Done, to Twenty-One

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

This year’s litany of lameness started on April 14 for me (and it’s not just the events that earn this description).  I’m referring to Genocide commemorative and related activities of course.  As usual, the events so far seem cookie-cutter trite, as though most of us have left our imagination, inspiration, and intellect locked away in some safe-house.  There are small exceptions, but…

The first event I went to was a book signing, held at the new Diocesan facilities in Burbank, John Ahmaranian’s Turkey Has Recognized the Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, I had the time wrong, and arrived for the discussion part only (talk about lame).  It seemed lively, and the topic, based on contemporaneous sources, interesting. The turnout was good, 57 people, considering what book signings usually draw, and especially since the same author is making a total of three appearances over a span of two weeks.  Interestingly, there was nothing on the April 15th- this based on Armencal listings for Southern California.

April 16th found me in Pasadena’s ARF/ANC/AYF/ARS/Hamazkayin event featuring a screening of a video assembled by Richard Kloian, of those parts of “Auction of Souls” or “Ravaged Armenia”— Arshalooys (Aurora) Mardiganian’s story in film— that have been found and salvaged, to date.  Filmmaker Eric Nazarian’s remarks helped shed light on how she was exploited in the process of making the film (in which she starred as herself) leading to a nervous breakdown, a lawsuit, and utterly shameless behavior on the part of her “patrons”.  He also explained why finding extant copies of this film was difficult—the stock used at that time was “nitrate film” and very unstable, degrading rapidly so that today, much of filmdom’s early years is threatened.  I was very glad to attend, since I’d missed an earlier screening and this has a personal connection for me.  My own grandmother told me of having the book that was published at the time, and lending it to someone, never to get it back… Then, when I moved to LA, imagine the thrill I felt when I had the opportunity to meet this great woman.  Though she wasn’t very talkative at that point in her life, and was alone and lonely.  Sad…  It’s also sad that turnout to this event was barely 200 people, a lot of people missed out on a good event.

Other commitments on April 17 kept me from checking out Orange County’s annual “Walk for Remembrance” which otherwise would have been possible since no nearby events were scheduled for that day.  That’s odd, relative to other years.  This year, a lot more LA-basin events seem to have been scheduled densely on the 23rd and 24th.  That’s sensible on one level.  But on another, it makes things difficult for people who might otherwise travel a little farther to “do their duty” if personal conflicts precluded them from attending something nearby on those dates.  Remember, this is the LA-mega-plex Armenian community, not a Fresno-San Francisco or Chicago-Detroit travel situation.

The 18th had Glendale ANC’s annual blood drive going strong, with over 50 donors ultimately giving.  That’s a good showing as blood drives go.  I gave recently in another setting where only 39 donated, and that was deemed a good number.  On a side note, I came to a handy conclusion that day, “Never give an idiot a rule”.  A donor wanted to discuss the recent 43rd Assembly District election with me.  His turn came and we both walked into the plastic compartments set up for “privacy” when going through the paperwork required prior giving blood.  The Red Cross staffer said I had to leave.  My conversationalist had no problem with my being there, and I told her so.  She got a supervisor, who robotically uttered the “rule”.  Along the way, I heard the protestation from them that “this is our rule”.  Absolutely no common sense allowed.  The object of the protection provided by the “rule” has no qualms about my presence, what else do they need?  Then, they had the nerve to say “if you’re going to be disruptive…” of course my response was “you’re being disruptive”.  Anyway, never give an idiot a rule…

Later that Sunday afternoon, a treat awaited me.  At the three-speaker symposium moderated by Richard Hovannisian, a great deal of new and illuminating information was imparted.  I can’t possibly do it justice in this compact framework, but here’s the barest of samplings.  Matthias Bjornlund spoke of his findings in Scandinavian archives, a relatively untapped resource.  His revelations and comments regarding current Genocide politics in those countries exposed a far less altruistic mindset than is usually attributed to those countries.  Wolf Gruner from Germany documented Genocide awareness in Germany during the interwar period, demonstrating that the notion of “forgottenness” undergirding Hitler’s oft-quoted line from his Obersalzberg speech is not accurate.  The third speaker, Ughur Umit Ungor , was the most interesting for me.  A Turk raised in Holland speaking essentially perfect Amer-English, who looked almost identical to an Armenian I know.  His research focuses geographically on Dikranagerd (Diyarbekir) and functionally, on the lower level criminals than the central government officials we usually hear about.  His documentation is the type of work we need to “follow the money” to restore the property (of all kinds) stolen by Turks (other than on the governmental level- a slightly different proposition) and land to their rightful owners’ descendants.  This guy’s research will be well worth reading.  He anticipates publishing a book soon.

The City of Glendale’s now traditional weeklong programming included a cultural event of music and poetry billed as running from 6:30 to 9:00 pm on the 19th.  While I was “lame” to arrive at 8:00, it was odder still to enter the Glendale Library’s auditorium and see a dozen people remaining, and everything almost cleaned up.  Sunder Ramani (the Republican contender in the 43rd State Assembly District) and his campaign manager arrived as I exited.  They had read the same times…

On the 20th, I attended the brief ceremony and presentation of a Genocide proclamation by LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.  This was a pretty standard affair.  But there were almost no Armenians present in the huge meeting room’s auditorium.  There couldn’t have been more than about 30.  About a dozen of those were clergy, and a few more from the lay nomenclatura and organizational staff.  It was EMBARASSING.

In the evening of this day, the Burbank Human Relations Council held its annual Holocaust Remembrance, as always, the Armenian Genocide, along with others, was mentioned, too.  This year’s novelty was the presentation of a mini-documentary produced by the local NBC affiliate about a survivor who was a teenager working in Oskar Schindler’s factory.  This was moving and relevant with its local connection—that survivor had settled in Orange County served as a teacher in a local school district for four decades.  This kind of material is what we have to produce regarding the Armenian Genocide to maintain its currency, relevance.

The ninth annual Genocide commemoration organized by the Armenian Clubs of Glendale Unified School District’s high schools was standard fare.  That’s worrisome.  It’s not the quality that’s at issue, the overwhelmingly cultural presentation— song, music, dance, theatrical, and video—was good.  But it felt much like any other event we go to organized by us old fogies. It’s worrisome that kids of tha
t age somehow end up reproducing so closely what preceded them.  We need more novelty, things to catch people’s attention and energize them in this world where our attention is constantly being grabbed by petty, mercantile matters.

Something’s missing.  I wish I could pinpoint what it was and propose a remedy.  Maybe you’ve got it.  Please tell us.

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3 Comments

  1. jeremy said:

    First step towards improvement: ban those hayastanci males, ages 16 to 30 from driving around the streets of Los Angeles in their luxury German-made cars draped with our colors.

    Perception is key — and if THOSE idiots are advocating for us, we're in some serious trouble.

    Children — go to school on the 24th!!! I was educated in Glendale from Kindergarten until my second year at Glendale College before I transfered. I never missed school on the 24th. Rather, I went through school with perfect attendance (except for when I got Chicken Pox in 2nd grade), educated myself, graduated college, got a master's degree, went to law school, graduated, passed the bar, and became an attorney. Now I'm not saying that missing a day of school every year will hinder one's chances of achieving educational success. But, the days I did go to school, I made sure to advocate for our cause — to my classmates, my teachers, professors, anyone who would listen to me.

    I also think we shouldn't rely on organizations like the ANC to gain recognition. Why, you ask? Because Genocide recognition is completely adverse with the ANC's existence — Genocide recognition is 80% of the reason the ANC exists. The other 20% is dedciated to raising money to send to Armenian so corrupt people can pocket it all, building houses made of 24 karat gold (I've seen it with my own 2 eyes) — but this is another issue. The day the Genocide gets recognized, the ANC stops bringing in those dollars, and will no longer be able to sustain its existence economically. So — don't donate to the ANC — they're not doing what's necessary to gain recognition — emails and a yearly march doesn't gain reecognition.

    Instead — donate to a candidate's campaign, along with a letter. Donate large amounts of money to a presidential candidate. It's not guaranteed, but it's better than marching.

    But most importantly, remember to do whatever necessary to keep public perception of Armenians positive. These hayastancis ruin it for the rest of us. We have a horrible image because of a small minority of idiots. So to the good Armenians — represent us well, please.

  2. George said:

    Jeremy,

    Great post! I’m glad that you ended up attending law school so that you could come up with such a sophisticated analysis.

    Are you truly this much of a moron? The ANC wants to make sure that the genocide isn’t recognized so that they can exist? Are you serious? Did you find that on the ATAA website?
    Your barking sounds like it was construed by the same scum who say that Armenian’s died in a civil war in 1915 and that we were rebelling against the Turks.

    As far as your comment about Hyastantis, you truly demonstrate your colors. Your mother must be so proud how you have become such a good Shish Kabob Armenian. Please, please, please don’t advocate for our cause. Do you go around to non-Armenians telling them about the “different type of Armenians” and how you are not one of them? (And before you make any assumptions, I am not Hyastantsi, but love all my brothers and sisters.)

  3. Armen said:

    Wow, where to begin with someone as dimwitted as “Jeremy” (he couldn’t even give himself an Armenian pseudonym). I will pass on his idiotic characterizations of whole groups of Armenians and their automotive choices. I can’t argue necessarily with his logic regarding why he chooses to go to school. While a valid argument, there are valid arguments for not showing up as well. I just wish he would have paid more attention at school and perhaps he would be so prone to over generalizations and silly hyperbole.

    Let’s focus on his whopper. The ANC exists solely for Armenian Genocide recognition and for lining the pockets of the corrupt in Armenia. Simpletons like Jeremy love to make this claim with ZERO knowledge of the ANC’s work. First, if he even bothered to read the ANC’s website he would see press releases and detailed materials about the threat to Karabagh and the importance of fighting for its independence, the fight for survival by Armenians in Javakh, and the push for more aid to Armenia. If he bothered to dig deeper, he would discover that the ANC has dedicated subcommittees working on everything from helping Javakh to tracking the spread of Turkish propaganda in our schools and communities to an ANC-PAC which donates to American politicians which support Armenian issues (one of the things which he implores us to do) to fighting discrimination against Armenians (I guess in Jeremy’s world, as long as they are “bad Armenians,” like Hayastantsis, discrimination is OK and probably encouraged).

    But the bottom line is that it is easy to sit on the sidelines and chuck stones when you don’t have the guts or energy to get up and do something. Does he even know that the most senior members of the ANC staff are paid well under $100K per year yet answer the phone every night when you call them at 9 PM at the office. Hardly the stuff of moneymakers. They could easily get jobs lobbying for monied interests given their years of service on the Hill for 5x what they make today. Yet they work their tails off for morons like Jeremy. But that’s OK, they understand that.

    As for the allegation about lining the pockets of politicians in Armenia, that’s perhaps the most laughable of his claims. While he may have witnessed it with his own 2 eyes, I strongly suggest he goes to his ophthalmologist as he has the worst kind of myopia, that of a fool who believes his own lies. I wonder how an organization with a total budget of under $1M per year can line anyone’s pockets? Particularly if that organization is a tax exempt organization which must report ALL of its activities IN DETAIL to retain its tax exempt status.

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