Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Monday, April 26, 2004
There is so much to say about this day, in the one place in the world where there are the most Armenians, outside of Armenia (although this will be debatable in a few years). Ooremn...
1) March in Little Armenia @ 10am: In its 4th year, this time organized by the United Young Armenians, this march took place in Little Armenia (Hollywood). It begins on Hobart St., and goes around about 4 blocks and once again ends on Hobart. This year, it seems at its fullest point, there was a maximum of 7000 people (with my achki chap). Not as much as previous years, and certainly not as much as the year this first took place. There were mostly older people, but I'm glad to say that I saw a lot more young people there this year... which is great. At the end, there was a stage set up, where there were speeches and song/poetry. I guess one thing that really stood out for me, and was a little weird, was that the entire program was in Armenian. Absolutely nothing in English. What would the media report on? ... didn't get that.
2) Monument in Montebello @ 1pm: Like every year, there was a commemorative ceremony at the Monument. Although I didn't attend, I know that Parliament member, Levon Megerdichian was to give a speech there, along with other city officials and representatives. I don't really know how this went... haven't gotten a "report" on it yet, but I'm sure it was fine.
3) Protest at the Turkish Consulate @4pm: This year the LAPD was scarce. This was something you noticed immediately! There were hardly any cops around, unlike last year and the year before when there were so many policemen, they were actually doing the monitoring for us, and their horses were smelling up our air! Not a lot of police, no horses. Interesting. There were I'd say 5000-6000 people there, which was great. Obviously the Turkish Consul's office was closed, as was almost everything else, since it's Saturday. (Glendale was a Ghostown.. hahaha)
4) Program at the Glendale Civic @7pm: This is the 2nd year this happens, organized by the City, and a committee made up of reps from all sorts of Armenian organizations. I wasn't able to go, but I heard that it went well. They had various performers and city officials, art exhibits, etc.
5) Apparently there was a "march" (or shall I say small gathering) in front of the Armenian consulate organized by Opposition supporters. I heard there was practically no one there. ARF went on TV and told the public about how wrong it would be to march against ourselves on such a day, especially in the diaspora. The public agreed. (thank god)
6) There was a Youth Rally organized by the ARF Shant Student Association, AYF, and ANC-Professionals' Network. It took place on Friday, April 23rd where there were more than 1500 present. The program included keynote speaker David Barsamian, singers, video presentations, and poetry. I have to say that David Barsamian's speech was VERY interesting. He spoke about how Armenians should not focus on proving that the genocide happened, but rather DEMANDING recognition for it. He spoke about how the Turkish government, by no coincidence has a full page ad in the NY Times this week about how wonderful it is to travel to Turkey. And at the botton of the ad, there's a list of ancient people's who have at one point rules over that area... ummm.. no where are the Armenians mentioned. He spoke about the "memory hole" idea (which I have to admit I had never heard of), and he explained how we are slowly being thrown in that hole. I thought it was a similar idea to the Jermag Chart... but then that's just my opinion. He also mentioned how 33 states in the US have already recognized the Genocide, and this year Idaho and Montana were included in that list. ... He spoke about so many different things but all in all, the underlying message was that it is INEVITABLE... the genocide WILL be recognized. I agree.
There were so many other events.... but I thought these were the big ones, or ones I thought would be good to mention. The entire day, I was really thinking a lot about what April 24 really meant. Having had the experience I wrote about earlier, and realizing that some Armenians don't even care, cause it was just another Saturday for them... I just thought, "What if I didn't care either... how would my life be different?". I've always pondered this... but I could never imagine it... that's how much I care. I seriously believe that the Genocide has indeed affected my own psyche. And I got to thinking not really about the past, but about the possible (or inevitable) future. WHEN the Genocide is finally recognized, how will that feel? Automatically I remembered Egoyan's "Ararat", and the issues of denial in the movie. When someone is denied a truth, their life is altered. Like for example, when in the movie the father denied that the son was gay... they were both in turmoil, especially the son. When the father finally accepted his son for who he really is... there was peace within both of them. Egoyan is a genius!
During the march in Little Armenia, I heard some man discussing with another man, about how that day would NEVER come... and I felt pain. You know, years and years ago, grandparents and parents would never have thought that the Soviet Union would fall to pieces and Hayasdan would once again be a Free nation! But here we are today. We have a beautiful homeland, although it's 1/10 of what we once had. We have beautiful Armenian citizens guarding our current lands for us, even living under poverty stricken circumstances, and a corrupt government, only to wake up to seeing Ararat in the morning. The will of those people.... how could I not believe that one day our ancestral lands WILL return.. and I will be there to rejoice!
Last weekend I was at a HMEM workshop in which 3 HMEM scout chapters participated in, and I spoke to scouts ages 7-12 about Operation Nemasis. In the beginning I had some trouble trying to figure out how the idea of vengeance could be explained to a group of kids so young. Then I came across this book I have, which has the transcripts of Soghomon Tehlirian's trial in it. I flipped through the pages, and I came to the part where he explains how his family was killed... in front of his eyes (very gruesome). I said.. "perfect". What better way to understand vengeance than to somehow feel a LITTLE of Tehlirian's (and other's) pain. I realized that when I was explaining and reading Tehlirian's genocide experience, the kids' eyes were glued to me! Some of them flinched, because they were picturing Tehlirian's brother's skull being cracked open with an ax by a Turkish soldier.... And this weekend when I thought about all the Armenians who were doing khorovadz on their regular Saturday, I doubted that they even knew these details of the Genocide. I thought so highly of those kids for understanding and knowing.... each of those kids took the place of 10 of those apathetic Armenians.
Overall, I'm proud to have been able to participate in some of these events... see all the people being active, AT LEAST on this one day.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
I knew people like that existed... When we were younger and we'd have April 24 off from school, there were always those people in our class whose parents would take them on vacation, or to Disneyland... cause for them it was just another day off. But having heard today's conversation... I was really disgusted at how Armenians like that exist.. and they're RIGHT HERE!
Anyway.. had to get that out... I'll log later about April 24 frenzy....
Monday, April 19, 2004
A few things to share as usual. First, in response to Raffi's "lucrative Boston-based business venture" comment, this is by far an unfair criticism. If Raffi has any agenda in all of this, it is simply to expose the many genres of Armenian music to the world, and does a great job of it. If people only knew what he does for Armenian music in the global market, his efforts would be much more appreciated. He selflessly puts his own funds and limited time into making these productions possible.
I don't care to flatter Raffi online as I know he doesn't need to hear it to know he's doing good work. I bring it up because it is such a shame that this is how we view Armenian entrepreneurship. We are scaring ourselves away from doing business that strengthens Armenia because God forbid a contribution be in the form of economic and cultural growth for once as opposed to political stance and donations. Not that Raffi or his business is profitting, but if that were the case, so what? Would it be so terrible that Raffi make more money to produce more musicians from Armenia who otherwise have no career? You don't just have to hold a gun or yell at Turks to save Armenia. This form of judgement is a bad habit for many in the diaspora and it will hold us back.
That's one. Two is that something disturbed me the other day and I hate dwelling on it because it's about a comment that came from someone I respect and care for as a friend. The other day I was driving some friends out and one of them asked that I play something other than Armenian music. It disturbs me that a friend hasn't figured out that you never say such a thing in my car. But even worse than that is it almost seems like we are going back to the days where being "ethnic" is a bad thing. Maybe I've been in DC too long, but this is getting rediculous if I can't listen to Armenian music in my own car.
Three is that the New York Times reversed their policy on using the term "Genocide" in describing the Armenian Genocide. Here's an article:
NEW YORK TIMES CHANGES POLICY ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
The New York Times has recently revised its guidelines for editors regarding the Armenian genocide. The new policy notes, `After careful study of scholarly definitions of `genocide,' we have decided to accept the term in references to the Turks' mass destruction of Armenians in and around 1915.' The guidelines continue, `The expression `Armenian genocide' may be used freely and should not be qualified with phrasing
like `what Armenians call,' etc.'
The Times' new guidelines state that: `By most historical accounts, the Ottoman empire killed /more than one million/ Armenians in a campaign of death and mass deportation aimed at eliminating the Armenian population throughout what is now Turkey.'
The memo notes, `While we may of course report Turkish denials on those occasions when they are relevant, we should /not/ couple them with the historians' findings, as if they had equal weight.'
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Reading the comments on my previous logs, I can't help but laugh a little. Opening up your personal life on this log can be like opening up a can of worms. But, I wouldn't be true to the nature of this log if I didn't bring up the 'Armenian' factors in my life. Why log at all if you can't be candid. Obviously, the notion of Pomegranate Music being a lucrative Boston based venture is very inaccurate. It has been critically successful in making inroads with presenting new music and helping some careers get off the ground, but, lucrative it is certainly not. In fact, financially, it is a big losing proposition. The record industry has tanked and a lot of people don't want to pay $15 to buy a CD. Trust me, I would love for it to be lucrative so I can put out CD's of projects in development that we don't have the budget for right now. There is a ton of new music ready to be released. In the long run, I am very confident that our artists will make a serious impact in the development of new Armenian music and that's what we're all working toward. I choose to run the company (an after hours side project, really) like a business with attention to detail and quality. Luckily, I have had the tremendous help of friends in donating their services, time, and sometimes money to make sure we stay on track. Support your artists from Armenia and enjoy what they have to offer. What has been the great surprise is that the artists have been very patient and loyal to our group and that has been the most important aspect of running this label. Dealing with artists directly from Armenia has given me a great lesson in breaking down Diasporan- Hayastansi barriers. There is so much we don't understand about each other. But, there is a huge common ground to explore and it is tremendous when projects work between us. It takes work and an open mind, but, trust me, it is well worth the effort. Bruises and all.
Although I enjoy reading the logs and responses from time to time on Cilicia.com, I have to say that those people who tend to pontificate through log comment responses without doing any real direct work toward the "Armenian Nation" really are what they are- useless. I can't take people who won't post their real names seriously. They can be anyone. Certainly, they are first cowards for not coming forth with their real names. Those who do real work in our community don't get flustered by childish comments such as "Chant's and Larisa's". People who do real work such as Ara Manoogian in NKR, Raffi Kojian in Armenia, Onnik Krikorian, Der Hova, Madeline, Arsineh, Lena Majarian, Rhoda, Alex Sardar, Everyone; I think you should help them realize their goals through action instead of the verbal tennis matches that flare up from time to time about issues that are, well- not really that important. Spending valuable "Armenian Time" helping them instead of verbal masturbation on the comments section of the log is probably more helpful. You know, the real thing is better?
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Today, I go to the wedding of a very close friend of mine, Baykar Dervishian. He's marrying a great girl in Narine Patrikian and I wish them the best. This party weekend will continue tonight. I get married next month here in Providence, RI and then head off on my honeymoon somewhere on the West Coast. It's about time to hand over the keys and pursuit married life. Can't wait. Marrying a non-Armenian has ruffled a lot of feathers in my own family, which I am sure a lot of you can relate to. But, in the end, you have to go with who makes you happy and have enough confidence that you will carry on the Armenian identity from generation to generation.
Back to my Pomegranate news. Our 6th album is now in in production and I am happy to say that it is our most important release yet. Taking nothing away from our fine current roster of musicians, "Shoror: Armenian Folk Music for Guitar" by Iakovos Kolanian of Athens, Greece is a groundbreaking piece of music. Taking Armenian folk tunes and breathtakingly transcribing them to guitar is remarkable. Iakovos has created something for the ages. Our producer on this project, Kevord Imirzian, pulled off the impossible in getting Iakovos to record for our label. Iakovos is considered the top classical guitaris in Greece and one of the most respected guitarists in all of Europe. He used to travel to Armenian quite often to play with the Armenian Philharmonic. Cooincidentally, I heard him in 1998 at the Aram Khachaturian Hall at Opera House and he played some of the same encore pieces he has recorded for us. I did not know of him at the time. As an added bonus, Arsineh Khachikian has agreed to join me on our 6th project together and we have the honor of accepting the work of Alik Arzoumanian for cover art. www.alikart.com As you will be able to see on her website, she is blessed with prodigious talent and will do a great job for us.
I've decided to cut back on the number of releases on my label. One, maybe two a year at the most only putting out groundbreaking and unique music. As many of you know, there is no money in the business, just pride. And, our team doesn't like to sacrifice quality for a quick buck.
As a sidenote, I am sorry to hear what is going on in Armenia. I've read a lot of the logs and responses. My general rule is not to comment on things I have really not seen first hand in the Armenian community. At the very least though, human rights and democracy should prevail and people should be able to make their feelings known in a public forum without brutality.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
I have to say that the past couple of days, I've been trying to think of ANY way that we can do something here. I heard that there are protests being organized here too.... could this be true? And what do they hope to accomplish? Should there be counter-protests? ... and why is all this happening in a month where the Armenian community needs to come together...
All I have to say is... like Arsineh said... people around me are SOOOOO oblivious to what's going on. Like maybe a handful of people know, or are interested enough... I don't know if it's fair to say that they don't care, but it boils down to this. American life is such that you are so busy in your own little world, that FEW people have the dedication, will and time to follow news from different parts of the world. Heck, they hardly have time to go visit someone on a regular weeknight. I'm not just talking about Armenians being interested in Armenia, but Americans in general. The average American doesn't go searching in problems to get involved in, or what not. And that's how "they" (medzere) like it. I feel like now, Armenians have fallen into that too. They work work work.... and at the end of the day, honestly no one cares to add another "burden" to their lives. And that's a big part of what American life is about. Why add on to your stress? You are a bill-paying machine. Few people live differently. (At least in L.A.) On any given weekend go to a mall, or go to the Grove in Hollywood, or Old Town Pasadena... you will see what American life is REALLY about. Shop shop shop = spend the money you worked for (or spend and work harder to pay). Being involved in different organizational activities, I've learned that the ways we can raise money for the real causes is to feed people, play music so they can dance, and feed them some more. Otherwise, a lot of the people aren't really interested.... sad truth.
So, really.... any suggestions on what we can do out here... how we can keep people more informed... get people involved... something! anything! I feel so helpless... That's all for now...
The generalization I could give of the diaspora in the US is that few people pay attention to daily news in Armenia. This does detach them from Armenia’s reality. Few people feel that they need to know about Armenia’s activity… even America’s activity. After all, when one has never been, what interest could one possibly take in what happens there?
But as Madlene clarified, a generalization is not always fair. There is so much the diaspora does to better Armenia and many individuals who follow the news in Armenia (available to them) every day. What I don't swallow easily is the "good intended Armenian." These days, many people feel that if they just say and believe they truly care about Armenia, but don't want to get involved isn't good enough anymore. In this day and age, technology has made it impossible for the diaspora to be in ignorant bliss, and good intensions aren't good enough anymore. This isn't a questions of who is more Armenian or a better Armenian, because I don't believe in that. No one should have to prove to anyone their Armenianism. But if you are going to play off this "I am for the Armenian cause" image and disregard the cause all together because you don't know any better, you don't have my sympathy.
I just watched Bush's news conference and he has been drilled lately about whether or not he neglected certain information and reports about a possible attack before Sept. 11. His response is always that he never wanted this to happen and had he known it would, he would do anything to stop it. No one questions Bush's grief of Sept. 11 and you would be hard pressed to find anyone living in America at the time, and most of the world, who believe Bush wanted Sept. 11 to happen. That isn't the question. The question is if you did enough to prevent it, worked hard enough to prevent it. People's intensions are always good, but are we always serving the cause in the best manner. And this is the core of our problem. I don't mean to compare the average Armenian to the president of the United States, but it helps me make my point.
The violent turn of events in Armenia is very sad news. It’s more depressing that the media doesn’t report these things. I don't know the solution, but I sure know that the violence will only bring Armenia down. Kocharian, what are you thinking? Repat logger, please keep logging.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Amounts of works around me, meanwhile I say to myself "How long and I did not log at cilicia!!!, Anamot!!!".
Well, here we are, from the very southern Armenian Dispora. 24 April will bring some activities. Lots of books about this issue will be presented, including a book of www.genocidioarmenio.org that after two years of hard work in the internet will launch its first publication. This publication will have more than ten works of the main authors about the Armenian Genocide translated in Spanish.
There are no clear information on what is happening in the Republic of Armenia now. What we real feel here is that this loco things happening out there in Yerevan smell like Shevardnadze spirit. So Robert, work it out or face your goodbye...
There is Film Festival in Buenos Aires, and Varveragroghe (Documentarist) of Khachatryan will be on some cinemas of this city. The film shows the difficulties and the real situation of the Armenian people after 1991... Khachatryan was born in Akhalkalak, Georgia, and has four or five films done.
The community is exited about the visit of the Vehapar Karekin II next month. Its deeply sad to see the show around the religion just because "a good photograph for my ego". I mean, lots of Armenian will fill the church because the Vehapar is coming, but during the year, churches are empty. After the 1700th etc, etc, we are not feeling changes on the organization of the Armenian Church. The Youth still claims for a comprehensive mass in Modern Armenian, or a clear explanation of some ceremonies, but nothing seems to change...
For Ex. - Taniel Varuyan was a catholic Armenian but, for enlight the Armenian at the beginning of the XX century he created the Mehian movement. The Mehian movement was a pagan movement that wanted to rebirth the power and the national love that pre-Christian Armenian had for its land. Taniel lived many years in Diaspora but he worked as a great satellite for the progress of the Armenian nation. My point is, we do not need old rules because they have been baptized as "sacred". It is time for progress...
Guets? Zeytoun@ u Mechi Goud@ ! ! !
More news to come, stay tunned...
Saturday, April 10, 2004
I have to say a few words about what's happening in Hayasdan. First of all, let me tell you how it feels for me... The best analogy I can come up with is the following. Imagine that you have a child who lives far away from you, and your child calls and tells you that they are ill. Even if they just have a throat ache... you want to be there to help your child and make her/him soup and tea. And you hurt... knowing you are far and can't do anything. That's how I feel about this whole Hayasdan thing.
In a way I'm with the people. Enough is enough! Robert isn't changing much... and isn't that why we elected him? But also, I don't understand what creating a big chaos is going to do. Sure, I'd like to see change... but is demanding Kocharian to step down REALLY the change I want to see? Not really. This is a crucial time for Hayasdan.. there are BIG things happening in the area... why are we making ourselves more vulnerable than we already are? Why can't the government ONCE AND FOR ALL be , "by the people, for the people"???
I'm very worried and distraught... to the point that I got teary-eyed when I read the news earlier. I feel like my Hayasdan is falling down the stairs, and there's nothing for her to hold on to. I'm praying that this will not turn into Georgia.... we are better than that. We haven't survived all these years to only go down with our own hands...
7:00 am - 3:30 pm: Leafletting around town.
3:30 pm - 6:30 pm: Demonstration infront of the Turkish Ambassador's Residence.
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Commemorative Ceremony at the Armenian Embassy.
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Youth Summit on the Prevention of Genocide at Georgetown University.
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm: Commemorative Program at Soorp Khatch Church.
Church service in the morning.
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm: Blood drive in memory of our martyrs.
9:00 am - 5:00 pm: Cogressional meetings with constituents from all over the US.
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Capitol Hill Observance of the Armenian Genocide.
Easter is this weekend. I still haven't colored my easter eggs... I'll get on that. There is so much activity in Washington throughout April, it's hard to even stop to look and see what is happening. I can't wait til May!
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Can't help to wonder what the heck is going on out there in Hayasdan... I keep reading the news and I think, are these people nuts??? Ya, it's great that they're actually involved and trying to bring about change...but have they sat down and thought about what the change they want will actually bring? They want Kocharian to step down, but is that REALLY the solution? They want a government that will work for the people... ALL the people (not just the ones who drive Benz'es). I'm sort of confused... I'd like to think that it is a good thing to change, but only if we're going to change for the better... not if Mr. LTP is gonna rise up and tell me he can help. (Come onnnnnnnn) I thought we were doing good... until RK started with the whole "me me me" and forgot about the betterment of the country and its people. Too bad for him. He could have been THE ONE to bring our Hayasdan up and up. There's so much more to say, and there's soooo much entangled with these opposition rallies.. who's REALLY behind it, who's the driving force, what are the possible outcomes, how come the government isn't reacting, why has it come to THIS????? I mean, if I was president, and I saw hundreds of people out on the streets complaining about how bad of a job I'm doing... heckkkk, I'd be out there PR-ing myself like crazy! Damage control... somethinggggggg! At the very least I'd be asking myself why so many people are complaining about me... how does all this reflect on his own persona? Isn't he offended that they're complaining about him?? Is homey on vacation or WUT?
I'm still going around talking to different groups of youth about the AYF Youth Corps Program. We still need some applicants... so I'll be on TV some time next week, and I'll be going to UCLA on Thursday too. Let's see.... I just feel like today's youth is somewhat apathetic. Sad.
On the other hand... I'm just itching to travel. I'd like to go somewhere close, but far... but I'm thinking I'd rather save the funds for my Armenia trip. Maybe this time I can actually buy a house or something. I'm hoping I can just STAY this time around. I'm kind of sick of the whole back-and-forth thing... all the money I spend on airline tickets... I could just LIVE there with! It's crazy if you do the math! :)