Saturday, February 8, 2014

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Inside Mike's Head: I Am Astronaut


I thought of two things when I first walked into my interview with the band “I Am Astronaut.” The first was that I remembered being given directions to a recording studio, and the second thought was the realization that the recording studio is actually located at the lead singer’s house. As the setting for the band’s recording sessions and rehearsals, the studio has a sense of coziness yet professionalism. Compiled of four people, the members of I Am Astronaut are Michael Hovaguimian (Lead Vocals/ Guitarist), Ara Astourian (Drums), Yervant Bastikian (Lead Guitar/ Backup Vocals/Public Relations), and Tim Kosasih (Bass Guitar). Hovaguimian built the studio in his garage due to his love for music. “I love writing and recording [music] so much that I built the studio; I don’t have to think about it, it’s natural,” said Hovaguimian.

The band has successfully completed five albums since it began in 2005. Although Hovaguimian and Astourian were familiar with one another because their brothers were friends, the two officially met while Hovaguimian played for another band, titled Freeway People. Bastikian was later introduced to Hovaguimian as his sister’s teacher. The three formed the core of I Am Astronaut, and until Kosasih, the band did not have a bassist. Although he has only been playing the bass for a short amount of time, the other members praise him for his quick learning ability.
Another band member frequently praised for his abilities is Hovaguimian. As the main songwriter, Hovaguimian obtains the responsibility of originating ideas for songs. Astourian claims that “all the music comes from [him]; he’s the source.” At the same time, Astourian writes his own music as well. “When we write music, we try to pick albums that we like and then we kind of binge— we just keep listening to those singers.”

Although the band members grasp inspiration from different artists (i.e. Kosasih supports Linkin Park as Hovaguimian does Depeche Mode), their combined biggest musical influences are derived from Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and Pavement. Afraid of being given a legitimate label, Bastikian claims that they “usually label [themselves] to the bands [they’re] listening to.”

What makes I Am Astronaut unique is that they are not seeking a record deal. Although producers have been interested in the past, the band is simply not after money. In fact, even their albums are not sold— they are merely handed out. “It is a pleasure for us to write this music and give it to our friends,” said Astourian. The band members disprove of paying big bucks to see a show. Instead of venues, they prefer to play in house shows with a more intimate setting. The Old Town Pub is a regular setting for them.

Band rehearsals used to take place twice a week. Lately, however, since Astourian headed to the University of Southern California as a Philosophy major, the band usually gets together only once a week. Although their passion for their music has not subsided, the band members realize and respect the fact that school comes first.
In five years, all band members hope to still be making music with one another. Until then, for this upcoming year, they will “fill [their] time with playing, in hopes of Ara being there,” said Hovaguimian.

Check out I Am Astronaut on Facebook or at, where you can check out their music events.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Young Fashionistas Paint the Town Blue


We all can all use a little help sometimes, whether it’s dumb luck, good Karma, or even protection from harms way, in this new millennium, when times have never been so tough, even the most rough and rugged could use a sidekick from time to time. So what should you do? Guns, bodyguards, and surveillance cameras could help, but that can only protect you so much, what about the spiritual world? Yes, as wacky as it sounds you do need protection from the evils of the spiritual world, and I’m not talking about ghosts or ghouls, but the evil that is conjured up in the form of envy and hate. Unfortunately, there isn’t a bullet big enough, or a bodyguard strong enough to stop negative energy directed onto us. So what do I suggest? I suggest you go out and buy an Evil Eye.

It’s voodoo, a superstition. A blue orb painted to look like an ominous blue eye. In cultures around the world, the Evil Eye is seen as a way of protection. If you’re Armenian and reading this, you probably have a few hanging around your house, and some of you might actually look up from this article and see it staring right at you, and why do we all own several of these almost pagan relics? Because our ancestors knew that being looked upon with hatred, could cost your life, the eye became a way of deflecting dark magic. People from around the world wear them in jewelry, use it as décor, and now it comes in the form of fashion. In a cold night in an unfamiliar city, I am going to find out how an old custom is blended with a new idea. I am going to interview Marillest.

Los Angeles, California, the center of the modern universe, the city of the newest in entertainment, music, and fashion. LA teaches the rest of the world what to watch, listen to, and wear, and I had a chance to interview three young women in the fashion business that are a part of that new wave in fashion, what they call street wear. So there I was in the endless city, standing outside a popular coffee shop, an audio recorder and notepad in one hand, and a handful of notes about the three women, the creators of Marillest in the other. I scan over the bios, the history, and try to remain focused on the job at hand. Sipping my warm coffee on a cold LA night, I’m not waiting long until I look out and see what can only be described as Armenian Driving 101. Two German sport cars roar into the parking lot, they thrash around corners, the sounds of music and the engine singing fill the air, driving a bit evasive, and when the cars find spaces, in unison, the wheel is fluidly but quickly turned, and both cars stop with authority. Three doors open, three come out, Arpa Sarian, Mari Nazaryan, and Piruz Dedeyan.

I first introduce myself to Arpa Sarian. Arpa is the business minded of the three. Her handshake is firm, she keeps strong eye contact, and within seconds you feel her confidence and self assurance come through. The next in line was Piruz Dedeyan, the energy, motivation, and spirituality in the group.She does not forfeit her smile once throughout the night, and the constant gleam in her eye, zeal for all things Marillest, and just positive attitude lift the spirits on a depressing and rainy night. Finally there is Mari Nazaryan. The quiet artist, the mysterious third piece to the puzzle, she is the blend between her partners. We finish with the introductions, make our way inside and escape the pattering rain. We all sip our teas and coffee’s to warm up, and we begin.

Marillest is a fashion team that really came together just two years ago. The concept of was originally a different name, and Mari was custom designing individual hats, putting hours of artwork into each hat, then once Arpa and Piruz came along, the dream started to become something real. Arpa took over as head of marketing and sales, and Piruz took the role of personal photographer and product development. Mari’s job is to design, what you see on the shirts and hats, she created, so while she keeps busy with the fashion end, Arpa handles the finances and promotion, and Piruz makes sure they have the best quality materials to work with and that everyone is in high spirits. Hearing them speak to each other, seeing them work together, but also just being friends, you see the deep respect that they have for each other. They are supportive, work as a team, and though they admit to butting heads from time to time, the end result, the goal, will always put small disputes to the side. To the women reading this article, and even the guys, what you should take away from this is not just a website where you can buy custom shirts and hats (, but a lesson.

One of the girls’ biggest accomplishment this year, however, was the Fashion Show they put on July, 23 2010 at Hollywood night club La Vida.

“Our fashion show was very much a success. We had rap artist one-2 perform his hit “Go” and all the models played their character just right and left people in awe,” said Piruz Dedeyan. “We had a variety of people in the crowd, starting from pro-skaters, to a reality show pilot that was filming throughout the night. Most of All good vibes and energy, it definitely opened the doors to what Marillest is about.”

The outcome of the show surpassed their expectations.

“We sold out the entire venue. It was over capacity which left almost a hundred people outside in line. I went in not expecting anything but family friends and the buyers and investors we had invited to come out. Fortunately word got around town and the entire city came out to support us,” said Arpa Sarian. “Now that I look back at it was like a wedding. The preparation took months and it was all gone in a minute. It was spectacularly orchestrated and left a big smile on my face all night.”

I could tell you about the fashion, but they speak for themselves well enough, I don’t need to really blow it up, you will see with every shirt and hat comes a personality, a sense of humor, and if you catch the references, you know they pay homage to old school traditions of the old world and ne world. You see a unique blend of something our grandmothers valued, but at the same time, youthful and fresh.

Armenians, use Marillest as an example. In a male dominate industry, in one of the worst economies in world history, three women decided to do what others thought an impossible feat. There story isn’t like the ones you see on TV. This is far from the Kardashians fake reality of trying to make it in fashion, no, these women wake up every morning knowing that the only way to achieve success is through making something original, something creative, and putting a lot of hard work behind it. As Armenians we tend to get caught up in what our families and friends want from us, we forget that there is a world out there beyond being what our parents and grandparents dreamed for us. Arpa, Mari, and Piruz have decided to conquer one of the toughest industries in this country, and at first people would criticize them and give false encouragement, but it goes to show that there is some magic behind the Evil Eye. Marillest has seen its share of failures, they talked about the times when money was tight, the road seemingly impossible, the girls decided not to give up, to work harder, and continue to show everyone that you can accomplish anything with the right work ethic and strong attitude. To sum it up, the girls of Marillest said it best: “Ain’t got the time, ain’t got the money”.

UCLA Alumni Sheds Light on History of Shadows


Garin K. Hovannisian—a name soon to hit the spotlight within our small, yet widespread Armenian community. His newly published book, Family of Shadows: A Century of Murder, Memory, and the Armenian American Dream, presents the history of three generations of men— beginning with Garin’s great-grandfather Kasper Hovannisian’s journey from the pitfall of the Armenian Genocide to the lives his descendants lead today. A teenager in 1915, Kasper was trapped in the anarchism of the Armenian Genocide and forced to witness the murder of his family. He eventually fled from his homeland and established a new life in America. Garin grew up living and breathing the history that is now recollected in this book. He spent his childhood realizing that his family had a story that was very uncommon among his peers, and after years of research, interviews and rough drafts to this successful piece, Family of Shadows is finally available for the public to understand the intensity of our culture and what the genocide truly means to Armenians.

The young writer speaks of the majority of his childhood being spent “in the professor’s house,” or in other words, his grandfather Richard’s house. “If you see the boxes cluttered in the living room and the books stacked in the offices and the newspapers scattered about the tables—you will immediately understand why I could not escape from history. My family past was, in a way, more real to me than the reality we were living.”

The book discusses Richard Hovannisian’s independent path toward unraveling the history of Armenia. He was the son of Kasper, and he spoke no Armenian as a young child growing up in the San Joaquin Valley. During the 1930s, he had noticed on an atlas in class that Armenia had not been identified during its time seized into the Soviet Union, as with many of the Soviet Socialist Republics.

Dr. Richard Hovannisian set out to learn the language and committed the rest of his career to the study and research of our concentrated Armenian culture and history. He has been recognized for an infinite number of accomplishments—beginning with an archive of all his scholarly books and articles on Armenian history, genocide, Near Eastern society and culture and more. He is Department Chair of Modern Armenian History at UCLA today. The professor’s son is Raffi Hovannisian, who served as the first Foreign Minister ofArmenia. There is a possibility that he will run for the 2013 presidential elections in Armenia.

Family of Shadows provides an outlook of the American Dream from the life of an Armenian. It highlights that the pursuit of the Armenian American Dream means more than landing a steady career and living a rich and prosperous life in the “land of the free”— it rather symbolizes the national duty for Armenians to carry on their culture in a foreign country and conquer all from which they were once forbidden. Family of Shadows demonstrates this duty through the lives of three generations from the Hovannisian family.

Many readers of The Armenian Chronicles can relate to Garin Hovannisian in at least one sense—that he was once a UCLA student himself. Hovannisian also wrote for Armenian Chronicles. With his Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, this literary background is not something new for him. In fact, Hovannisian carries a hefty résumé for his work in the liberal arts. To name a few, he wrote a detailed article back in 2008 for the Los Angeles Times about none other than the Armenian Genocide marking its 93rd anniversary, titled “Not Just Genocide.” He also graced his writing talent for Liberty and the literary journal Ararat. On top of all that, he further demonstrated his passion for literature by establishing the Bruin Standard, a newspaper based in UCLA. He was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing as well as the Lynton Award for Book Writing. Despite his endless accomplishments in the realm of journalism, he admits that “no work so far has fulfilled me more than the one I’ve just completed. Of course this doesn’t mean it’s any good,” he humbly states about his latest masterpiece. When asked if this book was what mainly triggered his passion for writing, he responded, “I’ve always written and I hope I will always write.” This book represents who he is and what brought him to this world today, something any other one of his previously written works would not be able to describe.

Hovannisian began planning the outline for this book during winter of 2007. Completed and published for the first time, the author now has his schedule “booked” with book readings across the country—from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Boston and New York.

“The book opens with the genocide, but you will discover that this particular story develops in extraordinary ways. It is an American Dream story with a big twist, but I’ll leave it to you to discover what that is.” With this mystery he now bestows upon all readers, it is now more appealing than ever before for every curious reader to grab a copy of Family of Shadows—now available for sale on

No Need to Share Blood to be Brothers and Sisters: AEO and AGA Members Talk About Misconceptions in Regards to Greek College Life


Frats. Frat Parties. Beer. Shots. Wine. Munchies. Girls. – black out and wake up in the green half open dumpster near Strathmore and Gayley in a wife-beater smudged with In-n-Out Spread. The usual perception of partying the night out at the frat rows in UCLA.

This ethanol-infused view sometimes takes away the true meaning of fraternities and sororities. I have always been asked to describe what it’s really like to be in a fraternity and to belong to a band of brothers. But I believe that one can truly understand the real meaning of brotherhood only after joining a fraternity and experiencing the brotherhood firsthand.

I came to UCLA from the smallest chocolate town in the United States – Hershey, Pennsylvania where life was rather calm and ordinary. I remember the most exciting occasions were seasonal hurricanes, tornadoes, and sometimes even five foot snowstorms. So… I may say I was rather an inexperienced freshman at UCLA back in 2009. After hearing all the fuss about frats, I decided to Wikipedia it and a quick research brought me to the line, “A fraternity (Latin frater : “brother”) is a brotherhood, though the term usually connotes a distinct or formal organization and a secret society.” Surprisingly, I didn’t see anything secret or brotherly on my first Thursday frat party – just the usual, people getting drunk and having a bit too much fun.

Putting the emphasis of my college career on education, I decided that joining a fraternity would be a bad choice and put the thought aside. This was until I received a short invitation from the pledge master of Alpha Epsilon Omega, the Armenian Fraternity in UCLA. The thought of attending an event hosted by an Armenian organization intrigued me as ever since I arrived to Los Angeles I had been looking for an outlet to Armenian culture and friends. So I chose to attend the first Rush event.

The Spot was full of hookah smoke when I met all the brothers sitting around a long table. One by one I went through a row of –ian last name introductions with even similar sounding first names. As I met them individually, getting a chance to talk about myself and ask questions about the organization, I found out that they were all UCLA Armenians from different national origins and backgrounds who were bonded together by the fraternity. They believed that all Armenians regardless of their language, their origin, their financial and social standing are equal and should be treated equally. They called this idea the Armenian Dream which one day would bring an end to the unnecessary prejudice so prevalent in the current Armenian communities.

Although all this sounded great, it was not something that I was ready to commit to. The second Rush event, nevertheless, was promising and I really didn’t want to miss it out – it was a yacht party with the Armenian Sorority, Alpha Gamma Alpha. The night was terrific. While the cool wind caressed the shores, I got to befriend some of the brothers and at the meanwhile met some of the sorority sisters.

The third Rush event was invitation only dinner so only a few of the Rushes were invited. At this last dinner, I got to learn that to become a brother and a member of Alpha Epsilon Omega one has to pass through a pledging process – a series of tasks that bond the brothers with the recruits. I also learned that pledging process starts after the brothers offer an official bid to join the organization.

Just a few days later, I received my bid and with very little hesitation I accepted it and the rest is confidential history. The friendships that I gained throughout the process are invaluable and I never regret joining AEO.


Blonde, high-maintenance, prissy princess, rich, and ditzy are just a few of the words I associated sorority girls with when I first came to UCLA. However, I am sure I’m not the only one who associated sororities with a cult of brain-dead girls running around and sleeping with any male they came across. Sororities are commonly viewed as a place for these blonde princesses of Beverly Hills to congregate and discuss fashion. The media plays a large role in propagating this stereotype. The famous movie, Legally Blonde, which is actually one of my favorites, portrays Elle Woods as a blonde, fashion-obsessed, ditzy, rich girl. Of course, Elle Woods was in a sorority. This stereotype has led many to believe that Sorority life is meant only for the rich and blonde and that if one does not meet these criteria, they cannot join. I never in all my wildest dreams thought that I would join a sorority. I never even thought I would be able to tolerate people who were a part of one. I was so wrong.

It was on a Monday evening when my cousin told me there was an informational meeting for the Armenian cultural sorority, Alpha Gamma Alpha at UCLA. I first laughed at the idea of going but I have never been the sort of person to make fun of something until I have experienced it. Despite the stereotype, I walked to that meeting and looking back on it now, it has been one of the best decisions I have made in my college life as of this point. Granted when I walked in, one of the girls did in fact have blonde hair. I didn’t hold this against her though, and I just took my place on the couch and paid attention to what the Sisters of AGA had to say. Within minutes I quickly realized that the people in the room were all very sweet and genuine. All of the sisters were intelligent and unique in their own way. Some of them were Pre-med, some were Pre-law, and some had no idea. Some dressed in trendier clothes and others dressed in simple jeans and a cute top. One was blonde, some were brunette and some had black hair. There were many differences among the sisters and I realized that they were not a cult of spoiled ditzy rich girls. Of all things, they told me that AGA has one of the top GPA’s out of all the multi-interest Greek sororities at UCLA. The stereotype simply does not apply to AGA because everyone is so unique. My closest friends are in AGA and I could not ask for a warmer and more kind-hearted group of girls to call my sisters.

Another issue often associated with sororities is the act of hazing. Hazing is to persecute or harass with meaningless, difficult, or humiliating tasks. Many do not wish to join or have anything to do with a sorority because of the humiliation they must endure if they wished to join. There have been some crude and horrible acts of hazing that have, in fact, taken place in certain sororities. One of the worst that I’ve heard is a girl having a bag over her head and being tied to a bed in a brother fraternity’s house. She was forced to stay there until all the brothers in the house had done whatever they wanted to her. After undergoing this horrific experience, the sisters did not even let her join their sorority. I cannot vouch for what some of the sororities on campus do to their pledges, but I can say with pride that the sisters of AGA never engaged in any sort of hazing when I pledged for them. I will never be able to understand how you can call a group of girls your sisters if they make you go through a hazing period. The Multi-Interest Greek Council takes a very strong anti-hazing stance in order to encourage more people to join Greek life. Hopefully by doing so, this stereotype dies down.

While many might think, “Eh, sorority life just isn’t for me. I’m not blonde and rich.” I urge those people to attend a rush event and meet the girls before throwing labels at them. Granted, I’m sure many of the sororities at UCLA do fit the stereotype of blonde, promiscuous, ditzy, rich girls. I’m sure many still conduct acts of hazing. However, many do not, one of them being Alpha Gamma Alpha.

Is the Banning of Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) a Just Measure?


Hundreds were injured and one 15-year-old girl died due to a drug overdose at the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). In response to the outrage of such an event, LA city officials have decided to cancel the event in 2011. EDC is a two-day rave held each year in June at the LA Coliseum. At this year’s event there were approximately 185,000 ravers who paid top dollar to see big-name lineups including Armin Van Buuren, Benny Benassi, Deadmau5, Dirty South, Kaskade, Swedish House Mafia and many more. It is common knowledge that many partake in drinking and drug-use at raves. Nevertheless, it is believed that it is done only to enhance the overall enjoyment of the event. Ultimately, this is what led to the death of a 15-year-old girl who was reported to have been high off of both marijuana and ecstasy. This raises the question, should the misuse of illegal substances by a minor ban an event that nearly 200,000 people enjoy annually? Is it not the individual’s responsibility to control him or herself?

Surely no one held a gun to the teenager’s head and forced her to swallow any pills. Her decision to use illegal substances to such an overwhelmingly degree was her own. It might be said that, “Well, she was only a minor so she didn’t know any better.” While this may be true, it this raises another question, why on earth would someone’s parents allow their 15-year-old daughter to attend such an event? Sure, she probably left out the fact that she would be going to a rave and probably lied and said she would be spending the night at a friend’ s house. However, the parents cannot fully be blamed because at the end of the day, kids will do what they want. Most importantly, Insomniac Events, the company that promotes events like EDC cannot be blamed either. If people are going to attend the event and use illegal substances, then there is nothing society can do to prevent these cases from happening.

If the parents cannot prevent their children from attending the event, then how can Insomniac Events be expected to better monitor any minor at an event that houses thousands of people? Sure, EDC officials could hire more security, something they plan on doing in the future but it is the individual’s responsibility to handle him or herself. “The events that took place were no one’s fault but the fault of the 15-year-old girl.” Insomniac Events has stated that there is a very good chance that future events will most likely be 18+. This means that all attendees are adults and should be able to monitor their own behavior and take responsibility for their decisions.

Although I have never been to a rave before, I look forward to going to one eventually, and I would want to attend EDC one day since they represent many popular DJs. Still it really upsets me that the actions of one minor could jeopardize this for me. I do not like the fact that an “event” is being blamed for the death of a minor rather than the girl herself. Has this really become a society that directs all blame away from the individual? Sure in some cases there is no one to blame.

Living in such a large city like Los Angeles, it is impossible to monitor everything that everyone does. Similarly, an event that hosts over 185,000 cannot monitor everyone no matter how much security is hired. It simply comes down to the individual being responsible enough to and knowing when enough is enough. This is not to say that I promote drug use; I promote free choice. If a person chooses to partake in drug-use, then it is that person’s decision, and only they should be responsible for the consequences. When something goes wrong, we cannot be so quick to point fingers at others. In this case, it is wrong to point fingers at Insomniac Events and EDC because they cannot be held responsible for the actions of all the attendees.

It is called free will for a reason and until that is taken away from us, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

There is More to Being Armenian Than a Last Name Ending in “ian”


I always felt a deep attachment to my Armenian heritage. From our fine foods, soulful music, and our beautiful dances, to our rich language and alphabet. But more than anything, I felt attached to the strong history of Armenia.

As a child, my mother would sit me down to talk to me about where we came from, why we are here, and where we hope to be in the near future. During these moments, I would block everything out, feel  the veins in my body pump and my blood would flow with passion. I did not know where these emotions came from.

I was intrigued hearing about our kings, our domination of the world, our suffering, the betrayal we faced by other nations over and over, how we lost our people, our women and children to surrounding jealous countries, who longed to be more like us.

I went to an Armenian Elementry School in Scarborough, (Canada) called Sourp Khatch. In each class there were only about 8 to 10 kids, sometimes fewer. It was a small school which also taught English and French, but the only class that affected me was Armenian History.

I remember learning about every war, blood shed, death, every song, every dance, every poem and every other nation that took our richness. I felt proud to be from such a rich culture.

After I graduated from Sourp Khatch, I went to an English Academy where there were no Armenian kids. I hardly made friends, or fit in with anyone because nobody knew what Armenian was, and could not relate to the subjects that were so important to me. So I started educating them about my culture, but I was mocked and made fun of. But still I was proud.

What gave me strength to stay proud of my roots, was not my parents. It was listening to Armenian music, because it made me feel like I was living the pain of today’s life and the pain of the life our ancestors lived before us.

I made a promise to myself I would remain proud and happy of my Armenian roots and that I would always fight to keep our heritage alive. It frightens me that today’s generation of Armenians are not properly educated. Many are not aware of our history or of where we are heading in the near future. If we are not properly educated, what will we pass on to our children about our ancestors or of our heritage? Slowly Armenians will be so assimilated that our rich culture that has survived for so many years will start to fade.

 It is so difficult for me to feel connected to the Armenians of my generation when they do not see being Armenian the way I do. I feel that we need to love one another, respect each other, educate each other, and marry one another to further continue our identities.

I have learned that pride is within and that it takes sacrifice and love for our culture to keeps us alive. Every time I try to discuss this topic, the topic I am most passionate about, I am looked at as if I am from a different planet.

We need to encourage our Armenian youth to continuously stick together, to  keep an old-fashioned Armenian heart with  a modern open mind that will keeps us together forever. We need this to happen for our own identities.You can rip out my skin, take off my flesh, blood and bones, yet underneath it all, I will always be Armenian.

Dear Armenian,

I would like to express a few concerns of mine. Ones that I’ve had ever since I was introduced to my Rabizakan Akhperotyoon.

I am disappointed, time and time again, by the backwards morals of my fellow Armenians. And even more so by the backwards morals of my fellow Armenian youth. What time and what age is it for you to proudly proclaim your hate for other individuals who have done you no harm? In what sheltered and uneducated areas of the world were you raised? Under which unfortunate circumstances were you brought up to believe that you, a proud Armenian “man,” are better than any other human being - no matter their color, shape, or form, and no matter their sexual orientation, gender, or sexual preference? And, under which unfortunate circumstances were you taught to believe that you ever had the right to “put someone in their place,” simply because they are a woman?

Do you know what you are, and what you will be remembered as? Let me try to be as clear as I can:

Remember those fucking bastards who used to lynch “niggers”? Remember those sons of bitches who forbid women to go to school? Remember those fascist fucks who used to chant “Separate but Equal”? Remember those racists who wrote the Jim Crow Laws? Remember Hitler? Yea, the guy who persecuted people (Jews) for the way they were born, the way God made them? Remember the dick-heads in charge of the Spanish Inquisition? Remember the Turks who slaughtered innocent people, simply because they were born a certain way (Armenian)? Do you remember those people?

I bet you do. And you know what? In 20 to 30 years of time,f you will be included in that list of people. You will be part of those people in history who spread hate and fear. You, my dear akhper, are part of the scum of the earth who preach intolerance and inequality.

Sure, you drive your BMW and your Mercedes, and you wear your Coach shoes and Rolex watches- gifts from your daddy. You walk around proud. Proud of who you are, and who you’re becoming. You want to show the world, so you wear those uniforms and preach your poison. So proud. It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to call you my brothers when I hear you say things like “God punished the gays with AIDS.” It’s embarrassing! It’s embarrassing to call you my brothers when I hear you say “Women need to know their place in life.” “Chaput pahi ay aghchi!” It’s embarrassing when I see you point at a young woman who doesn’t know anything about her own sexual organs, the way to use a condom, or the way sexually transmitted diseases can be spread, and call her a “normal aghchik.” It’s really fucking embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to know that you go to some of the most prestigious universities in America, and you still have not managed to drop your gyooghatsi mentality when it comes to the rights of women, and the rights of gays.

Whether you like it or not, you will eventually have to come to terms with the fact that all people are equal, and all people should have equal rights. You are not the shining light of the universe. God made women and the gays. And every single one of you was made by a woman. So the next time you decide to proclaim your hatred towards a fellow man, and the next time you decide to assume authority over any woman, think about what it is you’re about to say. Really think about it. And then shut your fucking mouth. Shut your mouth, before you manage to bring down the name of my people, my Armenian ethnicity, my Armenian beliefs, and my Armenian blood. I am sick and tired of hearing a countless number of you uttering words of sheer ignorance and discrimination, sexism and intolerance.

You are an embarrassment to my Armenian race, and my fellow human beings on this planet, Earth. You, my rabizakan unger, are backwards.

Genuinely and Sincerely (repulsed by you),

-Ani Khodaverdian

COMMON SENSE: How to Honestly Boycott Turkey


In the never-ending anti-Turkish sentiment Armenians have to this day, sometimes I feel like I am the only person who stands up for the pro-Armenian side. While there are many who feel completely indifferent to the cause, there have always been people trying to get Armenians to boycott Turkish products. Although some do it out of complete hate and ignorance, there are those select few who choose to boycott Turkey based completely on their own morals and principles.

A few weeks ago, I set foot into Jons Market for some quick snacks, but I left angry and disappointed. This was not because Jon’s is a poorly-run franchise, but rather the fact that this Armenian-owned grocery store chain was carrying and advertising aisles full of Turkish and Turkish-imported products without an ounce of shame. Not only were these products being sold in an Armenian store, but they were being imported by companies such as Karapetian and Kradjian imports.

Suddenly, I began thinking about my own upbringing, which consisted of boycotting Turkish products. Was this based on the misconstrued notion that Armenians (and people negatively affected by the Turkish government) should boycott Turkish products based solely on principle, or had I been the one with a backwards-thinking, closed-minded mentality?

As a child, I was taught to never purchase any products made in Turkey by my parents, who have also themselves never bought any Turkish goods. This was a decision my parents made because they are morally against supporting the repressive Turkish government with their purchase.

Although plenty in the Armenian community support this cause, many do not notice the big picture- it is not just about boycotting the Turkish government with the goal of crippling their economy with our ideas, but to always look for the Armenian alternative to the Turkish products, and purchase those imported goods with a clean conscience.

I make this decision on a personal level because I am morally against supporting the modern Turkish regime, which has supported repressive, cruel and intolerant policies in its almost nine decades of existence. These policies include, but are not limited to, the denial of the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocides, the seizure of the Hatay province from Syria in 1937, the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the Istanbul Pogroms of 1955, the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, constant repression of the Kurdish population, and the fact that Turkey imprisons its own Nobel laureates and journalists for speaking the truth. The money spent on Turkish products directly funds the Republic of Turkey and its intolerant policies, yet people turn a blind eye to it.

Many Armenians chant for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide each year, yet they perhaps go home to their Turkish robes, watch Turkish soap operas and listen to Turkish music for pleasure. Some might argue that closing ourselves off from these aspects of Turkish culture simply breeds ignorance within our own culture, and accepting Turkish products is the first step in normalizing relations with our neighboring country. It is true- we should normalize relations with Turkey, only with certain preconditions. But even after that day has come, I will still choose the Armenian option over the Turkish one in any given situation. This is not due to any anti-Turkish sentiment, but it is a result of my pro-Armenian upbringing.

Before trying to criticize any move by their community or government to normalize relations with Turkey, Armenians need to reflect on their own habits and lifestyle to make sure they are standing for something positive and not simply anti-Turkey. Do you import and/or buy Turkish products? Do you watch Turkish television shows for pleasure? Do you listen to Turkish music? Point being, why give time and money to the Turkish government when there are perfectly good Armenian equivalents of the same products, which in turn benefit Armenia?

My previous column, “Through Dialogue, Not Diatribe, Change Will Ensue,” may seem contradictory to this piece, but there is a fundamental difference in my target. My previous column was about the Turkish people, whereas this is about their government. For the past few decades, our community has bred generations of Armenians to hold a grudge against the Turkish government, which is perfectly fine as long as the Republic of Turkey does not apologize and recognize their own nation’s history, but Armenians also have to change their mentality. When it comes to boycotting Turkey, also keep in mind supporting Armenia, for it is better to stand for something good instead of always rejecting the bad.

Real Men Beat Their Wives


She lied in an almost catatonic state on the Van hospital bed with an iron-shaped third-degree burn on her back, a fever, and a missing ear. The mother of the victim seemed to think that death may have been a better option; “I wish he had killed her to spare her all the suffering.”

The woman in question is Sidika Platin, a resident of the Kapitkoy, Turkey, and one among the 42 percent of women in the country who suffer from domestic abuse. As I viewed her deformed body stretched across the T.V. screen, I felt my body temperature rise. I recounted one story after another, until I was consumed with rage. One particular idea unnerved me. I thought, with a domestic abuse situation so similar, how were Armenians any different from their Turkish neighbors in this respect?

The answer was even more disturbing. We were not. According to the Human Rights Council’s 2010 report, 80 of 100 married women in Gyumri, one of the largest Armenian cities, admitted to experiencing domestic violence. While the national figure is probably not as high, it is nevertheless uncertain. Non-governmental organizations have attempted to gather this percentage but the prevalent behind-closed-doors attitude has stifled research. The task becomes more daunting when abuse is considered a common denominator of the marriage equation; sadly, a formula that is accepted by both men and women. In fact, Amnesty International reports (2008) that the first question asked by the police and legal enforcement to a woman sexually assaulted by her husband is, “What did you do to encourage this?” Evidently, the adage, “a woman is like wool, the more you beat her, the softer she will be,” seems to be more of a practice than a proverb.

Then came the most repulsive and revolting deduction: were these Armenian males not perpetrating analogous crimes to those committed against their women 95 years ago in the Armenian Genocide? Isn’t beating your wife also a crime against humanity?
The mentality necessary for inflicting such pain on another, especially when the individual happens to be physically inferior, is absent of the compassion that is supposed to make us human. While the motive, scope and overall scheme of those like Enver and Talaat Pasha may have been different, the hand of the Armenian man should never be remotely comparable to the bloody hands of the Young Turks.

Make no mistake, however, this criticism should not be taken to reflect badly on the Armenian culture as a whole. No nation is without its flaws, and it would be imprudent to judge people when presented with their worst face. In vehemently denouncing this particular element of my and any culture where domestic abuse is common, I desire to somehow better (what should have never been) this reality. In addressing the issue I would also like to annihilate what I think to be its root cause: the concept of purity in women.

While deteriorating socioeconomic conditions may contribute to the incidence of domestic violence, I believe that an adherence to patriarchal gender roles not only maintains but provokes this physical and psychological cruelty. In attempting to imprison Armenian girls in the cells of chastity in order to raise “good tenakan axchikner (housewives),” these women become socially fixed in an immovable strata, expected only to guard their virginity till marriage, produce children, cook and clean indefinitely, and essentially stay home. I have heard one too many chilling stories of “the man” who keeps his wife and children at home while he runs around with his mistresses, sometimes even catering to a second family. Meanwhile his “unscathed” trophy remains quietly at home shining pristinely. Should she utter a protest against such practices she will be shut up immediately, verbally or physically, by her husband or by the in-laws via “an ashtray to the head” (Amnesty International, 2008).

I am not judging virginity, purity or devotion to a tradition if it is a true choice. But, if it is a pseudo-requirement enforced and adhered to by society, it has the effect of transforming girls into dolls with their husbands as ventriloquists. Because these women are not allowed to think and do as they please, they inevitably are assigned a sub-par standing. This patriarchal mindset that women are inherently different than men allows “the man” to think that he may subject his wife to the force of his hand.

If this temperament persists and if Armenia, and other such countries, are not liberalized socially, then their respective domestic violence rates will either remain as is or continue to climb. The subjugation of women by repression and sexual control ought to be a thing of the past. A real man should not have to demean his woman in order to feel like he is something. A real man would treat his wife as his equal.

No individual should ever look like the Sidika Platin onscreen, no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation or any personal preference.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Summer in a Pomegranate Shell


Most everyone who knows me, knows that I can go on for hours about how much and why I love scouting and Homenetmen. In fact, they’ve all probably been stuck listening to me a couple of times (just ask my sister or my best friend). After twelve years of it, I figured I had gotten everything I possibly could out of scouting but I was dead wrong-- I was still missing so much.

My parents signed me up with the Homenetmen Glendale ‘Ararat’ Chapter scouts in March 1998; I was almost eight years old and I am now 20. I had no idea what they were getting me into, neither did they. Twelve years later… I can count the number of Sundays I’ve been able sleep in, can type in Armenian almost as fast as I can type in English (not that my spelling is any good), and I spent almost a month of my summer, in cloth shorts, an oversized t-shirt, voice gone, and sleeping on the floor; that’s what I was getting into.

This summer, I was granted the amazing opportunity, along with 600 or so other Armenians from all over the world, to attend the 9th Pan Homenetmen Jamboree. This jamboree happens every four years and is for all Homenetmen scouts (Homenetmen is an international organization, for those who are not familiar with it). The 2010 Jamboree took place in Armenia and was a 10-day camp in Buragan, Armenia. Before and after the camp, the representatives of many of the regions were staying in Yerevan, where we got even more time to get to know each other.

We arrived at the camp the first night, exhausted from the long plane trip, most of us with only about an hour of sleep in the past 24 hours. We had it set in our minds, “set up the tents, and go to sleep, camp doesn’t officially start until tomorrow anyway.” We finished setting up our tents as the sun set, and then it began. None of us knew what it was and all I kept hearing was “there’s a party, there’s a party, let’s go.” Confused but excited, we hurried across the campground and, sure enough, we found “a party.”

It was like an Armenian wedding, but with uglier clothes, scouting neckerchiefs, and dust everywhere from the dancing feet on the dirt. All 18 regions were there even though no one had really met yet. There was one of those giant sideways drums, a handful of dhols, non-stop earsplitting whistles, and people up on each other’s shoulders.

We ran to join in and quickly realized that there was no music, the music we thought we had heard was everybody singing together, singing songs from “Ar30not Dro]” to "Gar0n Gar0n.” On this night and for the next 10 days, this is what we did, every second we got the chance; either the camp leaders would play music for us, or we would make the music ourselves.

I can go on, telling you about Lara’s fake wedding to the Armenian from Kuwait, in the middle of nowhere when our bus broke down, or even the Lebanon inspired mock-wedding at the campfire. I can tell you about the night the Armenians from France made me crepes, or the hike where we made the Armenians from England repeatedly say “Harry Potter.” I can tell you about the Argentinean Armenian’s “Ole Ola” song, and the countless times Hayastan’s scouts talked me into eating pork (when I knew I hated it). Maybe you’d like the stories about our on-going song battles with the Eastern U.S. Armenians (which I’ll admit included Biggy versus Tupac, clearly Tupac won). Maybe a story about when the Iranian Armenian’s tents flooded? Or a story about Jerusalem, Sweden, Syria, Greece, Jordan, Australia, Canada, Bulgaria, or Holland?
Most of you have been to Armenia, and most of you have been involved in one (or many) Armenian organization(s). What many of you have not had the chance to experience is the undeniable connection among all Armenians, in your heart, and in your blood, all at one time; the very thing we as Armenians all long for when we take part in organizations, such as this newspaper.

This summer, I had an amazing opportunity, and the amazing opportunity turned out to be an unforgettable, life-changing one. We were so overcome with happiness to be together and meet our brothers and sisters for the first time, to meet our Homenetmen family.

The Jamboree is the single most eye-opening thing that many of us have experienced, both as Armenians and as individuals. I got a small taste of the thing all Armenians long for. Not only did it re-inspire my love for Homenetmen but also my love and activism as an Armenian. My friends may joke around with me because they know that I’m crazy about Homenetmen, but it’s never bothered me because I know that I have damn good reason to be.

"Komitas" the Play


It is difficult to find an Armenian who has never heard the name of Komitas Vartabed. We have all heard his tunes. His songs bring joy to our hearts. His melodies inspire us. Many regard him as the founder of Armenian classical music. He led an extraordinary life filled with many successes, but also many tragedies.

Yet, despite his many accomplishments and great fame, many Armenians know very little about him and the name Komitas Vartabed is virtually unknown to non-Armenians.
Playwrights Lilly Thomassian and Lory Tatoulian believe it is time for the world to discover this great man and to fall in love with the legend and his music. Yet, rather than presenting a mere chronological biography, the award winning author of “Let the Rocks Speak” and the actress/comedian set out to capture the essence of a great man in a manner befitting an iconic artist.

“We wrote this play to bring Komitas to life by exploring his beliefs, his hopes and his dreams but most importantly, his music. The infusion of music in the play is vital and will bring the story to another level,” Thomassian explains.
Komitas was a fascinating and complex character. He was a priest, an artist, a musicologist, a conductor, a teacher, a comedian, a singer, a man in love, a revolutionary, a purist, a mad man… who became a symbol of the Armenian suffering of the 1915 genocide. A man ahead of his time who strived to improve and perfect his art, his innovative ideas were often condemned by the Church. He was a revolutionary, but also a purist who dedicated his entire life to research and to preserve genuine Armenian music. Indeed, his life combines the two aspects of the Armenian state of mind: suffering and art.

The duo plan to produce this compelling story on a professional stage for six weeks next spring in Los Angeles, with a prospect of eventually touring other US cities, in a manner that is intriguing and cutting edge.

However, the project is far from complete. With a $40,000 budget, there is much work to be done to ensure that the vision of these two artists is realized. Bringing this play to the stage requires the aid of the Armenian community.

Thomassian urges: “If you love the theater, if you think this project is worth pursuing, if you want to be a part of this unique undertaking, then please support us. We need all the help we can get. We need sponsors, promoters, supporters at any level,”as the story of Komitas is not the story of only one man but the story of all Armenians. By honoring his memory we honor the memory of all our ancestors.
There are countless films and productions based upon the lives of important figures like Mozart and Beethoven etc. This is our chance to tell the story of this amazing Armenian icon. For those interested in contributing to the project, the duo has set up a raffle to be held on October 22, 2010.

With tickets at only $5, participants can not only help out a great cause, but also enter to win great prizes. Grand prizes are as follows: 1st Prize: Two nights at Five Diamond Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena. 2nd Prize: Flat screen TV. 3rd Prize: Watercolor portrait painted by artist, Oshin. Here is an opportunity to make a small contribution go a long way.

You can purchase raffle tickets at OR you can send a check payable to Armenian Cultural Movement to: Komitas Project 713 W. Dryden Glendale CA 91202. For more info., you can also join the Facebook group “Komitas: The Play.”

Realizing a Dream: Nataline Sarkisyan’s Fashion Legacy


It all started with a sketchbook--a sketchbook filled with one young girl’s aspirations to become a fashion designer. From this sketchbook came the inspiration to hold an annual fashion show honoring its owner, Nataline Sarkisyan. After seventeen-year-old Nataline tragically lost her life to leukemia in December of 2007, her family sought refuge in the dreams she had left behind. Upon discovering Nataline’s sketchbook and studying the pages of clothing she had designed, they knew exactly how to celebrate their beloved daughter’s memory. Three years later, the Sarkisyan family continues to honor Nataline’s dream by presenting Nataline’s Fashion Legacy every July to celebrate her birthday.

Held at Mercedes Benz of Calabasas, the third annual Nataline’s Fashion Legacy was a night of remembrance and entertainment. Nataline’s brother, Peter Sarkisyan, explains that he wanted the evening to unfold in such a way that attendees received more from it than a line of models walking down a runway. He wanted the audience to remember that they were there to celebrate Nataline. With this frame of thought, the Sarkisyans gathered sponsors and organized a silent auction, a raffle, and entertainment in the form of a DJ, rapper Super Sako, and even Laker girls who were available to take pictures with. Members of the Major League Soccer team Chivas also attended and contributed items to the silent auction. Before the fashion show began, a video honoring Nataline’s battle with cancer and her family’s struggle with Cigna Group Insurance was screened featuring Nataline’s benefit song, written and performed by Tony Barkodarian and Mike Chakrian. A seat was reserved in the audience bearing the label: Reserved for our Angel in Heaven, Happy Birthday Nataline. Each of the nearly 700 patrons present that evening was given a gift bag provided by FIDM, Nataline’s dream school, full of items donated by various sponsors. Any and all profit made from the evening went to The Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation, a non-profit organization which grants scholarships to students pursuing careers in fashion, culinary arts, and medicine, all fields that Nataline valued.

Nataline’s mother, Hilda Sarkisyan, recalls how difficult it was for her husband, her son, and herself to blow out the candles of Nataline’s 20th birthday cake with Nataline’s absence so heavy on their hearts. But she managed to stay strong. “Nataline was giving me the energy,” she says. Peter mentions how overwhelming it was for them to hear clips of Nataline’s funeral played to the audience while they waited backstage. He continues, “It makes you realize this is real. It’s something we have to live with.” Hilda admits that to this day, she cannot sit through the entirety of those funeral clips.
Of course the sketchbook plays a great role in Nataline’s Fashion Legacy. Each year, celebrity designer Pol Atteu sits down with Hilda and chooses one of Nataline’s designs to create for the fashion show finale as a gift to the Sarkisyans. The ultimate goal is to one day hold a fashion show featuring only dresses designed by Nataline. This year, as they were flipping through the sketchbook, Hilda noticed glitter reflecting off of one of the pages. Surprised as to how glitter managed to get onto the pages of a sealed and stored sketchbook, Hilda decided that the dress created that year should without a doubt be the one on the glittery page. Designers Anooshka Zakarian, Ani Apparel, Arbi Avanessian, Sarin Minassian, and Maryam Gueramian also contributed to the show.

A most unexpected guest present that evening was Wendell Potter, former Vice-President of Communications at Cigna and the very man the Sarkisyans dealt with in their fight to gain approval for a transplant that may have saved Nataline’s life. Hilda introduced Potter to an apprehensive audience, but once they saw that she was inviting him to join her on stage with open arms and a smile, the audience welcomed Potter warmly. He admitted to his mistake of working for a company that denies people the chance to live and proudly announced that he had quit his job at Cigna two years before because of the realization Nataline’s story had given him. While on stage, he pledged to help the Sarkisyans reach their goal of passing laws under Nataline’s name to prohibit insurance companies from being allowed to deny patients access to medical procedures that could be life-saving.

When asked about this goal, Hilda confidently claims, “Our story has impacted a lot of people, and it is going to impact many more.” Her perseverance has led to national acknowledgement and support for the cause. The Fashion Legacy keeps her family strong and helps them mourn the loss of Nataline. “Without it, we’d go crazy,” she says. Nataline’s passing has changed her entire family’s perception of life. Peter complains of people who rant about the petty problems in life that he no longer considers actual grievances. Unlike everything else in life, he says, “A sister can’t be replaced.”
For more info. on The Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation and upcoming events, please e-mail, follow them on Twitter @nsarkisyan, join the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation group on Facebook, or go to

Adrineh Expresses Herself Through her Unique Ring Creations


Adrineh Asadurian, a fifth-year student of architecture at Woodbury University, is a modern day Renaissance woman. She is at once a carpenter and an architect, an artist and a mathematician. By seamlessly blending reality with fantasy, Asadurian comes up with her one-of-a-kind pieces. These pieces manifest in the form of jewelry, clothing, or even furniture. Though she is still undecided about what type of architecture she will ultimately pursue, Adrineh maintains that one cannot separate architecture from fashion.

This notion is most strongly supported by her line of acrylic jewelry. Created using a technique known as “digital fabrication,” Adrineh explains the initial usage of a computer program to model the images she wishes to create. The pieces are eventually cut-- by the artist herself-- from a larger slab of acrylic via laser technology. The technique requires some trial and error to ensure the jewelry is “ergonomical.” In other words, the rings and other pieces of jewelry must be comfortable to wear; they must mesh with the natural dynamics of the hand.

Even for someone unfamiliar with the world of architecture, the incorporation of architectural theories in her fashion jewelry is apparent. As every line and angle must have reason and purpose in architecture, so too, do the lines and angles in her work. A look at her jewelry collection reveals pieces balanced perfectly by symmetry and order. In pieces that do not appear symmetrical, harmony is created by avoiding the addition of “frilly” detailing.

Adrineh stores her various unique creations in her own room. The room is reminiscient of a sort of Wonderland. Under the auspices of her fantasy realm, Asadourian experiments with elements of light, color, and texture. It is here that I am first exposed to her handbag collection. Singling out one purse in particular, I ask her about the inspiration behind it. To my surprise, she asserts that it is mathematics. Upon closer inspection, I realize the fabrics have been meticulously placed in a calculated pattern. Reversing the handbag shows the continuation of this pattern. This, once again, emphasizes the way in which Asadurian merges concepts from different fields to create unique works of art.

Asadurian’s genuine passion is evidenced by the quality of her work. Her presentations and classroom projects have gone above and beyond the acceptable standard for excellence. As such, Woodbury University has archived them to show off to accredidation committees. In the future, Asadurian hopes to open her own art gallery with an artist’s studio located adjacent to the showroom. Truly a woman of many talents; the artist asserts, “I do art and fashion and jewelry, and if you want me to design your house, well, I can do that too.”
Images of her work, with corresponding prices, are available on her website at

Home Sweet Gyoogh


“We must respect the girls,” yelled one of the boys carrying a bag almost his size in his villagers’ dialect. The little boys grabbed our bags off the decrepit, over-heated van before even greeting us. This was just a glimpse at the hospitality and generosity this small Armenian village Yeghvard showed me and my 11 new family members.

“Since 1977, the LCO has organized summer campaigns whereby volunteers from around the world can come to work on their ancestral lands,” ( Our project was renovating a Church in a border village known as Yeghvard. We shoveled rocks for the altar and floor of the Church, mixed cement and did some of weeding in the front yard of the Church.

But physical labor was not what lasted in our memories. It was experiencing life as a villager that impacted us most. It was like Real World, minus the Cribs mansion and slutty roommates. We lived in a village home, drank village water, ate village cheese and played with the village kids who became our annoying yet adorable younger siblings.

Each night the children would beg us to go to the “discoteque” (the disco consisted of a boom box placed in the playground with one CD playing the same songs over and over).

“Where did you learn how to dance Armenian like that?” they would say, failing to remember I along with three others came from Armenia’s homeboy city— Glendale, California. They were shocked that we could form coherent sentences and respond to them in Armenian. Coming from a home where I get ridiculed for confusing the word tanel and berel it was an ego boost to know my far from perfect Armenian was so impressive to them.

These kids looked up to us and came to work every day to help (sometimes not allowing us work because they would grab our shovels). I felt like the Lady Gaga of Yeghvard, having to fight off swarms of children as we opened our gate. It was suffocating at first, but the love and respect we got from the kids was so humbling. We were the coolest things that happened to them since they discovered the cell phone.

More remarkable than being showered with love and respect were the diverse group of people I had to share a home with for three weeks. Boredom brought the 12 of us with such different backgrounds very close together. My LCO family was not only the most bizarrely hysterical group of people, but they were also the easiest to get along with. I was able to confide in these people and in two weeks they came to know me better than some of my friends I have known for years.

Free time after work consisted of drinking beer and ice cream (we learned later that this was not a good combination), having doorak and nardi competitions, picking mulberries from our backyard and painting on our skin with its juices and chasing pigs. The environment we were in really allowed us to get in touch with our creative side. We made a toilet seat cover out of cardboard and duct tape, learned French curse words, made a volleyball net out of a clothes line and managed to personify inanimate object with eyes, legs and hair.

There was not much to do there, yet every second spent there was memorable.

The time I spent with the LCO members was amazing; but the real goal of my trip was connecting with the villagers, and finding out their stories. One of the most memorable conversations I had was with 14-year-old girl named Ani. I asked her if she prefers Yerevan, the country’s capital, or the village. Her maturity astounded me as she said In Armenian, “I prefer the village. Although we have our problems here, the situation here is slowly getting better.”

By situation she meant lack of jobs and water for farming and daily necessities. She also meant the poverty they faced and the flawed education system.

“They change teachers so often, as soon as they get used to one teacher, they leave and have to get used to another,” said a mother of two. Despite having a lack of education, their wisdom in the real world far surpasses the average American child’s.

Nine-year-old Monika, daughter of our cleaning lady, was like an adult trapped in a child’s body. One day, as I stood up from weeding, she said “don’t sit on the floor,” and started picking off prickly plants off my soccer shorts. She also forced my 20-year-old cousin to tie her shoes so she would not hurt herself and scolded a 29-year-old man for playing too rough with the small children, as if she was his elder.

Our presence was eye opening for both parties. The girls in the village saw that women were able to do physical work just as well, if not better, than the boys who would often skip work to sleep in (I don’t mean to snitch). We became their role models and they became ours.

We came from completely different backgrounds, but we were able to learn so much from each other. A priest who came to bless our worksite described it the best: “Welcome home,” he said, “Don’t feel as visitors you are in your home.” After getting stares from almost every person in Yerevan it was a relief to hear these words. These are our roots, our culture and people. We may differ when it comes to taste in clothing, the way we speak and other numerous traits, but bottom line is hye enk menk.



I’m not a philosopher, but I call myself a thinker
To break the constraints of their lab coats and beakers
Morals must never teeter but are questioning tools
To see life through a glass of imperfections and rules
In a system where jail cells are prisms of hell,
A government hides behind bullets and war shells
The prophets tell of a new day, already seen the new age
Where pagers, chords and telephones record what we say
Put our brain in a box that they’re calling a tube,
Subliminal and criminal, we’re lost in their views
Enforce loads of poison on us when we’re feeling the blues
In this melting pot, we bought gold minus the truth
Where the heat can never stop, I hope you’re feeling it too
In a military state, using millions of ways
To corrupt the true and fair to make them care about their weight,
While damaging their state, the neglected feeling hate
Keep the rage inside you real until we can use it on their gates



Fuck you for not reading books and newspapers
Fuck your reality show, your game show, your favorite show, and your
guilty pleasure show
Fuck your political apathy, your moral ignorance, and your cultural emptiness
Fuck your tweet, your status, and your profile
Fuck your mirror picture, your self-picture, and your group picture
Fuck your blindness to the big picture
Fuck your misguided, corporate manufactured, naïve opinion
Fuck your underdeveloped vocabulary
Fuck your digital short hand grammar
Fuck your bad grammar
Fuck your pretentious, wannabe hipster taste in music
Fuck your top 40, your pop, and your radio hip-hop
Fuck your delusions of grandeur
Fuck your selfish, narcissistic fuck fest with SELF
Fuck your rich daddy and your poor mommy
Fuck your fashion, your desperate attempt at self-actualization
Fuck your car and the music you’re bumping in it

You self righteous, detached from reality, disenfranchised from truth,
dominated by consumption, self-loving, gossip blog reading, celebrity
worshipping, pseudo conversing, unoriginal leeches! Suction cupped to the teat of ignorance so hard, your brains are in a vacuum…

Fuck your undying allegiance to indifference
Fuck your misplaced sense of duty and responsibility
Fuck your blind embrace of manufactured culture
Fuck your fallacious sense of superiority
Fuck your idea of unique
Fuck your “closed-mind” excuse
Fuck your closed mind
Fuck your lack of interest in the cosmos
Fuck your disinterest in your history
Fuck your non-existent frame of reference
Fuck your misplaced ambition
Fuck your lust for attention
Fuck your lack of attention
Fuck your conversation
Fuck your contemplation
Fuck your procreation

Fuck the beat of your own drum
Fuck what you’ve become



Pride is shattered, conviction to dust
Inferior to the tyranny of overwhelming lust
Self image a victim to a relentless memory
Reflection is subjective to the on looking visionary

Be my audience. May my life be your play
The lesson to all your hurdles, an example of what you should say
My calamity provides a distraction from the trials of your day
Envy the triumphs, rejoice in the pain but you’ll never walk my way

You know not of the tears as they stay behind closed doors
Speculate the past as the intriguing scars are just mere sores
The sincerity of my smile remains a wonder for those who don’t know
Happiness comes from within, it’s not something I need to show

In the eye of the beholder beauty fades in the dark
And on a vulnerable life physicality leaves no mark
To the life of misfortune extend a hand
To ensure the wind doesn’t blow away your initials in the sand

Be my audience, let my life be your play
The trials and tribulations that I lead out throughout my day
Let my decisions cause you question, let my choices amuse your soul
If the judgments thrown at me somehow make you whole

A pair of eyes watching every direction I turn
Curiosity kills the cat or is it concern
Be my audience, get a glimpse of my life
The feelings of elation, do they cut like a knife

And at the end of my life when judgment day is upon me
My mistakes are mine, my sins are sold
Hopefully the warmth of my heart will outweigh the cold

I made my choices, the road was mine to take
The feelings sincere, the expressions were fake

The scars were real but the entertainment was free
The play of my life, the story of me
Some days I couldn’t tell if it was right, the music was too loud
The curtain has closed. let my life be your entertainment may you forever be my crowd



I have been waiting for you
All these days,
All those months,
All the years...
Everyone kept saying to me
Let him go
He will never return.
But I knew,
I knew one day you would come back
Come back to me,
For me.

I’ve seen things while I was away.
Magnificent things,
Horrid things.
With each passing day
The emptiness inside me grew,
Slowly consuming me,
My spirit.
I am sorry to have left you.
I am sorry that it took so long for me
To understand that you are my light.
And that without you,
I cannot shine.

Not once did I cry
Not once!
Not once.

Then why do you cry now?

I was saving it,
For this moment.
Why waste tears on something sad
When I know something beautiful
Is coming my way.

Hayeren Lezvi Mech, Hyphen Muh Chgaw (In the Armenian language, the hyphen doesn’t exist)



Where I grew up, you didn’t meet any others.
What it was—was hidden by a lost language.

I even remember when I first heard that there was another language that my people spoke;
I was so young—I didn’t even know what another language meant.

The dictionary was the place you went for words you didn’t know.
And to me then, what was language, but a collection of words?

I remember thinking:
I will find our lost language,
And I will surprise everyone when I start speaking it.
So I started writing down words from the dictionary on tiny cut-up notecards,
Obscure words, lost words,
And putting them into my pockets.
I would study them,
Alone in the backyard.

I remember: I would be starting my homeschool lessons before the sun had risen, Work at a feverish pace,
And finish when it was a few suns’ heights above the horizon;
I would write out the words for the day,
Then hide under the apricot tree alone with my notecards.

I remember some of them: Sacrosanct. Asphodel. Halse. Kenning. Laconic. Fenestella. Ichor. Doddered. Droff. I tried to forget every word I knew before, and decided I would only speak using these words.

My Dad found me one day and I had to explain prematurely my plan—the resurrection of our lost language. When he told me all the little words on all the little cards were all English,
My hyphenated heart comma-ed,
Then resumed with an outburst of frustrated and hopeless tears.
But he explained to me that one day I could learn to speak Armenian, and not to worry now, because I’m still Armenian even though I can’t speak it and what I’m doing now is proof. (In Armenian, there is a different word for the language and the person).

Ah yes, I remember why he said that:
Because I had told him in between sobs that he shouldn’t have married Mom because now I will only ever be half-Armenian, and didn’t he care that that other half of me was lost forever? (I remember how I pictured it: that other half that should have been, that stalked by imagination like a ghost that couldn’t find its grave—colorless, between existence and whatever is the opposite of existence.)

He tried to explain to me that it doesn’t work like that.
I wondered what that it meant—
What that it has ever meant in any sentence.


Then I remember when it became necessary to forget that I was only half-Armenian,
Because I am Armenian was the explanation I would pull out of my pocket like the old note cards,
When I was alone in my room,
Every night of four years of public high school,
Where I thought to them: You probably don’t even know what that is, so you may keep eating hamburgers and I’ll just keep eating words (even if they are invisible);
Where I learned that whatever I was or was not, I was not what those Americans around me were;
Where I was first introduced to a world of politically correct definitions:
“You’re Armenian-American,” it told me.
Like I said, what has it ever known?

Where I grew up, you didn’t meet any others,
And I was Armenian thank you, no hyphen American,
The most Armenian around,
And if you need proof, you can look at my father’s hooked nose.

That was the time when that stalking half of me,
My half-identity-ghost, was incarnated beside me in my room every night,
And between him and books for company,
I felt never alone.


Then I went to college at UCLA, near the diaspora capital—Glendale, Little Armenia.
Then I first heard our lost language,
And I fell madly in love with the ch’s and the kh’s and the ts’s
And I fell madly determined to learn to speak this found language,
And I fell madly confused when I was face-to-face talking with someone who looked at me like I looked at every American,
And I fell madly.
And I was on the other side of the hyphen.

That was when I started saying again that I was half-Armenian to every whole-Armenian who wondered in their heads why this American was in their language class.
That was when I realized that I am not Armenian,
That was when I realized that I am not Armenian hyphen American
That was when I realized that I am not half anything.
That was when I realized that I am whole hyphen,
And it was my explanation every night alone ever since.


Now the stalking ghost has started haunting about my mind again,
Like creeping out of yellow wall-paper,
Like a spirit that cannot find its grave, creeping relentlessly over the ground.
It speaks to me in Armenian,
And I reply in my old lost language of Ichor and Asphodel,
And we understand each other.

Gamburyan Gets Title Shot, Parisyan Returns to UFC


Former ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ finalist, UFC, and WEC veteran Manvel “The Anvil” Gamburyan (11-4) has finally received his long-awaited title shot against WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (17-1). Gamburyan, a Gokor Chivichyan judo black belt, had long been considered a contender for the featherweight belt after dropping down to the 145-lb division. Gamburyan debuted with a win over John Franchi (5-2), and followed up with a decisive victory against Leonard Garcia (14-5-1) at WEC 44. However, it was not until “The Anvil” knocked out former WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown (23-6) with a vicious counter right-hook that Gamburyan was considered the clear number-one-contender.

Aldo, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt from Manaus, Brazil, has steamrolled through every opponent the WEC has thrown at him. Since taking the title from Brown at WEC 44, Aldo dominated Urijah Faber (23-4) to a unanimous decision victory.
Aldo will be a very tough fight for the Armenian from North Hollywood. However, just like prior to the Brown fight, Gamburyan has stated that he relishes being the underdog and is confident that he can win the featherweight gold.

Following a submission victory over Australian Ben Mortimer (5-3) at Impact FC 1, Karo “The Heat” Parisyan (19-5-1) has been reinstated into the UFC and will be fighting veteran Dennis Hallman (42-13) at UFC 123. Parisyan was cut from the UFC after pulling out a day before his scheduled fight with Dustin Hazelett at UFC 106. Parisyan has previously pulled out of a fight with judoka Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 88 at the weigh-ins, citing a last-second back injury. However, he later publicly stated he was having panic attacks. Parisyan went on to defeat Korean judoka Dong-Hyun Kim (13-0-1-1) via split decision at UFC 94. However, Parisyan’s victory was turned to a no contest when a post-fight drug test found Parisyan had three different pain killers in his system.

Hallman, a former collegiate wrestler and expert grappler, will be a good test for Parisyan and a victory would only help elevate “The Heat” back into the welterweight title contention.

New Sports Complex in Avan; Platini Visits Yerevan


A new sports complex was officially unveiled in the Avan district of Yerevan on September 1st. The complex was part of an agreement between the Football Federation of Armenia and UEFA in 2007, when UEFA and FIFA presidents Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter visited Armenia to lay down the plans for the construction of the complex. Despite being estimated to take four years to complete, this glorious project was completed in little over three years and Platini was in Yerevan at the unveiling of the center.

Platini stated that he is “confident that [the complex] will benefit young players in Armenia” and that the opening of this great complex was a “dream come true for a lot of young people [in Armenia].”

FFA president Ruben Hayrapetyan was grateful for UEFA’s assistance in establishing better standards for football in Armenia, stating that “it would have been impossible to build such a complex without UEFA assistance,” and that “UEFA funded 62% of the work” for building the complex.

The complex is state-of-the-art and features six football pitches (one with turf, five with grass), four tennis courts, a medical room, weight room, Olympic pool and sauna, large cafeteria, and many 2-person hotel-style rooms for players to stay in.
According to forward Yura Movsisyan (Randers, Denmark), the complex rivaled those in the US and Denmark, where he played his club football.

Following the unveiling of the complex, which was attended by RA President Serzh Sargsyan, Sargsyan awarded Platini with a Medal of Honor for his role in helping construct the massive complex. This complex is certainly a blessing and will help in progression of quality in Armenian football.

Nalbandian Dissapoints in the US Open, Davis Cup


Argentinean-Armenian tennis star David Nalbandian survived a scare in his opening round match against South African Rik de Voest at the 2010 US Open. After being up two sets to one, the Armenian lost a 4th set match-point tiebreak to Voest and the score was even at 2 sets a-piece. However, things were not going well for the world’s 31st ranked player as the underdog de Voest took a commanding 2-0 lead in the final set.
However, Nalbandian showed courageous spirit, as well as a little help from the crowd which was predominantly Argentinean, and came back to win the final set 6-4, and thematch 3-2.

In his following match in the second round, Nalbandian showed off his world- class backhand by defeating Frenchman Florent Serra in straight sets. Nalbandian played very patiently and used his backhand to place shots and compiled 46 winners, compared to his opponent’s 18.

However, Nalbandian’s run came to an end when he faced off against Spaniard Frenando Verdasco (8). Despite losing the first set, Nalbandian showed great resiliency winning the second set 6-3. However, in the third set, Nalbandian lost a break point and his concentration, allowing Verdasco to make easy work of him. Nalbandian’s efforts proved fruitless and Verdasco elminated him in the 4th set with a 6-2 victory.
Nalbandian’s string of bad luck only continued when he lost to Frenchman Gael Monfils 3-1 in the Davis Cup World Group match between Argentina and France.
Argentina was subsequently swept by France 5 games to 0 and thereby eliminated from this year’s Davis Cup.

Despite his early exit, Nalbandian’s play has greatly improved compared to the form he was in two years ago. Likewise, Nalbandian has had some big wins in non- Grand Slam ATP tournaments after coming off hip surgery and will surely look even stronger once he is back at 100% fitness.

Armenian Premier League


Impuls FC of Dilijan and Shirak FC of Gyumri helped kick off the 19th tour of the 2010 Armenian Premier League season season with a 2-2 draw. Impuls had taken a 1-0 lead at the half-hour mark with a goal by the Brazilian Elton, and the boys from Dilijan quickly struck another goal six minutes later thanks to midfielder Tigran Voskanyan. However, Shirak, a club currently sitting at last place in the table and facing relegation, showed tremendous heart as forward Andranik Barikyan netted a brace to help tie the score, despite Shirak’s Garnik Sargsyan getting sent off with a red card in the 51st minute. With the comeback tie, both teams retained their spots in the table with Impuls sitting at 5th and Shirak still sitting in the last relegation spot with only one win to their name.

At the Vazgen Sargsyan Hanrapetakan Stadium, Ulisses FC took on Kilikia FC, both of Yerevan. The match ended in a scoreless draw and saw both teams retain their spots at 3rd and 7th place, respectively.

The third game of the week saw Mika FC take on Gandzasar FC. It took only three minutes for the game’s score line to open up as Mika were awarded a penalty kick after a player taken down rashly in Gandzasar’s penalty box. Mika’s Brazilian legionnaire Ednei calmly put the ball away into the left side of the net as Gandzasar’s keeper guessed incorrectly and jumped to the right. Mika dominated the rest of the game in terms of possession and scoring chances, but last year’s runners-up were not able to find the back of the Gandzasar net, and the match ended 1-0 in Mika’s favor. This was Mika’s third victory in a row after hiring new coach (and former player) Armen Shahgeldyan and have turned it into a four way race for the title as Mika is creeping slowly towards a top-three spot, whereas Gandzasar sits firmly at 6th, happy to avoid relegation.

Lastly, the match of the week of the APL was between first- and second-place teams Banants and Pyunik. The match was a free-flowing and fast-paced which saw both teams get clear opportunities on goal. However, it was the defending champions Pyunik who took first blood with an absolute firecracker of a goal by Karlen Mkrtchyan at the stroke of halftime. Mkrtchyan coolly took the ball near the center circle and, with no defenders around him, took one touch and ripped the ball straight into the right corner of the net. Pyunik, eager to cut the gap between them and Banants from five points to two, did not let up as Edgar Manucharyan increased the lead to 2-0 two minutes into the first half’s stoppage time as his long-range free kick was deflected off the wall and rose straight to the top corner of the Banants net.

However, the 1st place “Banana Boys” did not give up, as the Brazilian Betu forced in a sloppy goal in the 75th minute of play. Seven minutes later, Banants would even the score after Deniran Ortega of Nigeria headed in a splendid cross. The table leaders clearly happy to walk off the pitch with a draw, and the split allowed them to maintain their five point lead over Pyunik for the week.

Future Looking Bright for Armenian Soccer Stars


If you were to ask your parents, grandparents, uncles, and all older relatives what Armenian soccer memory sticks out to them most, you will most likely get a response of “Ararat ’73.” Since FC Ararat Yerevan’s triumph over Dynamo Kiev to win the Soviet League in 1973, there has been little to cheer about in regards to Armenian soccer. Occasionally, players such as Levon Ishtoyan and Khoren Hovhannisyan would get called up to the Soviet national team, but those stints were often short-lived, and Ararat had slowly begun to decline into the middle of the Soviet Top League’s table. After the Soviet collapse, the newly-formed Armenian did not fare well, failing to achieve victories on a consistent basis for over fifteen years. However, much has changed these past two years as the Armenian soccer scene has taken a turn for the better as the quality of soccer has progressed greatly.

With the hiring of Scotsman Ian Porterfield as coach of the national team in 2006, the quality of soccer began to steadily rise. This was evidenced in Armenia’s UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier against the group leader, Poland, where Hamlet Mkhitaryan curled a fantastic free kick into the opponent’s net to give Armenia the memorable 1-0 victory in Yerevan. Another fantastic result followed as Armenia tied Portugal 1-1 in a hard-fought affair. Despite Armenia’s rocky 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, the team, now under coach Vardan Minasyan, is individually on a higher level than Porterfield’s team. This can be attributed to the growing number of Armenians playing soccer professionally abroad.

For example, current winger Edgar Manucharyan, 23, began a promising youth career with FC Pyunik in Yerevan. Possessing a powerful and accurate left foot, Manucharyan carries a game similar to Arjen Robben, patrolling the right wing side with great vision and a great ability to cut in on his left foot. After being spotted in Holland while representing Armenia’s youth team, Manucharyan was taken on trial and eventually signed with prestigious Dutch club Ajax of Amsterdam. After progressing through Ajax’s famed youth academy, Manucharyan played up front with world-class stars Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Wesley Sneijder. However, injuries marred his stay with the club and he was subsequently loaned to numerous Dutch teams where he displayed great attacking powers, netting 14 goals in 29 games in his loan stints. Despite currently being back at Pyunik, Edgar will surely attract more European clubs following his great performance against Macedonia in Armenia’s Euro 2012 qualifier, which included a goal to his name.

Attacking midfielder Henrik Mkhitaryan, 21, has likewise signed with a prestigious club in Europe. Billed as a versatile playmaker that can play most midfield positions, Mkhitaryan possesses great vision and passing ability. Mkhitaryan is also a natural leader, which was evident in him being named Metalurh Donetsk’s captain in only his second year. Like Manucharyan, Mkhitaryan shone for FC Pyunik and subsequently secured a move to Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk. After only one season with the club, he was named captain and has now transferred to 2009 Europa League winners Shakhtar Donetsk for a transfer fee of $7.5 million. If Mkhitaryan can bulk up and grow stronger, we will be looking at a player who has a legitimate shot at transferring to an even bigger European club, and possibly England’s Arsenal, Mkhitaryan’s favorite club.

Striker Yura Movsisyan and defender Robert Arzumanyan, 23 and 25, both play for Danish side Randers. Movsisyan, an Armenian-American who won the MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake last season, has been an integral part of the Danish club as his play has seen them improve from 10th place last season to their current spot at 4th place. Movsisyan possesses an uncanny ability to find the back of the net, such as his goal against Armenia’s 2-2 tie with Macedonia. Arzumanyan has also improved his game greatly and, despite not getting much playing time for Randers, is a rock at the heart of the Armenian defense.

The list only goes on, with the likes of defenders Varanth Bezdikian (Marseille, France), Levon Airapetyan (on trial at St. Pauli, Germany), midfielders Masis Voskanyan (Roeselare, Belgium) and Hiraç Yagan (Standard Liege, Belgium), and forwards Hovhannes Goharyan (BATE Borisov, Belarus) and Gevork Badalyan (Banik Most, Czech Republic) all currently featuring for the under-21 national team, as well as for clubs outside of Armenia. This nucleus of young and talented players that play outside of Armenia is certainly to the benefit of the Armenian national team, as the Armenian Premier League is still one of the lower-tier football leagues in Europe. Likewise, with these players playing in the diaspora, they are able to regularly face competition on the pitch that are of higher skill level than opponents they would have faced had they played in Armenia.

There are also players such as Joaquin Boghossian (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria) and Mauro Guevgeozian (Everton, Chile), both from Uruguay, who are Armenian but have not yet accepted invitations to the Armenian national team. Both strikers possess good aerial ability and can finish well.

Likewise, the recently opened sports complex in Avan, Armenia will only further help the national team. Sponsored by UEFA (UEFA paid for 60% of the project), the complex houses six soccer pitches (one with turf, five with grass), four tennis courts, a medical room, weight room, Olympic pool and sauna, large cafeteria, and many 2-person hotel-style rooms for players to stay in. The complex is the first of its kind in the Caucasus and will certainly give the Armenians a leg up on the competition.
It is clearly evident that the spine of the future of the Armenian national team has been set into place with more and more talented young players being churned out of Armenia. The combination of these players and the new sports complex puts the level of natural talent of the Armenian national team at an all-time high. All that is left is for another foreign coach like Porterfield who can make the team play well together and finally elevate Armenia to a top 50 spot in the FIFA rankings and hopefully, qualification into a major FIFA/UEFA tournament.