Now That’s a Problem

By Garen Yegparian
<p.When you're discussing a printing job and your conversationalist says–"Garen–if you don't already have a topic for this week–you've got to write about the tidal wave of Turkish goods flooding the Armenian and Middle Eastern markets," the reply is–"I've covered that before."

When two hours later–someone who never gave a damn about this issue–even thought it was silly to discuss–says–"Garen–I hate you–I just can’t stand Turkish stuff any more–it really bothers me now," the response is an understanding nod and some "counseling" while starting to wonder–"What’s going on today."

When an hour later–you walk into Jon’s in Glendale on Glenoaks to buy some fine cut–#1 tsavar (boolghoor–ironic–isn’t it–having to reference the more familiar Turkish term?) to make some eech–only to discover they only carry the stuff imported from Turkey–the response is–"Now that’s a problem–the universe is trying to tell me something."

Add this ridiculous conversation to the mix. In early February while buying manaeesh from Panos bakery in Pasadena–the proprietor’s response to my criticism of his stocking Turkish pepper paste was "Oh–we don’t sell it." It took a minute to register what he was really saying. The guy "merely" uses it in his baked goods. Of course all this happened while an employee–also Armenian–was giving me sideways looks implying–"Who is this guy and what garbage is he spouting."

The first person reported that Sdepan Partamian–on his TV show–had advocated picketing the Armenian owned importers’ plants to address this vile situation. The response was–"Hey–I had the identical thought a few weeks ago."

As I’m sure you’re familiar–legion are the lame-o excuses and explanations for this behavior on the part of our compatriots. And they’re not limited to the West Coast of the US as I recall similar idiocy being put forth while I lived in New York.

It’s time to call them on it. It’s no longer acceptable for these people to launder their blood money through the petty contributions they make to our community. The pennies they throw our way are supposed to keep our mouths shut. No more I say. They can replace their product line with goods just as tasty and inexpensive but produced in Greece–Iran–Lebanon–Syria–etc.

Perhaps if the AYF’s efforts in the late eighties and early nineties to stem this noxious flow had been seen through–we wouldn’t have this gigantic problem today. Who’s going to step up and tackle this problem–pickets–protests–letters–embarrassment tactics–and whatever else it takes to resolve this matter once and for all.

Of course if the Turkish government and its pit-bull master–the Turkish military–had any sense–they’d make this and a host of other problems for their country go away by simply addressing the rightful deman’s of the Armenian nation. But since this is unlikely–let’s handle our own dirty laundry in the meantime.

Let’s picket packing plants and ports of delivery. Let’s pummel these complacent purveyors into proper behavior. Who’s organizing? Who’s leading? I and many others are ready to follow!

14) WHAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND ABOUT ARMENIAN WEDDINGS: A recurring series on events at Banquet Halls

By Skeptik Sinikian

I decided I needed a break this week after last week’s serious topic dealing with the Iraq War and the Armenian genocide. After all–come April–I’ll probably write about the Armenian genocide and related events every week. But this week–we all need a break and I know nothing helps my readers relax better than reading my random ran’s about things in our community that drive me up the wall of insanity and back down.

This time I’m not going to walk into the minefield of criticizing Armenian television programming–nor am I going to talk about how rude the service at Zankou Chicken can be at times. In fact–as tempted as I am to delve back into the topic of dating in the Armenian world because of numerous requests by readers–I’m going to avoid that and revisit one of my favorite topics–Armenian weddings.

A few weeks ago–I was at a wedding in North Hollywood (the same night as the Oscars) and during the whole elaborate ceremony my mind began to wander. I tried to remember all the things that irked me about the ceremony that were endemic of Armenian weddings in general. As soon as I got home–I sat down and tried to write down as many of them as possible. Here are some of my gripes in no particular order. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on some of these–so please send me some feedback. 1. What do they do with all the left over food? Seriously–I wonder what happens to that mountain of "hummus" every week that nobody eats. I have been to more weddings in the last year than I’d care to remember and at each one–there’s always plenty of "hummus" and "babaganoush" at each table. Nobody ever touches it because everyone is afraid of stinking of garlic and so the pile just sits there until there’s a hardened dark yellow crust around the edges and someone who has had too many shots of vodka or whiskey–dips the remnants of bread into it and takes a dip. I’m not even going to start with all the other mezzeh appetizer dishes. From cheeses–cold cuts–and other delights–an average banquet hall must throw away enough food to feed the entire homeless population of Yerevan for a few months. If someone did the mathematics–it would probably be an obscene amount. 2. Is the food that’s served on Sunday the rehashed leftovers from Friday and Saturday? I really need to know the answer to this one because it may completely alter my eating habits at these events. I won’t be able to look at the Russian Salad the same way if I know that it’s made with the potatoes from the Baptism the night before. 3. What is up with strange cuisine at these banquet halls? It seems as though banquet halls are trying to out do each other in how outrageous their men’s can be. My good friend was telling me about one wedding he went to in Tujunga where they had a cooked crocodile on display stuffed with cocktail sauce and shrimp. I didn’t believe him until he showed me the picture on his camera phone. A COOKED CROCODILE! I thought the only thing these suckers were good for was wrestling Australian zoologists and being made into purses and wallets. Another banquet hall served rabbits while yet another has started serving yellow tomatoes–sushi rolls–and even passion fruit. I know what you’re thinking. And the answer is yes–I’ve been to a lot of weddings–baptisms–wakes and other similar events at these banquet halls. In fact–I could write a book about them but for now–an article will have to suffice. The point I want to make here though is that none of these "exotic" dishes really say anything about traditional Armenian weddings or culture. You may make the argument that having a lot of food and a great variety is a sign of wishing the couple success in their marriage and future life together but that’s just silly. Armenia’s had nothing to eat during the genocide and the years after–starved under Stalin and had food shortages during various wars in the regions they lived in. Not to mention gluttony being a disgusting and vulgar trait. Here’s my advice. .leave the endangered species alone and keep them off the dining table. 4. Here’s another thing we need to figure out–why are there more people outside smoking at any of these events than inside? I remember being at an event a few years ago where a Congressman was giving a speech and looking around the room–I noticed I was one of a handful of men’sitting in the audience. It felt like I was stuck in an episode of the Twilight Zone until I went to the restroom and walked by the entrance. Sure enough–outside–in the cold balmy weather was a throng of men (mostly dressed in various shades of black and grey) smoking away like they were trying to send an Indian Smoke Signal to their relatives in Hayastan. I know that smoking is an addiction–and addictions are hard to kick but when an important person is saying a few words or even if it’s not such an important person but someone who had the courage to stand up in front of an audience and talk–can we please respect that person and act like civilized human beings? 5. Why to people LOVE Arabic music? I don’t get this one. I’ve probably written about it before but it never ceases to amaze me how the room comes alive all of a sudden when the slightest hint of an Arabic melody is played by either the band or the DJ. Women will kick you in the chest with their high heeled shoe to make way to the dance floor where for the next thirty minutes you are forced to watch Armenian women’swinging their hips in front of children and the elderly in some of the most inappropriate ways imaginable. Now Skeptik is no prude. In fact–I can appreciate a good hip swinging anytime–and I do mean ANY time. But this obsession with Arabic and Persian music coupled with the scandalous and sexually suggestive dancing is the wrong example to be setting for our children. At this one particular event–I had to watch a mother and her 9 year old daughter do the Arabic belly roll in unison. The girl was imitating her mom. I used to think this was pandemic of the Armenia’s who came from Arabic countries or the ones from Iran but these people were Russian Armenian. Bizarre. I just don’t get it. And believe me–nothing prepares you in life for watching a mother and daughter belly dance performance except for maybe washing your eyes out with Clorox bleach.

I have more things to rant and rave about but that’s about it for this week. I haven’t had a chance to update my blog yet and a special thank you to reader AKprous a.k.a. Kevorkian noticed and wrote "Skeptik–When are you going to update your web-site? I hope that it’s because you are lazy and not ill." AKprous my friend–thank you for caring. I will update my site this weekend and on the site I will expand this list. Next week I want to write about the racist monster that lurks in the shadows of the Glendale Hills. Until then–stay classy and pass the hummus.

Skeptik Sinikian is a professional Armenian wedding planner and crocodile hunter. He hopes to one day marry his two passions by becoming a wedding planner for Armenia’s who wish to have crocodile themed weddings at Vegas themed restauran’s in Glendale. If you would like to hire his services–email him at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com or visit his blog at www.sinikian.blogspot.com. s

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