FBI Retrospective

What’s really interesting about Friday’s excitement is the four hour news cycle; at 8 am it was on all the TV channels and sfgate.com. In the next morning’s Chron, nothing – not even a small paragraph. Story erased, pay no attention…hundreds of helicopter/cop hours, thousands of people late for work.

Friday morning I was freaked about us possibly getting camera crews in front of the gallery. Now it looks like the FBI guys never even mentioned us to the press, and really, I’m fine with that. I can see it play out. Homeless guy with broken art piece? Threat averted.

Like most of us in San Francisco I complain loudly and often about the government. But I will say the FBI guys were nice and professional. And I also recognize our trash was scary, we won’t do that again. I just wish they’d throw some of those massive resources back towards the car burglary patrol: broken glass everywhere, every morning in this neighborhood…

Wonder if they’d give the art piece back? Nah, don’t think I’ll ask…

FBI Visits Arspace!

So 8:30 this morning, I finish my shower and step out of the bathroom. I see four big guys in cheap suits standing around the living room. Michael my housemate says “Andy, this is the FBI. FBI, this is Andy”. The biggest agent goes, “We are the FBI”, his voice suggesting I’d never believe that coming from Michael unless he confirmed it, too. Tightening my bathrobe and blinking my eyes, I replied, “I’m clean!”.

I asked what they wanted and they said they were talking to Michael, nothing for me to worry myself about. Mike seemed his usual friendly self, so I took my cue to head upstairs. They stood around some more, he showed them some art and then they left.

Mike came up, and of course I go, “What the **** was that???!!!”. He tells me the story.

Last August we had an art show, “Get Off the Phone” – and one of the artists did a piece (photo by Alan Bamberger from his artbusiness.com review, posted here), using a Russian RPG shell (non-explosive) he bought at an army-navy surplus store. He made it up to look like a phone. Cute.

Months go by. The artist never picks up the art piece. Actually we have a good bit of art around here that never seems to get picked up. Kind of a problem, actually.

So last week we were getting ready for a new show. I asked Michael to clean out the garage. He throws the RPG art away.

Wednesday was garbage night so we put the cans out. Some homeless guy goes through the trash looking for bottles and cans and treasure.

Early this morning the cops find the homeless guy hanging out in the alley behind the Superior Court building at Civic Center, which is where homeless people hang out. The cops see the RPG art. They freak out, majorly.

They bring out helicopters. They bring out more cops. They bring out meter maids. They bring out firemen, and lots more cops. They bring out the FBI. They close the entire Civic Center between Van Ness and Polk for an hour, right at rush hour. They re-route Muni lines 19, 47, and 49. They snarl traffic all over the city.

The homeless guy tells them where he found the RPG art: Arspace.

And that’s why the FBI visited us.

To be fair, as Michael says, “They were just doing their job”. They were polite, curious and inquisitive. All four of them. They didn’t beat us up. They particularly seemed to like the “Bohemian Chicks” show that’s up right now. (closing reception next Thursday night, 1286 Folsom at 9th!). I thought we’d sell at least one “Sluts Unite” T-shirt, but I guess they couldn’t do that on duty.

Here’s a few stories (don’t know how long the links will last):

The secret to a good life, I’ve always said, is good stories. This qualifies.