the column of lasting insignificance: Dec. 22, 2012
by John Wilcock
NOW IT’S INSOURCING dominating the Business-with-China news as more and more firms realize that there’s much to be gained from bringing their production back stateside. Many reasons are justifying the turnabout: a fivefold increase in Chinese wages in the past decade; oil for cargo ships having tripled in price; a natural gas boom in the US lowering production costs; and deals with unions which allow new hires to be paid lower rates. But, most of all, has been the realization that turning over the operational working of a company to somebody else is not the sharpest thing to do. “What is now dawning on the smart American companies” says General Electric design boss Lou Lenzi, is that when you outsource the making of the products, “your whole business goes with the outsourcing”.
ROCKING THE BOAT is hardly new for the controversial “dissident-feminist” writer Camille Paglia, and her recent trashing in the Hollywood Reporter of some of America’s top gal singers seems true to form. The argumentative academic accuses the current youth cult of “devouring both entertainment and fashion” and making older women invisible. She refers to “the winsome 1950s glory” of Taylor Swift, her “cultivated blandness…her mannequin posturing……her monotonous vocal style” and Katie
Perry, though 28, she defines as being in a “wide-eyed teen queen mode”. Paglia, 65, has long been a critic of American feminism and has fought with most of its leading figures. She famously dueled with Susan Sontag, whom she originally admired but later accused of becoming an elitist; Sontag, in return, said Norman Mailer had been bad enough, but Paglia “made Norman Mailer look like Jane Austen”. Naomi Wolf accused Paglia’s writing of being “full of howling intellectual dishonesty”; in response Paglia called Wolf a twit”. Gloria Steinem said Paglia calling herself a feminist “is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic” Paglia responded that Steinem was “the Stalin of feminism”.
10. Donald Trump. Assumes figurehead post of Birther Movement. Then refuses to shut up all year long including several embarrassing tweets on Election Day. An ever-gushing political comedy material fountain with all the grace and elegance of tumbling dumpsters.
9. First Presidential Debate. Turned what was becoming a slam- dunk into a horse race. 70 million Americans tuned in. But for some unknown reason, President Obama was not among them.
8. The entire GOP primary campaign. Party plays Candidate Whack-A-Mole for five months. Everybody takes turns beating Romney like a red headed stepchild, including some folks who aren’t even running.
7. London Olympics. Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca competes in Dressage. Event where the horse and the rider perform predetermined movements. Like interspecies dancing. Which you would think would be illegal in Utah. But horse fails to medal and probably gets shipped home strapped to the fuselage of a 747. McKayla Maroney remains unimpressed.
6. Vice Presidential Debate. Joe Biden goes all Malarkey on Paul Ryan. Two words- decaf. Bold Choice Ryan blames Obama for GM plant closing in 08. Fails to implicate POTUS in fall of the Roman Empire. But just barely.
5. Barack Obama comes out in support of gay marriage. Emerges from his own personal policy closet like a butterfly emerging from a conflicted cocoon.
4. Mitt Romney vows to get rid of Big Bird losing him pivotal pre- adolescent vote.
3. Democratic National Convention. Specifically Bill Clinton laying out the precise reasons why America should re-elect as President… Bill Clinton.
2. Republican National Convention. Specifically Clint Eastwood upstaging the nominee’s acceptance speech by getting into an argument with an empty chair. Which he proceeded to lose. Probably upset him so badly he rushed back to the hotel room where he got into a squabble with his armoire.
1. Mitt Romney. All the charisma of a plastic picnic fork with three of the tines snapped off. May have run the worst campaign ever. And that includes New Coke, McCain/Palin and France in '39.
THE WILCOCK WEB: How many troops will we have to leave behind just to protect that ridiculously oversized, billion-dollar US embassy in Baghdad that’s almost the size of Vatican City?.... AARP checked out which states had the highest median household income , and—surprise! After Alaska it turned out to be DC, where all the lobbyists and their buddies live. Followed closely by NH and VA, next on the list….More than 2,400 admitted millionaires claimed unemployment in 2009, says the Congressional Research Service. Washington says they’re trying to stop millions. flowing to greed heads who don’t need it….Pakistanis don't pay income tax, so the US sends them the billions instead....'To the annoyance of many movie buffs, Warner Brothers is considering making a sequel to Casablanca, written 30 years ago by screenwriter
Howard Koch…...Santa Barbara is rehabilitating at-risk kids by paying them eight bucks an hour to learn bee-keeping…. …Always noted for the extravagant gifts in its holiday catalog, the Neiman Marcus specialty this year is the McClaren 12C Spider, a red 616 horsepower runabout offered for $354,000, The price includes a trip to England to have dinner with the company’s chairman…. A score of British artists were given a decommissioned SAK-47 to decorate for a London show called SAKA Peace. Some drilled holes through the gun, some added graffiti and one artist ground the rifle into a pile of metallic flakes….Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Academy of Music teamed up with an art newsletter to sponsor artists adding to or changing the look of street newsboxes….….”Imagination without skill gives us modern art” wryly observes playwright Tom Stoppard…. Authorities in Venice, reacting to local complaints, want to cut down on the number of cruise ships that visit—655 last year, more than triple the number a few years ago….College presidents paid $2million dollar salaries, when their students have to endure a lifetime’s debt, are ridiculously overpaid….. “In the mountains of truth, you never climb in vain” suggested Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche…..An Austrian retailer. Billa, experimented with selling peeled bananas, wrapped in plastic, but abandoned the idea when customers complained about it despoiling the environment…Thousands of Italians have signed a petition asking for return of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to its ‘home city’ of Florence from the Louvre where it has been displayed for more than 200 years …..Cockroaches equipped with tiny cameras could help rescue workers search for survivors suggests a columnist in Scientific American”.…. ….Somebody nominated WikiLeaks enabler Bradley Manning (deservedly) for a Nobel peace prize….Instead of building a 600-mile-long pipeline to transfer (steal)water from the Missouri to the Columbia River, why not build pipelines to both rivers from regularly flooded areas?....Make your own sparkling Perrier Water, says Wired, using tap water, Epsom salt, plaster of Paris and pickling lime—about twice as much plus table salt for San Pellegrino. You’ll also need one of those kitchen soda-making machines to add the bubbles……. ….Carnegie Mellon researchers have developed headlight beams that, with the aid of a minicam, van shine clearly through raindrops…...”Sooner or later” mused Bern Williams, “we all quote our mothers”….Discovering that coconut oil kills the kind of bacteria that causes tooth decay, scientists suggest it may be a useful chemical to add to toothpaste …. “There is no exception” mused James Thurber, “to the rule that every rule has an exception”…. ….Inmates of a Westchester County jail in New York are suing to be allowed dental floss which prison authorities have banned because it can be used as a weapon… “To remain silent is the most useful service that a mediocre speaker can render” –Alex de Tocqueville (1805-59)
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— 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
— 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