Patrick Azadian

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Los Angeles Times Valley Edition | Glendale News-Press | 2005 December 31

The bold, the flattering and the insightful

BY PATRICK AZADIAN

January 2006 marks the second anniversary of my contributions to the News-Press. It's a good time for reflection through the lens of some of the readers. I've gathered a selection of the bold, the flattering, and the insightful as well as the disturbing of all responses.

My column on January 10, 2004, produced a note from resident Anahid Oshagan, a would-be city council candidate: "Nice daunting task... Your readership learned more about you in one reading than I have in the 20 years I've known you."

But the same column also drew the response from John Krikorian of Business Life: "You noted that in 'the 5th century, when Armenians 'supposedly fought the Persians...' Why 'supposedly?' Do you feel the same for the Genocide? Was it 'alleged' or fact?" Understandably many Armenian-Americans are allergic to the words 'supposed' and 'alleged.'

A two-part column on the DMV followed. Before taking a position at the Armenian Weekly in Boston as the editor-in-chief, Jenny Kiljian dropped me a note: "Another lovely column. Why is it that the Patrick in print is so much different from the Patrick in person?"

The same series elicited a flattering note from Dr. Roubina Peroomian: "I commend your style of writing, easy flow, amusing, teaching and entertaining, very idiomatic. Most of all, I commend your bright imagination and mental association. The subtle irony intertwined with your observations make your writings even more appealing."

Sami Tashjian identified an error in my June 26, 2004 column where I claimed more Americans trace their roots to Ireland than any other region of the world. I stand corrected; more Americans trace their roots to Germany than anywhere else.

The column, 'The mob and the zealous cousin' of April 3, 2004, prompted Vivian Amirkhanian to write: "Like many Armenians who moved to America at an early age, I can completely relate to your article. Now that I am 23, I can comprehend the enormous obstacles our parents overcame to protect their families from political upheaval. After years of adapting the American way of life, I can now appreciate the culture my parents preserved in me. Thank you for telling the story of who we are."

In response to "Armen can neither forgive nor forget" of April 17, 2004, commemorating the Armenian Genocide, Jonathan Stark wrote from Armenia: "We've got to find a way out of the current impasse [Turkey's blockade of Armenia]. We need to open the borders and give people hope. My friends could never forgive, but they need to move forward. Thus two choices: move forward and have a growing Armenia [befriend Turkey], or sell it off to Disney as a 'Caucasus Theme Park.' Which do you want?" The good news is there are at least two choices.

I received an insightful response from Dr. Richard Ciasca in response to the column, "The 'suffering gene' at work" of May 29, 2004: "I have met many people, who wouldn't be happy if they don't suffer. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it has validity. I remember growing up in New York and witnessing the same in many of the older immigrant Italian men and women. I could never understand as a kid in Queens why Aunt Maria was never happy and why she took the burden of every known family member upon her shoulders as if she was the Martyr of Messina.

"I think you have come on a scientific discovery: the theory of the suffering gene!"

The column on bigotry solicited the following: "I am a black man and if anyone knows about bigotry and hate, it's me. It would only be worse if I were also a homosexual. It's a daily occurrence to experience mean-spiritedness simply because of my color. However, of the all the people I encounter, none match the intensity of hate and bigotry of Armenians. Therefore, before you cry for tolerance, look at yourselves first!" Truth hurts, but so do generalizations.

And finally, a concerned note from, Richard Halladay, a retired school counselor: "For several years I worked with immigrant students. I worked with two groups, Armenian and Hispanic. One morning, I asked a hypothetical question: 'When is it OK for a man to hit his wife?' When I asked this question to the Armenian group hands shot up everywhere. Boys and girls responded: 'When the food is no good and she's already been warned once,' 'When she gets fat,' 'If the house is dirty' and 'If she gets a boyfriend!'

"These answers came from 14-15 year old girls who were prepared for abuse if they didn't live up to expectations.

"In the following lesson, we talked about the concept that maybe violence isn't the only option to problem solving. The students were very polite and listened but I've always wondered if I made a difference?"

My apologies for ending on a sour note on such a festive occasion. I thank all of you for sharing your genuine thoughts and wish you a truly happy New Year.

Copyright 2005 Glendale News Press


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