the column of lasting insignificance: Sept. 8, 2012
by John Wilcock
“Any individual who is able to raise [enough money] to be considered presidential is not going to be much use to the people at large. He will represent... whatever moneyed entities are paying for him... Hence, the sense of despair throughout the land as incomes fall, businesses fail, and there is no redress.”
—Gore Vidal in The Decline and Fall of the American Empire
THE YEAR OF THE GREAT HOAX IS when millions of otherwise sensible people get the crazy notion that they are able to do something to shape the society they live in; when dupes are told, and being dupes believe, that they are electing a president. Nobody tells the dupes that they're pawns; in fact, they're called voters and they're flattered and bribed, excited and entertained. Everybody joins in the game—newspapers, television, movie stars, wealthy novelists, even your friends. They all refer to the robot who's going to be president by different names and even pretend that he's different people!
In the year of The Great Hoax [ran my argument in 1972 when I wrote this], it was hard to find anything else to play, because the people who ran the game were trying to make sure nobody dropped out and all the others wouldn't even talk about it.
The best place from which to watch the game is from the top of the nearby hillside. That's where all the important people sit—the ones who don't care which way it comes out, because whoever 'wins' will still maintain the important things of life: oil depletion allowances, bank rates, germ warfare research, agribusiness, imperialism, the space race.
From this hill there's rather an amusing view of the valley below. It's much like the medieval battles that kings used to watch: dozens of knights on grey horses (a trick of the light makes them appear white close up) rushing around with banners waving, some with a handful of camp followers, others with countless throngs.
From time to time what at first had seemed like a minor rally on the sidelines suddenly surges forward, sweeping hundreds of foot soldiers with it. The crowd twists and turns as all try to see if one of the mounted men has a clear advantage and can make a run up the valley. Which is a dead end, of course.
In the year of the Great Hoax there's a role in the game for everybody, each according to his naiveté or cynicism. Some declare outright that one cipher is superior to another or else maintain that there's virtually no difference between them (true) until the last moments of the game when they suddenly discover that more virtue resides in one quarter than the others (false).
The all-important rule of the game is that it be confined to
personalities: concepts and specifics are taboo. ‘Ending’ something (such as war or poverty) or ‘increasing’ something (the size of the Pentagon or welfare) may be advocated but the rules are insistent that as promises cannot—and will not—subsequently be kept, that they must not be identifiable.
Mainly though, it's important that the players keep their eyes on the board and don't start thinking in terms of 'ideas' which might distract attention from the game itself or, heaven forbid, to the people atop the hill who are running it. Welcome to the Year of the Great Hoax".
[This column appeared in Other Scenes in 1972]
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Subject: Warren Buffet’s Winds of Change....
WARREN BUFFET has asked each reader to forward this, via email, to twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America would have the message. This is the way to fix Congress.
No tenure / No pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.
Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective immediately. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.
Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Don't you think it's time?
and now for something totally different…
THOSE FABULOUS JEWISH COMEDIANS
You may remember the old Jewish Catskill comics of Vaudeville days:
Shecky Greene, Red Buttons, Totie Fields, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter, Rodney Dangerfield,
Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Mansel Rubenstein and so many others.
There was not one single swear word in their comedy, writes Janet Wolfe.
Here are a few examples:
I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.
I've been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she'll kill me!
What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she's making love? "Honey, I'm home!"
Someone stole all my credit cards but I won't be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.
We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.
My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night; only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.
My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea.
She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.
The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.
The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. "Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"
Doctor: "You'll live to be 60!"
Patient: "I am 60!"
Doctor: "See! What did I tell you?"
Patient: "I have a ringing in my ears."
Doctor: "Don't answer!"
A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking."
The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."
Why do Jewish divorces cost so much?
They're worth it.
The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much. The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now.
There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins.In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school.
Q: Why don't Jewish mothers drink?
A: Alcohol interferes with their suffering.
Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers?
A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!
A man called his mother in Florida ,
"Mom, how are you?"
"Not too good," said the mother. "I've been very weak."
The son said, "Why are you so weak?"
She said, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days.
"The son said, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?"
The mother answered, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."
A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play.
She asks, "What part is it?" The boy says, "I play the part of the Jewish husband." "The mother scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part."
Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: (Sigh) "Don't bother. I'll sit in the dark. I don't want to be a nuisance to anybody."
Short summary of every Jewish holiday:
They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat.
Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, "Lady, I haven't eaten in three days."
"Force yourself," she replied.
Q: What's the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother?
A: Eventually, the Rottweiler will let go.
Q: Why are Jewish men circumcised?
A: Because Jewish women don't like anything that isn't 20% off.
A Budget Travel Pioneer on a Time When $5 a Day Was Real (Frugal) Money
nytimes.com: Frugal Traveler by Seth Kugel
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.
Manhattan 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 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.