The Treasury Department Seems Like a Pretty Decent Travel Agency

The recent story about Beyonce and Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba combines my three greatest interests: celebrities, travel and a government scandal.

And, my fourth interest, pirate re-enactors. Gar.
And, my fourth interest, pirate re-enactors. Gar.

Alright, alright, maybe it’s not a government scandal like Weiner-gate or ‘Wide Stance’ Craig. I mean, it’s not like we need to drag in the FBI to look for imaginary recording devices or anything.

As far as political scandals go, this one is pretty light. BUT, that doesn’t mean I’m not scandalized. After all, maybe I’d like to go to Cuba. I do seem to have an affinity for Caribbean countries run by anti-American dictators.

According to Huffington Post:

U.S. Treasury officials say the trip by Beyonce (bee-AHN’-say) and Jay-Z to Cuba was licensed as an educational exchange.

Wait a minute, hold up. Do we really need to phonetically spell out Beyonce’s name? Doesn’t the whole world know about Miss Bey?

These school kids definitely know what's up.
These school kids definitely know what’s up.

And what is this about an educational exchange? Are Beyonce and Jay-Z part of some study abroad program? Did they become professors in their spare time? What would they teach – Ridiculously Rich and Fabulous 101? Crazy in Love: A Look at Psychological Issues in Contemporary Relationships? (I would absolutely take either of those classes in a heartbeat)

And, shouldn’t it be the State Department or at the very least the Department of Education who declares a trip to Cuba an “educational exchange?” The only reason I can think of that the Treasury would be involved was if there was a monetary donation in gold bars used to help speed the application along. (Oh wait….I might be thinking of the Federal Reserve on that one….)

“Assistant Treasury Secretary Alastair Fitzpayne wrote in a letter Tuesday to congressional representatives that the famous hip-hop couple traveled to Cuba with a group authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba.

AH, the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Oh. OK. That sounds totally like an office whose mission “to promote people-to-people contact.” Sure. If those people are, let’s say, bankers, then yes, that might make sense.

US Banker: Hi, yeah, um, you’ve got some assets over there in Cuba that we’d like to see if we could maybe, possible get back. You know, what with that pesky embargo and everything, we thought it might be better to send over a high-profile delegation of rap stars to talk to you about it. And maybe smuggle the assets back in the elaborate hair style of the female rap megastar.

Cuban Banker: Sounds totally inconspicuous. Be sure to say it’s for educational purposes. I’ll clear my calendar so I can show them around.

bey cuba

The story goes on to clarify:

“Beyonce and Jay-Z marked their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana last week. U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba for mere tourism, though they can obtain licenses for academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange trips. The so-called people-to-people licenses were reinstated under the Obama administration.”

Jay-Z, never one to rest on his laurels while enjoying a leisurely Cuban cigar, quickly came out with a rap song about the trip, according to Politico.

In a rap released Thursday, Jay-Z said: “I turned Havana into Atlanta…Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance…Politicians never did s—- for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.”

jay-z-cigars

My big question is: Who did the Cubans send over here? I mean, it’s a people-to-people educational exchange, right? An exchange usually means someone from over there got to come over here.

I hope it was a chef. I really like Cuban food.

Would You Like Some Deer Antler with Those Wings?

Why yes, I did watch the Super Bowl this past weekend. I know the complete absence of any suggestion of Beyonce’s fierce halftime show outfit must have had you all wondering.

Best. Fierce face. Ever.
Best. Fierce face. Ever.

We actually went over to a friends’ house to watch it. It was fairly entertaining because (1) we’re not really that into football, (2) neither were our friends; and (3) the other couple they invited over were actually into football. Or, at least, one of them was. He must have been quite frustrated with all of us, as we ate and drank our faces off and kept a running commentary on everything except the big game.

By the way, in case you were wondering, I was cheering on Baltimore. I mean, come on….their mascot’s name is POE.

PoeToSchool_320x150

One of the topics we explored at length was this whole deer antler business. Most of us were quite puzzled by what it was, how it worked, why it was banned, what it might taste like on our delicious fish tacos (courtesy of our hostess, Monica). Luckily, there’s an infographic to explain (it is, of course, offered up by the fine manufacturers of deer antler spray. No ulterior motive there. No siree.)

It is pretty fascinating infographic, and I’m relieved to see it causes no harm to the deer. I had visions of some little Lord of the Rings Hobbit person chasing the poor deer around with a syringe (the deer are in New Zealand, by the way. In case you were wondering about the Hobbit reference).

And, I thought it was just athletes who were getting caught with this stuff, but apparently country singer Randy Travis hearts deer antler spray “Forever and Ever, Amen. ”

I also love how the history timeline on this infographic jumps from 13 AD to 1996. Seamless. Anyway, enjoy.

What Is Deer Antler Spray?