the column of lasting insignificance...
from the archives…
THE WILCOCK WEB: South Africa, scene of the 2010 World Cup, is thinking of changing its laws to allow prostitution and drinking in public after noticing the popularity of both at the 2006 WC in Germany (where there are 400,000 legal prostitutes)….Facility Architects, a British firm, hopes to develop “vibration-harvesting sensors” which embedded in heavy-trafficked grounds such as bus and rail stations can capture and store the energy for re-use….Frank Abagnale, whose brazen $2m swindling impersonations inspired a movie (Catch Me If You Can) has authored a book about identity theft in which he recommends avoiding the use of checks, which carry too much ID that can be stolen…. “Any party that takes credit for the rain, must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought” remarked Dwight Morrow…. London’s Citadel is about to publish: Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive: Jokes so Dirty Comedians and Entertainers Only Tell Them to Each Other ….Dr. Songpol Smsri, a Thai scientist, has just completed 30 years of research producing a hybrid durian so that the Asian fruit will no longer be the smelliest in the world….Mandated by the government, all food and drink advertisements in France must now include a simple health warning (avoid too much fat, salt, sugar….exercise regularly etc)…...”I have always joked that the growth industries are gay divorce and tattoo removal” confesses outlandish movie director John Waters …..And now, from the London publisher Hodder: The Manga Bible, “highlighting some of the less well known stories”…. Skybus Airlnes, a new no-frills carrier in Columbus, Ohio, which carries advertising in and on its planes, is offering ten seats on every flight for $10 each….. “There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth”—Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
THE WILCOCK WEB: How curiously the Madeleine kidnapping case echoes that of Jon Benet Ramsey all those years ago…. Donating her collection of 50,000 jokes to the Smithsonian, Phyllis Diller, 89, had some advice for aspiring comics: “Go out and try it, and if you find out from the audience that you’re not funny, quit “…..For the eighth successive year, Jacob is the favorite baby name in the U.S. and—for the 11th successive year—Emily for girls….. More companies are expected to copy the strategy of Coca Cola and L’Oreal which has devised a soft drink that contains skin care treatment …..Glasgow-based Beautiful Vending, which has sold 700 of its coin-operated hair-straightening irons in Britain’s restrooms ($2 per minute), brings the concept to the U.S. next month….. “People who value their privileges above their principles” cautioned Dwight Eisenhower, “soon lose both”… Maybe the single most useless gift on record, is the solitary white shoe (autographed by Pat Boone) offered in a sweepstake by the rightwing publisher American Compass….Screening Casino Royale on some of its flights, British Airways airbrushed rival Virgin Airlines’ Richard Branson out of one scene…. How did the Soviets counter NASA spending $1 million to develop a pen that would write in space? They took a pencil…After grossing more than half a million dollars a week, the London production of Equus starring Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe closes next week, opening on Broadway next year….Prozac’s new version for dogs is said to have a tasty beef flavor….Tracy Mann, a UC psychologist, says that when most people quit ”yo-yo dieting”, they’re heavier than when they began….Writer H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy”….New mail order item: a solar-powered talking bible ($120)….“Tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it-- Benjamin Franklin (1706-90).
THE WILCOCK WEB: With exacting idiocy, British churches have been told to post No Smoking signs in their entrances….The Elvis Presley Taking Care of Business Tribute Revolver, a .357 Magnum bearing an engraved picture of the late singer, is offered for $2,195 by a Virginia mail order company…. Jack Kerouac’s home town of Lowell, MA, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his novel, On the Road…..The most popular new restaurant in Italy is inside the Fortezza Medicea prison near Pisa, where 120 carefully screened diners each night pay $33 for gourmet meals cooked by a convicted murderer and his fellow prisoners….. “The law does not content itself with classifying and punishing crime” wisely said Norman Douglas, “it invents crime ”…..A surgeon’s skill at playing video games made them more proficient at controlling the tiny instruments inside a patient’s body (laparoscopic techniques) according to a study by New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center ….. London publisher Duncan Baird’s first fiction series will be imaginary conversations (Coffee With…) with such names as Marilyn Monroe, Oscar Wilde and Plato….”Politics is an honest effort to misunderstand each other’’ mused Robert Frost….. A letter writer to Business Week reveals that Starbuck’s keeps a “secret” stash of ceramic cups in which you can ask for your coffee to be served….” We have entered the Me-lennium. All the world is screaming Me! Me! Me!” writes TV critic Tom Shales. “And every me has a story they deem themselves entitled, even mandated, to share”…. In its ludicrous drive to be “eco-friendly”, the British weapons company BAE, says it is developing lead-free bullets… All is ephemeral—fame and the famous as well—Marcus Aurelius (AD120-180)
THE WILCOCK WEB: Now that we’ve learned that all senators, and most of congress are multi-millionaires, what a pity there isn’t a law mandating that they use their own money for re-election, thus no longer being beholden to all the people who bribe them…. With a 50% chance of rain falling on August 8 as the Beijing Olympics opens next year (based on 30 years of records), authorities will have five planes standing by loaded with silver-iodine pellets to seed the clouds ….Referring to the new $600million U.S Embassy in Baghdad, Hong Kong’s Asia Times comments: “Nothing more perfectly sums up the futility of George Bush’s war than this perfect folly”…. The demand for private jet planes—which can cost up to $50million—is so huge, says the Wall Street Journal, that potential buyers may have to wait “several years” for delivery …. For the first time in more than a century, houses with thatched roofs (whose insulation reduces utility bills) are being built in England….. “When people are free to do as they please” explained Eric Hoffer, “they usually imitate each other”…. The lease on Manhattan’s iconic Tavern on the Green doesn’t expire until the end of 2009 but already greed head Donald Trump is bidding to take it away from the daughter of legendary restaurateur Warner LeRoy… All new cars are to be equipped with automatic tire-monitors after research has shown that under-inflated tires lead to the wastage of more than one billion gallons of gas each year…. Lucy O’Donnell, a 43-year-old housewife in Surrey, was the subject of a painting surrounded by stars by John Lennon’s son Julian when they were in school together 40 years ago. Julian told his father he’d titled it Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. The song came later….”Doing something is a damn sight better than being someone” observed British columnist Roy Hattersley……20% of the intrusive CCTV cameras in the world keep an eye on the British…Clint Eastwood will write the introduction to the Warner Brothers history being written by Richard Schickel and George Perry. There’ll also be a TV documentary….The men who make revolutions are always despised by those who profit from them—Francoise Guizot (1787-1874)
National Weed (1974, issue #3)
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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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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