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But I Thought You Were A Dishwasher

By Gabriel Thy • Art Theory, Artist • 28 Oct 2013


Barry’s Older Brother

BUT I THOUGHT YOU were a dishwasher. Or a cab driver. Or just a bum. You’d have to know how many times I’ve been personally asterisked by those who wish to put me in a hermetically-sealed safety box. It’s an old story I suppose, suggesting I’d have to choose a primary discipline, or be left to pack all these other malformed activities away as mere hobbies or interests so at least to free one up to stumble into the role of teaching—ah, for the easily conceivable advantage of a paycheck, as if choosing to do something else for a season or a day is forbidden or indicates failure of one’s distinct creative purpose, and it would be better to teach others for money than to continue seeking new things myself for nothing. This faux complaint brings me to my brief but cherished knowledge of one Jirayr Zorthian and his younger brother Barry


Barry Zorthian during the Vietnam era

I considered Barry Zorthian a friend for nearly twenty years. He and my wife worked at the same lobbying firm. At the usual holiday parties and during the late summer sailboat or yacht adventure, we would find ourselves a private spot to sit, to catch up on the latest always shifting worldviews that we each considered our tact in trade. Barry would smoke his cigar and nurse a scotch, and there was no telling what I’d be doing to keep my hands busy. Barry had a saying, “Gabriel, every time I see you, you look different.” Funny. It was true. Barry and I shared lots of transitions. In fact, I actually snagged my longest running and best paying web production gig through Barry—that of a Saudi businessman who had had his considerable assets frozen by the United States Government for his role in the Jimmy Carter and Burt Lance era BCCI Savings & Loan scandal. He was lated exonerated and his funds released, whereupon he ended his rather inconsequential web presence. Barry had been contacted by a New York law firm representing Mr. Ghaith Pharaon looking for a positive public presence. Barry knew I was in the Internet game, that I was running my own servers at the time, so the upfront design fee and a generous monthly revenue stream kept us both with at least one client during those early digital years. I owe him a lot of gratitude for that small opportunity. Later when a few wits in wife’s firm began to blackball me using nepotism as an excuse not to give me more work which was a laugher given the facts past and future firm history would make no pretense in hiding, Barry defended my work ethic as well as the quality of my work.


Gabriel Thy

However, let me be clear. I was feeling a bit timid of being swept up in the post-911 police actions due to my active connection to this account. Barry agreed it was possible, but not likely. A couple of years later, when the government’s case against Pharaon was finally adjudicated, and the client asked that the web site come down, I admit I missed the monthly stipend but the dynamic scale of information networks had been steadily evolving. My all-in-one personal approach was being edged out. The window to quickly transition away from this seven year paying client and all the freebies I had been carrying for friends and family was taken.

Barry’s brother Jerry was a gifted if not altogether original painter, and rode several waves from the forties forward in each succeeding dominant style he utilized to paint his pictures. His biography is summarized in the links above, but my one addition to the Wiki entry is the video memory I have of Jerry’s 80th, or was it, 90th birthday bash at his compound. Yes, I got to see the open pig pit, the naked garland girls, the hordes of people from southern California and beyond who came to celebrate this jovial man of hippie sensibilities. I got to see footage of Jerry interacting with several of his other siblings, his wife, his collections, his clutters. Around me Barry always, ALWAYS teared up when he thought of his older brother Jerry, even before Jerry passed away. Barry often told me he loved his brother. It was evident he loved his brother more than mere words could express. And I loved Barry and his wife, Margaret, who preceded her husband only six months before he passed shortly after his 90th birthday, when I presented him his portrait I had painted, and the firm purchased from me.

© 2013 – 2018, Gabriel Thy. All rights reserved.

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