the column of lasting insignificance: November 1, 2014
“What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke. Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.
Read my blog at Crowdsourcing survival.
MERE MULTMILLIONAIRES DON'T even make Fortune's list of America's richest people. The list stops with its 390th entrant, the Wyoming stockbroker John “Joe” Ricketts, who's listed as the custodian of a meager one and a half BILLION dollars, largely acquired via his ten percent ownership of the online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Ricketts shares his place on Forbes list with five other billionaires (actually they're at least $1.5 billionaires): Neal Patterson, the 64-year-old chairman of an electronic health system (whatever that is); eighty-one year old Bruce Nordstrom, the former chairman of the Nordstrom department store chain; Gary Michelson, 65, whose invention of various medical devices paid off big time when he pioneered spinal cages and a device to fuse vertebrae; and two youngsters, 44 year old Alan Auerbach, founder of cancer-drug companies, and Eric Lepkosky, 43, the one-time carpet salesman who entered the big time when he headed the Groupon company.
There are 390 other company heads on Fortune's Rich List of multi-billionaires beginning with such well-known charmers as 58-year-old Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft who, with his wife Melinda, is described as having spent billions tacking such scourges as polio, malaria, the ebola outbreak, and the ever-constant scourge of the mosquito.
To be a billionaire you don't necessarily have to be old. For example, look at 30-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, number 11 on Forbes' list with an impressive $34billion. As Facebook's CEO he recently okayed paying five billion dollars to acquire mobile messaging app WhatsApp and a further two billion for the virtual-reality maker Oculus VR. But far ahead of him in the league of billionaires, with assets of almost twice as much--$67billion--is Warren Buffet, 84, who has personally donated $23 billion to various charities. Much of his success has come from his savvy investment in companies he feels are undervalued, recent examples being Wells Fargo, Coca Cola and IBM. Seventy-year-old Larry Ellison, Oracle's founder, clocks in at number three on Forbe's rich list, followed by the Koch brothers, 78 year-old Charles and David, 72, who have spent $9billllion in the past year.
DISCOVERING A BOOK more than twenty years after it was first published doesn't make it any the less interesting. The book I'm referring to is "a thematic dictionary" called Descriptionary which, in its fascinating subtitle, is described as "the book for when you know what it is, but not what it's called". It could be as simple as describing the silence that might occur during a radio broadcast ["dead air"] or how to describe a word that becomes another word when it's spelled backwards—"live" becomes "evil", for example. That can be called a reversal. In his introduction, Marc McCutcheon points to the ease, for example, in finding the phrase for the leeward side of a mountain (rain shadow) and even a name for the light that bathes a peak at sunset (alpenglow). By sort of working backwards, Descriptionary is able to produce the exact word you were unable to look for in a dictionary.
To my regular readers: this is my first return to writing my column in several months.
Bakewell and Chatsworth 2013 (part 1)
comments? send an email to John Wilcock
— “The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.”
— “I suppose I have a really loose interpretation of 'work,' because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don't always want to do. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.”
— “I try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.”
— “During the 1960s, I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don't think they've ever remembered.”
— “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, familiar things new.”
— “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. ”
— “Only a few find the way, some don't recognize it when they do—some… don't ever want to.”
— “I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning?”
— “The Death of Marilyn Monroe (and George Whitman's Girlfriends)”
— “Living is easy with eyes closed”
— Wait-a-Minute: Seeking the Tranquility of Everyday Life along the Yangtze River in China
— John Wilcock: New York Years—Writing the Book "Mexico on 5 Dollars a Day" (Part One)
— John Wilcock: New York Years—Tips on Smuggling Pot into the United States
— Dear Readers, as I address you this summer, I am unable to write...
— LSD History: Michael Hollingshead Turns on the World
— Sneaking Julie Bovasso into McSorley's 'Men's Only' Saloon in 1961
— “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed.”
— “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
— Bernie Sanders for Prez?; The Working Families Party—hatching movements one organization at a time; penny pot stocks—not without obvious risk; tall timber building—9 story apartment complex in East London employs 'plywood on steroids'; The Philosopher's Mail—populist news outlet alive to traditional philosophical virtues; Casinos know when to fold ‘em; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— Breaking up is hard to do…; Kasparov vs. Putin--some pretty crushing moves; Your sex life on drugs…; 'Sawbucked to Death' by Will Durst; Right-wing support for a healthy minimum wage?; A novel 'convenient store'; Jacob Zuma--anything but presidential material, and he'll likely stay in power; estilo gángster pizzería en España; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— 'Everybody is assumed to be an ally…'; from the archives
— The Kessler Syndrome—one huge traffic accident in space just waiting to happen; Dominique Strauss-Kahn—on forcing his way…; running the FCC with your hands tied behind your back; Black Tie or Tie-die?; Bill Gates the optimist; Mum's the word from the NRA regarding alarming gun owner behavior research; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— Washington lobbyists—unless they say they're not…; groin rivalry?; Phillip Roth on the need to write; move over Fox TV; voter demographics by choice of booze; that 'wasted' space at the bottom of every page of the NYT; and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— Old friends will be aware that I published a tabloid underground newspaper in Manhattan in the '60s called Other Scenes, and although I have only a handful of these myself, I occasionally see others offered for sale on various websites....
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in the press...
Now on Boing-Boing!
JOHN WILCOCK: Writing the Book "Mexico on 5 Dollars a Day" (Part One)
June 5, 2014
July 13, 2012
Manhattan Memories: an autobiography
(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
November 28, 2011
The Book Bench - Loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department
October 22, 2011
An authorized comic book biography of John Wilcock,
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.
“The Return of the World's Worst Businessman”
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,...
Monday, November 15, 2010
A Reader Comment from the recent New York Times Frugal Traveler post
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,
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.
"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."