Posted by pancho from pool0056.cvx20-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 at 7:30AM :
Our body politic is rotten...our culture is diseased. We know that. These leaders of ours are simply the points at which the putrescence pops up...Blackheads too...not just Blockheads.
I'm forced to use myself as an example because we don't have that many instances of people trying to fix things from the inside. We are just as famous for driving our children out...keeping only the ones who must have the one basic quality of "poor ability and spirit" to be truly loved and taken in. The rest, the rebellious ones, the ones who can't conform, or be a party to their own undoing...we get rid of.
If you put a Jackie Bejan in charge of an art show...you will have to settle for the kind of artist who isn't likely ever to point out that she isn't qualified...
Had Narsai remained within the community from the beginning, and had Jackie been in charge of providing him with the "opportunity" to show us his stuff...she would have slaughtered him.
There is a certain arrogance that comes with knowing your stuff. While you feel perfectly comfortable dealing with your peers, you are bound to resent the meddling of someone who understands nothing, but knows a good opportunity to enhance her own standing by usuing you...and in the process wrecking what it is you are known for in the first place.
It has hinted to me that people are waiting for me to drop this lawsuit business, and out of gratitude and relief, would purchase sculpture from me. Even my family's difficulties, my children's ability to enjoy some presents at Christmas, has been mentioned. So why don't I do the "right thing"?
Because it's the wrong thing masquerading as something else. The whole point to all of this was not my economic well being...but OUR well being. You cannot have a Jackie or a lying worm like Atour Golani running the show...not if the show is about excellence...these people can't inspire their own children...and they put the rest of us to sleep or to shame.
There was no good reason for them to do this. Except the usual reason...that however they do it, they must be the ones to determine who stays and who goes...and they've been mostly presiding over an exodus...one that is only growing.
Word has come back to me that Jackie is talking to people...that she is once again telling her side. And as she has three cars, is far more likely to be believed...we are like that...we assume worldly success confers legitimacy of another kind...makes you a spokesperson, an elder statesman, a whizz bang leader. It doesn't it...in fact it pretty much makes you useless because you bring the same standards with you from the office...and it is an entirely different thing.
To inspire people, to excite them about being Assyrian, you have to be able to move them enough that they will do the unthinkable. Jackie or Atour or John have nothing to offer Assyrians, nothing we would value enough to pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars for.
They do pretty much what all these leeders have done...Jackie just does it in a knit suit...and that impresses us all. But it's the same thing...they basically preside over inconsequential events...events they magnify into watershed moments when they are really just a trickle of warm piss.
In fact...had Jackie and Atour and John not the means by which they could afford to play at being leaders...they would hardly spend a minute of their lives doing "so much" for you all. They'd be out hustling to make a living and get them goodies. Nothing wrong with that.
I think I can safely say that I was the first one to "figure out" how to make a living FROM being Assyrian. Not much of a living, but enough to survive and make ASSYRIAN things...not gadgets or widgets or sell houses.
I was able to get the money to build monuments, create Assyrian sculpture...spread them around in America and Canada and Europe so lots of people could see them and also own them...place them in their homes so their children could grow up with them around.
What I had to offer inspired Assyrians to do the unthinkable...spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on art...and not just art, but Assyrian art, made by an Assyrian artist, targeted at an Assyrian market.
And they hated it. That's why they went to work on my target group...the Assyrian community. While Jackie and Atour have to "work so hard" to get a few thousand out of you...I came waltzing along and "took advantage" of all thier hard work for MY benefit.
They would feel the same if they had to set up a concert for the Vienna Philharmonic...they would actually resent the fact they did all the work, while those musicians waltzed in at the end and made all that money and got all the recognition...that's why Alphonse and Jackie had to talk to everyone before the poetry reading began...because they know no one would come to hear them speak...that's why they all say, "I don't want to keep you from enjoting the program any longer, but..." It is that, "but" the live for...that is their payoff. Alphonse wanted more than but, that's why he also spoke after the session...read his own poem.
No serious producer or impresario would do such a thing...in fact when Sol Hurok presented...or Ziegfeld produced...you never heard or saw them...that's because they knew where their abilities began, and where they ended...they knew the audience came for the show and not to see and hear from the person who wants you to know THEY brought you this damn show, filled with overpriced ingrates.
If you let this persist...you consign us, and worse, our children, to these same dreary types of "rules" imposed on us by these rulers.
My work in the community is over. After raising $18,000 through sales of models of the Lamasu...and bringing the monument as far as I could on that...I can't get any more buyers. And in truth, I don't want any more. I would like nothing more than to be able to finish it...I believe, I know, it will be a stunning piece...how could it not be...all I have to do is let the spirit guide me whose hand clamped down on my neck at the Metropolitan Museum years ago and shook me till my teeth chattered. It's hardly my achievement...something else guided my hand and compelled my heart.
But it's over. I can no longer bear to approach people to ask them to buy...it has finally become too humiliating. I can't fight the perception let loose among us that I am a crook and a troublemaker. Can't keep it up any longer. And I especially can't see myself having to bend my neck to Atour Golani or Nimrod, or Jackie Bejan...I wouldn't go down on her before, why should I start now?
It is better to stop now. The foundry has been most patient with me...allowed all sorts of time to pay up...but it isn't fair to them either. I've told them to go ahead and take the Lamasu apart and keep the clay for themselves...isn't much but someone else can use it. Of course I will be accused of swindling the people who bought the models...but I believe, and I think they would feel that they have a nice sculpture to show for it...I have a lot of wasted work to show for it, at a time I really couldn't afford to work as I had in the past any longer.
I don't want an apology. I never want to see a Federation convention again. I don't much see a future for my Assyrian style sculptures in gringo galleries either...it was never my intention to make sculpture of any kind for galleries...to make the wine and cheese circuit. Now I'll have to.
My aim for 24 years was to learn enough...to work hard enough, to travel and meet enough of our people to inspire them to dig deep into their pockets and hearts to allow me what I needed to make monuments. Not every sculptor makes monuments or can. And today hardly any actually do the big work...they make small models that a laser carving machine carves out of a block of styrofoam. Not my thing...besides machines can't capture the detail, the Assyrian detail.
I sold over $600,000 worth of hope and ideals and dreams. People spent that much because they believed in me and the value of the work. In fact it was my success at it that ironically made me first a "friend" of Jackie, Atour and John...and then a target when I insisted I remain true to the spirit of the work, to the voice that called inside of me when I frist saw Assyrian sculptures at the Met...and made me do this demonstrably ridiculous thing...in the modern era.
It took a lot of hard headed dedication to create and install the first Assyrian monument anywhere in over 2500 years. Those same qualities cannot bend their knee to an Atour Golani...It was for an Atour and a Jackie and a John....if they were interested in us...to have stayed out of my way...as Jackie or Atour didn't belong in the kitchen OR on the podium at the Ritz-Carlton. But Narsai got famous away from us, from our long knives...I tried to do it from within...to show it could be done, so that it COULD be done by others...because that's the one thing we really need...need to believe that we can provide our own validation, not get it from the "masters".
I was doomed to fail, once they set their sights on me, it was over. They pay lawyers now to send legal documents at me as fast as they can...and I am in California away from my family for the fifth time this year, trying to respond while figuring out a way to support us back there in Mexico, in a house we are soon to lose.
Anyone who thinks I feel sorry for myself doesn't know me...and I've made sure that hardly anyone does. But this hasn't been a failure. The first one to try such a thing was asking for it...and I got it. I feel badly for my poor wife who never asked for it, and my three lovely Assyrian children who didn't either. My greatest project now is to convince them that it is indeed a noble and special thing to be Assyrian, even to work for the Heritage...that someday, if enough of us do it, we'll leave these days far behind us.
For one person...I did enough. Let someone else step forward...let Menchavez do it. She will have Jackie's full backing and will be featured at all shows.
I have to go out into the world now...with other pieces that I have yet to make. I think I'll write about this now...I think it is a compelling enough story for general consumption.
There is a good chance, a very good one, that all of the bronzes I made will eventually wind up in one place, one I wont mention now. That would be great...for us.
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