Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hitler's Skeleton, George Plimpton, and the C.I.A. Museum

Hitler's Skeleton, George Plimpton, and the C.I.A. Museum

As you might imagine, very few outsiders are permitted to visit the CIA Museum.   Even many civilian employees who work there in the steepled halls of the sprawling Headquarters facilities at Langley are unaware that deep beneath their feet lies an enormous series of caverns carved out of the substrata to create the chambers of an Art Museum where the CIA stores the treasures they've looted from around the world.

I say looted, but that fabulous horde is also the accumulation of criminal commerce: in their various numerous international drugs and arms transactions they have received, in barter as it were, a multitude of masterpieces and great works of art.  More Vermeers than anywhere.  The real Mona Lisa.  Well, the list goes on and on.  The Getty Museum is supposedly the world's wealthiest, but even their gilded collections pale before the CIA Museum's holdings . . .

Very few know of its existence, and fewer are permitted to visit it.  The curators jealously limit access.  Those wealthy tycoons who have contributed at least a billion dollars to the Republican party's secret offshore fund-accounts are given tours; and dictators of friendly fascist countries.  Heritage Foundation board officials, certainly; and the principals of other Conservative institutes and think-tanks.  High muckamucks of the Skull-and-Bones Society have carte blanche.

And of course, poets who went to Yale.

But George Plimpton and the Hitler skeleton? I've only heard rumors.  —How he used to borrow the (detachable) skull of this priceless relic, and bring it up to Manhattan; the story is that he liked to juggle it at parties given to promote his books and The Paris Review—

They say he loved to stick his penis out through the skull's mouth like a gloryhole; he would poke his pale member out between the toothless gape of the mad Nazi F├╝hrer for his editorial staff to fellate . . . what fun times they had back then in the annals of New York Literary History.

But the strangest incident regarding the Museum's Hitler skeleton was how and why it got goldplated.—

Someone—no one knows who—could it have been that crazy Angleton, acting under the orders of his spiritual mentor Ezra Pound?—some higherup, some Assistant Director facing retirement, some senile OSS ass with nothing to do, or some Harvard man,— whoever it was, whatever fool ordered it . . .

As I say, no one knows (or they won't tell) how the Hitler skeleton got taken from the Museum and brought down to the Metallurgy Department where, for whatever reason, they goldplated it . . .

Some drunken bet between Reagan and Brezhnev ? Or one of the other Soviet leaders?  Or what?  Did Franco blackmail Eisenhower to have it done as a trophy for his collection, and then the deal went sour?  Did Nixon have a brainstorm before his historic visit to China: did he think the Hitler skeleton would make a great gift to bring Mao, and that goldplating it would be the frosting on the cake?—until wiser heads (Kissinger's) prevailed? What? . . .

No one knows exactly why it got goldplated: but there it is today, dungeoned in the CIA's secret subterranean museum, still stubbornly glowing in its display case, next to Stalin's mummified head, down the aisle from John Lennon's ribcage and Picasso's nose.