Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday rerun: I hate to Russia but it's almost Midnight in Moscow

"Russia is about Czars Stalin Poetry Secret Police Communism barefoot in the snow But that's not really Russia it's a concept" - - Allen Ginsberg, "Is About" (1996)

So! The US and Russia are about to have another Spy Swap! Man, you talk about retro! That is old school stuff.

Back in 1960, an American CIA pilot named Francis Gary
Powers was driving a U2 spy plane over Russian territory and was shot down. President Eisenhower, trusting that Powers would do as all spy pilots are supposed to do and kill himself with a curare-tipped needle hidden inside a fake silver dollar, said that the plane was just a weather plane, sent over Europe to observe cloud formations and a developing low-pressure system over Vladivostok. (I like saying 'Vladivostok,' although I have never been there.)

Meanwhile, back in Russia, Powers was singing like Bing Crosby, telling everything about his mission. Embarrassed at being caught telling a fib, Eisenhower had to admit it all and deal with the Russians. We traded some of their superspies that we had in custody for Powers, along with cash considerations and a second-round draft choice. To make matters worse, some guys in Ireland formed an irritating band and called themselves U2, using their musical platform to show off some very odd sunglasses and self-righteously angry records, which sold millions of copies. Everything involved with the U2 mess was extensively horrible.

Powers came home to a life in the shadows, eventually becoming a test pilot for Lockheed, only to lose that job by publishing an autobiography. He then became an airborne news reporter for a TV station in Los Angeles and died in 1977 when his helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed.

So now we have captured some Russian spies and they have got some of ours. Fine. But tell me, in this crazy era with all the internets and those little cell phones and digital cameras and reality tv all over the cable, do we need spies? Does Russia? Do they have to send people over here to observe our goings-on, when they could simply watch TMZ every night and see what Lindsey, Tiger, Jenna B. Hager, Jon, Kate, 8, Lindsey Lohan's fingernails, TV's entire Kardashian Family, the man who claims to be LeBron James's long-lost daddy, "Twilight," and Justin Bieber have done to our culture?

"Ya! No wonder they listen to the U2!" is what the report would say.

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