the column of lasting insignificance: November 1, 2014
by John Wilcock
“What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke. Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.
Read my blog at Crowdsourcing survival.
MERE MULTMILLIONAIRES DON'T even make Fortune's list of America's richest people. The list stops with its 390th entrant, the Wyoming stockbroker John “Joe” Ricketts, who's listed as the custodian of a meager one and a half BILLION dollars, largely acquired via his ten percent ownership of the online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Ricketts shares his place on Forbes list with five other billionaires (actually they're at least $1.5 billionaires): Neal Patterson, the 64-year-old chairman of an electronic health system (whatever that is); eighty-one year old Bruce Nordstrom, the former chairman of the Nordstrom department store chain; Gary Michelson, 65, whose invention of various medical devices paid off big time when he pioneered spinal cages and a device to fuse vertebrae; and two youngsters, 44 year old Alan Auerbach, founder of cancer-drug companies, and Eric Lepkosky, 43, the one-time carpet salesman who entered the big time when he headed the Groupon company.
There are 390 other company heads on Fortune's Rich List of multi-billionaires beginning with such well-known charmers as 58-year-old Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft who, with his wife Melinda, is described as having spent billions tacking such scourges as polio, malaria, the ebola outbreak, and the ever-constant scourge of the mosquito.
To be a billionaire you don't necessarily have to be old. For example, look at 30-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, number 11 on Forbes' list with an impressive $34billion. As Facebook's CEO he recently okayed paying five billion dollars to acquire mobile messaging app WhatsApp and a further two billion for the virtual-reality maker Oculus VR. But far ahead of him in the league of billionaires, with assets of almost twice as much--$67billion--is Warren Buffet, 84, who has personally donated $23 billion to various charities. Much of his success has come from his savvy investment in companies he feels are undervalued, recent examples being Wells Fargo, Coca Cola and IBM. Seventy-year-old Larry Ellison, Oracle's founder, clocks in at number three on Forbe's rich list, followed by the Koch brothers, 78 year-old Charles and David, 72, who have spent $9billllion in the past year.
DISCOVERING A BOOK more than twenty years after it was first published doesn't make it any the less interesting. The book I'm referring to is "a thematic dictionary" called Descriptionary which, in its fascinating subtitle, is described as "the book for when you know what it is, but not what it's called". It could be as simple as describing the silence that might occur during a radio broadcast ["dead air"] or how to describe a word that becomes another word when it's spelled backwards—"live" becomes "evil", for example. That can be called a reversal. In his introduction, Marc McCutcheon points to the ease, for example, in finding the phrase for the leeward side of a mountain (rain shadow) and even a name for the light that bathes a peak at sunset (alpenglow). By sort of working backwards, Descriptionary is able to produce the exact word you were unable to look for in a dictionary.
To my regular readers: this is my first return to writing my column in several months.
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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May 2, 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
The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol