Before I forget all the details let me write them down. On Friday I set up the sculptures at the farthest end of the main hallway. I covered them each with a black shroud and tied yellow ribbon tightly round each piece so you could see the contours. On the face of each sculpture I attached a paper with excerpts from the excellent article David sent us a while back in his "Death by Sanctions" post. When people asked if I would unveil the pieces I said I would do so on Sunday evening...and I did a couple of hours ago.
We arrived today at the hotel around 4 in the afternoon. A political rally was underway and when I entered the room John Nimrod was at the podium and everyone was struggling to stay awake..."everybody" means about twenty people. John's speech had the usual element..."we should all come together, put aside our differences, work to GET RECOGNITION etc etc. A few other speakers took the mike and you'd have thought each had a gun to his head...so "animated" were they.
Then there came a question session. I raised my hand and waited my turn. Carlo Ganjeh avoided me as best he could but finally acknowledged me. I went to the mike provided for questions and asked...why John Nimrod had blocked the installation of the Shumirum Monument with a threatened lawsuit, when placing it in Chicago all these years would have done exactly what he was "talking" about. Carlo interrupted me saying I was out of order, asked two men to remove me...but I stayed and waited for a reply. None came. I went to the back of the room and stood there. Some one had alerted Jackie because she came over with their chief of security and they said Jackie wanted me out because I was being disruptive. I said I'd merely asked a question, hadn't raised my voice etc. They conferred, decided if I behaved I could remain, but they stationed two gurds on either side. I left after that and went to see the chief of security for the hotel who said they would remove me whenever Jackie gave the word...that she was their customer...meaning she had collected enough money from Assyrians to rent the entire hotel for her resume'. I asked if it mattered at all if I did anything or not, his response was that it didn't matter at all...Jackie says I'm gone, and they escort me out.
Our next stop was with the general manager of the hotel who essentially said the same thing. It was obvious that Jackie had filled his ear already. The Doubletree Hotel is owned by the Hilton which was where last years ruckus took place. But in the conversation that followed it was clear she had told them that I had caused the trouble, even though the Federation's own chief of security had been the one wanted for questioning, for threatening me.
We left his office and went back to where the sculptures were now on display...I'd removed the shrouds. Within minutes a very nice gentleman came up and bought one...a maquette of Ashurbanipal. While we were chatting, Alphonse, Jackie's vice-president along with the Federation's vice-president Alladin Khamis (owns a gas station in Chicago) came down the hall and stopped before me. Alphonse said they'd problems the year before with some T shirt vendor who'd claimed his T shirts had been stolen...I interrupted to say that was Walter and that happend two years ago. He said, not Walter, another vendor, so they had decided that all vendors and artists would have to sign this contract or agreement.
I said I'd read it and see what I would do. After the first paragraph I asked them to bring Atour over. They brought him and when we repaired to another room to talk, Alladin came as well...he told Atour as vice-president he had a right to listen in...I think they don't trust Atour with me and wanted to listen in on our conversation.
I read the rest of the letter. The second and third paragraphs refered to me specifically. They wrote that "no artist" must say anything about the Sumuramat...cannot sell any artwork...and can not say anything about the Federation. Having already seen price tags on all the artwork of the other artists, I asked Atour if they were also agreed "not to sell". Atour stumbled a bit and said the others had agreed to give a kick-back to the Federation. That was a lie he made up right then and there. And, as president, he will have to repeat that and everything else he said under oath.
It's obvious this contract was made just for me. I said it made no sense to give it to me on Sunday night, the last day of the convention, without benefit of legal advice or anything. I refused to sign it. I already knew they would escort me out...I'd had enough and said I was leaving.
My mother has just now come from there and says they've placed a barrier so that people can't see the sculptures even. Some were peeking around the barrier...San Jose City Police Officers were stationed there she says. They told my mother if I come back tonight they will escort me out...they told her to tell me I should not return...they would put the sculpture in storage.
So...people will be stopped by Jackie and the police from even seeing the sculptures. This last minute contract...aimed at me alone, is so damn illegal as it will make people shudder...it will show these people up once and for all for what they are. These people ARE NOT working for "us"...WE are working for THEM. It is all intended to provide a platform for their ambitions...and the dummies think I'm doing the same thing.
I will sue them one by one. They will ALL cave in before going into court...especially Jackie...for she has the most to lose. I will write to Harriet Traurig...even though Jackie will get to her first, and tell her how Jackie worked the whole thing for her own benefit.
As my lawyer told them in the letter...the Federation's own tax exempt status is on the line. The Federation itself donated $10,000 to the Ashurbanipal and another ten to the Shumirum...and on top of that, the Hammurabi Monument is being sponsored by the same Federation that STOPPED me from getting donors to a project that THEY themselves run the funds through THEIR acount!! This is SO patently illegal...and this time we go all the way...we get into the courtroom.
I have never been asked to sign any contract or document, and I doubt other artists were asked to sign the one I did. My mother said Alphonse showed her one that other artists had signed but it was different than the one they showed me..it had no mention of not talking about Sumuramat or not mentioning the Federation. That is exactly what the lawyer warned them was illegal...it constitutes a boycott, it is prejudicial, it is discriminatory and SO OBVIOUSLY motivated by ONE woman's anger over something personal and unrelated...that it will stink to high heaven.
They're used to pushing us around like this, issuing edicts and orders and position papers and conducting "business", like children playing office...with no idea of the larger world we live in...this "democracy" they haven't the faintest notion of.
I'm going to have to watch what I say here from now on regarding this. I'll call the lawyer this week and ask him to begin proceedings. But I'll tell you EXACTLY how this thing will come down. I will sue Jackie personally, sue her San Jose Association and sue the Federation. I will push hard on their tax-exempt status over which they are very vulnerable already...the Civic Club helps this case as well.
They will say I am destructive and a trouible maker...and they are right...I will destroy their stranglehold on us...not by calling for support or an uprising...but merely by showing them the hard way how unfit they are to tackle anything more serious than a fashion show or two.
Jackie has political ambitions. She is using the "heart" and feelings of our people to give her a base...and a list of accomplishments she can shop around to the non-Assyrian community. We are usually so flattered by attention we don't look any farther. Jackie knows...she has TOLD me repeatedly at late night gab fests around her dining room table...how she uses people, for their good of course...how she has them in her hand and on and on.
John Nimrod and she have told everyone they "help" me and I am ungrateful. They have lied the lies people want to believe...not the truth. Alphonse, Jackie's vice-president, told my mother we can get an Italian and pay him $200,000.00...that all I've done is copy from a book etc.
The truth is I have been selling my own sculpture for years now and using the profits to build these monuments. Only IBM "gave" money and Helen Schwarten, and Helen knew how to maintain her own respect and mine. If these people persist in this I will have the IRS visit each and every one of them who wants to insist they "donated" anything...and explain how they got a full deduction for a donation that EQUALLED the amount they donated. Not a ONE of them donated...they BOUGHT! It is MY money I've been using all these years...these monuments are MINE, they belong to ME...I choose to donate them on behalf of the community...no one OWNS them...they are OURS above all else.
It's late...I'm tired...more later, though I'll have to be carefull what I say here. I can tell you that people tonight were disappointed they couldn't see the work...there was no reason for this but what the lawyer said...it was personal animus on Jackie's...that's all...and THAT will come out in court and they will all have to pay for Jackie's fit of pique...and this is exactly what we've done. Let these guys run barn dances...even that is beyond them, but they'll do less damage.
Every lie, every deception that we usually practice on each other, will be aired in public, as they HAVE to be...we will never get anywhere with these people using our name for their own benefit.
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