Thursday, October 12, 2006

Valery Ponomarev's Big Break

This article should be of interest to fellow musicians, especially when traveling to Paris with your instrument. Here's my take:

Valery Ponomarev, a world class Jazz Trumpet player, attempted to board his Paris to New York flight with his precious 1961 Connstellation Trumpet as a carry on. However, French airport personnel insisted the instrument be stored in a place they call "l'hold," which when translated from the French means, roughly, "the place where all Trumpets get crushed."

Long story short: words were exchanged, wills were tested, passions flared, and Mr. Ponomarev's arm was broken in an apparent scuffle with airport security. The police actually claim Mr. Ponomarev broke his own arm by "rebelling" - interesting.

Mr. Ponomarev allegedly endured 6 hours without treatment, but fortunately survived to play another day - and that's some very good news. Still...

In a country that doesn't even put lane lines in their swimming pools so as not to impede an individual's personal freedom to swim wherever they want to ("Pourquoi avons-nous combattu la revolution ?") this recent airport fiasco in Paris underscores the challenges faced by airline passengers, especially musicians, who are merely seeking assurances that their valuables will be stowed as safely as possible.

"L'hold" may be good enough for luggage and travel bags that can absorb a certain amount of impact, but maybe, just maybe, airlines will consider alternative storage space for les instruments extraordinaire. If these storage spaces exist, then airline personnel must be trained to assure passengers that their instruments will indeed be stowed accordingly. Maybe then there will be fewer crushed instruments and even fewer broken arms.

Rob Birdwell
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