"We are not responsible for removing such items. Even a car can become a habitat for wildlife." -Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer Jorge Pino, Miami Herald, Jan. 24, 2011
"The intent of these kids was certainly not to go out there and litter, per se. It was to create some sort of an art project." -FWC officer Jorge Pino, Miami Herald, Jan. 27, 2011
“The officers asked me, ‘Should your mom get arrested? Or should you get arrested?’” -16 year-old Nick Harrington quoted by the New York Times, Jan. 27, 2011
"The bottom line is that this is completely against the law. People caught doing it will be arrested." -FWC officer Jorge Pino, Miami Herald, Jan.29, 2011
What a difference a week makes. Along with some national news coverage.
When the Miami Herald first reported the mysterious appearance of a piano on a Biscayne Bay sandbar, officials shrugged it off. A spokesman for the state's Fish and Wildlife Commission went so far as to call the piano a "habitat for wildlife."
But that was then.
Less than a week later officials have adopted a no-nonsense stance against...well, nonsense.
On Friday, a day after the piano was removed from the bay, the Herald reported that "a café table and two chairs -- complete with tablecloth, place settings, a bottle of wine" appeared on the sandbar.
FWC spokesman Jorge Pino now says people caught doing this sort of thing will be arrested.
Get in a boat and cruise along Biscayne Bay and you'll see miles of shoreline littered with trash and garbage.
But Pino wants everyone to know there will be no artistic expression in the bay on his watch. Like Barney Fife, he plans to "nip this in the bud!"
I experienced first-hand the government's ham-fisted approach to art when I tried to take a few pictures on Piano Island last Thursday.
A police officer and county environmental official showed up as I was preparing to shoot pictures of the piano.
They looked on in bewilderment as they inspected some props my crew and I had placed on the piano. The police officer even demanded to see my identification!
Later in the afternoon, they were still talking about me.
Annabel Harrington, the mother of the boy who put the piano in the bay, told the Herald that "an FWC officer told her that someone had placed a candelabra atop the piano. A photographer had also hauled out fashion models for a photo shoot."
Actually, they weren't fashion models, Jorge. They were mermaids! There's a difference, you know.
So to all of you who are plotting the next random act of art; you've been warned.