This Is Not the Time to ‘Put Politics Aside’ America

(This post was originally published on November 2, 2014 by Adelle Nazarian)
Tonight, Anthony Bourdain asked the world to “put politics aside” as he provided viewers with a unique look inside a nation which has one of the richest and oldest cultures in history; a country that is beholden to one of the greatest dichotomies a population can exude. Iranians are extremists alright. Extreme in their ability to open their hearts and homes to complete strangers, yet tied inevitably to a regime which holds oppression at its core; deception is no stranger to this beautiful land which keeps many secrets, including recipes to some of the most delicious food one’s palette can indulge in.

As I watched Bourdain go through the process of sampling foods in Iran that I have grown up eating in America, I didn’t necessarily feel a sense of pride. After all, I AM AN AMERICAN. Then I watched him take a bite into Iranian takeout pizza which was served with ketchup and I seemed to better understand where my love for the great American condiment comes from (“I eat my ketchup with ketchup”). That scene also reminded me of my paternal grandmother’s first few attempts at making pasta, which she fed to me and my two younger siblings with ketchup! I didn’t understand it then, nor did I detest it, but somehow tonight it all seemed to make more sense. Maman Rachel started serving pasta with marinara sauce after that, but I made sure her homemade french fries were also present on Italian night ;).

The loyalty of an Iranian is unparalleled. But their loyalty will forever lie with “Vatan” (homeland). And Iran’s general population knows not the feeling of rejection, abandonment, years of blood, sweat and tears crippling right before their very eyes. That’s the experience my parents’ families had. And it’s precisely the experience that I know will be etched onto my heart in the coming days, months, and years. Especially with midterms just two days away (Nov. 4) and the potentially pivotal presidential election of 2016 drawing near.

Amid calls of “marg bar Umreeka!” (death to America!) and “marg bar Israeel!” (death to Israel!) the civilian population knows that a “friendship with America” is a priceless asset for the land which is home to Cyrus the Great; the king who created the first Charter for Human Rights known to mankind and who is praised in the Torah for bringing an end to the Jewish exile in Babylon.

Yet, as I look at the faces of the men, women and children on the television screen in front of me, listening to their voices crying out in unison “Ay delaam” (oh my heart), my own heart is filled with gratitude to my parents for providing me with the best of both cultures and worlds (Del is one of my nicknames). Yet it hardens as I recall the history behind my own story as a first-generation American whose parents were born in Iran and were forced to flee their homeland in search of a new one. The Iran of today is not the Iran of the Shah…nor is it the Iran of Cyrus the Great.

America is now Albert and Anita’s (dad and mom’s) “vatan.” It has been for the last 40+ years.

My parents chose the United States of America as their new home. They underwent a legal process to arrive in the States and became U.S. citizens soon after.

The chelo kabbab, deezee, beryani, polo, khoresht, and so many other delectable and palatable dishes served on screen were presented in portions that could feed an army twice over; after all, the culture of hospitality is no stranger to the people of Iran. But at the end of the day, it is Iran’s interests that lie at the heart of the Iranian people from start to finish; not America, nor American interests. And at the end of the day, the only way America can carry out its innate responsibility to defend its own people before it takes on its promise to aid the other nations of the world, is through exceptionalism… AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM. What the world needs is another Reagan of our time. Fifty years later, we are faced with another “Time for Choosing.”

No matter how we’d like to paint it, we can’t simply “put politics aside.” This is not the time nor the place to do so. Come November 4, we will all be faced with a choice and must prepare again for a potentially-pivotal election in 2016. Choose America. And choose someone who has America and American exceptionalism at their core. For a strong America leads to a stronger world.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

Tears From Heaven

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For a moment I thought the earth had torn open. But it was Heaven; overwhelmed w the weight of mortal sins, piercing the sky w roaring thunder. Hush now as the rain falls upon you, allow the tears from above to be your guide, cleansing your soul with the gentle pattering of every drop of liquid love…

-Adelle Nazarian

Second to None  Gun

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” That’s the genius behind the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) slogan and it was the very phrase that came to my mind when news broke of yesterday’s heartbreaking crime.

In the wake of Friday’s tragedy, which sent riveting shock waves through the hearts of Americans as we learned that 20-year-old Adam Lanza took the lives of 27 people – including his own – (20 of which were children between the ages of 6 and 7. THESE WERE KIDS) at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and with tears welling up in my eyes, I began to think and came to find this: It really doesn’t matter what the motives are behind committing cold, gruesome murder. The fact of that matter is it happened and will more likely than not, happen again. It’s an unfortunate facet of the way life works but is also a great testament to the gravity of what needs to be done at both the federal and state levels to guarantee against future tragedies. No one was able to escape the wrath of Adam’s rage and the fact that it was taken out on such tender, pure, innocent souls is all the more disturbing.

Let’s face it, having guns in homes is a deep part of American culture. We have a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen in this country and a lot of people who want to make sure they can protect  themselves. An attempt to eradicate guns across the board would make prohibition look like a day in the park. Just hours after POTUS secured his reelection he ordered the U.S. mission to the United Nations delegation to vote in favor of a UN proposal to fast track an international gun control treaty (which establishes a bizarre moral equivalence between countries that trade arms to defend freedom and those that do so to suppress and extinguish it). While I’m not advocating for an entire ban on guns by any means or expressing support for a treaty that would necessarily pose a significant threat to our national security or our constitutional rights, I’m starting to question whether weapons that were designed for soldiers in war should be in our streets.

With the gun violence-related events that have been occurring in our country over this past year, it should come as no surprise that we’ll be witnessing the igniting of an even more heated debate surrounding the verbiage in the Second Amendment and gun laws in this country. Lawyers and the courts have been battling over this highly contested subject since that fateful day on December 15, 1791, when the law of our great land, the Constitution, was ratified. But there’s a large and widely unseen misconception here with the language of the Second Amendment and it’s implementation at the time it first came to fruition, versus today. While it is very important, its also greatly misunderstood. It clearly states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The phrase “bear arms” was referring to soldiers and militiamen. Not to private gun use by an individual in a home or on a hunt. The central image of association was that of Minutemen bearing arms, not Daniel Boone gunning down bears. And so with that ever-evolving depiction, so too has the interpretation behind the Second Amendment.

In fact increasingly calls have been made for the the Second Amendment to be interpreted alongside the 14th Amendment particularly the privileges and immunities clause in Section 1 which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It focuses on Rights Guaranteed Privileges and Immunities of Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection. Many see the recognition of this clause as being necessary to respect the Framers’ vision, as it was inspired by the Declaration of Independence and laid out in the Constitution, for a government that would in fact serve instead of rule, the people which translates to government’s limited role whilst the Constitution would stand as an ever-watchful guardian to assure and ensure that government would not overstep its bounds, as we know very well they are apt to doing.

A companion statute to the 14th Amendment, enacted by Congress in 1866, declared that “laws … concerning personal liberty [and] personal security … including the constitutional right to bear arms, shall be secured to and enjoyed by all the citizens.” Here, in sharp contrast to founding-era legal texts, the “bear arms” phrase was decisively severed from the military context. Additionally, the Second Amendment harkens back to an 18th Century America where citizens were regularly rounded up for militia service on the town square and where the federal army was rightly suspect. This is no longer our world and while the framers of the 14th Amendment did focus intently on self-dense in the home, the framers of the Second Amendment did not.

Whatever direction this hot topic ends up taking, the calls for action are being heard loud and clear across the nation. Our nation has grieved the loss of 20 of our children and this will hopefully prompt a call to action and initiatives to prevent future tragedies from occurring without causing damage to the individual rights we hold as citizens of this great county and maintaining its stalwart principles. As with everything in life, there is something to be said about finding and maintaining a balance; a middle ground of sorts. Too much of anything is never a good thing and in times of grief, well, I think this says it best:

“In times of grief and sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods to tears and despair and make it through the potholed street of life” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Godspeed to the families of those affected by this and other tragedies and may we never experience the devastating blow of loss ever again.

Once in a Lifetime: 12.12.12

12-12-12

Today marks the last major numerical date using the Gregorian or Christian calendar for almost another century. The next time three numbers will align as they did on 9-9-09, 10-10-10 and 11-11-11 will be on Jan. 1, 3001, or 1-1-1. It also marks a new day for the Holy See as Pope Benedict XVI sent out his first, long-anticipated, Tweet with the push of a button on an iPad. His pearls of wisdom: “How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?” And what a special day it is.

All this has stirred up talk of a doomsday and Armageddon-like finale, with just nine days to go before the Mayan calendar hits the end of its 5,000-year cycle. Superstitious ramblings of the end have even sparked some odd and eerie behavior in other countries prompting NASA to release a Mayan calendar “told ya so” video (NASA releases Mayan calendar ‘told ya so’ video 10 days early | Crave – CNET) in an attempt to quell any looming fears.

So let’s take a look at the lighter side of this enchanted figure and see the positive (no pun intended) in the number 12. Here are 12 fun facts about this :

  1. The Beatles released a total of 12 studio albums
  2. Only 12 people have ever walked the moon (12.13.2012 will the mark the 40th anniversary of which the men on Apollo 17 took humanity’s final steps on the moon)
  3. 12 is the atomic number of magnesium on the periodic table of elements
  4. There are 12 pairs of ribs in the human body
  5. There are 12 cranial nerves in the human body
  6. In English, 12 is the largest number that has just one syllable
  7. The 12 ‘ Jyotirlingas’ represents the epitome of the God Shiva in Hindu Shaivism
  8. Most computers have 12 function keys (i.e. F1, F2, etc.)
  9. In the bible Jacob had 12 sons who were the progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
  10. There were 12 apostles
  11. King Arthur’s round table had 12 Knights including himself
  12. The Dozenal Societies of America and Great Britain are devoted to…you guessed it!

One numerologist says the number 12 is associated with enjoyment, emotions, creative expression, sadness, rejuvenation and rebirth. Let’s face it. If something’s bound to happen, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. So skeptics and believers alike, rejoice! You have nine days (not 12!) to find out…

The Joy of Giving

As the new year approaches, many of us are speculating as to which form of self-improvement we should implement for the 365 days that lie ahead once that fateful chime rings in to the tune of midnight bliss. Whether it’s starting a diet and battling that bulge, quitting smoking and/or drinking, spending more time with family, being nicer to your siblings, or learning something new (the list goes on and on…), there’s something in particular which I feel could inspire anyone who takes part in it to, not only be filled with gratification but, be inspired and motivated to uphold their other resolutions as well.

During my interview on JLTV yesterday I briefly touched upon a significant problem affecting over 14% of the global population; a huge issue which impacts countless individuals right here in the United States, including inhabitants of Southern California. It also just happens to be one of the many problems I have always sought to help find a better solution for: HUNGER.

Reports show that hunger has now become the most urgent threat to children worldwide with almost one billion people projected to be suffering from it this year alone. The world, fundamentally, has the resources to provide for the current population but it requires correct cooperation for both the domestic and international community to deal with, and effectively resolve, this pressing matter.

The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles has already unveiled a blueprint to combat this ailment which affects more than 1.25 million people right in our very own backyard — to add perspective, that’s roughly the size of Philadelphia’s population. I am also pleased to announce that the Henry Jackson Society will be hosting an event on Monday, December 10th in which David Nabarro, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition, and Coordinator for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement will draw upon his wealth of experience on the issues surrounding the Zero Hunger Challenge.

If you happen to be in London, you should absolutely attend our event there which will be held, as the majority of our events are, in Parliament. There’s so much you can do to help; even the smallest gesture has the potential to send ripples and form waves of positivity.

I urge everyone reading this message to do their part and help; whether it’s donating funds, food or your time at local food pantries, your gestures and acts of kindness will certainly leave a lasting impact. Be good. Do good. And you will certainly be rewarded with only good.

Weathering The Impending Storm

“The Great Storm of 2012” as I’m calling it, could not have arrived at a more turbulent time in our nation’s history. What happens during the next seven days will forever impact the course of history for both America and the world as we know it. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been and still are in Hurricane Sandy’s way and hope they will be kept safe from harm and shielded from sorrow. Choose wisely in the days that lie ahead and consider the importance of a trans-Atlantic relationship and unity in our increasingly global society. The leader of the “Free World” should serve as a beacon of light and justice unto other nations and bridge the gap (not divide or detach) between the world’s democracies, particularly with regard to our greatest ally in the Middle East. The choice is ours to make and the consequences of our actions will be felt for generations to come. Choose wisely.

PizzaRev Heats Up Southern California

Rev up your engines. It’s a race to the finish lines. Pizza Rev has taken a classic, universal staple and turned it into a fast-casual “craft your own” artisanal pizza concept, making it the fastest-growing pizza restaurant in Southern California. As you enter through the glass doors, you’re met with a uniquely distinct recycled wood interior and the sleek, contemporary look of modernity with furniture consisting of wood, glass and stainless steel to make for a warm, comfortable and clean environment. With two locations opening within six months – the first in Northridge and the second in Studio City, which had its grand opening on September 21st – it’s no mistake that PizzaRev’s Studio City location is home to the largest oven installed in all of Southern Los Angeles; What’s being served up is a revolution in terms of the way that pizza is presented.

While they’re not the first to introduce this concept to the restaurant industry, PizzaRev co-founder and marketing director Jeff Zuckerman highlights a few factors that really set this fast-paced and fun dining establishment apart from the rest. It’s a “mom and pop’s pizza shop done your way,” he says. And their unique approach could be attributed in large part to that of their signature Roman-style thin and crispy crusts which are homemade every day from a secret recipe which decreases the pizza’s cooking time to two-three minutes, making the process of crafting your “perfect pie” a fast and fun one.

Upon entering the crafting line, guests have a choice between a classic crust and a Gluten-Free crust. They can then choose between an Organic Neapolitan Red Sauce, a creamy Parmesan White Sauce, or a spicy-sweet BBQ sauce, followed by a choice of creamy cheeses including premium Italian Mozzarella made with a kiss of buffalo milk, Ricotta, Feta, Bleu and Vegan Cheeses. Once the base has been created, the PizzaRever can choose from an unlimited number of fresh toppings. That is correct. For one flat fee, guests can choose as many toppings as they’d like to including 11 protein options, consisting of three unique styles of pepperoni, seasoned crumbled meatball, and sweet fennel sausage plus over 20 fresh veggie toppings, including roasted garlic, kalamata olives, spicy-sweet cherry peppers, fresh basil, arugula and capers. “We believe that you should be able to make your idea of perfect pizza every single time you go down our line without being restricted,” Zuckerman says.

But no lunch or dinner would be complete without something sweet. A scrumptious Dessert Pizza made with melted butter, cinnamon and sugary frosting is topped with a choice of chocolate, raspberry, and caramel finishing sauces, delivering a sweet end to a delicious meal. Could all this be too sweet a deal? One is forced to ponder whether the quality would be lost in such a fast-paced culinary environment. The answer is no. PizzaRev may truly be on the road to revolutionizing the way we see pizza, such a universally known and loved food, and placing it – for the first time – in the fast-food category, while maintaining this classic’s integrity.

Executive Chef and Chief Operating Officer behind PizzaRev, Nicholas Eckerman, is the brainchild behind this operation. He created the pizza recipe and chooses all the toppings that are available for your eating pleasure, including a flavor of the month which varies depending on what’s in season; September’s is eggplant. I personalized my pie with sundried tomatoes, jalapenos, Kalamata olives, anchovies and the flavor of the month with a healthy dollop of their homemade pesto sauce. With PizzaRev, you control your pizza destiny. Ask me if I’ll come again. I’ll answer with a resounding YES!

PizzaRev is located at 12103 Ventura Blvd on the corner of Ventura and Laurel Canyon Blvd in Studio City and is open on Sunday-Thursday from 11AM-10PM and Friday-Saturday from 11AM-11PM. For more information, please visit www.pizzarev.com, like PizzaRev on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pizzarevco and follow on Twitter @PizzaRevCo. Phone: 818-505-1748.

http://www.jejprint.com/valleyscene/pubData/source/Valley%20Scene.pdf

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