Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen

According to Wikipedia, the word Magazine has Arabic roots and it means warehouse. Wikipedia also suggests that the earliest example of magazines was Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen and was launched in 1663 in Germany.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been subscribed to a few magazines. I read books too, but I like magazines more. Today, I was asking myself: what is behind the allure of reading magazines? And I could think of a few reasons:

First, magazines are about short-form contents. People like me, who easily get impatient about direction of a story, favor short-form contents. For instance, the build-up section of an article is usually no longer than a few paragraphs. In comparison, the build-up part of a book can go on up to a few chapters.

Second, magazines home variety of topics in one print –from analysis of human genome to pregnancy of Zooey Deschanel. Variety actualizes entertainment. As such magazines inherently become reading adventures by letting us the pleasure of wandering through writers’ brains.

Third, books resemble a sense of permanence and infrequency. In contrast, magazines are purposed to be periodic and disposable. That’s built in to the business, design, and function of magazines. The periodic nature of reading material provokes a sense of thrill and expectation.

The reasons we read magazines seem to be similar to why we read anything. We read to learn and break free from boredom. In doing that, we have preferences in the form based on our habits and sense of sufficiency.

Duck Lips

The main function of lips is to suck. This skill comes at birth as a primitive reflex -and it is fundamental to our survival. Via the means of evolution, babies are now born knowing how to suck and no learning of any sort is required. Lips, the hypersensitive pinky tissue is the main (visibly) entrance to human’s body. Albeit, lips serve some other functions such as: food intake, drool prevention, speech, and playing musical instruments. Lips also have a considerable impact on beauty and visual aspects of the face.

In the past few years, we have found a new function for lips: The Duck Lips pose. Often, when I closely look at poses in pictures, I detect a new trend: people stick their lips out in a fashion that looks like duck’s beak. This photographic expression enhances cheekbones and causes pooched-out lips and sucked-in cheeks. In this pose, the body is usually positioned at 45 degree, the arm closest to the camera is placed on the hip, one foot is slightly in front of the other, the toe of the front foot is pointed towards the camera, and the weight is placed on the back leg.

I’m not a style-caster, but honestly, some people look good with this pose in pictures. Out of curiosity, I tried to find out how the duck-lips pose burst out into pictures. Apparently, this pose became very popular after broad publication of pictures from Ashley Dupre’s, Eliot Spitzer’s mistress.

Models and other imaginary creatures have always exaggerated facial gymnastics in the name of fashion or entertainment. That’s fair game and to a large degree necessary with any notion that has to do with creativity and imagination. Nevertheless, let’s try not to out-suck the main sucker.

Teacher’s Pet

A lifelong friend of mine, Kai, owns a market corner in my heart. For as far as I can remember, he has been a pure and impeccable human being. A few weeks ago, he called me to share that his decade old relationship had gone through a crisis, and though everything is now back to normal, he struggles to feel the relationship in the same way.

Kai never got to be a dumb kid. Dumb maybe, but never a kid. Everyone called him a “little grownup” and he was so proud of that: being good and following the rules. He was so faultless that he ended up being a teacher’s pet. But then he grew up to be an adult, and there was no teacher to please. That’s why he made up some idea of what people expect from a noble man. Making a nice home and raising well-behaved kids … not making waves … not making troubles, and keeping his voice down. And he went along with that wanting to keep on being good. He mostly stayed quite. So quiet that he forgot the sound of his own voice. People almost forgot that he was there. His wife forgot he was there.

Years passed in the same manner more or less. Through a series of social interactions, Kai found Gemma who didn’t like him very much. Gemma didn’t consider Kai to be kind or good. And Kai went along with it. But he struggled with this thing he’s been afraid of all along. The fear that someone would think less or ill of him. Then oddly, he found Gemma’s ill-feeling towards him to be a relief. At least someone saw him. Someone didn’t think he was invisible. Jumbled and unsettled, he no longer knew where he stood with Gemma and their dry fling dissolved.

Kai’s happily-ever-after project resumes. But it doesn’t resume on the same terms. He got to sense what it means to be perceived as imperfect. Though he has patched the relationship together, the patches show.


A couple of days ago I had a chat that reminded me of a blog I posted back in 2007 about online dating. So I decided to re-post a few paragraphs of it, again.

[October 2007]
I’m usually fascinated by subjects that don’t immediately urge me to place an opinion. Online dating is one of those. A few weeks ago, I had dinner with an old friend and during our long conversation she said “I’ve put a profile on one of these dating sites and I go on a lot of dates with strange guys”. For some unknown reason our conversation temporarily got to a tongue-tied place after the disclosure:

… eating …
… long silence …
… eating more …
… awkward silence again …
… eating with vengeance …
… not looking at each other, but continuing to eat …
… heaving a sigh …

“Why don’t you say anything? You always have an opinion” said she. I really didn’t know what to say. I had no opinion one way or the other. She continued by asking “Have you ever dated online?” … “No” I replied and explained the reason by saying “it’s difficult for women to know me in person, how could such motionless correspondence work for me? Besides, People use ‘I’ a lot and they pretend to be someone else, and …”. She didn’t like what I said and passionately challenged me by saying “Why don’t you try to write something honest about yourself that doesn’t include ‘I’ too much?”

… I took my friend’s challenge very seriously and tried to put something together if I ever had to introduce myself online. Here it is:

(( My name is Kamran, a man who bathes every day. I believe in princesses, quality women, and other fantasy creatures – but fortunately, you don’t have to kiss the frog to find me. My understanding is that women often seem to be like phones: they like to be held and talked to, but if you press the wrong button you’ll be disconnected. Willingness to share the remote, jumping on Oprah’s couch, and vacuuming the house are among my compromises. Giving gifts is an incomparable gesture for me, however electrical appliances, cooking utensils, or lanterns are not adequate gifts for a lover. There is indeed a mischievous inner child in me. While opening the door for you, my inner child might tempt me to trip you on the way in. Like a dream job, excellent benefits will be paid by me but you have to pay taxes. I support you like your bra, tirelessly and as long as necessary, and you better show up at my soccer games and watch me yelling at and with 22 adult men. Last not least, if we end up in a relationship, I’m willing to lie about how we met. ))

Obama Jeans

There are many items to point out in the 2014 version of fashion Faux Pas since much of people’s cognitive behavior have changed. With that, here is the list for this year:

– Ladies: No baseball cap please. It’s so 80s on the muscle beach. It’s even more disgusting when some women stick out their ponytail from the hole in back of the cap

Multi-Stripe Socks: these are fabulous socks designed to make a tiny dent in the stagnate world of men’s fashion. But guys, if your style includes striped pair of socks with striped pants and striped shirt, that doesn’t work. People get dizzy around you.

Sloppy Pants Break: excessive amount of fabric spilling over your shoes kills the vibe your suit and tie combo is trying to radiate.

Flip flops: toes are arguably the ugliest organ in human’s body. So if you don’t take care of your toes, don’t wear flip-flops especially in the workplace.

Barak Obama Jeans: high-waisted jeans are dorky. They emphasize on all the wrong parts of your body.

Belts add proportion to female body. That’s the main function of a belt for women. So if you wear your belt too high or too low, you’re actually making your body disproportionate.

– Life is short, but shorts don’t have to be so short. Ladies: if your fashion includes wearing a short in public which is not elegant, at least make sure the short isn’t that short.

Sunglasses: Take sunglasses off at entrance. Period.

Until the next time, stay chic.



“I’m a freelance reporter”
“What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a journalist?”
“I’ve learned: in societies where people don’t have much to lose, they will either die or become a hero”

Alla Rampa


“Cosa ha fatto di bello oggi?”
“Are you from America?”
“Oh, you speak English … yes, from San Francisco”
“I lived in America for two years”
“Where did you live?”
“New York and Florida. Then I came back”
“How do you like this job?”
“I divorced my wife and now this is what I do”
“Did you get a divorce while in the US?”
“No, I divorced my wife when I came back from America”

The Chorus

The chap calls himself DB. I don’t know him. I have never met him, either. But I’ll never forget the moment I sat up and took notice of him. The moment that I knew I loved his music and that he was a different kind of musician. Granted, we both got out of the old country during our younger years and bounced around the globe to settle on the other side of the pond. DB’s music is multi-layered which is reflective of the depth and breadth of his interests and observations. The first time I listened to one of his pieces, it sounded like another house mix. And it was all in the middle of a crowded and pretentious lounge. But then, the mix went on to include one of the songs from Les Choristes soundtrack.

Les Choristes (The Chorus) is a low-budget movie about a dark, doom-filled school for troubled boys where hope is in short supply. A good-natured new teacher who’s a struggling musician, arrives. Only to find himself surrounded by juvenile thieves, chronic liars, unapologetic rebels, and lost souls. The teacher introduces these supposedly hard-core delinquents to something they’ve never experienced before: the joy of music. He then discovers there is far more to these children than anyone ever believed. The teacher helps recover their souls.

The construct of every piece of music covers rhythm where you can easily hear the downbeat, melody as the element for the notes, and the harmony: the vertical sound of music. But there is another captivating element that’s often neglected: The story.

You love the music you love, for the reasons pertinent to you. But you’ll love it even more when you know the story. The analysis of the construct of music will never trump feelings that it infers -because that’s not what music is about. The way a song moves us is ultimately what makes music lovers come back for more. It’s practically addictive. But the more you understand how the musician manipulates the fundamental elements of music, you get a peek behind the journey.

Quiet Days in Tenderloin *

As I write, the sun is falling. People at work are going to dinner. It’s been a pensive day filled with thoughts and doubts. I leave the building to walk home and air my thoughts. On the way out, I ran into an old friend who’s rushing away to nurse another conversation. Daniel Jr. kindly extends a warm “see you tomorrow” which portray his deep sense of humility.

It is the same type of day outside. The homeless is begging to those who are rushing home. Tourists take pictures of duck tours, and the cops cut tickets to people who’re blocking the sidewalk trying to buy a ticket to the show at the Moore theatre. These little observations murmur my sense of reflection.

I walk on the boulevard and pass by the immense number of shops and restaurants. I see no end of conversations around dinner tables. I think of friendships, romances, and separations that are formed around those tables. It all feels irrelevant to me as an individual, but it’s all relevant to my sense of curiosity. I can’t help but to think of the ongoing stories around me.

On quiet days in Tenderloin, I often find myself walking by the hotel where I had the first encounter with Taffy. I often look away because I have a deep desire to erase that memory, and the sense of regret attached to that scoop of life.

Tenderloin is lazy, indifferent, and somewhat rotten. It’s not glamorous as much as musing. On the days of wine and roses however, Tenderloin is glowing with a lurking flame which idealizes its sense of hope.

*Inspired by the opening chapter of Quiet Days in Clichy

Botox and Chanel No. 5

During the holiday season, I cleared out my backlog of books, articles, and films. Here are the quotes I found funny / clever:

— If a girl likes you, she won’t eat pizza in front of you
— Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains
— I don’t mean to be an asshole. It’s just genetic
— She’s a little heavy on the Botox and Chanel No. 5, but she’s nice
— Half of people have a penis but everyone is afraid to look at it
— I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking: I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains