Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Ruth

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo had Miss Talibonita laughing hysterically at the movie theaters. Yes yes it flips around all that racial profiling against us brown/olive folks. But what won Miss Talibonita over was this scene, which references the best film ever: The Goonies!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Super Robo Cop vs Afghanistan

Iron Man, as a revived high-tech Knight in shining tin, slaughters the Taliban and escapes after being kidnapped in Afghanistan. Miss Talibonita saw the trailer first at a Kashmiri tea shop television (it was advertised on a Pakistani satellite television show) and wanted puke out the oily samosa she had just eaten.

So while he was held hostage in Tora Bora, he had the time and luxury to smelt some iron and cast himself a suit?

And they cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man? With his drug history, should he even be allow to go near Afghanistan?

PS: Miss Talibonita went to see it. It wasn't as bad as Talibonita thought! There is a pleasant Afghan intellectual who sacrifices himself to save Iron Man and builds the first heart gadget, which Iron Man later perfects. Terrorists are not shown as Afghans! Surprise, Surprise! And Miss Talibonita read an article on Robert Downey Jr. in Vogue that updated her on his post-druggie fully organic and herbalist friendly identity. So there there friends... she realizes Iron Man was a critique of the Vietnam War and now a critique of War Mongers in Afghanistan/Iraq etc. The best part of the film was his battle with Jeff Bridges (who is forever the star of TRON in Miss Talibonita's eyes). Tartarous the Noble pointed out that Jeff Bridges' new bad-guy-robot outfit was a lot like the bad guy in Tron he had to battle. Who knew aged once-heroes have to wear the bulky bad-guy robot outfits!

Yes, this calls for a clip from TRON (which is just deliciously random!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Afghans

Miss Talibonita's first 8,760 hours of life was spent in a citrus city... a place that floated from the sheer power of orange blossom fragrance. And this was the first language poured into her ears. However, after years and years of migration and languages and fragmented cities, all Miss Talibonita knows of the Pashtu language is when to get bread or tea when guests come.

Naghma is a famous Afghan singer who sings in Pashtu. Miss Talibonita's father's gen seemed to have listened to Qamar Gul (a singer who never left Jalalabad even for recordings) a lot.

This youtube video features Nawib Orakzai (non shiny and moderately-hair-gelled-out) who revives Naghma and translates the original Pashtu into English. This is a very sweet attempt at making traditional Afghan songs danceable (perhaps at some dingy dank club in Germany...).

Miss Talibonita is putting up fun images in the Pashtu language because Western encounters with Afghanistan have always made Pashtuns seem overly-testosteroned out (see Vice Guide to Travel clip a few days ago) and made other Afghans seem more approachable. So a dash of dance music seems to do the trick in evening out that scale (well... Miss Talibonita is known to be a hyper-optimist).

Man-Whipping Session Kazakh Style

Who can resist a clip of a woman whipping her beau?

Ahhh... a great way to get out those pre-wedding jitters! (Note to PETA folks, there is a dead fox --head and all-- hung around one groom's neck. Don't worry the fox was fed sugar cubes before it was offed!).

Googoosh in the Classroom

Miss Talibonita was at Kim's Video again (trying to get one of those brat film students who work there to tell her the exact location of Josephine Baker films) when she stumbled onto this documentary on Googoosh: Iran's Daughter directed by Farhad Zamani (2000).

Naturally she felt elated and thrilled because she could bring some of her dance moves into the classroom.

Miss Talibonita was not prepared for this film at all!

She just looked up the reviews on and apparently, many people felt the same. Googoosh was not in the film. Her son seemed good-spirited enough to be part of it, however, it was a very unflattering interview. He looked rather bored the entire time and absentminded.

Other than the appearance of critics Farzaneh Milaneh and Hamid Dabashi who added a layer of intellectualism, the film made Miss Talibonita laugh without meaning too and this in turn freed up her students to laugh as well. This of course can be disasterous, but good thing her students are so mature and sophisticated.

Beautiful classic footage of an Iranian Madonna (but more amazing -- perhaps an Iranian Cher sans the rib-removal and black electrical tape outfits she wore at age 50) were combined and turned into rather heavy-handed avant-garde (if that was what it was meant to be) video art (with some stray narratives) or something.
Miss Talibonita wants to say good things about it...


Um... the director admired Googoosh.

Anyway, Googoosh still shines through and makes it worthwhile to sit through the triple takes and repeats and odd jumps and overly-literary moments. Miss Talibonita does not understand why there were so many clips of Googoosh giving birth? Was she giving birth to the nation of Iran? Then the painful expression on her face is understandable!

Here is a great Googoosh clip from Iranian TVs:

She could be a yoga model! Even in her childhood clips, she was an amazingly muscular little person (must have been the acrobatic training she had).

Okay this will be the last Googoosh Oggling post!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Madonna of Central Asia: Googoosh

Miss Talibonita is compiling this selection of Googoosh clips mainly for her students. They are very adorable beings but say very odd things like Hey, I had no idea Iran had streets!

Googoosh's parents came as refugees to Iran from Azerbaijian. This, almost unimportant fact, allows her to fit into the theme of this blog. She is U.S.-based now but remained in Iran until 2000 when she re-emerged. She can only be compared to Madonna.

And even though Miss Talibonita feels a little lame having to compile these images just to prove that a group of people knew what to do with concrete and bell-bottoms, it is all for the sake of education (and some nostalgia on her part).

This is Pre-1979 Iran (time of an opulent eurocentric King). And as you can see, disco is very much alive in Iran:

A clip of her singing at the royal palace for Reza Shah Pahlavi's birthday.

This one reminds me of Three's Company (Iranian blonde Janet dances with Larry):

Miss Talibonita has the best memories of this video. It was part of the Afghan videos her family used to buy from the shop that was also a meat market/bookstore/video store/rug shop/trinket shop all in a nice nook in Queens surrounded by pale blue buildings that all looked very similar to one another.

She watched this as a musical interlude to the films about war and suffering that the Mujahideen made and sold to refugees, so their kids could feel terribly guilty in their nice brick apartments in urban centers or in the basement of their suburban homes.

Googoosh is a Sufi mystic singing of love. There is a line that says "Let's escape from this nation..." which seemed to strike a cord with Afghans and Iranians, both leaving as refugees after revolutions in 1979 (except that one promoted atheism while the other promoted God) and Miss Talibonita wishes she could translate more but she's afraid someone will bust her for her faulty Farsi. This is one of her favorite songs (and hair styles!):

Monday, April 7, 2008

1958 Ford Commercial in Herat, Afghanistan

The 1958 Ford is contrasted with the Afghan horse & buggy. This came part of a catalog documenting a trip that began in Turkey and ended up in Afghanistan (and back as the ad says). Miss Talibonita has it framed by her entrance hall.

Fun Capital of the World

Which bastard made this poster?

This leads to a report of today's Afghanistan finds. The great expert on CenAsian/MidEastern popculture, Tartarous the Noble introduced Miss Talibonita to this clip from Vice Guide to Travel (2006) dvd.

Co-Producer Suroosh Alvi visits the Northwest Frontier (ethnic Pashtun people), aka gatekeepers of the infamous Khyber Pass in: The Gun Markets of Pakistan

Miss Talibonita's father told her a similar story of his visit to Nooristan (just over the mountain in Afghanistan) to a remote gun-maker at the top of a mountain. He made a handgun using some scrap metal from an old faucet. He had even inscribed Made in Germany. This was circa 1960s when Miss Talibonita's dad was traveling in parts of Afghanistan that could not be traveled without a gun (even if you were just a dentist going to help remote villages). This is the first time Miss Talibonita saw with her own eyes this story in English! For some reason, she thinks stories told in her native language are made up to keep her interested in her connections to the wattan (homeland).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Masculinity III: No not Rambo... The Iron Sheik

WWF of Miss Talibonita's 80s childhood would not be the same without the presence of this screaming Iranian. To our glee, the gang of Afghan bubble gum kids, the Iron Sheik spoke Farsi when he was yelling at Hulk Hogan! He didn't just scream out made-up words, which was usually what "middle eastern" characters did in the films those days.

This photo is a classic. He's got the Ayatollah with angry bulged out eyes on his cape. It makes me think of this: "The Ayatolla of Rock-N-Rolla" a line from a Clint Eastwood film (circa late 80s with Mario van Peebles).

Okay this footage is way way before Miss Talibonita's time! He gets clotheslined with his own robe! But he does manage to Hulk Hogan in a "Boston crab".

Here is a great poem by the Iranian-American poet, Roger Sedarat that speaks of an Iranian wrestler, Miss Talibonita can imagine that is no other than the sheikh of all Iranian wrestlers.

By Roger Sedarat
August 14, 2002
The Iranian

Uncle Farhang ringside cracking seeds
Wildly cheers"The Fearless Iranian"
In the black mask, Come on now, body slam
Him champ! spitting shells on the metal seats.

The good guy wins. We follow ours back in
His dressing room for autographs. He knows
My uncle's friend (a coach) and even shows
Pictures. Great seeds, he says, watermelon?

My Uncle gives his bag away and asks
Him to the house. We have to wake my aunt
At 3:00 a.m. to cook but then she can't
Because the wrestler wants a dozen eggs

With bacon (pork is wrong, but mistreating
A guest is worse). At the all night Kroger
She buys every package of hamburger
Meat, fully aware he's never leaving.

They feed him forty kabob koobideighs
Each night, then let him sit in their bathroom
For hours. My cousins, as if to welcome
Him out, grin, with both hands on their kidneys.

When he decides to leave, my Uncle says
Stay three more weeks. And then when he insists,
Uncle dumps the fridge into an ice chest,
Fishes in his pants' pockets for the keys

To his new Ford, (his only way to work),
Because the bus is slow. You'll return it
In a few months, when you come to visit�
So he drives off, emitting random sparks

From the bumper grating the street, too much
Weight in the trunk: potatoes, ground meat, shoes
My uncle found "too tight," and slightly used
Toys from cousins, who scream, Come back to us!

PS: Of course, Iran is not part of CenAsia. But every once in a while, a lovely Iranian will slip across the borders and find their way here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Speaking of Masculinity... The Orator a film by Yusuf Razikov (1998)

Miss Talibonita watched this film at the Central Asian Film Festival at the Walter Reade circa 2003. She went to see this film with an American scholar on Afghanistan's Turkistan and a Russian scholar (husband and wife). So she had some fabulous insight whispered into her ears during the film in regards to music/setting/history.

The Orator is based in Uzbekistan just when the Bolsheviks come in (1918).

Iskander inherits his brother's two wives, after he passes away. He has also returned home after getting married on his own. Just outside, a revolution is beginning that will disrupt this tranquil village love nest.

A very significant line in the film clip is when the Bolshevik says "While you are comfy with your wives, we are fighting to save you!" And in a retort that would make our favorite anti-colonialist theorist Franz Fanon applaud, Iskander says "I didn't ask you to save me. It looks like you need my help now."

Definitely odd scene with the wives... perhaps overly nostalgic for the good old days when men could marry and inherit so many pretty wives.

Shiny + Overly Cologned + A Mercedes = Quintessential Afghan Diaspora Masculinity

Little known fact: The song, Zim Zim (a classic by Ahmad Zahir) comes embedded in little Afghan babies' marrows when they are born.

Combine this birth right with a generous amount of hair gel, new cars (or ships), shiny silver fabric and you get this fun version by Valy. Make sure to get your shades, it is Bollywood-sparkly.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Who is Talbonita?

Miss Talibonita loves mushrooms, lives in a part of Brooklyn where Shish Kebab shops peep from every other block, and speaks a language she thinks makes too many "kliki" sounds in her mouth. She is also short and has small square feet.

Miss Talibonita teaches at a college in nyc... so she isn't very little at all. She teaches the very same inventory of images she is listing up here. She knows how to make lamb's head soup and is not afraid of looking right into the eyes of what she eats. She is bestfriends with labyrinthian libraries and sometimes, she dawdles onto stages for short-lived torrid affairs with the spotlight.

Miss Talibonita likes nonsense. Her favorite kind of nonsense is sometimes found in academic books or films that try to draw her face for her.

Miss Talibonita is at the worst part of her dissertation, the part where you come up with all the excuses in the world for why you are not writing the damn dissertation (maintaining a blog is one of them). However, her dissertation focuses on Central Asia... so this is a public way to gather her thoughts.

Most importantly, Miss Talibonita is an insomniac who does not care if she has made grammatical mistakes and, as you can see, Miss Talibonita has developed a blog-induced phobia of using that very powerful pronoun: "I".

Now, time for a random music video of a Turkistani girl singing in Farsi, the person who posted it on youtube says she is from Balkh. Balkh is in Northern Afghanistan and is known as Afghan Turkistan. Of course, you know that Uzbek, Kazak, Turkman, Kyrghiz, Uyghur (groups that make up Afghan Turkistan) are Turkic languages while Dari is Persian, right?

Not entirely sure what is going on with the little fat boy in this music video... but here it is with some revamping of the Uzbek traditional outfit for the dancers:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Destiny's Child of Uzbekistan

One of the girls start out wearing a garish golden turban... but hang in there, its a pretty Uyghur song.

Wanna bet on which will be the Beyonce of the batch?

We begin with... Burka Blues

Presenting: The Three Muses of Fledgling post-Taliban Afghan Garage Bands!