the column of lasting insignificance...
from the archives…
SEX IN STATELY HOMES is the latest gimmick by the prolific publishers of “romance” novels, Mills and Boon, which issues eight new novels each month to subscribers and bookstores. (Each month the books left unsold in the stores are pulped). Under a deal with Britain’s National Trust (which preserves many of the country’s historic, but cash-short, homes) the publisher will start producing novels set in these celebrated mansions, fictionalized versions of real romances. The first (reports The Bookseller) is set in 17th century Ham House on the banks of the Thames in Surrey. Scandalous Innocent by Juliet Landon weaves the story of the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, with that of the fictional Phoebe, “a beautiful scandal magnet who falls for the duke's personal secretary, Sir Leo. Trysts and quarrels occur inside the walls of the property, with its sculpted gardens playing host to stolen kisses”.
THE KNOW-NOTHING CONGRESS is referenced by an editorial in Popular Mechanics which chides the legislators for their “lack of seriousness” related to the Toyota hearings. “They speechified and lectured” PM huffed, “but they showed little interest in actually understanding the problem”. Failing to talk to independent experts, they indulged in “wild speculation that electronic gremlins might be taking over cars’ drive-by-wire throttle systems...spooky, malevolent forces lurking inside our cars”.
WHY YOUR PHONE may (or may not) be killing you is the subhead on a Harper’s story wittily headed “For Whom the Cell Tolls”. And, of course, that’s the trouble. Is holding the low-frequency electro-magnetic device close to your head harmful or not? It seems nobody can decide. “A cell phone gives off roughly the same radiation as a microwave oven” reports the mag. But are these low-frequency waves too weak to damage human tissue? Many of the official bodies have declared that electro-magnet frequencies (EMFs) are safe but health ministries in dozens of states and countries have urged caution or imposed restrictions of one sort of another. “The question now being asked” says the mag, “is not whether cell phones cause cancer but at what point is it sensible to enact precautionary laws just in case the worst comes to pass”.
BIG BROTHER IS ALWAYS WATCHING is pretty much the message that Steve Chapman seeks to convey in his Chicago Tribune column, pointing out that the signals sent out by mobile phones can be used by the police to track your every movement. The phone service providers receive thousands of tracking requests every month from law enforcement bodies, write Chapman, police now having acquired the ability to spy on citizens “on a scale that is both vast and intimate”.
ALMOST EVERYBODY has heard of that mystical “golden ratio” of 1 to 1.68 which artists, architects and nature have honored for centuries. Now a team of Austrian medical researchers have discovered that people with healthy hearts have a systolic (maximum) blood pressure count of about their diastolic (minimum) blood pressure count. A close match.
WOULD-BE GONZO WRITERS are being sought to adapt a 2004 story Hunter S. Thompson wrote for Vanity Fair which has been optioned for a feature film, reports the Hollywood Reporter. The original article, "Prisoner of Denver," co-written by Thompson and Mark Seal, focuses on Lisl Auman, a Colorado woman who was handed a life sentence, without parole, for a murder she clearly did not commit. Auman wrote to Thompson from prison, and he took up her cause, enlisting Seal to help. Auman was released in 2005, a month after Thompson committed suicide.
PROTESTING ARIZONA’S NEW LAW makes some people feel good. It isn’t much inconvenience and doesn’t cost anything. But why not have the courage of those (smug) convictions and invite some poor illegal immigrant to lunch or, better still, give them a home in your spare room?
THE TROUBLE WITH concrete is that it’s inclined to crack, so it is usually reinforced with steel, but then when it does crack, water gets in and the consequent rust causes collapse. Not a good thing, when the concrete is supporting a bridge. Thus, the invention by civil engineer Victor Li of “self-healing” concrete--for which a patent has just been granted--would seem to have a great future. Forbes explains that although the new concrete will cost three times as much, it should pay for itself by reducing the need for repairs. And the secret ingredient? Dry micro-fibers in the original mix absorb moisture from the air, when cracks open up, and expand. They “grow” new concrete to close the gap.
Allowing corporations to vote like people means that if the country’s top 100 companies spent just 1% of the $600trn profits they made in 2008, the six thousand million dollars invested would overwhelm the elections. That’s one of the facts listed in Walking Planet Chronicles, a newsletter out of New Paltz, NY, which urges “a mass grassroots effort to restore democracy to the people”.
THE WILCOCK WEB: If the Russians can trounce the Somali pirates, why is the US so helpless?….Last week’s stock plunge proves that financially speaking, the ‘experts’ don’t know more than anybody else….. Greece may be the first country to drop the Euro and return to using to its original currency….‘AIG quits Goldman Sachs’ (When thieves fall out….)….A sad procession of goats precedes the cheese festival at Rocamadour in southern France next week where the local specialty—a goat cheese—is featured… Researching the relationship between atmosphere and attitude, clinicians at Brigham Young University claim that being in a citron-scented room makes volunteers more generous and more willing to donate to charities…... Cuba may legalize prostitution next year…..Picasso’s painting of The Absinthe Drinker is expected to fetch at least $40m—the highest price for a painting sold in Europe—when offered at Christie’s next month. Its owner, Andrew Lloyd Webber, paid $25m when he bought it in 1995…
Legislators are so terrified of the gun lobby they won’t even ban terrorists from buying weapons…. The large number of White House journalists who are writing books on the Obama administration says Glenn Greenwald in Salon are fiercely competing “to curry favor with top government officials” and thus present an obvious conflict of interest ……A drone with flexible, claw-like legs that can land perpendicularly on walls is being developed by a Stanford lab…. A company called the World Reserve Monetary Exchange took a full page ad in the NYTimes to offer four $2 bills for only $12 plus shipping…. Taiwan is offering a million bucks to anyone who can come up with a winning slogan that will increase the country’s birthrate, one of the lowest in the world…..If hundreds of lawyers at hundred of law firms are each paid hundreds of dollars per hour, why can’t some of them be drafted to fill the huge shortage of public defenders?….“Madness is a rare thing in individuals, but in groups, parties, peoples and ages it is the rule”—Friedrich Wilhem Nietzsche (1844-1900)
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National Weed (1974, issue #3)
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- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— 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...
— 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......
— Dear Reader,
— 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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February 12, 2015
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