Posted by farid from customer-148-233-78-77.uninet.net.mx (188.8.131.52) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 at 1:25PM :
Assyrian Prisoners at The Bar
In the film, "Meet John Doe", there's an "AHA!" moment when John Doe realizes with a shock that the rich fat cats would rather destroy a good thing, if they can't control it. That's been the one overiding experience I've had with our community leaders and organizations.
Homer Ashurian, treasurer, doorstop and spitoon for the AUA had no reason to insist to Helen that the helmet on Sargon II was a Viking helmet. In the first place, he's no expert on Assyrian art, beyond the superficial stuff we all think we know. But besides, even if the helmet with horns was fixed in popular lore as belonging to the Vikings...still it was significant that, way before them, the Assyrians had originated this design...as any glance at our Winged Bulls shows...not to mention the stelae of Naram-Sin. "Balls and Horns"...that was us baby.
Homer's purpose was twofold, neither reason having anything to do with the good of the community. First of all they were all pissed that Helen was sending that much money out West...their pride being very regional. The money should have been spent right there, at AUA headquarters on Clark Street, Chicago...(where there are no Afro-Americans). They were pissed also that I seeemd to have found a magic key to unlock Helen's moneychest...when all I did was respond to her request...the kings' portraits was her idea, not my suggestion. And, of course, there was the visibility thing...these sculpture projects were in danger of making a "name" for me in their community...and as an outsider, you know, from the village on the other side of the mountain...why should they be placed in a secondary position to me? Who did I think I was and etc. Thus primitively do these leading experts think to use us. So Homer set about to disparage my work to Helen, as I'm sure Dimrod did also. As a result they have a head of Sargon II wearing what is now recognized as a Viking helmet by all the experts who recently stated without a doubt that Vikings NEVER had horns on their helmets. Thanks to Homer they got it wrong...right there in the "Ashurbanipal Museum Basement and Storage Collection".
Looking back...I'm glad I took the horns off, though it bothered me at the time to knuckle under to those knuckleheads...but now, let their Sargon wear his Viking helmet as a reminder of just how stupid and shallow and mean and self-seeking these leaders and experts and historians and authors are. There is apparently nothing simpler to accomplish in the world than to become a professional anything-you-want-to-be among Assyrians. In fact, being Assyrian, laying claim to such a powerful Heritage is easier than letting go a fart. If it were any harder, there wouldn't BE any Assyrian heroes and partiots and whatnots.
Then there's John Nimrod, a man so unfathomably low down you can't get to his bottom. He had no use for Assyrians till the Jews turned him out of office as a state senator. There being nowhere else for him to go and nothing else for him to do, he discovered his roots and embraced us all. He gave not a penny to the Shumirum, but thinks to have it for himself anyway...because his sister gave money. Even she knew she didn't own it...you can't claim the ambulance your donation bought for the Red Cross. Helen, as all the donors to the Shumirum knew, weren't "buying" a monument. They were merely funding its construction so it could be given to the Arts Council of Chicago for installation...if they accepted it. He justifies himself by telling about Knee-grows and wild frisbee tossing students...says the site wouldn't do justice to Assyrians etc because a century ago there were slaughterhouses nearby...even though one of the world's most outstanding collections of Assyrian artifacts and centers for scholarly research and teaching is also RIGHT THERE!
What does it say about us that we tolerate a leader like this...that he's still a featured speaker at conventions and political meetings, that he goes as a representative of "our's" to meetings around the world...that this man would threaten to sue Chicago if it dared install the Shumirum Monument...and has held that threat over them to this day? He isn't interested in havng the Shumirum in Chicago...isn't interested in what good it might do...all he cares about is that HE didn't make..that HE can't take credit for it...that HE didn't get to pick the site...that it won't go up in HIS neighborhood or, now, at HIS new AUA treehouse and that, therefor, it can't do HIM any good and, just possibly, might diminish his "stature" in Chicago. Like the fat cat in the movie, he'd far prefer to destroy it, and anything else, if it rivals or challenges HIS hold on whatever fame he thinks he has achieved. I'll melt the damn thing first.
Then we have Atour Golani, the pygmy of Detroit...a small man in every sense of the word, starting from the inside and building down. How I'd love to have him on a witness stand before a crowded courtroom and jury.
Mr. Golani..."would you like a phone book, or ten, to sit on...can you hear me"? Very well then, can you explain to the court the conditions under which you welded together the sculptures I sent to you...even though I told you over the phone not to do so...that this was the way I wanted them to be.
Golani (raising himself up):
I thought they looked better the other way...with Hammurabi welded on his throne.
Mr. Golani, I may think you'd look better with blue hair. Does that give me the right to dye it for you?
I don't understand the question...I didn't weld your hair.
What I mean to say is that your opinions about how my sculpture might be improved, don't give you the right to make changes to them. These weren't even pieces purchased by you...you were merely delivering them to their rightful owners. But tell me, what work do you do...and what art or sculpture education or experience have you had.
Golani (Really struggling to sit up now):
I have a Master's degree in engineering and not just from anyplace, but from Columbia University. (Really getting into it now) See, I was living in Detroit at the time but I flew to classes in New York...it's better to get a degree from Columbia...you know. As far as work goes, I work on transmission and rear end design for Ford Motor Company...where I have my own parking space.
That's mighty impressive. What about any Art education?
None. But I don't think you need any to know what you like. I thought the pieces would look better if they were welded together because the other way you could see the bottom of Hammurabi.
Mr. Golani...are you aware that you can see the bottom of any sculpture...if you look there?
I just felt our people would prefer it if his butt was welded to his throne.
But sir, your people could have flipped the throne upside down and seen the bottom of THAT! Where does this thing end? Do you think it might be time for your people to learn the proper way to view sculpture? That if you look for the bottom of something..you will invariably find it?
It would be worth the price of addmission just to watch and hear Golani explain how he, a mid-level engineer whose cars have a way of self-destructing, felt perfectly justified in altering my design...like I have no right to control my own work...while "his" people might not know their ass from their hole in the ground. You can't even risk handing "his people" a sculpture that isn't clearly marked, "this is the bottom, do not put this end up"
And we mustn't forget Alphonse Odishoo, another engineer/statesman/poet. The only title there you have to actually be certified in is the one conferred by white folk who expect their engineers to actually know someting...as far as "statesman" or "poet" goes...what the hell, anyone can be one because you can't get that title anywhere...so give it to yourself, who cares?
Alphonse writes poetry. He's so out of it that he thinks nothing of following a reading by two of our finest and REAL poets with a little ditty having much more of dit to it than wit. But...he's worked hard for "Assyria"..right? So let him end the evening with his own composition, knocked off in between engineering ("honestly, these artistes..what a big deal they make of it...they must be such incompetants, no Benz even...lookit me..a poem per coffee break").
Last, but not least...anywhere on her, is Jackie Bejan. How despicable is this woman?...let me cunt the ways. Let's get the sex thing out of the way. I never meant to imply that Jackie ACTUALLY wanted to have sex with me. I don't think she's sexual anyway. But she most definitely hangs it out there to trap the foolish. In my case, I wouldn't take even a hint and was scrupulously indifferent to all her meagre charms. But that only angered her and drove her to more outrageous behavior. There had to be SOMETHING she could show me...or mention...or hint at, that would lead me to make that fatal error.
Then there was the money thing. Jackie is a person who buys glory, buys attention, buys friends, buys your good opinion...she goes through life using cash where the rest of us might fall back on character. In our community especially does this sort of thing sit well...with a certain class of people...and those are the ones she wants to "lead"...miraculous coincidence, ain't it?
By Jackie's lights she'd spent a fortune on my stuff...half that amount should have been more than enough to turn anyone's head and make him or her docile and maleable. Surely I wouldn't risk it...would I? Using her own love of the stuff and her need to cover an awesome naked emptiness...she assumed the money would be as necessary to me, to maintain who I am, as it is to her. Sure, I need the stuff to feed my children and pay expenses...but it doesn't MAKE me the way it has to do for Jackie. Jackie, stripped of money, is Jackie stripped of flesh...left raw and bleeding. The woman lives for show, for outward appearances and believes that enough money covering her over in jewels and ill-fitting clothes and cars will blind us all with splendor, bought and paid for.
She became increasingly wary of what I was writing...unsure if she wanted to be associated with me in people's minds..so she sent little notes, teasingly suggesting I cut back...trim a litle. There was no, "or else", implied or spoken...but it was there and knowing it made me all the more inclined to watch myself to make sure I didn't "cut back" anywhere. Her dilemna was that she desperately wanted the Shumirum to go up in San Jose...but not without first making the biggest fandangle out of it she could. She went about the thing ass backwards...almost ensuring that there would be "obstacles", just so she could overcome them through her "contacts".
What was a simple matter of showing photos and answering technical questions, became a mission, with her minions and she explaining and teaching and so on. When I suggested the way to proceed was NOT to start with the mayor and board of Supervisors, she replied that San Jose was "different"..that this was how you had to proceed. What she meant to say was that the Shumirum was the ideal vehicle to raise her profile downtown and in city hall...and she was going to drag it to every office, before every public official she could get in to see so there would be no mistake about who did the, "hard work for Assyria" and got the mounument installed...when all I managed to do was leave it sitting in storage. But, it sat in storage and was only available for San Jose at all because at the other end of the country there was another person built just like her...one who was looking to see how best to suit himself...what was in it for THEM, by fooling us all into thinking they work so hard for Assyria.
San Francisco and Chicago, arguably two of the fussiest and toughest American cities to get monuments into, had been a piece of cake. In the case of Chicago, whose public art collection is by far the greatest in the country, I didn't even have to make a personal appearance...just photographs of the Shumirum were enough to get us a site unparalleled...if you cared anything about Assyrian history and continuity.
But that isn't what drives the Jackies. It's their own history and continuity they're concerned with...how will this thing benefit them? What will it add to their own personal agenda and, most of all...will it threaten THEM in any way...threaten their claim to being indispensible and vitally important to whatever it is they think they're achieving. When Jackie pulled out of the Shumirum, she made certain the San Jose arts commission was poisoned as far as the Shumirum was concerned. I'm sure of it. I attended two meetings myself where the atmosphere was cordial, even though the commissioners could tell something was brewing in our "community".
All that was left was to assess the monument's artistic merit...the site having been agreed upon. But at that last meeting the atmosphere was drastically different, with two of the members raising the issue of this "violent" queen...of how "that region" had been prone to war and bloodhsed...3000 years ago...and maybe "some people" would react negatively at this time to being reminded etc. We never even got to the Shumirum's artistic merit as a piece of sculpture, instead we were back at the old argument about how brutal etc. the Assyrians were. That was pure bullshit and if we had any kind of community at all...we could easily have persuaded them otherwise...after all, just when does an American finally become an American? If they can excuse the Japanese and Germans and have their monuments in America...how about forgiving the "brutal" Assyrians who, LIKE THE IRAQIS, never attacked the United States in the first place, or ever. The arguments were shallow and of no merit...straw dogs it would have been easy to chase away. But by then Jackie had spread the word, "buy sculpture from him or support him and you're dead in San Jose". One woman friend who expressed outrage at Jackie's double dealing was warned to be quiet...because she owned a small business that depended in part on Assyrian customers...(even this hint will drive Jackie to go through her black book and heart to match, to find which businesses is owned by an Assyrian women).
But Jackie, at least, I will have the chance to get before a jury and court room...thanks to her own doing...and I don't know how to thank her enough, except to make it a memorable occasion, one she can always say she got her money's worth for. Either Shawn convinces the arbitrator that there is a good cause to go to trial...or else everyting I ever wrote and drew about her goes right back up. And there will be more...lots. And I'll do it from another country so there's nothing she can do about it...as I'm also going to make a sculpture of her...a serious one, for galleries here and elsewhere that will also use her name and likeness.
If we go to trial and I can't see how we won't...I sure as hell wont do anything to avoid it...whatever is said there becomes part of the public record and they can't sue me for printing the public record...the reasoning being that if Jackie is stupid enough to lay her privates bare in front of a courtroom full of people...she can't claim "privacy" after that. But it makes no difference...the one lesson Jackie will learn about Art is that it is a far more powerful tool than any ten lawyers she can buy...you just have to be dedicated to your Art...and I am.
I'll make a monumental fool of Jackie, my last monument...that's still a monument and monuments are what I set out to do. If I couldn't raise Shumirum anywhere to bring us some glory...then I'll raise a monument to Jackie...OF Jackie...for all the world to see that we prefer...and really only deserve these kinds of monuments.
Producing, worshipping, living in fear or in awe of Jackies is what were all about. Then let's not be ashamed...let's not keep it a secret among ourselves...let's trumpet it to the world!
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