PO Box 129
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
3191 Casitas Ave Ste 216
Los Angeles CA 90039
1 Yeghvard Hwy Fl 5
Yerevan 0054 Armenia
Fax: 374-10-367-195 fax
Email: [email protected]
November 10, 2007 — From the community section
To see the printed version of the newspaper, complete with photographs
and additional content, visit and download the pdf
files. It’s free.
1. "Rally 106: United Voices for the Armenian Genocide Resolution"
draws hundreds of supporters (by Lory Tatoulian)
2. Nearly a thousand rally for House Resolution 106 (by Razmig Sarkissian)
3. Joe Ariyan loses N.J. State Senate bid
4. Catholicos discusses inter-religious dialogue, Armenian concerns at
UN (by Florence Avakian)
5. At a New York banquet, Catholicos Karekin II expresses hope for a
"century of renewal" in the Armenian Church (by Florence Avakian)
6. For Catholicos Karekin II, it really is a matter of bringing faith
home (by Antranig Dereyan)
7. "Armenia and Karabagh" takes top prize for overall Best Travel Guide
8. A pastor who "elevates the priesthood" is honored for 20 years of
service (by Melissa Selverian)
* Fr. Nerses Manoogian receives the title of "archpriest" in Philadelphia
9. Wisconsin parish applauds presentation on Armenian theater (by
10. Armenian monuments stand tall in Harvard photo exhibit (by Yvette
11. 10th Annual Arpa International Film Festival comes to a close (by
12. Who’s who on the red carpet (by Maral Habeshian)
* Chats with the stars at the Arpa Film Festival gala event
13. Armenian culture blossoms in the desert, thanks to a first-time
festival (by Janet Samuelian)
14. Nork Children’s Center kicks off Western U.S. tour in Dallas (by
15. Homenetmen unveils plans for new headquarters and the purchase of
a new campground (by Lory Tatoulian)
16. Homenetmen Winter Games come to a close (by Shahen Hagobian)
16a. Final Round Results
17. Crime Beat: A self-described godfather of crime is back in court
(by Jason Kandel)
18. St. Mary’s of Glendale organizes an event marking "The Year of
Armenian Language" (by Maral Habeshian)
19. Restaurants: In search of the best Armenian-owned pizza joint in
So Cal (by the Epicurious Armenian)
1. "Rally 106: United Voices for the Armenian Genocide Resolution"
draws hundreds of supporters
by Lory Tatoulian
LOS ANGELES — Nearly a thousand Armenians and non-Armenian activists
gathered on Hollywood Boulevard in Little Armenia on Sunday, November
4, calling for the passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution (H.
Res. 106) in the House of Representatives.
Anticipating a vote in the full House as soon as support among
wavering members of Congress is firmed up, young Armenian activists
gathered in solidarity to voice their support for this resolution.
Old and young alike waved American flags in the brisk November air
and hoisted up banners reading, "Turkey is a threatening unreliable
ally," while leaders of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) led the
crowd in rhythmic chants through a bullhorn, repeating slogans such
as, "Time for truth is now."
Elected officials and AYF leaders were on hand to speak out in
"Rally 106: United Voices for the Armenian Genocide Resolution."
Speakers riled up the activists and stressed the importance of
standing firm in the name of truth and justice.
Kevin De Leon, Assistant Assembly Majority Leader of the California
State Assembly expressed his support for the passage of the
"I am proud to be the representative of the Armenian-American
community in Los Angeles," Mr. De Leon said. "I stand in solidarity
with you and your quest to seek recognition of the horrific events
that took place during the Armenian Genocide."
Mr. De Leon point out that the United States has a "clear pattern"
of recognizing the horrors of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, the
killings in Bosnia, and recently, acknowledging the genocide in
"Time has been way overdue to officially recognize the Armenian
Genocide. We shouldn’t play politics and practice the art of
revisionism; we need to recognize and heal the wounds of the past so
that we can build a better world and take proactive steps based on
Also, delivering an inspiring message was president of the Glendale
Unified School District, Greg Krikorian. Mr. Krikorian spoke of his
family’s own struggle and miraculous survival story in the Armenian
"They [the Turks] and their nation hate our cause," Krikorian said
with passion. "Face reality, we have to fight this disease of a
country because they will not let justice prevail unless we stand up
and fight for our cause." Mr. Krikorian continued with admonitions by
asking, "They lied for 92 years; what is going to make them tell the
Mr. Krikorian stressed the importance of mobilizing
Armenian-American grassroots efforts to reveal the truth on this
matter and stand defiant in the face of Turkish opposition.
Lead rally speaker Berge Parseghian introduced the key speakers of
the evening while re-emphasizing the key points regarding the current
state of affairs of H. Res. 106.
"This rally is a calling for all those who support a special
interest, Free America," Mr. Parseghian said. "Turkey is spending
millions of dollars to deny the truth and use their influence to pay
high-priced lobbying firms to deny the truth."
The mass gathering took place in the aftermath of an intensive
campaign by the government of Turkey to thwart the passage of the
Armenian Genocide resolution. Turkey has hired public relations and
lobbying groups such as the Livingston Group, Fleishman Hillard, and
DLA Piper to lobby members of Congress and pressure them to vote
against the Armenian Genocide resolution.
* Other cities
Besides the demonstration in the streets of Los Angeles, the AYF
simultaneously organized six other rallies nationwide. Thousands of
Armenian-American activists and human rights supporters staged rallies
in the country’s most prominent cities, including Phoenix, Houston,
San Francisco, and Washington.
In Los Angeles, more than ten school buses shuttled hundreds of
young activists to Little Armenia in Hollywood, where supporters
flexed their collective strength with other students and families from
across the Los Angeles basin.
Taline Mgrdichian was visiting Los Angeles from Australia, and she
was adamant about participating in the movement that was taking place
thousands of miles from her hometown. Ms. Mgrdichian says the reason
she visits Los Angeles is because of its vibrant Armenian community
and the level of activity that occurs in the city.
"I think it’s really exciting to get so many young people together
and be passionate about something that is as important as the Armenian
Genocide," she says. Taline’s grandparents who were both survivors of
the Armenian Genocide eventually found refuge in Australia. Like so
many other Armenians who were exiled to the four corners of the world,
Taline has come to Los Angeles to unite with the grandchildren of
those who were persecuted and subsequently forced to build a life on
foreign soil. "I consider myself a grandchild of the Genocide, and it
is a very personal issue for anybody who grew up with grandparents who
shared their extremely painful stories with us," Ms. Mgrdichian said.
Speaking with fervor and zeal, the chair of the AYF Western Region,
Caspar Jivalagian, made poignant statements while standing in front of
the sea of people. "It’s important to know that H. Res. 106 is not
solely an Armenian issue, but a human rights issue," Mr. Jivalagian
noted. "The vocabulary of H. Res. 106 represents American values;
these values are about truth, righteousness; these are the values that
are found in the constitution of the Unites States."
Mr. Jivalagian noted that Article 301 of the Turkish penal code,
which criminalizes statements that are taken to insult "Turkishness,"
stands in direct contrast to the United States Constitution, which
guarantees free speech. "There are people who are telling Congress
that Turkey is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Well,
democracy is not the assassination of a journalist. The assassination
of Hrant Dink represents that there is no democratic progression in
Turkey. And the arrest of his own son," for reprinting an article that
mentions the Armenian Genocide "shows that there will never be
2. Nearly a thousand rally for House Resolution 106
by Razmig Sarkissian
LITTLE ARMENIA, Calif. — The message at Rally 106, organized by the
Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) was straightforward: passage of House
Resolution 106 is vitally important and Turkey is a bad ally of the
A flurry of American and Armenian flags were visible above the
crowd. The flags were waved patriotically in the air for the duration
of the rally. Organizers wanted the public attending to understand
that the resolution is just as much of an American issue as it is an
"Americans that believe in American values should stand up and
support this resolution, because the vocabulary in H. Res. 106
represents the vocabulary used in the United States Constitution,"
said AYF Central Executive chair Caspar Jivalagian. "It stands for
free speech, righteousness, freedom, and liberty."
For AYF volunteer Allen Yekikian, House Resolution 106 is more
important to him as an American citizen than as an Armenian, because
it reaffirms the very ideals that the U.S was founded on.
"My parents came to America after fleeing religious persecution in
Iran," said Mr. Yekikian. "They came here looking for a land of
opportunities — a land of justice, freedom, and truth. As an American
citizen, standing up for the truth of the Armenian Genocide takes
priority, because genocide denied is genocide continued."
On October 10, 2007, during the House Committee Foreign Affairs
markup of H. Res. 106, New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires remarked, "I feel
pressured. I feel like I have a Turkish sword over my head somehow if
I vote the wrong way here. And I don’t like that feeling."
In regards to that statement, another AYF volunteer, Arek Santikian,
said, "That’s how we all feel; it’s how we’ve felt for 93 years now."
Mr. Santikian was angered and upset by the excuses he heard about
the resolution throughout the hearing. However, after the resolution
passed said he "felt way more motivated and determined to finish this
[passage of the Resolution by the full House] now before someone tries
to throw in another twist or excuse."
This "finish it now" idea echoed in many of the speeches at the
rally. Volunteers walked around with clipboards and pens, collecting
signatures for everything from petitions against Rep. Jane Harman to
letters encouraging Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Flyers reading "Take action now" were being passed out, urging the
youth to be active and propel the resolution through the House of
In addition to coming out and supporting these rallies, Mr. Yekikian
believes that the youth should be more vocal on the Armenian Genocide
resolution, especially on their school campuses.
"Schools are very important because students are in an environment
where the youth is educated, motivated and captivated," said Mr.
"They’re there to learn, so it’s fertile ground; and we, as youth,
should be educating other youths in universities, educating our
university staff and campus governments."
When asked why he was at Rally 106 as opposed to being anywhere else
on a Sunday afternoon, Mr. Jivagalian responded, "Over 90 years ago,
my ancestors gave their lives so I could be here today. Being at this
rally is the least I could do for them; the least I could do for the
"Having the youth activated, motivated, and educating everybody else
on all genocides, not only the Armenian Genocide, will teach people
that there’s more to life than their 9 to 5 jobs or going to school
and coming back," added Mr. Jivagalian as Rally 106 was coming to an
"There have been atrocities that occurred in the past, and there are
atrocities occurring today in Darfur; it is important for the Armenian
youth to acknowledge these atrocities and always fight for what is
3. Joe Ariyan loses N.J. State Senate bid
PARAMUS, N.J. — Armenian-American attorney Joe Ariyan lost his bid
this week to become the state senator for New Jersey’s 39th District.
In the November 6 election, Ariyan was defeated by incumbent
Republican Gerald Cardinale, a state senator since 1982, who will go
forth to his eighth term in that office.
"While I am certainly disappointed in the outcome of the election,
I’m proud to have run a hard-fought, credible campaign on the issues
that matter most to the people of New Jersey," Mr. Ariyan told the
Armenian Reporter. "I look forward to continuing my public service and
fighting to bring true representation to the 39th District."
He added: "I’m very thankful to the Armenian-American community for
its tremendous encouragement, as well as Congressman Frank Pallone,
who has been such a good friend to us, for his incredible support
throughout the campaign."
* A hotly contested race
Ariyan, a Democrat running in a traditionally Republican district
which has been undergoing a demographic shift in recent years,
received 21,488 votes to Cardinale’s 26,583 votes — a 45 to 55
Cardinale’s Republican running mates — also longtime incumbents —
likewise won their State Assembly races, beating their Democratic
Nevertheless, Cardinale had been perceived as vulnerable last year,
prompting state Democratic leaders, including the influential Senate
President Richard Codey, to support the campaign to elect Ariyan, who
serves as Bergen County’s land use public advocate and Hillsdale’s
After handily winning the party’s nomination at its March 2007
convention, Ariyan, 41, proved himself a nimble candidate, campaigning
door to door for the better part of a year, while picking up
endorsements from such high-profile New Jersey political players as
Governor Jon Corzine, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, and Rep. Frank
Pallone, Jr., in addition to gaining the support of influential
political insiders like Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph
When Ariyan’s campaign war chest surpassed $200,000 in early summer,
regional media and political observers took notice, and began touting
the 39th district race as one of the most hotly contested in the
As Election Day neared, the campaign also took a turn to the
negative, with Sen. Cardinale broadcasting ads in the New York
metropolitan market accusing Mr. Ariyan of being a puppet of Bergen
County’s Democratic political bosses.
The Ariyan campaign responded by criticizing Cardinale for taking
trips paid for by the banking industry, and subsequently supporting
the banks’ preferred legislation.
In the final week of the race, Cardinale sent out a campaign mailer
accusing Ariyan, by virtue of his association with his Arab-American
law partner, of ties to a group Cardinale said was sympathetic to
terrorists. The state press roundly criticized the mailers, noting
that they were grounded in innuendo and guilt-by-association; but the
Cardinale campaign maintained that discreet facts listed in the mailer
were literally true.
Overall in the November 6 election, New Jersey voters permitted
Democrats to retain control of the state legislature, but sent them
them back to the state capital, Trenton, with a message to slow down
on the borrowing now used to cover the state’s finances. Among the
rejected measures was a plan to borrow $450 million to fund stem-cell
research in the state. Ariyan had campaigned on this issue, taking a
positive stance toward the measure and stem cell research, and had
even said that his support of such research is what prompted him to
leave the Republican party several years ago and become a Democrat.
Sen. Cardinale, a dentist by profession, served one term in the
State Assembly before moving up to the Senate, and so has represented
his Bergen County district in Trenton since 1980. He received some
support from local Armenians, who held a small fundraiser for him last
Ariyan and his family have deep roots in the local and regional
Armenian community, and the candidate himself made appearances at the
this year’s Martyrs Day gathering in Times Square, and at the AYF
Olympics in northern New Jersey.
4. Catholicos discusses inter-religious dialogue, Armenian concerns at UN
by Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — On October 29, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II paid
a formal visit to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and
signed the guest book for high-ranking visitors. He was accompanied by
the Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and
Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Armen Martirossian.
No media were permitted to attend the 30-minute private visit.
However, Amb. Martirossian later informed this writer that the
Secretary-General had emphasized the importance of the interfaith and
inter-religious dialogue, and had acknowledged the efforts of Karekin
II and the Armenian Church in this regard.
The Catholicos mentioned that early in October, Armenian Foreign
Minister Vartan Oskanian had addressed the world body on the topic,
and that the Armenian government attaches great importance to this
dialogue. He stated that unless religion becomes part of the solution,
it will continue to rank among the problems that threaten peace and
security in the world.
Catholicos Karekin also spoke about the difficulties in Armenia’s
region. In particular he mentioned those fomented by neighbors Turkey
and Azerbaijan. Karekin II emphasized that the Karabakh conflict is
still unresolved, and the blockade of Armenia by Turkey continues.
Concerning the destruction of the Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan,
including thousands of khatchkars in the Julfa cemetery, the pontiff
asked that the United Nations be more attentive and active on the
issue. Despite the historical grievances between Turkey and Armenia,
the Catholicos stressed that Armenia is ready to establish diplomatic
relations with Turkey without preconditions.
Before being personally escorted to the elevator by the
Secretary-General, Karekin II presented a hand-carved wooden platter
featuring Armenian symbols of life — grapes and pomegranates — to
* Dramatic dog search
As a United Nations accredited journalist for many years, this writer
witnessed an amazing episode connected to the Catholicos’ visit — one
that was not typical of the prior United Nations visit of the late
Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin I, more than a decade ago. The
episode illustrated how the events of 9/11 have transformed the
diplomatic landscape in the intervening time.
Before going upstairs to the 38th-floor private office suite of the
Secretary-General, the media that included photographers from the
United Nations and Associated Press, were instructed to place all
cameras against a wall. A gentle bull-mastiff, accompanied by a
trainer was brought in on a leash to sniff for explosives. The dog
first made a quick run through all the cameras, then twice more
carefully went over each individual one. One photographer, obviously
fearful of dogs, retreated to the back of the hall.
These dogs and their trainers cost the United Nations approximately
$150,000 a year, a reliable source told me. And because of their very
stressful work, like other dogs trained to find victims in
earthquakes, tornadoes, and other disasters, the animals do not have a
long life expectancy.
Finally we were on our way to the 38th floor, accompanied by a staff
member of the UN’s Department of Public Information. Our directive was
clear: this was a photo op that would last no more than a few minutes.
No questions were to be asked, and no words exchanged. As the
Catholicos greeted the world body leader and signed the guest book,
cameras flashed furiously. After a few further minutes, the group was
On the lobby floor, we joined about a dozen Armenian staff members
of the United Nations Secretariat and the Armenian Mission. As Vehapar
emerged from the elevator, Amb. Martirossian introduced him to the
small but enthusiastic crowd, whose members posed for photos with the
As the Armenian religious leader left the building, he paused
briefly to gaze, smiling, at the Armenian flag flying proudly next to
the more than 190 United Nations member flags.
5. At a New York banquet, Catholicos Karekin II expresses hope for a
"century of renewal" in the Armenian Church
by Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — "If the 20th century was one of survival for the
Armenians, the 21st century will be one of renewal," stated Catholicos
of All Armenian Karekin II, in an inspiring address to the close to
700 people who had crowded into New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel for the
Pontifical banquet on Sunday, October 28.
Presented by the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), it was one of the
concluding events of the Pontifical visit, which had started in New
York on October 3, and encompassed a month-long whirlwind visit to
parishes of the Eastern Diocese in some 18 cities.
Elected Supreme Patriarch eight years ago, Karekin II reflected on
his work which had started in what he called "difficult times."
"The independence of Armenia made our imminent work an imperative.
During our first Pontifical visit to the Eastern Diocese [in 2001], we
saw a warm filial response to our churches, clergy, schools,
healthcare, roads, homes, youth centers, and infrastructure, which you
brought to life."
With emphasis, he declared, "The homeland and church still need your
help in countless villages and communities. The nation’s borders need
economic development. Churches need restoration. The constitution of
the Armenian Church must be accomplished so that the canonical spirit
is preserved. For Armenians in the diaspora, it is necessary to make
parish life the center of life and faith. And the Genocide issue must
be addressed. By unifying our labors, we will see the recognition of
the Genocide worldwide, and the painful consequences of this tragedy
The special evening in honor of the Supreme Patriarch had begun with
a sumptuous cocktail hour, after which the guests filed into the
spacious flower-bedecked main ballroom. Three enormous screens
detailed the banquet program of speakers, and entertainers.
Dignitaries attending included Eastern Diocese Primate Archbishop
Khajag Barsamian; Western Diocese Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian;
Canadian Diocese Primate Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian; Russian Diocese
Primate Archbishop Ezras Nersissian; Eastern Diocesan Legate
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian; Eparch of the Armenian Catholic Church
Bishop Manuel Batakian; Bishop Yeghishe Gizirian; and Bishop
Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy, who was
representing the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, and
the Eastern Prelate Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan.
Also present were the head of the Episcopal Church in New York,
Bishop Mark Sisk; Rabbi Arthur Schneier, head of the Appeal of
Conscience Foundation; representatives of the Vatican at the United
Nations, and of the Syrian Orthodox Church; Armenia’s ambassadors to
the U.S. and the UN, Tatoul Markarian and Armen Martirossian; AGBU
President Berge Setrakian; Diocesan Council chair Oscar Tatosian; 2007
Pontifical Visit chair James Kalustian; and New York District chair
Following the invocation by the Vehapar, the Pontifical Banquet
Committee co-chair Hrant Gulian welcomed the dignitaries and guests.
Sarkis Jebejian, Esq., and Arda Nazerian Haratunian took on the role
of Masters of Ceremonies. Diocesan Council chair Oscar Tatosian, in a
toast to the Catholicos, likened the evening to a "family reunion."
* A new era of unity and strength
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian emphasized that "a new era of unity and
strength has been established in the church. Quoting Mother Teresa —
who said, "Life is a promise; fulfill it" — the Western Primate
pointed out that this newness is "reflected in the training of
priests, the construction of new churches, as well as countless other
Ambassador Tatoul Markarian paid tribute to the pontiff’s "unifying
moral leadership and spiritual guidance. And politically," he noted,
"his visit is significant because of his meetings with high-ranking
officials, and religious leaders. He is a symbol of how far we’ve
come. Through our historical turmoils, the church has been the only
national institution defending our interest."
James Kalustian, who also sits on the worldwide Armenian Church’s
Supreme Spiritual Council, thanked the hundreds of volunteers, "many
not here," whom he called the "invisible members of the entourage." He
stressed the Catholicos’ commitment to the youth, his candor in
discussing the concerns of his flock, his conviction of including the
Genocide during his prayer before Congress, and his embracing of the
survivors who attended the Congressional committee debate on the
And AGBU president Berge Setrakian, in noting the special spiritual
leadership created by the Vehapar, disclosed that the AGBU is the
institution that has made the largest contribution to Etchmiadzin.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, declaring the "beginning of a new
history," expressed deep appreciation to the many involved in this
visit. Along with Oscar Tatosian and James Kalustian at his side, he
presented the "St. Vartan Award" to Lynn Beylerian, the coordinator of
the 2007 Pontifical visit.
He called the Catholicos the "living embodiment of our history and
faith, one of the best examples of spiritual leadership, who binds us
to St. Gregory the Illuminator.
* New flames in our homes
In a special announcement, the Primate revealed that the Eastern
Diocese is donating $350,000 to build 40 houses in Armenia for Habitat
for Humanity’s "Karekin II Building Project." "I have witnessed the
beginning of a new history," the Primate said. "This journey has
lighted new flames in our homes."
During the program, an original painting by legendary writer William
Saroyan was presented to the Catholicos by Haig Mardikian. And two
historic chairs of King Levon and his queen were donated to
Etchmiadzin by Sarkis Kaltakdjian, parish council chairman of the St.
Garabed Armenian Church of Baton Rouge, La.
A film detailing the eight-year accomplishments of Catholicos Karkin
II was shown, which documented advancements made in medicine and
nutrition, education, church and home-building, culture, media and
publications under his pontificate.
A special multi-media cultural program prepared by a number of
performing artists delighted the guests. It included the
internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist Datevik Hovanesian and her
band; St. Vartan Cathedral soloists Anoosh Barclay and Vagharshak
Ohanian (who also opened the program with the American and Armenian
national anthems); pianist Tigran Lazarian; keyboardist Vahram
Gurjian, dudukist Rubik Vardanyan; violinist Sami Merdinian, and the
St. Vartan Cathedral Choir members under the direction of St. Vartan
Cathedral Choirmaster Khoren Mekanejian.
Before giving the benediction, the Vehapar expressed deep
appreciation to all involved in this historic visit, and presented
gifts of a silver cross to Archbishop Barsamian, and hand-carved
platters to Oscar Tatosian, James Kalustian, and Lynn Beylerian, whom
he called his "close friends." Speaking in English, he said to the
assemblage, "Even though this was an exhausting trip, I received
energy from the love of my people. I care for you and love you."
6. For Catholicos Karekin II, it really is a matter of bringing faith home
by Antranig Dereyan
EDITOR’S NOTE: As the Pontifical visit of Catholicos Karekin II to the
Eastern Diocese wound down, the Reporter’s correspondent Antranig
Dereyan, who traveled with the Catholicos’ entourage for the entire
month, had a chance to sit down with the pontiff to talk about the
tour, the things that have animated and inspired Karekin II’s mission
as catholicos, and his hopes for the future.
Becoming the Catholicos of All Armenians takes time: it is a long,
hard road to become the pontiff of the worldwide Armenian Church. But
what is it that inspired a boy named Ktrij Nersissian to devote his
life to the church, and to seek the honor and burden of being the
132nd Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Church?
"I wanted to become a priest because when I was younger I saw the
church and I felt that it was my calling. It was my calling and I
pursued it. I wanted to serve my people," said Vehapar.
Serve his people he did — and more. As an archbishop, serving as
Primate of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese (Armenia’s largest
diocese), he was a key figure guiding and building the country as it
moved forward from the earthquake disaster of 1988, and into a new era
as an independent republic. Archbishop Nersissian built schools and
re-built churches. He took charge of the local youth centers — once
strongholds of the Armenia’s former Communist regime — and
audaciously transformed them into Christian youth centers.
"He is a man of deep faith, with a strong character, and the ability
to lead people," said Fr. Ktrij Devejian, the Foreign Press Secretary
of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, who is a close aide of the
Karekin II’s great strength and stamina were certainly called upon
during his journey through the Eastern United States. The grueling
itinerary had him visiting a new city almost every other day. He went
>From New York to Boston to Washington; from Florida to North Carolina
to Louisana to Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota — and back
again to New York (and then on again to Michigan). But through it all,
Vehapar set a vigorous pace for everyone else, and never looked
"The people I see in every city I go to — they give me my
strength," the Catholicos said. "I don’t get tired, because the people
give me power. I have seen on this trip that all the places I have
visited have a great Armenian life, a vibrant community; and that lets
me keep going."
* The identity of a people
Throughout his journey, Karekin II opened himself up to his
congregation, allowing the people to ask questions and answering them
honestly and with an open mind. One question that came up more than
once, in nearly each city, was: "Why can’t the badarak be done in
Catholicos Karekin’s answer has always been thoughtful, and touches
on a larger point: "The language is the identity of the people," he
says. "The language of the badarak is not the same as the language
spoken outside the church. The badarak is always the same, and our
people should take the time to learn it. In our daily lives, we invest
effort and time to achieve those things that are important to us; but
we don’t do the same for our spiritual life. It only takes 30 hours —
one hour a day for one month — to learn it, and if the person does
so, he will be better served."
"However, the language is not as important as a person’s heart," the
pontiff adds. "The person must feel the badarak in his heart, must
pray the badarak in his soul, no matter what the language."
Catholicos Karekin is a person known for telling the truth, for
telling what he feels, whatever audience he’s speaking to. He proved
that on his recent trip to Turkey, when he spoke with members of
Turkish officialdom. They told the Armenian pontiff that they were
considering launching a committee to inquire into whether the Armenian
Genocide really happened.
Vehapar recalled his response. "I told them, ‘What are you going to
check? The Genocide is a fact, and it is up to you and your government
to either accept it, or continue denying it.’"
The subject of the Genocide, and its official recognition, was
certainly on people’s minds this past month, as the U.S. Congress
placed the "Armenian Genocide resolution" before the House Foreign
Affairs Committee. The Catholicos was in the nation’s capital on the
day of the vote, and began the session where the measure was debated
by delivering the prayer that opened Congress for that day. When the
bill passed through the committee later that day, Vehapar (and every
other Armenian) was very pleased; but he says he still thinks more
needs to be done.
"For more than 90 years our people have waited for this injustice to
be righted. The passing of the resolution will bring us one step
closer to full recognition — which shall provide consolation to the
people that suffered due to the genocide, and to the ones who survived
He adds: "I hope that this resolution will be passed by the entire
Congress, and will help other nations to be free from tragedies like
the genocide that afflicted the Armenian people."
* Around the world and back
As Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II has been around the world
and back. He has peered into every corner of the Armenian diaspora,
and he feels very proud of the Armenia-Americans in the U.S.
"In the United States there are all kind of Armenians. Armenians
>From Lebanon, Syria, and Armenia — Armenians from all over the world.
They all came here to start a new life, and they also came here to
keep their Armenian Christian faith," he observes. "They came here to
live as Armenians, but also to be loyal citizens to their new country
of America. They felt a need to keep their Armenian faith and culture,
and to do that they have built all these churches — not only for
themselves, but for their children as well."
One problem that is very transparent here in the United States is
the language barrier. It’s a familiar story of people in dispersion:
communities and individuals are scattered; some Armenian-Americans
marry non-Armenians; their children do not grow up with the Armenian
language as part of the household; and therefore the native tongue is
It is an issue to which Karekin II is hardly oblivious.
"In the churches there are Armenian schools and that is helping," he
says. "But the most important thing is for children to grow up with
the Armenian Christian faith and Armenian culture. They need to feel
Armenian in their hearts and heads. If they visit Armenia, I believe
that it will help the children a lot — not just for the language, but
for their Armenian spirit. They will have a chance to see who they
are, what their history is all about, and what mission they have in
this world — for their nation, and for the land that they live in,"
Last week Catholicos Karekin returned to Armenia, and to the center
of the Armenian Church: the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. And to the
list of his achievements in the homeland, he can now add the spirit
of excitement and inspiration his personal presence has generated here
in the Eastern Diocese. His ability to lead and inspire is something
his fellow clergymen speak of with admiration and gratitude.
"Vehapar has done an outstanding job during his reign as
Catholicos," reflects Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, the Primate of the
Eastern Diocese, who was the gracious host of the month-long
Pontifical visit, and a great supporter of Armenia in his own right.
"He has built up Armenia. He has helped the youth. He is the very best
leader we have had since the end of the Communist era."
7. "Armenia and Karabagh" takes top prize for overall Best Travel Guide
LOS ANGELES — The two countries with the best travel guide are
Armenia and Karabakh, according to USA Book News, which recently
announced the winners of its 2007 book awards.
The award designated Armenia and Karabagh: The Stone Garden Guide,
by Matthew Karanian and Robert Kurkjian, as the top winner in the
overall best travel guide category of the competition.
Hundreds of titles competed for the awards, and winners in other
categories included books from publishers such as Simon and Schuster,
HarperCollins, Random House, and other large publishing houses.
The award of "Best Travel Guide" to Armenia and Karabagh: The Stone
Garden Guide, which is published by the tiny Armenian-American-owned
company Stone Garden Productions, is a remarkable achievement not just
for the book, but also for the republics of Armenia and Karabakh,
according to co-author Matthew Karanian.
"Think about it," Karanian said. "Armenia and Karabakh are not on
the top of most travel destination lists. We’re not talking about the
Grand Canyon, Disneyland, or Italy. So the award really raises
awareness of Armenia among a huge audience."
"People are going to want to know where — and what — is this place
called Armenia," he added.
Co-author Robert Kurkjian said that since the title of the book
gives Karabakh equal billing, "The award goes a long way toward
forever linking Karabakh with Armenia in the minds of readers
Although the USA Book News judges do not make specific comments
about why individual titles are selected or rejected, book prizes are
based on a combined evaluation of content, organization, and design.
Armenia and Karabagh emphasizes the region’s ecology and
conservation, as well; a major theme of the book is to urge travelers
to be aware of the impact they have on the environment and the local
communities that they visit, said Kurkjian.
* A passion for the homeland
Ask the authors how an independently published book about Armenia and
Karabakh could beat out the competition about and big-name
destinations put out by big-name publishers, and you’ll hear a passion
for their homeland come soaring through.
"This is not a commercial venture for us, and the book is not just
one more cookie-cutter title in a big series. We published this book
because Armenia and Karabakh deserve to have top-quality
representation at the bookstore, and in people’s hearts and minds,"
said Kurkjian. "We wouldn’t do this for any other place in the world."
The prize for best travel guide, which was awarded on November 1,
follows on the heels of another prize awarded to the book in October
by Writer’s Digest magazine: an "Honorable Mention" in the category of
Best Reference Book published during the past year.
The first edition of Armenia and Karabagh was also an award finalist
for Best Travel Guide by the Independent Publishers Association, in
According to Karanian, book awards such as these help raise positive
awareness of Armenia and Karabakh among Armenians and non-Armenians
alike. "Armenia is a destination that will open the eyes of the
curious traveler seeking something beyond the well-worn pathways of
tourism," he said. "It’s a destination for everyone, and in many ways
a point of embarkation, too."
The book features 135 color photographs by Kurkjian and Karanian,
and 27 color maps, including maps by the "Birds of Armenia Project" of
the American University of Armenia.
The book is available by mail order directly from the publisher for
$30 postage-paid in the U.S. and Canada, or $35 postage-paid
worldwide. Sample pages and further information are available on
************** ************************************************** ***********
8. A pastor who "elevates the priesthood" is honored for 20 years of service
* Fr. Nerses Manoogian receives the title of "archpriest" in Philadelphia
by Melissa Selverian
PHILADELPHIA — "There are some who rise to the duties of the priestly
vocation, and others who raise the vocation itself." These were the
memorable words of admiration and respect delivered by Bishop
Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy of the
Armenian Apostolic Church, in praise of Fr. Nerses Manoogian, during a
celebration of the 20th anniversary of the latter’s ordination.
"Fr. Nerses has raised the vocation," continued Bishop Tanielian,
during an October 21 ceremony where the pastor of Philadelphia’s St.
Gregory Armenian Church was elevated to the rank of avak kahanah, or
At a reception following church services, Archbishop Oshagan
Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, echoed Bishop Tanielian’s
sentiments, recalling fondly how all three clerics had studied
together at the seminary in their youth.
The local parishioners drew on their own warm memories of a
17-year-long relationship with their pastor, showering him with warm
sentiments at a banquet that paid tribute to his longstanding devotion
to the youth.
Fr. Nerses was showered with dozens of heartwarming Sunday School
cards and drawings, teen musical and poetic performances, a toast in
salute to his much-loved "children’s sermons," and special letters of
affection from his own children, Sally and Sevag.
The event also featured a slide show featuring parishioners of all
ages, as well as clergymen, family and friends from the many churches
and communities the priest had served as deacon, archdeacon, and
priest in the U.S. and abroad.
* Outpouring of affection
Holding firmly to a dollar bill presented to him in a card from Sunday
School student Mardo Yeremian, with a request that it be used for
charity, an emotion-filled Fr. Nerses Manoogian spoke of his love for
the Philadelphia Armenian community, and his humble appreciation for
its outpouring of love to him. He acknowledged numerous parishioners
of St. Gregory and of its sister churches for their support of him
throughout the years.
The priest spoke most highly of his "other half": Yeretzgin Nektar,
who he said has been his greatest supporter throughout his priesthood
and his best friend.
In the church’s Terhanian Hall, a cultural program was held
featuring "Yerevan Erebuni" performed on the piano by teen Lia
Arakelian; Aram Khachaturian’s "Waltz" from "Masquerade" performed on
the piano by church organist Karina Gerbedian Adriano; Vahan Tekeyan’s
"Yegeghetsin Haygagan" performed by soloist and St. Gregory Church
choir director Maroush Paneyan Nigon; and an Armenian poem recited by
youths Kristen Santerian and Aram Frounjian.
Former board member Richard Selverian toasted the clergyman for his
unique efforts to reach out to the youth, as parishioner Brian
Tavakalian presented a sentimental photographic capsule of the
pastor’s life. Board of Trustees chair Bill Arthin extended the
board’s sincere gratitude for the pastor’s service, as mistress of
ceremonies Silva Santerian gracefully ushered in the day’s program. A
comprehensive banquet booklet captured the occasion.
Special notes of recognition from clergy, parishioners, and friends
throughout the world were announced, as the banquet committee and each
of the church organizations were applauded for their ambitious efforts
to realize the celebratory day. The day began and ended with the
singing of the Armenian national anthem and "Giligia."
9 . Wisconsin parish applauds presentation on Armenian theater
by David Luhrssen
GREENFIELD, Wis. — As part of Armenian Culture Month, the St. John
the Baptist Armenian Church of the Greater Milwaukee sponsored a
lecture by a prominent scholars of Armenian history, Professor S.
Peter Cowe. Holder of the Grigor Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Language
and Culture at UCLA, the Scottish-born Cowe is active in many
Armenian academic groups and is a prolific author and translator.
Cowe recently returned to the U.S. after two months in Armenia,
researching the country’s traditions in theater.
Some of Cowe’s findings were included in the paper he delivered at
St. John’s culture hall on October 21, following badarak and a dinner
in his honor. Titled "Armenian Theater in an Era of Globalization,"
the paper was prefaced with Cowe’s observation that globalization in a
broad sense is no new thing. Due to geography and history, Armenians
have been uniquely situated for many centuries to play a role in
international trade and commercial production. Even before the
nation’s conversion to Christianity, Armenian authors wrote dramas in
Greek, a sign of Armenia’s links to the Hellenistic culture of the
Cowe’s presentation ranged widely over many centuries, tying
together disparate threads of Armenian cultural history by reference
to theater. He drew out the influence of theater on the badarak and
such Armenian Church traditions as the Opening of the Gates on Palm
Sunday and the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday. He discussed a
variety of performing arts Armenians have adopted as their own,
including shadow plays with origins in China, bardic theater in the
Turkish tradition and, beginning in the 17th century, plays composed
in the European manner.
Armenian plays were written and performed in communities as far
apart as Poland and India, and had wide influence within the Russian
and Ottoman empires.
Theater continues to flourish in Yerevan today. Given the abrupt
lurch from communism to democracy and a free market, it is no
surprise, Cowe said, that sharp satire and pointed absurdity are among
the approaches employed by contemporary Armenian playwrights.
Finally, Cowe urged his listeners not to simply remain be of
Armenia’s cultural past, but to add to the legacy in the present, and
make it available to the wider world. Referencing a gospel passage, he
asked Armenians "not to hide your light under a bushel, but to let it
shine." His remarks were amplified by St. John’ parish priest, Fr.
Nareg Keutelian, who reminded the audience that October was chosen as
Armenian Cultural Month because the Feast of the Holy Translators,
whose work inaugurated a golden age of Armenian arts and letters, is
observed in October.
10. Armenian monuments stand tall in Harvard photo exhibit
by Yvette K. Harpootian
BOSTON — Consider the beautiful khatchkars: they started out standing
proud and tall. Majestic, detailed, ornate. They began to lean,
looking weaker, until finally they were cracked, buried and demolished
— leaving the heart of Armenia’s culture, its religion, its very
This is what the photo exhibit, Armenian Monuments of the
Nakhichevan Region, by Argam Ayvazian and Steven Sim, reveals to its
visitors. Panel after panel fill the Concourse Gallery corridors at
Harvard with pictures of patterned pottery, rock drawings, tombstones,
churches, and of course, khatchkars, or cross-stones.
The exhibit opened last week, and will run through November 19.
Argam Ayvazian, a researcher on the Armenian cultural heritage of
Nakhichevan, is author of more than 20 monographs, including The
Historical Monuments of Nakhichevan (1990). Ayvazian currently serves
as deputy director of the Agency on Protection of Historical and
Cultural Environment at the Armenian Ministry of Culture. He was born
in the village of Arinj in Nakhichevan and has devoted his adult life
to documenting and analyzing the historical monuments of the region.
Steven Sim, the Glasgow-based architect and art historian, has
researched Armenian architecture since 1989, and is the creator of the
"Virtual Ani" website, (). His visit to Nakhichavan
was published in the 2006 book, Destruction of Jugha and the Entire
Armenian Cultural Heritage in Nakhichevan. He was one of the last
Westerners to see the hundreds of Jugha khatchkars destroyed by the
Azeri military in 2005.
As I walked around the concourse looking at the panels, I couldn’t
help but notice the stonework outside: the bricks securing the
apartment complex next door, the square stone floor covering the
outdoor sunken garden area — both examples of simple useful
stonework; both safe and secure, but without life and meaning. And the
masterpieces in the photos, which were painstakingly and passionately
crafted by our Armenian forefathers, have been demolished, swept up
and taken away. This is depicted in the exhibit’s series of "before
and after" photographs, documenting the demolition of Armenian
churches and khatchkars in the Jugha cemetery.
* Setting the record straight
The Nakhichevan region, located in what is today Azerbaijan — part of
the ancient Armenian historic lands and with an uninterrupted Armenian
presence — is the site of thousands of endangered and destroyed
Armenian monuments. As far back as 1648, there were reports of 10,000
fully decorated cross stones. By the beginning of the 20th century,
there were only 6,000 khatchkars counted, some standing and others
The destruction continued after 1922, with many of the khatchkars
simply disappearing. In 1998, eyewitnesses on the Iranian border
observed tombstones being excavated by a crane and loaded on railroad
wagons, to be transported away and used as building material for
foundations of new houses. This account is an astonishing testimony to
the secret removal of Nakhichevan’s Armenian patrimony in an attempt
to eradicate the evidence of ancient Armenian habitation of the
The Armenian Government has played an active role in the effort to
raise awareness of this issue and to save what monuments are left.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian wrote in a letter to
UNESCO: "These khatchkars … are unique tombstones in that they are
simultaneously sculpture, archive and marker. Their removal is in line
with Azerbaijan’s mission to expunge the historical record and remove
all documentation of Armenian presence on those lands."
The subject also came up during the late October meeting between
Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon in New York. (See the story elsewhere in this paper.)
On November 1, in conjunction with the exhibit, the National
Association on Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) hosted a panel
discussion on the Armenian Monuments of Nakhichevan, chaired by Dr.
James R. Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard;
Argam Ayvazian; Steven Sim; and Anahit Ter-Stepanian, exhibit curator
and architectural historian at Sacred Heart University.
Ter-Stepanian organized this exhibit, and received support from Dr.
Russell, and funding from COPRIM, an architectural company in Canada.
She said: "This exhibit is very important because it brings awareness
to the American community about the devastating state of the Armenian
cultural heritage in Nakhichevan."
She noted that the attempts by Azeri officials to deny the
historical Armenian presence in the region are exemplified by
Hajifahraddin Safarli, the director of the Nakhichevan Department of
History, Ethnography and Archeology Institute and National Academy of
Science of Azerbaijan (NASA), who said: "There have never been
monuments belonging to Armenians in the territory of Nakhichevan."
Against such revisionism, Armenian Monuments of the Nakhichevan
Region, by Argam Ayvazian and Steven Sim, is a fascinating effort to
set the record straight — and hopefully to contribute to the
preservation of these Armenian artistic treasures before they are all
The exhibit is on display from November 2 through November 19, at
the Harvard University Center for Government and International Studies
Concourse Gallery, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge Mass. Related
lectures are scheduled for Glendale, Calif., and New York City (see
the sidebar box). For information on the exhibit at Harvard
University, call the Davis Center at (617) 495-4037. The exhibition
******************* ************************************************** ******
11. 10th Annual Arpa International Film Festival comes to a close
by Adrineh Gregorian
LOS ANGELES — Oscar nominees and local Armenian filmmakers came
together on November 4 for the closing night banquet of the Arpa
International Film Festival. The banquet hall of the prestigious
Sheraton Universal was filled to capacity with participants, patrons,
artists, and tireless volunteers who were there to celebrate yet
another successful film festival meant to cultivate cultural
understanding and explore issues of diaspora, exile, and
Hollywood and the international filmmaking community are talking
notice. This year’s festival attracted a staggering 123 entries with
115 filmmakers chosen for official selection, making it the most
successful festival as of yet and attracting the highest number of
AFFMA’s founder, Sylvia Minassian, noted that this year’s slate
reflects filmmakers from 23 different countries who all submitted
films representing global issues. She thanked members of the community
"whose interest in film and decision to see filmmakers achieve their
dreams makes this event possible."
After three days of screening films at the historic Egyptian Theater
in the heart of Hollywood Blvd, the evening was dedicated to honor the
filmmakers and patrons and announce this year’s top prizewinners.
Topping off the night’s entertainment was Natalie Der-Mesropian
performing show tunes from Caberet and other classic hits.
After guests were seated, Festival Director Alex Kalogonomos
welcomed the crowd and introduced a retrospective of the film
festival’s ten years. To hear about this festival’s growth is one
thing, but viewing the evolution in photos one can understand the
exponential growth of what began as a promising idea and flourished
into an extraordinary feat.
Mr. Kalogonomos also added that, "the fight for Genocide recognition
is never over, through the power of film, we can make a difference."
Presenter Araceli Guzman-Rico, star of Quinceañera, which took home
the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film
Festival, gave a touching speech about independent filmmaking having
been a part of films that address cultural diversity and social
understanding. "Real independent filmmaking is not about time and
money," she said, "everything behind this is passion." Guzman-Rico
also acknowledged the importance of a film festival and what it can do
to someone’s career and praised the work of AFFMA.
The Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award was presented by Ms.
Minassian to Carla Garapedian for her documentary film Screamers.
Ms. Garapedian noted that it has been an emotional journey promoting
this film around the world. She’s proud to have been bestowed the
Armin T. Wegner Award because he was a "lifelong screamer." Wegner
screamed about what he saw happening to the Armenians during the
Genocide and provided historic evidence by taking photographs. She
urged the audience to believe in the adage "Never Again" and that our
"one small resilient group should join hands with other people who
have suffered to create one powerful voice and Washington will
Legendary screenwriter, Mardik Martin received this year’s Lifetime
Achievement Award. His works have been also acknowledged by the
American Film Institute and the Writers Guild of America. As a writer,
Mr. Martin has reached into his soul and managed to put it on screen.
As a professor, he passes his knowledge onto the future.
Mr. Martin was also a frequent collaborator with Martin Scorsese. "I
feel most comfortable with you," said Scorsese to Martin in an
introduction clip. "We came from different places. Sicilians and
Armenians, there is something special there."
Mr. Martin noted in his speech that he "made it through the hard
way." He thanked his family and friends but most of all he thanked
himself "because I worked very hard."
Presenter Jill Simonian called out to the crowd "Are there any
Armenians here tonight?" and went on to say that the festival is not
all about Armenians, it’s about all cultures and bringing them
Ms. Simonian presented filmmakers Ramy Katrib, Evan York, and Jeff
Orsa with the AFFMA Foundation Award for Mardik: Baghdad to Hollywood,
a film that traces Martin’s life and took ten years to make.
The Hollyscoop.com girls, Diane, Nora, and Ani presented Ken
Davitian with the Comedic Performance of the Year Award. In Borat,
2006’s most successful comedy, Davitian’s contribution "shared
Armenian culture in the most unconventional way possible," said the
Mr. Davitian noted that this festival is "making people realize that
there is a world out there and we’re breaking into it." He went on to
say, "find what you love to do and find a way to do it. You can do it.
"It was one year and one day ago that Borat came out and my life has
changed unbelievably," Mr. Davitian said. He has since gone on to
costar in upcoming big-budget comedies such as Get Smart and Meet the
Mr. Davitian concluded his speech with a one small request, "Mardik,
how ’bout writing something about a short fat guy, ha unger?" and
continued to praise AFFMA: "When you spark one person’s life, it has a
Actress Frances Fisher presented Oscar nominated actress Shoreh
Aghdashloo with the Career Achievement Award.
The stunning Ms. Aghdashloo was humbled to receive the award. She
recognized the value of awards, acknowledgement, and support.
"Friendship and support gives me strength," she said. "Kindness
inspires people like me to challenge the impossible and encourages me
to search for material worthy of you and makes a change."
Award for Best Short Film went to Vineet Dewan’s Clear Cut, Simple.
Best Animated Film when to Eleanor Lanahan’s The Naked Hitch-Hiker.
Best Documentary Film went to The People’s Advocate, directed by Hrag
Yedalian. Dancer Mihran Kirakosian went up to present the first-time
music video category with top honors going to Moonbabies’ War On
Sound. Best Writer award went to Mihran’s brother, Gor Kirakosian for
Big Story in a Small City. Best Director Award went to Eric Nazarian
for The Blue Hour. And finally, Best Feature Film went to Mahek, by K.
This year’s festival truly marks a catalyst for change. With
programs like Armenian Documentaries, Border Crisis: Mexican Program,
Genocide Documentaries, Indian International Program, Arpa Women’s
Short Films, LGBT Program, and Urban Crisis Shorts, AFFMA and the Arpa
International Film Festival takes independent socially conscious
filmmaking to new heights by giving a voice to the voiceless.
12. Who’s who on the red carpet
Chats with the stars at the Arpa Film Festival gala event
by Maral Habeshian
LOS ANGELES — The red carpet was blazing with activity as stars
arrived at the Arpa Film Festival Gala Awards Banquet to celebrate the
culmination of the week-long festival that featured 135 films from 23
The likes of screenwriter Mardik Martin (Raging Bull), Academy
Award–nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog),
filmmaker Carla Garapedian (Screamers) and actor Ken Davitian (Borat)
posed for screaming photographers and gave interviews before entering
the gala that was held at the Universal Sheraton in Studio City on
"Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop," stressed Ken Davidian when
asked what advice he’d give to aspiring film makers. "If you stop,
your mind wanders. In this country, you just have to keep going. If
they tell you ‘no,’ don’t listen and just go do it!"
Founded 10 years ago to promote works of young film makers, Arpa has
grown by leaps and bounds. Actor and 2007 Arpa Film Festival director
Alex Kalognomos attributed some of that success to a new crop of film
"Every year they’re getting younger and films are getting better.
Our volunteers from past are now premiering their films after 10 years
of cultivating and grooming. . . . We started at Raleigh Studios with
an 80 seat theater, then Archlight with 200-400 seats, now the
Egyptian with two theaters that hold 600 each. Eric Nazarian’s The
Blue Hour packed the theater."
The Blue Hour is Nazarian’s first feature film as a writer-director
and is composed of four stories about working-class lives near the Los
Angeles River. It premiered at the 55th San Sebastian International
Film Festival; Eric just received news that he’ll be traveling to
Italy for the Torino Film Festival in three weeks.
"It’s been my life dream to make films and create links throughout
the world to tell our story via cinema…We need to always have the
means to tell our [Armenian] story within an international context,"
Mr. Nazarian said. Later that evening, Nazarian received the best
Arpa Film Festival founder Sylvia Minassian said 35 percent of the
submissions to this year’s festival were by Armenian film makers. "Our
goal is to help our young filmmakers; we want to introduce them to
non-Armenian circles, and to open doors to other festivals. As such,
when they win, they can get to higher places. We establish the
connections. Eric Nazarian started with us ten years ago. His film The
Blue Hour is astonishing and he was elected one of the best directors
at the St. Sebastian Film Festival."
Veteran film maker J. Michael Hogopian affirmed the effectiveness of
the film festival: "This organization does outstanding work to
encourage young film makers." He also advised young film makers to,
"Have a cause, whatever that cause is, because you can’t make a film
unless you believe in it."
One of those film makers is Gor Kirakosian, who was awarded for his
feature comedy, Big Story in a Small Town. "This festival can open
great doors," he said. "It was enjoyable to see my small film make a
lot of people laugh."
Gor’s brother Mihran accompanied him on the red carpet. Mihran is a
dancer who has preformed with stars such as Pink, Britney Spears and
Lil’ Kim. He can be seen in Madonna videos, and joined her this year
on her "Confessions" world tour. "I gave Madonna my brothers DVD. She
and her husband Guy Ritchie watched it, and when joined me on the
tour, they talked about the film."
The Hollyscoop Girls of Hollyscoop.com also walked the red carpet.
Their popular online media outlet brings millions of fans up-to-the
minute celebrity, entertainment and fashion news. "We’re surprised at
our popularity because we’re working round the clock and don’t gauge
what’s going on. It’s unbelievable." But what began as a joke over a
year ago has evolved into a hugely recognized project, even by the
stars. The three very bubbly and popular girls confess the best part
of the fame is that their dreams are coming true, and they are working
with each other–longtime friends.
Documentary filmmaker Carla Garapedian said though it was a day of
celebration for her, her work is far from over. Carla received Arpa’s
prestigious Armin T. Wegner Award for her film, Screamers, that
documents the rock group System Of A Down’s intensely personal
campaign to gain passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution in
Congress and put an end to all genocides.
"I’m feeling mixed emotions because the job is not complete," she
said. "We’ve gone through a sort of hurricane in the last two weeks;
the Turkish denial lobby, the machinery that has tried to spread
propaganda about our resolution. The job is not complete until we pass
Ms. Garapedian said that she was struck by just how strong and
resilient Armenians really are when she recently traveled throughout
numerous Diaspora communities. "No one wants to rest until our mission
Asked what she thought of her Armin T. Wegner award, Ms. Garapedian
said: "He was the first screamer of the 20th century…a man who
screamed the whole of his career. I hope to someday live up to his
Carreer Achievement Award recipient Shoreh Aghdashloo graced the red
carpet with unusual humility and warmth. "It is a great experience to
be loved liked this. We all belong to one tribe, you know, regardless
of race, religion, nationality — and that’s the tribe of actors."
Aghdashloo won her first Oscar nomination for her 2003 performance in
House of Sand and Fog with Ben Kingsley.
Mardik: From Baghdad to Hollywood is a documentary about the life of
Mardik Martin who is the personification of the attainability of the
American Dream — at a price. Mr. Martin was honored with the Arpa
Lifetime Achievement Award. Having arrived from Iraq, Mardik Martin
attended NYU film school. He ultimately went from busing tables, to
writing Raging Bull. The 40-year veteran, who is now a screenwriting
teacher at USC, says he has done all he can do in film. "Don’t give
up because all it takes is luck — ‘Pakhd,’" he reassures. "You have
to be prepared for that luck, if you’re not prepared, it will come and
pass you up." He then proposes: "If you have a good Armenian story,
I’d like to tell it."
* * *
For photos see the print or pdf version of Section C.
13. Armenian culture blossoms in the desert, thanks to a first-time festival
by Janet Samuelian
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — What began in July as a modest intention to
celebrate Armenian cultural month became a full-blown festival held on
October 6 for desert dwellers and those from beyond. While red, blue,
and orange banners fluttered among palm trees and umbrellas on the
grounds of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert, guests
arriving at Kirkjan Family Hall had many choices.
Here was a miniature bazaar, full of energy and color. There were
rich displays of books on every subject, handcrafted note cards,
posters, CDs, and Armenian-made crafts. Visitors lingered at tables
covered with embroidered gift items, Middle Eastern food specialties,
dried fruits, and nuts.
On exhibit from the early 1900s was a dark red silk rug inscribed
with the Hayr Mer, a 1908 beaded cushion cover, needlework dated 1914,
Armenian costumes, wood carvings, small sculptures, and
limited-edition Tolegian art prints. A sampling of posters featuring
19th- and 20th-century Armenian painters covered one wall. No one
could pass up the opportunity to see closeup the handmade muscial
instruments, the oud, duduk, zurna, dhol and dumbeg.
Especially original was an elaborate Armenian home interior set
where clients clothed in folk costumes were photographed.
The glue of the festival, however, was the food. Behind the scenes,
the men of the Palm Desert chapter of the Triple-X fraternity
continuously grilled shish kebab outdoors, while the Ladies Society
smoothly added pilaf and the trimmings. Kufta, yalanchi, lahmajoon,
and trays of cheese boereg were selling out by early afternoon. Two
bars provided tahn along with soda, wine, and beer.
The tricolor theme was on display everywhere, from tabletops to
vendor areas to raffle tickets.
* A passion for the homeland
The event could not have been so successful without the joyful
atmosphere of Armenian music and dance. Credit goes to oud-maker Viken
Najarian, who played and sang all day long for those dining at outdoor
tables. He was joined by clarinetist Ara Gholdoian, who walk about
while playing the oldtime folk music of Western Armenia.
Najarian — who can be heard Fridays and Saturdays at his family’s
restaurant, Rosine’s, in Anaheim Hills (see oud.net) holds a patent
for an electric oud sold worldwide. Detroit-born Gholdoian has spent
over two decades playing for folk dancers. Both have CDs of their
The performance highlight of the festival was the dancers. When the
first group of dancing children took their places on the outdoor
walkway, performing with impeccable charm, they were cheered with
gusto. The second group of young women were stunning (and fully
professional) in their lithe, majestic costumes.
Coached by ballet professor Sonia Avetissian and moving gracefully
to original orchestral arrangements of music composed by Khachatur
Avetissian, the Tavigh Dancers are a recent addition to the Lark
Musical Society curriculum. The Lark Conservatory of Music is a
flourishing Glendale institution for education, performance, and
research/publishing of Armenian musical arts, which has become a
regular fixture of downtown Los Angeles cultural life with its Dilijan
Chamber Music Series at Zipper Hall under the direction of Movses
Pogossian. To travel here and entertain is "part of our mission to
spread awareness of our music," said Vatsche Barsoumian, Lark’s
The backgammon tournament and raffle ticket sales were still going
strong when Fr. Stepanos Dingilian greeted the crowd and thanked them
for supporting this very first festival. After recounting the survival
of Armenians after 1915, he said: "What you see here are a people of
faith who, God willing, will soon build a church on this spot."
Retired educator Lillie Merigian introduced the final group of
performers: the Erebouni School of Dance, a troupe of 20 women and men
led by choreographer Aida Naldjian of Glendale. Their elaborate dance
routines and costumes provided a beautiful tapestry of symmetry and
grace, fulfilling the promise to bring Armenian culture to Coachella
Valley. As one dancer put it: "We tour everywhere with pride, love,
and a burning passion for our homeland."
Almost one thousand attendees came and went from 11:00 a.m. until
8:00 p.m. Especially gratifying to the 40 Church of the Desert
parishioners who worked so diligently to realize the festival was the
fact that well over half of the visitors were non-Armenians.
14. Nork Children’s Center kicks off Western U.S. tour in Dallas
by Lorig Topalian
RICHARDSON, Tex. — The Nork Children’s Center enthusiastically kicked
off its West Coast tour in Dallas last weekend, November 4, 2007, at
the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts.
Approximately 500 people filled the auditorium to enjoy a
combination of traditional folk dances mixed with contemporary
elements, international dances, singing, and acrobatic performances.
More than 50 children, ranging in age from 9-19, took to the stage
in a program sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)
and St. Sarkis Armenian Church.
* Out of the ordinary
The variety of acts sets this particular show apart from more
traditional dance presentations. While time-honored dances were part
of the program, most incorporated more contemporary interpretations of
dance steps and upbeat music with modern beats mixed in. The
audience, drawn into the music, often clapped along to show their
The Assoub Step Ensemble, one of the troupes on the tour,
entertained the audience with dances that incorporated elements of
Irish, Russian, Armenian and American dance styles. Esther Shulman,
an usher at the Eisemann who has seen a plethora of international
performances, declared, "I specifically picked this performance
because I love dance. I think they were better than Riverdance."
Often called the "Armenian Cirque du Soleil," the Nork Circus also
shocked onlookers with their incredible acrobatic acts. With a
background of haunting music, body contortionists did the seemingly
impossible, making everyone’s jaw drop. Eventually, they even stared
at the audience from the inside of small glass boxes! Another act
surprised the audience by creating a human slinky.
Drummers dueled for bragging rights. Young singers crooned as they
told popular stories of love and of family. Patriotic songs rang out
throughout the auditorium.
Arousyak Markarian was impressed. "They were a really professional
caliber group. I enjoyed so many of the dances that I can’t pick a
favorite." She noted that because the Dallas area has a smaller
Armenian community this was a unique opportunity for most Armenians in
the area to enjoy a live performance of this type.
* A job well done
Although there were some unexpected surprises along the way, 33 pieces
of luggage and several instruments were missing when the group landed
at Dallas/Fort Worth airport and were still lost at showtime, the
performers did not lose their spirit and the show went on despite
these difficulties. Dallas community members helped find alternatives
for the missing costumes and, where possible, new instruments were
rented. Aida Andriasyan, the program’s artistic director, showed
solidarity with her performers who were missing costumes by speaking
to the audience dressed casually instead of what she had originally
After the performance, a "Texas style" reception was held at the
Kechejian Cultural Hall to welcome and congratulate the group on the
beginning of their journey. After several days of home cooking,
courtesy of church volunteers, everyone celebrated the day with a
Texas barbeque with all the fixings.
Spontaneous bursts of song were heard throughout the room during
dinner as the guests from Armenia continued to enjoy themselves. One
of the young singers said that despite the fact that she practices for
five hours a day back home, she wishes she could sing even more and
never passes up an opportunity. Soon enough, a 9-year-old singer
named Vahan found a microphone and took to the stage. Almost
instantly, the dining hall was transformed into a dance hall as the
students from Armenia sang and danced with their new friends, took
pictures, and exchanged contact information.
During the reception, Der Krikor Khachatryan, traveling with the
group on behalf of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, reflected on the
evening. Although he knows the students well and has seen them
perform many times, he said that this particular performance brought
tears to his eyes. "Although we only left Armenia a few days ago,
when you leave your home for any period of time, you miss it and begin
to see things from a different perspective. Watching them [the
students] today reminded me of all they have accomplished. Being able
to share this with people from all over the world is wonderful
And share they will! The group has scheduled eight performances in
the Los Angeles area and a grand finale in San Francisco.
* A productive partnership
In 1993 AGBU and the Holy See of Etchmiadzin came together to create
three Children’s Centers in Yerevan. Today the Nork, Arapkir, and
Malatya Centers together have over 3,500 students and 300 faculty
members to teach and guide them. The centers compliment the local
Armenian public school system by providing instruction in history,
language, computers, art, music, dance, crafts and gymnastics.
This is the second North American tour the Nork Center has had.
During their first tour, in 2005, the group visited the East Coast of
the United States as well as Montreal and Toronto.
********** ************************************************** ***************
15. Homenetmen unveils plans for new headquarters and the purchase of
a new campground
by Lory Tatoulian
LOS ANGELES — On Thursday, November 1, the Western Regional Office of
Homenetmen made two announcements: plans for new Homenetmen Western
USA headquarters and the opening of Homenetmen Camp Tecuya in Kern
A press conference was held at the new headquarters in Eagle Rock to
officially present the new projects Homenetmen has been working on for
the past couple of years.
Regional executive committee chair Steve Artinian proudly publicized
the two projects that the committee has been arduously working toward.
Mr. Atinian explained the transitions taking place at the headquarters
and the purchase and development of the new camp in Frazier Park.
Mr. Artinan said that the reason Homenetmen has embarked on these
two projects is that the organization is keeping its commitment to
"educate, empower, and elevate our youth."
Berj Bedoyan, executive chair of the building committee, illustrated
the renovations and expansion initiatives that are going to take place
with the new building, located on Colorado Boulevard.
Mr. Bedoyan explained that the 8,500 sq. ft facility will house the
administrative and staff offices, executive boardrooms, three
conference rooms, a 200-person meeting hall, and a state-of-the-art
cafeteria. Mr. Bedoyan also mentioned that the new office will supply
the latest in communication amenities including wireless Internet and
video conferencing. The facility will also have a Homenetmen history
"We want our headquarters to be a place where people come in after
work or after school and be able to have a shared space to socialize,"
Mr. Bedoyan said.
The new headquarters are located in the newly refurbished community
in Eagle Rock, where hipster retail shops, fusion restaurants, and
cafes have proliferated.
The remodeling efforts will reflect the architectural trends of the
neighborhood, boasting a design that embraces the urban motifs of the
distinct environment that surrounds the new headquarters. The facility
used to be a warehouse type of recording studio. Now the renovated
space will accommodate modern work spaces and socializing areas.
The facility already offers temporary offices, as reconstruction
takes place. The redevelopment overall is slated to cost $800,000,
which the Western Region of the Homenetmen has already obtained. The
completion of reconstruction is scheduled for the summer of 2008.
Mr. Artinian explained that the old headquarters in Glendale was too
small to accommodate the burgeoning Homenetmen community. "One of the
biggest challenges that we face as on organization is with
facilities," Mr. Artinian said. "I know our athletic committees suffer
a lot because we have yearlong athletic activities with over 6,000
athletes and we are exploring creative ideas to also make this
possible." Mr. Artinan added, "We want people to come to the agoump
just like they did in the old days."
Homenetmen is a nonprofit organization with almost 30,000 members in
five continents. The first chapter of the Western Region was
established in 1960; now the western region has 8,300 members.
Approximately 6,300 of the members are athletes and 2,000 participate
in the scouting program.
The second announcement was made by Zareh Movsesian, who described the
purchase of the new camp. Mr. Movsesian explained that the 25 acre
camp is located just 75 miles north of Glendale, at the base of Mt.
Pinos, near Frazier Park. The camp was purchased for $750,000 and
includes a spacious lodge with a large dining hall area, infirmary,
large swimming pool, corral and horseback riding arena, archery range,
campfire area, cabins, and large teepees that serve as a reminder of
the Native Americans who once inhabited the area.
Mr. Movsesian also mentioned that the former Girl Scouts camp is a
unique campground because its terrain is mostly flatland that is
conducive to scouting and athletic activity. He also mentioned that
the camp has the capacity to accommodate those who are physically
"This is a dream come true, especially for the scouts," Mr.
Movsesian said. "Our camp is going to help us grow and we can finally
say this is our home."
16. Homenetmen Winter Games come to a close
by Shahen Hagobian
PASADENA, Calif. — Only the best of the best made it to the final
rounds of the 30th annual Homenetmen Winter Games. Last Saturday and
Sunday, November 3 and 4, teams that had made it to the finals
engaged in the toughest part of the competition. They went head to
head with their biggest rivals at Pasadena High School and at the
Homenetmen Center in Glendale.
The Women’s A Division final game came down to the Massis and
Azadamard teams. The Massis team was a dominating force throughout the
games but was met with strong resistance from the Azadamard team.
Coach Anthony Khotsikian said, "It’s a very aggressive game due to
the fact that there is a lot of rivalry and friendships both on the
court and off the court and everybody wants the pride of winning."
The Massis team put up a strong front but the Azadamard team kept
them on their toes as the game moved forward. In the end, Massis would
go on to win the game 35 to 34.
Khotsikian added, "Whether we win or lose, we’ve accomplished
something by getting here and it’s been a good learning experience."
Eddy Mardirosian, coach for the Azadamard team, showed a lot of
pride for his girls. "They have the biggest hearts from all the teams
I’ve coached, and what they lack in size and speed they make up for
with effort and how they present themselves on the court."
Although they lost the game, they outdid the expectations people had
of them. "It was a back-and-forth game and no one really expected it
to be such a close game," he said, referring to Massis’s reputation as
the dominating team. "Many people thought it would be a blowout but my
girls played with determination and it shows."
In the face of defeat, the girls still walked away with a sense of
accomplishment in not just making it to the final round, but also from
keeping the Massis team from having an easy victory over them.
In the Men’s A Division final game, Ararat 1 squared off against the
Los Angeles team. This game had a lot of heated action along with a
technical foul with both teams at each other’s throats as well as the
Early on, the Los Angeles team took a strong lead and held it into
the second half of the game, but in a stunning display of athleticism,
the Ararat team would come back from a ten point deficit to defeat the
Los Angeles team 47–39.
Ararat coach Vanik Stephen said, "The fault within this team has
always been not being able to defeat the Los Angeles team, especially
in these tournament games." He went on to say, "We’re not looking at
it as winning or losing but as making a statement that we can beat Los
Angeles. There is a history of consistently losing to them, so we
didn’t care about the other games; we just wanted to send a message to
the Los Angeles team." And that is exactly what they did.
As far as the level of competitiveness was concerned throughout the
tournament Stephen said, "It all starts off as just fun and games but
when the blood starts flowing no one holds anything back," adding, "A
lot of these guys are friends and know each other’s game-play, so it
was good to work through that fact and come out on top."
The competition was just as fierce in the younger boys’ division
games as it was in the older divisions. Azadamard 1 coach Berj
Gourdikian was more than ecstatic when his boys defeated the Ararat 4
team 38 — 27.
"This team was a wild card team coming into the finals, meaning they
had placed second place early in the tournament but managed to beat
all the other second place teams to qualify as a fourth team in the
final round," said Gourdikian.
Indeed the boys pushed their way through every second of the game
constantly forcing turnovers from Ararat and getting their way on the
Coach Gourdikian said, "The tournament has been a long haul for the
kids because they had more games to win in order to make it here and
they played hard and they deserved the win."
Gourdikian continued, "It’s a blue-collar team and they play with a
lot of heart." In the end, the Azadamard team proved that they were a
force to be reckoned with in future tournaments. "I’ve been coaching
this group of kids for just over 6 years now and I’m really happy with
the progress they’ve shown over the years." After the game, the kids
eagerly scrambled over one another to receive their tournament medals.
All the teams will have a few months off until the San Diego games
come around in February where most of the teams will attempt to
reclaim their seniority in the ranks.
* * *
16.a Final Round Results:
Boys C Division — Shant 1 – 48 , Azadamard — 36
Boys B Division — Azadamard — 51 , Ararat 1 — 29
Girls B Division — Ararat 2 — 27 , Ararat 1 — 23
Women’s A Division — Massis — 35 , Azadamard — 34
Men’s 3A Division — Azadamard — 40 , Massis 2 — 32
Men’s 2A Division — Shant 1 — 41 , Shant 4 — 39
Men’s 1A Division — Ararat — 47 , Los Angeles — 39
17. Crime Beat: A self-described godfather of crime is back in court
by Jason Kandel
LOS ANGELES — Federal prosecutors once described Hovsep "Joe"
Mikaelian as the godfather of the "Armenian Mafia." He is now looking
to get court-ordered restitution dropped.
A self-professed ringleader of a veritable international
racketeering empire, he orchestrated the importation of drugs from
Lebanon and women working as prostitutes from Russia, and bilked the
federal and state governments out of millions of dollars through a
sophisticated gas-tax fraud.
He once boasted to a federal agent that he was well known in the
Armenian community. At the same time the government was probing
allegations that members of his organization were shaking down local
Armenians, prosecutors alleged.
"Remember the movie The Godfather, when they all go to the Godfather
. . . they cry and he helps everybody? This is me," said Mr.
Mikaelian, according to court documents.
Mr. Mikaelian fell far from his perch in September 1995 as federal
agents arrested him and a dozen accomplices in a sting known as
Operation Gas Gangsters.
Mr. Mikaelian eventually pleaded guilty to charges in connection
with the case and served more than 11 years in prison.
Mr. Mikaelian walked out of prison in November 2006, a shadow of his
former self. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders, Mr.
Mikaelian says in court documents, that he is permanently disabled,
cannot work, and cannot carry out the additional punishment doled out
way back when — paying the $2.4 million court-ordered restitution.
The 57-year-old says he’s sorry for what he did, but the $856 a
month in government disability he receives is barely enough for the
$500 a month rent and $260 a month in groceries, let alone the
$50-a-month payments to pay down his debt to society. The $96 left
over goes toward clothing, telephone, and other essentials.
He gets help for medical care from his ex-wife, with whom he lives
in a North Hollywood apartment, and she lets him use her car so he can
"He’s under a black cloud he can’t possibly get out of," said his
attorney, David A. Katz, a former federal prosecutor. "How does he
have the money now after spending 10 years in prison? He’s extremely
In arguing Oct. 22 for the court to deny the motion to reduce
restitution, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Zweiback didn’t
buy Mr. Mikaelian’s sob story.
"It is noteworthy that [his] medical conditions, which existed back
[then], did not prevent him from engaging in the extensive criminal
conduct which underlie the offenses of conviction," he wrote in court
documents dated Oct. 17. "Just as he was employed during the time
period of his criminal conduct, it does appear that [Mr. Mikaelian] is
in fact able to currently hold down a job. . . . The real truth is
that now that he no longer has the use of his criminal proceeds, he
has no intention or inclination to repay what the court has ordered."
More than a decade ago, FBI agents arrested the then 44-year-old Mr.
Mikaelian, the former owner of a car-restoration business. Along with
him, agents arrested 12 of his associates in connection with running a
racketeering empire built on tax fraud, extortion, drug trafficking,
and prostitution, according to the complaint.
In 1994 and 1995, the gas gangsters cheated their way to riches by
buying large amounts of fuel through Magnum Oil Company in Burbank,
selling the fuel at retail service stations without paying the
required state and federal diesel fuel excise taxes, then depositing
the proceeds into their own bank accounts.
The ring was also charged with taking control of independent diesel
fuel wholesale and retail service stations and truck stop markets
through extortion and use of force, trafficking in heroin and cocaine,
operating a prostitution ring, and cellular telephone fraud.
With Mr. Mikaelian acting as the fuel broker who arranged the sale
of the untaxed fuel to retail customers, the group devised ways to
avoid detection, using aliases, renting mail boxes under assumed
names, and using cellular telephones encoded with the serial numbers
of members of the public. Some members of the group, including Mr.
Mikaelian, also sold heroin. The plan netted the men nearly $2.3
million in state taxes and $172,679 in federal taxes.
Too good to be true — as it turned out, Magnum Oil was part of the
sting operation the FBI kicked off to detect such tax evasion. And the
people who bought drugs from Mr. Mikaelian were undercover agents.
In May 1996, Mr. Mikaelian pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit
mail and wire fraud and to evade excise taxes, to one count of
conspiracy to possess heroin with the intent to distribute, and to
three additional counts of telecommunications fraud for the use of the
cloned cellular phones.
Since then, the case has had a long and tedious procedural history
— two sentencing hearings, two appeals, and two other attempts, due
to the disability, to get restitution dropped, both of which were
18. St. Mary’s of Glendale organizes an event marking
"The Year of Armenian Language"
by Maral Habeshian
GLENDALE, Calif. — In line with established tradition, His Holiness
Aram I proclaimed the year 2007 "The Year of Armenian Language." As a
result, this year the Catholicosate of Cilicia and its dioceses and
institutions have been focusing on the Armenian language, its
development and especially its correct usage by the new generation.
Embracing this opportunity, Saint Mary’s Church in Glendale
organized a unique celebration to fulfill this mission. "When we sat
down and evaluated this year’s theme, the board of trustees and parish
priests were anxious to organize an exceptional event. Many talented
artists and scholars live in our community and it became a labor of
love to organize this evening," said St. Mary’s parish priest Rev.
Vasken Atmajian who served as Master of Ceremonies.
Held under the auspices of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh
Mardirossian, the gathering took place at Glendale Community College
on the evening of October 28.
In his opening remarks, Board Chair Zareh Markarian thanked the
archbishop, parish priests, program participants, organizers, and
guests. He advised approaching the Armenian language and culture with
warmth, care, and, especially, tenderness so as to preserve its
The evening’s cultural program offered music, poetry, and speech. It
was a beautiful sampling and a true expression of Armenian culture
that fused the Armenian spirit with the mind’s creative genius as well
as national dreams and aspirations.
An inseparable part of St. Mary’s family is its choir. Nine members
of that group performed three magnificent pieces in four-part
harmonies to enthrall the audience.
Veteran Noune Avedissian recited a soulful and powerful compilation
of works that included excerpts on the Armenian language by
Khatchadour Apovian, Nayiri Zarian, Hovhannes Shiraz, and Kevork Emin.
To the surprise and delight of the audience, Alisa
Nakashian-Holsberg played eleven, very delicate pieces on the glass
armonica. A graduate of Bentley College, Ms. Nakashian-Holsberg
studied music theory with the late composer/conductor Rouben
Gregorian. In 1984, Alisa was introduced to Benjamin Franklin’s
invention, the glass armonica, by scientific glass blower Gerhard
Finkenbeiner. Captivated by this unique instrument, Ms.
Nakashian-Holsberg researched its history, and personally tuned and
assembled her own instrument. She is the first 20th-century performer
to combine her vocal talents with Franklin’s armonica
Keynote speaker Saro Nazarian, a noted thinker and teacher, conveyed
a thought provoking analysis of Aram I’s encyclical declaring 2007 The
Year of Armenian Language. The Catholicos’ encyclical invites the
Armenian nation to reassess the unique importance of the Armenian
language both in Armenia and the Diaspora. Mr. Nazarian’s analysis was
doubly compelling because he was able convey the beauty and grace of
the Armenian language and its flexibility and wealth via the language
He stressed that special love must be displayed toward our culture
and language in all realms and through all activities so as to elevate
to their original form and glory. "We must aspire to attain such
heights each and every day," he said.
The event ended with a message from Prelate Archbishop Mardirossian
who emphasized that all resources must be used to safeguard and
protect the Armenian language, to thereby empower existing and coming
To close the event, bouquets were presented to performers, while
certificates of commendation from the Archbishop were given to Noune
Avedissian and Saro Nazarian.
In old times, the Armenian Church served to protect and advance
Armenian language and culture. Today, it successfully reassumed that
19. Restaurants: In search of the best Armenian-owned pizza joint in So Cal
by the Epicurious Armenian
LOS ANGELES — When you think of Armenian pizza, lahmajoun is usually
the first thing that comes to mind. But don’t let this parochial view
deceive you. Armenians are making a big splash in the pizza delivery
niche; well at least in Southern California. This comes as no
surprise. As far away as Yerevan, Armenians are fond of their pizza,
the Italian kind.
For those of you who have been to Armenia, you’ve most likely eaten
at Pizza di Roma, the restaurant chain that prides itself for
personal-sized pizza served with scrambled eggs, soujokh, and corn
toppings, among others. These unusual concoctions make for a tasty
Back in Los Angeles, Armenian pizza joints offer more conventional
varieties, sans gimmicks or frills. Small, medium, or large sizes.
Thin, regular, or thick crust. And, pepperoni, bell pepper, and olive
toppings. Yet the meticulous attention to freshness and quality are
two things in common with all the places I visited. These pies aren’t
served with cheese stuffed crusts or buffalo wings, but in the sea of
chain pizza retailers, Armenians stand strong.
My voyage to find the best Armenian-owned pizza joint began right in
my neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, where unbeknownst to me,
Royal Pizza, an unassuming place in a predominantly Armenian strip
mall had a "help wanted" sign written in, no surprise, Armenian. I was
compelled to walk in and see what an Armenian pizza place had to
offer. The result was the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Having traveled throughout Italy, New York City, and Chicago, each
famous for their own style of pies, I must say that Royal Pizza had me
at first bite. Each pizza is custom-made to order with only the
freshest ingredients, ample toppings, and sinful dough. You can
actually taste the rich flavors unlike the flavors in mass produced
pizzas delivered by chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
When you call to order you’re more likely to hear "Royal Pizza" in a
Soviet-era monotone, than "Thank you for calling Royal Pizza! How may
I help you?" but that’s a small sacrifice in exchange for a delicious
pizza at unheard-of low prices ($3.99 for small, $7.99 for x-large,
before toppings). They even offer the "Armenian Pizza," which includes
bastorma and soujokh toppings.
My favorites include thin-crust cheese pizza with red onions and
bell peppers and the "Vegetarian Pizza." (818) 782-1211.
After this small discovery, I continued my search for the best
Armenian pizza in where else but Glendale? Through word of mouth,
google.com, and the Armenian Yellow Pages, I narrowed my list to five
locations: Mister Good Fast Pizza on Glenoaks, Pizza Vana on Glendale,
Palazzo Pizza on Brand, Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria on Broadway,
and the ubiquitous Pizza Man.
These restaurants don’t need gimmicks to sell pies. Each one offers
a range of customized details, crust thickness, sauces, and toppings.
In my journey to find the best-tasting pizza I stuck to the classic:
regular crust, tomato sauce, and cheese. To the merriment of my taste
buds I was impressed by everything I tried. Each establishment had its
strengths: best crust, best cheese, best location, and highest
Unlike the major chains that have baseball hat–wearing teenagers
behind the counter, these joints have seasoned pizza makers passionate
about one thing — making pizza.
Hairo Danielian is one of these passionate pizza makers. His
restaurant Mister Good Fast Pizza has been serving slices for 26 years
and is the oldest Armenian-operated pizza place in Glendale. You can
taste his fondness for pizza in the sweet marinara sauce and delicious
crust, crispy at first then soft inside, my favorite kind. (Can you
tell I love carbs?)
Danielian loves pizza and never gets tired of it. Once a week he
makes himself a special pizza pie and enjoys eating it. (818) 500-0006
Pizza Vana has been around for three years but owner Razmik
Shahmirian has been in the business for over 10. Pizza Vana serves a
predominantly Armenian clientele pizza, fried chicken and a variety of
dinner entrees — all for take out or delivery.
What sets them apart is their mozzarella cheese. When served, the
warm cheese peels away from the pie like strings on a harp. They pride
themselves for using only the freshest ingredients, and it shows. This
pizza tastes best when eaten fresh out of the oven. (818) 247-9944.
Palazzo Pizza is located on Brand Blvd., in the bustling center of
Glendale. It serves California-style gourmet pizza, referring to pizza
with nontraditional ingredients, especially those that use a
considerable variety of fresh produce and meats and eclectic sauces.
Palazzo Pizza offers indoor and outdoor seating and very reasonable
prices. This place is for people who want something different from the
traditional pizza. Either way, you can’t go wrong with anything on
their menu. The atmosphere is also a big plus. (818) 500-8485.
Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria has pegged a fun style of serving the
common pizza. You have the option of a "big slice" (a 16 inch slice),
your average small/medium/large pizza, a Big Mama’s at 24 inches, or
the Big Papa’s at a whopping 36 inches (that’s one yard diameter!!)
Even though the pizza tasted average, the big slice is a great deal
and fun to carry around. Also, their jumbo-sized pizzas are a great
conversation piece at any party for a very reasonable price. They
have 17 locations, including one in Las Vegas.
Big Mama’s and Papa’s menu offers a wide range of options. First,
you have the choice of base sauce, regular tomato, BBQ, Alfredo, or
white. I stuck with the classic tomato sauce and was not disappointed.
And then there’s khachapouri, made out of an oval-shaped dough with
mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, butter, and eggs. (818) 242-6262.
Pizza Man has been around since 1964, but only recently acquired by
Armenians. Unlike uniform chains, each franchise is as individual as
its owners, serving their own menus set at their own prices.
Of all the pizza I tried, I liked Pizza Man’s the least. It lacked
the personalized touch of the "mom and pop" stores or maybe I was
turned off by the mass-produced logo on the box. Either way, I’ll
stick to my favorite, Royal Pizza, and their emotionally distant yet
(c) 2007 Armenian Reporter LLC. All Rights Reserved