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

Advantage Agassian

Last night at the U.S. Open they honored Andre Agassi, who during his playing days was the most famous kinda-sorta-Iranian-American around. He was all we had, really.

Agassi's father was born and raised in Iran, representing at the Olympics of 1948 and 1952 as a welterweight boxer.  Throughout his career we tried our darnedest to get him to acknowledge us, so desperate we were for positive attention. Andre's almond eyes, stark eyebrows, insanely hairy body.  We assumed his silence on the issue was to avoid any potential bad pub - especially in his world where Image is Everything.

In the last few years both Andre and his father Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi have come clean with a few strokes of the pen about their ethnic background. Turns out the ancestral stock is Armenian/Assyrian and Emmanuel's parents had escaped persecution by Turkey by settling in Tehran - changing the name from Agassian along the way.  Emmanuel then came to the U.S. in the fifties, married a nice white lady, moved to Vegas, and that's all he wrote.

Andre himself has written recently about it. And he went just wide of the baseline in one of his final matches, which took place in the Arabian Persian Gulf state of Dubai against Roger Federrer. There he stated that Iran "has a special place" in his heart and he'd like to one day visit.

There are a lot of Iranian-Armenians in the States, always has been. But the has-beens are hit or miss. Like with another sportsman, Andranik Eskandarian. He was one of the stars of Iranian soccer in the 1970s, leading them to their first World Cup in '78. After the Islamic Revolution he came and settled in New Jersey, playing for the Cosmos alongside with Pele. Eskandarian's son, Alecko, has done all he can to distance himself from that stuff. He's always Armenian this and that, although now that he's playing in L.A. he's hitting on the Persian girlies.  He's clearly a bit of a douche, so they can have him.

On the music front, Andy Madadian is proudly both. Yet his Armenian and Persian fans jostle over who he's most aligned with -- just check out any YouTube vid, including the hugely popular #IranElection one with Bon Jovi. One of the backup singers on that track was Andy's 19-year-old nice Tiffany, but she seems rather aloof to anything besides talking about herself.

Watching Agassi matches with my grandparents was a tradition for a lot of us growing up. So in this next era, as we get out more and into the public eye,  its important to not forget that lesson as our senior citizens might be feeling quite lonely these days.

BACKHANDED UPDATE: A few weeks after I posted this, Andre Agassi released his own tell-all autobiography. The biggest revelation in it, related to this posting, is that those wonderful bleached-blond locks seen in the picture above are actually fake. It was all just a Vegas-styled Mirage, a toupé anchored on the top of his dome while florescent green toops are smashed away.

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