the column of lasting insignificance: April 27, 2013
by John Wilcock
THE WAR AGAINST MARIJUANA is now over. Will somebody please tell the government? More than 50% of those polled think it should be legalized; 18 states have endorsed its medical value; two other states agree it’s okay to smoke for pleasure. And now here’s a Fortune cover story: MARIJUANA INC. inviting readers to “Meet the Entrepreneurs and Investors Firing Up a New Industry”. Whenever business steps in, you know it’s the beginning of the end. But now think for a moment of the billions of dollars wasted, the hundreds of thousands in jail, the years of stubborn insistence about a weed that for centuries grandma has grown in her garden (and smoked), classified as a dangerous drug. Speaking from personal experience, I first wrote about the blessed herb in my column in the late 1950s, since which time I have written 37 books, 1,200 columns and produced at least a thousand cable TV shows. Goddess knows what I might have accomplished if I’d never smoked.
In the Sixties when my lawyer told me that down at court everybody toked—lawyers, judges, cops—underground papers around the world all sought two things: the end of the Vietnam War and the legalization of marijuana. In the next few months, my lengthy tome The Weed That Changed the World (co-edited with Bob Perlongo) will be launched as an eBook. Work on it began 12 years ago yet somehow it never found a publisher.
It’s a comprehensive volume, profusely illustrated, that deals with many aspects of the blessed herb including medical, psychological, sociological, historical, religious, growing, cooking, eating, smuggling, and toking around the world. Sign up below to receive advance information about the book release.
DINOSAUR BONES are getting to be a favorite with collectors around the world and countries where they are most found such as China, Mongolia, Morocco and Brazil have prohibited their export. Celebrity collectors such as Nicolas Cage and Leonard DiCaprio may have been in the mind of the former FBI’s John Miller when he told The Week that many private buyers are simply “wealthy people who want something really interesting (to spotlight) in their basement for their 70 dinner guests”. A few months ago, Homeland Security arrested a self-described “commercial paleontologist” for providing a Tarbosaurus to a New York auction after it had been smuggled) out of Mongolia and across the Atlantic labeled “pile of reptile bones worth $15,000”. (It sold for $1.1million). A cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex, the beast is said to have had “20 extremely large razor-like teeth.”
SMELLS LIKE PIZZA says the magazine Stores about that new perfume Eau de Pizza Hut which the company brought in from Canada only as a Valentine Day promotion but now may have to expand to satisfy demand. “The cologne has a slightly sweet base scent of freshly rising dough” the magazine explains poetically, “but finishes decidedly savory with hints of Italian spices like oregano, vine-ripened tomato sauce and the crispness of fresh-sliced vegetables—all wrapped by wafts of cheesy goodness”.
PRISONERS WHO SIT AROUND watching television, perhaps weightlifting or socializing with fellow-convicts aren’t doing anybody any favors, including themselves says Stephanos Bibos. “They bear no practical responsibility for the victims they have harmed or the families have left behind. Instead we force them to remain inert”. Her point is not to require work as punishment but to prepare the prisoners for the outside world. “Apart from economic and educational value, such work would inculcate discipline, collaboration, obedience, and a willingness to delay gratification” she writes in the National Review, “virtues that many inmates lack, and whose absence tends to encourage crime”. About 12% of inmates work for prison industries or on prison farms but these aren’t jobs that offer much training for jobs in the real world, she says, while suggesting that the military should change its ban and open up its ranks to suitable convicts, as once a long tradition.
THE ANNUAL BENT SPOON award by Australian Skeptics has gone to a homeopath who denigrates all vaccines and suggests that whooping cough victims seek out a homeopath for a cure. The Bent Spoon Award for “the perpetrator of he most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle” was first won in 1982 by psychic Tom Wards “who made many predictions of world events that were remarkable for their inaccuracy”.
WHY WASTE GOOD VIDEOTAPE? is what Rony Meisler, a Brazilian fashion designer, asked himself when his shop got robbed and he contemplated the pictures from his security camera. So he overlaid the tape with the caption It’s not necessary to break the window. Just come in. Inventory clearance: 40% off and then added a guitar and drums soundtrack. Voila! A commercial he could run on the local TV station.
THE WILCOCK WEB: Those despicable pols who voted against stricter gun laws could have voted the decent way, lost their jobs and quadrupled their salaries by becoming lobbyists like all the others do….The Pentagon predicts that allowing women to serve in the front lines would reduce rape by removing the disparity between the sexes…. Those millions handed to Afghan farmers not to grow opium might better be spent buying the crop and burning it…. Upstate New York’s Lake Placid Lodge where guests have to hand over their gadgets at the front desk and take part in cooking classes, snowshoeing expeditions, yoga “and other tech-free pursuits” s listed by Inc. as one of a new class of company retreats which encourage employees to take a “digital detox”. Similar retreats: San Francisco’s Digital Detox and Mendocino’s Shambhala Ranch…..North Korea is manufacturing drugs “so renowned for their purity they are in high demand across the globe” says the Daily Telegraph. Vast quantities are shipped to its foreign embassies for sale to boost the country’s export income…..Weirdo Dennis Rodman says he can’t wait until he gets back to North Korea this summer. “I’m staying in the palace”…..“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important” wrote T.S. Eliot ….Words that soak into our ears”, says The Ol Farmer, “are whispered, not yelled”…When the Mississippi floods couldn’t they store some of the water seeing as the region is parched the rest of the time?...….How did General Electric get away with earning $5.2bn in the US in 2010 and yet owing no taxes?.....The Swiss, of all people, have introduced a bill that will allow shareholders to limit the obscene amounts that directors of their companies have been getting away with…”What do (bankers) do to deserve such wealth?” asks a Guardian reader. “They don’t look after our children, our sick or our aged. They don’t do anything tangible. They simply look after other people’s money, generally badly and sometimes criminally”….Surely Google’s glasses are the silliest invention of the new century?….Mad Men’s Jon Hamm has been asked to don underwear when filming because his tight-fitting pants over-emphasize his crotch…. ….MURPHY'S INLAWS by Phil Procter: “Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak. A fine is a tax for doing wrong and tax is a fine for doing well. He who laughs last, thinks slowest. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.” ….Paying George W. Bush’s expenses (security, pension, office, postage, travel etc.) costs the government $1.3m a year. But he’s raised $500m for the monument to himself, the library at Southern Methodist University….For the first time, reports The Week, the French are now spending more in fast food chains than in regular restaurants…Dredging enough sand to create four square miles of land will make Rotterdam’s port the biggest in the world, able to cope with enough cargo containers each moth to circle half the earth….The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., which installed a printing press that can produce within minutes a copy of hundreds of titles, has hired bicycle messengers who can deliver books faster than Amazon can ship them….Under its disability laws, Brazil is installing double-size seats to accommodate fatties at next year’s World Cup….Beer concentrate has been dreamed up by Pat Tatera of Backcountry Beverages. All it needs is the addition of ten measures of soda water….We’ll soon be hearing from all the sleaze balls who’ll be lawyers competing to represent a terrorist….The comfort of the rich depends on an abundant supply of the poor. –Voltaire (1694-1778)
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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.
- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— Dear Readers...
— John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
— 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
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library;
In the Cannes
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
— 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
— 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
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon;
The Shinjuku Sutra
— 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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six—The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— 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
— 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.
- column archives: 2006 - present
Now on Boing-Boing!
April 11, 2013
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