White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Miachael Jackson

I was never a fan of Michael Jackson. I like a few of his tracks such as heal the world, but generally I found his music ok. However I always admired his influence on the pop music, specially on the visual pop music. He certainly elevated the quality of staged music and music clips to a large extent.

In my opinion, Michael Jackson's fame was the first major crack in the anti-western wall that existed in Iran in early 1980s. In an atmosphere that most western things were prohibited by the regime and a large portion of the population, Jackson's video clips and dance style which had a lot of novelty at its time, changed the course. Till around 1984, there was not much sign of new western pop culture materials in Iran. But then, suddenly there was talk of this new Black-American guy who has conquered the world attention. I clearly remember the Friday afternoon when I saw the Threaler's clip in one of our relative's house who had a VCR. And I found it the whole show and dance quite different than whatever I had seen. And I remember that I had seen signs of his popularity in southern Tehran where my grandma lives and also in the city of Isfahan and Sari.

In those years, the celebrity culture was an undefined idea and the government was always fighting with its entire notion, even when it came to the domestic artists. So it took me a while to understand the celebrity culture and the strong fan base that someone like Jackson has.

Michael Jackson and to some extent Madonna are probably the last two world-level popular figures. The course of pop culture was eventually changed in the 1990s where there was never a dominant idol in the field. So for me and probably many people, Jackson is the reminder of days that there were kings and legends in the pop culture.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

5 mins to record

5:00 PM arrived from DC. Very tired and mentally overloaded. I go to campus to help a friend... While waiting for her, I can't do anything. I walk to my city library and its maginificant poetry room. I pick a book of Chinese poetry. And read three beautiful works on Hope, Optimism and life. Quite an spectacular 5 minutes which calms me down a bit.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Friends of our nation

Another lesson of these days is to observe the reaction of foreign governments to these events. These are critical moments that any leader can demonstrate his judgment strength, which can be supportive for his own national interests too:

Obama has wisely side stepped from taking any side in this election. With his silence, he's given the best relief to the progressive camp from many classic troubles. I hope he can resist against the pressure that many republicans and some pro-Israeli democrats (eg. Joe Liberman) are putting for US intervention.

European Union (except Germany) originally recognized Ahamdinejad. That was quite imature and purley based on economic interest. However soon after protests became serious, they changed their course and took a critical stance.

Populist leaders who gain strong economic benefits from Ahamdinejad, such as Chavez, Nasrollah, Raul Castro rushed to his support. Some of their messages (eg. Chavez) arrived before many of Ahamdinejad's internal supporters. And the moment that we we realize who is really on our people side. And how much these guys really believe in progressive, anti-opression values that they constantly shout!

And I'm not going to bother with semi-fashist governments such as China and Russia that not only benefit from Ahamdinejad economically , but are in full agreement with his totalitarian politics.

Wisdom of the crowd

One of the impressive aspect of these days is the wisdom that the majority of the reformist crowd show in most of their steps. While dealing with a brutal government that doesn't have any shame, the protesters have been quite careful in keeping their protests cool and to the point. The message is simple: This election is illegitimate. Slogans are directed to Ahmadinejad's goverment which maximizes the unity. And the leadership of Musavi who is under a very tight media censorship is very wise.

I'm thinking about the bitter protests of 1999 and a few other ones that were eventually supresed. Many of us were always condeming those events to the moderate attitude of Khatami and his camp at the time. However all those steps have given us a lesson, how to fight.

Events are unpredictable. But the chess game is at its critical point and every move can finalize the game. But even people lose the election, the history of Islamic Republic and the way things will go forward from this point on, will be different.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Arrogancy ==> Stupidity

The announced results of the Iranian presidential election and the way that the events were handled initially were so shocking that it was tough to believe state's men have done those. But apparently there is no limit to lunacy of arrogant politician.

Ahmadinejad and his stupid camp are going to eventually lose this battle, not only because of the wisdom and intelligence of the reformist Musavi, but also their arrogance and stupidity who under estimated the wisdom of a nation.

Iran continues to be dynamic.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Presidential Election (2)

It's been a long night for many Iranians in Iran and now it's out turn in the western world to face the same! I'm also totally confused and unable to think it through. I keep weighing the two possibilities:

1. The results are made up ==> We're facing a totally lunatic regime that encourages its citizen to become sensitive about politics and then make a total fool of them. The regime could have pushed for a smaller election, something like the presidential election before Khatami or the previous parliment election. Those elections had about 50% participation and still gave some level of legitimacy to the winner. But instead this time, the regime went for a transparent election filled with all these debates and street protests... and then they totally hijacked the election!!? For what purpose really? do they think that now they're more powerful? their power is insured? Are we really dealing with such level lunacy? This level of stupidity is totally inconsistent with other aspects of this regime!

2. The results are close to reality ==> We're facing the largest possible cultural and class differences in Iran and we're on the verge of a social explosion. Although Ahmadinejad is not a solution for such a critical situation, but still we should be happy that we have the election as a mechanism to learn about huge gap!

3. The results will be changed ==> This is all a build up for the intervension of the leader to increase his popularity and decrease the power of next government ... and practically insure his power, etc.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Presidential Election

It has been an unbelievable 2 weeks in Iran. Hot series of TV debates and constant party mode on the streets which was the best sample of tolerance and respect among the citizens, gave all of us a surprising image of our society. Independent of its outhis election has given a new shape to the Iranian political and civil discourse.

The sucky part was the low key coverage that the western media gave to these events. Until last Wednesday, the coverage was minimal and even after that, it never reached the level that many smaller Iranian events (small student protest, or Roxana Saberi's court) were covered. Maybe this relates to a higher level western policy of silence and respect that exist these days with respect to this election.

Anyway, it's time to walk out and participate in this historical moment and also observe. I feel so excited to observe such historical moments, specially when things are so tight that predictions is very difficult! I'm heading to Philadelphia for voting! After 31 years with my parents in a city that we once left for another shot of Iranian history!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Iran Trip

I came back from Tehran a week ago. It was a pleasant and compact trip filled with business and family/friend visits.

As expected the atmosphere was heating up for the election during my visit. My university visits enabled me to observe some aspect of the heat inside the student circles. after a few years of public depression, there was a wave of hope and energy among the people.

I got to visit some of the research and development groups whose works are close to my research. It was impressive to observe the effort that these people are putting into their work. Unlike the general claim that all works in Iran are at superficial and ordinary, I found the contrary in these projects. There was a clear thirst of learning and access to new resources. Also I found some decent level of collaboration among researchers which was better than what I had heard. However it was clear that when it comes to large government resources, things become tricky. Projects and resources are allocated randomly mainly based on connections.

Life clearly is different in Iran. Things are hectic and difficult when it comes to daily operation. There is a strange sense of selfishness and carelessness towards each other and the general public. However there is a lot of funds and unsolved problems and projects. The country, specially the private sector is in clear need of novel ideas.

A pleasant part of the trip was to observe the young, energetic volunteers who had conquered major squares of Tehran with their green campaign materials. Generally I observed that the Iranian regime is showing a a lot of flexibility for running a more open presidential election this time.

Emotions are dense over there. Shouts, screams, tears, laughs, hugs, slaps, fights, lies, kisses are all deeper over there. All these encourages me to take a deeper look at Iran. To understand, is that still a home for me?
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