Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Pentagon Framing Shop

So, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is dead. So be it. I'm not shedding any tears. Of course, he'll be replaced in short order by some new al Qaeda schmuck.

I woke up this morning to footage of the press conference in Baghdad, with the unveiling of the photo of the deceased Zarqawi. I understand why they need to show his dead body to people. I get that, 100%. But what's the deal with the jumbo dead head photo being matted and framed? Isn't that just a little bizarre? I mean, it's not like you've gone to Olan Mills or the Picture People for a lovely moment frozen in time. It's a corpse, people!

A corpse.

There's something very Victorian about it, really.

But this begs the question - do they have a framing shop in the green zone, just waiting for insurgent leaders and al Qaeda bigwigs to get blown up? Does the U.S. military have someone on call with glass and elegant wood frames available 24/7? I mean, clearly, this wasn't your $19.99 plastic poster dorm crap from Michael's or Wal-Mart.

Is there a "MAFS" unit out in the desert? A Mobile Army Framing Shop?

Sgt. Crafty?!? We need a buffered, acid-free white mat and a can of adhesive spray at the Command Center, asap! I know it's 3 a.m. We've got ourselves a majorly DOA hostile, son, and a press conference at 06:00. Now, get me some goddamn picture wire, tasteful antique gold molding, and cut some non-glare glass in a 30x30 square on the double, soldier!

It's a strange little world we live in, isn't it?


Heather Meadows said...

LOL! What a fabulous post.

When I saw that framed picture on the news, I was kind of like, "Huh." It weirded me out. But the frame thing didn't even occur to me.

I suppose there are frame shops in Iraq, though. It's not like it's a third world country.

HomeImprovementNinja said...

Can you imagine the discussions at the highest eschelons about that one.

"no...not the looks tacky."

Merujo said...

You know, I was looking at the frame again, and I realized it's that sort of masculine wooden frame, where you see the grain of the wood. I think it's the same frame in which my parents had a Norman Rockwell print displayed in our basement...

Norman Rockwell... dead al Qaeda dude...

When I wrote this post, I should have worked in the easel and the black drapey fabric, too. Get the velvet, Sgt. Crafty! Drape it now! Make it pretty, son. We need this to look gooooood!

Cyn said...

You are TOO funny. Particularly loved the Olan Mills/Picture People reference.

As you said, I understand the need to show some sort of proof that he was actually dead. However, the whole thing just reminded me a little too much of putting someone's head on a stick for display (but that's my own twisted psyche coming into play, I guess.)

Your post also sent me on a whole mission of looking at Victorian post-mortem photography; which is both very sad and strangely fascinating. Which in turn prompted me to check out some sites featuring mourning jewelry (incorporating the hair of the deceased.) Pretty cool stuff if you overlook the morbidity aspect.

Merujo said...

I wasn't even sure if Olan Mills still existed until I visited their website! :-)

Victorian death photography really is fascinating. There's a very rare book called "Sleeping Beauty" by Dr. Stanley Burns. It's a book of photographs of 19th and early 20th century death photography from the United States. (If you can find a copy, it's usually around $400+.) Fascinating, tragic, and often very beautiful. I've seen some mourning jewelry in a little museum here in Maryland. Really wild.

radiocynic said...

Just to further our awestruck amazement thread... Picture on the front page of the Philly Inquirer this morning of Sgt. Crafty removing the (identically beautifully framed and matted!) photo of Zarqawi alive with gun, and replacing it with beautifully framed and matted photo of dead-guy Zarqawi, on the lovely easel. What, were they demonstrating "before and after"? Or maybe they bought two frames by accident and didn't want to waste taxpayer dollars? Eeesh.

Janet Kincaid said...

You know, I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw the news conference. I remember being more fascinated by the framing job than by the picture of ol' al-Zar himself. I distinctly recall thinking, "Huh. I'm not sure I like the matte choice and the gold frame seems so... well, National Gallery-ish." Most bizarre indeed.

Good job capturing this anomaly in writing; really quite hysterical. I loved the bit of dialogue, particularly the realism with which you imagined it! Made me LOL!

Heather Meadows said...

The WP has an interesting opinion about the frame.

Spencer said...

I tried to comment the other day but alas blogger prevented me.

You should see the full scene - there are multiple photos of Al-Zarqawi there. It's as if it was "Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi - this is your life." Of course that show had the good sense to do the show while the person was alive but isn't this funnier?

spocko said...

Wow. That is really interesting. Maybe you could detail the life and times of the MAFS.

"The day was hot. Damn hot. The kind of heat that wouldn't allow a can of spray glue to get tacky. The kind of heat that would curl a 30 pound sheet of eggshell linen in 3 seconds flat"

I was working the graveyard shift, when the call to frame another terrorist came in. I figured it would be another "#3"

Hell, I'd already framed 390 "#3s" When were they going to catch #2? I thought. Or number one. What's his name, Obama something."

I grabbed my tools, an Exacto knife, a 3 different color frames, 3 different sizes and a billing slip. Can't forget the billing slip. People WANT to get the charge back for the frames, they just don't know it yet. Why? 'cause at the end of the year when the photos of the dead bodies are lining the halls of the Pentagon and they can't remember which number 3 this was and when they got him, 'Was this before or after we got Saddam? Was this before or after we turned corner number 33?' Then they will thank me for the charge back.

See here at MAFS we keep all the important data. All the stuff that the morgues don't bother to keep. It's an important job and one of the few places a gay man in hiding can really shine. Too bad all the smart gays declared themselves so they could get out of this hell hole. That is why you see these gaudy gold frames these days. All the really talented members of the MAFS hightailed it out of here in 2004. I was left behind because I was too clever by half. I figured I'd be safe in the MAFS back at Fort Brag. Who knew that the demand for framed photos of the dead would go through the roof in the second year of the war. We figured that we would be in an out in 2 months. Tops. So much for my clever plans.

I'm going to leave soon. I'm getting nervous. They are starting to make noises about sending all "unessential personnel" on IED hunting expositions and the last thing I want to do is be bomb fodder. Leave that work to the people with no real skills, the marketing folks! I'm just hoping I can stick it out until the big score. The frame to end all frames, the "Bin Laden on a pike pic." I've already got the frame picked out. It's big but not too brassy. I consulted with Captain Fruit Cake (one of the many closeted gays not smart enough or too much in denial to come out) to make sure that I got the call when it came in. I've been waiting for 5 years now, but I still haven't heard. But I'll be there, no matter the time or place. This trophy deserves the display frame to end all frames. I just hope I live long enough to finally see it up on the President's wall. I'm expecting it will happen late October 2008, but it could be before that depending on the polling data. Look for my mark in the lower right hand corner.
-Sgt. Crafty

Merujo said...

That. Was. Freaking. Brilliant. Spocko, I salute you.

spocko said...

Thanks! You salute me best by linking to me or putting me on your blog roll. I'm trying to up my connectivity rate. BTW, it was YOUR idea that inspired me. I think I'll do a post using your idea and this post as my contribution to the original concept of MAFS.

Merujo said...

Done, Spocko. :-)

spocko said...

Whoo Hoo!