“You know, Colby, I actually do have a room opening up here.” / “No, you don’t. Paige pulled the transfer papers. She’s staying.” / “Is that right?” / “I guess I’m staying retired.” / “Colby Moore.” / “So much for my cover.” / “Tattoo on your neck. It’s an Armenian cross and you’re not Armenian, so…I figure you’re the last agent under the Sarkissian family.” / “Yeah, I got it after my first year under with Ari…sign of respect.” / “Hmm. Briggs said he formulated a new plan. I guess you’re it.” / “I’m part of it.” / “So are you, if you’re up for it.” / “Fill me in later. Got to run.”
Very Abridged Gifland3.03: You’re Trying to Deduce Me Aren’t You
Syrian-Armenians have contributed so much to Syria. They’re an integral part of the country & are very well integrated.
Since 1928 Armenians have had an almost continuous representation in the Syrian parliament. The current cabinet has one Armenian, Nazira Farah Sarkis as the State Minister for Environment Affairs.
The Armenian community in Syria has a rich tradition of media & publications. Armenian newspapers were among the first published in Syria for example Hye Tsayn & Darakir in 1918, Yeprad & Souriagan Sourhantag in 1919, Souriagan Mamul in 1922, another Yeprad in 1927, & Souria & Arevelk in 1946. Armenian intellectuals would often translate literature & academic studies into Arabic. The first Arabic language newspaper was published by the Aleppo-born Armenian journalist Rizqallah Asdvadzadur Hassun in 1855.
Many Syrian-Armenians have achieved national & international fame in music, drama, & the arts. Renowned singers/musicians & actors include George Tutunjian, Karnig Sarkissian, Paul Baghdadlian, & Salloum Haddad. The current conductor of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra is Missak Baghbourdarian. There are over 21 Armenian theatres, musical ensembles, dance groups, & art academies in Aleppo.
In sport, Armenians founded two of the oldest sports clubs in Aleppo: Ouroube (1923) & Al-Yarmouk (1925). The clubs were founded by refugees & survivors of the Armenian genocides of 1915, they both have several teams participating in different national competitions including football/soccer, basketball, table tennis, & chess. Many Armenians have represented the Syrian national football/soccer team including Ardavazt Marutian & Kevork Gerboyan. Avedis Kavlakian who played in the 1960′s was selected by the Syrian press as the best Syrian footballer/soccer player of the 20th century. Kevork Mardikian was a prominent athlete in the 1970′s & 1980′s, his son Mardik Mardikian currently plays for the Syrian national football/soccer team. In basketball, Mary Mouradian, Ani Karalian, Elisabeth Mouradian, & Magi Donabedian were members of the women’s national team during the 1980′s & 1990′s. Sari Papazian & Vatche Nalbandian are currently members of the men’s national basketball team.
With regards to medical sciences, Armenians were among the pioneers of modern medical sciences in Syria. The first X-ray generator in Syria was brought by Dr. Asadour Altunian (1857-1950) to Aleppo in 1896. Dr. Altunian opened the first private hospital in Aleppo in 1927. Later he founded Syria’s first nursing school in Aleppo. After his death in 1950, Dr. Altunian was honoured by the Syrian government with the Honour Model of Syrian Merit of the Excellent Degree. Dr. Robert Jebejian (1909-2001) was among the first ophthalmologists in Syria. He founded the first private ophthalmic hospital in Aleppo in 1952. Dr. Jebejian published many valuable research papers about diseases like leishmaniasis & trachoma. In 1947 he performed the first ever corneal transplantation surgery in Syria & the entire middle east. Roger Altounyan (1922-1987) pioneered the use of sodium cromoglycate as a remedy for asthma.
The first president of the new republic of Armenia after independence from the Soviet Union was Aleppo-born Levon Ter-Petrosyan. The minister for foreign affairs between 1998-2008 Vartan Oskanian was also born in Aleppo.
Many Syrian-Armenians belong to a higher socio-economic class. They are disproportionately represented amongst the middle-upper class & are one of the most educated groups in Syria. They contribute immensely to the economy, the academic, scientific, arts, entertainment, intellectual life, & politics of Syria.
Ophelia didn’t mean to hurt her. One of the older girls, Domika, took her out of bed and took her downstairs to a cold place.
She remembered trying to scream, unable to breathe or be heard as her face was mashed into a pillow. She was so scared but Domika didn’t stop. The little girl had scratched and kicked– picked up something metal from the basement floor and hit Domika’s head really, really hard. She felt it too. Just like when she cracked an egg. Now the bigger girl wasn’t moving.
Through the scrapes and bruises, the worst pain was inside. Because Ophelia was huddled in a corner, shaking and silently sobbing. Little, experienced hands were coated in blood and Ophelia couldn’t stop staring. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t cry out. Her whole body was cold and her muscles were aching, but Opie was frozen. It hurt so bad inside; if she were able to move, the little girl would be sick.
And then she heard the scuff.
Someone was coming down there. They’d see and they’d know it was her fault. They would hurt her just like Kraken hurt the older girls at nighttime. Ophelia was going to die too.
The symposium “Disappearing Cities of the Arab World” took place on 12 July at the British Museum in London. Cairobserver’s Mohamed Elshahed was invited to participate in the third panel of the day along side artists Ali Cherri, Hrair Sarkissian and Jananne Al-Ani. Each were asked to present remarks for 12 minutes. The following text was read by Elshahed accompanied by a slideshow of his photography of contemporary urban conditions in Egypt. For more photos see Picture Masr.
Part I: 19 acts of disappearance
1. At 7:00 am on July 11, 1882
British warships bombarded Alexandria. Tens of recently built grand apartment
buildings as well as public buildings were devastated by the bombardment. The
main urban space of 19th century Alexandria, Place des Consuls (also
known as Muhammad Ali Square) was surrounded by rubble. The entire area had to
2. Earlier this year, the Egyptian
military evacuated the entire town of Rafah and started to dynamite every
single building. By the end of the year the entire town, once a stop on the road
from Cairo to Jerusalem, will disappear forever.
3. On January 24, 2014 a car bomb
targeting the Cairo police headquarters severely
damaged the Museum of Islamic Art. Originally established in 1858 as the
Museum of Arab Art, the first of its kind in the world, the now shattered
building was completed in 1902. It was closed for 8 years for restoration
before it reopened in 2010.
4. Starting in the 1820s Cairo
underwent major urban interventions that called for the destruction of entire
areas of the old city to make way for new straight avenues that would ease
mobility, allow light and air into the medieval street network. During this
process of modernization hundreds of houses, commercial buildings and mosques
were destroyed. Orientalists, romantics and travel writers scoffed the modernization
efforts as mixing what shall not mix: features of the oriental city with
features of the European city.
5. Villa Ambron, the inspiration
for The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, awaits its demolition.
6. Near downtown Alexandria, a time
capsule of a space, the Venus Salon de The, has seen few customers in recent
years. Its exact history and story I do not know, but the space was a
palimpsest of the city’s social and urban history. It quietly closed last year
and will most likely be remembered by few.
7. In Port Said today, two elderly
brothers sit in their bookshop, which has been in business for six decades in
the Woolworth building, a 19th century two story wooden structure on
a prominent corner. The brothers await the inevitable fate of having their shop
and the history that comes with it demolished. In the meantime they have set up
a personal museum of photographs documenting their successful careers and their
travels to international exhibitions and fairs. A state-owned insurance company
controlling most properties in the oldest part of Port Said is leading the way
to allow such buildings to disappear to sell the properties for real estate
speculation, often by members of the military and police with connections to
the company’s management.
8. In 1956 French, British and
Israeli areal bombing devastated the Suez Canal cities of Port Said and
Ismailia. Entire districts, particularly those belonging to the poorest were
9. The government is currently
removing (against the wishes of residents) vast stretches of the tram network
that was always part of the affluent district of Heliopolis in Cairo.
10. Um Kulthoum’s 1930s modernist house
designed by Ali Labib Gabr was demolished over two decades ago.
11. In the years leading to 2011,
Luxor governor Samir Farag, a military man whose career saw him in civilian
posts such as director of the Cairo Opera, led a citywide re-planning vision
that called for the mass demolition of 19th and 20th
century buildings to make way for the reconstruction and excavation of ancient
sites. The project aimed to evacuate the city of its inhabitants—and with them
erase nearly all signs of modern history—in favor of turning Luxor into an open-air
museum for the consumption of European tourists.
12. On January 26, 1952 a great
fire tore through downtown Cairo as rioters retaliated against the killing of
Egyptian police personnel by British forces in the city of Ismailia during the
previous day. Hundreds of establishments, mostly catering to foreigners and
elites, such as cinemas, department stores, bars, casinos as well as foreign
owned businesses and buildings were torched.
13. In 1947, King Farouk dressed in
military uniform raised the Egyptian flag in what is today’s Tahrir Square and
ordered the demolition of the military barracks of Qasr el Nil, built in 1863
for the Egyptian military but used since 1882 by the British.
14. The house of Ahmed Shawqi, the Egyptian poet
who pioneered the modern Egyptian literary movement, is currently being
15. In the 1960s Nubian villages
and towns were forever submerged under the waters of Lake Nasser.
16. Alexandria’s Greco-Roman
museum, established in 1892, has been closed for as long as I can remember.
It’s shell is still standing but the museum as a public place in the city has
long disappeared from the minds of Alexandrians, especially the city’s youngest
residents who never had the chance to enter its doors.
17. In early February 2014
bulldozers started to incrementally destroy the fully intact Villa Aghion
in Alexandria. The modernist icon built in 1928 and designed by Auguste Perret
had become an economic burden on its owner. Hundreds of historic villas across
the country met the same fate in recent years.
18. The status of the house in
which Gamal Abdel Nasser was born is unknown.
19. Last month the government
commenced the demolition of the former headquarters of Mubarak’s National
Democratic Party. The torched building had become a powerful yet unintentional
monument to the revolts of 2011.
Part II: A possible prognosis
This partial and unsystematic list
of disappearing buildings, infrastructures, museums, houses and entire neighborhoods
reveals that disappearance as a term used in these cases masks extraordinary
violence. Buildings and cities don’t disappear; they are demolished, dynamited,
bombed, attacked, razed to the ground, and bulldozed. There is an entire
industry in Egypt for helping owners of would-be heritage buildings destroy
their own properties. Methods include injecting acid into columns and flooding
foundations with water.
Thus, what does the seemingly
apolitical phrase “disappearing cities of the Arab world” mean in the context
of the contemporary Middle East? Is it about the destruction of cities by
direct acts of war and terrorism, including terrorism unleashed by despotic
state institutions as a way of saying to besieged Arab populations “not yet,
you’re not ready to be truly moderns”? Is it the intentional negligence of
national patrimony as a way of producing insecure easy to govern populations
with little sense of national pride? Or is it the destruction of archeological
sites deemed uninteresting by the state and therefore made available for real
estate speculation? Or is it the total dismissal of two centuries of local
modern history by postcolonial states that adopt colonial narratives that only
that which pre-dates European arrival (often marked with 1798 and the arrival
of Napoleon in Egypt) is considered authentic and therefore possibly worthy of
recording? Or is it the destruction of neighborhoods and the eviction of their
residents in the name of reconstructing ancient sites and uncovering
archeological remains deemed of interest to the global tourism industry?
Once upon a time, the destruction
of cities and buildings promised architects the opening of new territories for
renewal and modernism. For example, in 1945 Egyptian modernist architect Sayed
Karim published an article in the popular magazine al-Ithnein wal Dunya lamenting Cairo’s survival from the Second
World War. “What if Cairo were destroyed?” he asked. Karim argued that
peacetime had caused Egyptian cities incremental widespread damage. For a modernist
aspiring to build architecture and cities on a grand scale, the mass
destruction of European cities by the war gave Karim reason for envy. He wrote,
“European architects are busy rebuilding their cities according to the latest
principles.” Karim asserts the classic notion that modernization often requires
destruction and the disappearances of older urban forms.
But, is this always the case? After
all, the destruction of downtown Beirut led the way for further destruction as
part of the rebuilding processes which have transformed the city center into a
neoliberal ghostly image of its former self. And the destruction of Iraqi
cities by US forces has given way for some of the most lucrative reconstruction
contracts in history, given largely to US companies, but with little tangible
results lived and experienced by Iraqis.
neighborhoods, museums, landmark buildings, and the collective identities of
entire cities is an everyday occurrence under the auspices of friendly despotic
governments and often in the service of piecemeal capital speculation. Often
times uncontrolled real estate markets replace sites that carry histories and
memories with blank square footage up for sale even if the overabundance of
this newly built area does not correspond to market dynamics of supply and
demand. This new real estate is not solving the housing crisis; there are an
estimated 6 million vacant newly built units in Egypt.
While all this happens, millions of
Egyptians “like” and “share” on social media melancholic images and videos of
what is perceived as a better urban past that was not long ago. A sense of
being helpless and besieged pervades. At the same time the current regime
directly or indirectly oversees the destruction and intentional negligence of
Egyptian cities while presenting itself to the masses as savior and builder. Propaganda
aside, there are facts on the ground that are undeniable: Our cities are
mismanaged, public spaces are restricted, and our heritage, particularly
modern heritage, is left to melt into air. The result is an urban
condition in which the past is unrecorded, the present is unstable and the
future is uncertain.
“I’ll frickin’ blow a hole in your face. Tell me what you know about Layla Sarkissian.” / “Ari, just take it easy, man.” / “Hey, shut up. Go, watch the door, I’ll handle this.” / “Shooting him in the head is not going to help us find Layla!” / “Go watch the door! I’ll handle this!” / “Hey, hey, hey, there’s a black SUV pulling in here.” / “Holy shit. That’s frickin’ Martun Sarkissian.”
Very Abridged Gifland3.04: Briiiggs? Briiiiiggs? I Guess This is It. Farewell Cruel World. Again. P.S. Briggs You Suck
[Indulgent, lovingly timed, 540x304px versions of Mike’s sweet blue-eyed action here ‘cos let’s be honest I do this to spend quality time with his face.]
1. Helmut Zemo is the son of wealthy German immigrants who fled WWI and settled in New York.
2. Despite his well-mannered and gentile appearance, Helmut is ruthless and cunning, using his vast resources and international connections to serve as the primary middle-man for all contraband items attempting to get into the country through New York Harbor. This proves to be a lucrative enterprise, and ‘the Baron’ does not tolerate competition on any scale.
3. Helmut inherited a membership into the secretive Hellfire Club after his parents’ death, taking the position of Black Rook under the supervision of Black Queen Ophelia Sarkissian.
4. Helmut is the target as well as the pursuer in a cat-and-mouse game with New York police Captain Steve Rogers. However, Zemo remains untouchable by law enforcement due to any real evidence tying New York’s illegal activities to him.
5. Despite his somewhat unsavory relationship with the police, Helmut is known to assist them from time to time, sometimes for the greater good, but mostly in order to shut down any competitors as a crime lord.
Ophelia Sarkissian || Madame Hydra || Villain || OPEN
FC: Lena Headey Age: 37 Sexual Orientation: Bisexual Occupation: Current Hydra Leader | Manager at Equinox Gym | Owner of Centerfolds Adult Club From: Budapest, Hungary Lives In: East Village Brownstones Species | Status Identity: Human | Mostly secret Abilities: Highly skilled hand-to-hand fighter, expert con artist & tactician, professional with weapons combat, specializing the use of firearms; built up a high tolerance to most toxins Weaknesses: Is not immortal by any means; vulnerable to superhuman abilties, brute strength (by humans and superhumans), bullets & other weapon afflictions
Orphaned at a young age and taken in by former and now deceased Hydra leader, Johann Shmidt (Red Skull); raised in a highly strict home as a student with little if any affection expressed
Had been receiving rigid and private training ever since her primary years, in order to succeed Red Skull and lead the notorious terrorist group; conditioned to believe in Hydra’s goals of global command by any means necessary
Recently invested in Centerfolds as both occasional relief from Hydra training/mentoring, as well as for obtaining potentially useful information from club patrons; opened and manages Equinox Gym years ago, engaging in rigorous training of Hydra agents in its secluded lower levels
The After Xavier RPG
Accepting Auditions: August 8th || RPG Opens: August 14th
Croata Karlovic vence a colombiano Galán en Bogotá
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — El croata Ivo Karlovic se recuperó de un traspié en el primer set y superó en tres al colombiano Daniel Elahi Galán el jueves en la segunda ronda del ATP 250 de Bogotá.
Karlovic, primer preclasificado y campeón en la cita de 2013, doblegó al tenista local por 6-7 (12), 6-1, 6-3 en la cancha de superficie dura del Centro de Alto Rendimiento al noroccidente de Bogotá.
En otros duelos, el francés Adrián Mannarino, tercera cabeza de serie, venció 7-5, 6-3 al estadounidense Rajeev Ram; el checo Radek Stepanek superó 6-4, 6-0 al australiano Sam Groth; y el tunecino Malek Jaziri eliminó 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-2 al estadounidense Alexander Sarkissian.
El dominicano Víctor Estrella-Burgos enfrentaba al japonés Yuichi Sugita, el colombiano Alejandro Gómez jugaba con el también japonés Tstusma Ito y el australiano Bernard Tomic, campeón en 2014, cerraba la jornada contra el español Adrián Menéndez-Maceiras.
✗ Ophelia Sarkissian/Madame Hydra || FC: Mila Kunis (flexible) || OPEN
→ “I fight for nihilism – and shall continue to do so until I, in turn, am cut down.”
Orphaned at a young age in Eastern Europe during a revolution, Ophelia Sarkissian was taken in by Kraken, who trained her extensively in various martial arts. Working her way up in ranks, she soon gained respect and notoriety by many in the criminal underworld, eventually leading her to be recruited by HYDRA and taking control of their New York operations, killing off other leading HYDRA members to assume the title of Madame Hydra. Ophelia has a vast knowledge of venoms and toxins, often crafting her own poisons and making herself immune to them through measured exposure. She is a brilliant and cunning criminal strategist with talents in stealth and espionage, and possesses financial and social influence.
Ophelia helped orchestrate several of HYDRA’s attacks on New York City.
Top seed Karlovic beats Galan to reach Claro Open quarters
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Top-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia came back to defeat home-crowd favorite Daniel Elahi Galan 6-7 (12), 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Claro Open on Thursday.
The 23rd-ranked Karlovic served 28 aces and didn’t allow a single break point against the 607th-ranked Colombian.
Karlovic, the runner-up last year in Bogota, will meet veteran wild card Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, who beat sixth-seeded Sam Groth of Australia 6-4, 6-0.
Third-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France also didn’t concede a break point on his way to a 7-5, 6-3 win over Rajeev Ram of the United States, setting up a quarterfinal against Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, who rallied to defeat American qualifier Alexander Sarkissian 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-2.