BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It’s always easy to tell when September rolls around in the greater Los Angeles Armenian community. How? A massive pileup of events ends up being available for people to participate in.
The weekend right after Labor Day is the one we’ll look at.
The Armenian Hikers Association had it annual big camping trip, this time to Kings Canyon. I had to miss it because of all the other things going on, but some 65 people participated. There are some great pictures, too, that you can see on AHA’s Facebook page. One of the commitments I had, ironically, was a serious hike, since I’m training for AHA’s planned c2c (Cactus to Clouds) trip planned for mid-October. Some rate this hike among the five toughest in North America.
The most important obstacle to camping was the performance of “I Am Alive” at Glendale’s Alex Theatre. This is a fictionalized telling of Kourken and Malvineh Hanjian’s tale of Genocide survival. It is the first musical set in the Genocide. I liked it. I had been concerned as to how something like this could be pulled off, but it worked. Neither to sappy nor somber nor trivialized, it is an excellent introduction to the Genocide for non-Armenians. That’s where we as a community failed. Not only was attendance very low (at least at the Saturday performance), but we neglected to bring our non-Armenian friends and neighbors. It was a missed opportunity. It would be great if financial backers would come forth to enable presenting this piece in cities across the English speaking world. One suggestion I would make to the producers is to use a smaller venue, realizing how difficult a balancing act it is to move so many people and such a big production when constrained to the confines of a single weekend. The cast is composed overwhelmingly of non-Armenians. Everything was done in Denver for the centennial. We benefitted from the hard work and financial support of our compatriots living on Colorado’s plateau.
Another major obstacle to camping was the celebration of Musa Dagh’s heroic resistance and survival held annually this weekend along with heriseh (the quintessentially Armenian dish which I find repulsive) on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (Khachveratz). I’d never been to one of these, and a friend whom I haven’t seen in a decade or so was the speaker. He’s living in Armenia now and I wanted to get some insights on conditions there. I was not disappointed. The gathering itself was interesting. Present was a very eclectic, not overwhelmingly Musa Daghtzee, crowd. There was a lot of dancing as part of the program. Those kids did a really good job. But even better was when everyone got to dance. I hadn’t been in a shoorch-bar for so long. It was such a pleasure to kick up my heels in this way.
Also on Sunday, another now-overseas friend (Maria Armoudian) back in LA (from New Zealand) in conjunction with the publication of her second book, had a get-together. That circle was also interesting since it included people from Chicago doing advance work for second lady Jill Biden, to a comedienne, a mother surprised at how well her 3-year-old reacted to me, and various other political and activist types. On Monday, I was able to attend Maria’s book event at USC. You should be able to watch it on C-Span soon. But at the end of the event, I learned from another member of the audience that Cenk Uygur (of the talk show “The Young Turks”) was speaking on the USC campus a little later that day. We really must do something terminate that guy’s Genocide-denying ways. Unfortunately, his banality is enabled by the fact that one of his colleagues in the show is an Armenian, Ana Kasparian. How repugnant is that?
Please, make your presence felt whenever you learn that a denier will be present. Also, support our community’s activities. Briefly, act/do, act/do, act/do! And, one VERY worthwhile set of programs coming up are those tied to Garo Paylan’s U.S. visit- try to make it to one of those.