' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance for 26 January, 2013
The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance: Feb. 16, 2013
by John Wilcock

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS sound like a good idea—a way for victims to remedy unfair prejudice or perceived injustice they have suffered. Most people live in total ignorance of the agencies until they run afoul of them, writes Mark Hemingway, but in practice they have developed into “bureaucratic star chambers with the power to ruin your life and run you out of business”. In a cover story in the weekly Standard, he terms it The Sensitivity Apparat, alleging, with innumerable examples, that the commissions have never justified their existence. Among the accused are the pub in Washington that was cited over a satirical sign for making fun of the felonious mayor Marion Barry; a New Mexico Christian couple who declined to photograph a gay commitment ceremony; and a Kentucky printer who refused to make T-shirts for a local gay pride parade. “Only when you’ve been through the human rights tribunal and exhausted your appeals at the state level will federal courts even consider intervening to protect your constitutional rights” says Hemingway. In Iowa, the Civil Rights Commission nailed 27 landlords after a sting involving tenants with dogs—extorting them for bribes in lieu of being prosecuted. And things north of the border can be even worse, he explains. “There’s the brazen corruption of Canada’s human rights regime” under which an Ottawa lawyer kept posting racist comments on somebody’s website before suing (and being paid) for the alleged racism.

IF YOU GUESSED that Walmart was the biggest seller of guns in America, you’d be right and the accessibility of the weapons is sometimes easier than it should be. “Local news reports are rife with stories of gun thefts at Walmart stores, often apparently because of lax oversight” reports the Nation with accounts of cracked open display cases and smash and grab incidents. In 2012 “there have been at least fifty shootings in a Walmart store or parking lot”. Nearly 400 guns are available in the company’s catalog and others can be ordered. At the time of the Sandy Hook shooting spree, the Bushmaster AR15 gun used by Adam Lanza was on sale at 1,700 Walmart stores. And on that 2011 morning when Jared Lee Loughner shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, guess where he bought ammunition. Among the 360 types of ammunition listed on Walmart’s website are the Winchester hollow-point bullets which have been touted in the past as penetrating ‘bullet-proof’ vests.

Urs Fischer-Art in America

ART IN AMERICA, celebrating its 100th birthday, has been commissioning various artists to create or reproduce special covers, of which the latest (at right) is by Urs Fischer, 39, the Swiss-born artist who often offers paintings in which a face is obscured by some vegetable and who once displayed a chateau built of loaves of bread. Art in America editor Lindsay Pollock describes the Fischer cover (movie star James Stewart overlaid with a banana) as “phallic and Warholian”, it being the latest of a long-standing series of commissioned covers. Edward Steichen did one for the magazine’s 50th birthday and Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Indiana have all contributed covers since then. Fischer’s actual banana image is owned by mogul Peter Brant who is blissfully ignorant of (and would be totally uninterested to learn) that Andy Warhol and I jointly founded his magazine Interview (from which I never made a penny.)

SICK PEOPLE WANDERING the streets have become a familiar sight and they can sometimes erupt violently like the woman who recently pushed somebody to his death in front of a Manhattan subway train. National Review says that one per cent of the severely mentally ill (77,000 individuals) are responsible for about 10% of the homicides in the US. They also account for 20% of people in jails and more than 30% of the homeless. “the glaringly obvious solution is to treat these individuals” writes E. Fuller Torrey, but in the past half century we have closed down 95% of the accommodations in public psychiatric institutions so there are almost no beds available. “Attempts to implement treatment inevitably face opposition from critics who say that mandatory treatment violates the civil rights of the mentally ill persons”.

IT’S NOT TRUE, says Popular Mechanics, that moss just grows on the north side of trees because moss seeks out bark that holds water. But isolated trees can help lost travelers locate their direction, the mag says. Their limbs seek out the sun and thus grow denser on the southern side where they tend to grow horizontally whereas trees on the northern side tend to point slightly upwards.

A LOT OF RAPE takes place in the military that doesn’t get reported. And even when it gets reported it rarely gets ether proved or punished. So claims Rolling Stone about a “scandal” that out of 3,192 military sexual-assault reports last years, “a paltry 191 cases—6%—ended with a conviction. “Female recruits learn their place when, upon entry, they’re classified by peers as one of three categories: a bitch, a ho or a dyke” Sabrina Rubin Erdely writes. “Research suggests that one out of very three women in the U.S. military is the victim of sexual assault, making military women twice as likely to be raped as civilians…blue on blue sexual crime has become utterly commonplace”.

TOP-CLASS POLO PONIES cost around $200,000 with some championship players owning several of them. Now, following on the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep, scientists are cloning ponies for a mere $80,000 apiece and one affluent eager player, reports the Economist, has ordered 100 copies of the same horse. Argentina’s champion player, Adolfo Cambiaso, has teamed up with the Texas breeder Crestview Genetics which is taking measures to ensure that ponies cloned from the same horse do not find themselves competing against each other.

LANDMARKS OF PHILANTHROPY is the way Forbes describes some famous buildings such as the New York Public Library, which was built with 20,000 three-foot thick marble blocks back in 1911, and would cost $1.6bn to construct today. Add another $1.2bn for the land in the center of Manhattan. As for Washington’s Smithsonian Institution (cost to build in 1838: $500,000) rebuilding would cost five times as much, although the land itself is today worth more than $6bn.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Uzbekistan, the world’s sixth most corrupt country, is blackmailing the US to leave behind billions of dollars worth of armored vehicles, helicopters etc when it leaves. “The way out will require rail lines and well-surfaced roads: a NYT report says. Really? Then how did the supplies get in?.... Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the Senate and the most unpopular senator in the country, is the biggest obstructionist in the U.S. government says MoveOn, a "human roadblock stopping any progress in Washington”. After 28 years he could finally be beaten in next year’s election, they predict… Will Durst awarded him “the best impression of reanimated halloween pumpkin award…. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it…….Rather than selling some of its $500m tax-free property to settle sexual molestation debts, the Los Angeles Diocese expects its misguidedly devoted parishioners to cough up the money. Why do they stay in that corrupt church? Do they think God won’t hear their prayers directly?…..….Anybody innocent enough to believe that the NRA was not the tool of the arms industry might note that among the members who nominate its board are George Kolliides II, head of the company that makes the Bushmaster; Pete Brownell, boss of an Internet arms superstore; Ronnie Barrett whose rifles can pierce armor from a mile away; and Stephen Hardy, manufacturer of armor-piercing bullets…......“There are no outdoor sports as graceful as throwing atones at a dictatorship” hoots Chinese art hero Ai WeiWei…. … Wrappings that you can eat—like the skin of a grape—have been created by Wikicells, a Massachusetts firm with edible wraps for yogurt, ice cream and cheese to start… Two-thirds of the young people polled in Britain believe that internships are “a vital first step” in their career plans……”If someone has a difficult time remembering your name, says Arnold Schwarzenegger, “they will also have a difficult time forgetting it….. Heritage Auctions took a full-page ad to boast that, unlike its two bigger rivals, it didn’t indulge in “chandelier bidding”—the practice of running up the price with phony bids….“Friends are God’s apology for relations” wrote Hugh Kingsmill…Marking a trend away from drinking wine, The Week reports that only 17% of the French drink on a daily basis, one-third of the number in the previous century ….British engineers have invented a revolutionary new cooling system which could allow jets to fly at 2,000MPH without overheating reports the Daily Telegraph. That could make a UK to Australia trip (10,600 miles) last a mere four hours….…. It’s amazing what you can accomplish” said Ronald Reagan, “if you don’t mind who gets the credit ….Sometimes placebos work and sometimes they don’t, but what Harvard Medical School researcher Ted Kaptchuk has demonstrated is that if combined with sympathetic words from the doctor they work more often…. Surely The Bachelor’s sexy Sean will have to bed his entire passive posse to decide who’s best to marry. And if he does, shouldn’t ABC be cited for pimping?..... “The only unnatural sex act” quoth Alfred Kinsey, “is that which you cannot perform”…..A toilet theme park, built around a version of Rodin’s Thinker sat atop a WC and exhibiting many of the world’s bathroom thrones has opened in Suwon, South Korea….“Always drink upstream from the herd” advises The Ol ’Farmer…The director of the U. of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center , Dr. Stefano Guandalini, explains that, “Wheat entered the human diet only about 10,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture the human intestine hasn’t yet learned to adapt to it.... “Money couldn’t buy friends, but you got a better class of enemy" explained Spike Milligan who died 11 years ago this week.

Hi! handsome hunting man
Fire your little gun
Bang! Now the animal
Is dead and dumb and gone
Nevermore to peep again, cheep again, leap again
Eat or sleep or drink again. Oh  what fun!
—Walter de la Mare (1873–1956)





Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

send a comment to John Wilcock



Bagan, Myanmar (Burma):
Seeking the Drama of Everyday Life in Burma: part 4 - Bagan

Lompoc, CA:

Seeking the Drama of Everyday Life in Lompoc, CA:

Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma):
Seeking the Drama of Everyday Life in Burma: part 3 - Inle Lake

Bagan, Myanmar (Burma):
Seeking the Drama of Everyday Life in Burma: part 2 - Bagan

Seeking the Drama of Everyday Life in Burma: part 1 - Yangon

A Guide to Occult Britain

Forty years ago the second of my three books about magic was published, A Guide to Occult Britain (Sidgwick & Jackson) covering a wide range of sites from Stonehenge to Loch Ness and King Arthur country to the witches of Pendle Hill. It is now available as an eBook on amazon.com.

recent columns...

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

Beginning next week and in the 50 weeks following, John Wilcock's autobiography Manhattan Memories will be serialized in this space. The 260-page book is available amazon.com.
Week of August 1, 2015

So it's a new life for me—here I am at a venerable 87, looking and feeling at least ten years younger, thanks to the friendly herb…
Week of July 18, 2015

tax the blessed herb, please!; arguing authenticity; hurricane-proofing your home with a giant airbag?; inkjet piracy; how to survive on two hours of sleep a day, and of course, the Wilcock Web…
Week of July 11, 2015

Marijuana: What Is It?
Week of July 4, 2015

From the Archives: Bakewell Diary
Week of June 27, 2015

From the archives: THE WILCOCK WEB -- South Africa, scene of the 2010 World Cup, is thinking of changing its laws to allow prostitution and drinking in public after noticing the popularity of both at the 2006 WC in Germany (where there are 400,000 legal prostitutes)...
Week of June 20, 2015

The early days of the Underground Press, and how I met Amber...
Week of June 13, 2015

Burma Diary, SATURDAY: Fourteen hours out of LA we stopped in Seoul, banished from the plane and obliged to walk through the airport, go again through security before re-boarding to await departure for Bangkok where we arrived at 1am, two hours late...
Week of June 6, 2015

Xtreme democracy - 100,000 US voters in one public debate; Bad taste in art - always an eye catcher; Get off of my wave! - surfers revolt; the high[er] cost of getting soused - a novel solution to 'Britain's blight on society'; mining in space - Buck Rogers or Big Bucks?; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of May 30, 2015

British Columbia’s pot industry—felling Canada’s new timber; vampire power; liberal guilt; planning a vasectomy; the summit of Ben Nevis awash in human ash; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of May 23, 2015

From the Archives: Sex in stately homes; Congress asserts ‘spooky, malevolent forces lurking inside our cars’; the trouble with concrete; Big Brother is always watching…; ’We the corporations, in order to form a more perfect bottom line…; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of May 16, 2015

From the Archives: downsizing the lithium-ion storage solution; In Defense of Atheism; monk-stinging fire ants; sundering in England, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of May 9, 2015

From the Archives: Cuba Diary (part two)...
Week of May 2, 2015

From the Archives: Cuba Diary (part one)...
Week of April 25, 2015

Many working partnerships, both in the art scene and outside it, don’t apportion the credit in what might be termed an equal manner...
Week of April 18, 2015

The future of Obamacare now lies in the hands of...
Week of April 11, 2015

It’s almost Easter and thus Jesus-impostor time…
Week of April 4, 2015

Chapter 9. Other Scenes
—from Manhattan Memories, an autobiography by John Wilcock, 2010

Week of March 28, 2015

Charles Henri Ford
—from the Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol by John Wilcock, 1971

Week of March 21, 2015

“For the wealthy few, it’s getting better all the time...”
—Mother Jones, March/April, 2011

Week of March 14, 2015

From ‘The Wilcock Web’ archives
Week of March 7, 2015

“JOHN WILCOCK: Leaving the trial, I realized Kennedy had just been killed.”
—Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of February 28, 2015

“Birth of a Voice: John Wilcock, writer, mailman”
—Jerry Tallmer

Week of February 21, 2015

“JOHN WILCOCK: An Incident on Liberty Street”
—Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of February 14, 2015

“JOHN WILCOCK: My First Orgy”
—Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of February 7, 2015

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”
—Julia Child

Week of January 31, 2015

“What I was actually trying to do in my early movies was show how people can meet other people and what they can do and what they can say to each other. That was the whole idea: two people getting acquainted.”
—Andy Warhol

Week of January 24, 2015

“ONCE AN IDEA forces its way into the public domain, it can never be pushed back; it will only grow and spread, eventually fulfilling itself, even if it takes a long time. Consider, for example, the case of marijuana...”
Week of January 17, 2015

“There’s this perverse, sad thing that part of my fame is a morbid attraction to the things in my work that are bad or forbidden... And that’s what sells best...”
—R. Crumb

Week of January 10, 2015

“EVERY HUMAN BEING has a quest but relatively few realize it, and even fewer discover what their personal quest is before it captivates them.”
—John Wilcock

Week of January 3, 2015

“John Wilcock: India, LSD, and Leonard Cohen's ‘Flowers for Hitler”
—By Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of December 27, 2014

“John Wilcock: The Day I Turned Down The Beatles”
—By Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of December 20, 2014

“No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your password can no longer protect you.”
—Mat Honan in Wired

Week of December 13, 2014

“There's no point to regretting things that have gone to the trouble of happening.”
—Fisk Senior, from My Talks with Dean Spanley

Week of December 6, 2014

“Dear reader, about seven months ago, much to my surprise, I had a sudden stroke which temporarily took away my memory and to a large extent incapacitated me.”
—John Wilcock

Week of November 29, 2014

“I like to be the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place. Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens.”
—Andy Warhol

Week of November 22, 2014

- column archives: 2006 - present

in the press...

Now on Boing-Boing!
January 17, 2013

The New York Years - Issue 3 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.