' 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: October 19, 2013
by John Wilcock

“With the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percentage of kids in poverty than America…That so many leaders of a country with a $17trillion economy tolerate so much misery amid so much plenty—normalizing child hunger and allowing a significant part of the labor force to work fulltime (if not more) and still be unable to pay basic bills—is one of the scandals of our age.”
—Sasha Abramsky in the Nation

SURELY THE SADDEST sight of this depressing era is some poor, old lady sitting alone in her empty apartment wondering if she’ll have anything to eat tomorrow. “The reason is simple” writes Trudy Lieberman. “There’s not enough money from federal, state, or local governments to support most of the country’s meal programs…While funding for home-delivered meals increased 43% from 2001 to 2011, the number of seniors facing the threat of hunger rose 87% in that period. More and more seniors are going hungry”. Clearly, the sequester has made a bad situation even worse with $11.3million less to feed the elderly. The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), says that in the past decade the number of old folk facing this problem has increased by 78%.
    “The idea of giving a little bit more of the nation’s vast wealth to the elderly, especially those in dire need, has suffered in the drive by conservative think tanks to demonize old people—the ‘greedy geezer’ meme” Lieberman writes in the Nation. So it was probably no big surprise to those who listened to that loathsome Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (who earned $26m last year) telling CBS Evening News: “You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectation—the entitlements and what people think they’re going to get. Because they’re not going to get it”.

THE PAINTED OUTLAW is not really an outlaw at all, claims the National Review, and motorcycles are no longer for Hells Angels but for Hell’s Dentists and Hell’s Bankers. “There are insurance agents and realtors and Rotary Club members across these United States with a better claim to being outlaws” declares Kevin D. Williamson, who suggests that what fuels their conceit are ample tattoos, once the mark of “(real) outlaws, gangsters, sailors, and other men living on the edge”. Fifty per cent of Americans still believe that getting a tattoo is “rebellious—call it the Johnny Depp effect: outlaw on the street, Disney in the bank”. Why we should admire outlaws at all, says Williamson, is another question, but “Mr. Depp is not an outlaw. He may in fact be the farthest thing from an outlaw it is possible to be: a contracted employee of the Walt Disney Company. A heavily tattooed employee of the Walt Disney Company…Getting a tattoo based on a movie starring you: That’s outlaw”.

YOUR LOCAL POLICE are certainly armed but may also be dangerous charges Radley Bolko. His recent book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, outlines his grievance about the unchecked proliferation of out-of-control SWAT teams which he accuses of having been used to break up charity poker games, shut down legal marihuana dispensaries operating in the open, even serve warrants on people suspected of committing student loan fraud. This kind of overkill, he writes, gained momentum in the 1980s and 90s when Congress began to arm domestic police depts. with military surplus while simultaneously increasing the funding for antidrug efforts. This unanticipated collateral damage turned out to be very good for local police forces because it justified them seizing assets not just of convicted drug offenders but even from people remotely associated with crimes yet never charged. In the Weekly Standard, Mike Riggs said the book called for a return to community polling which required cops to be members of their community and to be on personal terms with the likes of business owners, school principals, and community power brokers. “SWAT teams often introduce violence where previously there had been none”, he wrote, “but police are too vital to modern society to be allowed to determine, without challenge or supervision, the best way to protect our democracy and preserve order”.

AT LEAST THREE governors vying for re-election next year (those of Arizona, Ohio and Florida) are facing a dilemma writes Abby Rapoport. “They all face tough battles for re-election in 2014. By backing Medicaid, they were guaranteed to inspire The Party wrath. By opposing it they would deny health coverage to large numbers of low-income residents, shut the door on billions in federal funding and risk further alienating voters”, The American Prospect columnist writes. Sixteen states oppose expansion but if any of the governors stick their necks out by bucking Tea Party demands, “making policy based on the needs of your state does not amount to certain political death. It might even save you from it.”

Musicians on marihuana (1) Mezz Mezzrow

“IT’S A FUNNY THING about marijuana—when you first begin smoking it you see things in a wonderful soothing, easygoing new light” wrote Mezz Mezzrow. “All of a sudden the world is stripped of its dirty gray shrouds and becomes one big bellyful of giggles, a spherical laugh, bathed in brilliant, sparkling colors that hit you like a heat wave. Nothing leaves you cold anymore; there’s a humorous tickle and great meaning in the least little thing, the twitch of somebody’s little finger or the click of a beer glass. All your pores open like funnels, your nerve ends stretch their mouths wide, hungry and thirsty for new sights and sounds and sensations; and every sensation, when it comes, in the most exciting one you’ve ever had. You can’t get enough of anything—you want to gobble up the whole goddamned universe just for an appetizer. Them first kicks are a killer, Jim.
     “Suppose you’re the critical and analytical type, always ripping things to pieces, tearing the covers off and being disgusted by what you find under the sheet. Well, under the influence of muta you don’t lose your surgical touch exactly, but you don’t come up evil and grimy about it. You still see what you saw before but in a different more tolerant way, through rose-colored glasses, and things that would have irritated you before just tickle you. Everything is good for a laugh; the wrinkles get ironed out of your face and you forget what a frown is, you just want to hold on to your belly and roar till the tears come. Some women especially, instead of being nasty and mean just go off bellowing until hysteria comes on. All the larceny kind of dissolves out of them—they relax and grin from ear to ear, and get right on the ground floor with you. Maybe no power on earth can work out a lasting armistice in that eternal battle of the sexes, but muggles are the one thing I know that can even bring about an overnight order to ‘Cease firing’.”
—Mezz Mezzrow (1899-1972)

[Extracts from The Weed that Changed the World, an eBook available from Amazon for $9]

THE WILCOCK WEB: “If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it” says former London mayor Ken Livingstone….Compensating for falling wine sales, one Bordeaux wine company is selling rouge sucerre—a red wine mixed with cola….Pouring urine over bacterial-filled fuel cells produces a small electrical current that can be stored, reports Britain’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory which suggests that it might become a practical power source….…If an ‘illegal immigrant’ can raise a huge sum to pay a smuggler, why doesn’t he just buy an airline ticket and enter as a tourist?..... “The ‘g’ is silent—the only thing about her that is," sneers London columnist Julie Burchill about fellow author Camille Paglia….….England is planning to ban smoking in its prisons where more than three quarters of the 85,000 inmates smoke…..A man hired a Kerryman as an assistant to take phone calls. One day the phone rang and when the Kerryman answered he hung up immediately. ‘Who was that?’ asked his boss. ‘Some fool saying it was a long distance from New York. I told him everybody knew that.’ …Long-famous for his self-important arrogance, Kanye West complained that a carpet was too bumpy in his BBC dressing room, and insisted that it be ironed…....Forbes issue for October 7, devoted to the top 400 tycoons has five glossy covers, one after another: Warren Buffet and Alice Walton (2nd and 8th on the list); Sam Zell (real estate, 110th); Stewart Rahr (drug distributor, 240th) and Michael Rubin (online retail, 218th). All but 61 on the 400 List are billionaires….."I started out with nothing” reminisces John Gaza, “and I still have most of it left" …. The Sunday Assembly movement has been setting up gatherings all over the world for atheists who need to get together and sit together in contemplation…….. Recycling is getting easier, reports Popular Science, with the increasing number of single-stream facilities in which elaborate systems separate mingled quantities of dumped paper, glass and plastic… “I've been married to a communist and a fascist” Zsa Zsa Gabor recalled “and neither would take out the garbage"….

Mezz Mezzrow

These Green Grass Flip Tops, fitted with fake grass, cost around fifty bucks a pair from www.firebox.com …..….“An abstainer is a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure” was Ambrose Bierce’s opinion…..This month marks the 40th anniversary of Scientology being granted tax exempt status after a long battle with the Feds….Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban says they shoot 12 hours a day, five days in a row. “A deal that takes ten minutes on TV could go two and a half hours in real life”Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Janusczak accuses curators of controlling the art world from within “by privileging their creativity ahead of the artist’s”…. How ridiculous closing down the national parks. Why not just leave them open and let people choose whether to enter or not? ….“With knowledge comes more doubt”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)



it's here... Marijuana--The Weed That Changed the World

Bakewell and Chatsworth 2013 (part 1)


Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

send a comment to John Wilcock


recent columns...

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

The real, true, history...
Week of May 5, 2018

Alice, Alice at 85, seed money, supermax, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of April 28, 2018

About being in love..., Persoff and Marshall, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of April 21, 2018

The Candy Store
Week of January 20, 2018

From the archives... The religion of Violence & Statistics, otherwise known as college football; WPA II; Would it be called Indiastan or Pakindia?; Who you Gonna call? Crime Predictors; Being a Bank means you never having to say you're sorry; Oil vs. Democracy, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
Week of December 9, 2017

From the archives... The Mother of All Family Feuds, Otaku Means Geek in Japanese, Affirmative Action or 'It all depends on who you know', The Moonies are packin', and of course, the Wilcock Web......
Week of December 2, 2017

Taxing land, not people, Is Socialism Scary?, Stars acting as assholes, Big Thinkers can be such Morons, and of course, The Wilcock Web...
Week of November 18, 2017

Dear Reader,
Week of August 23, 2017

Dear Readers...
Week of January 25, 2017

John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
Week of June 8, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
Week of April 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
Week of April 16, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
Week of April 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen--Travels: Tokyo-Rick Kennedy recalls; Japan on $5 a Day; About Chapbooks; Magic in South America
Week of April 9, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen (continued)--Theory & Practice of Travel Writing; Remoteness of Callanish; Jim's Paris dinners
Week of April 2, 2016

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
Week of March 26, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library; In the Cannes
Week of March 19, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Week of March 12, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
Week of March 5, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 27, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
Week of February 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
Week of February 6, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
Week of January 30, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
Week of January 23, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve--Andy Gets Shot: Max's Kansas City; Jane Fonda's gesture; Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Week of January 16, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eleven (continued)-- We go to Rutgers, Ann Arbor ... What people say about Andy
Week of January 9, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eleven -- Andy Warhol First encounter....People talk about him....His movies...
Week of January 2, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Ten (continued)--The 'Movement' splits: Eldridge Cleaver Year of the Great Hoax…The OZ trial
Week of December 26, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Ten--Tom Forcade's smuggling funds High Times; Rolling Stone's underground sabotage
Week of December 19, 2015

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
Week of December 12, 2015

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
Week of December 5, 2015

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

- column archives: 2006 - present

in the press...

Now on Boing-Boing!
May 2, 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)

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.

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.