BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN
My grandma always told me–"If you don’t want to be disappointed–then don’t have any expectations." She would then follow with–"Here–eat this–it will make you grow strong and healthy!" and would shove a cucumber and cheese "lavash" wrap in my face. Good times?(sigh)?and smart words from a smart woman. And lest I forget the meaning of this subtle and pessimistic aphorism–the most recent Glendale municipal elections and the political cannibalism amongst Armenian-American candidates served as a nice reminder.
So I’m ready to face the worst that the upcoming 90th Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide will throw our way. Just a word of caution before you read further–this article may offend some people. To which I say?tough! The truth always hurts a little.
Why is the 90th Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide going to be such a letdown? Well for starters–it already is. Nobody–and I mean NOBODY–knows what’s really going on. It seems as though for all the time that we’ve had to prepare for this (minimum one year)–there has been little or no coordination. And if there actually has been any coordination between organizations and groups–then they’ve done a poor job of letting the rest of us know what they are doing. But at least there’s an attempt on the part of the major groups to work together. And by "major groups" I mean the three traditional Armenian political parties–the major philanthropic organization–the two churches–and the partridge in a pear tree.
Yet in the middle of all this "April 24" madness and disorganization–other groups are popping up and as my grandma used to say (translating from Armenian) "They are driving their own donkeys!" There are so many "united" Armenian "youth" organizations running around that it makes me wonder who they’re exactly uniting other than their hands to peoples’ wallets? I know that one of the groups who organized the Little Armenia Demonstration/March–recently held a telethon to raise enough money to make their silly idea a reality. You read that correctly. I called the idea silly. Maybe I’m just not smart. Maybe I stood too close to the microwave to watch the cheese melt. But someone–ANYONE–please explain to me how having 7,000 people march around a modern day Armenian ghetto helps draw attention to the Cause of recognition? Wouldn’t this group of people make a far greater impact if it were better organized in five groups of 1,000–and dispersed all over the City of Los Angeles in high traffic areas to draw attention to the protest? Incidentally–the organizers of the protest claim that they attract nearly 15,000-30,000 people. I estimate the march being closer to 5,000–and if I’m wrong–I’ll eat one of those awful misspelled signs they carry around–you know the ones that spell Hitler with two "T’s" or ignore all conventional rules of grammar. These folks spend more time coming up with "cute" logos and slogans for T-shirts than they do actually contributing constructively to Genocide awareness or recognition.
I have to apologize for being so harsh in my critique; I know these kids are at least attempting to do something that seems positive to them. But it doesn’t help their cause when on one of the most solemn and thought provoking days on the Armenian calendar–they drive up and down Los Feliz Blvd. or even Glenoaks–hanging out of their cars–waving flags–blasting awful Turkish-infused "rabiz" music–and hollering like they are at the World Cup Finals.
Perception is everything. And first impressions are last impressions. You know how when you smell that certain perfume–it will always remind you of your aunt Takuhi–the one who used to make that great "dolma" or "garmir pilaf," and always gave you candy? That’s because you associate the sights–the smells–the flavors–all with that first encounter or your ability to retain certain information. The mind is an amazing thing. Well–now imagine the reaction of your average non-Armenian stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Sunday as they try to make their way through LA–and realize that what’s holding them up is a group of young wannabe soccer hooligans holding up unintelligible signs and blasting music that sounds like cats being beaten. Here’s a guess as to how one conversation in a car would go:
White guy 1(WG1): Hey–is there a concert at the Greek Theater today or an accident or something?
White guy 2 (WG2): Naw–it’s just some Armenian celebration of some sort today.
WG1: What are they celebrating? It must be something big ’cause I’ve never seen Mexicans get this wild on Cinco De Mayo.
WG2: I’m not really sure–but I think it has something to do with the Turks. I think that the Turks killed a lot of Armenia’s back in the day.
WG1: They did what?
WG2: Killed a bunch of Armenia’s
WG1: For doing what? Were they holding up traffic back then too?
WG2: I don’t know man. All I know is a bunch of them died and today’s the day we all have to sit through traffic and watch these young punks in supped-up cars ride hollering and shouting.
WG1: It doesn’t make sense to me. That’s just retarded. They were killed so they celebrate? I bet you’re wrong. I bet the Armenian Elvis is having a concert at the Greek today and it just got out.
WG2: Whatever man–roll up the windows. That music and honking is making my ears bleed.
If you don’t think this conversation actually takes place on April 24 in places like Glendale–Hollywood–Montebello–or anywhere else Armenia’s gather to "remember" the Genocide–then you need to get out of the house more often and interact with people. I know this conversation takes place because I’ve had similar exchanges with non-Armenia’s about April 24. One of them was even a police officer who worked in a heavily Armenian city.
I guess the point I wanted to make today is that I’m not expecting anyone to do anything differently this year just because it’s the 90th Remembrance of the Armenian genocide. Why set myself up to be disappointed? As for my plans on April 24–I’m going to go to the two major events in Glendale–stop by church–and then go home and write to my Congressman–Senators–and the White House. Try to do the same!
Skeptik Sinikian enjoys going to protests and correcting the grammar on picket signs. He also has an extensive collection of Genocide awareness t-shirts in various shades of black and red. He can be reached at email@example.com or visit his outdated blog at www.sinikian.blogspot.com.