Hi...my name is George, and I'm an alcoholic.....
Was anyone else amused that Michael Brown ran Arabian horses? Do the Saudis run everything? Yeah, and meanwhile, Michael Brown is the kind of guy that we deal with all the time: he is the guy whose AA hires caterers for horse shows. The kind of guy who forgets to order centerpieces for the tables, or linen, or runs out of booze because he is scamming the budget.....and then blames the caterer. My only question is: why wasn't there a job for this guy in Iraq, with all the other frat boy dildoes? Not smart enough......or too smart?
Anyway, we work for two branches of the US military: Naval Intelligence out of Virginia, and the Center for Contemporary Conflict here in Monterey at the hemp-ridden Naval Postgraduate School (see June 7th post). I kid you not: the Center for Contemporary Confict. And, until recently, our contact there was the lovely Lashley Pulsipher. Really.
I have to say that our relations with these two outfits keep alive my waning faith in the imperial powers and future of the good ol' USA.
First, Naval Intelligence. They meet a whole passel of other spooks here on the Peninsula every June. For our party they meet in an amazing house just below the Highlands Inn, with its own little bay and promontory. They are forbidden hard alcohol by our formerly abstemious Commander-in-Chief, but they love their Gruet champagne, and they really love it when we wack the tops off into the little bay with Hungarian fencing sabers.
In June 2001, their guest speaker was Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor of the Washington Times, former CEO of UPI.....seven tours in Vietnam, wounded twice. Arnaud is a piece of work. He handed me his card upon leaving the party. It read:
On the flip side his card reads:
Anyway, Arnaud addressed the guests about a guy he had just finished staying with and interviewing. Arnaud was concerned that the guy was a serious nut case, but seriously connected and a very serious danger to the US. No one was paying attention to Arnaud's concerns, and he hoped that the Navy spooks would look into this guy a little more.
Yup, the guy was of course, Osama Bin Laden.....and this was 90 days before 9/11.
The next year their guest speaker was the former head of the CIA, then a scary Admiral, and finally: Orson Scott Card. Mr. Card is a sci-fi novelist, so weird and unreadable that even a book junkie like myself has failed in three attempts to read anything he has written (and I read cereal boxes when there is nothing else....). He has a Lord of the Rings-like following, though. I gave his last book to a surly monk at Tassajara when I failed to get two chapters in.....and I thought the guy would almost smile for a second, he was so excited. It turns out that our high-level spooks read all the spy novels and sci-fi novels looking for ideas. They even have guys like this on staff! And you thought your English degree was worthless! I want that job!!
Our other client is the CCC, or as we know them: the NATO generals. Their head admiral got married by us on the beach, and loved it enough that he has made us a part of his curriculum. Four or five times a year we knock out a beach party for him, complete with hors d'oeuvres, full bar, tables, chairs, bonfire....the works. We give them a great deal, and they never ask about menu or anything, and they pay like a slot machine. We love them.
Dear departed Lashley even booked a beach party last January. It was good that it was a Navy party, since 13th Street beach was in two feet of seawater. The CCC has a sense of humor, so they let us bring the generals out to the Cachagua Store. Rich from Heller gave them a bang up tour of the winery, and we laid on a Cachagua-style feast, complete with Pat Clark on guitar. It was a hit.......we had to drag the German general and the Belgian out of the bar at midnight, still clutching their Newcastles. They toasted us thus: "We are treated to the best in the world.....we eat in PALACES! And this is the best ever!" The Palace that is the Cachagua General Store.
The Generals also love sabered champagne, and their sense of humor extends far enough that we were sabering bottles on Carmel Beach for Arab generals a few days after Nick Berg's video beheading in Iraq. We have had the NATO crew, Pakistanis and Indians, mix and match Arabs....they all love those swords.
In contrast to the Naval Intelligence guys, the Center for Contemporary Conflict is allowed to serve booze....or they just ignore the strictures of the Inebriate-in-Chief. God forbid Americans should look like actual adults in the eyes of the leaders of the world. And despite Koranic entreaties to the contrary, the Generals of the Mideast and Subcontinent love their Johnny Walker Black.
I think the general thrust of the mission of the CCC is to take the steam out of future potential conflicts by getting the principals happily fed and at least a little ripped around a campfire on the beach. It seems to work in the short run: lots of fraternal bonding to the untrained eye. They loosened up enough last month that we almost got a Gurkha general to cut a bottle with his kukri. Something about the fact that the kukri must draw blood once it is drawn from its sheath put us off the idea.....but the General might have been putting us on. I was willing to sacrifice Dirk........Or Vicki. It is the end of the season, after all.
Proof that there is a Naval sense of humor occurred last Thursday. It was my birthday, and we had a few dozen NATO Generals again....especially Brits, and an Irish terrorism guy. The Black Label flew out of the bottle.....
In the midst of the cocktail hour, up the beach came a motley crew: my 16 Stanford students.....dressed in drag. One was even dressed in camos with a beret, sunglasses and cigar. They gathered in a group right in the middle of the party and sang a lusty chorus of "Happy Birthday, you Asshole......" Great stuff. I was shitting myself: "There goes this account!"
The Generals were non-plussed. Could have cared less about a bunch of kids in drag in their midst.....in fact they were intrigued and struck up conversations, had some cocktails and the party went on. Future leaders of the world meet the current leaders of the world.
So.....the next time you are depressed about some short-sighted, adolescent, xenophobic stunt on the part our Inebriate-in-Chief and his cronies....take heart. There are still cells of smart, funny, cosmopolitan, forward thinking people still near the levels of power. At least until the NSA reads this blog.....