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the column of lasting insignificance...
—for July 13, 2016 by John Wilcock
A Leap in the Dark

THE WILCOCK WEB: Excess noise is a major contributor to health deterioration say British environmental officials and too much of it comes from heavy footsteps on bare wooden floors. They are calling for more loft dwellers to use carpets…. Lonely Planet is publishing Experimental Travel guides which suggests opening the street atlas of wherever you are and traveling to a random point such as where K-2 or B-7 intersect. And, they suggest, when you’re at some famous site, turn around and photograph the view from there….Holland has joined Germany and Britain in demanding that would-be immigrants speak the language of their new countries ….Chihuahuas dressed as Mickey Mouse or in soccer team uniforms are being carried by fashionistas in Tokyo reports Lois Bizel, a 32-year-old fashion consultant who charges companies $600 a day to tell them what’s hip and trendy.....When one is in love, one begins to deceive oneself. And one ends by deceiving others—Oscar Wilde


THE WILCOCK WEB: "Show business salaries are so inflated" says Woody Allen, "that next to normal salaries, they're like a pasha's or something. It's unbelievable. But I'm not Hollywood wealthy. I never took advantage of the sellout opportunities I had. I've never agreed to do Annie Hall 2"...Digital Anarchy's Toonit transfers real-life footage into instant animation... In late July, the Spanish town of Neves celebrates the Fiesta of the Near-Death Experience when people who claim to have died and then revived are paraded around a local church"...Mat Groening says: "This is my advice to cartoonists: if you want to invent a memorable cartoon, draw characters that can be identified in silhouette"...Would you have guessed that after corn, wheat and rice the fourth most-consumed item (by humans) in the world is bananas?...We're fighting them over there to help them rehearse for fighting over here ... Black Swan is a slang term used to describe an unlikely circumstance that popped up after you had complacently (and mistakenly) decided you had accounted for all possibilities. It's also the title of a new Random House book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb which is subtitled The Impact of the Highly Improbable... Quotes from Independence Day: columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote "Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion, feeding off it like a cancerous tumor" and Sasha commented: "What a country! They traded in King George the 3rd for King George the Turd"....MIT's recent experiments with what's called WiTricity have demonstrated that electric current can be transmitted without wires and may eventually make wires obsolete... Broken and unused iPods are bought by , a company that repairs them and resells them in bulk to small businesses...China's Kumho Tire company has produced a lavender-scented tire and hopes to follow up with tires smelling of jasmine and oranges...It ain't what you don't know that gets you; it's the things you know that ain't so – Mark Twain (1835-1910)


Dear reader,

Today's column is on of the almost 500 columns I ran on the Ojai Orange site between 2006 and 2014. These will, of course, be free as is everything on my sites, and has been for the past decade or so. But, I do request that if you find these columns interesting, that you consider sending a donation, which you could possibly write off as a gift for my birthday on August 4, when I will be 90.

Chapters from my autobiography, Manhattan Memories will continue to run on


John Wilcock
Ojai, CA 93023

THE WILCOCK WEB:  Apologists for Wall Street keep assuring us that high gas prices are not caused by speculators so why is it that when the news is good (i.e. that a hurricane will not hit offshore platforms) the price of oil immediately goes down?….Poetic justice indeed, if Mark Penn doesn’t get paid for all those millions he billed for savaging Obama….Speaking of toxic gases, India’s Sintex Industries has developed a methane digester which can be attached to a toilet and uses the fumes to power a washing machine… This week’s questions: How come savvy politicians never seem to know when the microphone is still on?….. What on earth got into Connecticut voters when they re-elected that smug, little hobbit Joe Lieberman to the Senate?…. What time did the Chinese man go to the dentist?  Tooth hurty…. The predictable question most often asked of Bob Urhausen, 40-year veteran of the Goodyear blimp crew, is how to get a ride. “Much as we’d love to give all Goodyear tire buyers a ride, it’s reserved primarily for corporate customers”….“Success is a journey, not a destination” proclaims  Ben  Sweetland ….. In the fall, GM’s OnStar service are field testing a system that enables the police to disable a stolen car and stop it in its tracks…. When one is in love, one begins to deceive oneself. And one ends by deceiving others, observed Oscar Wilde….. It’s hard to summon sympathy for that Bush-loving creep Mark Steyn but his indictment by British Columbia’s Human Rights Commission (for writing that Muslims were likely to become a menace) is another example of political-correctness gone-too-far…What a man dislikes in his superiors, let him not display in his treatment of his inferiors--Tsang Sin (c.530 BC)


THE WILCOCK WEB: Why aren’t state legislators obliged to buy and pay for their own cars?….And seeing that the ones in both New York and California aren’t actually working, why are they still being paid?…. The world’s richest soccer club, Real Madrid, just paid $120 million to the world’s second richest, Manchester United, for the services of Portuguese-born forward Cristiano Ronaldom 24, described by the Independent as “a quintessential peacock male”…. ….”Finance” quips Robert Sarnoff, “is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally disappears”….Complaints about the inelegant grunting noises made by female tennis players  at Wimbledon prompted critics to measure their volume and one player clocked in at 109 decibels, “almost as loud as a plane taking off” remarks The Week…. A Dallas-based company, SkinzWraps, has produced an adhesive, dimpled fabric which can wrap cars offering an aerodynamic  surface like a golf ball which reportedly improves fuel efficiency by 20 per cent….Continental Airlines has developed a seat that extends outwards enough to allow lying down….Italian scientists are planning to burn algae from Venice’s canals to produce biofuels…. The substance found in red wine, resveratrol, touted by Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah Winfrey’s show has “given rise to an overnight industry of shadowy peddlers of the stuff” reports Forbes which advises caution by its potential users….The U.S. Army is developing a solar-powered flexible screen that can be worn on the wrist and receive maps and directions….“Political correctness is to thought what sentimentality is to compassion”--anonymous


THE WILCOCK WEB: If somebody would compile a list of how much it costs to bribe each legislator, lobbyists could be abolished, thus allowing corporations (and others) to save money by paying politicians directly…. If you want to write and tell him what a crook he is, the NYT  says Goldman Sach’s boss Lloyd Blankfein lives at 15 Central Park West in Manhattan…. At the Navy Marine Institute in San Diego, they’re training sea lions to locate enemy divers and capture them with snap-on shackles…. Sob stories about life in Gaza never mention that the population voted overwhelmingly for Hamas…. A list of several hundred alleged illegals in Utah would theoretically be a template for checking who should be deported, but apparently it’s more important to know where the list came from…..The hypocritical nonsense that bans racial profiling would suggest that everybody but Latinos are most likely to be illegal aliens… Painting dogs to look like tigers or pandas is a current Chinese fad…. The National Mah Jongg League says the number of players has doubled in the past decade…. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it… With a change in the law, New York becomes the last of 50 states to allow “no-fault” divorces (i.e. neither party has to accept blame)…. Cell-phones that can detect dangerous chemicals in the air are being developed by scientists at the Department of Homeland Security…. If just one mile of highway was paved with his Solar Roadway panels, claims Scott Brusaw, four hours of sunlight would produce enough power to light up 500 homes….What kind of idiots would waste five million bucks on erecting signs saying that stimulus funds were providing jobs?….Under various rubrics in eight states, A&P ‘s 429 stores last week loaded $10-worth of coupons onto customers’ club cards in return for texting $5 to the Children’s Miracle Network which supports hospitals If she really wanted to help the state, the $100million Meg  Whitman has spent promoting her massive ego would have gone a long way to solving some of California’s financial problems …. Commenting on the decline of British television, Observer columnist Nick Cohen comments: “Once we gave the world The Jewel in the Crown; now we give it Piers Morgan”…. AARP Bulletin is urging San Francisco seniors to adopt aging dogs (“calmer, quieter, housebroken”) from a nonprofit animal rescue group called Muttville, a friendship it says it will be of mutual benefit…. British writer Andrew O’Hagan wrote a novel about Marilyn Monroe’s dog (given to her by Frank Sinatra).”About his owner, Maf “feels tenderness, admiration, sorrow and bewilderment” O’Hagan writes….“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness’’—Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)


THE WILCOCK WEB: Can somebody publicize the names and addresses of the people who organize most of the spam so we can flood him (her?) with grateful emails?.....Peter Moskos says our penal system is “an expensive and immoral failure” and in his book In Defense of Flogging , he advocates physical punishment instead of jail for brutal criminals….Portable fuel cells containing hydrogen cartridges which can be used to recharge smartphones and iPods are on the way….Inventor Chris Goggin used his cocker spaniel to simulate the animal’s pheromone-detecting skills in a hand-held device that sniffs out bed bugs…..”Flee at once, all is discovered” is the legendary anonymous warning which scattered financial fraudsters in 19th century England. It might be a good message to send to hedge fund traders today….Britain’s Collins Official Scrabble Words just added 3,000 additional words including the slangy rhetorical “innit’….Starting at $20 a bottle, Bling H2O comes from the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and said by its founder to be justified in its price by its “couture” packaging (meaning its fancy bottle)…A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking…..How can the Fresh Air Fund, a longtime charity, afford to keep running eight-page, color ads in the New York Times. Bills for half a million bucks? Probably not: two of the Sulzberger family are fund directors….Milk from donkeys is better for you , and less fattening, that milk from cows, say researchers…. If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready” wrote Ivan Turgenev, ”we shall never begin”….Eating human flesh in some cultures is regarded as an act of love declares Jenette Zwingenberger, curator of a Berlin show All Cannibals! on exhibition until late August…In her book The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting, Rachel Shteir calls it a “silent epidemic:”…...Global temperatures rising have caused more birds to be bitten by mosquitoes reports a Spanish biologist who says there’s been a notable increase in birds suffering from malaria….Smart Money says that the housing bust caused a drop-off in swimming pool installations, and although it might pick up again soon, a safer investment would be a pool-servicing company….. Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.--Voltaire (1694-1778)


THE WILCOCK WEB: Justice John Roberts' advisers obviously told him that the Supremos needed to do some pr work before issuing those recent decisions…..Just a few days before, a “retired educator” in St Louis, MO. Had paid for a quarter-page ad in the New York Times accusing the Court of “ideological biases moral cowardice and lack of integrity”. The Supremes, he wrote, were…”a shame upon my beloved nation. I fervently hope history will judge you to be among the worst justices to serve on the most important court in the world”…..Anticipating a Greek withdrawal from the Euro, the 189-year-old British company, De La Rue, that prints banknotes for most of the world’s currencies, is rumored to have printed “warehouses stuffed with pre-printed drachmas”….Will the new Mexican government eventually turn to those new miniature drones to track down and eliminate elusive drug cartel bosses?.... “The only way not to think about money” quipped Edith Wharton, “is to have a great deal of it.”…..Norman Mailer’s old home in Provincetown is being sold by the family and the writers’ group currently in residence are trying to raise three and half million bucks to buy it…What is it with this surfeit of movies whose heroes are zombies, vampires or teddy bears? Can you honestly claim to be a grown-up if you’re paying to watch this sort of garbage?....Producers of a forthcoming biopic about Jimi Hendrix have been unable to secure the rights to any original songs.....”We’re number two” claimed Wendy’s hamburgers, boasting to Stores magazine that they’d overtaken Burger King….Billions of dollars spent over countless years have finally revealed an invisible sub-atomic particle which may (or may not) explain how life began. Scientists are celebrating, but not because the world’s a better place…. The English language is now so widely taught and learned in the Middle East and Gulf States—especially among the affluent—that educators are worried that Arabic is beginning to disappear, especially in business and journalism….One of the world’s biggest junk mailers (up to 75 million pieces a year) complained to the Postal Service that their mostly unwanted crap is being delivered late ….A Fast Company poll recorded that 73% of Americans would give up alcohol rather than the Internet…. The U.S, taking only an average of only 12 vacation days per year is beaten only by Japan, which takes five (Brazilians take 30)…. “Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain't bothering you none” advises The Ol’ Farmer…Asked what writer, living or dead, he’d most like to meet, novelist John Irving replied: “There’s nothing I need or want to know from the writers I admire that isn’t in their books. It’s better to read a good writer than meet one.”….….London supermarket chain Tesco has positioned a live Broccoli cam video camera above the broccoli stand, linked to a system that monitors the inventory level and auto- matically orders replacements when needed…. Miffed by a forthcoming visit to Gibraltar by some of Britain’s Royals, Spain ordered its Queen Sofia not to attend Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations… ”People who think they know everything” complained Isaac Asimov, ”are a great annoyance to those of us who do"….Advisers to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth have recommended dropping the outdated word ‘empire’ which still accompanies many of the royal medals that are awarded….Next month, CBS is sending a giant bus across country, handing out souvenirs and promoting some of its network shows….In Texas you can pay forty bucks to work out your anger by destroying a furnished room…. A letter in Inc. makes the sensible suggestion that USPS should collaborate with the TSA in making sure that travelers whose items that get confiscated can mail them home….. A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from algebra class as a weapon of math disruption…..”Only a malicious person is always at his best”—Somerset Maugham (1864-1965)

The war on drugs cannot be won


THE WILCOCK WEB: The sobering thought that Chief Justice John G. Roberts will still be heading the Supreme Court twenty years from now, should be enough to activate those who seek to end lifetime tenure for judges……It would be beneficial for those supreme overlords, and certainly for the country at large, if they were obliged to live for a year on the minimum wage. It’s a world they ought to know about but never will…..Term limits should mean getting out of politics, not continuing on the public teat in some other office ….“Civilizations” declared Arnold Toynbee, “die from suicide, not murder”...Maybe it’s reassuring to learn that Chinese banks are crooked, too….The US subsidizes its sugar producers with $3.7bn a year, writes George Will in the Washington Post, a gift that keeps prices higher than they need be for consumers, but one that Congress declines to remove despite the fact that it was introduced as a “temporary” measure in the Great Depression….…If the value of Bitcoins varies as much as has been noted, why would they be a safe investment for anybody?....…The New York Hilton is the latest in a growing number of hotels that have eliminated room service because, despite the exorbitant prices, it rarely pays for itself, according to Trip Advisor. ….Even dumber than she looks, Jennifer Lopez tripped to Turkmenistan to sing happy birthday to its murderous dictator, claiming she didn’t know anything about him….The distinctive red soles on Christian Louboutin shoes will soon have a companion: running shoes with a green sole made of kale that the world-famous designer has created  in collaboration with Whole Foods….
Kale Sneakers
Following the recent lifting of long-standing restrictions, Mexican distillers now hope to flood China with high-class tequila….“Man of Steel. Feet of Clay. Waste of Time.” was one review of the 1960s movie quoted by London columnist Charles Moore… What huge salary must a vp of Tiffany’s have been making? And yet she still had to steal from the company....The Vatican, building on its first exhibition at the Venice Bienniale in centuries, says the Holy See will “reclaim” its role as a patron of the arts by investing millions on building new churches and hiring contemporary artists to furnish them…..“It’s okay to date a nun once in while”, warns Phil Proctor, “just don't get in the habit”…..Jay-Z’s pretensions will make him history sooner than he thinks….....Apparently the ASPCA has so much money to piss away that members happily paid its president a preposterous $566,000 a year. No word on whether his successor is taking a pay cut….“I have no intention of retiring anytime soon”, declares Martha Stewart, 72. “I still feel that there are many things to be done, that my creativity hasn’t waned, and to be sent out to the pasture prematurely for me and many others would be the worst death.”…..Built upon thousands of KFC and Taco Bell minimum wage workers, YUM Brands has a president who makes $1.3m a year and “helped lead the battle against sick days” reports the New York Times…“There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”—Frank Buchman (1878-1961)


comments? send an email to John Wilcock

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Over the past year, my combined medical and support costs from a stroke I had in April 2014 have been more than $100,000. If you'd like to help, use the Paypal donate button, or better yet, buy my book, and thank you. —JW


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Manhattan Memories: Chapter Five—Reefer Madness (continued)--Jan and Stan change my life; The man who turned on the world
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By George, I thought. This man was the original Frugal Traveler.

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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