Thursday, December 16, 2004

Issandr El-Amani of the Arabist Network asks a very good question about a page of a Pentagon manual that describes a translation device they will be using:

Why will American soldiers speak Farsi to Indian women?

Hurray for the U.K.

Someone in the family always jokes that if you go to the root of every major conflict in the world, you find the work of the British. I know, it is a very My Uncle Napolean sort of statement that can be dismissed in terms of the "Persian penchant for conspiracy", as the wanna-be Orientalist and former U.S. ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, is condescendingly fond of saying.

But when you consider that the U.S.(and Australia)were at bottom projects of that glorious isle, well then the theory doesn't seem soooo absurd, does it?

Seriously, though, every now and again the British government does things that are worthy of praise, and this week, there were two of them:

1) Today, Britain's highest court ruled that foreigners CANNOT be held in detention without charge or trial. To do so, they rightly pointed out, was against European human rights laws.

2)And on Tuesday, a British court ruled in favor of an Iraqi family suing the U.K. government for the death of the civilian Baha Mousa, a young man in his twenties and father of two, who was beaten to death during interrogations by the British troops.

So here is something you wont hear me say every day: Bravo to the British! At least there it seems that adherence to the law still means something. Let's hope the poodle Blair and his little gang don't try to subvert the law like they've done before.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

If you know me well, you will have figured that i have a slight tendancy towards masochism, and it usually takes the form of exposing myself to "news" and "analysis" that aggravate me. Another thing I do to torture myself is that I talk now and again with people I met in Iranian chatrooms. Having observed me, Ra'ed once pointed out (rightly) that I seemed to partake in the activity just so I could curse my interlocuters, kind of like what i do when i watch Iranian "opposition" television, except that in the case of latter i swear at the t.v. and with the chatroom folks, i complain bitterly about them afterwards.

so today, while i was ostensibly doing some serious writing, i decided to expose myself to the most boring interview I have ever seen, anywhere. it was an interview with the aging iranian popstar habib and that extremely annoying (even for Iranian satellite TV standards) host that always sounds like he has a gerbil stuck in his throat.Habib was as charismatic as a limp stick of asparagus and the host, as usual, was droning on and on with his inanities.

Back in the 70s, my mom used to sit and cry every time she heard Habib strumming his guitar and singing his melancholy hit song "marde tanhaye shab (the lonely man of the night)". Rumor had it that Habib had lost both his mom and wife (who was said to have the same name as my mother) in a tragic car accident. He also had a song dedicated to and named after his wife, which as you can imagine, set mom's tear ducts into over drive as well. Mom is no longer this sentimental when it comes to love songs, but last year when my grandmother was visiting me, I made the mistake of playing a song habib had written for, you guessed it, his mother, and it took a whole hour of acting the clown and desperately trying to distract my grandmother before her tears dried up.

I've never figured out whether the story about the death of habib's mom and wife was true or not (mom thinks that they were lies to promote his sad-lonely-singer image, but maybe she convinced herself of that so that she would quit crying).

And I started this post with the intention of making fun of about four or five iranian popstars, you know, just to be a jerk but maybe be funny too. One of my victims was going to be habib and his son mohammad, with whom he now sings, but it seems that i have i've fallen to my own weepy sentimentality.

I mean what if this Mohammad is the son of that wife, you know the one who died in the accident? i think the math doesnt work out, but still you never know. either way, i think it is kind of sweet that they are singing together, especially when they do a duet on the song "madar(mother)".

so forget it, i guess i'm a masochistic and a sap.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Keeping the Persian Gulf Stupid

wow, have I really been away from here for nearly a month?

No, I haven't been depressed, or away, or even particularly busy. And there certainly hasn't been a lack of things to blog about.

Take, for example, the US spying on their boy El-Baradei. I guess if you are bold enough to plant bugs in the phones and emails of the UN Security Council, keeping an eye out on your hired help is perfectly legitimate.

Lots of stuff going on in Iran as well, too much, really, to account for in one post. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Khatami the other day, when students openly attacked him and his record.

One of my favorite moments in the whole thing was when a crowd of students started shouting slogans against the hardliner Ayatollah Jannati: "Jannati Jannati, to doshman-e mardomi (Jannati Jannati, you are the enemy of the people". Thinking the slogans were against him, Khatami responded with a resigned but sarcastic "fine, if you are the representatives of the people, then i am the enemy". So the students started to shout back at him: "no no, we are NOT talking about YOU! we are yelling about Jannati", to which Khatami, clearly pleased, just responded with something like "oh, it's not against me? fine then".

The students weren't the only excitable ones these past days, who could forget the mass hysteria that swept up Iranians of all stripes and locations including fascists/monarchists living abroad, reformists and hardliner politicians inside of Iran, and, well, pretty much everyone else in between.

And, what, you may wonder, was the root cause of this rare moment of unity among Iranians? Was it sparked by the feeling that the whole world is ganging up on Iran as indicated by news that:

Egypt Accuses Iran of Espionage?

Israel accuses Iran of Espionage?

That cow, Yawar, accuses Iran of interfering in Iraq?

The Jordanian King Abdullah accuses Iran of meddling with Iraq's politics?

or maybe it was the fact that the US continues to lay the groundwork for yet another war of aggression against a sovereign nation?

Oh no, it was none of these things that broght together the otherwise divided patchwork of us passionate Iranians. It was the fact that an atlas published by the National Geographic included in PARENTHESES the words "Arabian Gulf" next to the "Persian Gulf".

Now when you have troubles like this, all other news concerning Iran just seems trivial doesn't it?

No wonder the Iranian government banned the National Geographic journalists from entering Iran and that attention-hungry son of a former dictator set up meetings with the board of National Geographic.

And the weblog community jumped in feet first, even designing a google bomb (which I refuse to link to for obvious reasons). Way to unleash the progressive power of the Internet guys!

Well, better a google bomb than a cluster bomb, i say!

except that:

1)Hollow nationalism, though always silly and patently stupid, rarely ever stays at
the level of verbal or symbolic assaults.

2)While we are fiddling around online manically spreading google bombs in order to "keep the Gulf forever Persian", Iran comes frightenly closer to being bombarded with cluster bombs and more. And when that happens, the Gulf wont be Persian, or Arabian, it will be the Anglo-American Gulf, and no amount of google bombing will help us then.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Iranians in Falluja?

I don't think so.

Bush and his puppet Alawi have been killing themselves trying to link Iran to the Iraqi resistance, and while claims of Iranian interferance in the Shia dominated south may not break the bullshit-o-meter, the mere idea that Iranians would be hanging out--much less fighting side by side with--the resistance fighters in Sunni Falluja is ridiculous.

But Lieutenant General Thomas Sattler, the commander against the attack on falluja, claims that U.S. forces were making progress in Falluja "killing about 600 insurgents and capturing 150 during the assault, including at least a dozen foreigners, ten of whom were believed to be from neighboring Iran".

How can US forces claim on the one hand that falluja is gripped by former Saddam royalists and Zarqawi followers AND iranians? Iranians joining forces with followers of their arch-enemy saddam? Iranians fighting alongside supporters of the rabid Shia hater/killer Zarqawi? Are people expected to believe this? I guess the same fools who bought the hogwash about sadam's links to al-qaeda will swallow this one too.

By the way, the article i linked to above quotes the spokesman for allawi saying about the resistance in falluja: "They are foreigners. They were not invited to come to Iraq and we want them out of here".

Can someone remind me who invited the U.S. to conquer Iraq?

Monday, November 08, 2004

As Japan was recovering from killer typhoons and shaking from earthquakes and after shocks,24 year old backpacker Shosei Koda was kidnapped in Iraq on October 26.

Even after his beheaded corpse was found on October 30th, there was not an outpouring of sympathy or support for him. I thought it was because Japan was in the midst of the onslaught of natural disasters. But our friend in Japan, the indefatigable Yoshiko Ikeda (her sites are in Japanese)told us that the maojority of people seemed to dismiss him as stupid and irresponsible, some even going as far as implying that he got what he deserved.

In response to this, the artist DoX, painted this picture:

DoX wrote an article in accompaniment/explanation of the painting, and Yoshiko has translated it for me. it reads in part:

I don't know if this painting is good or not, but this is how they
seemed to me; those people who utter their 'splendid opinions' to
someone who is being killed. No words can be found.

I still don't know what I can say, so let me quote someone else's

"It's all too easy to call him stupid. I just wondered if I could
ignore him because he had nothing to do with me, when he was
making his last-time pleadge in front of a video camera. It's "us
or them" mentality. I just don't think it's my cup of tea. If you
think he doesn't deserve your attention, the best thing should be
just to keep quiet. Even if he was stupid, it doen't make you
cleverer than him"

Anyway, I am still feeling sad for this guy, and i can't express myself nearly as well as DoX, so I will leave it at that. I just wanted to do my small part in honoring the memory of a young man whose only crime was suspecting that lies were being told about Iraq and wanting to get to see for himself what the embedded media was not telling him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This is just what i expected. sort of.

yesterday i was talking on-line with my brother, and we both had an inkling that bush would be the victor. or as he put it, bush would either win or "win", the way he did last time.

but lo and behold, looks like bush didn't need to "win" because he really did win. according to the bush campaign people, bush will be the first president since 1988 to have captured both the popular and electoral vote and that the popular vote reflects the most any american president has received ever.

now they can't blame nader for this one now can they?

and now, after months and years of capitulating to republicans and letting them set the framework on practically every issue, John Kerry and the democratic party, which is perhaps the world's stupidest party, decide to stand their grand and refuse to concede ohio?

i'm afraid the time for showing some resolve is long past. for god's sake, concede already, and go back to approving whatever the polls tell you to pass.

without having won the popular vote in 2000 and having been appointed president, with the majority of the world governments and peoples against him and with falsified proof for an illegal war, bush managed to strong-arm his way into plunging Iraq into disaster and ruining the U.S. economy to boot.

what do you suppose he will do now that he has a solidly republican congress and a mandate from his people?

it's not just the rest of the world that has to brace for the upcoming nightmare, it is the U.S. too. they just don't know yet what a colossal mistake they have made.

canada start patrolling your borders. i predict a mass northern migration.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Neither of these news items is fresh of the press, and my stomach hurts so i will keep my usual side commentary to a minimum. nonetheless, i think both stories deserve a mention:

**first: The iranian hardline basiji militia have requested that the UN grant them observer status at the US national elections. A basiji spokesman claimed that "By this symbolic request, we want to ridicule the so-called democratic slogans of the American leaders". hypocrites calling out the hypocrites, what fun!

**second: iran endorses bush for president. and why not, i say? thanks to bush iran's two arch-enemies the taliban and saddam hussein were taken out, and iran didn't have to lose a single soldier or pay a penny. it could just sit back, develop its own weapons without much trouble, and watch its biggest enemy get itself stuck in a quagmire while destroying its two other enemies. and the benefits to the IRI don't stop here, but more on that later...

Friday, October 15, 2004

There was an ad in the local paper here that said:

TO OUR IRAQI BROTHERS: New shipments of bullet proof cars newly arrived in Aqaba.

We were talking about how this ad alone captures how wrong things have gone in Iraq.

And the streets here are filled with Iraqi men, women, and children who have set up goods on sidewalks in various neighborhoods, trying to make a few dinars to get by. these are surely not former regime agents and ba'thists (though they too are all over the place). I am talking about ordinary desperate people who were forced to come here either because of the brutal sanctions regime or because of the war of occupation.


meanwhile, our own compatriots are busy trying to lay the ground work for an attack on iran. and should that not work, well, these long distance warriors have a back up plan: they want Iranians inside of Iran to hoard small currency so as to cripple the Iranian regime!

these people have the nerve to report proudly that: (and here i am quoting their moronic press release)

"Reports from Iran indicate that small stores and shops are already beginning to feel the effect of this nationwide Project"

and supposing these so called "reports" were true? who will be suffering because of unstable economy? the self identified "technocrats and scientists" who designed this project from the comfortable perches in north america? the wealthy clerics who run the country?

no, it will be precisely the owner of the small shops and stores who are barely making enough to get by, the struggling families, the people whose only currency IS the small currency.

you know this project makes me think of the transcripts from a an iranian satellite tv show that ebrahim nabavi posted selections of in his column. here is the translation of the portion i am reminded of:

A man from iran calls the t.v program broadcasting via satellite from the US:

"Sir, I bow before you! Sir, they have been saying that lately one can find no idiots in Iran, it seems they have all moved to America."

The host hung up on him at this point, naturally.

But point well made, my brother, point well made!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Before the friendly game in Iran between the German national team and the Iranian national team, the longtime German football commentator Bela Rethy noted that:

"In all my 24 years as a sports reporter, I have never experienced such football euphoria than what you see in Iran, not even in South America. It is unique."

just like rage can be suppressed for so long, so can joy. the pleasure principle, i suppose. The older Freud may have decided that the death principle had primacy over the pleasure principle, but i'm starting to think that the will to life will almost always triumphs over the will to die.

i mean, i don't want to sound like the fairly interesting, but immensely repetitive and superficial account that Behzad Yaghmaian gives in his book, nor do I want to give some sort of "keep hope alive" jesse jackson speech, but there is a palpable energy in iranian social and cultural spheres that makes me feel optimistic.


my unconscious life is getting more active than ever. last night i dreamt i was flying while dozens of planes crashed onto the ground and into a teaming river; a giant crocodile that was attacking a house i was staying in by myself; and i also dreamt of a spoiled girl i went to middle school with who used to throw hissy fits without the slightest provocation.

Laila Kha Kha posted a dream and asked for interpretations, to which i obliged by sending a not very convincing response. so i will follow her in requesting insight on the bits and pieces of the dreams i post.


This just in: yet another Irani is suffering from the savior complex. His name is Said Agha Nazem, and he thinks he is the 12th Shia Imam Mahdi now returned. Not only did his followers decide to attack a police station in Iran with Kalshnikovs, but his supporters in tehran had the nerve to protest about the resulting death of the of some of the attackers!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

For heaven's sake, why can't people just leave Ahura alone?

And, no, i am not referring to that lunatic who had too many people fooled that he would be flying into iran to liberate it, and then backed out based on explanations that were only slightly less contorted than the reasons he gave for going in the first place.

what i am talking about is the shallow and misguided efforts of some iranians who have decided to wage a cultural war on the Islamic Republic of Iran by simply replacing its terminology. Hence the gratuitous uses of Ahura and Ahurayee: "in the name of Ahura this", "by the will of Ahura that", "the Ahurayee soil of Iran", "let us have an ahurayee gathering in protest", and other such nonsense.

It reminds me of what a Pakistani friend of mine told me about Islamists in Pakistan trying to get people to change the way they said goodbye by saying Allah-Hafez (may Allah keep you) instead of the common Khoda-Hafez (may God keep you.

So what do our genius cultural warriors and resistors of the current regime in Iran want us to do, start saying "Ahura-Hafez"? Oh no, wait, they wont want the word hafez in there, god forbid, it is arabic in root. they'll have us saying "Ahura negahdar"!

If I were a Zoroastrian, I would be extremely annoyed at the appropriation of Zoroastrianism all over the place. True, Zoroastrianism is one of the foundations of Iranian culture and continues to be an integral part of it, but this doesn't mean that its symbols can be carelessly tossed around.

This backward-looking, knee-jerk attempts at subverting the Iranian regime by just switching its terms are more than just silly. they are dangerous. they encourage that which is racist, reactionary, and irredentist.

Please, we've been down similar roads before, it is time to aggressively speak out against these trends instead of merely laughing at them or ignoring them all together.


I'm sure everyone has heard by now, but Derrida died. Maybe John Searle will throw a party (if he hasn't kicked the bucket too, that is).

Sunday, October 03, 2004

For the first time in my life, i fainted today.

it was really scary immediately before and sometime after it happened, but i've spent most of the rest of day having fits of giggles over the whole thing.

i've had close brushes before, always over the same two issues: when i am getting poked with needles for vaccines or blood tests or when someone mentions the "c" word (clot) when they are talking about bodily injury.

to get extensions for your visa over here, you have to do some health tests, which we thought was a routine TB screening that would consist of having my lungs checked with a stethoscope. that's what we were told anyway.

well, we were misinformed. point is i had to have blood drawn by the thickest needle i'd ever seen by a highly skilled but ungloved nurse. i was thankfully spared the routine of stabbing i usually have to go through because my veins are too small. but that wasn't enough to save me from the nausea and faintness i always feel in these situations.

R., who routinely donates blood and can't relate to my phobia one bit, was cheerfully rushing me out of the clinic and back to our car. i kept on having to stop and even kneel down, and finally convinced him that i needed to sit on a bench for a while.

anyway, i started to get that super nausea, hot body-cold skin feeling, which is usually the last/worse stage i enter before coming back to normal mode, except this time i guess i went one step further.

the next thing i remember is waking up terrified in a room with R. and an expressionless doctor looking over me. i had no idea where i was or how i got there, so i immediately asked where we were and began to cry (what a bache-nane thing to do, i know, but it was involuntary). R. tells me i "made a party" (his expression for when i act like a jerk) and i begin to laugh.

highlights of what i missed when i was unconscious:

after telling R. "it is going black, it is going black" (which i dont remember), my head and eyes rolled back (but not closed, ew) and i started to make creepy sounds with my breathing.

R. slides me down on the bench, lifts my legs, calls my name. no response.
R. slaps me once. no response.
R. slaps me again, harder. no response.
R. slaps me a third time, really hard. no response.
people gathering, R. panicking more. throws me over his shoulders, runs back to the clinic.
man tells him to take me to the second floor, R. goes up two flights of stairs, man tells him to take me back to the ground floor, R. rushes back down the stairs.
man tells him to take me to office on the left, guy in office on the left tells him to go the office on the right.

finally dr. expressionless gives me a bed, starts calling my name, and patting my cheeks. no response.
curious nurse rubs alcohol under my nose, they call my name. no response.
curious nurse puts smelling salts under my nose. big gasp. confusion. crying.

Highlights of what happened when i came to:

dr. expressionless tells curious nurse to take me to wash my face, even though i still feel woozy. curious nurse only speaks in arabic.

curious nurse to R.: where is she from?
R.: from iran
curious nurse to me: you are irani?
me: (nod weakly)

we go in the locker room of the staff, she turns on the tap, no water comes. (this is reassuring, i think, but i change the topic in my head so i wont faint again). we walk down the corridor to a private bathroom.

curious nurse to R.: you are irani?
R. (not paying attention because he is worried i'll faint again): yes
curious nurse to R.: how come you speak arabic?
R.: no answer
curious nurse to R.: how do you communicate?
R.: no answer.
curious nurse to R.: i mean, how do you speak to each other.
R.: no answer.

i wash my face. thank the nurse. apologize to the nurse. and we walk out again.

i'm still feeling faint. i sit limply on the bench, my head is on R.'s knee. A schoolmarmish woman drives up and starts lecturing R. i think she is concerned about me so i just stupidly smile at her the whole time and can't figure out why R. is speaking to her in a harsh tone.

turns out the woman is a teacher at the school by the clinic who mistook us for students and thought we were being inappropriately affectionate. i think the first thing she told R. was to get his hands off of me!

anyway, that is it. end of boring story.

so it wasnt the best anecdote ever, but every time i think of myself prostrate and looking like a zombi while R. slaps me as people gather round, i can't help but crack up hysterically.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

today i saw a friendly link to my last post from a right-wing site, and i thought: "gee, maybe i wasn't explicit enough about my bewildered contempt for ahura and his damn-fool idea for liberating iran". i mean, i may be more bewildered than contemptuous, but i certainly am contemptuous.

believe me, i am always looking for innovative and imaginative forms of dissent. but far from fostering creativity and putting people's restlessness to productive use, megalomaniacal nut-jobs like ahura yazdi sap it out and put immovable boulders in front of anyone else who may have a viable plan for restructuring our lives and societies.

ahura yazdi will make those iranians who genuinely seek new forms of resistance look like lunatics in the same way that opportunistic and phony student movement sites make independent activist students in iran seem like they are mere stooges for the neo-conservative agenda to attack iran.

of course, if tomorrow (which is the birthday of Imam Mahdi, no less), iran is freed, well then, i will change my last name to its "parsi" equivalent (i mean, my first name is as "ahoorayee" as it gets, so i guess i'll keep it).

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

With only two days left until "the event" that is supposed to free iran, i guess i'll finally have to add my voice to the many that the brooding persian has described as making ahura the "object of wrath, scorn, derision and laughter".

i'm not in tehran, so i can't vouch for or deny the buzz that the brooder describes, but respecting him as i do, i am quite sure that he is correct in his perceptions of the general mood.

after the fall of baghdad and before the anniversary of the 1999 iranian student uprising, i remember a similar feeling in the air in the diaspora. and in iran, too, apparently, since thousands of students took to the streets, thousands were arrested, and sometime later, when the hope seemed to have died down as quickly as it had sprung up, the arrested (most of them, anyway) were spit back out, un-noticed for the most part.

is the excitement around ahura's victorious return at all on the same scale as the wave that seemed to have hit us a little over a year ago? thankfully this doesnt seem to be the case. but if it is true that two thousand people took to the streets in tehran in support of ahura, well i think that is two thousand people too many. and i am still a bit in shock/shame mode to even begin an analysis or thoughtful comment on the phenomena.


on an entirely different note:

for about 200 hundred reasons, one of which includes his performance in the infuriating "documentary" Forbidden Iran, i am not exactly fond of the student activist kianoosh sanjari. but i heard a rumour the other day that he had tried to take his own life, and i was wondering if anyone knows of the circumstances. Is he back in jail or what? is it a publicity stunt? (sorry to be cynical, but i had to ask) Where on earth is the rest of the "student movement" anyway?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Usually it is the american occupation forces that come up with these types of brilliant ideas, but this time the british seem to have taken the initiative. In a fool-proof plan to save the life of british hostage bigley, they have have distributed 50,000 flyers in iraq asking people if they would be so kind as to return the hostage unharmed.

before i came here, i used to romanticize the azan (call to prayer). you know, in that typical--and usually naive and annoying-- diaspora way of clinging on to vague and sometimes entirely constructed memories of the "motherland".

but now that i am in a place where the azan is an inescapable part of my daily life, i find that i dont particularly enjoy it.

now it is just a marker of hours and days gone by in vain. the morning call to prayer, if i should be up to hear it, signals that another sleepless night has passed. the noon azan usually means that i've wasted a morning, most likely sleeping. the afternoon call, i tend not to hear, i'm not so sure why, maybe the sounds of the city are at their peak then, and the echos of the call to prayer are drowned out by the white noise. and the evening call, well that one is obvious, it reminds me that the day is over for the most part, and i dont have too much to show for it, not even a blog entry.

so yea, i know, i am projecting, it is not the azan i dont like but my own listless unproductivity. but projection, after all, is a defense mechanism. and as long as you still have functioning defense mechanisms, you know that that there is still hope...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I wanna hold your hand...I wanna hold your hand...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

My favorite moments--in no particular order--from last night's game between Iran and Jordan, when R. and i stood as the only fans of the iranian team (and i as the only woman) in a section with thousands of hardcore Jordanian soccer fans:

**After the stadium recovered from the silence that hit it when Iran scored its first goal, people in our section (the first class section, mind you) started to taunt the Iranian team with chants of "USA! USA! USA! USA!".

**When Khodadad Azizi was taking his 2 corner kicks in a row, he was right by our section, so people started saying in English "F**K you! f**K you". (Azizi was the one player that the fans seemed truly to hate, by the way. While insults were hurled at other Iranian players, they usually had a playful ring about them. A guy next to me occassionally would yell out Mirzapour's name, almost in appreciation. But Azizi with Azizi it was different, like they really hated him or something).

**Soon after Iran scored, the mood in the stadium changed drastically, as was to be expected. But more than being furious at the Iranians, the fans turned their anger against their home team. The few fans still yelling "yalla yalla" whenever Jordan had the ball were drowned out by the people cursing the players and ridiculing their lack of skills. The teenager turned analyst next to us started to lament at length that what the iranians were doing was playing soccer, and the jordanian team was just screwing around.

**With Iran's second goal and the end of the game shortly thereafter, the stadium burst into loud chants insulting the head coach of the jordanian team, Al-Gohary. What they were saying is too vulgar to repeat verbatim, but here is a literal translation of the insult that was chanted over and over again: "your sister's private parts, Al-gohary! your sister's private parts, Al-gohary". (Among the other sisters whose private parts were mentioned throughout the game were Karimi, Azizi, and Ali Dai, along with just about every Jordanian player during the end of the game, when their fans were completely furious with them).

**Despite booing the Iranian players and yelling during the Iranian national anthem, the Jordanian fans clapped and cheered for the Iranian team when they left the stadium and yelled out with extra enthusiasm for the team captain, Ali Dai. They even started chanting, "Iran, Iran", "Iran, Iran"; R. tells me this last gesture of saying "Iran, Iran" was as much about teasing the Jordanian team as it was about lauding Iran. Regardless, it was nice to see that the Iranians left the field with the smiling cheers of the jordanian fans.

**It was exhausting to spend the whole game containing our emotions from fear that the thousands of over-testosteroned Jordanian fans might crack our heads if we cheered for Iran, but towards the end of the game, R. was starting to lose his composure. When Mirzapour made one of his many saves during the last minutes of the game, R. began to whistle extremely loudly. A guy behind asked him, "You are with the Iranians?". R. didn't answer the man directly, just gave a big smile and asked him "Why?" and that is where the converstation ended. But then R. started speaking Arabic loudly with a Jordanian accent, asking random questions from people around us, in case some particularly angry fans decided they might like to anonymously push us or throw something at us when our backs were turned.

And that sums up my memorable moments from last night, but i may add more later, since I am still remembering scenes from the night as if it were a dream that i am recalling bit by bit as the day wears on.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Today we bought our tickets for the game that will determine if Iran qualifies for the 2006 world cup. I am super excited, but being my pessimistic self, I have a feeling that Iran will lose to Jordan. I mean, if they lost to Jordan in Iran, in front of thousands of Iranian fans, I doubt they will have any chance in Amman, where most likely we will be the only two people who have sympathy for the Iranian team.

I like the tickets for the game very much. They picture the Jordanian team and the text in Arabic says something like the "qualifying game between the Jordanian national team and our friends the Iranian national team". It's very nice of them really to call us their "friends". It's a diplomatic gesture, I know, but a nice one nonetheless.

In fact, generally speaking, if I had to choose one word to describe Jordanians, it would be this: very nice. ok, so that was two words, but you get the point.

Who know if they'll let us take cameras into the stadium, but if they do, I'll try to take some nice pictures.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

I've experienced few things as aggravating and strange as a bagpipes playing Yankee Doodle Dandy over and over again at 8:00 in the morning. Add to this that I am currently in an Arab country, and you have a whole new dimension of wierd.

For two months the source of the above noise salad, the American School, has been one of the primary banes of my existence. Only consistent in their inconsistency, workers at the school kept odd hours, sometimes working until late at night, other times working through the weekends, and sometimes random spurts of activity in the middle of the day, followed by maybe a day or two of respite. Under ground tunnels, scaffolding that makes no sense, and high high walls. And always when they decide to come around, there is some god awful noise, some nerve scratching movement, some inexplicable turn of events.

the part of my brain that sees conspiracies at every turn is now vying with that part that superstitiously reads signs and metaphors all around.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

When Iran calls for an emergency summit among Muslim countries to discuss the crisis in Iraq, are they doing anything more than making a self-important gesture as a regional power and as a self-appointed moral arbiter?

But who does the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, think he is fooling when he responds to the Iranian offer by saying:

"It is a domestic matter which must be solved in keeping with the law and the sovereignty of the state. That is why Iraq will not join any attempt to internationalize the matter....Accepting the proposal would amount to an interference in Iraq's domestic affairs and would open the way to meddling in internal problems of other neighboring countries".

"The sovereignty of the state", for god's sake? Did Zebari forget that his country is occupied? Did he forget that his country is occupied precisely because the sovereignty of his state was violated? And as for opening the door for "meddling in the internal problems of neighboring countries", please, I mean wasn't that one of the motivations behind the war? Advocates of the invasion couldn't have been more explicit on this point.

I suppose Zebari is taking his cues from his boss Rumsfeld, who complained some time ago that the reason behind the unrest in Iraq was the presence of "foreign fighters".

For once, I'd say I agree 100% with Rummy the dummy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The plan, afsaneh reminded me the other day, was to blog from here. ok, so i flaked. but now i am back to blogging, i think.

R.'s father told me the other day that during the 15 years preceding the American invasion of iraq, he had many occasions to observe and even deal with the Mujahideen-e Khalq. Their behavior, he told me, reflected that of a completely matriarchal society. Once the Mujahideen came to his office to make a contract to obtain something or another they needed for their compounds. After some hours of explanations and negotiations with the men in his office, one of the Mujahid's made a phone call to tell their boss to come down to R.'s dad's office.

So some time later, a well-protected woman arrives, and all the dudes get up to greet her, after which point they start explaining to her the terms of the contract in persian. Once the men finished their explanation, the woman turned to R.'s dad and said in English "thank you, sir, but we don't accept." and that's it, all the dudes got up and followed her out.

R. and his dad also said that this type of matriarchal pattern was evident in everything the Mujhadideen did in Iraq. They'd see tanks, for example, that were driven by a woman while the men sat around. Young children were sent off to boarding schools/houses in europe, lest they distract their mothers from the work of the organization.

anyway, i dont know what to make of all of this. i've read that putting women at the head of the command structure was actually masoud rajavi's idea. So how is one to understand an apparently matriarchal structure that is in fact put in force by a single man? Then again, regardless of who initiated it, the structure may in fact have taken on a matriarchical life of its own....

ok, well, that is all i can manage for now. it will take me a while to warm up back to my old pace.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Well, here i am, more than 10,000 miles away from where i usually sit when i write this blog, and i am still settling in.

last night, we were awakened from our untimely nap at 8:00 p.m. by the sound of a wedding party in our neighborhood. drums, singing, firecrackers, and a groom that kept being thrown in the air. we moved to the window to watch. a man in a building closer to the festivities sat under florescent lights, working methodically, totally unmoved by the cheering outside. the building is four stories high, still in the process of construction. it is to house the library for the american high school.

so i'm wondering, why does a small high school need a separate building, one that is four stories high at that, for a library? why does a high school need to be barricaded behind a perimeter of wrought iron fences that are more than 20 feet in height? why does a high school that is gated behind high and wide iron fences need to be patrolled by soldiers who not only guard its gate at night but also roam the ENTIRE neighborhood?

i'm not sure. i'm still new here anyway, so maybe i should save my classic "iranian conspiracy theories" for a while longer.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Smiling even from behind the barrel of a gun....

In our late teen years, my best friend and i, bookish but wild, used to variously quote to each otherT.S. Eliot, Heart of Darkness, or whatever else we were consumed with at the moment (I think catch-22 broke the record of most quoted book between us, i'll have to write on that some other time)

so anyway, when i saw my best friend the day that reagan died, it was perfectly natural to greet her with "Mr. Reagan, he dead" to which she immediately responded with "A penny for the Old guy".

a few days later, i was torturing myself by listening to some of the eulogies for reagan and one person, some priest or pastor or some such thing, actually quoted T.S. Eliot.

I didn't actually catch the quotation itself, but i am nearly certain that it was not from the piece that most reminds me of mr. reagan and his ilk.

i am pasting it below for your enjoyment.

The Hollow Men

A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us--if at all--not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer--

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
and avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
and the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

My little brother is graduating tomorrow. He's not too thrilled about any of it, especially not the ceremony he has to go through, but i want to congratulate him publicly anyway.

so way to go, petit frere!

here is my word of advice to you in this life: whenever you are faced with any formalities--be they simple or not--just think to yourself "Je suis Oneuf!!", and everything is bound to turn out ok.

well, speaking of my brother and inside jokes aside, one of my most treasured possessions in this world is a picture of him when he was in the first grade. on the back of his little class photo, he wrote, and i quote below (everything is verbatim--inlcuding the funny place of the punctuation mark--but of course i am leaving out both of our full names). ok, so this is what he said:

Dear, N
I like you a lot. sometimes when you hit me, i dont like it at all.
love, N

god, he was the sweetest little jerk of a brother anyone could ask for.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

You know those half-wit monarchist/right-wingers who try to pass themselves off as progressives over at "activist chat"?

they have this petition going against the IRI, i suggest you look at the text of their logo closely:

How, pray tell, does one become a part-time suicide bomber? How exactly would this work, you drive taxis in the day and moonlight as suicide-bomber? Has the IRI figured out how to bring back the dead? (because if they can, this publicity stunt of their's would be the least of our troubles)

Update: well, i guess the activist-chat people figured out that it made no sense to say that the IRI was looking for part-time suicide bombers. i should have saved the image instead of uploading it straight from their site. well, anyway, i'll still keep this post up as a reminder of how idiotic the activist-chat people are, there is always something on their site that is as equally ridicule-worthy as their announcement of part-time suicide bombers.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Why the Iranian "opposition" is an embarassment to itself and to all iranians--Part II

I'm afraid this will be an on-going series.

With the anniversary of the July 9, 1999 student/popular uprising against the Islamic Republic coming up again, we'll see the familiar resurgence of interest in the student movement and its imprisoned political activists.

a few weeks ago, i saw this flash video in commemoration and support of the student movement in iran and i just about died of embarassment.

the video starts out tolerably enough, and even has some good introductory text and a range of pictures.

but then, as the already dramatic music increases in cheesiness, the most horrible thing happens, there is a shift in the soundtrack, and you hear the voice over of, god, i can't even bring myself to say it...ok, um, you hear the voice of Mel Gibson, from the film Braveheart!!!

they have him speaking in his fake scottish accent about freedom from tyranny, fighting to the death, etc. and the text of the monologue is actually transcribed alongside photos from various student protests.

Though I could go off on this for a while, i'm actually having a hard time ripping the people who made this flash video apart because, unlike the idiots who posted the picture i have in my previous post on their website, i dont know that the people who made this piece are evil jerks. in fact, i have a feeling they had the best of intentions.

a severe lapse in good taste and political sensibility isn't a crime is it? (it should be, i think, but it isn't). so what's my point, then?

let me say it as briefly as i can.

according a Reporters without borders' press release last year, Iran has imprisoned the most number of journalists in west asia and north africa. these same prisons hold numerous other prisoners of conscience (even president khatami finally had to admit this obvious fact): some of our best and brighest have been languishing in jails for years.

so does it honor them, the weight of their social and political struggles, or the gravity of their circumstances to set them to the soundtrack of a stupid hollywood blockbuster?

just because the most photogenic and/or the most vacuous (i'll be nice and refrain from linking any pictures on this one)activists get all the attention doesn't mean that the on-going struggles in iran are bereft of all substance.

we have our own words/ideas and those of many other variously persecuted poets, satirists, musicians, activists, and journalists. we shouldn't have to rely on a screaming and half-naked mel gibson to give us our inspiration.


Ever wonder why Iranian "opposition" groups have little to no credibility?

It's because they do things like post obviously photo-shopped pitcures, like this one below of Khoemini bowing his head before the shah, as their "picture of the day".

I'm not saying they are trying to pass it off as an original, i mean they are not that desperate and stupid, are they?

But what point are they trying to make for god's sake. That khomeini was a yes-man for the shah? That the shah was head-and-shoulders above khoemeini?

And this is a leftist site, i should add, so this whole khomeini-looking-humble-before-the-shah picture makes even less sense than it does at first glance. or am i missing something here?

Monday, May 31, 2004

Last night, an old college roommate i haven't heard from in years, angela davis, and morrissey all make an appearance in the same dream.

i'm staring at a dirty aquarium and morrissey, who in my dream looks something like Ira Glass is pressing against my back. i yell for my college roommate as angela looks on, and later, the ira glass looking morrissey walks me home, going on and on about a book he has written. i'm not feeling very happy, and i wake up in a bad mood.

hmm, well, let me change the topic, i know, listening to people's dreams is boring...

Why haven't any iranian blogs in english written about the iranian journalist who was bitten by a representative of the iranian judiciary?

When i saw this picture of the bite-mark, i remembered my friend telling me about a parody Hadi Khorsandi did of the old iranian national anthem. He changed the former anthem, ey iran ey marz-e por gohar (roughly: oh iran oh land that is full of gems) to ey iran ey marz-e por kotak (roughly: oh iran oh land that is full of beatings).

funny, but also depressing, right?

in all honesty, i haven't read the full details on the bitten and beaten journalist, which is why i was hoping some english speaking blogger would take it up. the accounts i've seen in persian so far are from the usual suspect "opposition", and i am in no mood for their hyperbole. you'd think man-bites-man would be dramatic enough as is, but no, our beeroone marz mobarezan have to amplify the drama ten-fold, no matter what the original story.

sorry, i'm sounding like a real jerk this morning. i told you i woke up in a mood...I'll stop now.

Monday, May 24, 2004

A thinking student of mine (imagine that, a student who thinks!), said in class the other day: "information is just static in the brain".

she meant: it is not enough to know that, what matters is what you do with the information. we were speaking specifically about political and social change, and i thought she was right on.

so there you have it, lots of static in my brain. what to do before it becomes just white noise, dulling my senses instead of sharpening them?


ok, enough self-indulgence, how about more static?

as much as i loathe him, chalabi's so-called fall from grace didn't really sit well with me.

the conspiracy theory wheels started turning, so i ignored myself, and tried not to think too much about it.

then came the rumors that Chalabi was a secret spy for Iran, which, believe it or not, i sort of bought in the heat of the moment.

in practically every other post, i make some mention of how crafty i think the IRI is, and so when i heard these rumors, i thought "damn it, the IRI has really out-done itself this time, getting its public enemy number 1, the Great Satan, to take out its public enemy number one junior, the spawn of great satan (aka saddam hossein)."

i heard someone say that if the rumors prove true, then iran has managed to orchestrate one of the greatest intelligence coups of all time.

what a dilemma for anti-IRI ultra-nationalists: in their deepest darkest secret moments, they might find themselves blushing with pride at the IR's brilliant plot for overthrowing the most blood-thirsty enemy the iranians have seen in the last 100 years.

but you know, it is rather convenient isn't it, to place the ultimate blame squarely on iran's shoulders?

it is the bush administration who are really the crafty ones here: not only do they somehow exonerate themselves for the bogus intelligence on which they made a case for moving against iraq, they also manage to further lay the groundwork for attacking iran. in other words, instead of a retreat from war, we are egged on to prepare for more of it. time to get the "Nuke Iran" and "let's kick the Shi'ite out of Iran" posters out of the garage, where they had been sitting since the 1980 hostage crisis.

oh yea, one more thing, a conservative U.S. publication is claiming that Jordan gave the tip off on Chalabi's dealings with Iran.

i mean, really, am i supposed to keep my conspiratorial thinking under control with a mix like this?

but anyway, for an admittedly wittier take on all of this--Chalabi, Iran, and yes, even jordan--check out what Ra'ed wrote today.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I wont bother linking to those disgusting torture pictures, you all have seen them already I am sure and have had the range of emotions I suppose are typical of any decent person.

Was it the neo-fascist Silvio Berlusconi or was it that other Italian, the journalist Oriana Fallaci (whose submerged ethnocentrism has come into its full racist bloom in the last few years), who were publicly raving and ranting post-9/11 about the moral superiority of the West?

I don't remember, it is quite likely that it was both of them.

In any case, I was reminded of such arrogant proclamations when I viewed those photos, but I hold no illusions that even such stark evidence will shake people out of their sanctimony. Instead, it will be either ignored or dismissed as an aberration, as the exception, as the work of the few bad apples.

Almost half a century ago, Aime Cesaire opened his classic work "Discourse on Colonialism" with these words:

A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization.

A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization.

A civilization that uses it principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization.

And long before the devastating U.S. interventions in Chile, Vietnam, Panama, Laos, Cambodia, Granada, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Iraq (to name a few), Cesaire wrote in this same work:

To go further, I make no secret of my opinion that at the present time the barbarism of Western Europe has reached an incredibly high level, being only surpassed--far surpassed, it is true--by the barbarism of the United States.

I have nothing more to add for now.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Word to the wise: on days when you are not feeling particularly emotionally stable, stay far away from the work of the late, sad, and soulful Fereydoun Foroughi.

now excuse me while i go listen to Ghasedak and this live recording of Do ta Cheshme siah dari another 12 times in a row.


and, now, maybe an hour or so after writing the above, i feel the urge to write for you the lyrics of ghasedak (to which i have been continuously listening) along with another one of my quick translations.

First, the persian version:


marge-an laleheye sorkh
kafan-e khande be rooye lab bood
kard-e on ayeneha
shabah-e fajehay-e dar shab bood

mordan-e on shaparakha
koshtan-e ghasedakha
khabari az shoomi kar midad
nafasash naleyey gham dar sar midad
ashian roo be kharabi miraft
tan-e poosede gavahi midad

khoob be een harf nemiandeesheed
ke kafan bayad bord
ke nafas bayad dad
va be jaye hameye boodanha
hameye didanha
lahzeha mande be yad
shekle andeesheye marg dar oost
hameye hasti-e oo rafte be bad

mordan-e on shaparakha
koshtan-e ghasedakha

oo saraseeme be donbale talafi miraft
be delash zakhme ghadamhaye tajavoz mande
oo nadanad ke pey mordane khod
mikeshad harche esalat bagheest

marge-an laleheye sorkh
kafan-e khande be rooye lab bood
kard-e on ayeneha
shabah-e fajehay-e dar shab bood

mordan-e on shaparakha
koshtan-e ghasedakha

And here is the translation below. Persian, of course, is a largely gender-neutral language, so insert whatever gender you wish, i will go for "she".


the death of that red tulip
was the shroud of laughter on the lips
the dust on the mirrors
was the ghost of a tragedy in the night

the dying of the butterflies
the killing of the dandelions
was an omen of what was to come

her breath was a sigh of agony
the nests turned to destruction
her withered body gave proof

she did not contemplate this:
that shrouds must be carried
that breaths must be given
and that instead of all the beings
all the seeings
moments remain in the memory

the idea of dying has taken shape in her
all of her being has gone with the wind

the dying of the butterflies
the killing of the dandelions

in her confusion she sought to make up for it all
in her heart remains the wounds and footsteps of rape
she doesn't know that following her death
she will take with her whatever authenticity and honesty remains

the death of that red tulip
was the shroud of laughter on the lips
the dust on the mirrors
was the ghost of a tragedy in the night

the dying of the butterflies
the killing of the dandelions

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Like many of his fans, I was really disappointed when i found out about Seyyed Ebrahim Nabavi's show for Radio Voice of America.

but that guy's sense of satire is so brilliant that i couldn't bring myself to boycott him. i mean, i don't follow his stuff on Voice of America, but i still check his regular posts on the Gooya Newsletter.

anyway, his list of "political diseases" was so funny and accurate, that i can't help but post my hasty translation below. For the original text in Persian, just click here.

Political Diseases
by Seyyed Ebrahim Nabavi

Given the existence of numerous political diseases that have arisen from an excessively contaminated environment, lack of preventive care, and the old age of the patient (i.e. the Iranian political scene) as well as the lack of medical treatment, some of the diseases existing among Iranian political groups and forces have been identified as follows:

Strabismus: The patient suffers from errors in vision and cannot apprehend reality-- the Iranian Left abroad.

Stress: A sense of constant worry and anxiety--the people of Iran.

Schizophrenic Disorders: Having dual or multiple personalities--Intellectuals in general.

Depression: feeling hopeless about the future, lack of motivation accompanied with staring at walls and fences, a constant desire to sleep--the Reformists.

Post-Partum Depression:A sense of impotence in relation to the post-birth situation, lack of appetite and constant fatigue in the face of the duties the patient must perform--The Reformists after the election of the 7th parliament.

HIV/AIDS: The destruction of the body's immune system and constant feeling of weakness. This disease may remain dormant for years but suddenly break out and peak--The Tudeh Party.

Tirchnosis: Feeling weak accompanied by constantly feeling hungry and over-eating, tendency to persecute others and to shed numerous worms--The Judiciary Branch.

Earwax Blockage: Swelling around the ear drum causing the inability to hear various and dissenting voices--The Guardian Council.

Alzheimers: Loss of memory, forgetting the past, and making bizarre claims that do not match the blood group of the patient's political party--The Leaders of the Islamic Republic.

Parkinson's Disease: Shaking of hands and body due to very old age, inability to control movement and behavior--Groups working in Coalition.

Hypertension: Feeling constantly hot accompanied by a feeling of agitation and suffocation, desire to quarrel with others and rip them to shreds--The Hardline Right Wingers, Hossein-Allah Karam and friends

Brucellosis: The patient occasionally runs very high-fever, gets the chills, and becomes delirious. The patient becomes well after a while, disappears for several months, and then once again runs a fever-- The Mujahideen Khalgh.

Heartburn: Feeling a burning in one's stomach due to the behavior of others. The patient gets a burning stomach because of what the people of Iran do, begins to shout, and takes to brawling in the streets for no reason-- The Hizbollah.

Rabies: The patient is stricken with the desire to bite others. He foams at the mouth and attacks. Those who are attacked become ill and are in turn stricken with the desire to bite others-- The editorial staff of Keyhan Newspaper.

Nanism: Due to physiological and historical reasons or due to the brain drain, the patient does not grow and is happy with this result---The administrative system of the Islamic Republic.

Multiple Sclerosis: Progressive degeneration of nerves. The patient completely loses his ability to defend himself and cannot make ordinary movements--Mr. Khatami, the respectable President of the IR

Epilepsy: In various situations and for no apparent reason, the patient acts violently and inappropriately, then passes out-- Ansare Hizbollah and the Communist Worker's Party.

Paranoia: Feeling that the enemy is conspiring against you and suffering from delusions of grandeur--The majority of Iran's leadership from the time of Cyrus and Darius to the present have had and continue to suffer from this condition.

Cultural Rashitism: The patient suffers from softness in the bones, when he is sitting he can act normally buthe cannot get up and walk--The Student Movement (in reality the country's student in-action) and the Tahkeem Vahdat

Down syndrome: Retardation, inability to understand, and abnormal movements--Professor Mesbah and friends

Astigmatism: Blurriness in vision and distorted views of history, reality, and the world--the followers of Dr. Shariati and the intellectuals of Melli Mazhabi

Gigantism: Excessive and abnormal growth of the body without the growth of the mind--The political heroes of the nation (I am in no mood for arguments, otherwise I would name names)

Whooping Cough: The patient constantly makes horrendous noises, gets blue in the face, and with his constant noise-making causes great suffering to others-- The Official IRI Media

Gout: Due to excessive consumption of meat and fat over a long period of time, the patient loses his ability to move, constantly sits and can do nothing but talk--The Monarchists.

Melancholia: The patient has strange feelings, constantly imagines things and understands everything in a disorderly and distressed way, his words are incomprehensible, and he is pointlessly enraged--The Los Angeles bases Satellite t.v stations

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

For some reason, i couldn't get the logo below to appear on my side-bar, and i tried no less than 30 times. so i have to reconcile myself to having it in the body of the post.

i have much to say on the so-called 'repatriation' of Afghans, especially when it is portrayed as an orderly and happy return back to one's home, but i have no time to go into it in depth tonight.

for now, it should suffice to say that if a population is seeking refuge in Iran rather than from it, one can only imagine the extent of the misery they are fleeing. It is the humanitarian and neighborly responsibility of the IRI to allow the refugees who wish to remain in iran to do so until the situation in afghanistan truly improves.

Other iranian bloggers have pointed out the hypocrisy of iranians who lament the treatment of iranian refugees in europe and elsewhere but who are silent when the same things happen to afghans in iran.

I think we have to look into what is happening to the afghan refugees in iran and not let this become another PR victory for the IRI (which can claim that is facilitating their joyous return to their homeland) or the United States (which can claim that they have constructed a free afghanistan to which refugees can safely return)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

This morning, I had a good laugh reading the two main news pieces of the day.

News item number #1- I read that a delegation from Iran has arrived to mediate the Sadr situation at the behest of the U.S.

I always say it, but you have to admire the craftiness of the IRI. Only a week ago, Iran held no sway over Sadr supporters but was nonetheless implicated in inciting violence. One week later, they figure, what the hell, we are getting blamed anyway, might as well turn this card game around. So they act the part of diplomats and take the influence they don't have over to Iraq, looking like the perfect little neighbors, ostensibly to help their muslim brothers, but really scoring points with the U.S. and maintaining their stranglehold on the iranian people.

Very crafty, right? So I had to have myself a laugh.

News Item #2- Bush meets and greets Sharon. A chimpanzee and a hog in the White House, and both of them wearing ties that match the Israeli flag. Now, how could i not laugh at that?

But that was this morning. Now I am sad and angry.

You'd be hard pressed to find an important world event that the IRI hasn't figured how to turn to its advantage: The Russian-Chechnya conflict, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and now Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Iranian "opposition" dreams up 7,000 years of "Aryan" glory, each day becoming more pathetic and delusional than the day before.

And the Bush-Sharon meeting? Once I read the details of their public statements, I was completely infuriated. Bush calling Sharon's murderous rampages "courageous actions", endorsing the theft of more lands from the Palestinians, and once again denying their right to return to their ancestral homeland.

Ra'ed has managed, as always, to keep his biting humour in today's post on, among other things, what he has called Bush's neo-Balfour declaration. So you should just read his stuff, if you don't do so already.

Talk about delayed reactions. The impact of a piece of news I heard earlier today is just now hitting me, almost exactly 8 hours after it was revealed to me. Someone I respect and on whom I greatly depend on for intellectual support is going somewhere very far, and I'm feeling pretty sad about it.

My best friend, S., who is a Hindu by birth, believes in cycles of 7. It has something to do with Saturn, I think. Well, for me, I am starting to see a pattern in 3s and 4s, depending on what I use as the inaugurating events of change. So this news today, which suddenly seems to have struck me into a moementary paralysis, is an indicator of what I have known and have been in denial of for the last few months: some big change is around the corner, and I just don't know what.....

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

My good friend, Sunil, who runs the radical online newsletter Dissident Voice, sends out emails to let his devoted readers know of updates to his site. Generally, his emails are prefaced with notable quotations.

You'd think that by now I would have grown a thick skin, but I was so stunned by the quotations he sent out in his email today that I had to share them with you. Here they are, copied and pasted from what Sunil sent me:

"Given the virulent nature of the enemy, the prospect of some city father
walking in and getting Joe Jihadi to give himself up is pretty slim .
That's fine, because they'll get whipped up, come out fighting again and
get mowed down ... Their only choices are to submit or die"

-- Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, 5th Marine Battalion in Fallujah, Iraq
(Washington Post, April 11, 2004)

* * *

"We will always be humanitarian in our efforts. We will fight him on
our terms. May God help them when we're done with them."

-- Maj Gen James N. Hattis, First Marine Division commander, email
quoted in New York Times (April 11, 2004)

* * *

"Remaining dissenters must be harshly dealt with. Fear can be a good thing.
How do you think Saddam controlled Iraq all these decades?"

-- Bill O'Reilly, Fox TV's resident fascist and Saddam admirer, commenting
on how US forces should employ Saddam's techniques against recalcitrant

Monday, April 12, 2004

The reliability of the source is somewhat dubious, so take this with a grain of salt: The website of a relatively unknown Iranian opposition group (to which I am not linking because, yes, I hate them that much), is reporting that the brilliantly funny and talented director and actor Mehran Modiri has been arrested.

A recent episode of Modiri's latest t.v. serial, Noghte Cheen showed Modiri's character paying off a law enforcement official. Apparently the implication that an Iranian officer would cross the boundaries of the law was too much to bear, and Modiri has been arrested by the representatives of the same forces that were perceived to have been maligned in his show.

But not to worry, the U.S. State Department has issued a public document stressing its concern for the stifled voices of Iranians.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Look at this exchange between Iranian president Khatami and a reporter as covered in today's edition of the Persian language Shargh Newspaper:

In response to reporters' questions about Mohammad el-Baradei's visit to Iran, Seyyed Mohammad Khatami Said: "As for me, I talked a lot. Last night I also talked. And there are some things I want to do, and god willing, I'll speak with you about it next week".

A reporter who was critical of the fact that the president didn't want to speak with reporters, said: "if you dont speak with us, our hearts will break", to which Khatami responded with: "God forbid your hearts should break! Of course, there are many who break your hearts and break mine as well. But, well, there is nothing I can do about it."

My god! The number of times that Khatami proclaims his impotence in the face of various matters is amazing ("you know my blade doesn't cut", remember when he said that a few weeks ago? "my blade doesn't cut", hmm, some one want to psychoanalyze that?)

Dude, why don't you resign? That winsome smile and those rosey cheeks seem to embitter more people than they charm these days. At least this is true for Iranians, the rest of the world still seems to be honeymooning with the smiling Seyyed Khatami....


Strange thing is, i just read the above interview this morning but last night i had a long extended dream about Khatami, about whom i've never dreamt before. i had an important question to ask him, but i awoke just as he was about to deliver his response. In the dream, I put out this big long disclaimer before I posed my question, and he said to me "go ahead, my daughter". Then my longwinded inquiry tumbled out, and i never did get to hear the response...

on the eve of april 9th

Sometime early last summer, the convicted bank robber Ahmad Chalabi and the other handpicked members of the Iraqi puppet council declared that the date marking the "fall" of Baghdad would from here on out be an observed holiday.

April 9th, Iraqi "Independence" day.

April 9th also marks the 1948 massacre of the inhabitants of the village of Deir Yassin at the hands of Zionist terrorists.

April 9, the anniversary of the massacre at Deir Yassin.

and already a tense april 9th has broken in West Asia.

what bloodbath, i wonder, will the few of us who bother to remember be marking this time next year?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

What can i say? today is political picture day. i just can't resist posting these, even though the first two are almost a month old. check out president Khatami sandwiched between Iraqi puppet council members Chalabi and Bahr al-Ulum (what on earth is Chalabi wearing?) how about this one of Khatami and Bahr al-Ulum closing their eyes as they move towards each other for that one sweet kiss. Speaking of kisses, look at the picture on the cover of Shargh Newspaper showing Nuclear Inspector El-Baradei planting one on Khatami's cheek.

Khatami and the rest of the clerics are looking markedly relaxed now that all hell seems to be breaking out next door, another wonderful side effect of the illegal invasion of Iraq. Faramin mentions the benefits the Iranian regime will be reaping from chaos in Iraq. If you'd like, you can check what he has to say about that here in his April 6 post.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Ok, so this is a totally un-radical and un-cool thing for me to admit to, but I think that Mohammad Ali Abtahi is pretty damn charming (at least on his blog he is). Not to mention that his archive of photos are very revealing. Take for example this picture of Khatami feasting at a party thrown by the King of Bahrain. or the always stern-faced foreign minister Kharazi actually cracking a smile. and is it just me or does Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson,Hassan Khomeini, cut a handsome profile?

Monday, April 05, 2004

I introduced my brother to Peter Sellers, and now he just can't get enough. He's been speaking to me variously as inspector clouseau (from the Pink Panther series) or as Mandrake (the Englishman in Dr. Strangelove) and now he tells me that he's managed to download the episode of the Muppets Show featuring Peter Sellers. what a find!


notice that i have been keeping my meanderings on political issues to a minimum. however, i did find Justin Podur's commentary on the chaos in Iraq pretty thought-provoking, so i'm giving you the link and not saying anything myself. He compares Fisk's analysis with that of Naomi Klein and argues that the latter has got it right when it comes to making sense of the recent spiral of violence in iraq.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Two nights in a row of staying up until dawn and generally being excessive have me feeling slightly nauseated. now with the time changing because of daylight savings, my internal clock is completely off kilter. and all this work i was supposed to finish by the end of the weekend, i guess this means i will neither be celebrating sizdeh bedar or the resurrection party my ex-mormon friend is throwing.

Speaking of sizdeh bedar (or thirteen-to-the-door, as my brother and i jokingly call it), why on earth has the Islamic Republic decided to call it Rooz-e ashti ba tabiat (the day of reconciliation with nature)?

Iranians certainly need to be reconciled with many things, but i wouldn't necessarily put nature at the top of the list. the iranian culture wars--these battles of life and death over who we are and what we were-i devour them with fascination and disgust. it make me feel like a culture vulture, a cannibal, a voyeur.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

If i don't stop reading the ignorant racist comments people leave on some of the blogs i visit, i am going to go insane. i have such addictive-compulsive behavior when it comes to the internet, it is a wonder i don't display similar tendencies in my day to day life.


i live in close proximity to so much beauty it's a shame i don't explore it unless friends come here from out of town. yesterday, we found some great secretish trails that lead to the ocean from atop cliffs that look like they just plunge into the water.


Ever read Samuel Beckett's "Molloy"? Well, Molloy has this thing with sucking-stones, small pebbles he carries around in his pockets and sucks on in a precise rotation designed to ensure that he sucks on all the stones equally.

Whenever i go to beaches with lots of smooth flat pebbles, i get the urge to pop some of them in my mouth. i resist, of course, and satisfy myself with running the smooth stones around in the palm of my hand. my friend, on the other hand, found my description of the sucking-stone habit so enticing that he happily took it up right away. oh the things i introduce to my friends...

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Is it annoying/boring to go to someone's blog and see that they have posted one big long poem? If you say yes then i apologize in advance.

but now that we have entered the new year in the Iranian calendar, i'd like to imagine the upcoming year the way it is in this poem called Imagine the Angels of Bread by Martin Espada. (my favorite part is at the end, the section that begins with "if the abolition...")

This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendents
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border's undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.

My brother is graduating from college in less than three months and will be taking a year off to work before going back to school. he's thinking of a State or Federal job for the year and is a bit paranoid about being around or involved in anything that may be construed as illicit activity. so when a friend left behind some drugs as a gift, he didn't want anything to do with it. instead, he brought it to me. "hey N, you want these?"

funny thing when your baby brother asks you a question like this, all non-chalant. i told him i don't have any particular need or desire for what he was waving at me, but i took it from him anyway, and stuffed it in a drawer somewhere.

i don't throw things away easily, particularly if they are ingestible. for example,
an apartment i moved into in chicago had a big fat bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the freezer. i confirmed the contents of the bag with a friend who was helping me move. "yep", he said, "it looks like the previous tenants left you a house-warming present".

i never did anything with those mushrooms other than ask the above mentioned friend if he wanted me to make him a "special" pizza every time he came over, and that was the extent of it.

Monday, March 29, 2004

All day long i've been singing the lines from that song by The Exploited that goes: "Ayatollah, Let the hostages go!". I have to find the song and play it for myself before i go nuts.

but what is the song actually called? certainly not, "Ayatollah, let the hostages go"?. who knows. i couldn't even remember "The Exploited", much less the name of the song. I just kept picturing a T-shirt for their "Punk's Not Dead" LP but no band name came to mind. Finally, i had to break down and ask my ex. but now i just have to figure out the name of the song and download it. yay.


how do i know the tea concoctions i've been brewing may be getting out of hand? well, this morning my brother asked if i had Pho in my coffee mug! if you want to know what i've been brewing and what a world of good it may do you, drop me a line.


Tony Benn, the octogenarian former MP who served in the British parliament for decades had some great things to say this morning on
Democracy Now!. Here are a few choice quotations:

"Mrs. Thatcher was asked the other day what her greatest achievement was and she said New labour*, I think that tells you all you need to know about New labour".

* New Labour, as you probably know, is what tony blair takes his party to be.

ok, here is the other quotation, by far the more ballsy of the two:

"I do not myself see much difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber in that both are killing innocent people for political purposes".

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The guy who used to manage this building was an older gay man who grew marijuana in his garden, had reptiles, cats, and fish for pets, and was a very laid back, approachable kind of person.

not so with the new manager. he prints up all kinds of signs and posts them everywhere. the essentially outline how we should behave--notes about how and when to open and shut the main doors, what can and cannot be placed in the hallways and for how long, you know, that sort of thing. plus the stickers he has on his car scare me.

yep, you guessed it, i'm back in town and filled with a certain amount of (inexplicable?) doom and gloom. maybe i'll write more later...

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) has published sets of photos of Iranians protesting the murder of Ahmad Yassin. You can see some of them here , here, and here.

thanks to the Islamic Republic's idiotic rhetoric, which Tariq Ali has described as the "the Anti-imperialism of fools", the only people in Iran who show up to rally in support of the Palestinians are the hardliner khomeini freaks you see in these pictures.

this is not to say that these fanatic types are the only ones who are pro-palestinian. i'm just saying that the symbols of the Palestinian struggle have been co-opted by the Islamic Republic in such a way that to wear a Keffiya in Iran, for example, means that you are aligning yourself with a very specific ideology. so while i wear the Keffiyas
i bought in iran at anti-war marches in San Francisco, i would never walk around Tehran with a Keffiya wrapped around my neck.

on second thought, it might not be a bad idea to do that some time. imagine a bad-hejab like me ( a bad-hejab is a woman whose "Islamic" garb leaves much to be desired from a fundamentalist point of view) walking in tehran wearing a Keffiya basiji style! (i can't seem to find a good picture of a quintessential basiji to show you the exact style, but i'll look more later. or send me a link if you have a good one)

update: thanks to my friend S.M., who sent me this photo of some typical basiji types. Thanks also to S.M. for introducing me to the beautiful photography of Mohesen Rastani, from whose photo collection the above linked picture is taken.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Thanks to The Persian Blogger Chronicles, I found out that Noam Chomsky has started a blog . I'm so happy. Chomsky is so dry and precise even in his blog that i can't do a skim-job of what he has written. this is good news for my brain.

Some years ago, I saw Chomsky speak about East Timor in a super small room on the Berkeley campus. He was giving two talks then, one big huge one on linguistics which was widely advertised and the little talk on East Timor which was kept on the down low.

I can't quite remember how i'd found out about the smaller talk because i was a stupid self-involved undergraduate who wasn't into political activism at all. maybe i heard about it from a Colombian guy i was briefly dating and whose name i can't even remember. i can picture myself in a long green dress, sitting next to the very unobtrusive and sweet Colombian dude (oh, maybe that's where i met him?), listening very intently to Noam Chomsky and having no idea what he was talking about.

Up to that point, the only thing I knew about Chomsky was his linguistics, and that was filtered through John Searle, who always had some story about how some great thinker or another, in this case Chomksy, had admitted to him in private that he (meaning Searle) was really right about whatever philosophical dispute they were hashing out in academic conferences and essays.

so there i was, in a small room in Kroeber Hall, expecting to hear a philosophy of language talk and more or less convinced that Searle's theories on Intentionality really did explain pretty much all there was to figure about meaning and consciousness, and Chomsky was going on and on about Indonesian dictatorship and U.S. foreign policy.

out of it as i was, i think that listening to Chomsky on that day made a small dent in the right direction in my psyche. i'm hoping reading his blog will do for me now what his talk on East Timor did for me then....

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I don't know how people can tolerate having the same conversations over and over. i have a fear of it, though it is subsiding (a bad sign!). i used to preface almost everything i said with "let me know if i already told you this..." because i wanted to give my interlocutors the chance to spare themselves the repetition. now i don't use so many disclaimers, but maybe i should take it back up.

this is the longest time i've spent in this town in many years, and i'm even starting to revert to some of my teenage habits like thinking about sex constantly and just generally daydreaming all day long.

in itself that is not so bad, i suppose, but there is something about suburban spaces that just sucks the soul right out of you. a kind of perverse curiosity about other people's lives seeps into you in a way that doesn't happen in big cities or somewhat progressive towns.

like yesterday i took my grandmother for blood tests and a moderately disgusting rocker couple were checking in as we were leaving. the woman was the one who was having bloodwork done and i found myself eyeing her lab sheets which seemed to be marked for Hepatitis B antigen, Hepatitis B antibody, or HIV antibody test. well, i thought to myself, at least the moderately disgusting rocker couple are also moderately responsible.

but the whole thing made me feel pretty bad about my own nosiness and also about their's. they were eyeing my paperwork too, which doesn't excuse my behavior any, but just goes to show the ethos of this place.

I bored you with this post, didn't I? Sorry, don't blame me, blame suburbia.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I'm still away, being a dutiful daughter/grand-daughter, and i don't know how long my extremely unreliable laptop will allow me to stay on-line.

the last two weeks have certainly been outside of my routine. a wedding, a funeral, the new year, wrangling with a trapped opossum, and a number of other encounters, too strange and personal to include even in a semi-anonymous blog such as this.

the iranian satellite television stations are driving me nuts for the most part, but as usual i find myself drawn to them. at night when everyone else is asleep, i sometimes watch Al-Alam (the IR's Arabic language channel) and Al-Manar (the Lebanese Hizbollah station). I don't speak Arabic, but they get some great footage, and i can catch a few words here and there and sort of get the gist of what they are saying. for example on sunday night i was watching one of these stations and they kept on saying Shaheed and Sheikh Ahmad Yaseen in the same sentence over and over while showing blood stained streets in Gaza, so i quickly figured out that he'd been murdered by Israel. Al-Alam has english subtitles which don't necessarily correspond with whatever is being broadcast but nonetheless provide a way for me to confirm some of my interpretations of what I think they are saying. i'd like to learn arabic and quit these guessing games, but for now it will have to do.

well, iranian satellite stations are beckoning me again. we have the tv blaring so my grandfather can hear, and i am half listening from down the hall. there is a program about some protest in Holland (or is it Belgium? or both?) against racism and in support of the Iranian refugees there. i'll check it out and tell you about it if you want to know.

ok, i just caught three minutes of the report, and boy these satellite stations really can't get their act together. some guy is giving a telephone report from belgium about what happened at the protests and they keep showing ashura pictures from Karbala. you should see the host's face every time the camera pans over to him, i think he either knows what is going on or the people behind the camera are trying to tell him of their technical difficulties. his eyes keep darting about while he tries to maintain a conversation and a semblance of control over what is going on during his program. between the host squirming and my grandparents asking me to explain the relationship between the report and the pictures from Karbala, I didn't manage to figure out what all happened at these protests.

I swear man, i have no idea what these people are doing with all the money they get from the CIA and other self-less donors, but they certainly aren't spending any of it on mastering even the basics......