Posted by Farid from customer-148-233-71-69.uninet.net.mx (22.214.171.124) on Monday, June 09, 2003 at 10:36AM :
Seems we've become popular down here. I know we have someone reading almost daily from the State Department...Howdy. All you'll find here are red bloodied Americans and one idiot Kraut.
I wanted to send a note to the Chaldeans in Detroit and the others who donated to the Hammurabi Monument. Some time has passed now so a review is in order.
First off...I was never going to make any money off the monument...which is the one thing you all live for, so right from the start I was a pretty weird duck to you all. All most of you could think of was, "there HAS to be a scam somewhere"! To prove the point I even got a quote from an American, White Bread, Foundry in Jersey that would have done the job for $2000 more than I was charging you...and that's just for the cost of the thing...not a dime of profit or artist's fee, as we prefer to call it.
Now you'd think with nothing monetary to gain I wouldn't have a whole lot of enthusiasm for the project...you'd be wrong. You'd think that way because many of you make your money selling party favors and wine to Winos or dry cleaning their vomit...not the sort of thing anyone would want to do unless there was a Cadillac, or three, in it for them.
I was as willing and as eager as a person can be...and as capable of putting up with the bullshit I well knew would be coming my way...having already made two monuments before I hit your town. What threw me the hardest was when that gigantic midget of a man, Atour "I'm Down Here" Golani, took it upon himself to weld my three models of Hammurabi for me in ways he thought would improve them. And this from the man who fell to his knees, an addmittedly short distance to fall, and wept before the monument of Ashurbanipal in San Francisco. I had to remind Golani that so long as the company he worked for, Ford Motor, couldn't make cars that didn't self-destruct, he should concentrate on his work and let me get on with mine.
The upshot was that the ad-hoc committe that formed to get the monument built decided I should sign a contract with them before I got another dime...of my own money. I wasn't about to sign away my right to make my own sculpture as I saw fit, and certainly not to a man who'd already shown scant respect or appreciation for the integrity of my work, his tears notwhithstanding.
I would remind you all again that I was the one paying for the monument...not any of you. I was selling to you bronze models of the proposed monument for $6,000. Out of that I was paying to have your model cast and shipped...the balance going to pay for the monument. No one "gave" me aything...any more than you "give" GM anything for a Cadillac. You BUY cars and you were buying models of what would have been a unique public monument...something that would have increased in value as your Cadillacs got old, leaked oil and depreciated. So, the idea that you all GAVE me money...and that I reneged and walked away with a "bundle" is absurd...as absurd as your claims to having any ethnic pride, even at a steep discount. In fact, I did a lot more work on that monument than I got paid for...and it broke my heart a lot more than your wallets when I destroyed the piece. I did it myself because I wasn't about to let any of you take the credit for it.
Do us all a favor...donīt talk about your "pride" again, unless it's the pride you take in a new Cadillac. I've been told I should stay away from Detroit, that you Chaldeans are a rough sort who wouldn't think twice about doing me harm. If your reputation for being tough people is based on the sort of flimsy stuff your ethnic "pride" is...I don't see why I can't stroll down your main drag in broad daylight. My Grandfather was Chaldean. All I have to do is watch my back...same as with Assyrians. Seems we don't have much of a reputation for facing anything.
note: I should say that the above rant isn't meant for everyone I came in contact with. The proudest moment of all for me, in the twenty years I've been working with our community, came when three individuals, none of them Chaldean or from Detroit, wrote out checks for a model of Hammurabi before any of us knew what it would look like. To achieve that level of trust among our people, for the Arts no less, is just this side of miraculous. And then there was the charming, elegant and most gracious woman, president of the Ladies of Charity for one of the Chaldean churches in Detroit, as well as her equally distinguished husband who was president of the the group who own the Southfield Manor...each of whom bought a model. But the project failed because of the usual backbiting and narrow-mindedness which is the ONE national characteristic of ours, in our "National Diapers" and against which no amount of goodwill or dedication has so far been able to succeed.
The first monument, of Ashurbanipal, was completed and installed in San Francisco before anyone knew what was happening (though a few "farsighted" individuals tried to kill it)...that a change was in the air. The second, of Shumirum, was built but never installed in Chicago, and has collected dust in storage for six years, because more people began to get an inkling of what might come...the third, the Hammurabi, was killed before it could even be finished in plaster...never made it to bronze. By then many more people, this Leedershit From Hell of ours especially, had awakenned to the fact that a very different way of expressing pride in this magnificent Heritage of ours was about to become a reality and they blanched with fear and then turned purple, the official color of ZOWAA, with anger at the thought that they might no longer be needed or appreciated.
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