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

the column of lasting insignificance...
—for August 17, 2016 by John Wilcock

SKINNY MODELS have called the shots in Argentina for too long say the officials in Buenos Aires province who have recently passed a “law of sizes” which stipulates that fashion retailers must stock a full range of clothing sizes for women. The law has been passed, says the New Statesman, “to break the fashion ‘tyranny’ imposed by designers and manufacturers which practically forces women to starve themselves to fit into their microscopic clothing”. Gabriella Ancha, 19, blames the “sick beauty industry we have in our country” for the anorexia that blighted her earlier teenage years because it was difficult to find anything in the stores that fitted her. But the industry is fighting to overturn the new restrictions. “The fashion designers have too much money and too much sway to make this law really successful” says Dr. Mabel Bello, founder of the capital’s biggest anorexia and bulimia clinic.

“THE NEXT BILLION” is the catchall phrase the computer industry has adopted for making the rest of the world computer-literate, But how do you design a PC that’s affordable to almost anyone asks Business Week pointing out some of the conditions such as desert heat and sand and frequent electricity outages that mitigate against success. One solution is Intel’s new “community PC”, car-battery-powered computer with protective cover and with dust filters that can be set up in Indian villages and used by everybody.

BOTTLED WATER IS NOT ONLY a waste of money, especially in places where the tap water is at least as pure, but is bad for the health of the planet. So says a report by the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute (EPI) which claims that the U.S. market alone requires more than 1.5 million gallons of oil each year to produce. For a fraction of the $100billion the world spends annually on bottled water, EPI concludes, everyone on earth could have access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation.

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

SEVEN OF THE TEN poorest US counties are found on Indian reservations in Arizona and North and South Dakota reports the Wall Street Journal explaining that because tribal law dictates that land is owned collectively individuals are denied even the first rung on the economic ladder because they cannot put up land as collateral for mortgages or loans. “The time has come to abolish reservations for the good of the people who live on them,” the paper concludes.

NORWEGIAN CROP SCIENTISTS plan to carve a $3 million “doomsday vault”–a kind of genetic Noah’s Art--out of a sandstone mountain on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen to store two million seeds representing “all known varieties of the world’s crops”. “If the worst came to the worst” says Cary Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, “this would allow the world to reconstruct agriculture on this planet”.

A WORLDWIDE TREASURE HUNT is expected to ensue at the publication next month of Michael Stadther’s book which will give clues to finding hidden tokens which can be redeemed for a $1million diamond ring. More than 150,000 copies of a similar book detailing a U.S. treasure hunt sold so well that Stadther created, A Treasure’s Trove: Secrets of the Alchemist Dar with international scope (the rings could be anywhere) and the new book will be launched with fanfare like a movie premiere.

SINCE THE 1950s radio telescopes have been sweeping the skies in search of life in outer space. Of course, they can only scan a mere 50 light years (sounds like a lot) and a tiny part of the universe, but they’ve heard nothing. Nada. Not a word. So maybe it’s time to start thinking that there’s nobody out there speculated Peter Schenkel in the Skeptical Inquirer who, nevertheless, quotes Russian rocket expert Konstantin Tsiolkoyske as saying: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Of course, evolution takes a long time. Even though the earth is four billion years old, the first human-like being didn’t appear on earth until 18 million years ago and some scientists claim it will be another two or three hundred years before we can achieve the speed of light. Skeptics suggest another reason why we haven’t found any outer space creatures: they may have developed more than us and don’t want to get involved with an inferior species.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Having sex with robots is a distinct possibility within five years or so according to Stockholm’s Dr. Henrik Christensen, described by National Review as “a high-level roboticist”, and who says: ”People are willing to have sex with inflatable dolls, so initially anything that moves will be an improvement”…..Estimating the eventual cost of the Iraq war $1.27 trillion. The American Prospect explains that a trillion is what you get if you spend a million dollars a day for a million days, 2,737 years….Reviewing the “anti-Wal-Mart film”, Victoria Segal said that Bill Gates has devoted 58 per cent of his income to charity whereas surviving members of the Wal-Mart family (among the ten richest people in America) had donated 1% of theirs….An unidentified Chinese man from Jiaxing, who offered his soul for sale, received 60 offers before Taobao (China’s eBay) pulled the posting stating that it would be allowed only if he could provide permission from ”a higher authority” ….A car battery now costs the same to buy as 14 new cars were a decade ago, says a report on inflation in Zimbabwe….“I used to talk street slang and do the whole rap thing” muses millionaire pop star Mary J. Blige, “but I know that is just ignorance. I want to speak properly; I want people to understand me. I don’t want to be part of that life anymore” …. Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do”—Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

This column first appeared on August 19, 2006.

comments? send an email to John Wilcock

Now Available in Print!!

John Wilcock: New York Years, Book One

A comic book history of the rise of the 1960s underground media.
by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Don't let a real-life comic strip sneak by unnoticed. This one's too unusual (and brilliant) for that!

also available on
Marijuana—The Weed That Changed the World

National Weed (1974, issue #3)


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


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) 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

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