Friday, October 31, 2008


I bet I can make your heart melt with my voice and fingers. Well, that depends on your taste. Anyways, here is a song I recorded last night of one of my favorite Beatles songs, "Michelle". I recorded all the parts on my computer over the course of two hours. It's no Debussy, but it's close...if you're really confused.

Here's the link to access my recording!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sound of Seals

My last day in Barcelona I caught Werner Herzog's new documentary "Encounters at the End of the World". He goes to the South Pole and investigates the people who live in this part of the world and the work they do. One of the most fascinating moments comes when he joins a small group of seal researchers who share with him one of the most incredible sounds I've ever heard: seal calls UNDERWATER.

Thank you, technology. Your magnificent capacity has made it possible for the feeble human ear to hear the glorious imperceptibilies beyond human cognition.

So here is the link. It doesn't sound like an animal. Herzog points out accurately that is sounds more like Pink Floyd jamming. It definitely sounds like electronic music.

The fourth blue button begins a series of the seals various underwater calls. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poems written in Florence

Here is a collection of free form poetry I wrote in Florence. They sketch my impressions from the odd situation I found myself in at my sister’s wedding. Odd because I was surrounded by so many people I have not seen in a very long time (months, years). I felt like I was back home, and reconnected with some old internal feelings that yielded what seems to me some morose writing.

Brain floating
The sound of stammering madness
Bursting into a troubled vessel.

East coast professional
West coast freak.
Take me to a concert where the
World has let go of itself, and little
Red-horned beasts charge into eachother.

All that matters is nothing.
All that is has gone.
The empty cup is drowning with water
And a thousand tiny rocks kiss my souls.

Crooked back can’t hear nothing
Hiding in a cracked shell – red, white, blot
Plummeting down the fogged stratosphere
And pulls a strap to float so soft
Until the wind rips holes into the parachute.

Don’t believe in it but I’ll take it
Crying inside but I’ll smile
Need to turn away but I face-to-face it
Want to hate it but I love it.

Its sparkle takes mine away
Forced smiles etch pain into my wrinkles.
Time to find my mind hiding in my back pocket with the hard tissue that dissolves in my hand if I take too much of it.

Where is the grain of sand in this desolate pasture?
Where is the brain of man in this charred metropolis?

Run away, sleepy brain.
Keep your eyes shut and don’t even blink.
Think like it’s the first thought you’ve ever bought from a three-handed crumb peddler.

I’m here for a quickie
Got a camera in one hand
And a guidebook in the other

Walking like my first steps
Lookin’ for a good time
Within my price range

I’m just; me just
Here for a quickie
Then I gotta get back

To the real world,
Meal face laced with grace
Swirling about my inner outer space,
So make it quick and sweet
With a side of meat
And I’ll size up the world.

Have a look at this bridge
We need to see everything.

Giacometti statuettes for a few pennies.
We can argue for the price if you really want to,
If it really makes you feel that much stronger.

Systematic, aristocratic, dogmatic.
Cyclical blindness imbedded
In relentless internal pain;
The hallowist fellowship -

A rotting green apple
Has fallen from the barbie child's decorated hand.
Ceaseless insomniacs never stop
The self-imposed sufering.
Conflict trip masked in
Miles of smiles.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chekhov on Armenians

I was reading a collection of Anton Chekhov short stories in a publication called The Fiancée and Other Stories when I came across a story called Beauties. In the first paragraph, Chekhov unleashes quite a vicious description of what seems to be a prototypical Armenian:

“Never in my life have I seen anything more grotesque than that Armenian. Imagine a small, close-cropped head with thick, beetling eyebrows, a bird-like nose, long grey whiskers and a wide mouth with a long, cherrywood chibouk sticking out of it. This small head was clumsily stuck on to a scraggy, hunchbacked torso garbed in fantastic costume: a short red jacket with sky-blue, baggy trousers. This person walked around with legs wide apart, shuffling his slippers, speaking with the pipe still in his mouth – but at the same time bearing himself with typical Armenian dignity, never smiling, goggling his eyes and trying his hardest to ignore his visitors.”

Wow. Very flattering, Anton. Actually, I don’t take it personally. Why would I? In hindsight, I tend to agree with Anton: while Armenian men are not the most aesthetically pleasing, the women are the polar opposite (for the most part…when you can get beyond all that makeup). Chekhov did not miss a beat on this. A few pages later, the short’s protagonist encounters the old Armenian man’s daughter, Masha:

“An artist would have termed the Armenian girl’s beauty classical and severe. The contemplation of just this type of beauty, God knows why, thoroughly convinces you that the features before you are regular, that hair, eyes, nose, mouth, neck, bosom and all the movements of this young body have been fused by nature into perfect harmony and she had not erred, not even in the most minute detail. Somehow you imagine that the ideally beautiful woman should have a nose just like Masha’s, straight but slightly aquiline, the same large, dark eyes, the same long lashes and the same languid glance. Her curly black hair and eyebrows are the perfect match for the delicate whit color of her forehead and cheeks, just as green reeds suit a quiet stream. Masha’s white neck and young bosom are not fully developed, but feel that only a great artist could sculpt them. Looking at her you are gradually filled with the desire to tell the girl something particularly pleasant, sincere and beautiful, something as beautiful as herself.”

22nd Birthday Reflection...

My birthday is on October 10th. Something about birthdays. Deep down, the very idea of them makes me so uncomfortable. Why?

Is it acknowledging my mortality? Partly. Is it an objection to elevating the importance of a single day in the year above all the others? More so. Is it that feeling of pressure to make this single day super special, the way many go about hyper-exaggerating new year’s celebrations? Definitely more so.

Why do some say that the birthday is more important than other days of the year? Well, because it is the day one was born X number of years ago. As a result, the logic goes, this is the day that we step back and celebrate your life. This is a day to celebrate your life.
I’m sorry, but why just one day? I prefer making each and every day a celebration of my life. No, I don’t mean walking around everyday with the pointy-happy-birthday-hat, or having birthday cake after each and every dinner. But honestly, every day is a celebration of life. Each breath is an opportunity. There is a whole market of retailers who profit off the mentality that specific days must be designated for specific purposes, and thus justify extra expenditures to display a reverence to this perspective. Holidays and birthdays are, of course, fun. But have you ever stopped to think that industries make profits off of those of us who use the line, “That’s ok, it’s a holiday!” to justify buying party streamers with Turkeys on them, balloons that say “Happy Valentine’s Day”, or Would Chuck E Cheese, or Party Time Pizza, exist if this attitude did not exist?

I am afraid that I sound like a bitter and scrupulous old man. My old friends Karin and Marie told me that I have an old soul. I tend to agree, but take it one step further. I think I was born very mature, and as I “age”, I become less mature. A two-dimensional graphic demonstration, if you will. If maturity is represented by the Y-axis (is it usually done that way? I was never the best science student, but for this example, it really does not matter) and the X-axis represented time, here is what it would look like

As you can see, I was born an elightened sage (as we all are), and by my 149th birthday on October 10th, 2135, I will be eating bananas on tree branches singing the melodies of Britney Spear’s great great great grandchildren. I can’t wait.

Maybe there is an evolutionary function behind this idea. Ancestral man, working ever-so-hard to secure the fundamental components of survival (roof, food, mate), must have taken time at regular intervals to stop and celebrate a life that their rigorous work pace made them forget. These regular intervals might have originally occurred within periods of one week. For example, once every seven days, the Neanderthals would stare at the skies, go for swims, massage each other, and eat kitkats. Over time, perhaps specific emotions became significant on given days (of course with great diversity taking into account cultural variations and the celebrations that made more sense for a given people). This theory is running out of steam, so I invite you to expand on it.

I think we should do away with all birthdays and holidays altogether. Rather, let’s have fireworks every morning. Then we can go to an amusement park in the afternoons. And to top off the day, we can eat greasy pepperoni pizza at Party Time Pizza and watch mechanical rats and bears rock out to pre-recorded pop hits.

Mosquito Bite Vision

Is it me, or does it sometimes seem like the world is completely unraveling? Failures in honest and prudent diplomacy have lead to quagmire wars, corporate corruption and predatory lending have robbed honest workers of their buying abilities and plunged the world markets towards destruction, and human rights violations continue to abound.

In Milan, in a hotel room I shared with my aunt Karine Koroukian, I woke up at 4am with a devastating itch. Karine had cracked our windows open to let in some fresh air seventeen stories above the city’s centrale stazzione. She had inadvertently let in a few mosquitoes that had a feast on my blood. I could not stop scratching myself, trying to ignore the pain, trying to fall asleep. Sleep escaped as the itch spots seemed to take over my body and my hands felt useless in alleviating the burning need to fix it. Then, images of the global economic crisis and cyclical war flashed in front of my eyes, and I had this inexplicable urge to sit and write. I did not want to turn on the light and disturb Karine’s sleep, so I went by the window and let the lighting of a nearby skyscraper illuminate the paper as I frantically scribbled these ideas pouring out of my mind, trying my best to make my arm move as fast as my mind was. Here is what I was able to capture from this “vision”. You may disagree with what I say as these sometimes represent some of my more extreme views, but I hope you do recognize that our world is reeling. Let’s go:

Our world is falling apart because we can’t take it anymore. Many of the rich are feeding off the misery of the poor. We’ve got a global distribution of wealth so unbalanced it makes my head spin. While consultants of various sorts and the aristocratic wealthy feast day after day, and Americans continue getting fatter (a sign of wealth, after all), the millions of poor across the world remain poor beyond repair – hungry, marginalized, desperate, sick, malnourished, deceived.

In last night’s debate, Obama said something to the effect of, “If Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are hiding out in Pakistan and the Pakistani government does not do anything to rout them out, then America must act, even if it means bypassing UN permission (the logic being that Russia and China would block the passage of any such resolution).” Obviously! That’s what any nation desperate to consolidate and preserve its power would say – and its become this double standard where other nations that use this kind of “f u world” rhetoric are perceived as dangerous threats who do as they please, and when we use it, it is no big deal. Every nation acts to promote its interest. Russia invaded Georgia to promote its interest without UN permission, but because America remains antagonistic towards Russia (on the surface because they do not promote “democracy” which supposedly America does…give me a break…but in reality because Russia’s wealth threatens America’s stability as the world’s strongest nation), the invasion enters the political discourse, thanks in part to the shallow debates and its narrow-minded “luminaries”, as a negative one because it is becoming clearer and clearer that that which is good for Russia, is bad for America. Unfortunately the political arithmetic is sadly simple.

Cyclical poverty drives humans to desperation as it generates greed, excess of consumption, and resource exclusivity. Those who benefit from this cycle do what they can to maintain it, believing in a system so delusional that it cannot see the world for what it truly is. It is as if man’s inherent goodness just stepped out of a shower, and looks into the mirror and sees only a faint silhouette of itself mired in a hazy fog. This figure reaches to wipe away the fog, but a man emerges from the mirror and slices off any and all extremities that attempt to remove the fog and reveal the reflection’s true nature. Indeed, the perpetuators of this system go so far as to mask it as fairness, right, and goodness, calling it “democracy, freedom, and capitalism”, and banding together with allies to promote these superficial ideals that mask what is really behind all of the world’s poverty, violence, and disillusionment -> the filthy, intoxicating pursuit of power.

For example, why does America insist that that Israel is its strongest world ally? Might it have something to do with how America’s Jewish vote and financiers are some of America’s most influential? Some might accuse me of anti-Semitism for suggesting such a thing, and those who do 1) know nothing about my love for my Israeli and Jewish friends and their cultural heritage, and 2) might react in such a way because they depend on this cycle as it forms part of their fundamental personal credo.

Political violence is increasing. Genocides are happening. The wealthy nations continue their relative strength against the poorer nations as poorer nations and people have no choice but to turn to desperate measures to destabilize a global economic and political status quo structured to keep them weak. And we have the audacity to characterize some of these desperate individuals as “terrorists” without examining the root of the issue. We are facing a global crisis that is just not financial, but shows how economies respond to these abuses of wealth and power. Rather than overhauling an unjust system in total disrepair, we fight to keep it alive, pumping in billions and billions more into “rescue packages”.

The world needs healing, but we keep investing our intellectual, financial, and moral resources into a smokescreen system that to me is just unsustainable. It will be our fall as a human race if we continue down this road. The more make up you use to mask your true face, the more you erode and ruin the natural beauty you already possess, replacing it with a delusional self-representation masking the true self.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

100,000 Leagues Under the Crack

Last night in Florence I was sitting on the steps of the church in Piazza Santo Spirito when my friend Camille pointed out a powerful sight. A young lad sitting in front of us had not bothered to pull his pants up all the way, which means that from behind him, we had quite the view of his inter-cheek space. I wrote a poem about it.

I just want to dive into that crack
Exploding from those sweet blue jeans.
Why that black belt?
Why bother with pants?
Celebrate your crack, man,
Stop the teasing.
100,000 leagues under the crack,
Infinite hairs, a black hole,
The deepest mystery in our galaxy.
What hideth you inside?
A chicken? A pasture of sunflowers?
The secret of life?
Give me some goggles
And a SCUBA tank:
It's time to dive.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Love Poem for the Girl on the Train

After my parents left Milan for home and I was on my own once again after about two weeks of quality and intensive family time, I took a train to Florence where I would spend my remaining days in Italy. I was in a second class car with two sets of three seats, facing each other. At one point in the middle of the ride, a gorgeous Italian girl sat across from me and one seat to the left. I was compelled to write a poem about her. I don’t know why. Before I share the poem, I will share my written reaction the moment after handing her the poem as she disembarked the train and I, presumably, saw her for the last time.

“I wrote a second copy of this poem and gave it to her. I waited for our packed car to begin disembarking. An old lady stood between us. “Sorry,” I said, loud and abrupt. She didn’t hear. The slicked up, gel-haired guy behind her perked his ears. “Sorry,” I repeated. Louder this time.

She looked at me. Those eyes. “I wrote this for you,” I told her. She was confused for a moment as I extended the folded green paper towards her. “It’s a poem I wrote for you.” She grabbed it, dumbfounded, smiling. “For me?” she asked. “Yea. For you.”

She took it and I returned to my seat by the window to let the many disembarkers waiting behind me get to the door – and to let her go and feel the effect of the gesture, and fire imbedded in this somehow antiquated exchange. I sat and felt the eyes of the other guys in the car searing into my back, likely annoyed by my taking an opportunity that passed through their minds.

I looked into my book (Scott McLellan’s What Happened), then out the window. She was standing there, looking at me. A big smile. I kept my pokerface as our eyes met. Then I returned a softer, subtler, (manlier?) smile. Her’s grew, my heart pounded, but I felt a certain safety caged inside the traincar. The train started, and she walked off.

“Don’t look,” Baron Antoine once said in Tuscany,

“But she’s got a classic beauty.”

I smiled. “Hey,” he warned. “I know what you’re thinking. Stop.”

Her cheeks are feather soft

Under the blanketing fluorescence,

She’s like a mythic statue carved by the alter

Of a grand, 17th century Cathedral.

I want to celebrate her hair,

The way it reveals just enough of her

Incredible features to make my heart flutter;

Like curtains draped half-heartedly

Over a window with the most spectacular landscape you’ve ever seen.

Are the rips in her jeans intentional?

Or just the sign of daily grinds,

Casting a glimpse of her tender skin,

Olive tone streaks too true for the naked eye.

She’s a breathing portrait,

An estuary of life and longevity

Her love is a faint mist

In a scorching inferno.

The waves of the Mediterranean

Streak along her shoulders,

An auburn-chestnut medley

Of chaos.

To be her sweatshirt.

A pillow wrapped in her arms.

To be engulfed in her scent.

At the end of the poem, I wrote, “I saw you and had to write this poem.” And left my name and email. I've realized, however, that it's not about the contact. I could care less if she contacted me. It was about reaching out to her in that moment, and experiencing that connection with her. Her smile. It really was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It is imprinted into my memory.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Comment

I am writing this post because many readers have asked me how they can leave their comments. It's very simple.
1. Go to the bottom of any post and click on the link that says "0 comments", or "1 comment", etc.
2. In the "leave your comment" box, leave your comment.
3. In the "choose an identity" box, you can choose "anonymous" if you do not have an account with gmail, blogspot, wordpress, etc. If you do, then choose the appropriate option.
Could this have been a more boring post? I don't think so. But I promise I've got some goodies in store.