the column of lasting insignificance...
—July 7, 2018 by John Wilcock

From the archives...

WHY IS THE SUPREME COURT so sacrosanct? A bunch of unlovable political hacks, appointed for political reasons, to rule over us without question for as long as they choose. Theoretically—what a joke!—they are answerable to Congress but have largely defined their own roles as not being merely definers of the law but existing above it. What’s needed is a People’s Court that could question and weigh their decisions. And if you think this is impossible you don’t realize that what seems far-fetched at any given time eventually becomes conventional wisdom.

MAKING DRUGS LEGAL is the only way to end the chaos and killings of the pointless “drug war” writes former police officer Richard Mack in the Arizona Republic. “Let’s face it, the only long-term remedy is to legalize the drug business. Ending Prohibition cut off all the profits of the criminal syndicates controlling the flood of booze. The same would happen (now) if only the politicians had the guts to try it”.

Cruelty to ANIMALS seems to be surfacing in the art world, with the dispute centered on whether the artists are merely recording it or are in some way responsible. Art in America, which calls it “Provocation Art”, reports on a show at the San Francisco Institute in which Abdel Abdessemed displayed video loops of various animals being bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer. (A spokesman said they had earlier been professionally slaughtered for food). An earlier show at Mary Boone’s NYC gallery showed “an unflinching look at pig slaughter” and included a scene in which a dog is thrown into boiling oil (possibly a fake). Earlier reports involved a dog supposedly starved to death in a Nicaraguan gallery, an “exhibit” by Costa Rican artist Guillermo Varga scheduled for a repeat at next week’s Biennale in Honduras. Such projects, the magazine comments, “have raised the ire of animal rights activists, abortion opponents, pro-choice advocates ...and more”.

Suppose THE FLIGHT attendant  comes running down the aisle saying that both pilots have succumbed to food poisoning, and would anybody with some experience of playing flight simulator games volunteer to land the airplane? It sounds like a joke except that Wired, which presents this scenario, then proceeds step by step to explain how to actually do it. (The first instruction is how to connect with air traffic control where an experienced voice will calmly tell you how to proceed).

CHRISTIANS ONLY, and only ones validated by their ministers, are allowed to join the new health plans being operated by Samaritan Ministries and similar religious organizations. Members who take a pledge of no smoking or drugs, no excessive drinking or extra-marital sex, kick in about $300 a month and, apart from a small deductible are covered for their medical expenses. The schemes are under examination by state insurance regulators who are debating whether or not they are legal.

A NOMINEE FOR this year’s prestigious annual Man Booker prize (October) went on a hunger strike in sympathy with the subjects of his book about the Bhopal chemical disaster. Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People details the 1984 tragedy at the Union Carbide pesticide plant which released toxic fumes killing thousands of people, fouled drinking wells and caused what he describes as “an epidemic of cancers”. Publishing News reports that subsequent victims, the hunger strikers “are calling for the Indian government to force Dow Chemical to clean up the site“. Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, has been unresponsive to pleas for adequate compensation. Sinha told PN: ”The Bhopalis are up against some of the most corrupt and callous politicians and business bosses in the world. Those poisoned in Bhopal continue to sicken and die, without help, without compassion, without justice because the politicians in Delhi want to do business with their killers”.

THE WILCOCK WEB:  Apologists for Wall Street keep assuring us that high gas prices are not caused by speculators so why is it that when the news is good (i.e. that a hurricane will not hit offshore platforms) the price of oil immediately goes down?….Poetic justice indeed, if Mark Penn doesn’t get paid for all those millions he billed for savaging Obama….Speaking of toxic gases, India’s Sintex Industries has developed a methane digester which can be attached to a toilet and uses the fumes to power a washing machine… This week’s questions: How come savvy politicians never seem to know when the microphone is still on?….. What on earth got into Connecticut voters when they re-elected that smug, little hobbit Joe Lieberman to the Senate?…. What time did the Chinese man go to the dentist?  Tooth hurty…. The predictable question most often asked of Bob Urhausen, 40-year veteran of the Goodyear blimp crew, is how to get a ride. “Much as we’d love to give all Goodyear tire buyers a ride, it’s reserved primarily for corporate customers”….“Success is a journey, not a destination”  proclaims  Ben  Sweetland ….. In the fall, GM’s OnStar service are field testing a system that enables the police to disable a stolen car and stop it in its tracks…. When one is in love, one begins to deceive oneself. And one ends by deceiving others, observed Oscar Wilde….. It’s hard to summon sympathy for that Bush-loving creep Mark Steyn but his indictment by British Columbia’s Human Rights Commission (for writing that Muslims were likely to become a menace) is another example of political-correctness gone-too-far…What a man dislikes in his superiors, let him not display in his treatment of his inferiors--Tsang Sin (c.530 BC)

7/12/08

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National Weed (1974, issue #3)

it's here...
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: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
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John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen (continued)--Theory & Practice of Travel Writing; Remoteness of Callanish; Jim's Paris dinners
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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 Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
Week of March 5, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
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John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
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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
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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
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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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Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--More trouble with our star novelist; Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column; Jean Shepherd’s phantom novel
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- 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