the column of lasting insignificance: April 12, 2014
by John Wilcock
EVERYBODY IS ASSUMED TO BE AN ALLY… unless they opt for aggression (sometimes even before they meet you) on no stronger grounds than that you are being yourself. I always assume, until given reason to believe otherwise, that each of us shares the same objective: to get through life, from birth to death, with the minimum amount of inconvenience to others while deriving the maximum amount of pleasure and happiness for ourselves.
It is harder for some to break away from their background than for others, but it is possible for everybody. The first thing that must be accepted—and how few people will allow themselves to accept it—is that you are alone. Who thinks your thoughts? Who feels as you feel? Who dies when you die? You are alone, you have a life to live and you must have allies.
By Martin Dawes
JOHN WILCOCK, interviewer of Marilyn Monroe and a co-founder of the legendary Village Voice, was holding court at The Stag in Psalter Lane, Sheffield, earlier this week, describing how he first got turned on to drugs.
JOHN WILCOCK fled Fleet Street for the US fifty years ago, where he “retired” (although writers never retire) after producing 35 travel books, He writes and videotapes about his recent trip to Norway and England at his website www.ojaiorange.com.
The last book I read
I put Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father on my Kindle and read it on my recent trip to Europe. Written (by himself) before running for president, it expresses his fervent hope that it will help to diminish racial discord and is presented in a melodic style that at the very least proves he could make a living as a novelist if he didn’t have more important things on his plate.
The last CD I bought
In Bergen, Norway, a tour to Edvard Grieg’s enchanting home ended with a piano recital of his works. The composer of Peer Gynt once said he had found his inspiration via folk music into “the inner spiritual life of the people” and listening to it helped me understand what he meant.
The last film I saw
A Night at the Museum was one of the funniest movies I ever saw; a genuine laugh-out-loud riot. Sadly, Hollywood greed then took over and the sequel was not funny at all.
The last TV show I watched
The Mentalist, which stars an ever-smiling Simon Baker as a former psychic-turned crime investigator, is a contemporary take on the old Sherlock Holmes ploy of leaping to (usually-correct) solutions from insignificant details. In actual fact, Baker’s charming character gets much of his effect by making outrageous allegations, often sexual, about suspects on his first encounter with them. All the members of this fictitious California Bureau of Investigation are beguiling to watch.
The last place I visited
I had hoped to visit Holy Island while in Northumberland, recalling my trips there when I worked on the Daily Mail in Newcastle and how the pubs stayed open all night unless a call from the mainland warned that the cops were coming over. Sadly, Lindisfarne can only be visited in daytime when the tide is in—a condition not due for two more days. So the boat chugged around the Farne islands instead and I videotaped all the playful seals.
The last meal out
Just before leaving London to come home I had fish and chips for dinner near Marble Arch at the The Swan (est. 1721). In the 18th century it was the last stop for the wagons taking criminals to Tyburn to be hanged and they were allowed a final drink “on the house”. Then it was back “on the wagon” (no more drinks) for the poor wretch before his final journey. Has any other tavern in the world added two idioms to the language?
National Weed (1974, issue #3)
Bakewell and Chatsworth 2013 (part 1)
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- 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
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Participating in the Harvard Psilocybin Project (Part Three)
November 21, 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.
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.
"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