Posted by pancho from pool0265.cvx25-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net (22.214.171.124) on Sunday, December 15, 2002 at 4:13PM :
....Francis "The Talking Mule" Sarguis.
Those of you who might think I'm doing Narsai any favors by writing about him are wrong. The last thing he wants is exposure on these thingies. So why do it? Especially when every Gassbag whose name is Bejanian will be clucking in anticipation of my fall from grace...just to "prove" the lies she's been spreading...that Narsai is seriously pissed at me for my destructive behavior..."so THERE"!
He's been my pal and patron since 1983, when we first met. I'll tell you a secret...I've always maintained that I'd have done this work even if I'd never met him...but I can't be sure of that. I give him credit where it's due, and he deserves a lot of credit for taking the chance he did, and still is...it's just hard for me to imagine I would have let anything stand in my way...still, it's also true that I got farther with these monuments when I was just making them and he was in charge...didn't have to wangle the money as well...something he was able to do better, as well as hold the rudder steady on the Ashurbanipal...where I was all for throwing people overboard. The artist isn't SUPPOSED to also be the financier and liason. We're most of us madmen and women who lock ourselves away in dungeon/studios for good reason.
Helen Schwarten was another pal and patron...something her brother and others who eyed her money couldn't tolerate. We didn't get to know each other too well, and I doubt if she would have taken the flyer on me Narsai did...given the different temperment, distance and the few times we met...but she was onboard from the start almost and died waiting on her idiot brother John Nimrod to get out of the way and allow the monument she'd paid half the cost of to be installed. There's your whiney-assed Assyrian representative for you. He DOES represent a part of "us"...but not a part to be proud of.
There really isn't any way to "handle" people like Narsai or Helen. You can't flatter them...they're wise to every angle...every move in that game. They see it coming a mile away. Your best shot is to be true to yourself and have a self worth the bother. Narsai will never be as angry as he will if you try to fawn over him...if he senses you're pulling a "Bejanian" on him. Jackie isn't interested in you for your sake...Narsai is...she isn't concerned for our sakes either...Narsai is.
What stunned Jackie so much, in my case and with Jeff...her "naked warrior" (sorry)...was the way we said, "no". Even after she'd lavished all that perfumed bullshit on us. I knew, from the day I met her, that she was a self-serving tart...pastry I mean, as in cupcake. If you could benefit from anything she did while helping herself...you were welcome...but don't ever imagine she'd help anyone else first.
Narsai comes at you differently. Sure he wants to help his own cause...cause that's how he got into a position to be of help to anyone else...but he knows to bite his tongue when it comes to a choice of getting his way...or allowing you yours...if your way is something he can believe in...even if he isn't convinced at the moment.
That's the crucial difference between Narsai and Bejanian, Nimrod, Golani...the whole depressing crew. Narsai knows well enough what he knows...and he knows what he doesn't. He'll fight like hell with you and wait eagerly to see what you have to say for yourself...so many times we clashed over art and politics...left off in a boiling passion...and so many times I'd hear him much later express an idea I'd had to fight just to get said. He was open to learn from you, but by god you'd better know what the hell you were about. He was testing me from our first meeting...all the time testing me...and he still is, and with any luck won't stop. The only way I would have flunked was to think ahead to what I might lose, to be "clever" instead of honest...to worry over what practical advantage I might have to do without, if I pissed him off...and yet the surest way to do just that would be to pull my punches.
I'm testing him back now...doing it by publicly raising concerns about the efficacy of the work the AAS is doing. I'm counting on him to know me well enough to know I'm not angling for his help with my work...that I think what I do is more important. We'll see.
Jackie, Golani, Nimrod and others, had no qualms about welding sculpture...deciding on pedestals, on subject matter...on getting in the way...about using you and your work for their own ends...that's because they're louts and barbarians under the make-up and perfume and Assrin rhetoric. Narsai...as unvarnished a person as you could imagine...has a character that comes shining through...hell you can't get him to HIDE a single wart of it. The man has Class...from the inside out...and this comes to you from someone whose been the recipient of some pretty whithering exchanges...but they were clean. There isn't anything underhanded or devious about the guy...whereas in stark contrast, Golani is presented to us as an honest and virtuous person by his own efforts and those of his wife and friends when he's this close to a worm as a man can get.
So...where does that Talking Mule come in?
Narsai's been invited to join the board of trustees of a rather exclusive and prestigous private college in the immediate Bay Area. I'm not about to reveal its name because Francis Sarguis will feel compelled to write to them and warn them that they might as well have chosen Somoza...and did they know Narsai had only.........when he tried to pretend he'd..............? He'll first preface his comments with the time he himself went to Iraq to "see what was what"...and mention the paper he read at Marbella...stun them with examples of his "critical faculties" when his faculties are really in crisis...and end by saying that although he loves all Assyrians and especially approves of the good work of the AAS...still, "honesty" compells him to let them know that Narsai is tainted.
What "taints" Narsai is the mean and virulent envy directed at him by a man who jast barely made it as a lawyer while flunking miserably at everything else (Remember you Putz...you're married to my first cousin...and I know her better than you ever will).
When we first talked about the invitation to join their board...that has several captains of BIG industry on it...he was hesitant...or was pretending to be to see what I would say...we provide that sort of slapping around for each other. I thought it was an honor well worth the trouble because Narsai isn't just successful at his profession...he's successful as an Assyrian too...known as an Assyrian and works as an Assyrian. He didn't need me to tell him any of that...knew it already.
Let me the first to congratulate him...for all of us.
pss. Get pissed...see if I care.
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