What a mess. There will be no convention in Detroit. The Hotels have all agreed. The Federation itself is going to abandon conventions altogether…they aren’t worth the grief. Among other things an entire floor was flooded by some kids spraying foam all through the halls. The usual vandalism occurred. Apparently some parents dropped their kids off in registered rooms and took off for Vegas or Reno. I watched by the elevator as cases after cases of beer were hauled up to rooms. It was evident from my interaction with the general manager of the place that Jackie’s contempt for us had been shared with him, and his with his staff. Jackie used us, plain and simple, as she does the plain and simple people around her to further her own plans. I’m sure she shared the managements “horror” and “disgust” with this savage bunch of people that she has “worked so hard for”. Whatever profits accumulated from this revolutionary advance of hers will be eaten up in repair bills. But Jackie will emerge triumphant, she always does…and it is the ease with which she can trump these chumps that makes us an attractive place for her to play her games. John Nimrod too has found about the only place on earth he can maintain some semblance of power and “respect”. Neither of these two people and any number of other leaders we have are worth a damn, they don’t count at all…it is we ourselves who matter here, and we have to demand better, far better.
Jackie had constructed a convention showcasing her and, to a much lesser degree, her San Jose club. The suites on the tenth floor were all booked for her people and “guests”. On the tenth floor each day there were breakfasts provided, special treats and of course suites with drawing rooms etc. Atour Golani, the president of the Federation, was given a regular room with double beds, and he was not included in any of the activities on the tenth floor. At one point, when Jackie had to see him about some business, she had to sit on the edge of one of the beds in their one room. At that, finally, Atour insisted that some respect be accorded the office of president, and after much stalling on the part of the hotel, he was moved to the ninth floor.
At the seminars and lectures the president attended he was asked to buy a ticket, as was his wife. There was a point early on when he called Jackie to the front desk and had her explain that he was the president, that she worked for the Federation, not the other way around. At that point he could have thanked her for all she’d done, and sent her home, relieving her of all “responsibility”. She was authorized to work for the Federation, this was a Federation event, not a Jackie Association event. He could have done it, but that isn’t Atour’s style. The man is used to working with professionals, he accords people respect and expects them to know how to behave. Well, these aint people. Jackie will take advantage of every opportunity to thrust herself into the limelight, Atour is the opposite. These are admirable qualities in the man, in the right place. You deal with a Jackie by delivering a sound kick periodically, it’s the language she best understands. The Lord doesn’t work in such mysterious ways…many of us have broad bottoms, but on very few people is that bottom tilted at just the right angle to receive well aimed kicks as it is on Jackie. She all but has a sign there saying, “kick me”.
This convention was designed to offend Atour, to embarrass the Federation and to set her apart as a woman trying valiantly to raise this nation of pickaninnies a step higher on the evolutionary ladder…a little closer to the tenth floor where she resides. You would have to know her as I do, to know what a foul-mouthed sailor she really is. The “class” you see is all surface polish, none of it runs deeper than the thick skin she has. She “motherfucks” with the best of them, and I don’t mind that at all…it’s the fact that she can’t even get that right which annoys me. She felt she had an ally in me because I too am critical of many aspects of our community…but my criticism isn’t motivated by a desire to place myself above anyone. I insist that we behave in ways which will eventually make it possible for me to be eclipsed…I know we have it in us. I criticize from love and impatience and greater expectations. She feels contempt in her heart for us all because she has contempt for herself. Jackie needs to be “better”, to best people…men especially…as if she were ever trying to prove to someone that she, as a daughter, was as good as if not better than any man, than any brother who might have been cherished more just because he was a boy and she “only” a girl.
Her mistake with me was ever believing that she bought more than sculpture. Having contempt for me also, a poor man in desperate need of supporting his family with the silly trinkets he produces, she felt I would be all kiss-ass grateful for the “help”. I have never done anything to give anyone that impression. It is rather in Jackie’s nature to buy people, to charm them, disarm them, then strong-arm them. I wouldn’t do that with anyone on principle…life isn’t worth living at “any” price…it has to have meaning and honor or what’s the point. It isn’t as if you’d live forever if only you’d eat enough shit…you’ll die eventually anyway but with a horrid taste in your mouth for all eternity.
When I appeared Monday morning to see about my sculptures, the general manager all but spit in my face. He said I had five minutes to collect the pieces and get out, otherwise just leave now and don’t come back. I had placed a display of Assyrian sculptures such as would make any people proud…I had asked one question…been asked to sign a non-contract, had merely refused and left as I was told to do. Nothing I did required such treatment, nothing except cross Jackie. The sculptures are there at the hotel in storage and as Jackie instigated this whole thing, and as she never sent me a waiver to sign, she bears direct responsibility for those pieces. I will never go pick them up.
On the evening that I left, my mother asked Jackie why they had resorted to all this. Her reply was that they were trying to avoid the kind of trouble they’d had in the past, that was why there was a contract for the artists to sign. My mother replied that past problems had never come from the artists, but from the drunken and wild teen-agers and adults. Jackie made no reply. It seems to me a contract to sign for all those renting rooms, agreeing not to take barrels of beer to their rooms, not to carve initials on walls, not to steal from rooms, not to ruin Hotel property…or else “get out”…would have been more appropriate, would have addressed the real problems…rather than a contract thrust at a sculptor on his last night there saying he must not MENTION the Shumirum Monument OR the Federation AND that he could not sell any sculpture. I was there to show people what Assyrians can make, to raise funds for the Hammurabi Monument…and I never had the chance to circulate a petition, again, asking Chicago to accept the Shumirum over one old fart’s objections.
People like Jackie and John are simple to deal with, to neutralize…but you need the right person to do it. Atour isn’t the one. He is far too kind and gracious, too focused on building consensus, on teamwork etc. The qualities he possesses which make him so well liked , respected and effective at his profession are not the ones to be used with this pack of hyenas. These people have no idea of what democracy means, what pluralism is, what constitutes due process, what the Constitution allows, what it mandates, what it protects as sacred, for violations of which you actually DO have recourse to Law. They have a foggy grasp of Robert’s Rules of Order, which they think means the “order” in which you commit one flagrant violation of common decency and simple logic after another.
And they are actually and really and truly capabale of being fooled by their own bullshit…of believing that when the staff or management of a hotel bow and scrape it is because you deserve it, not because you pay them These people bow to money…as Jackie does, as she is used to being bowed to for money…as any whore would bend over for the right price. Jackie is used to buying her respect by the Mercedes Benz car-full. She doesn’t care, she’ll take it any way she can get it, like that other bending-over one. Without the revenue we were able to provide the hotel…and without Jackie being the funnel through which those bucks would come to the Hotel, and without the covering of coins she drapes herself in, Jackie would be able to contribute nothing much for all the space she takes up. WE bought her that prestige for a week end…OUR money made her “somebody” to that Hotel. In return, of course, she bad-mouthed us in advance so that the Hotel Security and Police were ready and primed to toss us out…even for asking one question.
I can’t say that I’m sorry to see the conventions come to an end. It was in the cards. Our people, especially our young ones, need to see more of what could actually give them some pride in themselves. This humble pie we’ve been left to eat, which in the MidEast may have sufficed, grates against us as we live among people who have so much to be proud of in a country which is almost as great as out ancient civilization was. We force our children to run to American values and to define themselves by these standards because there is no real pride to being an Assyrian in the Modern Era. I know our old farts and leaders talk pride and greatness, but you can easily see from their behavior that they have no idea of what they speak, that it’s all words.
Perhaps it bothers out young men and women even more at these conventions when they see all too clearly that there is every reason to be ashamed, not proud…of a John Nimrod or that a Jackie Bejan is all flash and smoke. Maybe they are only given those things like dances and parties, which offend and inflame them even more, and their horrendous behavior is their way of rejecting the almost nothing they receive from this community of oursd which looks to them and their parties for revenues so it can maintain a “tenth floor” for leaders who would ne more spend their own money to live there then they would fly to the moon.
I don’t mean to absolve anyone of their responsibility…but I can’t see placing the whole thing on the shoulders of the young people, and allowing Jackie and John and the rest to walk away free of their responsibility. I could have been used much more effectively. I was supposed to give a talk about the destruction of artifacts. There is no way to force those young people to come and listen to anything meaningful, not at first. But we should have always made young people our target, way before they came to the conventions. A feeling of pride has to be instilled when they are younger and can’t be faked by marching bands, guest speakers, or ice cream socials. We all bear some responsibility for this, but none more than those who take it upon themselves to lead us. And in this case, none more than Jackie…whose only interest here was to add to her resume’. It was because I took away the Shumirum Monument which she was eager to exploit for that same resume’ that she became so furious and vengeful. The Monument, it’s acceptance and the unveiling ceremony, to which she would have invited all her “friends” in high places…was just what she needed. And I stopped her cold, and for that she has done all of this. A Hotel convention, especially as botched as this one was…couldn’t hold a candle next to the successful installation of a monument Chicago had been eager to get, the city that is…yet those “idiot” Assyrians couldn’t pull off. What a victory for her that would have been…and how we would have been used again by her. Not this time, baby…not this time.
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