Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Next Step Forward

I saw "The Social Network" for a second time today with my brother, and remain in awe of Facebook's expansiveness and the overall trajectory of the Information Age.

Facebook is to our generation what The Beatles were to the 60's and 70's. Yet twenty years ago, when Microsoft was booming, who would have thought that Facebook - or Google or YouTube - would launch these incredible internet revolutions that would transform our lives. I am absolutely fascinated by these incredible organizations and wonder, what's next? Twenty years from today, what will be the next "Facebook"?

The history of the Internet is a fascinating one being written every second. We are a part of it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Good News Bible


Here's a wonderful passage from the Good Book my grandmother shared with me! ...

"Anyone who makes fun of his father or despises his mother in her old age ought to be eaten by vultures or have his eyes picked out by wild ravens." Proverbs 30

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Myspace!

http://www.myspace.com/noseriki

Check it out! My new band, "No Sé, Riki". "Motorqueen" co-written with Zach; I arranged and recorded all the parts you hear in the recording :). Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Village Biology"

Well, Mr. Blogo.




Hello.

I feel like since I stopped traveling, I haven't had anything substantive to give you. Nothing worth sharing. You were a medium for bizarre stories and encounters. I went out looking for the unkempt armpits in a world that seemed just too well-kept.

The heart never stops traveling, however. And just because I'm not wandering the world (which I will return to) at the moment, doesn't mean the insights or writings have stopped.

A lot of people have asked me, "What happened to the blog?" It's still here, like me! What changed is how much I told other people about it.

At this point in time, I'm shifting this blog's focus to include more excerpts from the fiction I've been writing - plays, screenplays, short stories, poems, songs etc., in addition to the rest.

So here's the first bit...a short monologue from a character named Joe in a play I wrote called, "Village Biology" submitted to Middle East America's New Plays Initiative contest (check out their WEBSITE!!! http://www.middleeastamerica.org/).

JOE
"Why does life have to be so complex? Why can’t we just gather the people we love, set our grievances straight, leave the city, and start a village in a place where we eat the corn we grew, squeeze the juice from the lemons on our trees, and walk under an open sky unhindered by steel towers, smog, and drooping drifts of exhaust. A place where the horizon’s horizon is a hill or a tree or the convergence of light, land, and mist. Where we create our own economy, our own laws and morals and religions and just start over. Hit the “reset” button. Because shit, this world is so broken that all we can do is pick up the fragments and try to create new, better worlds with whatever pieces we can get our hands on until our own village breaks and leaves behind new and smaller fragments for the next generation. But we’ll be gone by the time that happens. In someone else's world. At least that’s the hope."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rigging


I'm after a sound. I can hear it, I've always heard it, and I'm slowly extracting it. Here are the tools that are helping me get there - despite the awesome Oud, I am most excited about the pedals: Whammy, Delay DD3, and Holy Grail. Looper soon to be added!

Eye Contact



Much Love to the Armenian Poetry Project for publishing one of my more recent poems, "Eye Contact". CHECK IT OUT:
http://armenian-poetry.blogspot.com/2010/05/raffi-wartanian-eye-contact.html

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Latin Bourj-Hammoud

In the womb of my kitchen, behind walls of culture and every-square-inch-architecture, I heard snare drums clacking in the street. I ran out, looked out the window, and saw what's captured in the video and photos below. Needless to say, I knew then that it was Good Friday in my portion of Bushwick, The Latin Bourj-Hammoud.





video

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Subway Writings

Here's an observation that morphed into a monologue while I was sitting on the subway today writing.

"A row of people with books and phones. They aren't reading the words in front of their eyes. They're reading the words of the person to their left. All of them except that poor Johnson to the very left who's got nobody next to him. So by pure circumstance, by virtue of where he is in that line, he is excluded from the artificiality that governs the projections we show others. Without choosing, he now sees that we're all desperate to know each other, so desperate that we'd rather wallow in a solitude of stolen glances and what-if's than shake hands and talk about why we bite our nails or why it's so hard to love after a broken heart. We're dying to know each other. We read, we listen to music; somehow we think that words and sounds published and distributed are more cogent to our immediate lives than the person next to us. That's how life goes. You get this spectrum of relational mirrors where some people you know so well they become strangers, and some are so estranged that there is this profound connection you have, and that's, like, 90% of earth's population you're deeply connected to through this necessary, circumstantial estrangement. Question is, do we realize how how close we all are?"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

French Translation

A very special thank you to Sylvie Miller for translating my poem "Departure" into French. Sylvia, a kind spirit from Monaco I've never met before, found my poem on the Armenian Poetry Project site and liked it so much she decided to translate it. She too has an awesome blog, www.poetrytranslations.blogspot.com , definitely check it out! And thanks to Lola Koundakjian and the Armenian Poetry Project for publishing my work on their site - http://armenian-poetry.blogspot.com/2010/03/raffi-wartanian-departure.html

That's right. MONACO!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Altocumuli

This morning I woke up on a beautiful day in NYC, spring whirring in the distance, to these spectacular clouds outside my window. It's only 30 minutes since I saw them and they've since disappeared. In any event, there are many KINDS of clouds and this kind is called "Altocumulus" characterized by the ominpotent wikipedia as, "a class characterized by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches, the individual elements being larger and darker than those of cirrocumulus and smaller than those of stratocumulus. Like other cumulus clouds, altocumulus signifies convection. It is usually white or gray, and often occurs in sheets or patches with wavy, rounded masses or rolls. Altocumulus often are seen preceding a cold front, and their presence on a warm, humid, summer morning frequently signals the development of thunderstorms later in the day. Alto means high and these clouds may cause rain if they are higher up."



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fun on a Bolt Bus!

I'm alarmed to admit that this post comes aboard a Bolt Bus from Baltimore to NYC. Internet on a bus?! I decided I wold post a few passages from a short story I'm working on.

"A victim of my own self-interest, I objected to their relationship. She asked me to keep my distance from her, and I respected her wishes. But I never stopped loving her. All I had to do was turn off the lights. Lay down in my bed. On my belly. Close my eyes. And there she was. Materialized in the immaterial. As perfect as I remembered her. Enveloped in the memory’s sweetness, like being carried away on a soft cloud into a horizon of infinite enlightenment. Then the cloud slips away and you plunge into hell’s gaping mouth, the ocean, spewing seal-shaped seaweed silhouetted under faint moonlight where appearances distort upon every step – the color, the form – and you’re stranded in a hell named, “Incomprehensible”. You plunge into memory’s reality; the inability to exist within the idealized inventions of your own mind. My love for Maria had fallen into the hands of memory. The claw hands. The pillow hands. The hands composed of a thousand featureless faces. And those hands possess a dignity.
"And she had long singe forgotten about me."

AND

"Yesterday I dusted the entire room and inside the closet. Then I swept, mopped, and washed the windows. Through the window I saw the laborious lug of repair vans ill-kept. On the sidewalk a woman carried a child in one arm and groceries in the other. Despite her young age, maybe 23, the lines on her face etched deep and sloped downwards. The child began to cry and the woman tried cradling him to comfort. Then she stopped, put down the groceries, held the child with both arms, and asked, “What?”
The child cried louder.
“I’ll leave you here.” Then she shouted. “I swear to God.”
The child cried. A man across the street undoubtedly heard but did not look. He smoked a cigarette, waiting for something. He just stood there.
And projected over the groceries, the vans, the thin rain slices, and the humans, each with their own mysterious stories, I saw my eyes. And it was there I realized that I’ve been looking at my reflection my entire life and could no longer recognize myself. "

New Hampshire Compositions

Some images taken during a visit to Amherst, New Hampshire and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thanks to my sister for letting me borrow her beautiful camera, and to the Reisingers for being such generous hosts!









None of these photos are doctored. Au natural. The spacey one is light reflecting off the stainless-steel door of a refrigerator.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Armenian Poetry Project



Please visit the Armenian Poetry Project blog at http://armenian-poetry.blogspot.com/.
It's an awesome blog AND they ran one of my poems, "This Isn't A World For Soft Hearts" :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fire Truck - Variations On A Theme

A fire truck parked outside my window in Brooklyn. Red lights and sirens filled my room. I took my hand held snap & shoot and distorted some images of the fire truck by shaking the camera around as I took the picture. Here they are! No post-photo effects - au natural.








Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Relief



If you haven't made a financial contribution to support the Haiti relief effort, please do so IMMEDIATELY. Every penny counts. This is turning into a humanitarian crisis and we need to do all we can to help. Consult http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/impact/ for a list of involved relief organizations you can donate to, google "Help Haiti" and explore hits, or connect with a group or friend through facebook. The key is to donate money and/or supplies to organizations or agencies involved in the relief effort. This will be a need for months to come if not years, so it's never too late to help. Please give.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Eileen Khatchadourian

Here's an article I wrote for Avaryr.com & The Armenian Weekly about Eileen Khatchadourian.
http://avarayr.com/best-rock-album-2009-transcends-time-genre/
Support, Avaryr, The Armenian Weekly, and Eileen!
http://avarayr.com/
http://www.eileenkhatchadourian.com/
http://www.armenianweekly.com/


Best Rock Album of 2009 Transcends Time and Genre

Life sometimes has a funny way of blending your past, present, and future. Eileen Khatchadourian, the Beirut born bridge between Armenian folk music and alternative rock, did just that.
January 2009. I was in Achrafiyyeh, Beirut writing my first book. The months prior had been marked by poetic journeys, aimlessly direct or directly aimless, through arid Portugese farms, charred Spanish meadows, high-browed Florentine stones, patrolled barriers in Cyprus, and the white cloaks of Hajj. My two month sojourn in Beirut was the first I had ever taken without the rest of my nuclear family, a test of how much I truly belonged in the city of my baptism, of yearly summer vacations, of my mother’s highest praises.

My grandmother’s apartment, where I lived, inspired and suppressed. The view of the mountains, of Bourj-Hammoud church steeples, of Jaques’ pink apartment building down the hill, of the “Do You Regret It?” laser-tattoo removal billboard peering over the highway. Just beyond that a trash heap, and in the distance, the murky Mediterranean, far bluer, I told myself, beyond the expansive horizon.

Early one evening, I decided to visit the agoomp I played in as a child. It was attached to the Armenian Catholic Parish of Annunciation, a five minute walk door to door. The gates to the parish were open and in the courtyard I recognized the sign to the agoomp entrance. Ararat, it read.

I entered and immediately, before noticing the absence of lighting or children playing and before noticing the dust left over from a half-finished construction job, I heard a sound. Its identity evaded me at first. It was the high-pitched hum of a drill, I thought, or children playing in the street.

The hallway was faintly lit by distant streetlamps. I passed the basketball court where I once played, searching for the sound. Up the stairway. Sound growing clearer, a song, focus deterred by a flood of memories, the agoomp’s main room, dark, empty. I imagined Baron Eli, my chess mentor, hunched over the bar like he had been the first time I walked into that loud, lit room. The twins, Harout and Whatshisname, ping ponging while my cousins watched on, waiting their turn to enter the plastic-paddle colloseum.

Visions vanish. Vibrations. I was standing over the sound. A voice. A beautiful melody, acapella.

I ran down the stairs and found a door that might…but instead it fed into a different hallway. Another locked door, but the sound louder than before. I ran around the building to the other side, sure of my target, and opened the door.

Plush, red carpet padded the ground of a vast theater. A contemplative, purposeful voice rang from the stage. Eileen Khatchadourian sang Dele Yaman into a microphone, eyes closed, swaying to the melody. Her band mates, Miran Gurunian from the Beirut rock outfit Blend, Mazen Siblini, Haitham Shalhoub, Jad Aouad, absorbed the sound as I did.

Sometimes you stumble upon something beautiful by pure chance. Inchoate, but beautiful. You admire it. The scent of a steady snowfall. A street painter surprising you with skill and determination. You know the world would appreciate it. But for that moment it does not matter because it is just yours. I stumbled into a sound, one that whisked me away. Eileen and gang let me sit in the auditorium and watch the rest of their rehearsal.

The songs of Midan, an alternative-rcok style arrangement of nine traditional Armenian songs, took me to the past, present, and future. I knew what I was hearing was special. I could imagine an Armenian farmer shaking the mulberry tree in her Adana backyard, singing to pass the time. Then a suited official with gelled hair, a stern expression, and blinking lights pulsing behind sunken eyes would escort her to a time machine. She follows because the mystery entices more than the present’s predictability. She enters the time machine, still singing that melody. She is transported to Beirut, 2009, singing now on stage with alternative rock musicians. She is Eileen. The music is dutifully modern, the singing effortlessly blended.

“We want the young generation to care about their traditions and rediscover their music,” she explains. Crunchy guitars and delayed synthesizers, it seems, were born to accompany these exact songs. This is what a ripe mulberry sounds like.

“Why alternative rock?” muses Eileen. “Simply because the songs are very old and the young generation, myself included, wouldn’t have been interested in them.” In her musical journey to rediscover traditional Armenian songs, Eileen uses a contemporary lens. The project has put traditional Armenian music into an alternative rock time capsule that will make music from the past relevant to present generations, and preserve it for the future. Midan does not just blend styles, it blends time.

“If we don’t keep our heritage alive,” Eileen explains, “then our culture and identity will disappear, and I would never want that to happen.”

After Midan’s release and a number of performances around Beirut, Khatchadourian’s message connected to audiences worldwide, the spirit to preserve culture and identity manifested on her own terms. On December 13th, 2009, less than a year after a single voice cloaked the halls of my past, Midan was awarded Best Rock Album at the tenth annual Armenian Music Awards in Los Angeles. Those of us who heard her perform in Beirut earlier this year were not surprised. Europe, North America, watch out, a tour may be in the works.

Politicians around the world, particularly in the United States and the Middle East, could learn a thing or two from the artistic reconciliation exercised by Midan. Alternative rock or traditional Armenian musical purists would scoff at the notion of combining the elements of their respective genres. In refusing to imagine a collaboration, progress stunts. But what Midan shows us is that two opposed elements can unify to create something beautiful, greater than the sum of its parts. It takes compromise, patience, creativity, and faith that will can, and sometimes must, supplant circumstance.

In the Age of the Internet, as interconnectedness grows, the future of functional humanity indeed rests in the prosperity of reconciliation and compromise. Politicians in the United States compromise begrudgingly at the expense of expediency and urgency. The thrill of healthcare reform has been delayed and diminished by political divisiveness and a lack of substantive compromise. In Eileen’s native Lebanon, the failure of politicians to overcome their divisiveness has left the Lebanese people lacking in the fundamental services we in the West take for granted: smooth roads, subway systems, social security. Eileen Khatchadourian and Midan have shown us that artists, specifically musicians, can spearhead our progress not only as a people, but a humanity.