Here we are
concert" in Las Vegas
December 30, 2004
I took a trip to Las Vegas during the Christmas weekend. I had bought
a couple of tickets on-line for the Googoosh concert. The website of the University
Vegas clearly advertised "Googoosh
along with Mehrdad" and had pictures of both.
On Saturday my Chinese friend and I got there at 7:15 with the anticipation of
the concert to start at 8:00. In the waiting area they announced that Googoosh
would sign autographs and people started to queue up. Perhaps 150 people stayed
in line patiently and politely hoping to get an autographed picture of Googoosh.
But that was just a wishful thinking. People -- mostly women with the latest
fashion and make up -- started to make the front of the line bulge like
a sperm on an overdose of Viagra, for lack of
Gradually one line became something
like six lines. Many were getting signatures and pictures and hugs
and kisses and the damn line did not move. Some people yelled at those who
were trying to break into the line, but every single one of the
themselves that they were already there and continued signaling their friends
with winks and codes to join them at the front of the line.
This reminded me that no matter how much some of us do plastic surgery on our
noses and spend hard earned money on liposuction, we are still the same people
who rejected a moderately evolving dictatorship and instead accepted the regressive
Islamic Republic which took our women under the cover of darkness. Now after
more than two decades we are proud that "women in Iran go out in public
with revealing hejabs and are not afraid
of anything." Well, congratulations on a gradual recovery from regression
I think we just left the Zand Dynasty -- give or take a few years -- and are
entering the Qajar era for a second time. A small step for Iranian
women, a huge
leap for mankind.
On a recent trip to a Persian
music store in Westwood, Los Angeles, I asked the clerk if they had a Persian
music CD that would have no vocals and no tonbak, just a solo tar or seh-tar.
The store owner was
why. My excuse was that I just want to listen to tar and not to be constantly
disturbed by the damn noise of the tonbak.
"Sir, you should listen to some of the new music from Iran. It
will change your mind. Do you believe I have CDs here from Iran
with voices of women?"
Listening to that statement I realized I was beating
the wrong drum. I excused myself and instead
of getting a CD I went to a bookstore and got a book on Iranian plant names
by V. Mozaffarian -- a far better purchase than investing
in a CD just because a female singer recorded it in Iran!
Back in Las Vegas, Googoosh was advised
to stop signing autographs after 45 minutes and the long
line disintegrated. I can
to the organizers
of these concerts to do what shop owners did during the dark days of the
so-called Revolution in Tehran. Those days if you wanted to buy kerosene
you would take
your empty container to the shop and pass a rope through the
handle. Sometimes the
connected by the rope would extend hundreds of yards. Sometimes
it would take 10 to 12 hours for the kerosene tanker to arrive at the store
kept the cheaters (99% of the population) in check. You could go and do
other chores, get a kidney implant, fill a tooth cavity or get a divorce
then come back and your container was still in the queue smiling at you.
should implement this umbilical chord system for concert
I was still very optimistic that it would be a great concert
after all it was Googoosh. It was no less than 9:15 when
people started whistling,
yelling and tapping their feet like Cherokee Indians demanding for the
music to start. At around 9:30 a group of dancers performed a very
disorganized routine with third-rate Kurdish music blasting from the stereo
system. It was torture anyway you put it.
I thought the dancers would soon give up but that was another wishful thinking.
They kept coming back with awkward rhythms that were neither Persian
nor Turkish. It was as if a group
of Mojahedin fighters had come up with the dance theme during their exile
in Iraq. Hands were
thrown in the air haphazardly and legs were raised with no places to go.
appeared that there was something very wrong going on.
Finally the guest singer Mehrdad came on stage and broke the bad news
that Googoosh will not sing!
"Damn!" I said in Chinese to my friend who does not speak any Persian.
She was just having a good time being confused about the whole thing. I
in front of us what's going on. He said, "Don't you watch Persian TV stations?"
Googoosh, he explained, has been served with a court order not to sing
on stage because her former promoter has accused her of breaching their
I then realized how ignorant and lost I was. Instead of watching
CNN and local channels, or going to websites that
these tickets, I should have sought the truth only on Iranian
TV stations. I should have bought that satellite TV dish. But my
logic was: why pay for depression when you can get it for free
Meanwhile Mehrdad gave us the good news that at least Googoosh would
come to the concert hall. And indeed she did, with her entourage, and
sat in the
showed glimpses of her on the two large screens on each side of the stage.
So you think this was the end of our torture? No way. All of a sudden
everybody who had a $35 ticket decided to go to the $150 area and fill
out the empty seats. They started a stampede reminiscent of days when
mobs attacked houses in north Tehran for a better life under the Islamic
Republic. When the expensive seats were all occupied, you wouldn't
dare get up and go to the restroom, or else you would come back and an
ugly fat lady
seat and acted as if she was born there. So, we decided to control homicidal
urges caused by noise pollution, bladder pain, disappointment that Googoosh
was not going to sing, Bush's re-election and ...
Mehrdad, trying to mend the feeling of disappointment by the public,
started waving his hands and deliver slogans:
didn't let her sing THERE and they are not letting her sing HERE either,"
he said. "But you are the true heroes, I love you! You are
the ones who stood
up!" Upon hearing those words I started to get worried and wondering
if this was a concert or the Mojahedin Khalgh convention? Mehrdad
gave us miserable losers the feeling of being heroes
of lost Arian tribes in the West buying tickets to support no-show
I was going to say: "Hey man this is Christmas,
we are just here to listen to some songs and go back to our hotel,
with the slogans?" But that would have threatened our unity and made
me an outcast among women who mostly done plastic surgery
fat noses! If you are contemplating plastic surgery just
go to an Iranian
concert and you see it all from head to toe.
Another issue that makes
you wonder is why can't we say "I love you" in Persian and we always
it in English? Mehrdad kept switching from Persian to English,
only to say "I love you". I suppose if you say it in Persian they
So Mehrdad kept singing these songs that mostly sounded the
same and were somewhat anti-Islamic regime tone. And despite the
attempts to make it a
happy occasion it was quite a somber and subdued atmosphere.
unity is fine, but damn it don't ask me for unity when I am there
just to listen to a few songs and watch a concert. We need to
each other as a group and cease pretending. Close to 30 years
has passed since the
fall of the last regime and we are still shedding crocodile tears
gone by. Do we have to turn every gathering into a scene
of Persian Unity against
the Islamic Regime? No, we don't have to.
where were the organizers of the concert to try to kiss the
to justify the fact that they f...ed-up and illegally sold
tickets while aware that Googoosh would not be able to sing. They
should have offered a refund
and not let that poor women go through another embarrassment.
But then again we were the heroes! We were there to say no
feed us we
will put up with it because we love Googoosh. Just like we
told the British to do whatever they want to our nation and
heritage as long
as you give us an Islamic Regime! And here we are.
After Mehrdad decided to take a break, the dreaded dancers
came back with legs being thrown in the air in all the wrong
Armenian singer came and sang a couple of songs. He had a good
voice but he was
dressed as if he just closed his shop at Jiffy Lube and rushed
to do a performance. It was at the arrival of this novice
singer that Googoosh
excused herself and
went behind the stage. I figured if Googoosh can't stand him
neither should we.
When we got up and left, my date asked me what had happened
and I didn't
how to explain. I just told her the most common phrase
in Chinese that let's you get by in tight situations: Kumpa
Chicken! I think
something severely wrong. And then we laughed and our taxi
Despite all the negative experience with the organization
of the concert, my sentiment is this. Each of us could be
guilty of cheating and trying to take advantage of opportunities.
We destroy our artists and poets, writers and all of those who
need to be protected by their earned copyrights.
Googoosh for all
reasons should be a multimillionaire by now, but we all know
that she is not,
That tells us, how on one hand we cry loud "Googoosh
we love you" but on the other we
cheat in a
line for autographs. We lie through our teeth and buy
videos and CDs because we need to have every pleasure at
the expense of artists
Googoosh. Given the opportunity, many other organizers
are willing to take advantage of
a good-hearted woman like Googoosh who has been in the
art scene for more than
50 years. She has well-earned the title, Iranian Diva.
We owe her a lot more than we think.
If there was one thing that made part of my evening so
bright and so rewarding was to be able to take a few glances
beautiful face. And no doubt many
of you share the same feeling towards her. But it's so
as a nation and a culture in exile
we are not taking care of our artists like her.
Salute to Googoosh and also thanks to
trying to make
up for the organizers' shortcomings.
Farrokh A. Ashtiani is the founder of PersianParadise.com