' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance for 11 January, 2014    
The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance: February 1, 2014
by John Wilcock

“A recent Pew poll finds that 52 per cent of those surveyed think ‘the US should mind its own business internationally and let others get along as best they can on their own’—the first time since 1964 that more than half the respondents have taken such a stance.”
—the weekly Standard

A MASSIVE POOL OF CASH that is looking to invest ‘wherever it sees the potential for long term profits’, is how Fortune describes the $115bn in revenue of the Koch brothers (oil, timber, food, fertilizers, household products). “Chances are, nearly every store you walk into sells a Koch company product” says the website KochWatch.org which calls them “billionaires corrupting democracy” and urges a boycott. The site’s ire is triggered by the huge sums that Charles, 78, and David, 73, (each worth $36bn) have invested in such rightwing causes as repealing Obamacare and backing Tea Party candidates. They have “a distaste for big government and, some would argue, regulation that might infringe on the profitability of their businesses” says the mag, becoming in the process “all purpose bogeymen to those on the left”. Their father, it will come as no surprise, was one of the original members of the radical rightwing John Birch Society. Huge future profits for the company are expected to come from their increasing determination to privatize (and doubtless monopolize) water supplies. “Fresh clean water is increasingly scarce” Fortune notes, “and demand is growing”.

AWARENESS OF CONCUSSION, probably boosted by the current NFL payoffs, has brought new attention to its deadly presence in boxing. “The growing unease among some boxing writers is something new” writes Alan Neuhauser in Columbia Journalism Review. “The violence that makes the sport compelling has become its biggest problem”. Recent studies from Boston’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (the word means ‘disorder or disease of the brain’) demonstrate that permanent brain damage from pugilism is almost certain. “Before, people were like ‘Okay, this is part of boxing, this isn’t something we’re focusing on” writes Ring Magazine’s editor Michael Rosenthal. “Now people are focusing on it”. And veteran sportswriter William Nack covered what he termed ‘a hell of a sport’ for 20 years but finally quit, confessing, “If you have any kind of sensibility, you’ve got to feel some kind of, not guilt, but misgiving about it. That’s probably too weak a word. Maybe guilt is the right word”. Why haven’t we covered this brutal sport more in the past? the magazine asked, quoting boxing promoter Lou DiBella: “I don’t think the writers give a rat’s ass about concussions”.

“I am not sure if the world is worse than it ever has been, or maybe just seems worse because now with social media and Twitter and the internet we are forced to hear about every single act of stupidity committed in every corner of the planet as it happens. …Comedy is everything to me. It saved me. It gave me purpose. It has helped me find meaning. It may be more of a savior than a revolutionary. I am not a religious person. I just can’t get there. I don’t buy it, and the violence and despair that often comes from organized religion enrages me.”
—Judd Apatow in the New Statesman

DECADES OF RESEARCH may finally have produced a vaccine for malaria which, in a typical year, chalks up as many as 200 million victims, 90% of them in Africa. Later this year, the British pharmaceutical firm of GlaxoSmithKlyne will seek regulatory approval for KTS,S which some tests have shown can counter the tiny single-celled malaria parasite which has shown to be much more complex than the bacteria and viruses that are the usual targets of vaccines. The World Health Organization reports 660 deaths from malaria in 2010.

BLASTING POP MUSIC at excruciatingly loud levels to repel pirates has been reported in the past, usually associated with specifying the music of Britney Spears. But this might have been a light-hearted—and possibly untrue—exaggeration of what actually happened, suggests the Media Watch Group’s newsletter Extra. The actual weapon, reports Germany’s Spiegel, is a tool called Long Range Acoustic Device, which the magazine describes as a futuristic sonic cannon developed by the Pentagon which can cause “excruciating headache and ear pain to the point that (the pirates) could no longer see or hear”.

ISN’T IT ALREADY conventional wisdom that global warning is threatening the world’s future unless we do something about it, asap? Not so, according to Richard Lindzen, an MIT meteorology professor and leading climate skeptic. He dismisses the threat as “small…and nothing to be alarmed about” and suggests that the widespread belief can all be explained by money, “to the incentive structure of academic research funded by government grants”, as the Weekly Standard puts it. “Almost all funding comes from the government which makes scientists essentially vassals of the state”. Generating fear, Lindzen contends, “is now the best way to ensure that policymakers keep the spigot open”. Undeniably, his opinions are definitely in the minority and often met with sarcasm by his colleagues. “Most people who think they’re a Galileo, are just wrong” scoffs climate scientist Richard C.J. Somerville.

THE WILCOCK WEB: After a less successful year, Goldman Sachs has cut its pay “showing a discipline on compensation that no other bank is showing”, according to financial observers. It has set aside for last year’s pay $12.61bn compared to $12.94bn the previous year…..Is Sochi equipped to shoot down bomb-carrying drones?.....California is undergoing yet another drought—and all those billions of gallons of nearby sea water just waiting for somebody to get serious about solar distillation…..An anti-bribe campaign in India has devised fake 50-rupee bills to hand out to people soliciting illegal payoffs….

Fake 50 Rupee Note

Henrique (de Castro) is an incredibly accomplished and rigorous business leader and I’m personally excited to have him join Yahoo’s strong leadership team” trilled Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer when she hired him from Google 15 months ago. Now he’s been fired and is leaving with a mere $88million payoff…..“Sonorous purring” is how Daimler describes the sound they’ve deliberately added to alert pedestrians to the approach of the otherwise silent e-Smart Car. Renault, Nissan and other carmakers are also adding warning sounds to their electric cars….Libraries do it for free but Oyster has gone digital allowing readers to peruse as many e-Books as they want for $9.95 a month… Increased consumption of Middle East flavoring and tea, also milk processed from nuts, and lemon in just about everything, are among food trends forecast for 2014 says Stores…… Nothing could better illustrate what uneducated idiots the Taliban are than their drive to stop vaccination for polio which had been almost eradicated in the world until they sought to bring it back...Packaged salads, fresh daily in recycled plastic jars in vending machines are on offer in Chicago’s Garvey Food Court for $7.99…It takes 15-20 minutes of nonstop footwork to churn your Peddlers Creameryown ice cream at Peddler’s Creamery in downtown Los Angeles…. “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”, grouched Groucho Marx....What A&E promotes as “the next evolution of magic” is suspiciously bogus when street magician Andrew Mayne makes a car disappear and reaches through a solid restaurant window to grab something from a sidewalk table ……Victory for Scientology happened 45 years ago next week when a US Federal Appeals Court ruled that the cult’s E-meters are not a banned medical device (as the FDA maintained) but part of a religion protected by the First Amendment- ….“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”—George Orwell (1903-50)

A Personal Note

NEXT WEEK I BEGIN a series of chemotherapy sessions in which some noxious chemicals are injected into my veins attempting to eradicate the traces of cancer that still exist in my lymph nodes after the recent lung operation. The oncologist reports that my survival odds, normally about 50/50, improve to 60/40 in my favor by these treatments: at least three at three-week intervals. From all accounts it’s not a particularly pleasant experience, although apparently not as bad as it used to be, with some of the many potential after-effects including nausea and lack of sleep, with consequent weariness. It’s possible, therefore, that I might soon have to take a rest from this weekly column although, as a lifelong journalist, I will still fill the space, possibly with repeats of earlier work..

It’s eight years since I received any payment for my column—when it ran in the Montecito Journal—and so it is truly a work of love, the centerpiece of my life at an age when I don’t have much else to do. I once contemplated charging a small sum, but realized that would mean losing most of my readers and, in any case, I believe in my mission of forecasting the future, which I do by reading 50 magazines or so every month—political, scientific, artistic, social, cultural etc. An occasional reader might have defined the column as consisting merely of random quotes, but my regulars could have sensed that behind it is a specific viewpoint and philosophy. Just as in my underground paper days I am attempting to foresee what’s likely to happen through the vision of writers who explore trends long before they become newspaper stories. (The underground press used to jest that we wrote about stuff that would be on Time’s cover two years hence). “Coming events cast their shadows before” wrote Thomas Campbell in 1781, the impetus for my “column of lasting insignificance” which is meant to imply that something you read or learn which might not have much impact at the time, may assume more importance when you later become aware of its echo.

Most my writing has been documentation—birth of the Village Voice and the international underground, travel books covering a score of countries, three books about natural magic in 20 countries, history of the popes, 30 years co-editing the Witches Almanac, interviews with many of Andy Warhol’s friends, 60 issues of the Ojai Orange, and of course, all these years of reporting the zeitgeist via half a century of weekly columns—so I anticipate my work will have some value for researchers long after I am gone, Meanwhile, thanks for being here.


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!
Participating in the Harvard Psilocybin Project (Part Three)
November 21, 2013

The New York Years - Issue 5 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.