TSA wrecks $20,000 cello bow

Alban Gerhardt
German cellist Alban Gerhardt says the TSA damaged his $20,000 bow (at Dulles International Airport or O’Hare International, depending on which press account you read).

As they do with so many passengers, they rummaged through his luggage. But hey, they left a note. What nice guys and gals!

“My bow must have moved out of its cover, and instead of putting it back in, they just slammed the case shut and broke the bow that way over the bridge,” Gerhardt told Strad Magazine.

And the TSA feels so bad about it, don’tchya know? Why, one of their trusty propagandists said so:

“It truly is a shame about Mr. Gerhardt’s bow. I recommend that he file a claim to our Claims Management Branch for their review and adjudication,” said TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. “I would encourage him to file the claim as soon as possible with his flight information so that the airport might be able to retrieve any potential videotape of his case being opened.”

Oh, yeah, file a claim. We know how well that works. And ask for release of the video. We know how well that works, too. Just ask Stacey Armato, Jon Corbett, Sommer Gentry, Amy Alkon, Pete Alexion, Maggie Buckenmayer, on and on and on.

Tough luck, Mr. Gerhardt. If you complain, clearly you Hate America and want to Help The Terrorists. After all, the TSA is Keeping You Safe!

UPDATE: Take a look at these reader comments left at The Strad:

Nathan (09 February 2013)
My experience is that if you attempt to object to or intervene in their mistreatment of your instrument they will treat this as a criminal act, with possibly disastrous consequences. I have had this experience. I ship my instrument via courier service now rather than risk carrying it on an airplane.

TearingStuff Apart (12 February 2013)
These thugs answer to no-one. Most of my European friends refuse to visit the US any longer because of these callused-knuckled animals. Yet no politician ever lifts a finger against the TSA or any other part of this nasty security apparatus.

used2bfree (12 February 2013)
Haven’t folks figured out yet not to visit the US?

Brian (12 February 2013)
Please, please, please sue these people. They have no respect and will only learn to respect others property through lawsuits.

KenHead (12 February 2013)
They’ll molest your instrument and, if they can’t get it back in, they’ll break it as well. And we supposed to believe that these retarded morons will keep us safe from terrorists?

Fabian (12 February 2013)
This (and a few other funny things the US gov does) is why I will never visit the USA again 🙁

Ken O’Brien (12 February 2013)
In my travels around Europe and North America, I”ve never met anything as rude and demeaning as the TSA.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

UPDATE January 3, 2014: Well, it looks like The Strad has moved/updated/changed its website, blowing out the original coverage of this story in the process. Glad I copied and pasted the reader comments verbatim last year, since now they seem to be lost in the cyber ether.

  • brutus168

    Why can’t TSA do the x-ray checking of our checked-in luggages while we are still in the check-in counter? If they see something suspicious, at least we are still around to open in their presence. I think most airports in Asia adopt this procedure and there are no issues.

    • brutus, because that’s too sensible. The TSA isn’t interested in doing things sensibly. It’s interested in compelling obedience.

      • Daisiemae

        Plus, even if they finally saw the light and decided to implement something like that, it would take them 10 years to slowly test it and install it one airport at a time.

        • Test it? Surely you jest. You know the TSA doesn’t believe in testing before implementing. Look at the scanners. Look at the “puffer” machines. Look at the voodoo practitioners — er, I mean “behavior detection officers.”

    • Excellent idea! Or, at the very least (for check-in desks that have several windows for people checking bags), have one or two express desks and the rest be check-in desks for people who want to have their bags x-rayed, searched if need be, and sealed and certified “OK to fly” in their presence. That way, there would be no complaints from the anything-to-get-us-somewhere-on-time-even-risking-being-stolen-from idiots.

      Someone should suggest this to the Thugs and Thieves in Blue. Seriously.

  • WhereAboutsUnknown

    The American people have to seriously put their Congressional representatives feet to the fire and make clear if they do not do anything about this they’ve permanently lost your vote. The message should be: we will no longer be domesticated cows. There should also be enough people in America now to petition the White House to end TSA abuse. The buck is supposed to stop with Obama. Unfortunately he is the very person who is complicit in expanding the police state. But if 50 per cent of the people were to sign the petition he would have to make a response. I would love to hear how he would side-step this – which he probably would with more nonsense about protecting the American people. He is no better than Napolitano and the rest of the side-kicks he surrounds himself with.

    • There was a WhiteHouse.gov petition a few months ago. The White House pulled it before its deadline was up. They cited “technical difficulties” or problems with the website or some such bullshit:

      Fine. Maybe there were problems with the website (god knows we have plenty of those around here). But that means they should’ve extended the petition deadline by exactly the amount of time the site was down. That would’ve been fair. Of course, they didn’t.

      In the end, however, I don’t care about the petition. It wouldn’t have amounted to a hill of beans. The president, who has by now arrogated to himself all the powers of a tyrant — the NDAA being the coup de grace — would have ignored it anyway. He does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, to whom he wants. And the worthless wankers in Congress go right along, because they’re just as gutless, craven, and beholden to corporate masters as he is. And no, it makes no difference who’s sitting in the White House — the Republocrats are all the same.

      • Susan Richart

        Don’t forget that when the White House petition site went up, among the first of the petitions to reach the signature threshhold was a demand to get rid of the scanners – IIRC.

        Who did the White House choose to respond? Why none other than Johnny Pistole! What a crock that was.

      • WhereAboutsUnknown

        I had forgotten all about that petition but I remember it now. How quickly things fall down the memory hole. Obama has pretty much destroyed accountable democratic government in the U.S. There are some people who actually believe once the “war on terror” is won the police state will go away.

        • Susan Richart

          Interesting that they have raised the threshold of signatures from whatever it was initially, 5,000, to 25,000 and now it’s up to 100,000 signatures required for consideration. It tells me that the White House is not particularly interested in continuing the program.

          • Susan, it’s all smoke and mirrors anyway. A way to pretend that we have a voice in our government. We don’t. Our overlords don’t give a shit what we think.

          • Hosea McAdoo

            They are interested in continuing the program for its PR value; they are just not interested in taking any action. If America wakes up (it won’t) they will have to raise it to 4oo million.

          • Hosea McAdoo,


  • Stephen Benson

    one thing i have learned as a professional musician, even before the moronic thugocracy of the tsa was in full roar, don’t take anything you care about to the airport. if they get their mitts on your stuff they will break it, send it to the wrong place, or find all kinds of creative ways to make your life difficult. i FedEx my instruments and other gear. when i travel with one of my harps (angel axe not harmonica) fedex even offers a pressurized cabin option at no extra cost. although it is an extra expense, being able to go to the hotel or performance venue and see my gear there waiting for me is pretty wonderful, also, i can deduct it as a business expense. the only downside so far is that from time to time, tsa folks will be wondering about my lack of luggage. i try to keep polite (even though it’s not really my nature) and just tell them that i send my stuff ahead through other means.