I first met this man at a showing of his drawings at the Assyrian American Foundation of Berkeley in about 1984. We didn't hit it off...I'm not sure why, probably arrogance on my part for I was scared and full of myself, not at all sure the monument of Ashurbanipal was going to go anywhere when the San Francisco Arts Commission viewed it the first time, which was to happen around then...you always act snotty when you're afraid...nothing wrong with being afraid either...what WOULD I be when this was the first time in 2500 years that anyone was trying to set up an Assyrian public monument. What if I got laughed out of town, what would I say to all the Assyrians who'd backed the project, believing in me? I always knew that the trust they gave me was far more precious than the money, and they knew it too, to these people it wasn't just money they were risking, what they cared about much more was that I'd inspired them to "believe" and to fail them would have been horrible for all of us...I had no way of knowing.
Anyway, Hannibal and I kept apart for years till the state convention in LA this year. I went up, shook his hand and told him I thought he was a wonderful artist and poet...which he is.
Hannibal has been a teacher also most of his life, something I couldn't imagine doing. He is far more respected, far more...and supported by the Iranian community than he is by ours.
I wince now when I recall how several years ago he'd come from Tehran to Turlock California offering to teach Assyrian children art and painting and drawing...how he'd only asked the Civic Club to pay for materials and supply a place for him to do the work. He was asking this of the same association that just lost their license to play Bibgo...the ones who are run by a passle of crooks under investigation by the Police and IRS and DA now...the ones Ramin Odishoo is president of...a man who hasn't worked a day in his life but has stolen enough from our community to have three luxury cars a house and much much more. He wasn't presdient then, probably shaking schoolkids down for lunch money...it was a while ago. But the same sort were running the joint then.
They said they appreciated Hannibal's offer but would expect him to sweep up and clean the toilets at their Civic Club to pay for the supplies he was asking for with which to teach THEIR children Art...never asked them for a salary, the man isn't crazy!!
What can you say...are you too left speechless? I know many educated and cultured Assyrians have abandoned us to these sorts of "leaders" and "patriots", and they never should have...I shouldn't have either.
You don't run out of your house, leaving your children behind in the care of such idiots and incompetants...but we did it.
Let's take back the house that Ashur built.
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