' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance for 26 January, 2013
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the column of lasting insignificance: May 25, 2013
by John Wilcock

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
—Isaac Asimov

SOME PEOPLE THINK that when you write and publish a popular book, that might bring you lots of money, but I'm here to tell you that is not necessarily the case. In fact, you might, like me, make virtually nothing at all. My well-received Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol first appeared in 1971, printed by a New York firm that never paid me any money on the spurious grounds that it never made any profit. It was a collection of interviews of Andy's friends and associates that I had conducted during my seven years around the Factory scene. Launched at the Whitney Museum retrospective for Warhol, the book cost $5, soon sold out but could be found listed as a rare book by the Strand Bookstore, which offered copies for $100. By the turn of the century it was fetching prices of up to $800 a copy on Amazon. Needless to say, none of this money came to me.
    The biography—the first about the enigmatic artist—was rediscovered by Christopher Trela who paid me $2,000 for the right to republish (which, after the agent's fee, I split with my ex-wife, Amber, who had done the typesetting).
    Chris hired designers and an art director who produced an attractive, very Warholian version including new pictures from the original photographer, Harry Shunk, but when the book was ready, the eccentric Shunk refused to sign off on it so, until his death years later, the book was in limbo. Eventually Shunk died—crushed like the famous Collier brothers by the piles of junk that filled his apartment.
    The next problem for the book's new publisher was raising the money to print it. That took more years until, Chris explains, he sold the entire print run of 3,000 copies to the distributor in advance for 25% of the ($45) cover price. Which meant no profits and, of course, no royalties. My trip to New York in 2010 for the well-attended launch event at the New York Public Library cost me more than I ever received so after being published twice, I am still out of pocket. Needless to say, if you bought or will buy the book, none of the money will reach me.
    Obviously, the logical next move should be to launch the book on my website, which I hope will happen one day.

THE BRILLIANT ARTIST of light, James Turrell, 70, who for 35 years has been working in the Arizona desert on his volcanic Roden Crater, moves into town next month with a spectacular show in the rotunda of New York's Guggenheim Museum. The collection will also appear at LACMA in Los Angeles and Houston's Museum of Fine Arts. Turrell's captivating art has always been hard to describe—“spatially disorienting ambient light” says Art News—but has an unforgettable impact on viewers. “Until you experience it in person” explains curator Nat Trotman, “you don't really get it. It's pretty anti-conceptual—it's about the feelings it creates for you”.

THE WORLD'S BIGGEST seller of wines surprisingly turns out to be Costco, which has sold one million cars in the past five years and just before Thanksgiving unloads more than 8 million dollars worth of pumpkin pies. The $2.5bn chain, which has shown a profit every year since it was launched in 1999, earns a nod from Stores editor Susan Reda who commends its generosity to employees, most of whom have health care, earn $21 per hour and register a turnover rate of 11%, well below the industry average. Stocking about 4,000 items, says Reda, “Costco practices operating efficiency and cost containment at every turn”.

MAYBE IRAN'S NUCLEAR ambitions really are peaceful, contrary to what Americans are continually taught, suggests British author Peter Oborne in his book with a self-explanatory title: A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong About Nuclear Iran. The author claims that Britain has been brainwashed into accepting “the bellicose proposition that Iran is an aggressive power ruled by irrational clerics, hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons… to bomb Israel”. The actual situation, he says, is that Iran has never threatened its neighbors (which doesn't mean they won't in the future) and according to US intelligence does not even possess a nuclear weapons program. “Again and again it has offered a settlement with the West and been rebuffed”, Oborne asserts. Naturally, Oborne's thesis has caused outrage in political circles where critics have been all-too-ready to refute every part of it. Only time will tell, hopefully not interrupted by yet another war.
   In its current issue, the weekly Standard asks: “Are Iran’s many Western apologists analytically challenged, deceitful or just so scared stiff of another war in the Middle East that they secularize and sanitize the clerical regime?”

LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES, a charming idea that began in Wisconsin, is spreading widely. It's based on the fact that there are a lot of spare books around and lots of folk who would be delighted to borrow them. Tod Bol, a carpenter, and with his pal Rick Brooks constructed a miniature wooden schoolhouse which they erected on a pole, filled with books and invited anybody to borrow. Currently there are 200 Little Free Libraries around the world, created says Yes! magazine by “builders, artists, stewards, book donors, borrowers, neighbors and friends”. Many have appeared in places that never had any library before, all promoting “literacy, the love of reading and a sense of community”.

SMALL ENGLISH VILLAGES have always interested me because that's where the leisurely life of yesteryear is still likely to linger, if only in minor ways. A dozen years ago I had a rewarding summertime stay in Calver which happens to be near where Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, as well as some of England's nicest scenery sojourn.
Ojai Orange September 2004    Beginning on Tuesday, I'll be staying for a week or two in another Derbyshire community, Bakewell, well known to Brits as the home of the Bakewell tart, not the bonking babe it sounds like, but an ingenious pastry. With a population of 3,964, the market town of Bakewell is easy to get around and four miles away is 16th century Chatsworth House which is usually described as England's favorite country manor. Equally attractive is nearby Haddon Hall, the 12th century manor where Pride & Prejudice was shot in 2005 and where Franco Zeffirelli produced his version of Jane Eyre in 1996. If I have any readers in England, I'd enjoy meeting them.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Surely, the IRS has always targeted certain unpopular customers? It probably began even before Nixon's time……Cyprus announced it would escape its debts by taxing bank depositors with more than €100,000 euros but, says Forbes, “like in Animal Farm, some big depositors are more equal than others”. It's referring to banks and others with political influence who'll be exempt from the cuts……OJ Simpson thinks his trial wasn't fair, and there should be a retrial. Aw shucks, he's just talking about his ‘burglary’ trial……The Supremos got few votes in a poll to find America’s most popular judge, who turned out to be TV’s Judge Judy……Starbucks says that since it invited ideas from customers, it's fielded 150,000, and implemented 277 of them (sample: the Mocha Coconut Frappuccino)…..Apple should be using its huge $145bn stockpile to reward its own low-wage employees instead of increasing the wealth of its stockholders suggests Newsweek…..Only on Wall Street could a guy who lost his bank six billion dollars be still hailed as a hero and eminently worthy of keeping the top job…..And those crooked hedge fund traders found guilty of insider trading, never have the guts to accept their well-deserved sentence, but whine like little boys at the injustice of it all and spend millions more appealing their fate….“The mind is always prone to believe” wrote the 3rd century Greek author Heliodorus, “what it wishes to be true”….Benghazi is all about Be(i)ng hazi…..A teenager who asked Popular Mechanics if you can replace a night's sleep with a series of naps was told no, because “a good night's sleep requires harmonizing your body's sense of time or circadian rhythm and your perceived need for sleep...” Osaka's mayor has predictably been vilified for his sensible suggestion that sexual crimes would diminish if US servicemen in Japan would take more advantage of the country's “adult entertainment industry”. He surely meant to include the ubiquitous and entertaining “Turkish” baths where gentle treatment concludes with a very satisfying massage ……“Next to excellence is the appreciation of it” wrote William Makepeace Thackeray ….The gaudiest and most psychedelic of ‘60s underground papers, the San Francisco Oracle, is being revived….Exploited immigrant victims and wealthy invalids are matched up in Kosovo which has become ground zero for illegal kidney transplants costing up to $100,000 apiece….The current generation of jihadists choose it as a lifestyle explains the Times' Peter Watson (“revenge against everything”) compared to the first generation who were motivated by intense religious study….What better example of the idiocy of contemporary art world prices could you possibly find than that dumb-ass who thought it was worth paying $49million
Dustheads lifeandtimes

for the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat's graffiti painting Dustheads?.......My friend had to give up masochism. He was enjoying it too much....Amy Schumer is witty & wonderful….Sad or tear-jerking music appears to be more consoling to people suffering loss, according to a new study by the Journal of Consumer Research, supposedly because it was more compatible with their current feelings …. The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up… Current fad for Chinese dog owners: dressing up their dogs with panty hose. Naturally, animal rights groups are protesting …. Sir Winston Churchill is on the new £5 note
Dogs in pantyhose
Credit: The Week

Taxi Treats is the name for a new tiny vending machine offering soft drinks, aspirin, chewing gum, etc. already installed in 250 New Orleans taxis and now going into New York cabs….If the Occupy movement ever re-surfaces needing a philosophical lodestone, it will be the new book by Harvard political science professor James C. Scott, Two Cheers for Anarchy, which points to how ordinary people can change the world….. “Know how to bear the changes of fortune with nobility”—Cleobulus (6th c. BC)




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