وزارد او دا وستساد
VIZITOR TO THE VESTSIDE
an
American blog of Iranian dissent

Torn in Tehrangeles


Groggy but not froggy, the Vizard is back. It was a much needed three-week long Norouz holiday, ushering the new year with a Spring Break hiatus to clear out certain thoughts that have been cloggin' my noggin'.

Tried to avoid family gatherings and old-school festivals the best I could. The "Joonam I was married at your age!" chatter can wait 'til next year, knowhatimsaying? Plus I still don't know how to tell Maman Bozorg that the beige sweater vest she knitted for me just isn't in style without being overwhelmed by guilt.

But as annoying and stubborn as they can be -- and my word, they are -- we need to cherish our elders more than ever these days. Maz Jobrani ended up spending his last Norouz with his father, who passed away only a few days later on March 25th. Baba Jobrani is talked about extensively in this mini-doc. RIP, rouhesh shaad. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the '79 Enghelaab, which means that the diaspora generation of kids born and/or raised in the West are now entering full-fledged adulthood as thirtysomethings. The days are more fleeting, with relatives passing away with more frequency. So spread the love ya'll.

We have a lot to be grateful for. Both for the elders' sacrifices, and to be (North) Americans. Never take it for granted. The latter point strikes me when I see this website, which promotes a cool shirt but with a rather inaccurate message. They say Tehran has "given the world a wide range of brilliant people such as Azar Nafisi (novelist)....Marjane Satrapi (cartoonist)...Deep Dish (musicians)..." Well, I respectfully disagree. Those Persians became artists only after they lived outside of Iran, becoming successful not in Tehran but in their adopted homelands (England, France, USA, et al).  The creators of that t-shirt company live happily in Canada themselves.

Oh, and go here if you want to check out that 'Tehrangeles' shirt shown in this post up above on the right. There's some other cool related items as well.

We're entering a new era which bicultural identity doesn't have be caught in No Man's Land. The period of polarization is might be coming to an end. During the last few weeks, I've taken to what the identity of this very publication has evolved into. Initially the only premise was that I wanted it to be about Americans of Iranian heritage, not about Iranians in America. With the Obama era I'm more than excited to understand our role in civic pride.

Case in point this past weekend. Sharam from Deep Dish played a sold-out show at the Avalon, bringing along guests like Tommy Lee on piano and reuniting with Anousheh Khalili. (pictured)  Meanwhile across town at the Staples Center, the first Iranian export to the NBA played against the Lakers, making a couple of big blocks and one big dunk. Finally, congrats to Nima R of Santa Monica for winning the LA Times "Your Los Angeles" photo contest.

As a scribe it's all meaty material, this future of ours. I'm reminded of my first foray into Manhattan a several years ago. I went on a blind date with a sweet lady who had just become a published author for the first time. She was half White, half Asian and originally from L.A. Her great-grandfather was the author of a great American novel, but instead she wanted to delve into her black sheep identity. 

After our date that night, I read some reviews on her book, and one in particular stuck out...
"A major flaw of this book is that one of its strongest selling points — the biculturality of the narrator — is treated only as slightly humorous background. If you care about an aspect of a book enough to highlight it in the title, it better actually feature in the plot. Her parents’ backgrounds seem to have no effect on the narrator beyond broadening her vocabulary and giving her some interesting choices for dinner. The closest this book comes to cultural discourse is the vague sense that her parents may be particularly achievement oriented because of their backgrounds."
It's been several years since I first moved out of baba's basement.  As they say, you can leave your ethnic home but you can't take the ethnic home out of yourself.  Well, okay, they don't say that.  But my point is that it's striking how the shoes-off-upon-entrance lifestyle differs from others.  It's a complex thing to handle if you're shackin' up with Gringos.

Another aspect is the tongue thing.  No, not parental tongue-lashings. (Don't miss those.) As a kid I hated it when my parents lapsed into speaking Farsi to me in public, especially around friends.  But then as a young adult I encouraged the opposite, understanding both the utility and joy of having a secret language.

That option isn't available as much.  May not ever again.  So enjoy it all while you can.

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