Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cy Vance Jr. New NYC D.A.

Cy Sr. was the ultimate lawyer, and I knew his personal assistant, a woman named Elva Morgan, before she remarried. Cy and his wife Grace [nee Sloan] hosted young Lisa Halaby when she was a homeless hippie back in Far Hills, N.J., and years later, she got a job with the Jordanian national airline and was in the airport when Cy Sr. spotted her in the crowd, picked her out and introduced her to King Hussein, who married her eventually and made her Queen Lisa, er, I mean Queen Noor. True story.

Wpnder if Cy Jr. has political ambitions. Cy Sr. had been adopted by a Dem VP candidate in the twenties named Davis, and raised in the household as a family member. A hockey goalie at Hotchkiss, he earned his stripes as a lawyer resolving a big Hollyweird movie case in the forties and through his political connections, hooked up with George Ball, who told me some of these tales. Cy Sr. always wanted to solve the Cyprus conundrum [a play on his name?] and I once handled in the State Dept a request from a Latin American country addressed to "Cyprus Vance."

POSTSCRIPT The above letter was not the zaniest request I ever encountered in my ill-starred State Dept career. That would be an urgent phone call from the Saudi Foreign Ministry in Jidda asking me if I'd ever heard of a country called "Al-Jezirah Al-Akhdar." I thought for a few minutes [Al-Jezirah is usually translated as "peninsula" and finally figured that Green Peninsula was the Cape Verde Islands. The Saudi official on the other end of the line then laughed. It came about that the President of the Cape Verde Islands in Africa had an official visit scheduled one month to the day later that year to Saudi to beg for money, which is what African countries did in the seventies. The President's plane was sitting in the Jidda Airport and the Protocol officials were in a frenzy trying to figure out what to do with him, not even knowing which country he was from....!!

For my services to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, however brief, I should have been awarded a medal, or at least a cash reward!!!

You just can't make these things up. And with the Saudis, as the only Arabist in the U.S. Embassy working with the Saudi military as a Political Military Officer, I have a dozen or so more UNBELIEVABLE tales of international misunderstanding.

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