the column of lasting insignificance...
—for June 1, 2016 by John Wilcock

“The question we Muslims have to ask is this: what do we gain by asking our daughters, sisters and wives to carry the false burden of the hijab as if it were the flag of Islam?”
Tarek Fatah suggesting in Canada’s National Post that Muslims are ‘thumbing their noses” with a practice they know is offensive in western society.

A RACE TO THE BOTTOM might be a way to describe the current worldwide interest in exploring the deep, dark sea. Because of the intense pressure down there, only five manned submarines can dive to 15,000 feet but if we can extend that reach another 5,000 feet (one mile) most of the world’s oceans would be open to exploration. “The payoffs could be huge” says Popular Science, not only for marine biologists but for mining, gas and oil companies in search of new resources. Woods Hole’s Alvin, which explored the Titanic at 12,500 feet is being reconfigured so that it can reach 21,000 feet, the current maximum depth achieved by a Japanese sub, and China is reported at work on a model to reach 23,000 feet. Woods Hole also owns the unmanned submersible Nereus which has visited the deepest place in the ocean, the Marianas Trench (35,770 feet below the surface), just east of Guam in the Western Pacific. But it would be impossible to enable a human to survive at that depth.

JULY THE 30TH was the one-hundredth anniversary of the day that the Ohio-born brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright sold the U.S. government its first airplane. It cost $31,250, was driven by a 25hp engine and could reach a top speed of 40mph. Three months later Wilbur demonstrated another plane by circling the Statue of Liberty and making a 33-minute flight up and down the Hudson River.

TALK ABOUT LESE MAJÈSTÉ! How could anybody question the veracity and sanctity of the I CHING, of all things? Charles Sullivan, a teacher at Portland Community College, that’s who. In the current issue of the Skeptical Inquirer he refers to the ancient Chinese oracle’s ambiguity, obscurity and synchronicity, concluding cheekily that “the book’s wisdom is  no more mysterious than randomly flipping through a book of proverbs for advice “. Like other forms of divination, he explains, the generality and obscurity of the I Ching’s answers allow multiple, ambiguous interpretations, invoking “the mysterious feeling that it somehow does seem to work”. Sullivan compares it to the so-called Barnum Effect where we “tend to notice things that confirm our beliefs but ignore or downplay those things that don’t”.

BECOMING TOO POPULAR is the major concern of the 2,200 citizens of the Colorado ski resort of Telluride which last weekend celebrated its annual Cajun Festival and next month welcomes guests to its 36th annual film festival. They even have a term for the growing renown—Aspenization, a reference to its ritzy neighbor, 100 miles to the northeast. “A cautionary tale” is how novelist Antonya Nelson describes Aspen, a town that “made deals with developers, forsook its roots in ranching and mining and sold its soul for a hefty check”. Aspen’s locals, she warned in the Smithsonian, “priced themselves out of their own homes”  and there are increasing signs that the former silvermine burg of Telluride is “following in the footsteps of a scary elder sibling”.

KNEELING DOWN  hasn’t been seen much, but women popping the question is apparently getting more common. “We get maybe 20  to 25 inquiries a week from women who want to propose” reports John Cordova who works for Robbins Brothers, a California store that specializes in engagement rings. But the owner of a wedding registry says we’re not likely to see many men boastfully showing off their engagement ring to their buddies. ‘The engagement band is just a sales tactic invented by jewelers to trick young couples into spending money”: he sniffs.

THE WILCOCK WEB:  There’ll never be enough money for universal health care until it’s clawed back from rip-off insurance companies…. Offered the choice between a tedious Letterman and the vapid O’Brien, it’s hardly surprising that so many late-night viewers have turned to ABC’s Nightline….MGM released The Wizard of Oz 70 years ago this month…. Does Bob Mankoff, the New Yorker’s cartoon editor, ask contributors to explain their cartoons before he prints them?…. Utah scientists have devised a battery that can store power from rooftop solar panels…Companies whose bottled water comes from the tap should be obliged to admit it on the label….And if water is H20, why can’t they produce it wherever it’s most needed, by combining hydrogen and oxygen?.…George W. Bush will presumably get millions for his recollections but what would really be worth the cover price would be to see the first version he wrote himself, without help…. Microsoft’s absurdly overrated Bing is so inferior to Google it’s ridiculous to even compare them….President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has opened a fund “to pay for a new homeland” if climate change forces evacuation of the Indian Ocean islands (whose highest point is seven feet above sea level)…. The Oxford English Dictionary is about to publish a 600,000-word Thesaurus…. “Making predictions is difficult” mused Sam Goldwyn. “Especially about the future”:….We live oh-so-politely in what must certainly be the rudest era in recorded history” declares Todd Schwartz in a piece in Oregon Humanities magazine which points to the discrepancy between political correctness and the “slasher-movie mentality” and bad manners that envelop us…..Presumably the loathsome Glenn Beck, who thinks the president is a racist, hasn’t read any of Obama’s books…..Dolce & Gabbana is selling $275 T-shirts…. Replies to The Advocate which asked its gay readers what they were looking for when visiting New York’s Fire Island: love (4%); lust (9%); a tan (22%); all of the above (65%)…. “Television’s obsession with the youth market is 20 years out of date and it’s high time TV executives caught up” writes Mariella Frostrup in the Daily Mail….“There are still some fee-free ATMs all over the country and you can get a list of them at www.allpointnetwork.com …. ”Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself”—Leo Tolstoy (1928-1910)

This column first appeared on 8/1/09

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

comments? send an email to John Wilcock



National Weed (1974, issue #3)

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Marijuana--The Weed That Changed the World


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comments? send an email to John Wilcock

recent columns

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

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