The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance...
—for May 23, 2015 by John Wilcock

from the archives…

“The most basic function of journalism in (Nick) Davies’ view is to check facts. Journalists don’t just pass on what they are told without making an effort to check it first. At least in theory they don’t. In practice, contemporary journalism has been corrupted by an endemic failure to verify facts and stories in a manner so fundamental it almost defies belief”
review of Flat Earth News by Nick Davies in London Review of Books

MARIHUANA GROWING currently employs 100,000 workers in the Canadian province of British Columbia and accounts for more than 5% of the GDP. Seven years ago the BC Organized Crime Agency valued the crop at $4billion and it is now worth one-third more, in addition to having spread eastward to almost every other province. These are statistics from the Guardian Weekly which reports that after George Bush dealt the local economy a “punishing blow” by imposing a 27% tax on imports of Canadian softwood, many redeployed their skills by moving into cannabis production which now provides more jobs than logging, mining, oil and gas combined. “The bottleneck has always been in getting the stuff into the US”, says one distributor. “There’s close to 300 million Americans and that’s a big market. But there’s (also) 30 million Canadians and everyone either grows it themselves or has a buddy that does”.

THAT INNOCENT-LOOKING COMPUTER, just sitting there glowing on your desk is wasting energy, suggests US News & World Report. It’s burning up fuel and should be turned off when not in use. “It’s as if every household has a big gas-guzzling vehicle (or two) in its driveway, all with engines racing” says Bruce Norman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “It’s like we’re all driving sports utility computers”.

LIBERAL GUILT sparked by the fact that an ethical lifestyle is the “new way of keeping up with the Jones” can lead to a form of burnout for activists declares the Utne Reader. It reiterates the argument that now that people consider “unethical living” to be as socially unacceptable as drunk driving, with “when people are motivated by guilt they fail to make long-term change”. Merely by being born, the magazine says, we’re consuming resources, burning carbon dioxide and exacting a toll on the world around us, so it’s sensible to acknowledge this before “exonerating ourselves and others and then stepping calmly into the future with the best of intentions”.

WHEN YOU PLAN to have a vasectomy, the best thing to do is to schedule it to coincide with some major sports classic such as Super Bowl or Masters golf tournament. That’s what a lot of men have been doing to ease the discomfort of sitting around waiting for the operation to heal. “It gives people something to look forward to” says urologist Richard Bevan-Thomas who reports an increase in vasectomy bookings for all major golf tournaments. “The sports angle has even become a marketing angle for some clinics” Forbes reveals, The Oregon Urology Institute ran promotions prior to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, selling it as an excuse “to stay home in front of the big screen”.

So many people’s ashes are being scattered on the summit of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis (4,406 ft), that it is changing the chemical balance of the soil “fertilizing it with phosphorus and calcium, to the detriment of rare alpine plants”. So states Kathleen Jamie in the London Review of Books writing about Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places.  Ms. Jamie reveals that The John Muir Trust which administers the mountain has become so concerned, that it has constructed a Memorial Site for Contemplation for such ashes which ought to be “thrown into the air on a windy day”.

THE WILCOCK WEB: After rejecting hundreds of would-be students and raising tuition for the rest, why is UCLA paying the New York Times a quarter of a million bucks for full-page ads praising itself?….. Using cells extracted from mouse embryos, Tokyo University of Science professor Takashi Tsuji has succeeded in growing teeth in other mice…. Federal prosecutors have described those $100-a-month virtual offices as “a more elaborate version of an old-fashioned post office box”. And those springing up all over lower Manhattan as, “a breeding ground for fraud”….Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune will appear on the screen for the third time, the latest film by Richard Rubinstein who earlier produced a six-hour version for the Sci Fi channel….. American children, which make up 4% of the world’s population, consume more than 40% of the world’s toys…..Wheat straw is in short supply for re-thatching village cottages and English Heritage has threatened $40,000 fines and jail sentences for thatchers who use substitutes…. …“I can’t hit on a girl in public like I used to” Jack Nicholson told AARP magazine. “I never thought words like undignified would come into my own reflections on myself, but—I can’t do it any more”….. Researchers at the University of Minnesota say that during their studies cat owners were 40% less likely to die from heart attacks although it might just be related to the personality of the animal lovers…. “The only way an investor can get killed”, declares Warren Buffett “is by high fees or trying to outsmart the market”…. Computerized shopping carts at all ShopRite stores will soon carry advertising on their screens. And Rite Aid stores are selling a $30 DNA paternity test, although lab tests cost a further $119…. Solar-cell garments with which you can power the gadgets in your pockets, will be here before next year….“If at first the idea is not absurd” declared Albert Einstein, ”then there is no hope for it”….. Organic carrots and Lebanese soap are among the items to be sold in the shop opened by Prince Charles at the Gloucestershire town of Tetbury (pop: 5,250) which dates back to the 7th century. All profits will go to charity…..The Guardian Weekly called Salman Rushdie’s new book, The Enchantress of Florence, a “sumptuous, impetuous mixture of history and fable…a brilliant, gorgeous and fascinating novel”. But the Economist panned its “mediocre writing”, adding: “Mr Rushdie ought to bear in mind that a novelist is at heart a story teller, not a serial creator of self-delighting sentences”….. “There is nothing new except what has been forgotten”—Marie Antoinette (1755-93)


Read my blog at Crowdsourcing survival.

National Weed (1974, issue #3)

it's here...
Marijuana—The Weed That Changed the World


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!
February 12, 2015

The New York Years - Issue 3 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