Assyrian Food Festival in San Jose

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Posted by pancho from ( on Sunday, September 08, 2002 at 7:53PM :

Just got back from it. It was held in a church hall...a nice one, I met the architect there. I went there with my sainted mother half expecting to be met with garlands of garlic and crosses...burning. Instead we paid our entrance fee and went over to the parking lot where people were milling around and enjoying the food and sun.

People here and there nudged each other but no one reacted like I had leprosy. Inside the church chairs were set out ...a raised stage...John was there with his TV crew. My mother and I made the some good kebobs...then went inside to find a seat. Chairs were reserved for some white politicians from the city...people in place...about 300 of them. All of a sudden a man comes up to me and asks if we have everything we need...would my mother like a seat perhaps. I thank him, say we're fine and we move further into the room...say hello to a few people, find a corner to sit at, and the guy materializes again, clears the table for us and asks if we have everything. This is getting weird. Five minutes later another man comes over, I stand, we shake hands...he says he's a member of the hosting organization, then asks if I would consider making some comments later on, giving them my impressions. I thank him too, tell him he is a brave man...and have no idea what he was talking about.

It was then I looked across the room and saw Jackie and Lincoln. My joy was complete. We saw each other of course...they smiled at everyone but me...I had smiles only for them. They looked good...showed more affection in public than I ever saw them show in private. He had his arm around her neck, she patted his hand...that's nice.

I went up to Firas and shouted his new name, "Ross". We chatted a bit...later I saw Walter of Wav Alap standing with "Ross" and another fellow there as well. Went up and congratulated Walter on his excellent new sculptures...then I noticed that the other guy was Aprim...or a good impersonation. I held out my hand...said, "oh you ARE Fred Aprim". he hesitated...waited a tick or two, then shook hands...good of him to be so mature.

Some other people came up to some of them I denied that I was Fred Parhad...said I was Fred Aprim. Three women from Iraq were ready to de-ball Nimrod right then and there.

Then the program started...the MC couldn't get the crowd to keep quiet...cause they know damn well what's coming. He introduced a priest who talked all about the Jews...told us about Zachariah and his son Okra...then brought up the house of sure this is the best Assyrians can do??? to Jews for inspiration???

So after he bores the shit out of us they bring on the flags and the anthems. God bless the poor misguided Assyrian behemoth who sang the National Anthem. In her enthusiasm to put on a good show for the white folk she massacred the was wonderful to behold...sort of Arethra Franklin meets Minnie Mouse. Her voice broke several times...she was screeching hard enough to wreck the plaster and as she butchered the end of the song, even she burst out laughing. By contrast our own anthem, "Nineveh", written by another Assyrian artist we beggared...was sung beautifully by another Assyrian woman. But then ours is a sad song, while the US anthem soars impossibly. Then next we were treated to a complete history of Urmia in English...and THEN in Assyrian. I don't know who comes up with this torture...but we went outside.

It seems that Nimrod and Atour are in town as well...there's a meeting at the Assyrian Chaldean church a block from my house, at six tonite...all these worthies will be there for a talk...think I should waltz over?

It's odd...when we come to America it's as if we've escaped a sinking ship...and we deserve to be happy because of some magical quality we possess...while those we left behind weren't somehow as worthy, or bright, or rich.

It isn't a dangerous's a hungry, tired, polluted world...filled, not with enemies or terrorists, but with poor parents who love their raggedy children ever as much as we do. How can we sing and dance as if we represent some special kind of human to whom the bad things we left behind have nothing to do with us...that those other people deserve what we do to them.

As I looked out at the crowd I thought of how much they resembled people that day in Iraq, living in fear...and others in Iran...who will be next. Really, what's the difference betwen us? is that difference worth all the killing. They are our own people, our can we live like this?

-- pancho
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