Jim Milak
•Easy Sex the Hard Way

Kiki Mercury
•The Modernist Gift Guide
•Iranica/Opposite Day in Iran

Matthew Shultz
•Animals in Pornography

Edgar Barrington
•A Message to You
•Japanese Hangover

Mike Toe
•Bob Chinn's Crab House
•Stream of Bowling Conscious Wood
•My Young Coconut Juice

John Dugan
•My Terrorist Romance
•Politics in Your Coffee




Kiki Mercury

Iranica / Opposite Day in Iran
In these gay times, with our coasts kissed by hurricanes named Henri and Fabian (fabulous!), with Republican Terminators taking over California, who has the will to ruin the party and think internationally? Alas, this is blessed war-time, with the second anniversary of September 11 upon us—what better time for a primer on everyone’s perpetual favorite middle eastern problem child: Iran. The White House after all thinks Iran’s been a lil’ D.L. these days, reminding us that the country lies just a border from, and three alphabetical letters away from Iraq. But who we are, where we really stand, what we mean—well, if you’re Iranian like me you will have trouble finishing this very sentence.

Primer Glossary:

“Opposite Day”: an expression, rooted in elementary school discourse and playground tradition. Children generally between the ages of 6-11 generally exclaim, “Opposite Day!” when meaning to absolutely negate a previously stated concept, notion, phrase, sentence, or word: I eat kaka; you don’t eat kaka. Opposite Day! Synonyms: “Psyche!”, “Not!”

“Dune-goon”: slang, (usu. offensive.) a person of Middle-Eastern origin, usually of Arab origins. Synonyms: “Sand-nigga,” “Towelhead,” “Camel-jockey,” “Blackhead” [Swedish, German]

Iran: Formerly (until 1935), Persia. A republic in SW Asia: an Islamic republic since 1979. 53, 920,000; ab. 635,000 sq.mi.

Gay: adj. having or showing a merry, lovely mood: gay manner. 2. bright or showy: gay colors. 3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season. 4. homosexual: judging from his manners and colors, the gentleman is a gay!

Bad: adj. 1. not good in any manner or degree: He is one bad president. 2. Slang. Outstandingly excellent; first-rate: He is one bad president!


Q: I’m watching the news these days. What’s the deal with Iran? I am so confused. Good? Evil? Huh?

Here’s a test: if you can’t answer this about your homeland, you are from a country that, whether good or evil, “counts.” (e.g.: Bali=good; the U.S. = hmm?) First of all, no Iranian I know is fit to answer this, especially me. Iranian-American, yes, but I was also a full-time 90s Los Angeles valley girl. Not even from the Moon-Zappa-valley, the San Fernando, but the other east side valley, the San Gabriel. We don’t even have Iranians; the Iranians are in Beverly Hills and Westwood. Remember the first day of school in Clueless, when Alicia Silverstone is introducing Brittany Murphy to 90210 High and pointing out a group of all-black-Armani-donning, gold-jewelry-strewn, big hair-sprayed/slick-gelled kiddies all glues to their cellies—“That’s the Persian mafia,” Silverstone’s insightful Cher points out, “You can’t hang with them unless you own a BMW.”

I certainly didn’t own a Beamer—and neither did my family—one possible explanation as to why I had no Iranian friends. I was located deep in the listless crotch of the anonymous the east side, where everyone assumed I was “Spanish,” well-blended with the ethnic lo-mid masses, with a Daddy who actually owned a Pinto, then upgrading to a Dodge Omni hatchback. My parents taught me Sizzler was a nice night out and that you never tip more than $2, no matter how much the bill. The Royal Mercurys.

Early on conflicted Iranian identity was very obvious to me. PhD-holding Daddy, while mysteriously making no money teaching computer science, astronomy, physics, etc. at UCLA, proudly claimed the many west-side Persian mafia kids he taught were “always the best” and “truly nerds.” At the same time I will never forget my good friend Wendy who opted to go there, asking me if my parents expected me to marry Iranian, because, she warned, the UCLA Iranian boys were “fiends,” “coke dealers,” and did “everything short of date-rape and maybe that too.”

Proud/not proud?

Therefore, in a city called Tehrangeles by many, nobody really knew what to make of “us.” I still don’t know.

Now, with twentysomethings still in the trenches of the ironic “so-bad-it’s-so-good” hipster logic era (the post-9/11 New Sincerity came and went), I guess there is a constituency that can stomach Iran as both terrible and awesome. Like the schizophrenic ingenuity that allows a hipster to view marshmallow fluff as simultaneously disgusting and delicious, or don a $200 mullet that is both fashion and fugliness, Iran sucks and rules in way I would say only my generation is fit to deal with. I am thinking of sending my peers, the Bush daughters, for instance, a halter top I inherited pre Sept 11, designed by Iranian-NYC design duo Michael & Hushi, that says “Death to America” in Persian graffiti with little gold glitter bullets coming out of the machine guns of prettily stenciled veiled Iranian chicks...you like?

Q: What is someone from Iran anyway?

Iranian. I mean, Persian. I mean, Iranian...

Bo-ring. Remember the last time you asked one of my people where they were from? Bet they said “Persian.” “Persian” is what Iranians who refuse to identify with present-day “Iran” and its Islamic reign of terror call themselves. Some of these people additionally belong to the particularly loathsome subset who think by marketing themselves as people of “Persia,” they conjure up lots of pretty paisley flying carpets, Arabian night images, Rumi poems, Shiraz wine, and the long-haired fat cats. They will always insist they too belong to the “Caucasoid” race and when convenient, avoid the matter altogether, and call themselves “Eurasian.”

Last year, I started saying “Iranian.”

“Iran” as a word has a lot of shit attached: Iran Contra Affair. Iranian hostage crisis. Much of it is linked to danger, American fear, and Iranian oppression.

But on the bright side, “Iran” means home of Aryans, or rather “Aryan Nation!” Wow: “Aryan!” There’s a fun word! Yes, scholars agree that Iranians, not only speak an Indo-European language—Farsi—that is not Arabic at all, they are not Semites ethnically at all—they join Turks and Israelis the only non-Arabs in the middle east. (Iranian nationalists will heatedly, often with clenched fists, remind you that they are only Arab by rape.) Apparently the Aryan tribes originated in Iran, and then during the Ice Age after all the deserts got flooded fled to the eternally iced Northern Europe. To make matter more sketchy, Iranian reliefs and art, like those in India, are full of the ancient spiritual sign, the swastika! If that weren’t enough, my OG-Aryan countrymen, particularly the ones in Iran, often have terrible prejudices against other races, from Asians to blacks. For instance, the Persian New Year “Santa” equivalent, still incorporated in Persian festivities and fearlessly doing his jigs annually on Persian TV stations, is a dancing clown in a red suit and black face. What does the KKK think of us? That is the real question.

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