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)
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National Weed (1974, issue #3)
comments? send an email to John Wilcock
- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— The real, true, history...
— Alice, Alice at 85, seed money, supermax, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— About being in love..., Persoff and Marshall, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— The Candy Store
— From the archives... The religion of Violence & Statistics, otherwise known as college football; WPA II; Would it be called Indiastan or Pakindia?; Who you Gonna call? Crime Predictors; Being a Bank means you never having to say you're sorry; Oil vs. Democracy, and of course, the Wilcock Web...
— From the archives... The Mother of All Family Feuds, Otaku Means Geek in Japanese, Affirmative Action or 'It all depends on who you know', The Moonies are packin', and of course, the Wilcock Web......
— Dear Reader,
— Dear Readers...
— John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
— 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
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library;
In the Cannes
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
— 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
— 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
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon;
The Shinjuku Sutra
— 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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six—The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— 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
— 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
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
— Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
- 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
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."