Sunday, May 25, 2014

Endangered Products Reprise

In 2011, I wrote about an incident in which the Justice Department raided Gibson Guitar Company on the suspicion that they had used endangered woods to make modern guitars. Insightful comments from Wyman Stewart stated that many musicians use heirloom instruments that have unknown provenance. Apparently, even instruments with clear documentation can be subject to intense scrutiny when crossing borders. Two members of Pro Arte Quartet, a world-renown string quartet, were recently detained at Belgium Immigration because their antique instruments were made from now-endangered woods and the bows contain small pieces of ivory (link). 

While killing endangered animals or harvesting endangered trees to sell their products for profit is despicable, antique instruments were made before these trees or animals were endangered and before alternate substances were available. Although the instruments and bows in question have their own passports, the musicians were still detained until Belgian friends were able to contact the cabinet minister who oversees the Convention on International Trade in Endangers Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.   

This story had a particular poignancy for me. On our way back from Boston, we were chosen by the US Immigration Service for a “random” check – probably because we had four guitars in our station wagon. For us, it only meant a slight delay in our drive, but we decided to take the southern route around the Great Lakes in the future.


Wyman Stewart said...

:-) Immigration have your freedom hanging from a tree's roots, over guitars? Take those guitars out of the car.

Then, sing (an altered version) of the Kinks "You Really Got Me" or another appropriate song.

Maybe they miss Rock radio, before Rap and Talk took over.

Ann Finkelstein said...