' 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: August 18, 2012
by John Wilcock

“The no. 1 project of (Republicans) is to make sure that (Obama) serves only one term. How do you make sure of that? You don’t allow him to do anything good or worthwhile. Every chance you get, block him. And that’s what they’ve done. Which now allows them to say, ‘He’s failed; he can’t get anything done’”
—Morgan Freeman in the Guardian

STUBBORN GLOBAL-WARMING DENIERS will stop at nothing to spread their skeptical ideas, threatening and even attacking climate scientists who persist in trying to warn the world. It’s not even surprising that these delusionary dimwits have their own lobbyist to spread their myopic message. Popular Science introduces us to Steve Milloy who (surprise!) used to flack for the tobacco industry and is now paid to trash “global--warming alarmists (with their) ingenious plan to exert government control over everything that we do”. Pointing out that 98% of climate scientists believe in global warming, the mag says they have become targets of hate mail, threats, nuisance suits and—in one case—a dead rat on the doorstep.
    The threats are having their effect, One atmospheric scientist, Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, ridiculed by Rush Limbaugh as “a climate babe” says, “The intent of all this is to discourage scientists. When I get an e-mail that mentions my child and a guillotine…I wonder if it’s worth it”.

REDEMPTION THROUGH READING is the name of a new program introduced to Brazilian jails which slices four days off a prisoner’s sentence for every book he/she reads. The limit is 12 books a year and readers will have to prove they read the books by submitting legible and “grammatically sound” essays about each book. “A person can leave prison with an enlarged view of the world” says lawyer Andre Kehdi who runs a book-donation project.

RUDE EMPLOYEES, categorized as impolite or unfriendly, top the list of grievances that drive customers crazy according to a poll by Stores magazine of 6,000 shoppers. “One customer service meltdown can sabotage years of customer-centric goodwill”, the mag wrote, citing last year’s Rasmussen Report which concluded that Americans are becoming ruder and less civil. Lisa Gache, co-founder of Beverly Hills Manners (who knew?) noted a gradual decline in the use of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, affirming that casual conversation, dress and behavior had ‘hijacked’ good manners. “The slow erosion of the magic words in our everyday vernacular has to do with the predilection toward all things casual in our society today”, she said (apparently with a mouth full of marbles). “Whether retail sales associates are as dreadful as the survey results suggest” concludes Stores, “doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is that the collective wisdom of the crowd is so overwhelmingly negative that turning a deaf ear to the feedback could impact a retailer’s long-term profitability”.

AMERICA’S RULING CLASS, the wealthy and powerful people who have gotten a stranglehold on the country, are the subject of a serious new book. The Betrayal of the American Dream by Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele reveals “how a small number of people in power have deliberately put in place policies that have enriched themselves while cutting the ground out from underneath America’s greatest asset—its middle class”. In a country where the will of the people—as in a democracy—is supposed to prevail, the book claims, it no longer does.
    “For decades, Washington and Wall Street have been systematically rewriting the rules of the American economy to benefit the few at the expense of the many—putting in place policies that have steadily dismantled the foundation of America’s middle class”. And next year, things will get worse, say the authors, when Congress will attempt to balance the budget with “slash and burn” policies largely on the backs of the working class. [Reviewing the book in the Los Angeles Times, Hector Tobar charged that Congress had converted the tax code into a ‘boutique bank’ offering products tailored to the very rich].

AT LEAST THE Ford Foundation is doing something to delay the decline—and sometimes disappearance of newspapers. Describing it as “a helping hand”, the Columbian Journalism Review comments on the recent million-dollar grant to the Los Angeles Times, with no strings attached “beyond the foundation’s larger goal of using journalism to address inequality and injustice”. The Times plans to use the money to hire five beat reporters to cover prisons, immigrant communities, the Mexican borderlands and Brazil. “Our belief is that this kind of deeply nuanced journalism is important to our democracy” said Alfred Ironside, spokesman for the Foundation which plans to give out $10millon a year, mostly to public media, with 15% of the funds being earmarked for experiments with for-profit news outlets. [Maybe there should be additional grants at a lower level. Any actual journalists—as opposed to wealthy corporations—that sought to advertise in CJR, might find the rates forbidding. The smallest b&w ad, one sixth of a page, costs $950]

WATCHING TELEVISION CAN make you fat according to a behavioral study of 10-year-olds in Canada which stated that waistlines could increase by a centimeter for every couple of hours in front of the box. Physical inactivity is said to be responsible for one in ten deaths, mainly from heart disease, diabetes and cancer, wrote Jeremy Laurance in The Independent. Doctors have warned that sitting about doing nothing is as damaging to health as smoking. “Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn’t have in your home” quipped David Frost.

COLORFUL LANGUAGE deserves to be preserved, and in London’s East End schoolchildren are being given lessons in Cockney rhyming slang which offers such colorful examples as ‘apples and pears’ for stairs or ‘dog and bone’ for phone. Originating in Victorian times, the slang (it’s not specifically Cockney) was first charted in an 1859 dictionary and was generally regarded as a code to hide things from the uninitiated, but has been dying out in recent years despite some contemporary additions (‘current bun’ to refer to Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid, the Sun). In Australia, ‘steak and kidney’ is slang for Sydney and a few words have even been heard in the US, for example ‘86’ meaning ‘nix’ (none).

THE WILCOCK WEB: The London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded 205 foreign anthems, to play as winners collected their Olympic medals….Instead of paying the usual billions of dollars of bribes to the corrupt Afghanistan government, why don’t we just give them all that army equipment that we’re shipping back home? It must be valuable or we wouldn’t be bringing it back at such great expense….A few dissenting voices are likely to be the most interesting things at the GOP Convention. The only thing the Republicans and the Democrats have in common, is that they both dislike Mitt Romney....In a recent poll, only a quarter of the workmen on building sites said there was nothing wrong with wolf-whistling passing women. About 19% of the workers bravely defined it as sexual harassment….Norway’s offshore oil-drilling platforms could bypass using fossil fuels to produce fossil fuels by running their drills on wind power, researchers say… Nearly four million of the 911 calls New Yorkers made last year were “accidental” , triggered by cell phones in pockets or purses…..Sussex (UK) police fitted nine cell phones with tracking devices and left them lying around various pubs and nightclubs, hoping to catch some opportunistic thieves. But none were stolen, all were turned in or remained where they were….The Damson Dene Hotel near Lake Windermere in northwest England replaced bedside bibles with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey….Holland’s Queen Beatrix receives an annual salary of almost $1million and the cost to the Dutch taxpayer of supporting the Royal family is $45m (Britain’s Royals cost a bit less)….THIS MONTH’S GREEDHEADS: Some unscrupulous companies, aware that they can get $multi-million credits for destroying greenhouse gas, have turned to creating huge volumes of it so that they can be paid for eliminating it ….In Fortune’s list of the world’s top corporations, three US oil companies and Walmart are among the top ten, which also includes Britain’s BP, Japan’s Toyota, three Chinese companies and—at no. 1—Royal Dutch Shell….If H20 actually means anything why don’t they ship hydrogen and oxygen to drought areas and combine them there?.....“There is no such thing as chance” declared Johann von Schiller, “and what seems to us the merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny"…..Brit retailer Fabstuff is offering what it calls the world’s most expensive computer mouse ($25,700). Studded with 59 diamonds, its mouse is paneled in 18karat gold …. Samsung is selling, in Russia, Brazil and Africa, it’s new netbook which it claims is the diamond studded mouse first to be totally solar-powered….. When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I ….Is the true definition of irony the Boy Scout movement, which is castigated for having scoutmasters that play with boys, and gay boys who wage endless legal fights to be allowed to join?..... Controversial artist Damien Hirst has submitted plans for a 66-ft high statue of a pregnant woman to be erected in a car park in the North Devon resort of Ilfracombe ….. …John Carville, a professor at Wayne State University, is in favor of same-sex marriages; his wife, Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage, is against it. The book they have written together, Debating Same-Sex Marriage, is 296 pages of arguments…. None of the bars still exist in which Charles Bukowski—post office clerk-turned novelist—drank back in the Sixties, but a celebratory walking tour along their route takes place in San Pedro on Thursday. Bukowski, dubbed by Time as ”the laureate of lowlife” died aged 73 in 1994… “To get profit without risk, experience without danger, and reward without work, is as impossible as it is to live without being born.” –A.P. Gouthey (dates unknown)

The war on drugs cannot be won




Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

send a comment to John Wilcock


OjaiOrange No 61 - Burma - right now!

Burma right now!! Download the latest 28 page issue of the Ojai Orange devoted entirely to Burma.

Burma right now!

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.