the column of lasting insignificance: August 11, 2012
by John Wilcock
NUCLEAR WASTE is not merely lethal but likely to remain deadly for thousands of years, yet eight decades into the nuclear age we still don’t know how to safely dispose of it. The World Nuclear Association, an industry group, reports that 10,000 tons of this waste is being added every year to a worldwide stockpile of 270,000 tons, most of which—after being cooled in water for five years—is packed away in thick concrete-and-steel casks. The bad news is that heat and radioactivity eventually eats away the container and radiation is released. France, the country most reliant on nuclear power, tried dumping canisters in the ocean for a while but this was eventually banned and, according to the Guardian, that country doesn’t have a solution any more than any other. In this country, the projected Yucca Mountain repository had cost $9bn before protests caused its abandonment in 2010.
MICROSIZED NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS might be a solution to providing local power on a small—and presumably safer—scale, suggests Popular Science. It reports that GE Hitachi’s PRISM reactors would use recycled nuclear fuel to provide 300 megawatts, enough to supply 340,000 homes.
EVEN THE ARREST of Fred Willard last week produced a handful of laughs. One of the funniest men on television Willard (who can forget his hilarious impersonations of George Bush on the Tonight show?) was busted in a porn movie theater for what TMZ variously described as polishing the bishop, flogging the dolphin, stroking the one-eyed snake, and jerking it. The 70-ish comic claims he did nothing wrong and 60,000 people participating in a cable poll voted four to one to ‘Free Fred’.
IT WASN’T THE MUSIC that died, says Michael Todd, but “silence that departed, after a death by a thousand cuts—music and otherwise”. In his Pacific Standard essay, he writes about the “ubiquity of noise” which studies have shown to affect learning, stress and healing. “Dispatches from around the world report ever-louder average volumes”; even at sea whales and dolphins are finding it hard to communicate because of noise from shipping, oil exploration and military activities.
HOMICIDE IS DOWN in New York and Los Angeles but up almost forty per cent in Chicago, notes the Christian Science Monitor Weekly. The Windy City has notched 263 killings this year. The big gangs that once prevailed have split into hundreds of smaller street gangs, not bound by the old rules. “Today’s street violence more often stems from personal squabbles and retaliatory conflicts among smaller hybrid groups whose control extends only a few blocks” the mag exclaims,. Today’s street gangs “operate almost like corporate distributors” for the four major Mexican cartels which have now extended their networks into the Great Lakes region.
IN HIS COLUMN Tilting at Windmills in Washington Monthly, founding editor Charles Peters reminisces about meeting Allen Ginsberg when he was 19. Both were living in the same apartment house. The beatnik poet and his pal Herbert Huncke introduced him to marihuana, Peters recalls, but sadly, “It turned out that I couldn’t inhale, which would later make me the only living citizen of the United States of America who believed Bill Clinton”.
THE PROVOCATIVE TITLE, Better Off Without ‘em, A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession introduces a book by Chuck Thompson, a much-traveled “comic” author who suggests: It would be another Mexico “only with an even weaker currency and more corrupt government”. It’s not always clear when the book is being serious but it does make some undeniable points such as the way that the South has siphoned off auto jobs from Michigan and the Midwest “by keeping workers’ salaries low and inhibiting their rights to organize”. Thompson says looking around the South Carolina State House grounds he found statues of Ben Tillman who was an advocate of lynching all black voters, while at one store he was able to buy a complete Klan uniform as recordings of KKK rallies played in the background. The South, he maintains, has a negative influence on the rest of the country, as it “jilts workers, promotes poverty, sells out American influence to foreigners, wrecks the environment and makes trans-fat pushers like Paula Deen and Paul Prudhomme into national heroes”.
THE WILCOCK WEB: Whoever hosts the Olympics next would be wise to insist on revising that “Host City Contract” which has so infuriated Londoners by closing down highways for the exclusive use of IOC people and enforcing moronic bans on the selling of sausages shaped like Olympic rings…If Apple is really making $1bn per week, and has $117bn available, howcum they can’t afford to employ Americans right here to fabricate their gadgets ?...It’s hard to believe that Democrats who are ‘disappointed’ with Barack Obama, really believe that Mitt Romney will do what Obama didn’t…. “As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top, than with those on the bottom, we are doomed” declares Peter Edelman in the NYT….In this election, it’s the rich against the rest…..“You’re so Bain, you probably think this column is about you” sings Will Durst in his column about Romney….. Congress to farmers: Drop Dead ….. European airports are testing a laser scanner, Insight100, that can identify whether liquid in bottles is dangerous or not…. Chickpeas and peanuts contain twice as much protein as corn and increase the soil’s nutrient content claims Popular Science, suggesting that it’s time to replace corn as America’s most subsidized crop….Spectator columnist Charles Moore writes that Taliban terrorists imprisoned in Afghanistan detention camps have never had any dental care so “they find it terrifying, and accuse their benefactors of torture”….That December date is still in dispute when Mayans predict the world will end. But their Long Count catalog notes that the world began 3,114 years back from this Saturday…….. Poetic justice is
when a greedy brokerage firm is taken down—and hopefully bankrupted—by the high-speed electronic trading that even Wall Streeters say is unfair….Billionaire publisher Steve Forbes says the UN proposal to levy a 1% wealth tax on everyone whose net worth exceeds $1bn is “baloney”. Well, he would say that wouldn’t he? He claims the money would just create more waste and corruption…. The same issue of his eponymous mag features a 1936 Mercedes Benz roadster which is predicted to fetch $10million in California this month”…..…If they allow runners with metal legs to compete, why not boxers with metal arms?....The gay community, whose eventual goal is power rather than ‘freedom’, would like to shut down anybody who doesn’t agree with them…. ….Instead of simply appointing a new head of the BBC, they lavished half a million dollars on favored consultants….. At Brooklyn’s Do or Die, donuts topped with foie gras are selling like hot cakes for $11 apiece… …..….When the Dems meet for their national convention in Charlotte the first week of September, Jon Stewart’s Daily Show will pay the local library $94,000 to do the show from there… Most of the arguments aboard National Review’s November cruise to the islands, will be about who were the idiots whose originally chose Mitt Romney who had crashed the week before….Reading while sunbathing makes you well red….. ….Teleportation isn’t viable yet but one step along the way will be out-of-body experience; Swiss neuroscientist Olaf Blanke is trying to induce it via virtual reality and robotic experiments….Writing in Bloomberg.com, Michael Kinsley suggested one way to stop the rich buying elections is to “devote our energies to stigmatizing any politician who tries to use ‘an offensive amount of money”. Well, good luck with that…”Faith is believing something you know ain’t true” gibed Mark Twain… …..Men are tormented by the opinions they have of things and not the things themselves—Greek proverb.
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— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
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The Shinjuku Sutra
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— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
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— 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.
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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