the column of lasting insignificance: April 28, 2018
by John Wilcock
From the archives...
IT WAS 75 YEARS AGO when Alice Liddell Hargreaves visited Columbia University to celebrate the centenary of Lewis Carroll’s birthday. When the Lewis Carroll Society of North America meets there on April 14, it will see Dennis Potter’s 1985 movie, Dreamchild, about that visit by Carroll’s real-life Alice.
‘ENERGY BALANCE’ IS the term used to define the ratio between the energy expended and the energy gained when manufacturing ethanol. Made with corn, for example, the energy balance is 1.3, meaning that the ethanol yields 30% more energy than was needed to produce it. For ethanol made with sugar cane in Brazil, the energy balance is 8.3, so in a sensible world the U.S. would benefit both parties by buying Cuba’s surplus sugar crop. Why does it prefer to use corn, a valuable food crop that could help the Third World? Well, America’s corn growers bribing a few congressmen could have something to do with it.
At any rate, reports the Economist, now there’s a new player in the game: ethanol, made from trees, grasses and other types of biomass containing lots of cellulose. With “treethanol”, the energy balance can reach 16.1, once scientists have solved the job of breaking down the cellulose more efficiently. New Zealand’s research institutes hopes to solve this problem soon, thus making itself self-sufficient in energy.
SEED MONEY FROM Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince has enabled the country’s Kalima Foundation to buy, translate and distribute foreign books “to lift the country culturally” says Publishing News. They plan to translate 500 books into Arabic within the next two or three years. “It is time that someone takes a brave step into the Arab world and gives them what they deserve” says Kalima’s Karim Nagy. (Karima means word).
THERE WILL SOON be only a handful of ports in the world large enough to handle the oversized new tankers known as Panamax (too big for the Panama Canal). Some are already capable of carrying 11,000 20-ft containers (a train carrying that load would be 44 miles long) and shipping companies are talking of cutting their costs further by building tankers up to 70% bigger.
India’s top BUSINESS GROUP, the Reliance company with 49 stores, will join with that country’s biggest private phone service, Bharti Enterprises, to compete for customers in a big way by opening 4,000 stores in the next four years. “We will be formidable competition (to WalMart) in India” promises Reliance Retail’s operations chief Raghu Pillai. The retail battle, aimed at the country’s increasingly affluent middle class of 300 million shoppers, has been described by observers as “the great India retail gold rush”.
For Brooklyn native Rudy Giuliani and enthusiastic transplant Hillary Clinton, the question is this: Is their association with New York something to brag about in campaign stops across the country or will they choose to campaign simply as rootless national figures, products of a generic political/celebrity culture?…they should run on the strength of New York rather than running away from New York—editorial in The New York Observer.
THE INCREASING AVAILABILITY of information on the internet is prompting donors to charities to ask more questions on how their money is being spent according to CFO magazine. “There’s almost no oversight, the sector is regulated as if it were a bunch of kids selling lemonade” comments Trent Stamp, president of Charity Navigator, an online watchdog. The sums are huge: Americans are said to have given $260 billion to one million charities in 2005, but in many cases the percentage spent on overhead and fund-raising seems disproportionate and raises questions. Patrick Rooney, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy, suggests that many charities “are deliberately manipulating the numbers”.
THE WIDE DISTRIBUTION in Europe of a book, The Atlas of Creation, demonstrates that Muslims also are not immune to whacky theories. The 800-page, colorfully illustrated Islam text is by Harun Yahya, a Turkish creationist, who argues that Darwin’s theory of evolution “is responsible for all the evil in the world, including international terrorism”.
THE WILCOCK WEB: Being rude to waiters is the most likely way to ensure no second date takes place according to a survey by the match-making service Just Lunch, which rates it even ahead of blowing one’s nose at the table….….“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us” says Andrew Boyd “But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect that there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong”….Aging customers at Kaiser’s Senioren Supermarket in Berlin can sit down in its trolleys, which are equipped with magnifying glasses. As they shop at the talking fruit and veggie stands….. Britain’s biggest liquor company, Diageo, plans to build in Scotland its first major malt whisky distillery in 100 years “to meet soaring demand from Indian and Chinese consumers”… Humor is the shortest distance between two points said Victor Borge …. It is illegal to lasso a fish in Tennessee or to get one drunk in Oklahoma ….A Slovenian named Marin Strel, 52, is attempting to swim the entire length (3,900 miles) of the Amazon River…. Xerox is developing a re-usable paper on which markings disappear after 24 hours…..His voice deepening with age, the most prominent of The Three Tenors, Placido Domingo, 66, has become a baritone …. An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics—Plutarch (46-120AD)
MARCH 24, 2007
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National Weed (1974, issue #3)
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— 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, donâ€™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 Sixâ€”The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourâ€”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, ECHOÂ 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.
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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