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    News — Armenian

    Exclusive: Jose Mourinho joins Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Armenian Christmas dinner

    Exclusive: Jose Mourinho joins Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Armenian Christmas dinner



    On the evening of Saturday January 6th, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho joined Henrikh Mkhitaryan for an Armenian Christmas dinner at his Manchester residence.

    Having not been a regular in the team for most of the season, speculation of a feud between the two has been ongoing, with newspapers predicting that Mkhitaryan will be leaving the club in January. 

    However in observance of Armenian Christmas, Manchester United’s FA Cup game with Derby County FC had been brought forward to Friday the 5th with Mkhitaryan included in the starting lineup. 

    Despite performing well, Mkhitaryan was substituted at half time with the score at 0-0, replaced by Romelu Lukaku, a forward with 10 goals already this season.

    Manchester United went on to win the game 2-0 with Lukaku scoring one of the goals.

    Sky Sports later reported that Mourinho had sacrificed Mkhitaryan in favor of a more attacking player.

    Mourinho said:

    "Mkhi was the one that I sacrificed but it's something that I don't normally do but I did at half-time and apologised to him in front of other people because he didn't deserve it.”

    As a gesture of goodwill, Mourinho joined Mkhitaryan at his home for an Armenian Christmas meal the following night, bringing with him a bottle of Portuguese wine (Pêra-Manca 2008)

    Outside, Mourinho admitted to reporters that his knowledge of Armenian culture was quite limited, although he stated he had parked his bus near the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal on numerous occasions.

    Inside, Mourinho was immediately overwhelmed by the abundance of food. 

    The meal kicked off at 8pm. Despite some hard-fought defending, Mourinho conceded his first serving of food in the 13th minute and then soon again in the 22nd. 

    Not recovering from the early onslaught and with no clear game plan, Mourinho conceded food on his plate yet again in the 31st, 34th and 44th minute.

    In the second half, Mourinho tightened up the defence of his plate, avoiding dried fruit, Ferrero Rocher and more cheese boreg, but left his drinking glass wide open and conceded three alcoholic drinks, on the 67th, 77th, and 85th minute.

    Just as the evening looked to be wrapping up, with his guard down, Mourinho’s defence was once again penetrated in injury time with a ladle full of Anoush Abour and a cup of Armenian coffee, catching the United manager by surprise.

    At the final whistle, Mourinho looked depleted. This result marked the heaviest defeat at a dinner table in his entire managerial career.

    Shortly after, Mourinho was seen leaving the Mkhitaryan residence with three medium sized Tupperware containers and a copy of The Promise movie on Blu-ray. 

    Mourinho declined a post-dinner interview, but sources close to the Manchester United management staff state that Mourinho is to organize an Armenian Madagh ceremony (a lamb sacrifice ritual) to express his gratitude.


    This story will be updated as more information is made available.

    Ross Bagdasarian & The Chipmunks: The Armenian Story Behind One of America’s Most Iconic TV Dads

    Ross Bagdasarian & The Chipmunks: The Armenian Story Behind One of America’s Most Iconic TV Dads


    If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, Alvin and the Chipmunks was a permanent staple of your TV diet. And if you were an Armenian kid growing up in the diaspora, finding out that someone called Ross Bagdasarian created your favorite show, probably blew your mind.




    But the story behind Bagdasarian and how he created a beloved cartoon which went on to achieve worldwide fame is as much of a good story as the chipmunks themselves.

    Airing for almost a decade, the animated series followed the adventures of three rambunctious chipmunks - Alvin, Simon and Theodore and their adoptive father and manager David Seville as they tried to make it in the music business. Virtually every episode includes a frustrated Seville yelling “AAAALVIN!” after the trio cause havoc, led by their trouble-making brother Alvin.

    It was Ross’s son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. who's responsible for the version that nostalgic late millennials remember well, incorporating his own father’s story into the character David Seville.



    “My dad was the Armenian version of Zorba the Greek” he recalled in an interview. “You felt that he was going to live to be 8,000 years old, so when he passed away that was like an episode of The Twilight Zone for me. The way for me to have my dad around was to resurrect the Chipmunks.”

    But the events that led up to the creation of the three rodents and their firm but fair father happened decades before we ever got introduced to them.

    David Seville was in fact, Bagdasarian’s alter ego, one he created in the late 50s at the request of Liberty Record executives, who thought his real, Armenian name sounded too ethnic. Bagdasarian ended up choosing “Seville” because he was stationed in Seville, Spain during World War II.

    He was born Rostom Sipan Bagdasarian to Armenian parents in Fresno who escaped the Hamidian Massacres and growing troubles for Armenians in the Ottoman Empire to emigrate to the U.S.


    Ross Bagdasarian, front row, 2nd from left. Fresno High School Yearbook, 1936


    Bagdasarian first went in the family business - growing grapes - but he gave up running a 60-acre grape farm to pursue his passion.

    “The business was terrible and my mom and dad said, the music business can’t be any tougher than grapes and raisins, let’s at least follow our dreams,” Bagdasarian, Jr. later recalled in an interview.

    He first found success in 1951, when “Come On-A My House,” the song he co-wrote based on an old Armenian folk song about Armenian hospitality with his cousin, playwright William Saroyan, became a hit for Rosemary Clooney.

    Bagdasarian’s song writing strategy was more Armenian-influenced than people know. He and Saroyan rented an office in Beverly Hills and tried to extend their success by taking Armenian material that had fallen in the public domain and converting them to songs for the American mainstream.

    William Saroyan and co-composer Ross Bagdasarian Sr. making their own recording of Come On a My House with assistance of arranger George Cates.

    Oh! Beauty” had been “Akh, Yavroos” in the original Armenian, though it failed to replicate the success of “Come On-a My House,” with its recitation of delights including the most Armenian of produce items, the pomegranate.

    Even Clooney was cajoled into giving “Come On-A My House” an Armenian spin:

    “Now the fact that it was an Armenian folk song, he wanted an accent. I don’t know how to do an Armenian accent, so I used what I laughingly called an Italian accent, because that was the band I sang with, an Italian band, Tony Pastor.”



    After “Come On-A My House” hit the waves, Bagdasarian moved his family to Los Angeles, thinking that it would be easier to try and make it in Hollywood than California’s Central Valley, but the reality of LaLa Land was as much of slog as farming in Fresno.

    He received minor roles in classics like Alfred Hitchock’s “Rear Window” and Elia Kazan’s “Viva Zapata!” among others, but attempting to navigate the white-dominated film industry as an Armenian was tough.


    Alfred Hitchcock and Ross Bagdasarian on the set of Rear Window, 1954


    “Because he is dark and of Armenian descent, the movies cast him as heavy,” the Indianapolis Star reported in the 50s. “This did not suit his natural exuberance and Ross was not an overnight success.”

    In 1958, Bagdasarian, desperate to hold onto his dreams, took his last $200 and bought a state of the art tape recorder, which allowed him to change speeds on the sounds he was recording.



    He eventually wrote “Witch Doctor” with the help of this new technology, garnering another hit record under his belt. He reportedly drew his inspiration from a book “Duel with the Witch Doctor,” and the fact that teenage records at that time that were selling seemed to have one thing in common, he said - you couldn’t understand any of the lyrics.




    Bagdasarian’s fortunes were now looking up, and people were noticing - a far cry from the typecasting he endured because of his ethnic background.

    “Hey! How’s the Richest Armenian in Hollywood?” shouted actor Eddie Albert at Bagdasarian once while he was having lunch with a Los Angeles Times reporter.

    Bagdasarian was back in the game, and soon Liberty Records came calling for a new novelty hit. Interested in making a longer lasting impact than his previous attempts, he decided to add characters into the mix, but wasn’t sure what species of animal to go with.

    A chance encounter with a chipmunk as Bagdasarian was driving around Yosemite in 1958 settled the debate. The chipmunk fearlessly jumped in front of his car and Bagdasarian found the tenacity of this creature hilarious and endearing.

    That chipmunk inspired the main character Alvin, who was ready to go on any adventure or take any risk.

    He then added Simon and Theodore in the mix. The three were named after Liberty Record executives, Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker and Theodore Keep.



    Bagdasarian released “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” under his more American sounding name, David Seville, which went on to sell 4 million copies in seven weeks and win two Grammy Awards. He voiced all three chipmunks by using his tape recorder to produce the squeaky voices.

    The chipmunks were then animated for the first time in a TV series called “The Alvin Show” in 1961 which only lasted a year, but had Bagdasarian continuing to voice all the characters and was also intent on not using a laughter track or showcasing violence, which appeared in other cartoon series like “The Flintstones.”




    In 1964, he set his sights on collaborating with the most popular band in the world: The Beatles. After meeting with them in London and receiving their blessing, he produced a Beatles cover album called “The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits.”



    By the mid 60s, Bagdasarian took a break from the Chipmunks and in a way, went back to his grape farming roots by buying a winery.

    “He was a person certainly of short attention span,” Ross, Jr. said in a 2007 Los Angeles Times article, “but also incredibly focused, really, really smart, and very funny.”

    When Bagdasarian passed away from a sudden heart attack in 1972 at the age of 52, The Chipmunks remained on hold until Ross, Jr. and his wife, Janice Karman tried to revive the series.

    “A way of still having my dad around was to resurrect Alvin and Chipmunks,” he said. “I thought this won’t be hard, it wouldn’t take but a year or so.”


    Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. 


    The attempts were largely unsuccessful until a Philadelphia disc jockey sped up Blondie’s “Call Me” one night in 1980 and joked it was the Chipmunks. The response was massive and soon Ross, Jr. got a call asking if he’d be interested in doing a new album.

    “Chipmunk Punk” was born in 1980, and its success ultimately led to a renewed interest in the three rodents.




    In an interview with the Providence Journal in 2010, Ross Jr. said he was surprised that he ended up following in his dad’s footsteps.

    “I revered my dad, but I didn’t want to do what he had done. This was his creation. Had he remained alive, I never would have done this.”




    In 1983, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” launched on NBC and Ross, Jr, following in his father’s tradition, voiced the characters of Alvin, Simon and David Seville.


    The series ended in 1990, only to be resurrected on the silver screen in 2007, a film dedicated to the elder Bagdasarian. The end credits read: “This film is dedicated to Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who was crazy enough to invent three singing chipmunks nearly fifty years ago.”



    This was followed up by sequels in 2009, 2011 and 2015. In August 2015, an animated TV series called “ALVINN!!! And the Chipmunks” premiered on Nickelodeon.



    With a zeal for the American Dream and a lot of immigrant drive, Ross Bagdasarian’s genius has managed to remain an integral part of America’s pop culture lexicon, inspiring generations of Chipmunk lovers across the world to this day, including Ara the Rat.




    "Armenians Rule the U.S. Classic Animated Series"

    "Armenians Rule the U.S. Classic Animated Series"


    The following is a translated article written in response to our The Armenians of Springfield blog post by a website based in Azerbaijan. It was launched by an NGO called "For Human Rights" in 2011. They refer to themselves as "an information, analytical and monitoring portal" and state that their mission is to educate society and fight for human rights.


    Armenians Rule the U.S. Classic Animated Series

    All Azerbaijanis who have ever been abroad and talked to foreigners have definitely come across the fact that ordinary people from Europe, America and even Asia do not know about the existence of a country named Azerbaijan. When this happens, we have to hide our disappointment and explain that we come from Azerbaijan, a small country located on the Caspian shore at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains between Iran and Russia.

    Still, it's a great shame that the country that gave the world the great Fuzuli and Nizami, declared the first democracy in the East, and now supplies oil and gas to almost every European consumer is not known abroad. It's even a bigger shame when people trying to get a clearer idea of where exactly Azerbaijan is located, ask a question: “Is it near Armenia?”

    So, how come we are losing the PR battle to the Armenians and why is Armenia more widely known around the world today than Azerbaijan? This fact overlooked by the public authorities and expat communities is usually attributed to the influence of the powerful Armenian lobby that has penetrated the world. This is why there are calls to recognize the so-called Armenian Genocide or the “independence” of Nagorno-Karabakh, sometimes from places where you would least expect it, such as New South Wales in Australia.

    Over the last ten years the government of Azerbaijan has made enormous efforts, including economic and cultural promotion to raise the country's international profile. In addition to a variety of international exhibitions and conferences for all industries, Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision Song Contest and the first European Games. Thanks to the support from Azerbaijani companies, football players from big-league European clubs come on the field in T-shirts with the word “Azerbaijan” on them and the logo of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) sponsoring important international competitions is already a familiar sight.

    However, despite billions of dollars spent on the promotion these efforts do not contribute much to the image and prestige issue.

    Experience has shown that Armenians are doing a good job of making their country famous all over the globe without such huge expenses. First of all, the Armenian propaganda counts on the pop culture and it works perfectly. The reader has probably noticed an increasingly large number of Armenians featuring in recent popular Hollywood films. Armenians are shown as mafia bosses in almost every U.S. action film where Armenia, its history and culture also get a mention and you can hear the duduk playing at the end. Eventually, all this is shaping certain ideas in the minds of the cinema and TV audience all over the world and when the time comes, some of them will definitely remember the “Great Armenia”, probably when talking to you.

    Today, one of the U.S. websites posted a review of The Simpsons, the world-famous animated series. The show has been broadcast in over 100 countries and its audience has long ago reached hundreds of millions of viewers. The authors of the review conclude that most of the characters living in the fictional American town of Springfield where The Simpsons takes place are of Armenian descent.



    It turned out that Principal Seymour Skinner, one of the main characters in the show, is in fact Armen Tamzarian, an ethnic Armenian who has been hiding under the name of Skinner for years. In the episode called “The Principal And The Pauper”, Skinner is celebrating twenty years of his career as a principal. Superintendent Chalmers and the other teachers are throwing a big party for Principal Skinner. All goes well until the real Sgt. Skinner who was passing the school by chance exposes him. It emerges that Skinner (born Armen Tamzarian) is an impostor who once was a street punk in Capital City. The court gave him a choice to go to jail or the army. Having no idea that there was a war in Vietnam going on, he chose the latter.

    There, he was befriended by Sgt. Seymour Skinner, whom he came to idolize. When Sgt. Seymour Skinner was reported missing presumed dead, Tamzarian decided to assume his identity. Skinner's mother deliberately mistook him for Seymour. Since then, Tamzarian made Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal come true. The real Seymour Skinner had been alive after all: he had been taken prisoner and then sent to a Chinese sweatshop where he made Sneakers. After the sweatshop was closed down, the real Skinner returned to Springfield.




    If you think that the appearance of Armen Tamzarian in the show can be considered pure coincidence then think twice about other characters of Armenian descent. In Episode 16, Season 17 of The Simpsons, a Dr. Egoyan appears, also of Armenian descent. When the Springfield football team loses out the finger of blame is on Grampa Simpson aka Abe, who gets depressed and decides to seek out Dr. Egoyan. Instead of helping Abe, Dr. Egoyan tells him about the easiest ways to commit suicide.


    The fans have found one more character of Armenian descent in the show. In the final episode (Episode 23) in Season 10, the main character Homer Simpson says that he has attended the Chuck Garbedian Mega-Savings Seminar. As you can guess, Chuck is also of Armenian descent.




    And, finally, here is the biggest surprise. As it turns out Moe the bartender, one of the funniest characters in the show, is half Armenian. In “Lisa Goes Gaga”, Moe describes himself as “half monster, half Armenian”, which also proves that he is of Armenian descent.


    This is by no means an exhaustive list because after more than 20 years of running, the series was officially renewed with more seasons coming. So we cannot help but wonder how come Armenians feature so prominently in such a popular show. Characters of Armenian descent outnumber those of Spanish, Italian or German descent. Skeptics may call it a mere coincidence but I call it one of the most successful Armenian propaganda projects in popular culture.


     Original article: 

    Author: Murad Samedov
    3rd December 2015

    Forgotten Art: Soviet Era Armenian Movie Posters

    'Chaos' (1974) By Karapet Eranyan


    Though its glory days have faded into non-existence, Armenia cinema was once a robust, flourishing industry that began in the 1920s with the opening of Armenian film studio, “Haykino,” or “Armenkino” in Yerevan.
    One fascinating byproduct of this almost 100-year history are the film posters designed by Armenian artists. They are a testament to the rich, cultural, cinematic heritage that once flourished in Soviet Armenia. Throughout the years following Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union however, many of these cultural artifacts were destroyed and others lost forever. The film department of the Eghishe Charents Museum of Literature and Art in Yerevan, perhaps the largest repository of Armenian manuscripts and books of the last 300 years, saved a small sample. 
    In 2006, filmmaker Vigen Galstyan returned to his native Armenia from Australia to complete his feature length documentary, “White Crow” and assemble 121 of these film posters, the last remaining treasures from Armenia’s filming legacy that are now long forgotten.
    “It is time we open our eyes, before the destructive habits of ignorance and the process of modernization and progress claim the invaluable vestiges of Armenian cultural heritage,” he writes in the introduction of his book. 
    The posters presented here, all designed by Armenian artists of their time, are from this saved collection and Galstyan’s book. 
    They include the poster art for films such as “About my Friend,” which focuses on the life of three friends named Aram, Ruben and Gohar who go to Leningrad to study just as WWII begins and “The Thirteenth Apostle,” based on science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s stories, about the moral limits that science should not overstep. They were screen written, directed, edited and managed by film industry professionals in and from Armenia.


    'Hello, it's me' (1965)
    By Karapet Eranyan



    'A piece of the sky' (1980)
    By Rafael Babayan 



    'Die on the horse' (1980)
    By Karine Miskaryan


    'Strange games' (1986)
    By Aragast Akhoyan


    'The Thirteenth Apostle' (1988) 
    By Hrant Komitasyan


    '5 Brides' (1930)
    By Sargis Safaryan



    'Another five days' (1978)
    By Karapet Eranyan



    'About my friend' (1958)
    By Karapet Eranyan


    'Why does the river roar' (1958)
    By Karapet Eranyan   






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