the column of lasting insignificance...
—for June 22, 2016 by John Wilcock

Our government today is slow, unfair, corrupt and peopled by politicians living on graft and sinecure. And, most troubling of all, it’s become notoriously resistant to reform. Election after election, new candidates step up to the podium exhorting us to throw the bums out and let them, the reformers, in to clean house….and we watch as they take possession of their predecessors’ cushy jobs, take money from the glad-handing lobbyists and slowly but surely become overtaken by the seductive allure of incumbency” – Arianna Huffington in How To Overthrow the Government (Harper Collins, 2000)

Writing about the return of American companies to Cuba, if and when the Castros let go, Fortune points out that U.S. laws require all claims to be settled before trade can be normalized. Easier said than done. OfficeMax, for example, was never in Cuba but it theoretically owns the national electric company through a merger with the paper company Boise Cascade which in turn had bought a Florida company with a stake in Cuban Electric. Similarly, Starwood Hotels bought a piece of the ITT conglomerate which had owned a radio station on the island. And Chiquita Brands bought a firm that owned fruit orchards. Fortune says almost 6,000 companies have made claims currently value at $20 billion.

ANDY WARHOL’S WIGS, along with his corsets, boots, and pages from his diary were photographed at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and appears in the June issue of Interview, the magazine that he (and I) founded 39 years ago. It will celebrate what would have been the 80th birthday of the charismatic artist and will carry commentaries from (among others) Giorgio Armani, Debbie Harry, Betsy Johnson, Calvin Klein, Paloma Picasso, and Ed Ruscha, as well as Warhol interview by Glenn O’Brien.

THE BANANA YOU KNOW and love may soon be extinct according to a new book that blames the United Fruit Company for “practicing mono-culture” which pretty much guarantees that sooner or later it will become susceptible to pestilence, disease and crop failure. In Banana; The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, Dan Koeppel points out that there are 1,000 different breeds of the fruit, but via the UFC are offered only one—the Cavendish. In similar pattern, consumers were earlier offered only the Gros Michel, but this succumbed to a disease that wiped it out. Honduran scientists have developed another—supposedly disease-free—breed, the Goldfinger, but it looks and tastes different, “tart” and “less creamy”. But, asks Koeppel, “how can consumers accept any other kind of banana as a banana?”

Hoping that workers will make a decent living from the latex trees on a small scale instead of destroying them, the Brazilian government is building a condom factory at Xapuri, in Acre state where Chico Mendes  was martyred after his assassination 20 years ago for opposing the destruction of the Amazon forest. The factory will be able to produce 100 million condoms a year, reducing Brazil’s dependence on imports from Asia.

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 ojaiorange.com.
—JW

...

John Wilcock
The Gables
701 N. Montgomery St.
Ojai, CA 93023

THE ENGLISH PUB is disappearing fast with an average of four closing down every day and beer sales having dropped by half in the past 30 years. The smoking ban is partly to blame with so many people staying away from pubs that drink sales in Scotland fell more than 10% last year. And a phenomenon known as “pre-loading”—getting tanked at home on cheap store-bought booze before going to the pub to meet friends—has also played a part. “Why would you pay ($5.50) for a pint of Fosters when you can buy the equivalent amount on special offer at Tesco for ($1.50)? asks The Week.

POPE BENEDICT XVI’s recent visit to the U.S. is likely to have been a boon to the holy relic business according to Forbes. “Anything he touched will count—a business card, a rosary, a faucet” if and when he is beatified, the magazine says. Although the Vatican bars the actual sale of such items as bone fragments from saints, pieces of the Holy Cross and even Mother Teresa’s tennis shoes, dealers get around it by selling reliquaries—containers containing the relics—with the latter thrown in for free. “Some first-class relics come with a red papal seal (meaning they’ve been vetted by the Vatican)…..(and) customers report relics with palpable heartbeats”.

THE WILCOCK WEB: On May 26 it will be exactly 100 years since British geologists discovered oil in what is today’s Iran…..Serious problems arising from more passengers carrying their bags aboard planes and finding nowhere to put them have already begun…. Author Sebastian Faulks has been hired to write the 36th Ian Fleming novel about James Bond, Devil May Care, to mark the centenary of Fleming’s birth, May 28…Guy Negre, a 67-year-old engineer, has invented a car that runs on compressed air but it has limited range: the tank that holds it, weighs 200 lbs and has to be refilled constantly…. The Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole has devised a “dinner bell” with which sea bass can be trained to enter a steel cage for feeding and be trapped…..Katherine Ashenberg’s new book, Clean: An Unsanitized History of Washing writes that Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) bathed once a month declaring “whether I need it or not”…. San Francisco is about to designate a dozen parking meters as collectors for donations to the homeless. Other cities that have tried this, report disappointing results with donors opining they prefer the smile that meets their personal hand-out…. “Being a star” mused the late Sammy Davis, “has made it possible for me to get insulted in places where the average Negro could never hope to go and get insulted”….. Not everybody loves Sex and the City (which already opened in London) and which Times critic Michael Gove says “deserves to be remembered as an episode in emptiness”… Consulting the conductor’s score and whatever other evidence was available, musicologist Timothy Brock reconstructed the original music from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times which will be played live when the movie screens at the Ojai Film Festival next month …..“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you”Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

This column first appeared on 5/24/08

comments? send an email to John Wilcock



National Weed (1974, issue #3)

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


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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 one of my books, and thank you. —JW


comments? send an email to John Wilcock

recent columns

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

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!

JOHN WILCOCK: Leaving the trial, I realized Kennedy had just been killed.
February 12, 2015

The New York Years - Boing-Boing

July 13, 2012

Manhattan Memories: an autobiography
By John Wilcock (Lulu.com, 2010)
excerpt from A Book Review By Marshall Brooks
Provincetown Arts Annual 2012/13

On the Ground
IF
John Wilcock had lived in the Garden of Eden he would have started the world’s first under- ground newspaper there. One can easily picture it: a paradisiacal incarnation of John’s 1960s legendary tabloid, Other Scenes, featuring a lively threesome on its cover and an interview inside with the snake, who, it turns out, really dug (in the argot of the day) cool, mellow people. An Eden on $5 a Day guide would have been sure to follow, precursor to the dozens of travel books that John Wilcock actually has methodically researched and authored over the years, beginning with Mexico on $5 a Day in 1960 for enterprising guidebook publisher Arthur Frommer. Still traveling the world at age eighty-four, no moss grows on John Wilcock, which Manhattan Memories makes clear. But there is more.

(The complete review begins on p.175)




December 1, 2011

On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S
reviewed by Steve Heller in Imprint
On the Ground
The Underground Press, as it was called, was a groundswell of media activity running the gamut from radically political to seriously satirical. A new book, On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S. (PM Press) Edited by Sean Stewart (who between 2007 and 2009 owned and operated Babylon Falling, a bookstore and gallery in San Francisco), recalls the Underground epoch. Through interlacing interviews with Emory Douglas (Black Panther), Paul Krassner (The Realist), Art Kunkin (The L.A. Free Press), Abe Peck (The Chicago Seed), John Wilcock (Other Scenes), Jeff Shero (The Rat), Trina Robbins (Gothic Blimp Works) and many more (including Al Goldstein of Screw), the remarkable journals that shaped my life (and career) are revived as oral history.

(read more)




November 28, 2011

The Book Bench - Loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department
New Yorker Online
Check out the first installment of Ethan Persoff's serialized comic-book biography of the publisher and writer John Wilcock.

(read more)



October 22, 2011

The New York Years

An authorized comic book biography of John Wilcock,
art by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

This is a book length comic series on John Wilcock. People who enjoy focusing on underground and alternative media are occasionally familiar with John's work, but most often the response is "who's that?" Outside of small press historians and collectors, John remains very unknown. Which makes no sense, the more you learn about him. We're very excited about the opportunity to tell his story. Art for THE STORY OF JOHN WILCOCK is by me and co-conspirator Scott Marshall. Story comes from an extended and ongoing year-long interview with Wilcock, himself. The focus is John's years in New York, roughly 1954-1971.

(read more)



January, 2011


The Return of the World's Worst Businessman

Sneak Peak “The Return of the World's Worst Businessman”
Tyler Malone
PMc Magazine

John Wilcock is not what you would call a household name, and yet, he has had a measurable impact on art, journalism and culture-at-large over the last century. He co-founded Interview with Andy Warhol. He also was one of the co-founders of The Village Voice. He has written for countless print and online publications: Frommer’s, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail, The East Village Other, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Ojai Orange, etc. So why, one feels inclined to ask, is he relatively unknown? The answer seems simple: Wilcock has called himself “the world’s worst businessman.” This self-description makes sense because listening to him one hears the voice of a writer and a traveler and an enthusiast, not at all the voice of a businessman. In an age when it seems like everyone is all about business—art as a business, fashion as a business, everything as a business—it is refreshing to hear someone self-identify as “the world’s worst businessman.” It seems less like he has failed as a businessman and more like he has refused to become one. In addition to all his other accomplishments,...

(read more)




Monday, November 15, 2010

A Reader Comment from the recent New York Times Frugal Traveler post
RN—Sydney, Australia

Not only did John Wilcock shake up staid publishing in the USA, from the Village Voice to the East Village Other, his influence extended to several continents, including Australia & the UK, where - in his mild mannered way - he pushed the boundaries of image and speech. The counter culture was nothing but a dull puddle, until John kicked out the jams and ignited the Underground Press, which attracted absurd prosecutions, that of course boosted circulations. An unsung hero of the sixties,

indifferent to self promotion and the hoarding of gold, it is great to see John get a dash of recognition.

(read more)




Wednesday,
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)


and in print...

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
order from lulu.com
also available at amazon.com (in paperback or for your Kindle)
and other online booksellers