the column of lasting insignificance...
—June 23, 2018 by John Wilcock

From the archives...

JULY 10, 2010: THE WILCOCK WEB: South Africa, scene of the 2010 World Cup, is thinking of changing its laws to allow prostitution and drinking in public after noticing the popularity of both at the 2006 WC in Germany (where there are 400,000 legal prostitutes)….Dr. Songpol Smsri, a Thai scientist, has just completed 30 years of research producing a hybrid durian so that the Asian fruit will no longer be the smelliest in the world….”I have always joked that the growth industries are gay divorce and tattoo removal” confesses outlandish movie director John Waters …..

January 14, 2012: THE WILCOCK WEB: Those petroleum-based packing bubbles that get stuffed into parcels to keep the contents from shifting about are about to be replaced by a new type, a form of fungus from mushroom roots made with one-eighth of the energy and environmentally better…. The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next …..A group of Harvard students have devised a soccer ball that just has to be kicked around for a while and then it can be connected to an LED which provides three hours of light …..“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing” —Socrates (469BC-399BC)

January 4, 2014: VIEWING FIGURES FOR SOCCER have doubled since starting upon NBC’s Sports channel last year (the network paid for three seasons of England’s Premier League matches) and this year attention will multiply, boosted by Brazil’s World Cup events. According to Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate more than 16 million US viewers watched matches between top clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool early last year, and now games between teams from Spanish, Italian and French leagues are being shown on Al Jazeera’s BeIn Sport.

Tuli
credit: Tuli

JULY 24, 2010: A FOND FAREWELL to my old friend Tuli Kupferberg (September 28, 1923 – July 12, 2010), musician, poet, philosopher, anarchist and underground icon even before there was an underground.

IF YOU THOUGHT that 3D television sets were the latest thing, you’re behind the curve. Now the Japanese are at work developing holographic TV in which images will be beamed into the center of the room. They will be viewed “as a cloud” reports The Week, “which can be viewed from any angle and without the need for special glasses”. Long before the 2022 World Cup in Tokyo, engineers hope to have installations mounted on the floor from which lasers pointing upwards can fill the room with footballers who could be playing anywhere in the world.

July 7, 2013: “The beautiful game is up. When Brazil is conditioned to hate the World Cup and its people traduce Pele as a traitor, football has lost its relevance and its reason. International sport may never be the same again…... It is hard to avoid the conclusion a tipping point has been reached…. Once major sports events become a focal point for social unrest and political, they are an embarrassment rather than an embellishment to a nation's image….The World Cup, like the Olympics, is collapsing under the weight of its pretensions.”
—Henry Sroka

NOVEMBER 17, 2012: T-SHIRTS ADVERTISING BROTHELS can be worn for practice but not in actual soccer games, is the ruling by authorities regarding the soccer team Voukefalas, an amateur league team representing the town of Larissa (pop: 200,000) in northern Greece. Two local brothels—Villa Erotica and Soula’s House of History—are prominently displayed on the pink shirts of the team

Brothel Games'
Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP

owned by Soula Alevidrou, 67, who proudly told the Associated Press: “Here is where it all begins, with amateur sport. I am a Greek woman and I love my country”. And club chairman Yiannis Batziolas adds: “It’s a question of survival”. The sponsorship is said to cost €1,000 ($1,320) annually, about ten percent of the running costs of an amateur team that includes students, waiters, bartenders and pizza delivery guy. Prostitution is legal in Greece and brothels, often advertised with garish neon signs, make good money but in their search for sponsors, soccer teams have hit on funeral homes and makers of feta cheese.

MARCH 22, 2014: THE WILCOCK WEB: Brazil air lines will show a film warning visitors to the World Soccer Cub in July to watch out for the half a million child sex workers in the country, many of whom dress to look older than they are….As for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the world’s richest country, there’s already flak about the brutal way they treat their wretched $130-a-week immigrant workers, with 382 Nepalese alone having died from construction accidents in the past couple of years.

TOO SNOOTY to attract mass appeal is the rueful conclusion made by the moguls of yacht racing who have decided that, beginning this year, World Cup events will be made more popular. “They hope to convert sailing from an obscure sport, associated with old school preppies and temperamental billionaires, to a commercially viable version of NASCAR or snowboarding” explains Fortune in a story quoting Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s view that the sport lacked “the right TV coverage”. The billionaire tycoon, whose Oracle Racing team won the Cup last year, is already planning a challenge for the 2013 races (whose finals will be held in San Francisco Bay) but with faster 72-ft catamarans, smaller crews and shorter events.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2012: THE WILCOCK WEB: The Bank of England, which sets policy, is looking for a new Governor to take over next year. It’s an eight-year term with a $650,000 a year salary…Picking a new crop of volunteers from the streets and training them, organizers of the 10th annual Homeless World Cup will present matches between 68 countries in Mexico City next month…. “One of the disadvantages of wine” asserted Dr. Samuel Johnson, “is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts….Using recycled paper, an Ann Arbor firm has already sold 50 companies on their new toilet paper bearing advertising (soybean-based ink). Minimum order is $99 for 20,000 ads…

MARCH 26, 2011: THE WILCOCK WEB: Polling consumers for what items they could most do without when finances were low, the trade magazine Stores reported that the highest number (82%) said they couldn’t give up the Internet…...Running for election in eastern Russia’s Chukotka, tycoon Roman Abramovich—who owns Chelsea soccer club—reveals he owns seven homes in England, three in France, one in Moscow and six cars. His Communist opponent earns $40,000 a year and drives a 23-year-old Nissan….The major attraction at a new museum in Tasmania is a device that, fed regularly by attendants, “produces excrement daily at 3pm.”

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National Weed (1974, issue #3)

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Marijuana--The Weed That Changed the World


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recent columns

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

The real, true, history...
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John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
Week of April 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
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John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
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John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen--Travels: Tokyo-Rick Kennedy recalls; Japan on $5 a Day; About Chapbooks; Magic in South America
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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
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John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library; In the Cannes
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John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
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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
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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
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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
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Week of August 8, 2015

- column archives: 2006 - present




in the press...

Now on Boing-Boing!

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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,...

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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