June 30, 2007

cia family jewels and spies

muttering to myself:
'The CIA 'family jewels' are, among other things, a reminder that the world of terrorist provocateurs and arms peddlers is actually rather small and exceedingly inbred. Maybe that explains the infantile urgency of Cheney's desire to clamp down on captives. The objective is not really to get information from them. The overarching concern is to keep former 'assets' quiet and away from the press. It's what they know about Cheney, the Bushes, Rumsfeld, et al., that keeps them isolated and shorn of due process -- not what they allegedly know about future terrorist activity.'

Well, I don't actually mutter in complete sentences, but that was the gist of it. Paranoia, anger and dismay strike deep while browsing the Spy Museum gift shop, in the old Atlas and Ledroit buildings at 9th and F Streets. Along with dozens of other artists, I had a studio in Atlas-Ledroit way back before the sports complex and steakhouses – i.e., before it became an 'arts district." The street level, occupied now by the spy shop, was a wig store. It was patronized by the transvestite prostitutes that populated the neighborhood and serviced customers of the porno emporiums around the corner. There was also a donut shop I used to like until I saw the proprietor unloading the pastries early one morning on open trays from the filthy trunk of his ancient Pontiac. And a down-at-the-heels florist that might have been a bookmaking operation.

I won't go in the museum proper unless someone pays me to – the whole idea is nauseating. It's particularly galling that years of urban planning have replaced studio space with a tourist trap. Nonetheless, a visiting friend from Gainsville, FL stumbled into the gift shop a few weeks ago and suggested I check it out. It is, in fact, a trip. Mostly, of course, the sensibility is '50's Playboy pipe smoking spy-glamour – a pose that functioned then, just as it does today, to obscure the violence and mendacity of US covert ops, a/k/a state sponsored terrorism. Still, the gift shop isn't entirely one dimensional. Maybe you'll be surprised to see a reputable book on Soviet poster art and current, critical books on Iraq, etc. All that, I guess, functions as deep cover for the salacious, goofy spy stuff. It may also creep you out that you actually like the goofy spy stuff. Born and raised on it, let's face it. (The next time your gift-giving imagination is hobbled by that special someone's inscrutable tastes, we suggest the revolutionary red 'What Would Che Do?' t-shirt (don't look for it on their website which is decidedly tamer than the shop). I'm so confused and
still muttering……..


Anonymous said...

Very funny, Mr. Weil. As a provocative worker yourself in "the consciousness industry," you, and, of course, your impressive output, are of considerable interest to us. You were a little easier to keep track of in the Atlas Bldg., but your new neighbors up by your NW studio have been most cooperative. But could you turn down that damn music a little? It's messing up our reception.
We'll be in touch. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

You got "stumbled" right. As I recall (with some difficulty), I had some time to kill and was trying to walk off, as best I could, the vestiges of that 114-proof Grandad you kindly fed me the night before. You were commemorating Gene Davis and/or the Washington Color School, which I understand doesn't even exist, by drinking tea with an attractive woman who had a demonstrably subversive, even un-American accent. The gift shop was exactly the sort of surreal interpretive challenge I needed to get straight.