Tag Archives: Iran

Evidence of the world’s ridiculousness

22 Oct
  • I am supposed to be working on an English paper, but instead I’m drawn to my fiction. Which is to say, I would rather write a short story than a critical essay. WHAT! If someone would have told me I’d feel this way now one week ago, I would have laughed. A lot. But now that the plot is vaguely outlined, bringing characters to life is such a pleasurable enterprise. They are living in my head.
  • An Iranian-American scholar who was supposed to be teaching at Columbia will likely be in prison for 15 years for doing, well, not much of anything.
  • The events of last weekend.
  • I’m not reading enough in general.
  • I am able to be semi-coherent on so few hours of sleep. So few, even for me.
  • Last but not least…A Fox analyst learned he would be fired via a Google Alert. Thank you, Google Alerts, for notifying me.(See second item. I found out via … Google Alert.)
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I wish I could be at the UN today

23 Sep

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be addressing the General Assembly, and many groups—including previous political prisoners—will be protesting.

I want to be there to get it all down, to understand the burden of a people wronged, especially after covering a similar—but smaller—post-election protest this summer. Ahmadinejad is an extremely contested figure, and since his little visit to Columbia—personal politics aside—I’ve always been curious to see the potent reactions and speeches he elicits. A figure so polarizing ekes out such a wide array of opinions.

But, as several news outlets have pointed out, Kian Tajbakhsh won’t be protesting today. At least, he won’t be protesting out loud. An Iranian-American scholar with a Ph.D. from Columbia, Tajbakhsh was supposed to be teaching here this semester. But Iran arrested him this summer, shortly after he was freed from Evin prison in Tehran.

The prosecutor has accused him of fomenting revolution, while his family and friends have repeatedly noted that he had nothing to do with the protests. He’s being held in secret detention, and occasionally the Iranian media will show him under mass trial, reading prepared statements of guilt. My heart goes out to his family, who was supposed to move here with him.

Alas, I have class, and meetings—but I will be watching closely.

Things I learned over the last week-and-a-half: DC edition.

10 Aug

Ah, the ebb and flow of blogging. When nothing happens, there’s nothing to tell. When stuff happens, there’s no time to recount it. (Really, that’s just an excuse for laziness. But who’s counting?)

Anyway. A lot has gone on over the last two weeks, in books news and non-books news. But more important than the narrative itself is the takeaway—so here we go, so that one day I can point to lessons learned between July 30 and August 9.

-Thrillers are good but leave me feeling empty.
Last Friday, my dear friend Laura visited me for lunch near Wall Street. She had just come from a tour of a publisher, and is swimming in books (hm that phrase makes me think of a “swimming book”–name the poem!). Which is good for me, since I get the excess. She came bearing Michael Connelly’s latest thriller, The Scarecrow.

The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow


I wasn’t sure what to think of it, until I read the jacket copy, which read:

Jack McEvoy is at the end of the line as a crime reporter. Forced to take a buy-out from the Los Angeles Times as the newspaper grapples with dwindling revenues, he’s got only a few days left on the job. His last assignment? Training his replacement, a low-cost reporter just out of journalism school. But Jack has other plans for his exit. He is going to go out with a bang — a final story that will win the newspaper

Given my exposure to that type of reporting this summer, how could I not read it? So I took a break from my regular reading to devour this piece of whatever it is. It sucked me in immediately, and gripped me so hard I was afraid my hands were glued to it at a point.

(On a related note, The Red and the Black is still going, but slowly. I don’t know why! It’s so good and I love it but I just can’t make a huge dent. And I feel like I’m sinking a lot of time into it. And it doesn’t feel slow. But I just don’t read that much at a time. Well, the font is small…)

-Mayors sometimes wear interesting outfits.
Last Sunday, I was assigned to follow the Mayor in his press van. First to the Ecuador parade in Elmhurst, then to a Q&A at the beginning of the Pakistan parade. I got my question in, but not before multiple chants of “viva Ecuador:”

El Gaucho Alcalde?

El Gaucho Alcalde?

-Murderers don’t necessarily live in sketchy-looking homes

On Monday, I was assigned to pay a visit to the Bronx home of the woman convicted of killing a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor. I would talk to her neighbors, landlord, etc. To be honest, I was initially a bit nervous. But that just proves how silly were my preconceived notions of where a convicted murderer would live:

Bronx home on a nice, quiet block.

Bronx home on a nice, quiet block.

-Ground Zero is still just that.

Turns out the Freedom Tower plans are delayed, so I went to find out how people were feeling about it.
This is what I saw:

There is obviously a lot of progress here, but it must be painful for many people to see.

There is obviously a lot of progress here, but it must be painful for many people to see.

-I am not the best at navigating Queens.

Enrollment in CUNY summer school is up, and I was sent to Queensborough Community College to help find out why. Sounds like fun. I like college students. You know. But it took me so long to get there. I only found the campus thanks to the help of Angela, a lovely woman I met on the bus who is working as an exotic dancer to make ends meet (that’s why she’s going back to school). Afterwards, I didn’t get back to the office before my shift ended. Anyway, this is important to know because my town is on the border of Queens … yikes.

-Mozart is awesome.

Okay, so I already knew that. But a trip to Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival (which, fractionally, was not mostly Mozart) caused me to go through all the concertos, sonatas, operas, and symphonies on my iPod. I have fallen in love with the music again, and have a weird desire to see Amadeus.
Thanks Dan!

Eagerly anticipating Mozart.

Eagerly anticipating Mozart.

Never go Greyhound.

I’m not going into detail here. But I was misguided and will never repeat the error. YIKES!

-Washington D.C. is a city replete with pretty streets and nice people

I went to DC this weekend to chill with pals and pols. After hopping off the Greyhound on Thursday, I arrived at my lovely friend (and generous three-night host) Leora’s gorgeous apartment. Over the weekend, I met her friends, who have awesome, exciting jobs in all sorts of governmental and non-governmental offices. So there is life outside New York … hrmmmm.

Also, the Metro is a lot cleaner. And a view like this is within walking distance:

It was all prettiness.

It was all prettiness.

(Also, it’s fun to be wandering aimlessly and end up here:)

Love from Josh and Toby. Yes, I went there.

Love from Josh and Toby. Yes, I went there.

-Agriculture is alive and well in our capital.

So much so, in fact, that the Department of Agriculture has a farmers market! I found this out because the Metro stop for the Smithsonian, which I visited with Betsy on Friday, dumps you in front of the Dept. of Agriculture building. (Also, I didn’t hear the barista clearly when she asked if I wanted the libido-enhanced coffee, so it took an explanation of “it will increase blood pressure for you and your partner” before I declined.)

But outside of the Dept of A itself, we stumbled onto the National Botanic Garden. It was beautiful, and I never would have thought to pay it a visit had I not walked straight into it. I think this fine establishment is what makes this part of the mall so pretty:

Flowers!

Flowers!

-Hunger strikes don’t only happen at Columbia

This display of solidarity for Iran made me feel at home:

Striking for Iran.

Striking for Iran.

-Not all art museums are created equal.

I found the Smithsonian’s Renwick, the American art museum, and was disappointed by the collection. I’m not an art snob, but I’m used to the Met. I was in and out of there in half an hour. At least it was free. Here is what I found interesting:

Hmmm.

Hmmm.

So then I found my way to the Corcoran Gallery, a collection that outgrew the Renwick (and costs $8.00 for students). There was more to look at, a nice photo exhibit, and some cool sculptures:

legit gauchos this time.

legit gauchos this time.

So I learned a lot. All this learning is making me tired, so I should probably sleep now. I have to be at work an hour early tomorrow.

Oh, and of course, I am redder than ever.