A Persian Amsterdammer Blogs.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Collecting Stories

A Dutch journalist friend of mine has asked of me to forward the following message. He doesn't mention his name as he's still planning on visiting Iran.


Dear fellow citizens,
By the end of this year I just would like you to know that I find it difficult to celebrate freely, knowing the burden of all these Iranians in search of freedom and justice.

For 7 times already I have had the joy to spend time in Iran and got to know Iran in many ways. Right now the paradox is that it's almost better to follow Iran from a distance. I'm constantly following all the news I can get my hand on and will be writing some articles about it as well. For this I need the help of you, the Iranians.

I will be focussing my reports on storytelling. This because most of the articles are about numbers, figures, shocking images, and wild speculations about the moves of the government and the opposition. What is lacking, in my opinion., are the stories of Iranians and the analysis and expectations of those who are in the middle of it all.

- What do you see/hear in terms of Iranian media (state and opposition-based)?
- Where do you see the next phase in this evolving story heading to ?
- What are people's motives for participating in rallies (either pro- or anti-govt.)?
- Do you see a trend towards a 'broader' opposition, in terms of normal people seeing the crackdown on protesters and the arrest of dissidents, starting to back the dissidents?
- What can you see about the internal structure of the Opposition? Is the 'Green' Generation working alongside the older, more divided generations? How much unity is there between religious and non-religious dissidents?
- Who - next to Moussavi and Kharroubi - are currently leading the opposition?
- What is the atmosphere among people on parties, meetings, etc.? Is the political drama the main element or is regular daily life asking attention as well, nowadays?
- Do you feel the amount of people moving out of Iran is growing?
- What do you know about the fate of prisoners and prisoner's families?
- What did you see in terms of police, basij, army clashing with protesters?
- What is that you want to share with the world concerning the fate of your country?
- Do people in Iran hear about the international support for protesters (including Obama's remarks)

In order to safely tell stories we have set up a new e-mailadress: storyran@hushmail.com .

It's very safe, especially if you make a Hushmail-adress yourself and encrypt the e-mail messages you send. Please be assured I intend nothing but the best for Iran and will guarantee to you that nothing against your will with happen with the inside knowledge you share with me.

You can be sure I use the provided information as coming from an anonymous source, unless you wish it differently. If you can, please spread around this message in circles of trusted people and sources. I trust you will know best who to contact.Again, if you reply: please reply to storyran@hushmail.com.


I hope you guys can help him out

Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Honestly, when 3 months ago I signed off on this blog, and said I'd be back after new year, it was just a wild guess. I really had no idea if and when I'd return. However, the past few days me fingers have started to itch. I feel I need to write with a vengeance. And while before I wrote about whatever took my fance, I feel I need to write about the madness and the pain of Iran.

So here it is. I'm back. 2 days before I promised to. And to start off, please read this link about the violence in the air:


Monday, 10 August 2009


I am very sad to say that with all that's happening I can't update this blog at the moment. Thanks to all the readers for visiting and returning. I will focus my attention on setting up a new cultural center in Amsterdam. I will also write for my Dutch blog: http://irancentraal.wordpress.com

I plan to return to this blog on 01-01-2010. So watch this space!

For excellent English language news on Iran, keep visiting: http://www.tehranbureau.com

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Iran update

Well, Ahmadinejad is the confirmed president and we finally have Soviet style courts in Iran. How's the world going to react?

To keep updated about what's going on please visit the indispensible Tehran Bureau:

Life Goes on in Tehran has another (depressing) update:

And I put another entry in my Dutch Groene Amsterdammer blog:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Shirin Ebadi

My interview with Shirin Ebadi appears on this page:


English titles will be added soon.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

We Can Be Heroes

The 25th of July is the day people around the world get together in support of the struggle in Iran. In Amsterdam it will be on the Museumplein, between 12.30 and 15.30. If you don't live in Amsterdam you can find an event near you on www.united4iran.org Ask all your friends to come, we cannot abandon the people of Iran in their time of need!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Iran update

Here's the most impressive visual reminder of what's happening in Iran. You can click on most of the icons:


If you want to keep track of the effort to free renowned documentary filmmaker Maziar Bahari, here's the place to go:


My own Dutch blog at the Groene Amsterdammer has been updated as well:


Monday, 13 July 2009

Update long due

Sorry for the lack of updates. I was away for a weekend to participate in a music workshop in Belgium. I had a delightful time with all the tutors and students. Anyway, back to business.

To read up on what's happening in Iran, go to this article that addresses leftist conspiracy thinking: http://www.truthout.org/070109J?n

Another good source on what's happening is the "Greenbrief", a site which periodically collcets news from various Twitter feeds: http://greenbrief.newsvine.com/

Here's a nice clip that spreads awareness about the the blogger who died in prison in Iran:

Friday, 3 July 2009

Mohsen Namjoo releases his first video clip

Check it out, Mohsen Namjoo releases his first video clip. It's dedicated to the people of Iran:


This guy is a freak, but my kind of freak.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom

To take a break from all that's happening in Iran, here's a little link that might put a smile or a frown on your face, depending on your personal beliefs.

Same-sex attraction is found to be commonplace in the animal kingdom:


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

What's happening in Iran?

Here's a very intelligent article about potential US meddling in Iran:


I myself have another post up on my Dutch Groene Amsterdammer weblog:


Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Comic relief

There you have it ladies and gents, here's your vote:

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Oldest instrument found

After all the depressing news I need something nice every once in a while. Here's a message that cheers me up:

Human beings were making music as early as 35.000 years ago. Furthermore, music might have been why we outlived the stronger Neanderthals, through music we socialized much more. That's my answer from now on to any religious nutter who thinks music comes from the devil:


Here's some intense flute playing that really goes nuts (especially in the middle part)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

New blog

De Groene Amsterdammer (The Green Amsterdammer) is a great periodical, writing intelligently about politics, culture and society.

They have opened a blog for me to contribute to their site with articles about Iran. It will go live tomorrow, but here's a sneak preview:


Sadly only in Dutch, but I might translate some of the posts later. Spread the word!

Sunday, 21 June 2009


It seems now that the rumours were untrue. My bad to publish rumours before they're confirmed as fact. At any rate, a strike in the current situation wouldn't be so bad anyway.

Mousavi arrested?

I don't want to spread rumours, but I've heard from certain people that Mousavi and his wife might have been arrested. Again, please don't take this for a fact, but if it's true, then he asked the people to strike!

Pictures of Sadness and Hope

In Amsterdam we held a candle light vigil last night, in memory of all the fallen brothers and sisters. The video here doesn't do full justice to the beautiful, sad and magical atmosphere of the night. If you don't read Persian, ignore the text and click on the video:


Here's a Time photo essay of the people who are struggling. It's a painful detail that the man who took these pictures is now missing:


Saturday, 20 June 2009


Here's a great source for documentary makers:


I am sure we will need many to cover everything that's happening in Iran right now. Mousavi has said he is ready for martyrdom. Today is a very very sad day.

James Longley

James Longley speaks from Teheran in this interview:


Friday, 19 June 2009

Pirates join the fight!!

How can we lose the fight if even pirates are on our side? The famed hacker-nerds of the Pirate Bay have renamed themselves Persian Bay in support of the people of Iran:

remember the old black logo with the skull and bones? look at their logo now:


Now, for some comic distraction. This is great if you speak Persian. Otherwise, here's it's just a rap with a nice flow:

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Keyhan shenanigans

Keyhan used to be a wellrespected newspaper in Iran. After the revolution it was seized by the government (though some of the editors coninue an exile version of the paper from London). Now it often posts questionable news.

Here is a picture of the Pro Ahmadinejad rally. Notice how it was photoshopped to make it seem more people actually showed up:


(you have to copy-paste the link, not sure why this workstation doesn't turn it into a link)

Here's some reasons why election might have been fraudulent:

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


This is great news!

Baseej buildings under attack

Following Twitter is a tricky business: it's hard to differentiate between fact and rumour. But it seems to be confirmed that today:

A) there is a general strike. Large parts of the Bazars have been closed.
B) there will be another march, though Mousavi will not attend today.
C) A Baseej center in Tabriz has been attacked (yesterday one in Tehran was molotovd).

The Baseej are the people's militia (though everyone knows they have ties to the government) who fought in the Iran Iraq war and now attack people who defy the Islamic laws. After 30 years of abuse it seems they are starting to become a target for the people who at the moment are still too afraid to attack government officials.

Next demonstration in the Netherlands will be Thursday in the Hague.


Here's a song by Waldemar Bastos, who laments the pain and suffering in Angola (during and after the heinous civil war). It's to remind us we are not alone in suffering:

Monday, 15 June 2009

Revolution News

Tomorrow there is a nationwide strike in Iran. Pass it on!

Also check out developments on:


Read about documentary filmmaker James Longley's detention here:


Online Petition

And here is the petition to sign:


Let's get this vote back!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Election Madness

Iran is going nuts. I will post some thoughts soon, but in the mean time here are some essential links:

Articles about what's happening:


Good resources for English language news:


Thursday, 11 June 2009

Caspian Hat Dance

Remember the funky Gypsy-Klezmer-Chaos-Tambourine band I used to play in? Well... the violinist just had a baby. And they're heading off to Rumania, Hungary and the US. If you want to catch them play before they leave it would be wise to visit their show in the Badkuyp this Saturday.

In the meantime read the official Caspian travel report of their last tour in the UK:
(Just so you know, most likely they don't know anyone named Fiona or Mabel)


Our trip to England was smashing indeed.

After we arrived in Dover we encountered MABEL having a chat and a visit
with FIONA at the latter's house, where we joined them for some CUSTARD PIE

We went on to Oxford where we played a show with the bloke and bird from
EXPERIMENTAL DENTAL SCHOOL. Later on we went home and did a smash-up job
making some badges with a rangle-tangle new BADGE MACHINE.

SILVI remained in Amsterdam, waiting for her wee lad to swim out of her
belly and into his life.*

MISTER JOSEPH perfected a new form of rhyming slang so complicated that we
couldn't communicate with him any more.

FISH wanted to head to Scotland Yard for a cup of tea with the INSPECTOR and
discuss clues in the ORIENT EXPRESS murder case. We had to remind him that
Scotland Yard was closed on Sunday, that the Orient Express case was solved
long ago and was in any case NOT REAL, and that if he kept staying stupid
things we would put him straight in the BADGE MACHINE for a nice mash-up and

In Brighton we were quite busy playing and dandying about. There was no time
even for the old in-out, as we spent most of our free time taking turns
standing in a patch of sunshine.

Cowbell said, "Have we enjoyed ourselves, lads?"
"We most certainly have, luv!", said Valentine.
"See crash willy crystal not on the ROCKS, eh?", said Mister Joseph.
"Bugger me sideways, he's gone off again", added Goblin. "Perhaps we should
have a dip in the pond".

And despite water cold enough to freeze the bollocks off a Boer, we managed
to have a refreshing drip drip and splash-about.

* Olín Guillermo, born last week, healthy & rosy.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Meanwhile in Israel...

... some frat boys (and girl) have an opinion too:

Monday, 8 June 2009


I'm glad storytelling is making a come back in the Netherlands. More and more storytelling circles are popping up and festivals are being organised. Make sure to write down the following dates in your planner.

If you live in Amsterdam drop in at the Mezrab on the first Friday of the month for some Dutch storytelling or the third Friday of the month for English storytelling. In October you can visit the storytelling festival: http://www.storytellingfestival.nl/

In Zwolle storytelling takes place in a boat: http://www.deverhalenboot.nl/

In Rotterdam the Storyfountain organises not one but two storynights: http://www.verhalenfontein.com/

I'll keep you guys updated about events in other cities!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Arab campaign for Kurdish rights

This is great, an Arab campaign for Kurdish rights. For people who are not so knowledgable of the Middle East. The Kurds are Indo-Germanic people who mostly live in Turkey, Iran and Arab Syria and Iraq. I think it's amazing that another ethnic and cultural group has organised a campaign for their rights:


Thursday, 28 May 2009

Kamran Ashtary Updates

My friend Kamran Ashtary has updated his site with his artful photography:


I don't know much about art but I know they're pretty pictures.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Documentary about Mezrab

The production company Godmotherfilms is making a documentary about the Mezrab. The trailer is now done and used to impress people in the film/TV industry.

Have a look here:


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Has the US already lost Iran?

An interesting question about the foreign policy of Obama in regards to Iran. This article appeared in the New York Times a few days ago:


Good reading.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

EDward Said Speaks

Edward Said was a great thinker, writer and speaker. Elequent and a bit subversive. In the following 45 minute clip he speaks about Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilisations". Still very much relevant today:


Tuesday, 19 May 2009


So, as it turns out it's very possible the Neanderthals, an exceptional species, were exterminated because we ate them.


Monday, 18 May 2009

Super-Duper Birtrhday Music

It's my birthday! Yoohoo! And to celebrate here's my favorite song of the moment. Thank you Lenie for mailing me this:

Saturday, 16 May 2009

More Musical Genius

Remember ThruYou, the Youtube mashup musical project? Now there's this site, with pieces sent in to create a song together:


Very nice.

Friday, 15 May 2009


By the way, if you want to be updated about all that Mezrab, our cultural space in Amsterdam, is up to in the future, you can follow Mezrab on Twitter, Hyves and Facebook!

(We're still working on the site)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Pope to Stop Converting Jews

Hmmm... according to this article, the Pope will stop trying to convert Jews. That's nice isn't it? Ofcourse, it does raise some theological questions.

Does this mean that you don't need to accept Jesus anymore as your personal lord and savior to get eternal life in heaven? Or does it mean that all people have to accept Jesus accept for Jews, who can continue believing what they want and will be let into heaven anyway? Or does it mean that the Catholic church now officially stopped caring about the immortal soul of Jewish people?


Friday, 8 May 2009

Russian Animations

The Azeri lullaby that I posted earlier this week is part of a Russian series of animations based on lullabies from all over the world. You should check them out, they are really good. Some, if not most, can be found on YouTube.

More info on the project can be found here:


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

View From Iran

It seems the good people at http://viewfromiran.blogspot.com/ have started blogging again. This is a good thing, go check them out if you are interested in Iranian society and politics.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Azeri Lullaby

This is extremely cute! A beautifully animated Azeri lullaby...

Thanks to Danial for allerting me to this video.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Free filmmakers, journalists and bloggers

Some time ago I asked for your help in seeking the release of filmmaker Andrew Berend. Luckily he was released not long after. Here is the mail he sent out:

Wow, I’ve been home from Nigeria for half a year, and feel an update to you all is overdue. My translator Samuel George, my host Joe Bussio, and I are all OK.

Joe has actually left Nigeria, and returned to South Africa. Nigeria can be a stressful place. He’d been there a few years and felt it was time to go home. While not the only factor, I’m sure getting dragged into this mess with the SSS contributed to his decision to leave. I’ll always be grateful for Joe’s kindness and hospitality.

Samuel had to pay a couple more visits to the SSS, but the matter seems to have faded away. Some SSS agents did visit his home not to long ago. They asked him to come in once again, hoping he could provide information about the militants. Samuel has absolutely no connection with the militants, so he had nothing to offer them. Unfortunately, there was never any official resolution to the case. I hope and believe that Samuel won’t face any additional harassment, but there will always be a lingering uncertainty. I’ll always be grateful for Samuel’s integrity.

Meanwhile, I am making steady progress with the film, and will send further updates as I get closer to completion.I’d just like to thank you all again for your support and the actions you took to assist me last September.


There are many others who still are not free. Take for instance Kareem Amer, an Egyptian blogger in prison. A recent write up has appeared on the site dedicated to his release:


Sunday, 3 May 2009

Mezrab birthday

Hey Folks,

It's almost the birthday of our little cultural space in Amsterdam called the Mezrab. After 5 years its time to expand and move into a bigger space, to allow all the free flowing creativity to fully develop. All this goes hand in hand with creating a new site (which I'll post as soon as it's up). We also have a Hyves and Facebook page. Join to get all the news!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Happy workers day!

Well, the economy is down the drain, but if it results in serious reforms in the world's economy than it could be worth it. We'll see what the future brings. In the mean time, happy worker's day!

Have some cool pictures in the latest installment of:


Saturday, 25 April 2009

Some more Self Promotion

It's not that I've lost interest in the world, but I think some of the stuff I'm involved in is interesting for a some of the people out there. So again, not an update about the sexual revolution in Iran, the plight of the bloggers worldwide, or even new creative outbursts of people other than myself. There's a few new songs on the myspace site of my band "Babak-o-Doestan". Check it out:


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Some Self Promotion

Some time ago Branko Galoic' Skakavac Orkestar came out with their debut album. It's really good, you should get your hands on a copy! On the release party Branko invited me to play along one of the songs:

I was not quite sober when this was played. And also my Tar was broken.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Saar cycles through Iran

Our friend Saar, who takes Persian classes in the Mezrab, is currently cycling through Iran. If you read Dutch you can follow her adventures here:


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The US, Atheism and Seperation of Church and State

Salon has a very interesting article on the secular beliefs of early American politicians. It is important for us to understand that the current level of religion in the political domain is fairly recent. We now have an "Islamic Republic" of Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, where before there was none. We have "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God", also fairly recent.

Here's a quote from the article: "In Washington's day, it may have been reasonable for the elite to worry that only fear of hellfire kept the masses from running amok, but in the 21st century it is clear that democracy as a form of government does not require citizens who believe in supernatural religion. Most of the world's stable democracies are in Europe, where the population is largely post-Christian and secular, and in East Asian countries like Japan where the "Judeo-Christian tradition" has never been part of the majority culture."


Saturday, 11 April 2009

Persian Blogs in Danger

First of all, my apologies for being gone for so long. My internet connection at home has been unreliable for a few weeks.

I write now, again, to focus your attention to Arash Kamangir's blog, and particularly his
article about Bluehost (a blog hosting service) scrapping the blogs of Iranians as it fears it's illegal for an American company to deal with Iran and Iranians.

You should definately read his articles, but the gist of it is: Iran is under economic sanctions to pressure the government into reforming the country. In the current political climate the only vehicle of free speech Iranians have are their blogs. To shut down blogs because of the sanctions is helping the Iranian regime rather than hurting it.

- Arash's blog:
- His article on Bluehost: http://www.gozaar.org/template1.php?id=1222&language=english

Mid East Youth has an excellent article on keeping attention for imprisoned bloggers:


(apologies if my links don't work, you have to copy paste them to your browser window. this is because of a problem with the computer I'm using to blog on currently)

Monday, 30 March 2009

Kostas rocks!

Kostas is a great Gypsy Swing guitar player. He also lixes to experiment in a fusion setting. I met him in our cafe a few years ago, and was always happy when he walked in with his guitar. Have a look at and listen to his new MySpace site:


Friday, 27 March 2009

A blogger dies in prison (Tehran)

Omid Reza Mir Sayafi, an Iranian journalist and blogger dies in the Evin prison. Kamangir.net has a nice write-up:


These are truly sad times.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Documentary maker put in Evin

And now they are targeting documentary film makers. This is truly getting scary:


Friday, 20 March 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! Congratulations on making it to the year 1388. It's funny how more than a few times today I heard the phrase "Next year in Iran". Before the creation of the state of Israel every years jews would celebrate with "next year in Israel", nice to see how much we have in commmon.

Here's Obama's Nowruz speech:

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Laughing and Crying with the Persians

First off the important news for all our Persian readers and writers: the Dehkhoda dictionary is now online:



In the Haha category here's Stephen Colbert talking about Nowruz:


The Iranian Film Festival will have a Best Of edition in de Balie in Amsterdam. Have a look in their website:



Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Understanding Libanon

Juan Cole has an interesting article up about Libanon.

A quick update on why this is an interesting country to follow: Lebanon is a small country neighbouring Israel, with 4 million inhabitants. The people in Libanon are a mixture of Sunni, Shia, and various Christian sects. The Shia are by far the largest minority and could very well be the majority in a few years time. Many of the Shia muslims in Libanon follow the rulings of the Iranian Hezbollah.


Friday, 13 March 2009


I am speechless... This is, finally, the creativity of the 21st century. This is amazing:


Thursday, 12 March 2009


So, the war in Gaza is over and we stopped caring about the place and its people? No more demonstrations or solidarity actions. Let's move on to the next big cause. No matter that the people are still locked up.

Well, at least some people haven't forgotten. Here at http://www.closedzone.com/ you'll find the following animation by Yoni Goodman, the animation director of Waltz with Bashir.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Bollywood Blues

My friend Rishi Chamman has made the Dutch documentary Bollywood Blues. It's about a young Dutch Hindustani girl who lives in a strict home and dreams of making it in Bollywood. Have a look here:

(click on Bollywood Blues)

Friday, 6 March 2009

Radio Zamaneh - Human Rights page

Radio Zamaneh has started translation some of the articles that appear on the Persian Human Rights page. The page is still under construction, but have a browse and leave a comment if you (dis)like the articles.


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

My Friends are Filmmakers

My friend David Herman made a film called Fair Play. Here's some info about him and a moving trailer. I am very proud of him.


My other friend Marco of the Amsterdam based Godmother Film has made this short film for Milieudefensie, a Dutch environmental campaign.


There is a list of other short films made for this campaign. You can vote for your favorite short here:


Thursday, 26 February 2009

Music News

I'm very excited about the following pieces of music news:

- My good friend Branko Galoic and his Skakavac Orkestar has finally released his new album. It will be available in places like the Mezrab soon. Already on his site you can have a small taste:

http://www.myspace.com/brankogaloic - Check out the new track with living guitar legend Vladko Stefanovski!

- Ibrahim Maalouf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibrahim_Maalouf (nephew of one of my favorite writers Amin Maalouf) is a great trumpet player. He's maybe the only trumpet player to use oriental quarter-notes, played with a special trumpet designed by his father. There's 2 very diverse tracks on his myspace site:


Ibrahim plays Jazz, World Music, but also Classical, check out the following clips:

We are trying to get this man to come and play with us in Amsterdam at the end of summer. You'll be the first to know when we succeed!

Monday, 23 February 2009

The 30 Year Report

Interested in Politics and Human Rights? The human rights project of Radio Zamaneh "The 30 Year Report" is in full swing. Programmes are aired every day between 17.30 and 18.00 Amsterdam time. Articles appear here: http://www.radiozamaneh.com/humanr/

What is aired now and put on the website is in Persian. I'll let you know when the English site is up.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Inspiring Images

My life has been empty ever since the best internet comic in the world ( www.pbfcomics.com ) stopped updating. What is the internet if not a place for genius minds to toil away at new ideas not yet fit to be embraced by the mainstream?

Well, here's some new and exciting things in the world of online comics. First a scetch of an experiment, on the nature of online comics. It pretty much explains itself:

about DIGITAL COMICS by ~Balak01 on deviantART

And now, a comic that mixes cutesy manga girls with superheroes, philosophy, quantum-physics and ancient religions. Yes indeed.


Here's some of my favorites:


(Thanks Shintaro for pointing me to this one!)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Teheran Photography

The idea is extremely simple. Pictures of Teheran appear on this blog every 24 hours. I like it!


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Return of Marx

I'm not sure if it's happening yet, or even whether I should be happy about it, but more and more people are convinced Marx is the come-back kid of the 21st century. It's funny how very few people are aware of the impact of Marx, Socialism and Communism in countries like Palestine in Iran. These are great and inspiring but also sad and dramatic narratives. At least the animation film Persepolis showed some non-Iranians that Iranian Marxists existed and were in fact an important segment of society.

Here's an interested multi-espisode essay on Marxism:


Also, have a browse around the site of my friend Mostafa, a talented Amsterdam based filmmaker:


I will add him to my link bar later, but in the mean time, click on his films, go to 2003 and watch "commercial/indra"

Monday, 16 February 2009

In Defence of Bloggers

Look at this! A great blog in defence of bloggers:


The site is filled with links to like-minded blogs and has excellent resources.

In other news: the Dutch Volkskrant magazine will publish a short review tomorrow (Tuesday) of my current musical project. If the text appears online I will post a link to it on my blog.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

First Female Saudi Cabinet Member

Here's something to rejoice about: according to this CNN article the Saudi king appointed the first female cabinet member. The news is quite fresh and at the time of blogging there is little else I can find on this issue, but surely this is a tiny step in the right direction:


Thursday, 12 February 2009

Ehsan Hemat / Nat Gras

I have quite a bit of experience performing both music ans stories, for adults and kids alike. Imagine my surprise to hear that the Belgian dance company "Nat Gras" has made a 45 minute modern dance piece for kids between the ages of 2.5 and 4.5 years old. How do you entertain this age group, and furthermore, how for such long period of time?

One of the 2 dancers in this piece is the Brussels based Ehsan Hemat. When he invited me to come and see the show I didn't hesitate even for a moment. The show itself blew me away. All the movements were based on the going to sleep ritual, familiar to kids of all ages: reading a bedtime story, washing up, putting on your pyjamas, etc. The kids were in trance!

I definately recommend all my reathers in the NL and Belgium to check this company out:


This is a clip of the piece, but with another cast of dancers:

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Ahmadinejad vs. Khatami

Abbas Djavadi has some interesting things to say about the upcoming elections in Iran. Read his article on his blog:


Sunday, 8 February 2009

Dastan's new album

The music of my tar teacher Hamid Motebassem and his Dastan Ensemble has been my introduction to the amazing world of Iranian traditional music. They are without a doubt some of the greatest Iranian musicians and composers. Recently he mailed me to tell me of the new CD his group is bringing out. I could not find any article on the internet about this CD, but here's a picture of the album cover:

What is surprising is the line-up of musicians. Apart from the guest singer Salar Aghili they've added the following musicians to the mix:

Siddharth Kishna - Sitar
Reza Abaee - Qeizhak
Pouya Saraee - Santour

It's quite uncommon for guest musicians to appear on a Dastan album, I can't wait to hear the endresult.

If you are curious about the Dastan ensemble, have a listen to their songs on their myspace site:


Friday, 6 February 2009

Ojos de Brujo

Every so often people ask me what I think of the Iranian rap/hip hop scene. Well... I think it bites. There's lots of angry young men (and women), but very little creativity as far as I'm concerned. If they start mixing traditional or at least older Iranian music with their raps we might be getting somewhere (in the same way rappers were inspired by the motown albums of their parents). Here's a great video of what this fusion of old and new could sound like. Have a listen at the great Spanish band Ojos de Brujo:

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The internet became a bit smaller today

They've done it again, Iranian censors have blocked major news sites like Deutsche Welle and Radio France International:


This site links the recent crackdown to uncertainty about the economy, impending Iranian elections and the new course of the U.S. under Obama:


Happy reading.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Naughty Clerics

Iranian religious law on sex is not much less strics than for instance Catholic rulings. A big difference is that the muslim clerics are allowed to have wives and be sexualy active. It's still fun to catch them in what is essentially a human need, but for regular Iranians might mean imprisonment, lashes or a deathsentence.

Here's a nice write up of the last two major scandals:


Glad to see they are participating in the sexual revolution as well!

Friday, 30 January 2009

George Clooney and Iranian Sex.

In the past days I've been working on articles on Iranian sexuality and how it will rock the Theocracy, both for this blog as well as well as other publications. I don't have the illusion that the topic or its approach is very new, but I didn't think I'd find an article that almost literally opens with my words: "COULD sex unseat the mullahs?"

This article is a review of Pardis Mahdavi's book Passionate Uprisings: Iran's Sexual Revolution, but also talks about the poetry of Hafiz and Khayyam as well as George Clooney's adventures in Iran in the film Syriana and what it shows about Iranian society an outsider would rarely see. Some of the last lines of the article are a line of dialogue by Clooney: They let a few young people march in the streets; the next day they close down 50 newspapers. They let a few satellite dishes go up on the roofs, but it doesn't meant the ayatollahs are surrendering one iota of control over that nation.

All in all, a very interesting read: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24670520-7583,00.html

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Iranian Sexual Revolution

I've thought long and hard about what can change a country like Iran around. For sure a revolution is needed, but does it have to be a political one? I have my doubts. Politics have brought us the mess we are in, and because of this most of Iran's young population has no interest in it. However, there is something more interesting and even far more potent available to us: the power of Sex!

It's what most if not all young Iranians enjoy (at the very least to talk and think about). It's not a wonder organised religion fears it as much as it does. Also, it's an influence that's very hard to keep out of the country, as the need for it comes from our very genes. It's even harder to suppress if you think about all the Mullahs involved in scandals (which could be kept out of the papers, but pop up now in blogs).

I'm going to have so much fun writing about this issue in the next few months, watch this site!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Israel burning

What madness eh? Who knows what the future will bring. Well, let's ask the wise men of today.

To understand who some of the players are in Israel and Palestine, and how losing the support they receive will affect the playingfield, read this article on Hamas: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123275572295011847.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

But also the profound article by Uri Averny: http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/index.html

In this article he states that America is slowly but surely turning away from supporting Israel.

And now for something completely different, the Libyan dictator Qadaffi writes an article in the New York Times suggesting (yet again) the one state sollution for Israel and Palestine: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/opinion/22qaddafi.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

Ok, enough articles, listen to some music by Idan Reichel.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Baghdad Blogger Returns!

Whoa! Remember the Baghdad Blogger, mr. Salam Pax, who gave us daily updates before and during the war from within the warzone? He's back! (and has been for a while, but no one told me before). Here's a link to his new blog: http://salampax.wordpress.com/

And here's a heartbreaking article of him and his return in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/15/salam-pax-baghdad-blogger


And now to distract us from the foul stench of politics, some music that twangs the strings of our hearts. I present to you, Concha Buika. My new love in Flamenco.

Yes I know it's a Jazz bar she's singing in. And yes, I also know she's black. But this is the Flamenco of the 21st century. Happy listening.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Photography and journalism

Every so often I post a link on my blog to a photography site with pictures that inspire me. One that frequently returns, in the hope that more and more readers will get hooked to his site, is Life Goes On in Teheran. This monthly updated site contains pictures that were taken by the mobile phone of a young artist recently returned to Iran from living in the States. At the moment the blog is travelling through Europe. Come on, get hooked already!

Want to go out yourself and record/shoot/write? I just found what could well be the definitive guide to multimedia journalism. Have a swagger to this site: http://advancingthestory.wordpress.com/

Monday, 19 January 2009

An Update (Finally)

My apologies for the long delayed update. I was not being lazy, merely swamped by the incredible task of overseeing the production of 30 hours of radio programming on Human Rights in Iran, the first daily hour being broadcast on the 31st of January! So don't forget to tune in via www.radiozamaneh.com . I'll post a banner to the programme's site as soon as it's done.

But to make up for my lateness, here's a triple whammy update for all you folks.

A) Let us celebrate the sisters who are rockin' it in the motherland. A bit over a week ago the one million signature campaign, a grassroots initiative that has rocked the establishment in Iran has been awarded the Simone de Beauvoir award for its tireless action. Many of this campaign's activists have been locked up and harrassed in other ways. Here's a write up about the award with links to the campaign:


B) Check out this wonderful Iranian/Swedish singer "Laleh"

See how she is a famous Iranian singer with black hair and wonderful features unmutilated by plastic surgery? Quite a rarity I've been told.

C) OnzeManInTeheran, a great blog by the Dutch journalist Thomas Erdbrink, has a great entry about why a Dutchman decided to open a hotel in the desert city of Yazd. Funny article in Dutch: http://onzemaninteheran.com/?p=572#comments

Monday, 12 January 2009

Pablo Neruda

There's so many happy things I want to talk about: Musicians I've discovered, projects I'm working on. I want to talk about friendship, sexuality and romance. But who can talk about these issues when the world is burning? Or maybe it's talking about these issues that will heal the world, I'm not sure. At any rate, here's what Pablo Neruda wrote not so long ago, when it was the civilized west slaughtering its brothers and sons.

I'm Explaining a Few Things

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate.

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives.

see my dead house,
look at broken Spain:
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.

And you will ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land.

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Gaza music

When faced with such barbarism one of the few sane ways to react is music. Have a look at this clip of Palestinian rappers from Gaza and Israel. Rap is doubly good because not only does it as music show it's actual people suffering in the occupied territories. It's also much safer in the stress-release department than throwing rocks or joining an Islamist militant resistance group.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Poem

by Jiri Mordecai Langer (1894 - 1943)

The poem
that I chose for you
is simple,
as are all my singing poems.

It has the trace of a veil,
a little balsam,
and a taste of the honeyof lies.

There is also
the coming end of summer
when heat scorches the meadow
and the quick waters
of the river
cease to flow.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


You could do worse than read this article to gain some perspective on the current war in Gaza:

"To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia. The Gaza Strip is smaller than the Isle of Wight but it is crammed with 1.5 million people who can never leave. They live out their lives on top of each other, jobless and hungry, in vast, sagging tower blocks. From the top floor, you can often see the borders of their world: the Mediterranean, and Israeli barbed wire. When bombs begin to fall – as they are doing now with more deadly force than at any time since 1967 – there is nowhere to hide."


Saturday, 3 January 2009