So let us now place monetary value on information.
Let us return to the source,
Mining & prospecting that fertile intel seam.
To wit: WWII and G-2 shenanigans.
Wild Bill and OSS-capades,
A literary nightmare--
THE CYCLOPS from The Odyssey,
If you lack your own,
Your own personal Bogey Man.
Or men. For me:
Allen Dulles or Richard Helms.
The Intelligence Community:
It was a small tightly knit crew,
Less than battalion strength in 1942;
A few myopic soldiers,
Who, although could barely type,
Were still too cerebral to
Waste as infantry fodder.
It was a huge converted Army-green warehouse,
Space strategically partitioned,
Sectioned off into cubicle-like spaces,
By giant 4-drawer file cabinets
Standing tall like MPs,
Sentinels & Guardians,
Monuments to pre-electronic storage,
Data relatively comprehensive, and an
Archive secretive & intimidating.
Within the Army-green incunabula,
Scattered throughout the intel landscape,
Here and there a few commissioned officers,
A smattering of college psychology majors,
Personalities with predilections,
And penchants for mind games.
These self same WWII vets,
Would morph into Cold War Mad Men.
Stalwart, stouthearted men of Eisenhower,
And J. Walter Thompson,
De-mobbed, as they say in the UK.
Particularly when it came to the kids;
Children of the peace,
An entire generation enabled & destroyed.
Who would produce little of value
Except medical marijuana and
Coupons, clipped by that sober ruling class—
Fat interest-bearing college-loan portfolios
Held by that neo-Calvinist Elect: The 1%.
Fat cats one and all,
Loaded dice & canasta cronies--
In concert a stacked deck,
“Una mano lava l'altra.”
The words of my namesake--
My grandfather Giuseppe--
His vowels reverberating,
Rattling in my dreams.
Not friends, but
Fiends in high places, like
The Fed and dark liquid pools.
Thank you, Barack, for
Fooling us again.
For giving us
“Belief we can believe in.”
But I digress.
It was when the Government Secrecy Act,
In all its transnational incarnations,
Embraced capitalism in a big way,
Elevating the ideology to whole-Earth saturation,
Systemizing the ethos of Darwin,
Into one global Moby ****,
One solitary leviathan,
A multi-level marketing labyrinth,
Where wealth is the end game--
Greed: pure, unbridled & unrestrained.
Did his bit, supplying catchy
Slogans & tag-lines:
“For Your Eyes Only.”
“On a need to know basis.”
“Top & Ultra-Top Secret.”
“Hush, Hush & a Bag of Chips.”
The sealed letter sits in a locked drawer,
In that stout desk,
In the Oval Office
In The White House,
“To be opened by my VP in the event of my death.”
Another staggering work,
Of achy-achy-heart breaking genius,
The culture commoditized,
A disease containing its own cure,
Portioned & packaged.
To a logic that goes something like:
“Anything this tightly controlled,
Anything the government deems to be
This illegitimate and/or & secret
Must be really, really God-awesome,
Must really be Da ******* Bomb.”
Brother Coolidge was right:
“The Business of America is Business.”
“The Most Valuable Commodity on Earth.”
So said Stanford Stuyvesant Whitehead III,
19th Century robber baron, and
Consummate Fat Cat.
Get the picture:
We were smoking cigars and sipping cognac,
Mighty comfortable in leather armchairs,
Muted billiard clicks,
Punctuating the atmosphere
In this spacious lounge,
His East Side
Downtown & private
I, his guest, had not the slightest idea
Why I was there.
"By God, man," he went on,
My eyes speared by his laser gaze,
His bushy eyebrows,
His bulbous nose;
His thick wet mustache.
And those EYES:
"I am talking about a profound change,” he continued.
“Back when the steamship
Gave way to electronic wireless radio."
He puffed smoke,
Removing the cigar from his mouth,
Examining it critically for a moment.
"I'm talking about communication,
With business associates, &
Cronies far away,
Way out there,
Far beyond the places we know well.
You're running a fleet of
Ramshackle Filipino banana boats,
Out of some nameless cove,
Indenting the south coast of Mindanao.
A cyclone comes out of nowhere.
Good God--there’s sixteen banana-packed
Coal burners lying on the bottom of the Celebes Sea.
Think about it:
You've got telegraph radio.
Everyone else has the post office.
Now, I ask you:
‘Who's going long,
Who’s getting rich on the
Caracas Banana Exchange?’
Good Lord, man, it would be
Like being omniscient!"
“This very conversation,” he went on,
“Could well be a verbatim transcription
Of a conversation right here in this very room,
Between people like: J. Pierpont Morgan
And some lesser Gilded Age nabob;
Some Astor, some Rockefeller,
A Gould or Vanderbilt,
Whitney or Duke,
Some Frick or Warburg--
To name just a few, old sport.”
He stopped suddenly.
He looked down at his hands,
As we both realized he had counted these names
Out on his fat curled fingers.
He looked at me and smiled.
I was afraid.
Why had I been invited to this meeting?
I smiled back at him,
Doing my best to mirror his
I knew it.
He knew it.
He knew I knew it.
Mr. Whitehead’s growling rabid jowls,
His slobbering canine smile held me steady.
“Okay. Touché. ‘Ya got me.”
He shook off the phony smile,
An absence, accentuating
His stare: lethal, carnal & rare.
“I never had much formal schooling.
I’ve been hungry.
Hungry enough to know for sure
That the correct fork,
Don’t mean ***** from shinola.
When I’m dining out, fancy-like,
Me manners is the least of me problems,
Far less important than
The dinner chit they
Hand me after I slake
My thirst & appetite.”
Again, he stopped suddenly,
Recognizing that, perhaps,
He’d revealed too much of his
He turned again and stared at me.
“None of that,” he said.
“None of that means squat to me, Boyo.
What matters now is I’m rich.
I’ve got mine, By God,
And ******* It!
Tough ***** on the rest of you losers;
The rest of you fecking whiners can go
**** yourselves over at Zuccotti Park.”
He pounded the armrest,
The padded armrest of the rich Corinthian leather—
( . . . ***, Ricardo?
Get your Montalbán
Mexicano ***, back in
Random Access Memory Land,
Where you belong.
**** ya’ Fantasy Island
Hospitality, Mr. Roarke,
Go be wrathful Khan Noon Singh,
Now is not the time, or,
Let me rephrase that:
This narrative will not allow your meme here . . .)
Whitehead pounds the armrest again.
“My point is this:
None of JP Morgan’s decidedly,
un-nattering lesser nabobs of negativity . . .”
BAM! Again, he pounded the leather . . .
(Back in your ******* hole, Spiro!
Do you realize just how far back,
Just how far back
Has been set back by your venality?
Not to mention any shot at ethnic assimilation,
The rest of us grease ball non-Wasps
Have in this country?
You ******* Greek!)
I stopped thinking
When I realized Stanford Stuyvesant Whitehead III
Was reading my mind.
“So that’s what it’s really all about,” he said,
Rank smugness in his voice.
“So, I’m just a nouveau riche upstart,
A socially inept parvenu,
Yet they still let me
Join their tony clubs.
It chaps your ***, Boyo, don’t it?
I’m still Scotch-Irish, and
A WASP, Laddie.
Something your skinny
Ain’t ever gonna be.”
But I digress, again.
So I joined one of Uncle Sam’s
Lesser-known clandestine services,
An assignment appropriate to my ethnic identity,
Namely GLADIO in Italy,
A NATO stay-behind operation &
I infiltrated the Brigate Rosse.
I drove the Aldo Moro kidnap vehicle.
I cooked minestrone for General Dozier.
I sliced off J. Paul Getty’s ear in Calabria.
Ironically, I lost my hearing during
The Stazione Bologna bombing.
I am consequently pensioned off,
Off both the radar and the payroll.
Years later now,
I live in one of those gated, golf-coursed,
Over-55, sunny southern California
Most days I am drunk at 9 AM.
I fill Bukowski mornings,
Conjuring up Jane Fonda,
Jazzercised in camo spandex.
She is high atop a Vietcong tank in Hanoi.
Or Daniel Ellsberg
Enjoying a second act in American politics,
Praising Snowden & Assange,
& Bradley Manning,
I summon up the ghosts of
Julius & Ethel,
Rose of Tokyo & Mata Hari—
And Ezra exiled at Rapallo,
And John Walker Lindh,
A Yankee Doodle Dandy,
Born in Washington,
District of Columbia,
By way of Afghanistan,
Presently residing at the
Federal Correctional Institution
At Terre Haute, Indiana.
No longer capable of keeping secrets.
Desperate now to tell