Oxymel / Sekangebin / Sekajebin


These terms all refer to, in essence, the same beverage that has been drunk by Eastern Mediterranean and Near East for millennia.  It is a vingar and honey combination that has been, and still is, as a refreshment, and as a medicine.  Traditionally, medicinal herbs and powders that may not be so enjoyable on their own are mixed into the concoction during preparation to make them easier on the palette. Aromatic herbs are, also, used.

Oxymel – The Latin name ultimately derives from the Classical Greek name of the beverage and translates to “acid/ vinegar-honey” deriving from Greek: oxys  ὀξύς, meaning ‘acid,’ ‘vinegar’ and μέλι, meaning ‘honey.’

Sekangebin / Sekanjebin – The name that it is known by in the Greater Iranian lands and their spheres of influence.  The older term “Sekangebin” is the older term, deriving from Pahlavi: sek meaning ‘vinegar’(c.f. Farsi serke), and angebin meaning ‘honey.’

In most Modern Iranian languages ‘angebin’ still means ‘honey,’ however, in the dominant dialects of Tehrani, and Dari, it more commonly refers to a kind of wild tamarisk tree and the sweet edible sap that it produces.  This is probably related, ultimately, to the influence of Islam from the late 7th century CE and after.  This is, also, the reason for the change in pronounciation (Arabic lack of the /g/ phoneme influencing the pronounciation of Iranian /g/ to /j/ c.f. Farsi gah > jah ‘place[ment]’, Mehregan > Marjaan ‘Mithra Festival’, gens > jens ‘genus,’ ‘type’) formulation, preparation and pronounciation (see below) in the Iranian world; hence the pronounciation sekanjebin.


The drink is referenced by Marcus Poricus Cato in the 2nd C. BCE, in his De Re Rustica (About Agricultural Matters), but is probably first referenced to by Hippocrates, that famous Greek physician whose oath is still recited by modern doctors.  He recommends it as a remedy for lowering fevers, soothing sore throats, and ulcers. He refers to it as οξυγλυλ or “vinegar-sugar.”

The common modern Iranian version sekanjebin, also, recalls sugar.  The honey in the mixture is replaced with a simple syrup of sugar-water, and the fermentation process replaced by placing the cooking of the vinegar and placing of the herbs (most commonly mint) into mix while hot, so that the cell walls of the herb(s) are broken down by the heat.  The reason for the change in preparation and ingredients is due to the influence of Islam, which bans the taking of fermented beverages due to the presence of alcohol.

The Process

The two main ways of preparation are what I call the Raw Preparation, and Cooked Preparation.

The Raw Preparation requires that all of the ingredients (vinegar, honey, herbs) be added at the same time with the herbs comprising 1/3 of the total and the remainder, dependent of individual tastes, between 70-30% of one ingredient, and the rest the other.  This is, then, bottled and stored in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks.  The lower the time length, the less chance of fermentation.  Though, it would only need a couple of days for the cell walls of the herbs to break down and start to diffuse into the mixture.  The mixture is strained.  A couple of spoonfuls are added to water, and you are good to. Some people will allow the strained mixture to sit for a few extra days or weeks prior to consumption.

The Cooked Preparation calls for either cooking the honey and vinegar, or adding the vinegar to the simple syrup as it is cooking, if you will.  This process requires the use of 4-5 times more vinegar than what will end up in the final concoction as the vinegar evaporates quickly.  Once the mixture turns into a syrup, the herbs are added and the fire is removed.  Once the syrup has cooled, it is strained and ready for consumption.

My New Attempt

All my life, I have only had the Cooked Preparation, as that is the most common version found in the regions my family is from.  I, however, as with most things, I guess, preferred to try the, undoubtedly, older Raw Preparation.  So, I mixed a ratio 60% Apple Cider Vinegar to 40% Raw Local Honey into a quart jar 1/3 filled with chopped and ground mint leaves and stems.  Covered it in a brown bag and placed it in the meat drawer of the fridge.  Every few days, I took the mixture out to shake it.  Since it is supposed to be a type of “wine” that is diluted in water, I allowed the mixture to sit for a full 40 days, the length of time Shiraz wine is traditionally let to ferment before it is bottled.

Wine, Transformations, and Death

In Iranian tradition, the preparation of wine has been the metaphor and analogy of transformation and purification.  This is reflected in poetry, literature, and even in burial rituals.  The metaphor starts with the life of a grape, which was given form by the vine of which it once was, which metaphorically matches the birth of a human “soul” as it separated from “the Divine.”  After the ripened grape is selected and plucked from the vine, the soul ready for life is “plucked,” as it were, from its state of “oneness” and enters the world.  In Zoroastrian Tradition, this can be reflected in myth of the Chinvatu Peretu, or “The Bridge of the Selector.” As form of life is “plucked” as a ripe fruit by Jamshid and lead across the bridge, if ready, or dropped, if not.  Although this is generally regarded as the process of Death and the passage from “this world to the next,” it metaphorically occurs at each and every transformation, or moment of “a great choice.”  This is more readily present in the Hindu myths of Jamshid, which is, of course, related to the Iranian ones.  In the Abrahamic Traditions, this is the separation of the Self from Godhead.

After 3 days, the grape must be pressed. Other grapes are added to the already pressed ones for 4 additional days.  In the Abrahamic Traditions, the body must be placed in its grave within 3 days after death.  While Zoroastrians can allow up to a week, it is generally done as soon as possible, whether Dakhma or grave.  There are memorial services on the 7th day.  On the 7th day, sugars and the such are added to the pressed grapes, and it is fermented for a length of 40 days from the end of pressing.  On the 40th day, the mixture is strained and bottled for a year.  In the Abrahamic Traditions, a memorial is held on the 40th day and will sit until the anniversary of the death, when a tombstone is added.  In the Zoroastrian Tradition, the bones are removed from the Dakhma and placed in the family lot.

This same pattern is applied for all forms of great life transformations, whether spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical.

At any rate, here we are, at day 40…a little too much vinegar for my taste…but good…


Shattered shards of faces once worn           cover the floor

Fractured faces from former       fantasies



Dust settles over ruined remains of former me’s

Empty smiles to match hollow lies


false peace

‘n sympathies

Snug, form-fit, fabric face holders held underarm

Once befriended frauds, home to many a fear


a cold bitter jeer

Destroyed dwellings of tender spots weaken the will

Torture the heart, damage the soul, rupture all structure

Vaten Fest



If you have spent your life living nearer to the Equator than to the Arctic Circle, visiting Sweden during the summer months is a trip.  I’d imagine the winter months would be, also, but, I was there during the summer.  In August, in fact.  To give you a brief landscape of this lush and flat moose-filled land would do a disservice to the reader, so I recommend a visit.  Until that potential moment, allow me to write you a stick-figure diagram.  Sweden is wonderfully green, in the summertime.  The Swedes take nice care of their country.  There is very little litter.  There was some in the middle of this tree covered park by my aunt and uncle’s home.  It was mainly confined to a bush, and by the looks of the litter, it was probably the local youth “watering hole.”  I have never experienced air so clean.  The sun did not set for the majority of my visit.  Toward the end of my stay, it started to twilight around midnight, and less than an hour later, it was day again.  For this reason, Swedish homes have very thick drapes to block out the light during sleeping hours.  For this reason, I have little time recollection of the trip. The sky was blue, and clear; then, suddenly, dark, cloudy, and rainy for a brief bit.  It rained for about an hour every couple of days.  Heavily wooded, or covered with healthy grasses.  The local beach, really, was a break in the woods around a lake filled with near freezing Artic water, and some sand strategically placed near the water.  I jumped in and nearly asphyxiated from the cold.  It was fucking great!

I was looking forward to the trip.  I was looking forward to seeing my family, seeing a new country, meeting new people, plus, I really needed the break.  The year was filled with many personal difficulties.  It was my first year at UCR, and Riverside was sweltering by 10am.  The weather was pretty hot at home that summer, too.  I was, also, looking forward to a break from the heat.  And, of course, I got there during a heat wave.  Temps were in the mid-80s.  It shattered records; but still a little cooler than home.

On two occasions, I was able to make it down to Stockholm, which is roughly an hour’s drive southward through a wooded auto way from Uppsala.  I was staying with my aunt and uncle in Uppsala, which is a really neat little town.  I visited the university, the Domkyrka, and, of course, I had to pay a little visit to the grave of Carl von Linné.  After having memorized so much of his binomial nomenclature in my osteology and evolutionary bio classes and labs, I was ready to give him thanks for his meticulous labors, and a fuck you for my labors.  Everything is in Latin in the Domkyrka.  I really dug all the Latin inscriptions.  I thought it was funny because I made my way around that place just fine, and guided my family.    Anyways, back to the story at hand.

If you are not careful, like my cousin R and his good friend D, you may hit a moose, who doesn’t really give a shit, or so it seems.  I saw one such occurrence.  The car was totaled, and the driver taken by ambulance.  Traffic was flowing at around 60mph, and this huge ass moose jumps out of the woods and BLAAAM!  Its antlers through the windshield; it torso and legs made a mess of the entire front of the car.  The moose gets up, shimmies, and goes back to business as usual.  The moose acted like it was a little stumble.  Moose – 1, Humans – 0. Fucking great.

Stockholm is an interesting city.  It is arranged like most other European cities; homes and businesses intermixed, there is a town square, cool architecture. But clean; very clean.  Stockholm is comprised of a number of islands and islets.  The count of which, I have heard, between 14 and 21, though the Stockholm Archipelago, itself, has a count near 30,000.  Many of the islands in the town proper were connected to one another by wooden or stone bridges.  The smaller ones were wooden.  I took note that many of the businesses in Stockholm readily accepted the US Dollar. 

The Vaten Fest, or Water Festival, was an annual, I don’t know, like a very large street fair.  At first, I thought it was a cultural affair.  It was not.  It lost funding and was stopped after half a dozen years or so.  It went on through an eastern portion of Stockholm; encompassing streets, homes, businesses, restaurants, the Royal Palace, and a number of the islands/ islets.  There were various sections of it; a food vendors’ area, which had a few dozen booths, some food carts, and such. There were bands at various locations throughout.  People walking, talking, old school spiked and dyed hair punkers lying around.  Patches of grass, small conclaves of tall trees…trees natural to the area, not like all the imported, not keen to have in such an arid climate found here in So Cal.  Kids were hanging out, boom boxes blasting, drunks and dancers and drunken dancers swaying to the note soup of rhythms.  The food vendors’ area was spread across a few islets. The bridges were overrun with food buyers.  The locals had a solution to the bridge problem, though.  This came in the form of skiffs, lots of skiffs.  Next to each wooden bridge was a bridge of skiffs to the other side.  Each skiff was manned by its owner, and all were rope-tied to its adjacent one.  These skiff-bridges were rarely used.  I was surprised to see the large number of Filipinos and Spaniards in Sweden.  They were, both, represented in a few of the food booths.  There were a lot of different booths vending various regional Jambalayas, which is something that tripped me out.  Something else I noticed was that pretty much every food cart was devoted to something called “Bakad Potatis.”  This consumable was sold in many of the booths, as well.  I would say, it would be as common as French Fries, here.  This bakad potatis is none other than a baked potato.  Hot, foil wrapped, condiments on the side of the cart, baked potato.  I hear it was a big fad in the mid to late 90s.  Some of those bakad potatis stands should have offered sweet corn.  That would have been sweet…as it were.

On my first outing to the Vaten Fest, I went with my family.  We parked a couple of miles from the main action, such was the activity there.  We went to a bar with a view of the goings on.  We had a couple drinks, and some appetizers.  I remember I drank a Carlsberg Special Brew.  It boasted the claim that, at 11.9% alcohol, it was the strongest beer in the world.  A couple months later, I had my first Sierra Nevada Big Foot Expedition.  That claimed 13.2%, that year.  They both were pretty gross to me…I prefer reds and stouts, and ales over pilsners, and other such watery brews. We walked. We talked. We ate. We listened to music. I took pictures of punkers hanging around.

The next time, I went with R.  We were to meet our cousin F at 3:30.  As is usual, he got there 2 hours late, while calling us on R’s mobile every 10-15 minutes saying he just walked out of his office.  This was so typical of him; always late, and every word out of his mouth oozes with untruths so poorly put together as to be virtually incoherent.   It was OK. R and I have always had a great relationship.  We talked about everything.  R went to meet up with friends, and F and I went to get a bite.  We went to Clock; Sweden’s version of McDonald’s before it went the way of Montgomery Ward.  The Swedes are better off.

F took me down to one of the further reaches of the VF area.  It was a grassy, slightly elevated area that was separated by a couple of small courses of water making their natural path down toward the sea.  It was mostly muddy, but some parts were about a couple feet across and a few inches deep of clear water.  Not much, but definitely a slippery inconvenience to an inebriated American…more specifically, yours truly.  I had not had anything to drink, when we arrived.  There was a large building that F repeatedly claimed to be an authentic Viking longhouse, but, I am pretty sure it was modern.  This building was a bar, of sorts.  We walked inside and through to an outdoor area that had some very large benches.  Most of the benches were full.  F found one that we were able to sit facing each other, though rather snugly.  The benches were made out of logs.  The seats were 50-60 foot long logs cut in half, and resting on tree stumps.  The tables were 6/4 in planks resting on stumps.  I found it difficult to climb on to the bench.  The tops of which were up to my sternum.  I bumped into the fella on my left, as I imitated lifting myself out of a pool to get up; he gave me a hand up the rest of the way.  He was just a bit taller than me, slimmer, with a rather business-like demeanor.  I noticed a lot of the people I met were like that; polite, but not warm.  The guy to my right was a wall of a man; at least 6’4”, easily 300 lbs of muscle and beer-belly, and a beard that would make the guys from ZZ Top jealous. He was dressed in a blue denim sleeveless jacket which exposed his tattooed sleeves of Nordic themes.  I was just hoping he didn’t have a swastika or a “beat the darky” mark on him.  He gave me a look as I settled next to him.  I said “hej, “ he looked away.  After talking a bit, a waitress who looked like Heidi dressed up as the St. Pauli girl, approached and started taking orders.  F ordered us a couple of beers.  Being at that bench, next to Bjorn, I had an interesting historical thought.  One thing that I have enjoyed about Persian festivals, since age 12, is that compared to many of the older folks, I was tall.  By the time I reached my current borderline short height, I felt like I imagined pro basketball players might feel most of the time.  Which brings me to the historical thought: what would have happened if you aligned Vikings against the old Imperial military?  I mean, while my drunken ancestors were prancing around the fire singing songs to water and fire, theirs must have been pulling those tree stumps out with their bare hands.

Upon her return, this average built young lady had 3 steins in each hand and doled them out in a courteous fashion.  The steins were huge.  “They must be plastic,” I thought.  Wrong.  They were glass, and they were huge, and they were very heavy.  They were filled with a liter of lager.  I clasped the handle and lifted the stein to my mouth.  Upon decent from my 3rd lift, my shaking arm knocked old Giant McSwedenson on my right in the elbow.  I looked over to find beer and an irritated look dominating the veritable skyline created by his mustache and beard.  I immediately began to apologize as I started funneling as many napkins as I could in front of him.  He didn’t know English, so F started up, in a sincerely apologetic face.  Old Sven started laughing, and took to happy Chef like tone while spitting froth and words in my general direction.  F translated, “Don’t worry.  Shit happens. Maybe the birds in my beard have something to drink now.”  Well, he didn’t say that last part.  F translated a few words between us.  By his speech, I guessed that the majority of the empty steins removed in front of us, must have been his.  He slapped me on the back in a jovial fashion.  I swear his palm covered most of my ribcage and felt like a chiropractic adjustment.

I was about 3/4 of the way through the beer, when Heidi dropped by and put another stein in front of me.  I did not order this.  “The man here ordered for you.”  Oh, thank you, sir, but, I cannot accept this.  I should buy you one.  Sven tilted his head.  “M, you need to accept it.  He is offering it as a gift.  He will be insulted if you don’t.  Then, there will be trouble.”  What is this, the Tehran portion of Sweden? Ok.  Thank you, sir.  Ok, well, can I buy you your next drink? “This will be his last.  Ok.  I said a toast to him and ching-ching.  About mid-way through the 2nd, I was done.  “No, M. You have to finish it.  Be a gracious guest.”  Shortly thereafter, R called and I made my own slip-n slide through to the other side.

I met R about a 20 min walk through toward the center of the festivities.  By then, my shorts were beginning to dry.  We listened to some music.  We made a slower trek toward the food section to meet his friends.  Occasionally stopping on my account to see some other sights, I told the story of the goings on.  “Yeah, Swedes are great fun, when they are drunk.”  If we had maintained my earlier clip, I think we would have reached our destination about 10 minutes faster.

The Vaten Fest was, also, a great place to get drunk…and get drunk for free.  Of course, you could pay for it; and if you were wise enough, you would.  Winters in Sweden are dreadfully cold, dark, and depressing, so I am told.  Trains and buses run on time.  People can sue the government, if they are late.  People can get frostbite or die in the cold, at times.  People drink a lot to keep warm.  Bars and restaurants can sell to 18 and above, 20 years in stores.  The amount of alcohol that can be purchased at a store in a monthly period by an individual is regulated.  The only store that sells alcoholic beverages above 3.5% is called Systembolaget, or The Government Store.  It is run by the government, though, I believe, it is run as a business separate from the government; it has its own corporate officers.  In determining how much alcohol can be purchased, the System takes many factors into account, like the fact that many Swedish families make their own schnapps.  Different families have different recipes.

When we reached the food islets, the traffic on the bridges were crazy.  So cramped…so many people moving at different speeds, coursing through wedges of slower and stopped people, like food moving through clogged intestines.  We stop about 20 yards back.  I pointed to the skiffs and asked R, 
“there is nobody on the skiffs. Can we really cross using them?”  “You can, bu…” Great.  Let’s go.”  I took off.  I approach the first skiff.  The skiff harbored an early 50s-ish guy sitting toward the back with a large glass jar to his left.  Hej. “Hej,” he responded.  I carefully lowered myself into the vessel, took a breath to balance my feet as I prepared to step onto the next skiff.  I feel a tug on my shirt, and hear a grunt.  I look back.  The boat’s owner was nodding his head to his left.  R was still on land.  He says “M, you will have to drink.  You have entered his home.  You have to drink at every skiff, if the owner is there.  If you want to turn back, you should still have a drink with this guy.”  I look over, and, sure enough, the plastic shot glasses were those tiny European sized ones.  Ok.  No problem.  “Ok.  I’ll meet you at the other side.”  I lift the shot, nod my head, tilt back, and down it went.  I shook his hand and made my next step.  R helps me out of the last one, since he took the bridge.  We met his friends; chatted a bit, and decided to head over to the Gröna Lund Tivoli.  This is an amusement park, per se.

R’s friends were eating.  He grabbed something.  My buzz got stronger.  We moved through the food islets.  Every time I chose the skiffs over the bridges.  Not so much because of the free schnapps, but because crowds like that freak me out.  Besides, these little shots are like a third of ours.  No worries.  Sure, if you have a couple/ few and hour, you’ll be fine.  Plus, some of the skiffs were unmanned.  I think that I had somewhere between 15 and 20 shots in the 40 minutes it took us to make our way out.

I remember getting over to Tivoli.  I remember running around a bit.  I remember having a couple more drinks.  I remember going to a Clock on our way back to Uppsala.  I remember hurling outside of my aunt’s garage.  The rest escapes my memory….

The Dearilization Ritual


Yesterdays and Todays

I do not know why, but every time I hear the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, I feel very sad.  And since the guys in the shop leave that wonder of reptilian repetitiveness that is Pandora on the same 80s station all fucking day long, I cannot help but hear it…oh, I don’t know…1,2, 10 times a day.  Maybe it is the slow drawn out flute-like notes on the synthesizer, or the minor key chord progression, I do not know.  It could, also, be that 1984 was the year that I first decided to give up my notions of global domination for things more impractical like enlightening my fellow humans on the terrors of war, the desperate need for more compassion, the benefits of an altruistic and focused drive for improvement, and other shit like that.  Whatever the case, the soft and gentle sounds drill through my rib cage like tungsten carbide tipped router bits.

Those early years in The States were pretty difficult.  Forget the difficulties of an upper middle class family on the run, with all assets frozen, kept whole solely on the anticipation of a return to Eden, whatever that may have been. Forget the sudden poverty, the hunger, the 80 hour work-weeks my parents put in, or the burning crosses on our lawn, or the bricked notes stating that we “Armenians or whatever-the-hell-you-are are lowering our home values” so we should skip Dodge and “take that n*gg*r kid with” us. I am pretty sure that the family “n*gg*r” was me.  After all, that is what many addressed me as; whether in Virginia or in California.  I did not know what it meant, then…I do not think I fully understood the meaning until my early 20s. Even in the family, I was (affectionately, though) nicknamed “susk-e sia” or “black insect” because my rail thin appendages stretched out from my torso like that of a bug’s, and my, obviously, much darker complexion and big eyes.

What seemed to be the cornerstone of our misery, or so it was made out to be, was the lack of proper ingredients for our ethnic dishes.  In Persian culture, food plays such a huge role, as I would imagine it does in most Old World cultures; in cultures old enough that the plenty of the New World, even while in the West seemed absurdly in excess.  The preparation of food, presentation of food, the giving of food, the sharing of food…the right food, at the right time, with the right attitude.  Maybe the Zoroastrian emphasis on the timeliness, and properness of everything flavored that a bit, too.  1984 was, also, the year that our supply of food became steadier. I remember watching my grandma, mom, and sister literally spending hours rearranging the placement of fruit on our table for guests, all throughout my life.

Recently, a sales person visited me in hopes of winning over my employers’ business. I stretched out my hand to greet him.  He brought his out, and as soon as it touched mine, he pulled it back. Quickly. I mean I thought I would get friction burn on my still unclasped digits. He, then, wiped his palm on his pants. After a few introductory words, which included his asking of my ethnic make-up, why I looked so dark for a Persian “who are typically more ‘white’ looking,” I led him into our breakroom, and offered a drink and a snack from our small assortment. Duly denied.  That’s OK. During our business talk, I maintained an amicable attitude; after all, I am representing my Serbian-American employers. I was hoping to turn this into a positive experience, if for anything, for my own sake.  I interjected things that I hoped would make him feel more comfortable.  He mentioned playing the guitar, “well, I, too, play.” He asked about my skin color disparity, I replied that Persians have been subjugated as much as we were subjugators. I, even, told him “the truth” that Iran literally means “land of the Aryans,” taught him some cognates, and that my complexion is probably from my South Asian DNA shown on my DNA test.

As he was leaving, he started chuckling about how funny it was that I showed him “that famous Persian hospitality.” His one other Persian customer “always offers me stuff…but, at least you offered me coffee and not TEA! Yuck, yuck, yuck.” Yucks of laughter.  I was baffled by that. I thought I was just being courteous.  Well, when I think of Persian hospitality, I think of the whole “a guest in my home is entitled to my entire home and what it offers. Its protection. Its comfort. Its everything.”  Offering a snack…I thought that was polite anywhere. The whole situation really made me feel sad…and uncomfortable…and unaccepted in a dirty way….And, of course, Everybody Wants to Rule the World comes on.

The Dearilization Ritual

Thankfully, I had uncut pomegranates at home.  I love pomegranates.  I love everything about them. The tree, the blossom, the bitter white membrane.  What I love even more is the preparation of pomegranate. I have that down to a science. I can remove the arils, membrane-free, of a large Pom within 15 minutes. I have even gone 8 pom deep preparing for guests, or to make stew, or whatever.

I have it turned into a ritual.  I lay out a blanket on the carpet and place my tools in the proper place. A bag for waste. All pom at the ready. Turn on some music; preferably instrumental. All the while, sipping on an alcoholic beverage or three.  To properly get to the pom’s innards, one need not make more than two cuts: one across, right beneath the stamen cluster, and one about 1/4 of the way through.  It may be necessary to make another, if your hands are not strong enough to split it with the one.  I close my eyes and concentrate on my breath.  As a younger chap, I even tried performing my own personal pseudo Ab-Zohr; pressing the arils in my mortar and adding it to milk (lactose free).

Rituals are done for many reasons, I guess; To aid in concentration, To occupy the brain’s corporeal control portions, to calm anxiety, to allow deeper levels of thought, to clear out the waste water around the brain, if you will.  Well, at least that’s why I do this ritual.  It really eases my mental burdens…plus, I can usually play better guitar afterwards.  Yet another reason that I prefer the colder seasons, as it were…I guess better to say the slightly cooler seasons, here in sunny Southern California.

Pomegranates and Pistachios. Pomegranates and pistachios are what I would use as my excuse anytime someone caught me crying for no apparent reason.  It may have happened minutes after or years after the fact, but, I would eventually cry.  Whether I was regretful for bullying somebody, or, more frequently, for being bullied. The first desert I ever saw was in California, yet for some odd reason, I was a desert dwelling sandn*gg*r.  I was 19 when I saw my first camel in person.  It was at the LA County Zoo, with my friend Angie.  The second time was a few years later at the same zoo.  Probably the same camel, too.  I, however, was the neighborhood camel jockey.  My mom and/or sister would ask what was wrong, and my answer was always “I miss home.  I miss the pomegranates.  I miss the pistachios.”  Well, I did.  I, also, missed my family, and not being bullied, and being rewarded for being smart or learning something new.

By the time I was a teenager, I toughened up. I changed from violin to guitar. I developed the pomegranate ritual.

A Wonderful Discovery

In late 1984, my aunt and her family moved to The States for a brief time.  One of my cousins is the same age.  We used the same bike.  We used the same skateboard.  We went to the same school.  We had much of the same friends.  We did everything together. We spent virtually every waking non-classroom moment of the day together.  It was awesome.  I still think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  One day, we were playing by the Adventure Camp facility and the library behind University Park Elementary, as we liked to do.  We were riding/ running through the shrubs and bushes, getting all cut up and muddy, as kids do.  We were 6 in number, and broke up into 2 teams.  I struck a tree with the bike, and fell into the mud hard.

I laid there, catching my breath and ego.  My name was called.  I opened my eyes, and saw an unripe pomegranate above me.  Well, I thought it was.  A few years had passed since I had last seen one.  I called over the gang and after a number of attempts, lifting configurations, and falls, we were able to recover one from the tree.  We set off homeward, post haste.  My brother placed it on the center of the dinner table where my grandmother and sister were chatting.  We were all excited.  My grandma and sister started throwing numbers out.  “What do you think, 6, 7 weeks?”

“No. Maybe 8.”

A few months went by.

It’s 2:45 and school is out!  The usual crew made our way toward the library, and there they were.  My sister on one tree plucking pomegranates, and my grandmother, with pants under her dress, skirt lifted to catch and hold the pomegranates.  We ate pomegranates for weeks.  My mom and grandma made all of our favorite pomegranate dishes, and we harvested that tree for years.  Until we had to split the spoils with another pomegranate enjoying family, until the tree was taken down.

A few days passed from when the salesman had dropped by.  I receive an email from the salesman.  In it, he stated that he had looked into our conversation, and if I were interested in meeting him for a music session.  I declined citing business conflict of interest.  Then, he asked if we could play at my place of employment, so it could be seen that there was no impropriety happening.  I turned him down, again.

I gotta get more pomegranates.


Young weeping Nelly    with the world in her belly

Sat silently under the setting sun

Sacred and swollen, quiet and sullen

Pondering loudly about what she had done


Summer-set brings joy not

                        as the winter sunrise

                        brings death into my eyes.

As I awaken and now fraught

                        with dismay in the skies

                        while these human lies

                        bring death into my eyes.

A friend I know him not

                        to be so callous to my cries

                        spring now in demise

As He,  Death,   stares into my eyes

 No heat, nor health

                        near my winter cot

                        as He stills, numbs and ties

                        my flesh,     now his prize

He,      Death,    glares deep into my eyes

 Know   not a kind, warming spot

                        cold, now, my body lies

                        silent,        no more sighs

As       Death,   steps behind my eyes.

Toilet Water

“The porcelain throne of the working man,” that’s what Paul, a co-worker, referred to the toilet.  Oddly enough, that’s where most of my epiphanies and creative ideas have come to me.  Maybe it’s because of the cool white surroundings, maybe a unique architectural/mathematical design that makes it the quietest place in the house; or maybe the reason why most of my ideas seem to ride the dizzying rapids into the ocean of the world’s mediocre ideas.  Whatever the case, this is where I was when the moment that I had known yet avoided for years decided to fight the currents til they transformed into an Hoover Dam and polluted flood waters.

I am nearly 29 years old…nearly 30 years old…I have nearly completed 3 decades of existence and what do I have to show for myself?  Fading memories of carefree days of youth and the funeral of my dreams.  So, what now?  If living in squalor-like conditions in a gang infested neighborhood with thousands in debt and student loans isn’t a demonstration of my success, I don’t know what is.

A Loser, a victim of circumstance, a wingless bird of prey, these are what the children of great success stories become.  Just like how every cleric’s child turns out to be the ones who were the most into drugs, sex and, most noticeable, violence.

Professor X explaining Marshall McLuhan and the benefits of good marketing strategy by describing the Mongol war strategy:  Sending messenger to spread fear to the point that many villages would surrender peacefully when they arrived.  But how does that prove that the media was the final message?  I think this analogy was based on misunderstandings.

But what the fuck does that matter?  That is the problem with me.  I spend all of my energies into useless unproductive thought.  Good for a professor, or even a serious scholar/grad student.  But am I any of these?  Only in thought… only in thought is it where there is still a chance –like Nietzsche and Bach and countless other European figures of greatness – I will get an independently wealthy (as opposite to the self-made, who normally won’t find this a necessity or even an as lavish entertainment or self-amusement of their new found riches) to sponsor me and my toilet-ly great ideas.

No ad populums, please

“Oh deal with it!” she said….Deal with it?  Deal with it is what she shouted out in the mall with a self-satisfied smile suddenly showing on her face as she waited for the glittering approval of the population within earshot.  And there were a couple of cheers from afar from those who have no idea about what the situation is, as many do when hearing such a phrase.  They tend to see it as the catchphrase of the strong, defiant woman forcing her self apart from the treacherous rule of the male hand, or so it is glorified in the movies.  Others looked on in a rather shocked and confused way, hoping that now, since the personal bubble of passer-by eavesdropping had broken, they waited for more loud outbursts to give them the real juice and watch for the awkward squirms of the guilty party.  Let them swim in a sea of uncertainty and imaginary scenarios!  They have no stake or claim to this, nor was her outburst a proof of guilt.  No. No, it was a deft way of trying to, once again, wiggle her way out of personal responsibility and shame.

I was tired of this shit.  And now the audience to this mall-drama was awaiting my response, my movement, my reaction.  To hell with them!  “Excuse me, does this involve you?  The show is over, thank you for attending the Old Navy Playhouse!”  Then, looking toward her, “ Your discomfort and unease does not count as an apology or an ablution of guilt.  Nor does the response of the ignorant validate any claims that you may think you have.”  I didn’t wait for a response before walking off. I didn’t even want one.  All in all, she was an antagonist in her very nature.  Even in her apologies she antagonized and shifted responsibility away from herself.  If I hadn’t driven her there, I would have comfortably driven home…but this false sense of loyalty to my perpetual betrayer prevented me from doing so.  It was weird to notice, for the first time, how well trained a dog I actually was.  Sure, it would not prove or make better anything that transgressed nor would it make me feel any bit better, but it would have been a good sort of fuck you to her.