John Wilcock Looks for a Job


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December 12, 1956, Vol. II, No. 7

The Village Square

By John Wilcock

Okay, then, I’m now offering, as commission, $100 Reward for anybody who brings my resume (Voice, December 5) to some bigshot’s attention, thereby getting me a job.

[In the previous issue, Wilcock had taken out a nearly full page ad, “Editor-writer Available,” which included, “In the summer of 1955, he joined Edwin Fancher, Daniel Wolf, and Jerry Tallmer in starting The Village Voice, a weekly tabloid newspaper devoted to the idea that a local newspaper need not be filled with glowing reports of tea parties and other insignificant trivia. For several months, as $25-per-week news editor, Wilcock guided the Voice’s day-to-day coverage while concurrently writing a weekly interview-type column, The Village Square. For the past four months he has concentrated on feature material, while continuing The Village Square and preparing the paper’s ‘uptown’ edition.”]

And then there was that memorable day on which I tried to get a job with weekly magazine X (as if you didn’t know which that was).

Somebody had given me an introduction to one of its senior editors, a charming, friendly man who’d been with the magazine for many years. We sat in his bleak office and discussed the hammering noises drifting up from another part of the same floor.

“It’s almost always like that,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re always doing it.”

Politely, I brought up the subject of my quest. “Oh yes,” he said. “Well, I don’t know who you should see but I’ll try to find out. I know there’s somebody who hires reporters, but I don’t know who it is. Usually I don’t have a great deal to do with them, though as a matter of fact I was introduced to one of the reporters only the other day.”

We were interrupted by a teenage boy who walked in with a sheaf of glossy proofs which he laid carefully on the senior editor’s desk. The s.e. looked up, thanked him causally, and then fell silent. Only distant hammering sounds disturbed the calm. Apart from the proofs, I noticed, the space in front of the editor was antiseptically bare. No sweet disorder on the desk. No wantonness. Definitely no wantonness.

I reminded him gently about the job. “Oh yes,” he said, “I was telling you about this reporter. Seems he’d been writing bits of things ever since he’s been here — about three years, I think he said — and he’s never had anything used. This editor asked me if I’d say hello to the lad. Sort of make him feel better. I said, ‘Yes, of course,’ and they introduced us. I hope it did make him feel better, but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten what he looks like, so he’ll think me pretty rude if we meet again.”

After I had mulled this over for a moment or two, I remarked that Magazine X seemed to be a pretty mysterious set-up. “Yes, I suppose it is,” the senior editor agreed. “Every now and then somebody will move over from here to one of the newsmagazines, and then they’ll have some very revealing comments about the difference. One writer went back and forth between here and Time quite a bit, but he finally came back for good. Said the housekeeping over there was magnificent but the editing was lousy, whereas here it’s just the opposite…

The time was getting along, and so I rose to go. The senior editor helped me on with my coat and repeated his assurances to do all he could to help, as we walked past the hammering workmen to the elevator. He did, too, because I got a friendly note from him a few days later saying my clippings had been passed along.

I haven’t heard a word since then, but of course I’m not worrying. Who knows how many of the poor devils have been nailed up inside their offices by now?

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]