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Monday, 24 March 2014

The Last Letter to His Wife Before He was Executed by Nazis.

This information was published in MassisPost.  It's about an Armenian in French liberation army who was executed by Nazis.

French President Hollande Attends Event Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of Execution of Missak Manouchian

PARIS — A commemoration ceremony dedicated to the 70th anniversary of execution of Missak Manouchian and his commanders by Nazis was held in Fort Mont-Valérien fortress in one of the suburbs of Paris.
French President Francois Hollande laid a wreath at the memorial and made a speech. Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian laid a wreath on behalf of the Republic of Armenia. The letter Missak Manouchian wrote to his wife Melinee was read out at the event:
My dear Melinée, my beloved little orphan,
In a few hours I will no longer be of this world. We are going to be executed today at 3:00. This is happening to me like an accident in my life; I don’t believe it, but I nevertheless know that I will never see you again.
What can I write you? Everything inside me is confused, yet clear at the same time.
Missak ManouchianI joined the Army of Liberation as a volunteer, and I die within inches of victory and the final goal. I wish for happiness for all those who will survive and taste the sweetness of the freedom and peace of tomorrow. I’m sure that the French people, and all those who fight for freedom, will know how to honor our memory with dignity. At the moment of death, I proclaim that I have no hatred for the German people, or for anyone at all; everyone will receive what he is due, as punishment and as reward. The German people, and all other people, will live in peace and brotherhood after the war, which will not last much longer. Happiness for all …
I have one profound regret, and that’s of not having made you happy; I would so much have liked to have a child with you, as you always wished. So I’d absolutely like you to marry after the war, and, for my happiness, to have a child and, to fulfill my last wish, marry someone who will make you happy. All my goods and all my affairs, I leave them to you and to my nephews. After the war you can request your right to a war pension as my wife, for I die as a regular soldier in the French army of liberation.
With the help of friends who’d like to honor me, you should publish my poems and writings that are worth being read. If possible, you should take my memory to my parents in Armenia. I will soon die with 23 of my comrades, with the courage and the serenity of a man with a peaceful conscience; for, personally, I’ve done no one ill, and if I have, it was without hatred. Today is sunny. It’s in looking at the sun and the beauties of nature that I loved so much that I will say farewell to life and to all of you, my beloved wife, and my beloved friends. I forgive all those who did me evil, or who wanted to do so, with the exception of he who betrayed us to redeem his skin, and those who sold us out. I ardently kiss you, as well as your sister and all those who know me, near and far; I hold you all against my heart. Farewell. Your friend, your comrade, your husband.”
Speaking about Manouchian, President Hollande said: “He was one of those survivors of the Armenian Genocide, who settled in France and joined its struggle for liberation. Manouchian was not the only Armenian to sacrifice his life for the freedom of the country.”
Attending the ceremony were members of the French Government, the Senate and the National Assembly, politicians and public figures, Charles Aznavour, representatives of the Armenian organizations of France.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Fateful Stories of an Armenian Athlete. The 2014 torch bearer in Moscow

Following is an amazing story of an Armenian athlete who fought many odds on different fateful moments.   

Recently Shavarsh Karapetyan was granted the honor to take part in the 2014 Winter Olympics torch relay for the second stage of the race. He was passed the torch in Moscow and had to carry it towards Krasnogorsk. During his run in Moscow the Olympic fire suddenly went out. It was relit, but this led to much ridicule from western media outlets, eager to slam the Olympics held in Russia. On the next day he was allowed to carry the torch for a second time, making him the only person in Olympic history who carried the Olympic torch twice on the same event.

17 times world champion finswimmer, 13 times European champion and 7 times Soviet champion.  Eleven-time World Record-breaker. This remarkable man has a fascinating history of saving lives and facing his own mortality.

When he was 15, he got into a fight with a group of hooligans who beat him, tied a heavy stone to his neck , thrown him into a lake and left. He started moving his body under water and managed to rip the ropes off his hands, after which he released himself from the stone on his neck and swam to the surface. In an interview he said:
“If the stone was slightly heavier, I would not be able to get out of the water”.
This experience encouraged him to take swimming lessons. He was so talented that he started to compete on a professional level. Teaching himself without a trainer, he became a champion of Armenia at the age of 17. He began to beat his popular peers but was cut from the national team by envious trainers. It was a hard time for the young swimmer, but he did not abandoned his calling. He switched to finswimming and within 6 months became the “master of sports of the Soviet Union”, in 8 months he became “master of international class”, within 12 months he became the champion of the Soviet Union and within 14 months he became the European champion by breaking the World record.

Shavarsh Karapetyan
During his competitions in Kiev he nearly died again when a competent had opened his oxygen tank and let a good amount of oxygen out to make him lose the competition. Nevertheless he continued the swim, losing oxygen he had to hold his breath for 75 meters. Feeling his life slipping he lost his consciousness but won the event and was immediately hospitalized. He only heard of his victory in the hospital.
His courage was again tested in 1974 when Shavarsh was riding the morning bus to the swimming pool. During the ride, the driver lost control of the bus on the mountainous passage and was about to drive strait off the cliff. Shavarsh quickly jumped into the driver’s seat and was able to steer the bus away from the impending plunge, only half a meter from the side of the cliff. On that faithful day he saved 30 people including himself.
Two years later faith struck again. One cold morning on September 16th, 1976 he was doing his usual run along the dam in Yerevan (Armenia), when a large trolleybus carrying 92 passengers lost control and flew off the road into the freezing water. During the impact, most of the passengers fell unconscious – the bus sank approximately 10 meters deep. Without a second of hesitation, Shavarsh leaped into the freezing water to rescue people. Diving to the depth of 10 meters, Shavarsh used his feet to break the back window of the trolleybus. One by one, he saved 20 peoples’ lives (he actually pulled out more then 20, but not everyone made it). He spent nearly 20 minutes in the frigid water and accomplished 30 dives down to the wreck of the bus. His brother – Kamo Karapetyan – is also a swimmer, and took care of the injured people as Shavarsh brought them up to the surface.
After his 30th dive, Shavarsh lost consciousness. This courageous act has cost him dearly; he incurred heavy 2-sided pneumonia and blood contamination from the polluted water. Doctors were unsure if Shavarsh would ever recover. His life was hanging on by a thread while he stayed unconscious for 46 days. He finally recovered, but his professional career was at an end. Today’s experts agree that no one but Shavarsh could have done what he has done. Bystanders who watched Shavarsh bring people up to the surface said that his feet and back were full of glass shards. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

My Musing on Sochi Olympics.

Goodbye Sochi. Goodbye Rossiya. I will miss you.  Yes, The Olympic Games got under my skin. I was awaiting to watch the games, but I had no idea that I'll get so much soaked into the whole activities around the Olympic village. 

Probably before I tell you about how my romance with Sochi began I should give you a little background about common grounds and cultural similarities between Russians and Armenians. At one point in time Armenia and Russia were neighbors and shared borders, however, over centuries, because of many invasions Armenia lost its lands and it shrunk to the size of the state of Maryland. I bet not many people can find it on the map. Being neighbors, Russian literature and culture influenced Armenian a lot.

The name of Sochi was not foreign to me.  During Soviet times, my extended  family who lived in Armenia, spent summers at the resort town of Sochi, which was developed by Josef Stalin. Although I was born and raised in Iran, as an Armenian I too carry a closeness to Russian culture and traditions.

Despite the huge amount of concerns about terrorism threats, the infrastructure issues or ugly demonstrations, luckily Sochi embraced the Olympics with only some minor and maybe comical incidents such as an athlete breaking a bathroom door to exit or commentator Bob Costa not being able to report because of an eye infection.

I should admit that NBC gave us a fascinating coverage of the Olympics.  Every morning I woke up to see on TV the NBC hosts of "Today" show, on location in Sochi, sitting outside in open air and enjoying the unexpected crisp weather, approaching to 60 degrees with melting ice and snow, when their counterparts in New York were shivering in deep freeze. 

In charming touches NBC wrapped up the previous days events. The crew told us not only about the games, but also their personal activities around the town. Janelle Wang who is an anchor woman on NBC Bay Area, raved about a bowl of Borscht she had at Sochi. Olympic officials had estimated that 70,000 gallons of Borscht would be served in Sochi.

We saw Al Rocker and Matt Lauer open themselves to the spirit of Russia by taking steam bath "à la Rossya" and then a massage by being smacked with eucalyptus leaves.  Ouch... Rocker joked: "You may want to keep the kids away." Then Matt Lauer was ushered into a Russian style pedicure place. He dipped his feet in a fish tank, where thousands of tiny fish nibbled on his feet's dead skin.  I was re-living their experiences.

For two weeks, my TV was set on NBC. I admit, I was mostly interested to watch the figure skating part — and what a show.  One of the unforgettable moments came when Meryl Davis and Charlie White blazed their way on ice to the tune of Sheherzad and made history by becoming the first American pair to win an ice dancing gold medal. It was super excited to witness their flawless steps. They proved that seventeen grueling years of practice was worth it.

Another awe inspiring story featured on NBC was about Jessica Long, a double amputee and a Russian born orphan, who was adopted by an American Family when she was only 13 months old.  The documentary called "Long Way Home," chronicles the journey of Jessica Long, a world class swimmer and 12 times Paralympic gold medalist, who travels back to Russia to trace her birth place and her family.  I couldn't hold back my tears when the moment arrived that her birth mother hurried to great Jessica and placed kiss after kiss on her cheeks.  My heart melted.

During Sunday’s Closing Ceremony, Russia poked fun at its infamous Opening Ceremony hiccup in which one of the five giant hydraulic snowflakes failed to transform into five interlocking Olympic Rings, leaving only four rings and a snowflake. On closing night I watched the beautiful choreographed dancers wearing bright, glittery outfits converging to make the interlocking Olympic rings. But, just like 16 nights ago, the fifth ring didn’t form.  The dancers in the clump waited a few seconds and then formed a ring of their own.  The action drew laughs from the crowd and put a smile on my face.

The most memorable moment, for me, came when Misha the Bear, the popular Mascot of Russia, waved goodbye to the world and tears roll down on his cheek. My heart skipped a beat.

Do the Crime, Pay the Time – A Sad Story about a corrupt councilman in our City of Glendale.

This is a story of a councilman from our city who embezzled money and cheated his community that had elected him.  It is a dark day in a corrupt politician career.  What a shame.

Former Councilman John Drayman pleaded guilty to three felonies Wednesday morning, including embezzlement, and agreed to a sentence of one year in jail as well as paying about $305,000 in restitution.

During the brief hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, he also agreed to pay about $14,000 in restitution to the state of California Franchise Tax Board. One of the felony counts was filing false tax returns as a result of his theft from a weekly farmers market run by the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. The third was perjury.

Drayman has a few weeks before his sentencing. He is scheduled to return to Los Angeles Superior Court on April 7 and is set to spend his time behind bars in Los Angeles County Jail. He will also serve five years probation.

This was Drayman’s third shot at a plea deal.

In September, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus rejected his proposition that included 300 hours of community service and restitution, but no time behind bars. At the time, Marcus said he could not accept that plea deal because it would be a “slap on the wrist” for someone who held a position of trust as a mayor and council member when he was committing his alleged crimes.

On Monday, Drayman proposed spending 90 days in county jail in exchange for pleading guilty, but Marcus vetoed that, too, noting that if Drayman accepted spending a year in jail, he would reluctantly agree to such a deal.

Marcus has said during court room appearances that if Drayman went to trial and lost, he would be given a prison sentence.

Wearing a gray suit and tie, Drayman calmly waived his rights to a jury trial, which was scheduled to take place in April. The jury trial would have begun about two years after he was indicted by the grand jury on 28 counts, including forgery and money laundering.

Authorities claimed that he embezzled at least $304,000 from the shopping park association between 2004 and 2011 while he helped the group collect money from vendors at the Sunday Harvest Market along Honolulu Avenue. Drayman’s guilty plea did not include an exact figure of how much he admitting to stealing.

At one point Drayman, who served on the council from 2007 to 2011 and held the position of mayor between April 2008 and April 2009, did not turn over market fees for nearly a year. Meanwhile, the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. experienced budget woes, and the group struggled to stay afloat. Since Drayman has been out of the picture, the association’s revenues have skyrocketed.

Drayman declined to comment after pleading guilty. Deputy District Atty. Susan Schwartz said that she would wait to make a statement until after the sentencing.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

15 minutes of fame for the Pizza delivery guy at the Oscars. DeGeneres made Mama's & Papa's PIzza an International sensation...

I enjoy watching the Oscars, it's one of the shows I won't fail to watch.  Watching celebs on red carpet is fascinating to me. However this year the academy awards wasn't as exciting as I was expecting, until two things happen.  Ellen DeGeneres, the host of Academy Awards, decided to order pizza.  15 minutes later pizza arrived.  It was a memorable moment, when DeGeneres and the pizza delivery guy arrived on stage with three boxes of pizza.  And the delivery guy was non other than an Armenian guy from Glendale.  Following is a blurb from the NewsPress our local paper.  The other distinctive act was when Ellen impulsively gathered celebrities to take a selfie picture.

Edgar Martirosyan, the pizza delivery man who dished out slices to Hollywood’s A-List stars on-air at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, was stunned when host Ellen DeGeneres asked him to follow her out into the audience. 

Martirosyan said representatives for the Oscars called his business, Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria in Hollywood, to see if he wanted to interview for the opportunity to deliver pizzas during the show. Out of a handful of pizzerias, his was selected, he said, but he thought the delivery of cheese, gluten-free, mushroom and olive and peperoni pizza was for Academy Awards staff. He had no clue he’d be hand-delivering to movie stars such as Meryl Streep

“It was a good surprise for me,” 

When he got to the event, he was backstage with the pizzas when DeGeneres introduced herself and told him to follow her.

“And then I’m on stage,” he said.

Meanwhile, his brother and restaurant co-owner, Erik Martirosyan, was just as taken aback while watching the Hollywood awards show.

Since Oscar night, the Martirosyans’ pizza restaurant has seen business triple with lines forming out the door. Edgar Martirosyan has also been interviewed by various media outlets, including CNN and the Ellen Degeneres Show. He’s even received requests for interviews from radio and TV stations in Australia and India. 

And remember when DeGeneres was asking for cash to pay and tip Martirosyan from Brad Pitt and other stars, using singer Pharrell Williams’ hat? Well, Edgar Martirosyan ended up getting his biggest tip ever: $1,000.

In addition to owning the Hollywood pizzeria, the Martirosyan brothers are in the midst of preparing to open a wood-burning oven pizza restaurant in Silver Lake called Wood at Parkman Avenue and Silver Lake Boulevard.