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October 9, 2010
John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance - October 9, 2010

 

The column of lasting insignificance
 
       

also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 

October 9, 2010

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

"The Republican base is part of a conservative movement. The Democratic base, by contrast, is a loose coalition that elects a new president and then goes home, expecting the new president to deliver miracles."
Robert B. Reich in The American Prospect

THE DATE OF THIS COLUMN happens to be the same day that multi-millionaire publisher Felix Dennis will be reading his poetry at a provocatively-named dance center,  The Firkin Crane, in Cork, Ireland, and you might wonder what anybody as rich as Felix, with homes in London, New York, Connecticut and Mustique, is doing there. That’s because you don’t know Felix. (A firkin, btw, is a nine-gallon barrel and a crane is what it used to be weighed on).   
      One of Britain's richest multimillionaires he’s been described as “the enfant terrible of magazine publishing….eccentric…. entrepreneurial but unconventional” and has proved his business ability with successful publishing houses on both sides of the Atlantic. But it’s his role as a poet that seems to have surprised people the most.
Felix Dennis     A best-selling poet? Surely that’s an oxymoron, yet Dennis has published six best-selling collections, has appeared onstage with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, and is currently midway through his sixth reading tour. Novelist Tom Wolfe, calling Dennis "a twenty-first century Kipling", says that his poetry 'rollicks and rolls with rhyme, meter, and melody.

____________________________________

I've sailed the ship, I've owned the line,
I've swilled on bilge and drunk fine wine,
I've paced the bloody jetty, too,
Not knowing how I'd pay the crew.
I've sailed at dawn without a plan,
Faced mutiny and 'ung a man,
('ung more than one, if truth be told);
I've stacked the decks with blood and gold
Paid out upon the barrel-head
(With widows and their orphans fed
Most scrupulous, 'cash money down' -
I'm quite the thing in Portsmouth Town).

____________________________________


One critic commented that Felix Dennis was “cheerfully irreverent” about his past, laughing at the youthful convictions of himself and his "clappy-happy" friends in his collection, The Summer of Love.
"We were very certain, we were very sure/ We were very righteous, (and we were very poor) " Dennis rhymed.
     My personal recollections were of Dennis the summer of 1971 when he and his partners, the Aussies Richard Neville , Jim Anderson and Martin Sharpe, faced trial at London’s august Old Bailey, for producing a magazine deemed to be obscene and likely to corrupt the minds of children. The irony being that it was children who had prepared the entire ‘Schoolkids Issue’ while the trio was on vacation out of the country.
     The ridiculously serious judge, wearing the wig and dress-like robe characteristic of the British legal system, rendered a guilty verdict so over the top that it was eventually reversed, but not before he’d maliciously singled out Dennis as somehow mentally inferior to the other two.
       At the trial, Neville maintained that the relevant law was archaic and irresponsible. "The very offence of 'corrupting public morals'', he argued,  “rests on the assumption that there is one all-embracing moral code to which all classes of the community subscribe, and that this is so weak, so unstable, that a single publication can bring it into jeopardy....It is the prosecution which corrupts public morality by seeking to rob us of our freedom of speech".
     Despite support from numerous cultural and literary defense witnesses, the trio were found guilty and--certainly not to our surprise, for Amber and I attended the trial--the "straight" press by and large backed the verdict. Some individuals, however, were outraged. Sociologist Michael Schofield pointed out that it was not only the OZ  trio that had been on trial but thousands of young people. "They have convicted a  whole generation", he said, an opinion echoed by Time Out's David May who opined that this single act had polarized a generation. David Hockney said: "I just think it's terrible. I now believe, whereas I never did in the past, that there is an attack on a certain kind of culture. The vindictiveness of the judge is just disgusting".

Richard Neville, Dennis Felix and JimAnderson Richard Neville, Dennis, Jim Anderson in 1970

      [In the still-unreleased movie, Hippie Hippie Shake (from Richard Neville’s book about the Oz era) Dennis is portrayed by actor Chris O’Dowd who recalls him as ”an incredibly charismatic man”.]
     Following acquittal by the Court of Appeal, Dennis founded a monthly magazine about Kung Fu aided by the rising popularity of martial artist Bruce Lee. Then, quick to see the cyber future,  he set up Personal Computer World and MacUser both of which he sold in the mid-eighties. He also co-founded a $2bn computer mail order company, which eventually went public on the NASDAQ and formed the bulk of his personal wealth.
    Next came the publishing house which begat the men’s magazine, Maxim, and a newsmagazine The Week, which succinctly covered the world in a manner once presented by Time and Newsweek. Except shorter and better. Eventually both magazines took root this side of the Atlantic and the English edition of The Week is superior to the U.S. one because Brits are more interested in the rest of the world than most insular American readers.
     By the beginning of this century, Dennis’ fortune was estimated at more than a billion dollars, and the ex-hippy began to devote four hours a day to writing poetry and the remaining time to a new hobby: planting trees. many of them at his expansive estate in Warwickshire--one of his five homes-- which he calls The Forest of Dennis.
     “I've been busy for years, buying land, often under pseudonyms, and planting trees on it. All the money is going into it when I die.. and in the end I'd like to think that it will be 20 to 30,000 acres”, he says, adding: “It's very difficult to be continuously charitable in a capitalistic society. You've also got to make sure that you can pay everyone who works for you.”


End the Impossible War

Prostitution could be a solution to Nevada’s budget problems according to George Flint, 76, lobbyist in Carson City for the state’s brothel owners. His suggestion is the imposition of a $5 entrance fee tax on visitors to the houses of ill repute, most of which unfortunately are two hours’ drive from Las Vegas, whereas most of the potential customers are in Sin City itself (where prostitution, ironically, is illegal). Reporting this dilemma, the Nation says Nevada is scrambling to deal with a budget shortfall of $3.4bn over next two years with tax increases probably the only answer. “Since the bursting of the housing bubble” the mag adds, “Nevada has been a basket case” with unemployment now above 14% and more than one in ten receiving food stamps.

THE DEEPER YOU DRILL the hotter it gets which is the principle behind Australia’s Geodynamics company which is going down as far a 15,000 feet with scores of holes in that country’s Cooper Basin, a desert region.
The next phase is to carefully pump water down and tap the resulting steam to drive turbines and generate electricity. “The beauty of the concept is that if it works it can work anywhere in the world” says Subir Sanyal, president of California’s GeoThermEx. Conservative estimates suggest that a small percentage of the tapped energy could provide all America’s needs, says the Economist, adding however that there are “technical and economic hurdles to overcome”.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Now that we’re paying the Taliban in southern Afghanistan not to attack us, why not withdraw our troops and just send them the money?…. With consumption rising by 10% a year, China has become the world’s biggest beer drinker…. McDonalds will be adding porridge to its menu next year…. Cougar, defined as “an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man,” has just made it into the new edition of the Oxford American Dictionary….. Twenty-six years on Death Row and they just happen to run out of chemicals the week of his execution? They never used to run out of rope, bullets or electricity….And isn’t ‘cruel’ a better description of murder than of execution for same?…. Almost 20,000 murders in Venezuela last year helped Caracas become the world’s most dangerous city…. Anheuser-Busch, said to be worried about declining sales for Budweiser, is changing ad agencies. It would make more sense for them to copy the recipe of Prague’s highly superior original Budweiser….”The importance of a recognizable brand to sell a region can’t be under-estimated” declared Ivo Mokovich as he announced the village’s forthcoming testicle-cooking contest….. Try swapping captions on those pointless New Yorker cartoons: you’ll find they work just as well…Why are investors like the California supermarket tycoon Ronald  Burkle admired for trying to take over other people’s companies?….. Offering their own version of anchor babies are the Chinese women who cross into Hong Kong to give birth becoming eligible for  inexpensive health care and free education for 12 years…“I predict that banks will never pay interest on savings again” writes Florence King in National Review, “and as soon as they get us resigned to that, they will start charging us a fee to keep our money for us”… Japan’s annual Foresight Survey predicts that television will offer tastes and smells by 2028; commercial flights will be on autopilot by 2035; and in 2037, seismologists will be able to predict earthquakes a year in advance….. MISFORTUNE COOKIES: A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him… Estimating that there is $30billion worth of value lying around on partly or completely unused gift cards, Plastic Jungle in San Jose, CA, was set up for users to sell, swap or donate them…“A nation should be just as full of conflict as it can contain”—Robert Frost (1864-1973)

10/2/10

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