Claude Verlinde and Jacques Poirier, mirage makers.

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: 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.

You eat your values

“You eat your values – don’t let them be fast, cheap and easy” says Alice Waters, the revolutionary chef and cookbook author. Maybe it’s my age but I’ve started to think seriously about what I eat; junk food has never been a sin of mine but Waters and Dr. Oz have pushed me to eat better.


green tomatoes micheleroohani

I’ve been too lazy to go to Farmer’s markets up to a few months ago but I am hoping that my health is worth a little more money and a little inconvenience. Cooking becomes a pleasure again when you use fresh ingredients like in this simple Thai chicken and mint dish.

cicken a la menthe

Alice Waters has started the “Slow Food” program that teaches children to make the right decision about how and what they eat.


eat your vegetables micheleroohani

This doesn’t mean of course that great food shouldn’t be appreciated just because it’s not green enough. I was at a friend of mine‘s today for a fabulous sunday brunch that ended with these great cakes made by her talented sister, Mona; The chocolate mousse and the baby kiwi cakes were divine.


chocolate orange cake micheleroohani


baby kiwi cake micheleroohani

I took a tour of the kitchen and w o w…


spices micheleroohani

Just look at these pastry molds:


pastry molds micheleroohani

it’s true that a beautiful kitchen like this one makes you want to cook but I have had very delicious food coming out of small/dark/chaotic kitchens in my life (just dare to go to almost any parisian café’s kitchen)…

Today’ s food crisis makes us forget that good food like flowers should be affordable to everyone. As Jeffrey Sacks says “you can’t tell people who are dying of hunger in Africa to tighten their belts, as if they had belts”!


Ranunculus or Persian buttercup micheleroohani

I would like to finish the post with these pictures instead of some starving kids in Africa which is approaching a meltdown with the crazy Mugabe and the criminal Janjawids.


ziba shirazi painting micheleroohani

How did she go from chocolate mousse to Darfur? I bet that you didn’t see it coming…

Fast cars for dummies

The Bugatti Veyron is the most expensive car in the world and it is street legal. The price varies between $1,200,000 to $1,500,000 (by the time I finish this post the falling dollar will make this European made car even more expensive). With a maximum speed of more than 400 km per hour, the Veyron is unmatched in the super sports category and offers a total of 1,001 hp; it is the fastest accelerating car reaching 0-60 in 2.5 seconds.

bugatti expensive car micheleroohani

I took the above picture in Berlin a couple of years ago (the only one in this post I actually took) and decided to do some “soft” research about the subject to share with friends who can be as clueless about this as I am – try not to roll your eyes every time I am stating the obvious. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for testosterone galore:

Stock Car: a souped up version of a factory car that is only allowed to reach top speeds of approximately 187 mph (301 km/h) – the most prominent championship in stock car racing is the NASCAR championship. The 700 horsepower engines of these cars have been altered from their original factory design.

stock car Jacom Stephens

Daytona 500 is one of the most watched events on American television and the most important race in the NASCAR series – it is a 200-lap, 500 mile (805 km) race held annually in Daytona Beach, Florida. Even I have heard of Dale Earnhardt (both father and son)…

Formula One car: a single-seat, open cockpit, open wheel race car with substantial front and rear wings and engine positioned behind the driver. It’s made out of composites of carbon fiber, light but extremely strong. By regulation the cars use rear wheel drive and can handle 900 horsepower (in comparison my car has around 250 hp). The top speed of these cars is around 230 mph (370 km/h).

formula one mark evans

Formula One race, is the highest class of open wheeled auto racing . The “formula” in the name is a set of rules which all participants and cars must meet. The F1 world championship season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix. The big name in this category is Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari. The Indy Racing League is essentially the American version of F1.

Pit Stop: “in motorsports, a pit stop is where a racing vehicle stops in the pits during a race for refuelling, new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change, or any combination of the above” but what is interesting and not so obvious to the non-initiated, is that pit stop work is carried out by up to twenty mechanics (pit crew) and that pit strategy is one of the most important features of the race.

So, this wasn’t that bad, was it? The next step for me would be to actually watch a car race on tv and witness the thunder of roaring engines beating their chests…

Picasso and Farah Diba pahlavi

Farah Pahlavi, the queen of Iran, is still alive and well, but people are not talking about her much. Things changed when it was reported last month that “the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has put on display an exhibition that art experts call the most important collection of modern Western art outside Europe and the United States.” In the 1970’s she collected great works of art – about 150 paintings – by Picasso, Monet, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, etc…


farah pahlavi coat mirror micheleroohani

I bought some old Paris Match magazines some years ago in Paris spanning from 1958 through 1969. It was interesting to see her on the cover from practically the minute she met the Shah in Paris. I put some of the photos from Paris Match together to share them with you.


farah diba pahlavi micheleroohani hotel crillon

She lived a Cinderella story that turned sour at the age of 41 after the Iranian revolution of 1979.


farah diba pahlavi micheleroohani crown bride tiara

In spite of my belief that monarchy is absurd in the 21st century, it seems like I can’t shake my affinity for this lady; the fact that we both went to the same school (Jeanne d’Arc of Tehran) and had to endure the same French nuns may not have much to do with it.


farah diba pahlavi micheleroohani 3 faces

The deposed queen has somehow survived the animosity that follows the Pahlavis wherever they go. At the minimum she should be applauded for amassing a collection of priceless art, as opposed to worthless shoes or stolen jewelry (see Queen Elizabeth and Imelda Marcos).

Her good reputation lasted way longer than her jewelry.

Two of her kids committed suicide: Leila and AliReza Pahlavi; that would be way more painful than losing a country. Aside from her oldest son, the other three never really had a chance…

The lost art of Conversation in the 21st century

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.

No Ruz, Norouz, haft-seen, haft-sheen, etc…

Happy New Year to all of you hamvatans! These are some pictures of the ghost of Nowruz past and present. I remember new shoes, the intoxicating scent of hyacinths, the goldfish and the mint bills – and of course the sound of naghareh when the year changes.

norooz 1387 micheleroohani 2008

No Ruz is the day when life’s glory is celebrated; it usually occurs on March 21st or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. It’s a feast of renewal and freshness – No (new) Ruz (day).

norooz hyacinth micheleroohani

It has often been suggested that the famous Persepolis Complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Noruz by Darius the Great (522 -485 BC). It is celebrated in other countries as well as Iran. Tajikistan is one of them.

norooz sofreh micheleroohani

In spite of trying hard, the islamic republic of Iran has not been able to erase this semi-pagan spring festival; they have tried to replace Zarathustra‘s spring equinox celebration with the muslim eyds to no avail.

norooz goldfish micheleroohani

The original haft sheen or seven sh‘s were: Sharab (wine), Shekar (sugar), Sham (Candle), Shir (milk), Sharbat (Sherbet), Shaneh (comb), Shahd (nectar) but they were replaced by seven S’s to eliminate sharab (wine) after the arab conquest.

norooz sweets micheleroohani

The haft seen is made of:
Sabzeh – wheat or lentil sprouts growing in a dish symbolizing rebirth
Samanu – pudding made of wheat symbolizing wealth
Senjed – dried fruit of Jujube tree symbolizing love
Seer – garlic symbolizing medicine
Seeb – apples symbolizing beauty and health
Somaq – sumac berries symbolizing the sun
Serkeh – vinegar symbolizing age
Sonbol – hyacinth flower symbolizing the arrival of spring
Sekkeh – gold coins symbolizing prosperity and wealth

norooz coins micheleroohani

Too much information, wouldn’t you say?

norooz sabzeh micheleroohani

“Pourquoi les hommes ne savent-ils pas
Que la capucine n’est pas un hasard…” Sepehri

norooz ayneh micheleroohani


آمد بهار ای دوستان منزل سوی بستان کنیم
گرد غریبان چمن خیزید تا جولان کنیم

امروز چون زنبورها پران شویم از گل به گل
تا در عسل خان جهان شش گوشه آبادان کنیم

آمد رسولی از چمن کاین طبل را پنهان مزن
ما طبل خان عشق را از نعره ها ویران کنیم

بشنو سماع آسمان خیزید ای دیوانگان
جانم فدای عاشقان امروز جان افشان کنیم

آتش در این عالم زنیم وین چرخ را برهم زنیم
وین عقل پابرجای را چون خویش سرگردان کنیم

کوبیم ما بی پا و سر گه پای میدان گاه سر
ما کی به فرمان خودیم تا این کنیم و آن کنیم

نی نی چو چوگانیم ما در دست شه گردان شده
تا صد هزاران گوی را در پای شه غلطان کنیم

خامش کنیم و خامشی هم مایه دیوانگیست
این عقل باشد کآتشی در پنبه پنهان کنیم


To hear my good friend (Houri)’s voice accompanying the preparation of haft-seen, click on the view here.

About the seven sh’s, somebody mentioned the omnipresent SHAHNAMEH on the Norouz spread and I have to agree – the Great Book‘s almost always been on mine even now that it’s become the tame haft-seen. For some comic book version (for the heavy readers) check this site out.

My Nowruz 1390 (2011) here

For Nowruz 1389 (2010) go here

for Nowruz 1388 (2009)  go here

Feast for the eyes

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


All these unworthy opinions…

Check your facts people! Until a few years ago, being judgmental was politically incorrect (a very tired notion today) but as I am growing older, I am realizing that Life is too short not to judge. My good friends André Démir and Tamas Ungvari are “Messrs Opinion” both; in these times of “chilling apathy”, it’s refreshing to see somebody take a stand on something (in their case, on everything). This post is an homage to these two gentlemen, both hungry observers of the life around them and armed by an uncanny fluidity of intelligence.

tamas ungvari micheleroohani

I get frustrated when I hear all these unworthy opinions rolling out of everybody’s mouth; it’s good to check our facts before sharing them with everybody. Trust but verify. I am ready to listen then but I can’t even count the number of times that somebody has recited an article from a major newspaper or repeated a pundit’s interpretation of the news as an absolute fact to me. I am not completely innocent myself.

André is a mean Tango dancer (here with his angelic wife, Carol Kelly):

andre demir carol kelly micheleroohani

My hero, Isaiah Berlin, believed in “the power of the wisely directed intellect to illuminate, without undue solemnity or needless obscurity, the ultimate moral questions that face mankind”.


isaiah berlin micheleroohani

You just have to watch TV a bit to see how this power is misused by the kinds of the anchormen at the Fox News (or CNN for that matter). Beside making me sick, Ann Coulter makes me doubt Berlin’s philosophy:

‘Life can be seen through
many windows,
none of them necessarily
clear or opaque,
less or more distorting
than any of the others.’

I would have loved to listen in to Berlin and Akhmatova‘s conversation in a fateful night in 1945.


anna akhmatova micheleroohani

There is so much going on in the world with the renegade Kosovo, the two-headed Russia and Ahmadinejad in Iraq but those should wait another post to exploit your patience – I’ll try to make the next one all about flowers and butterflies.

Bloody Oscars

So I am a movie junkie (and a news junkie, a history junkie, etc…) but the Oscar ceremony in spite of the very funny Jon Stewart almost always leaves me cold. A bunch of over-pampered, over-paid brats with some over-hyped films to be over-promoted! How about an award ceremony for great teachers or diligent beekeepers for a change? The red carpet saw a lot of blood this year…

red carpet in santa monica micheleroohani

Don’t get me wrong, I like big budget films but it’s always refreshing to see a low/no budget movie that makes it…I came out of Juno with smoke coming out of my ears – teen pregnancy is no laughing matter to me and to be so nonchalant about it in a movie that caters to the young is even worse – the script was over-written and awash in smart-ass dialog but I have to admit that the actors were all good.

abortion poster metro paris micheleroohani

Having an abortion is hard (just watch the great movie 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days from Rumania) but keeping the baby when you are 16 and giving it away must be harder. The U.S. is the only western country that still has a constant debate about abortion (thanks to organized religion of course). The picture above is from a métro billboard in France; it says: Sexuality, Contraception, Abortion, a right, my choice, our freedom. Can you imagine this happening in the States?

glen hansgard

I am glad that Once won in the song category and the acceptance speeches were the best of the the night. I saw Glen Hansard first in the excellent rock and roll film The Commitments and he’s just gotten better. The song that got the oscar, Falling Slowly, is worth listening to.

Of the movies that were nominated and didn’t get far I loved the visually stunning The diving bell and the butterfly and The Savages and of course Persepolis. I read the diving bell book some years ago and found it depressing but the film was a masterpiece, Julian Schnabel‘s masterpiece. I left all three movies with a feeling of elation, joy…

“Étais-je aveugle et sourd ou bien faut-il nécessairement la lumière d’un malheur pour éclairer un homme sous son vrai jour?” Le scaphandre et le papillon
“Had I been blind and deaf it wouldn’t take the harsh light of disaster for me to find my true nature” The diving bell and the butterfly

Contagious enthusiasm: Gustavo Dudamel

Los Angeles is basking in the light of having the remarkable Dudamel as its philharmonic orchestra’s next music director starting 2009.

geneva market music micheleroohani

“True class: South America’s lightning conductor . . . what I experienced was sensational. His name is Gustavo Dudamel – he produced enough electricity to light up Birmingham – a young man with boundless talent, deeply in love, and the world at his feet.” The Times (London)
Dudamel started by playing the violin before becoming a conductor – listen to him play as the devil himself in this clip. His joy and exuberance are contagious.

anelli dudamel

Venezuela is not all about Chavez and his histrionics – it could also be about El Sistema, an organization that gave birth to the likes of Dudamel through teaching music to children. I first read about this a few months back but tonight the 60 minutes program (a must see) just blew me away…250,000 Venezuelan teenagers and children, most from impoverished backgrounds, are participating in El Sistema that has already produced many world class musicians – Mahler and Bernstein are keeping them out of trouble – All over the world, young people have so much to give and from whom so little is expected…

My other favorite Venezuelan is Manuel Graterol‘s daughter, Flor.

music micheleroohani dudamel

Of course amid all this musical euphoria, the cynic in me remembers George Steiner‘s quote: “we know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.