABC’s This Week but her international pieces and interviews with people rarely seen on Sunday shows “no doubt contributed to her being replaced in less than a year”.
Chocolate box


Who doesn't like chocolate!
(front of the box)

But look what it takes to get there!
(back of the box)

ANOTHER $7MILLION GIFT to members of Congress was part of the $87million spent on lobbying by the tobacco companies in the past couple of years. That’s according to Mother Jones which reports that smoking is still the leading of cause of death in this country with 350,000 billion cigarettes smoked each year. The 400,000 Americans who die from smoking is the equivalent of two jumbo jets crashing each day, the mag says, bringing to our attention a new book, Golden Holocaust, by Robert Proctor which summarizes thousands of secret documents and which the industry tried to prevent being published.

THE VENERABLE HOMES maintained by Britain’s National Trust are loosening up their strict policies, removing Do Not Touch signs, dressing up the guides in period costumes allowing chairs to be sat upon and pianos to be played. It’s all about “making houses come alive” reports history lecturer Anna Whitelock in BBC History, emphasizing “the rich daily life within their houses that the Trust is now looking to make visible”. The Trust has 3.8 million members and they are not all are pleased with this break with fusty tradition, being especially riled by the justification is Trust chairman Simon Jenkins that “there are things to learn from Disney”.

INTERNATIONAL WATER COMPANIES that seek to own the water supplies of other countries, an ominous trait one might think, have been joined by China’s Investment Corporation (CIC) which has paid at least $800million to acquire 85% of London’s water supply, Thames Water. Abu Dhabi owns another ten per cent. CIC boss Lou Jiwei told The Week that Britain was “one of the world’s most open economies”, with 400 Chinese companies owning or part-owning British businesses. The mag says that luxury-seeking Chinese shoppers spent an average of $5,000 each while Christmas shopping in Harrods department store.

WIND POWER is getting a bad press on both sides of the Atlantic as experts have begun to question its efficiency and wealthy homeowners complain that its structures are spoiling the view. But perhaps more serious are the complaints about the number of birds that are being lost to the whirling blades of hundreds of turbines. “America’s wind industry has a license to kill” charges the Wall Street Journal which reveals that among the 10,000 birds that die each year after crashing into the thousands of turbines in California’s Altamount Pass, are golden eagles, owl, kestrels and other protected species.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Nice to know we still have so much money to give away. Apparently when we finally get out of Afghanistan we're going to keep tossing them $4bn a year for Hamid Karzai to share with his crooked pals.... How many of tubby Kim Jong Un’s army generals think their immature commander-in-chief is a complete asshole but are too frightened to say so?....If Mitt Romney reverted to his original position about most things, he’d be well suited to run as Obama’s vp….The shocking thing about The Hunger Games is how few critics think there’s anything wrong with a movie that presents kids killing kids as a sport to be admired…. “If you find yourself in a hole” says The Ol’ Farmer. “the first thing to do is to stop diggin’”….Spurred by the news that eight million British dogs are overweight, a pet insurance company has invented a dog stairlift to transport Fido upstairs without

Doggie Lift
photo credit: The Week

effort… Security companies are warning about electronic charging stations in malls and airports, some of which have been tampered with and will steal your data…Currently popular with young mothers in Brooklyn: the $2 babyccinno consisting of steamed milk and foam topped with chocolate powder….Physicists at UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory complains of the continuing shortage of helium to operate their neutron beams because so much of it is being consumed by people inflating children’s party balloons…In his recently published autobiography, actor Frank Langella recalls Laurence Olivier’s immodest confession to him that as a youth he dreamed of standing naked in a museum while people paid to worship him….The 45c stamp is a bargain compared with the new price of a first class stamp in Britain which is now 60p (92c)… Now there’s a $3,000 wheeled suitcase with headlights at the front and a seat on which you can ride it thru the airport (www.boxxcorp.com)….Stores reports the arrival (in Beverly Hills) of the first of a projected chain of gourmet cupcake machines with $4 buns available 24/7….Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson may have backed Newt Gingrich with millions but he still has plenty left, and he’s about to commit $21bn to building a new gambling resort, Euro-Vegas in Spain. He hasn’t yet decided whether it will be in Barcelona or Madrid….Prizes and rewards of all kinds are offered by sweepstakes listed at Contests.About.com….. The type of camping offered by Paws Up in Montana, with bathrooms in the tents, and art on the walls , is called glamping and costs $1000 per night…. How much can you trust a man who spends all night with a hooker and then won’t pay her in the morning?.... Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.—Will Rogers (1879-1935)




Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

send a comment to John Wilcock


recent columns...

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

The real, true, history...
Week of May 5, 2018

Alice, Alice at 85, seed money, supermax, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of April 28, 2018

About being in love..., Persoff and Marshall, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of April 21, 2018

The Candy Store
Week of January 20, 2018

From the archives... The religion of Violence & Statistics, otherwise known as college football; WPA II; Would it be called Indiastan or Pakindia?; Who you Gonna call? Crime Predictors; Being a Bank means you never having to say you're sorry; Oil vs. Democracy, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of December 9, 2017

From the archives... The Mother of All Family Feuds, Otaku Means Geek in Japanese, Affirmative Action or 'It all depends on who you know', The Moonies are packin', and of course, the Wilcock Web......
Week of December 2, 2017

Taxing land, not people, Is Socialism Scary?, Stars acting as assholes, Big Thinkers can be such Morons, and of course, The Wilcock Web...
Week of November 18, 2017

Dear Reader,
Week of August 23, 2017

Dear Readers...
Week of January 25, 2017

John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
Week of June 8, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
Week of April 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
Week of April 16, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
Week of April 13, 2016

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
Week of March 12, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
Week of March 5, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 27, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
Week of February 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
Week of February 6, 2016

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 Hoax…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:  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.