the column of lasting insignificance: March 7, 2015
by John Wilcock

From the Archives:

THE WILCOCK WEB: Why does Canada’s Keystone pipeline have to devastate a dozen US states? Can’t the oil be exported from a Canadian port and a refinery built in that country?.... And why are the storm-destroyed churches being rebuilt at Federal cost? Which part of God’s message don’t the religion freaks understand?.... “Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God" advised The Ol’ Farmer…..If you’re over 60 and still riding a motorcycle, you’d be smart to quit, doctors warn…A poll by Boston Consulting Group revealed that 80% of domestic consumers are willing to pay more for products made in the US and more than half of the Chinese asked expressed a preference for US-made products”…... Zachary Guttens and Otis Collins call their Tie Society “the Netflix of Ties”. It allows subscribers to exchange ties as often and for as long as they want….. Although Japan gives huge subsidies to whalers, a recent report says that consumption of whale meat has dropped so low that the country would make more money by turning whaling into a tourist attraction rather than killing them… Well, Iran at least does one thing right: they execute financial fraudsters instead of rewarding them…“I had a rose named after me, and I was very flattered”, once joked Eleanor Roosevelt. “But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall'"….A report from a retail tracking service, the NPD Group, says that consumers, especially older ones, are turning increasingly to fruit to snack on rather than potato chips….Macy’s and J.C. Penney are battling in the courts as to which one has the exclusive right to sell Martha Stewart merchandise……. ”Some people say to me, ‘Don’t you get tired of singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco?’” Tony Bennett told United Healthcare’s new mag, Renew. “And I say to them, ‘Do you get tired of making love?’”…. After reinstating Brooklyn as a hip destination, NYC is now rehabilitating the Bronx with boutique hotels and a new golf course….It’s doubtful if Clive Davis’ autobiography talks about the time he made a deal with Jann Wenner to pull all the record ads out of underground papers and run them in Rolling Stone. Many of the undergrounds folded from sudden lack of income but the record companies boasted (untruthfully) “The music is the revolution, man”….“Is it possible to succeed without any act of betrayal?”—Jean Renoir (1894-1979)


THE WILCOCK WEB: Gas prices going up again and in a few months, when oil companies report even more gazillions in profits, they’ll somehow claim there’s no connection….….”The secret of success” quoth John D. Rockefeller, “is to get up early, work late and strike oil”…..The French can’t make up their mind about Anne Sinclair, wife of former disgraced IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn says Le Nouvel Observateur. Despite her job as the HuffPost’s European editor, “will she ever shake off her infamy? From now on she’ll only ever be judged as DSK’s mate”… Do you ever get the feeling that when all those financial ‘experts’ babble along about restructuring Greek debt they don’t have the faintest idea of what they’re talking about?.... Sam Zell, the billionaire tycoon who took less than a year to bankrupt two of America’s biggest newspapers then left with his own $4.5bn fortune intact, says it wasn’t his fault that the papers didn’t follow his orders…… “When a man tells you he got rich through hard work”, wrote Don Marquis, ”ask him, ‘Whose?’”….NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, who’s donated millions to charity, jokes that “the ultimate in financial planning is to bounce the check to the undertaker. I’m gonna try to do that”…...Ambrose Bierce defined an admiral as “that part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking”…. His successful term as Florida governor made Jed Bush “a star turn”, writes Artur Davis in National Review. He could still be a Republican savior this year because, “the GOP can’t afford to wait until 2016 for one of its brightest stars to run”…..Exporting oil at the same time as importing it never seems to make much sense….The skulls of a couple of 33,000-year-old dogs show that they had been domesticated, report researchers from the University of Arizona…. Have you heard about the Kerryman who got a pair of water skis for Christmas? He’s still going around looking for a lake with a slope….…...If Supremo John Roberts didn’t anticipate the effect of his decision to allow rich folks to buy the election, then he’s an idiot; if he did, he’s a menace…Stores magazine reports that the strategy of Abercrombie & Fitch in enveloping its customers in a woody aroma (in its case, Fierce, from orange, fir, resin and Brazilian rosewood) is extending more and more to hotels and restaurants that seek definition from a signature smell… IKEA says it has figured out a way to cut costs and help the environment by switching from wooden pallets to greatly strengthened cardboard ones…. Carrying political correctness to extremes, as in the case of affirmative action, just results in the other kind of racism….Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for—Will Rogers (1879-1935)


THE WILCOCK WEB: The war between the world’s have-nots and the haves will define the 20-teens and neither China nor America will be exceptions…..Presumably million-dollar whores like Maria Carey and Beyoncé, who are only too willing to perform for murderous dictators, will claim that entertainment has nothing to do with politics….The first branch of the 16,858 Starbucks cafes opened in Seattle, 40 years ago this month….Why don’t the browbeaten members of Scientology get some backbone and vote out of office their scary leader, David Miscavige?….The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (who knew?) says that already there are 73 fast-food places for Detroit’s 951,000 population. It has asked the city to ban any more….“On account of being a democracy and run by the people,” mused Will Rogers, “we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does”….. Even if they do make the incandescent light bulb illegal, you can guarantee that as long as millions prefer them, somebody will still produce them.….While Lady Gaga--who’ll be 25 this month--was growing up, in Manhattan, she must have been aware of Colette, whose role on the Soho scene was presenting herself in public


as a living art work (but without the song and dance)…..Tropicana is phasing out the big plastic cartons, replacing them with transparent carafes.…Billionaire Macau casino owner Stanley Ho, 89, is suing his daughters Pansy and Daisy for the $1,45bn he claims that they owe him. (He has four wives and 16 daughters)…. Anybody who in these times can pay $74,000 to buy a dress, as did one rich bitch the Wall Street Journal featured last week, is obviously not paying their fair share of taxes….San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge plans to replace its toll takers with robots….Who do we owe the national debt to? And to whom is it paid?…. WikiLeaks is about to release a list of corporations and banks which avoid paying taxes by locating in the Cayman Islands… For decades, the exact same items always cost more in Eng land than America, so it’s to be expected that London’s equivalent of the 99c store is Poundland…. England’s Education Maintenance Poundland Allowance, which bribed teenagers from low-income families to stay in school has been scrapped as part of new government budget cuts …Yellow Tail Bubbles is a $10 reusable cork which can be squeezed to fit different bottlenecks…. Putting the two words 'The' and 'IRS' together at income tax time, spells THEIRS…..When the headline is enough: THE PLANET KEEPS WARMING, BUT U.S. MEDIA INTEREST COOLS —from EXTRA, the magazine of FAIR…. Striving to move into the television industry, the world’s richest and greediest man (whose telephone near-monopoly charges some of the world’s highest rates) Mexico’s Carlos Slim is battling that country’s Grupo Televisa… Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back…. Because of the voracious bacteria in their stomachs, sheep are being used to clean up explosive contaminated soil.... The court-appointed trustee trying to recover ill-gotten Bernie Madoff gains says the banks he’s suing had no suspicions, proving they are either crooked or incompetent --Discontent is the first step in the progress of a person or a nation (source unknown).


Read my blog at Crowdsourcing survival.

National Weed (1974, issue #3)

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

Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email


comments? send an email to John Wilcock

recent columns

“JOHN WILCOCK: Leaving the trial, I realized Kennedy had just been killed.”
—Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of February 28, 2015

“Birth of a Voice: John Wilcock, writer, mailman”
—Jerry Tallmer

Week of February 21, 2015

“JOHN WILCOCK: An Incident on Liberty Street”
—Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of February 14, 2015

“JOHN WILCOCK: My First Orgy”
—Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of February 7, 2015

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”
—Julia Child

Week of January 31, 2015

“What I was actually trying to do in my early movies was show how people can meet other people and what they can do and what they can say to each other. That was the whole idea: two people getting acquainted.”
—Andy Warhol

Week of January 24, 2015

“ONCE AN IDEA forces its way into the public domain, it can never be pushed back; it will only grow and spread, eventually fulfilling itself, even if it takes a long time. Consider, for example, the case of marijuana...”
Week of January 17, 2015

“There’s this perverse, sad thing that part of my fame is a morbid attraction to the things in my work that are bad or forbidden... And that’s what sells best...”
—R. Crumb

Week of January 10, 2015

“EVERY HUMAN BEING has a quest but relatively few realize it, and even fewer discover what their personal quest is before it captivates them.”
—John Wilcock

Week of January 3, 2015

“John Wilcock: India, LSD, and Leonard Cohen's ‘Flowers for Hitler”
—By Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of December 27, 2014

“John Wilcock: The Day I Turned Down The Beatles”
—By Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall

Week of December 20, 2014

“No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your password can no longer protect you.”
—Mat Honan in Wired

Week of December 13, 2014

“There's no point to regretting things that have gone to the trouble of happening.”
—Fisk Senior, from My Talks with Dean Spanley

Week of December 6, 2014

“Dear reader, about seven months ago, much to my surprise, I had a sudden stroke which temporarily took away my memory and to a large extent incapacitated me.”
—John Wilcock

Week of November 29, 2014

“I like to be the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place. Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens.”
—Andy Warhol

Week of November 22, 2014

- column archives: 2006 - present

Sign-up to receive the column weekly by email

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 (, 2010)
excerpt from A Book Review By Marshall Brooks
Provincetown Arts Annual 2012/13

On the Ground
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)

October 27, 2010

A Budget Travel Pioneer on a Time When $5 a Day Was Real (Frugal) Money 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
also available at (in paperback or for your Kindle)
and other online booksellers