The Persian new year, called Norouz (or Nowrouz)—New Day—is just around the corner and Southern California nights have the sweetly fragrant scent of jasmine and citrus flowers. Last year’s  Norouz blog  remains my  most read post so please visit it for a detailed account of Haft-seen and some great pictures.

camelia bud michele roohani

Tulips don’t know much about the financial crisis and narcissi couldn’t care less about job layoffs; they come out with their effortless beauty, reminding us that nature renews its vows with life every spring.

pink tulips spring norouz michele roohani

Before 1564, most of Europe celebrated the New Year with the first day of Spring.

pink tulip spring 2009 michele roohani

The Gregorian calendar changed that to January first. To me, it is only natural to start the year with the first day of spring and not in the dead of winter…

red striped tulip michele roohani

“Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturb’d,
Give me to warble spontaneous songs recluse by myself, for my own ears only,
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
Walt Witman

pansies banafsheh spring michele roohani

The Norouz celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism. March 21st will be the first day of spring, the first day of the new year. The fragrance of these lemon tree blossoms reminds me of a Norouz I spent in Shiraz years ago…

lemon tree blossom spring michele roohani

 This poem of Fereydoon Moshiri always makes me smile…

بوی باران، بوی سبزه، بوی خاک
شاخه های شسته، باران خورده، پاک
آسمان آبی و ابر سپید
برگ های سبز بید
عطر نرگس، رقص باد
نغمه شوق پرستوهای شاد
خلوت گرم کبوترهای مست …
نرم نرمک می رسد اینک بهار
خوش به حال روزگار

خوش به حال چشمه ها و دشت ها
خوش به حال دانه ها و سبزه ها
خوش به حال غنچه های نیمه باز
خوش به حال دختر میخک – که می خندد به ناز –
خوش به حال جام لبریز از شراب
خوش به حال آفتاب

sabzeh wheat germs michele roohani

Would it be the dawn of 1388 or 2547 like some purist Persians suggest? It’s surreal to see this anachronistic image of the late shah’s crown in the middle of Santa Monica boulevard wishing you a happy new year in Persian!

pahlavi crown amir michele roohani west los angels santa monica boulevard

I just can not resist sharing these beautiful flowers with you:

violet ranunculus spring 2009 norouz michele roohani

This is a celebration of Life.

pink ranunculus yellow poppy spring 2009 norouz michele roohani

It is time to recalibrate our priorities and do some spring cleaning. Just look at the beautiful baby green of this Hydrangea:

hydrengea baby green michele roohani

The hyacinths (sonbol) or the quintessential Norouz flower:

hyacinths spring 2009 1388 norouz michele roohani

 I wouldn’t dare translating this beautiful Rumi poem about Norouz:

اندر دل من مها دل افروز توئي
ياران هستند ليك دلسوز توئي
شادند جهانيان به نوروز و به عيد
عيد من و نوروز من امروز توئي

anemone ranunculus michele roohani

Don’t forget to visit my last year’s Norouz post.

fish carps michele roohani

Norouz Pirouz!

2009 better be better…

January 1st, 2009

And what a year 2008 has been…The fresh 2009 better be better! I don’t remember people looking forward to retire a year (and their president) so eagerly.

2009 polaroids michele roohani multicolors

The optimist in me hopes for:

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!
   William Arthur Ward

new year 2009 michele roohani purse green

The realist in me screams back:

New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.James Agate

mike luckovich shoe bush michele roohani cartoon

Apocalypse in Paradise

November 17th, 2008

Southern California fires are pretty democratic, they hit the mansions and trailer parks and everything in between with the same cruelty… The current definition of a Californian is still “did or did not escape the fires?”

Brea fires 2008 michele roohani

“Devil winds, hill-hopping infernos, smoked mansions, torched trailers, barren freeways, and brilliant sunsets lingering in low-hanging canopies of burnt dreams.” That’s how Steve Lopez  describes all hell breaking loose in California.

staying cool in california fires

Last year in october I wrote:”wildfires, burning out of control, are continuing to threaten thousands of homes in California. You can’t help but to have this incredible sense of the fragility of everything. As human beings we are wired to think that everything will stay the way it is, safe from sudden and intense changes…” My childhood home burnt down in 1970—my barbie collection got charred along with the rest of the house…

palm trees on fire in california michele roohani

Palm trees help spread fire—I’ve never liked them much—to see an amazing photo essay click here.

yorba linda mansions on fire

It’s amazing how fire spares a house or two in the middle of a whole burnt neighborhood—my friend’s  house in Anaheim hills stayed intact when his neighbor’s got completely destroyed; his daughter, Kimiya, has sent me these pictures of their street:

kimiya-khosrovani-fires-3-michele-roohani.jpg

kimiya khosrovani fires michele roohani 4

kimiya khosrovani fires michele roohani 1

and this one:

kimiya khosrovani fires michele roohani 2

The chimneys are the only things standing in most burnt houses.

sean khosrovani anaheim hills fires 2008 night

To watch a powerful clip from BBC, click here.

diamond bar fires 2008

“Often it takes some calamity to make us live in the present.” Bill Watterson

Claude Verlinde and Jacques Poirier are two underrepresented French painters. They are both master illusionists/image makers/mirage makers.

invitation aux jeux du theatre verlinde micheleroohani

I fell in love with the above painting when I first got introduced to Verlinde’s work in Paris. We all know hollow people, lacking in real value, sincerity, or substance – we have all met shallow people lacking in depth of thought, or feeling. In Persian we call them “hollow drums”: noisy but empty.

the witness jacques poirier micheleroohani

Thanks to the internet we can know of something without really knowing about it. We used to have to read, to see, to hear something in order to be able to talk about it but not anymore folks! everybody’s an expert.

I’ve been wanting to talk about V.S. Naipaul for the longest time. Every time that somebody tries to eat up my life/time, I remember the writer’s fabulous statement reported on BBC: “my life is too short, I can’t listen to banality”.

naipaul young and old micheleroohani

Staying with the trompe l’oeil of Verlinde and Poirier, take a look at this very clever ad:

jobsintown.de micheleroohani

You can see the rest of these very funny ads here.

Today is my blog’s first anniversary! If you like what you see, please subscribe.

Sadly many new technologies have contributed to increasing our isolation (TV, iPods, etc.) but it doesn’t have to be that way.

connect email internet micheleroohani

As children, we start the conversation by playing together, as young adults our conversations become intense but something strange happens in midlife: all those ideals sediment in our heads and we get comfortable in our somehow more quiet and prosaic lives – we sink gradually to the bottom of our minds.

children playing micheleroohani

Unfortunately for many of us, by the time we get to old age, the conversation has died down completely or has diminished to a competition about who’s more sick and who’s children are more ungrateful – Man dies in solitude and silence…

ocean alone micheleroohani

To fight the loneliness of it all, we compromise our standards/principles and settle with a wide array of less than par exchange of ideas.

pacific beach micheleroohani

Sharing opinions, ideas and images is my motivation for blogging. Ideally a post can be the start of a conversation; the Internet equivalent of sitting down in front of a cup of coffee (make it tea) to relax and shoot the breeze. The conversation is at the root of creativity and it can help change our mindsets.

To make the conversation flow easier, it’s now possible to be notified by e-mail when someone makes a comment on the same post you have. All you have to do is check the little box labeled “Notify me of follow up comments via e-mail”, which appears below your comment.

There have been so many great comments and I can’t mention them all, but here are some of my favorites:

One of my favorite thinkers, Theodore Zeldin believes that “conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits – it doesn’t just reshuffle the cards it creates new cards.” I agree with him when he says “we are increasingly leading bubble lives in which we insulate ourselves from everyone apart from an ever diminishing circle of friends and acquaintances.”

A good conversation starter would be this very funny NY Times article about the books that end love stories.

Feast for the eyes

March 10th, 2008

Is there anything in the world more effortlessly beautiful than a flower (in this case a cabbage)? We can’t stop marveling at their generous beauty.

ornamental cabbage flower micheleroohani

This ornamental cabbage was exquisite in the morning sun.

pink and orange micheleroohani

I am not a “nature person”; I need the big cities’ concrete to be happy but it is often the quiet elegance of trees and flowers that reconciles me to the countryside.

gazebo malibu micheleroohani

These gorgeous carps – Koi Fish – were the best companion for the flora of this morning stroll. They are symbols of love and friendship.

carp koi fish micheleroohani

I have decided to go easy on this post – no links, no major earth-shattering opinions, nothing but beautiful images and maybe this poem by e.e.cummings:

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)”

stream malibu shrine micheleroohani

 

Africa exasperates me

February 3rd, 2008

It seems like I’ve been back to Los Angeles for ages but it’s been only a mere week. Paris faded fast in my memory thanks to a nasty stomach flu I caught after a great dinner of oysters and choucroute at Maison d’ Alsace with my friends; there is a gastro epidemic in Europe and for the second year in a row, I fell victim to it.

kenya ben curtis time magazine

There’s been so much to think/talk about – from the chaos in Kenya to the phenomenon of the Kenyan’s son and his new Kennedy friends but I’ve been sick and tired. To look at the African problems in a fresh way I suggest looking for Caroline Elkins’ view about the possible source of these African tribes’ sudden violent behavior towards each other. In general, a lack of vision and rampant corruption is the hallmark of African leadership. Needless to say that after the Super Bowl it’s the Super Tuesday that occupies the mind of America and not Kenya…

obama

I am sitting in this cute café which happens to have wifi! The world is changing and Paris with it.

cafe du metro michele roohani paris

I’ve been very busy since I am here; three interesting exhibitions in 2 days: Arcimboldo has never been so complete as in this exhibition in the Luxembourg museum.

michele roohani arcimboldo luxembourg

A way more somber show was Germany, the black years at the Maillol museum. Otto Dix, Beckmann and Grosz were the most impressing but i have to admit that the German propaganda posters with Hitler’s name on them were the most striking/chilling to me.

michele roohani german war poster 11

This one can give you nightmares:

michele roohani war poster german

this next one takes me back to all of my dear Professor Ungvari’s battlefields (Somme, etc…)

michele roohani somme

of course Paris can erase these nightmares with a winter sunshine after the rain.

michele roohani pont des arts

Christmas is here with all the usual joy and gore! I took some pictures last night from my neck of the woods. Welcome to the winter in the Lala Land.

michele roohani rodeo drive christmas chandelier

We are trying so hard to look like New York or Boston in the winter holidays but Los Angeles stays Los Angeles, a comfortable 55 F on Christmas eve.

michele roohani rodeo drive christmas beverly regents hotel

The Beverly Regent (AKA the pretty woman hotel) looks great in red.

michele roohani rodeo drive christmas via rodeo

michele roohani christmas via rodeo nutcracker

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet”

michele roohani christmas via rodeo poodles

Of course what is all this without music?

michele roohani christmas rodeo music

And these are some of my favorite store windows – the fabulous Rem Koolhaas‘ Prada flagship is amazing. I’ve always liked his Seattle public library as well.

michele roohani koolhaas prada flagship

Red has always been my favorite color.

michele roohani christmas via rodeo red dress

I have added Blue as another favorite some years ago.

michele roohani christmas  rodeo tiffany

I like them equally now.

michele roohani christmas  rodeo superman

By the way, I hate shopping/the crowd/malls – I wished people would stop accumulating extra-everythings (from candles to cars)…We all know people that are hopelessly deluded, bathed in trivia, mesmerized to the point of idiocy by almost any celebrity, amusing themselves to death, self-defeating and absurde at times. I made you read!

I just saw this wonderful film, Starting out in the evening, about an old writer who has outlasted the social order in which his life made sense. How can you go wrong with New York in the fall and tons of books? I can’t believe that the lead actor is the same guy who played in Superman returns.

starting out in the evening movie

I am a movie junkie but so much of what’s being produced now is blissfully forgettable; I know I like a film if I keep thinking about it the next day and when I start talking about it to others. These are a couple of them: The lives of others which got an oscar is about the constant question of how a good man acts in circumstances that seem to rule out the very possibility of decent behavior. The actor, Ulrich Muhe, was amazing – unfortunately he passed away in July.

lives of others ulrich muhe

The one movie I will always remember is Into great silence. The film is an eloquent achievement in capturing the slow and delicate rhythm of the Carthusian monks’s daily lives in silence – a great meditation if you are stressed out. “Silence. Repitition. Rhythm. The film is an austere, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.”

into great silence

I enjoyed Children of Men, a superbly directed political thriller – London has never looked this scary…

owen in cildrenofmen movie

My favorite of all action movies was The Bourne Ultimatum. An unusually smart work of industrial entertainment with the great Matt Damon – as good here as he was in the two previous Bourne films. The music is so interesting I had to shell out a buck for Moby’s “Extreme Ways”.

bourne ultimatum matt damon

All and all it’s been a good year for the low budget films and this makes me very happy. I am planning to see The diving bell and the butterfly, American gangster, and Persepolis.

satrapi persepolis

I also hope to be able to find Primo Levi’s journey. (I am insisting that he didn’t commit suicide!)

primo levi

I am trying to get a copy of the documentary, Out of place: Memories of Edward Said . He remains controversial even after his death.

edward said

and…maybe Beowulf for fun.