Posted by farid from customer-148-233-93-52.uninet.net.mx (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 at 12:16PM :
Time heals all wounds and lends perspective...it also allows one to laugh at things that were just too shocking or upsetting at the time. The AANF convention coming round soon in Chicago brings to mind the last time I attended it there. That would be in 2000 when we were set to install the Shumirum till Nimrod did his thing.
The people in Chicago hosting the convention had sent out signals that made me nervous so I called the vice-president of the Federation and asked for a written invitation stating clearly what I could expect. I'd never felt the need for such a thing since I first started showing sculpture at conventions in 1978...but there had been "successes" since then and I'd seen enough of these people to know that brought out the worst in them. A letter came back, signed by the vice-president and someone else, stating that I would be given a room of my own to show my sculpture in.
And indeed I was given a very nice room, a sort of antechamber to the larger room where most of the talks and rallies took place. People had to walk through on their way in and out.
This took place at the Chicago Hilton Hotel by the lake. This is the flagship hotel out there, the one the president of the United States stays at so the staff is used to dealing with heavy hitters. That was what made the ruckus we had so damn funny. The second day the local thug officials decided I had to remove all my sculpture because I'd dared print up a brochure explaining the situation with the Shumirum and asking people at the convention to sign a petition to the Arts Council...you know, like a Saddam wouldn't let you do...but you can do here in America?...if you aren't at an AANF convention...which is like a dictatorship away from home.
Two or three Assyrian thugs showed up and said I had to take eveything down. I refused. They said they would call hotel security...I told them to go ahead. They said they would call the police. I told them to go ahead...this isn't Iraq, you know. Security came but weren't sure how to proceed because I showed them the letter from the vice-president saying I could have the use of the room I was in for my sculpture...which is what I was doing. Then the chief of security for the hotel was called...a very nice gentleman used to dealing with all sorts of people...almost. I remained calm, why get excited? The thugs were gesticulating wildly, glad to have an audience and going on about 1345 and Simele and the Baath party and plots and traitors and the greatness that used to be in them, 3000 years ago, when there used to be an Assyria...till the poor fellow started to sweat. He kept trying to get from the thugs just what their complaint was, since all I was doing was displaying sculpture as the officials of their own organization had authorized me to do.
Finally...to win the point, one thug said and I quote, "This is not a lettrrr frrromm Gat (God)"! That put a dent in the discussion. I guess they meant that since it wasn't from Gat it wasn't binding on anyone...didn't have to be obeyed. It only came from the executives of their own Federation...and who had to listen to anything they said? It was a nice way for them to slander themselves some more...which is the Assyrian Patriot's patriotic duty par excellence.
I couldn't think of anything to say after that...neither could the chief of security. We were dealing with people who decided the last word could be had by finding the least relevant point to make, as a clincher. We both knew full well the letter hadn't come from God...why would it? We said all along it came from their vice-president...what did God have to do with the AANF? But we were foolish enough to think their organization meant what it said and could stick to its word for two weeks at a time. Seeing we weren't going to get anywhere trying to talk sense to these thugs, the chief turned to me and said something like..."I really don't know what's going on, but they're from the organization that gave you the letter, who are paying for these rooms, and if they now want to say you can't be in this room, you'll have to pack up." I had no hard feelings towards him...hell I was embarrassed and felt sorry for him. But I had to refuse. This nonsense had to stop sometime. If the AANF couldn't guarantee its own decisions, in its own letters, made by its own officials...a decision that cost me a lot of time and trouble and expense to crate and ship all those bronzes, not to mention the plaster upper torso of Hammurabi...then let the AANF suffer right along with me...why should I creep away like I did something wrong and leave them to feel justified and ready to do more of the same whenever they got another National Hair up their federated arse?
So the police were called and, just as confused, said they couldn't arrest me because I hadn't broken any law but if any AANF official wanted to make a citizen's arrest they'd go along with it. All three thugs leaped at the chance but before they could proceed Jackie waded into the room and resolved the problem nicely. I was allowed to stay, keep my sculptures on display and got to address the delegates to ask their help with the Shumirum.
It was the next day that two of the thugs...one of them was the AANF security chief...accosted me in the hotel lobby and threatened to smash my teeth in, break all my sculptures and put me in a hospital. That time it was my turn to call the police and they ran away. I agreed not to pursue the matter when the head thug pleaded with me not to, so the other thugs could come out of hiding, "Lions Of Assyria"...you know, because he needed them to sell tickets to a dance or some such National piece of critical business. The hotel and the chief of the local precinct who showed up took the threat seriously...I thought it was funny. To cap the whole silly thing the thugs asked to shake my hand later the same day, one of them, the one who was going to beat me up, tried to hug me, but I stiff-armed him and said, "did you think we meant it"? and asked us out to dinner, which I declined.
Now doing all of this in the first place is crazy enough...but to come around later the same day and want to hug and kiss..? And it never once dawned on them what damage we'd done to our name by behaving in such a way in public and at that particular hotel...but then they're so used to sliming the name and embarrassing us that they don't mind the attention at all, on the contrary...at least someone now knows "Assyrians Exist!"...did I think I was the only one who could get us attention?
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