Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
THE CIA SPY CAT: In lieu of the amazing YouTube tale of a cat saving a toddler from a crazed mutt (not a pit bull, as was erroneously reported), I got emailed an equally astounding saga of an American spy cat, circa the Cold War. The feline was part of something dubbed the “acoustic cat project.” It was a CIA brainchild that some say is the key reason the CIA was, shortly thereafter, strongly urged to leave the country, and never, ever come back. (As you might know, the CIA is now forbidden from doing ops in-country.)
Less than ironically, the great CIA acoustic cat op occurred within the exact same timeframe as Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger” and the introduction of James Bond’s nimble nemesis, Pussy Galore. Spoiler alert: The CIA did not display brains galore.
As Hollywood highlighted the sultry interplay between Bond’s Pussy G. and Fleming’s storybook espionage, our Cold War-crazed government literally pounced at the possibilities of utilizing feline spies. In doing so, they climbed out on a limb that some experts look upon as the high point of spy v. spy, anti-Soviet insanity.
It began with the CIA approaching a federal government subcommittee in hopes of procuring $25 million (close to $100 million in today’s dollars) in funding to allow the boys at Langley (CIA HDQ) to find a stray DC cat, surgically insert a listening device within said cat, add a battery somewhere in its intestines and run an anatomically correct antenna within the cat’s tail. The locked and loaded cat would then be loosed on the Soviet Embassy.
Though the subcommittee minutes were never loosed, this is close to the content:
Senator One: “Uh, sounds good to me. We got too damn many stray cats anyway. Whadda you think, senator?”
Senator Two: “I think this is a great day for both espionage and cat control. And it’ll prove what pussies the Soviets are.”
Senator Three: “OK, 25 million bucks it is … for starters.”
The actual execution of the acoustic cat mission was sheer espionage magic – per Maxwell Smart.
The volunteer cat was captured in the vicinity of the Soviet Embassy, the thinking being the Ruskies, known stray-cat lovers, would be accustomed to its face. That capture point also offers insights into where the acoustic cat would be pussyfooting about, tuned to snag highly sensitive commie conversations.
Based on recently released information, the surgery – done under Area 51-type secrecy – went smoothly, right down to the spy cat awakening, generally OK, but with a confused look on its face and a slowly circling tail, transmitting signals left and right. OK, I added the circling tail part – but that is all I’m embellishing.
At first, the great acoustic cat caper flowed as smoothly as the on-screen interplay twixt Bond and Pussy G. The clandestine transport and release of the transmittin’ kitten was close to script-perfect. The surreptitious puss was clandestinely deployed by men in black, secreted within a curbside van parked outside the Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in D.C.
The cat’s very first assignment was to ease on over and eavesdrop on two targeted Russian officials sitting next to Soviet headquarters. The promise of copious amounts of catnip was thick in the air.
At this storied point, any of you with tender ears or tender hearts might want to tune out. Almost upon release, the $25 million spy cat was run over and killed by a taxi.
You cannot contrive this stuff.
I’m likely being overly callous here, but one can only imagine the amplified sound heard by the CIA men inside the nearby van, as cat met taxi tires. In fact, there are tales of three black-suited men seen exploding out of a van’s side doors and rolling around on the ground holding their ears and moaning. Hey, for those of you who weren’t around back then, daily life in D.C. could be kinda odd during the Cold War. As to further reports of a man in black seen frantically grabbing a fully pancaked cat and running with it down Pennsylvania Avenue? Well, might I re-mention the fact the CIA was soon forever banned from working anywhere in America?
If you aren’t quite sure whether to laugh your ass off or shed sympathetic tears for the late cat who didn’t even get a chance to come in from the cold, you’re not alone. But don’t pussyfoot off just yet. In a Hollywoodish way, there is actually an alternative ending to this tale of intrigue and goo. Robert Wallace, former director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Service, in an episode of the TV series “The World's Weirdest Weapons,” swore up and down that the acoustic-cat effort was abandoned due to the fact that cats were far more inclined to wander off looking for food instead of world-class covert data. Wallace sticks to the softer side of the Great Acoustic Cat Caper by asserting, “The equipment was taken out of the cat; the cat was re-sewn for a second time, and lived a long and happy life afterwards.”
It’s your call, though I’ll note that Wallace was a CIA man to the bitter end – which is my guess as to the type of end the cat experienced.
OLD JAY, NEW TRICK: As my Chevy pickup truck is getting some surgery from the good folks over at Barlow in Manahawkin, I’m temporarily driving around in a new GMC SUV. SUVs aren’t my cup of 4WD tea, though some of the larger ones are pretty much just encapsulated pickup trucks. However, this loaner has one of those supremely cool “reverse” gear cameras. When you put it in reverse, an in-dash computer screen offers a look at what’s behind you. It’s kinda like watching reality TV, albeit backward. My SUV’s screen has these colored lines showing where I’m backing. It’s a bit jet pilot-like, though a lot slower.
Truth be told, I’ve always been a panicky backer-upper. I’m always convinced there are unseen and untold items waiting to be reversed upon, like a huddled pack of cuddly abandoned puppies or a slew of runaway toddlers, crawling through the gutter. For that reason, I found the SUV’s back-up viewing screen unconvincing. Upon my first look at it, I suddenly felt an urge to get the hell out and walk behind the vehicle – just to double check. Hmmm. Nothin’ there. Just like that little screen showed. So I climb back in, get ready to reverse, when “Not so fast, Comanchero.” Was I really seein’ what I was seein’?
Just to be on the safe side, I climbed out again and this time put a trash can behind the SUV. Back in the driver’s seat, I looked on the screen and, sure enough, there was a trash can right smack in the middle of the back-up screen. Ain’t that somethin’? But I’ve seen too many prank shows to fall for the old trash can seemingly being on the screen routine. So I ran into the house and grabbed a can of Behr’s Vermont Whimper white paint, rush out, and paint a big “X” on the trash can.
Jumping back in the SUV, damn if there wasn’t a trash can with a Vermont Whimper white “X” on it, right there on that reverse screen. Or were these pranksters really good – and nearby watching?
I chuckled and reversed toward the purported trash can. Bang. I ended up dragging the damn thing backward down the road to where the neighbors began looking out their windows. Wow, the reverse camera thing is for real, I’m thinking while trying to pull the hopelessly wedged trash can out from under the vehicle.
So, now that I’m sure this isn’t an elaborate prank system, I can’t live without a reverse camera system for my soon-fixed truck. I’ve read they can be gotten, aftermarket, fairly cheaply. Of course, I’d like one that looks back nonstop so I can constantly watch my rear, so to speak. Most of them only go on when reversing.
Such a look-back ability would be a boon for beach buggying. I can’t count the number of things I’ve left behind on the beach when rushing off to chase a bite. With a look-back cam, you can get a good look-see to make sure you’ve grabbed your entire kit and caboodle. Hell, in Holgate, I once left behind a spiked Loomis rod with a new Van Staal reel ($700 value), just to go chasing some measly mullet. An hour later, I’m driving off Holgate and see the spiked set-up standing there. I’m loudly thinking, “What kinda total moron leaves behind a Van Staal reel!?” Oh, wait a minute. I think I might recognize that set-up. Dumb-ass!
As a cruel afterthought, wouldn’t it be sorta hilarious to toy with someone’s reverse camera and implant one of those grotesque “Maze” faces? Driver goes to back up, looks onto the screen and a screaming, exorcist face suddenly jumps out.
GET SOME SKILLS, MATE: For young’uns out there, do not miss the chance to learn boat/angling mating skills. The Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club Junior Mates training program will hold a registration night on June 26 at 7 p.m. at the New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven. It is open to boys and girls ages 13 to 17. It costs $25 for the entire course.
Per the club, “This year, Berkley Fishing is the co-sponsor of the program and will be supplying our Junior Mates the opportunity of earning the fishing tools that charter boat mates need. Junior Mates will be provided the tools as they exhibit proficiency in the many knots that experienced fishermen use every day.”
As I always note, not that long ago, the trade secrets of being a mate were closely guarded. They were passed on in-house only. Not only will this course dole out the mysteries of mating, but it will often offer positions for the mates rarin’ to practice their new skills.
It usually takes three seasons to acquire full-blown mating skills. For more info, contact Capt. Lindsay Fuller at 609-685-2839 or JLinFuller@aol.com.
Great night with the striped ones. We had 30+ and lost count, and of course the cow nosed rays... Perfect night, low wind, good current. Nights like this are a lot of fun!
Bob brings his two in today
It is with deep regret that I tell you about the passing of Bob ( the fluke whisper guy ) Costa Jr (55).
I think everybody that fished on the beach in the summer time knew him. He would walk and walk and boy could be catch. I know he taught us all a few things.
Our condolences to his family and I know he will be missed by many here on LBI.
He is pictured here with his last fluke of last season which was his 100th keeper and he threw in a bass to go with it that day.
(Wouldn't it be great if these tasty critters came in hot and heavy this summer?)
Saturday night at Surf City Yacht Club another clam was dedicated in memory of Fran Temme. The clam is part of the ReClam The Bay project and was donated by Lady's Fun Sailing. Members of the group presented the clam to the club. The entire Temme Family was on hand for the dedication as well as Rick Bushnell, President of ReClam the Bay and the artist who painted the clam Kate Howe. For more information on ReClam The Bay - http://reclamthebay.org/— with Mark Temme and 3 others at Surf City Yacht Club.