Thoughts while Shaving

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Members of the Lowell Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Chapter pulled off yet another successful food fair at this year’s Lowell Folk Festival.

Lowell ARS hosts another delectable food booth at Lowell Folk Festival

Typically, the last weekend in July is devoted to feeding the palates of hungry visitors with losh kebab, lahmejun, and pastries.

No doubt, the Armenian booth is among the favorites, and volunteers more than meet their demands as generations partake.

This year’s extravaganza was complemented by live Armenian music, thanks to Johnny Berberian, Mal Barsamian, and company. The group was dynamic, performing four short concerts and giving a demonstration on Armenian instruments.

The energy they manifested, no doubt, came from the Armenian food booth, where they stopped to nourish their appetites. Hey, one hand feeds the other.

It’s a tradition that dates back some 25 years and the “Lousintak” ladies deserve some well-rounded applause for their continuous efforts at the fest.


The book we’ve all been waiting for, especially for Merrimack Valley Armenians, is inside the editing room and nearly ready for publication.

Proud to say, I’m part of this endeavor with co-author E. Philip Brown, a social studies instructor at Haverhill High who’s using the project for his masters.

The book, titled Armenians of the Merrimack Valley, is being published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its series on “Images of America.”

The company celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that have shaped the character of today’s community.

It’s been a labor of love over the past five months, gathering and documenting rare family pictures and digging up stories that were sleeping in my files. Well, they received a wakeup call.

In the words of Attorney Robert Aram Kaloosdian, himself a new author with Tadem: “I’m delighted to hear about such a book. I confess that I have always been impressed by the productivity of our brothers and sisters of Merrimack Valley.”

“There must be a reason for it. I hope your book will divulge that secret so that other communities, even those much larger, can learn as the cause goes forth.”

The book is slated to be released just after Christmas. We’ll keep you posted.




If you’re like me, you have Armenian signs posted all over your home. As you enter my portal, you are met with a sign reading, “Hye Doon.” If you don’t know what that means, I suggest you contact a historian.

By the side of the house is another sign, “Parking for Armenians Only.” That one comes to you in English. Some people may take that the wrong way, especially when I have Italian and Irish friends visiting.

Our napkins may bring yet another smile. They are monogrammed with the words, “Paree Yegak,” or welcome. We serve it up to anyone who drops by to conjure up discussion. It’s always good to share your language and culture with outsiders.

One visual that isn’t signage per se is the Armenian flag I continue to fly by the lakeshore. Motorists identify my home by it. I identify my culture and heritage and am only too proud to display that overtly.


This wasn’t the first time I heard a composer’s name on the classical music station that bothered me a little. I have nothing against Aram Khachaturian. In fact, his “Gayane” suite is among my most favorite, followed by “Masquerade.”

In all the years I’ve followed classical music on the radio, only once have I ever heard a selection played by his counterpart, Komitas Vartabed. Could it possibly be that one of the greatest Armenian composers of his time has never been formally recognized?

His music is played more at hantesses and festivals but never where it counts—inside the American mainstream for all to enjoy and appreciate. And to die well before his time is more of a tragedy. Had he lived longer, who knows what songs and instrumental pieces may have come from his ingenious mind?

I decided to badger the radio station with repeated telephone calls, requesting a selection by Komitas. After puffing me off several times, the station decided to accommodate me and played a tune. And they dedicated it to me, embarrassed as I was.

But it took persistence. Sometimes that goes places. I never heard a reprise, much less his name mentioned.

This morning as I write this, Khachaturian is being played again—the Adagio from “Spartacus.” A beautiful tune, to say the least, but not Komitas.

Partial as I may sound, let’s applaud them both for a world of musical brilliance. One other thing, in Khachaturian’s case: They referred to him as a Soviet composer. It was only after another complaint over the phone that he became introduced as a Soviet-Armenian composer.


Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Thoughts while Shaving