Letters from the Lunar Outpost

Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good; A shining gloss that fadeth suddenly; A flower that dies when first it 'gins to bud; A brittle glass that's broken presently; A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower, Lost, faded, broken, dead within an hour.
- Shakespeare, English Dramatist and Poet (1564-1616)

Green is the hot new color for today's modern stormtrooper.

Green is the hot new color for today's modern stormtrooper.

Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson’s chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company’s manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company . . . It isn’t the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian’s ES-150. In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name “United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms.”

It isn’t just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next . . . It’s not enough to know that the body of your old guitar is made of spruce and maple: What’s the bridge made of? If it’s ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar’s headstock bone, or could it be ivory? “Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever,” Prof. Thomas has written. “Oh, and you’ll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration.”

source: WSJ

You better know where every single bit of wood and ivory on that classic guitar of yours is from and you better have the papers to prove it, because the E-P-A is G-O-D and environmentalist stormtroopers are in full force under this administration.

From a comment by R. Fine over at Lonely Conservative blog, some insight into what might be inspiring the forces behind this jackbooted thuggery:

Using federal agents [as] political thugs is an impeachable offense. The Gibson CEO is a major GOP donor; the Martin Guitar CEO is a major democrat donor. Both use the same woods – in fact, Martin uses more “endangered” woods than Gibson, and brags about it in their advertising. Yet only Gibson alone was targeted by the federal government. Did you ever think such political thuggery on the part of the federal government this would ever happen in our country? No surprise Obama is a fan of Hugo Chavez.

source: Lonely Conservative

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12 Responses to Eco-stormtroopers Descend on Gibson Guitars

  • Take it easy.”It’s only Rock n’ Roll but I like It”.

    • Just be sure you know where the woods on your guitars are from and that you have your papers in order.

  • If you Google this subject. You will see this is not the first time Gibson is in trouble for this.

    A little research shows that somebody at Gibson doesn’t care where their supplier gets their raw wood.

    BTW, a little far reaching on feds busting in to see if your guitar has rare wood harvested from a endangered species.

    BUT, I would be curious if you travel internationally and have to re-enter the US with a instrument that may
    start appearing on some list.

    What really sucks here is that the government is making it a businesses responsibility to make sure your suppliers are not providing raw materials illegally harvested.

    Is that legal?

    Now enters the media, spins it as the big bad company who supports the GOP is also using woods from endangered

    100 Blogs of “opinions” later and Gibson is raping forests of 3rd world countries for profit illegally AND they support the GOP.

    Now if the instrument says “Epiphone” on the head stock it’s okay because it’s built overseas in some country
    that I am sure meets all the current US EPA, Labor….etc laws.

    One thing I do know is, Where there is smoke there is fire. I know , very cliché, but I don’t think Gibson’s GOP support has anything to do their 2009 bust of purchasing endangered woods.

    I am sure the woods used in PRS, Taylor and Martins….etc come from the part of Madagascar that is okay to harvest. You know the side, the side the “progressive thinkers” like…LOL

    Gotta love how pathetic the groups that want a seat at the table of power will spin any issue into
    a political story.

    -Phil Z

    • The article does mention the 2009 case brought against Gibson in “United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms” and it’s still in the courts (with all the wood confiscated still in the government’s hands) and so it’s a bit early to be claiming Gibson doesn’t care where their supplier gets their raw wood seeing as how they’re still innocent until proven guilty on that one. Regarding the suspicion many have that this is a politically motivated campaign against Gibson, the fact that the first incident happened after the current administration took office in 2009 certainly doesn’t do anything to dispel that idea.

      And yes, I had to parse the original article, so if it leaves the impression that the Feds could bust in on your home, that’s my bad for trying to condense the original article, the main worry is for travelling musicians having to pass through U.S. Customs, and many artists are now choosing to leave their favorite antique guitars at home.

      Following your point on guitars such as Gibson’s Epiphones being legal as long as they’re built overseas, ain’t that some wonderful irony for a nation with 9.2% unemployment. From what I gather, the contention of the government is not that the woods were exported from Madagascar and India illegally – the wood was legally exported as far as those nations are concerned – but that the wood arrived unfinished and the fretboards were then finished here in the U.S. So basically we’re cracking down on the use of wood that the countries of origin deemed as legal exports but where Gibson ran afoul with the Feds was in having American workers finish the work here.


  • Interesting…

    Gibson Guitar, of all companies, has been the target of multiple raids (at gunpoint) by the Federal Government for alleged importation of illegal wood. Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is claiming the Feds told him that his problems would ‘go away’ if the company used Madagascar labor. Juszkiewicz called into the radio program today and spoke with Glenn about the situation.


    • Listening to the radio interview right now, thanks for the link.

      I’ve always been a Fender guy myself . . . for the first time in my life I have this real urge to buy a Gibson.

      From the interview: “It was a nightmare. We had over 20 armed men descend upon three factories in different states and our corporate headquarters and at gunpoint evacuate and close our factories, evacuate the employees, put them out on the street and in the parking lots and then they proceeded to pour through the production facilities and confiscate pallet loads worth of wood, they grabbed computer hard drives, all kinds of papers and invoices and generally closed us down for the entire day and then send us a letter that if we were to continue to use anything – any wood from India – that that would be considered a federal crime.”

      Calling these agents jackbooted thugs and “Eco-stormtroopers” is no hyperbole here. They have not been convicted of anything in any court, they haven’t even been charged with anything and these goons come busting in on an American company like they’re the judge, jury and executioner.

  • I inherited a Martin. Purchased a Gibson.

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