You Don't Know Martin Manna...

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Posted by pancho from ? ( on Sunday, April 14, 2002 at 9:05PM :

but I do. He's a nice enough guy, lives in Detroit, is Chaldean...and to his credit was the first Chaldean to pop for a Hammurabi model...after three Assyrians who don't live in Detroit went first. Still, his joining up was significant and I still appreciate it, not to mention the fact that he was instrumental in getting some other buyers based on his committment.

We had a falling out, what else is new, because Janey Golani can't do simple math. They're cousins. She'd given him a set of figures about what the final cost of the Hammurabi Monument would be, and how many models we would need to sell to cover the costs. Though I had explained it to her a hundred times, she forgot that we needed to deduct the cost of the casting from each $6,000, so that we would need more buyers than she told him we would.

Before our blowout, I had sent them sculpture for their annual art show, had flown back there to be present and given them some for their office. Things were cordial enough but the Church has its claws deep in those people and any money spent anywhere other than on Church business is money lost to a priest there was this "suspicion" that I was going to Detroit to raise money to make a beautiful monument for Detroit, for cost, paid for by myself! Pretty damn sneaky of me if I do say so myself.

Martin became determined to see the thing through and after the show we spoke about the number of buyers etc. with him promising to get out a letter urging people in Detroit to join us and finish the thing off.

At some point in the conversation, after I'd corrected the mistake in math Janey had made, which he believed for some reason was the definitive amount we needed...he said, "Look Fred, we can't have all these figures floating around, you keep changing the numbers, now how much is it"?

Okay, so it sounds harmless enough, but then you hadn't gone through what I had with these people already. I was polite, but turned off to him...told him the actual numbers and figured I wouldn't hear from again.

A week later he calls me to see if I could come up with a sculpture for the Chaldeans to give a member of their community, Mike George, a successful businessman but more than that a man who had helped their community tremendously over his 70 some years. There was to be a huge comemmoration in his honor. This was after the Art show they had where I'd shown a plaster casting, painted to look like stone, of the Assad Babil or Chaldean Lion that is a sort of mascot to them, as the Lamasu is to us and vice versa.

I agreed to do it, reassured him that I would keep the costs to a minimum...people who manage to have money are usually "careful" about how they spend it...though they seem very wasteful of their souls. The real problem was time. I can't remember exactly how much we had before the event, but it wasn't enough. Not unless you have a good relationship with your foundry, which I do.

You have to remember that while to us I'm just a no account trouble maker, to white Americans with some sophistication I'm regarded as an artist. I don't drive a Benz, it's true, but in other cultures that isn't a prerequiste for anything meaningful. At the opening of the foundry's new location, a special event that saw many of the artists who cast there in attendance, the foreman of the place said he would come to see my sculpture...that the other stuff was about average and pretty much the same. Now I don't say this to brag...who gives a damn what you think. I tell you this so you will see that when we get our heads out of our asses, or Jackie's, we can do anything.

But then something happened and I got really pissed at Martin and refused to do him the favor at the same time he was grilling me some more about my "questionable" figures. That's the trouble when one of "us" does a favor for one of "us". Having such a low opinion of ourselves, we don't think much of the person who would stoop even lower and do US a favor. Had I been a Kraut, even a looney one, I could have charged anything, in fact...the more I would have charged the MORE honored would we feel...go figure.

Anyway, I decided to let Martin go, until he called all buttery to let me know they were really in a bind and wouldn't I please help out...with even a hint that "money wouldn't be SO much of an object." In other words if I wanted fifty bucks for my trouble, it would probably be okay with the "Grand Alliance of The Leeders of The Chaldean Community". See...knowing what we are...we don't much trust, or like ourselves.

So, I agreed to do it, although now there was even less time. I had to make some changes to the origional, then make a rubber mould and a wax real in two days. I also had to get the damn thing to them in time as there would be none left to get something else should I fail. I called John, the foreman at the foundry and asked how fast they could take the wax and give me back a bronze.

Those of you who don't know anything, and more of you don't know anything than do...don't know foundries. Don't feel badly, I didn't at one time either. There is a pecking order and the biggest cocks expect the greatest stroking...sorry. I'm not a spring chicken, but I ain't exactly royalty either. My advantage is that I'm no prima donna sculptor, who graduated art school. I left art school the second day and went to New York to learn. I know foundry work, know how to do it and also, and very important, know what we who toil in the trenches don't appreciate from pain in the ass Artistes. Another plus I bring to the community, but who gives a damn.

John did the unheard least in all my experience. I drove the wax down to the foundry in Monterey, a distance of 400 miles roundtrip. I walked in, John put down what he was working on, took the piece from me and four days later had it in bronze. He even came in on the weekend to speed the process along.

I told John what it was for, about this great man in Detroit who was very important to our community so there was a personal touch...we like to be needed. I rushed the piece back to Berkeley to a studio of a friend's I work at and did all the chasing work...then back to the foundry because I wanted one of their patina experts to simulate a stone finish, as close to the original as possible, and what a beautiful job he did. Next I cramed it into a crate and shipped it overnight to Detroit where it arrived the day before their ceremony.

Martin called to thank me...said send the bill, and by the way, "how much was it". I told him to forget it, my gift to them. Later when things really blew up he sent me a short note requesting an invoice so they could "reimburse" me...the bastrads. But at least it shows the remnants of a conscience.

Take enough of us and put the pieces together, you might come up with one human bean worth spit.

-- pancho
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