[ From the Archives ]
CRUMB TALKS is the opening of a five-page advertising essay in Taschen’s colorful catalog which is bigger and better than many actual magazines. The famously elusive cartoonist, now 69, writes that he began his series of sketchbooks, using a rapidograph pen, in 1964. “Of course, I hoped that (drawing) would get me female attention, but it didn’t work at all in that regard. Women were not attracted to guys who drew comics. It was basically the last thing on earth that had any glamour attached to it”.
But his work, widely published in the underground press, subsequently inspired a biographical movie, which drew much more attention—“media pestilence and Crumbsploitation” he calls it—that brought him a notoriety “far above and beyond” his work.
“There’s this perverse, sad thing that part of my fame is a morbid attraction to the things in my work that are bad or forbidden...And that’s what sells best....On the other hand, women are horrified by it. Trina Robbins accused me of poisoning all the younger male cartoonists who think they can draw terrible violence against women”.
One effect of all that, Crumb writes, is that despite the value of spontaneous sketching he gave up drawing in sketchbooks. “But the fame thing has really killed it for me. I’ve just become too acutely self-conscious, and the business aspect of being an artist killed the creative playful side for me. As my fame grows and I become like some kind of fucking, you know, grand old man of graphic storytelling or whatever, it gets worse. There’s no slack. Drawing came out of a spontaneous, experimental, dreamy area of the mind. That’s no just there anymore.”
But fortunately for the world, the ‘grand old man’ piled up a body of timeless, perspicacious work before this and Taschen offers 1,000 numbered and signed copies of six of his journals, $1,000 for each boxed set.
In a final word from the master, quoting his wife, Crumb adds: “Aline says it’s very unattractive to complain, to whine about such things. You know everybody should have such trouble as this. I really can’t complain. I got it pretty good.”
In a recent interview, counter-cultural guru Paul Krassner paid tribute to Crumb and all the other prescient underground comic artists of the ’60s:
“With a variety of unique styles, these artists all had in common an acute case of irreverence, a stoned-or-straight imagination, a passionate sense of humor infused with justice and raunchiness, and an uncanny ability to articulate the consciousness—and the subconsciousness—of their countercultural audience.
The Cologne-based Taschen company, which began 32-years ago with its founder’s personal ‘gorgeous, stockpile of comic books’, celebrated the publication of its 1,000th book this year, a collection of expensive, gorgeous and definitive works dealing with artists, writers, architects, performers and public figures.
Der Spiegel called its 75-pound, 700-page GOAT (Greatest of All Time), a tribute to Muhammad Ali, “the biggest, heaviest, most radiant thing ever printed in the history of civilization.” It cost $15,000.
Sharing space with Crumb in the current catalog are full-color reproductions of the work of Gustav Klimt, Steven Heller’s wide-ranging Mid-Century Ads (“Advertising is…artificial truth”), Lawrence Schiller’s recollections of his time spent with Marilyn Monroe, jazz album covers, movies from the ‘90s. and a trio of Brit books including Barry Miles’ wonderfully-illustrated memories of ‘60s London and the recollections of the first photographer to document the Beatles There’s also a whole page of sexy books, including these (below).
The preceding from A Book of Days, Wisdom Through the Seasons Edited by Elizabeth Pepper & John Wilcock (Capra Press, 1996)
Lacking fins or tail
the gefilte fish swims with
peace is knowing one's child
is an internist.
On Passover we
opened the door for Elijah.
Now our cat is gone.
CRITICS OF CUBA can find plenty to complain about, not the least of which are many of the prisoners detained unjustifiably in the country’s jails. And the dithering of a government that can’t make up its mind. Nevertheless, the US media being what it is, Cuba has rarely gotten credit for being one of the world’s major do-gooders, a story recognized in Canada’s New Internationalist. Cuba currently has more medical personnel serving abroad than all of the wealthy G-8 nations combined, the mag says, in fact there are 39,000 of them, working in 66 countries. “(They) do not engage in disaster tourism. They are there for the long run, generally working for two year periods…They do not charge their patients for medical care…access to health care is seen as the most fundamental human right and is embedded in the Cuban constitution.” Despite its own poverty, the country has extended this service to scores of poor countries over five decades, saving the lives of millions of people and extending the lives of millions of others. “Yet these profound policy initiatives have largely been ignored by the international media.”
It hardly needs repeating here that American policy towards its impoverished island neighbor has been a disaster since its inception, Then, for half a century, a Big Bully spitefully cutting off any contact, all the while themselves being bullied by a handful of embittered Florida politicians. Just because a country doesn’t happen to share the US system of government—so-called ‘democracy’—is insufficient reason for denying its right to exist. The fear that tiny Cuba is a threat to the US has always been ridiculous.
IT ITS FINAL issue for 2012, Popular Mechanics offered some predictions for “the world of tomorrow”
- Soldiers will wear jackets containing Peltier plates which, by means
of electric currents, can warm them up or cool them down
- Bridges will repair themselves as a new composite is able to expand
to fill cracks when soaked with rain
- Throughout the West, as a start, highways will be lined with charging
stations for electric cars
- Eventually all 130 million books on the planet will be digitized
- Peel and stick photovoltaic solar panels will replace traditional bulky,
- A holographic reproduction of the Super Bowl can be watched in the
center of your living room
- Navy SEALs will be able to hold their breath under water for hours
- Ions of xenon gas accelerated by an electric field will fuel a space ship
for years of travel enabling visits to Alpha Centauri
Happy Holidays to all my faithful readers
[ This column originally appeared two years ago ]
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- Complete column archives:
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— 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
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November 20, 2013
Wednesday, 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
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.
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