Iran News ...


"Strange Times Live" Presents: Iranian Culture Uncensored

Sept. 10, 2005, 7:30 Pm in Levantine Cultural Center, Culver City, California
With Maz Jobrani, Ziba Shirazi & Contributors To The "Strange Times, My Dear" Anthology

When the Bush Administration tried to stop translation and publication of literature from one of its “Axis of Evil” enemies, publishers of a new anthology of Iranian writing fought back. PEN USA, a Los Angeles based non-profit membership organization of professional writers which defends, promotes, and celebrates freedom of expression, opposes the U.S. government’s attempts at censorship and invites the general public to “Strange Times Live”—an evening of readings from Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature, as well as an evening of Iranian culture including comedy and music. RSVPs strongly recommended to 310.862.1555 or 310.559.5544.



Both PEN USA and Levantine Cultural Center programs oppose censorship while promoting literature as a positive force for peace and cross-cultural understanding. On Sat., Sept. 10th, 7:30 p.m. join PEN and LCC as they welcome some of the editors and writers from Strange Times, My Dear for an evening of Iranian culture that celebrates the First Amendment.

Actor and comedian
Maz Jobrani will host “Strange Times Live” at the Levantine Cultural Center, featuring a musical performance by vocal artist Ziba Shirazi, and a host of readings by Nahid Mozaffari, editor, Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, editor, Majid Nafici, poet, Abbas Saffari, poet, Sholeh Wolpe, translator, Partow Nuriala, poet, and Persis Karim— editor of another Iranian anthology scheduled to be released next year.

At a recent award ceremony where Shirin Ebadi—the first woman from the Muslim world to receive the Nobel Peace Prize—was awarded the third-annual UCI Citizen Peacebuilding Award, Iranian-American CNN broadcaster Rudi Bakhtiar made the following remark: “In a world where today our country Iran has been called and become synonymous with Axis of Evil…and where women have half the value of men, one woman has risen to win the Nobel Prize for everything she does on a daily basis, and we can all learn from that, and it doesn’t matter whether you are in your own country or another country, it doesn’t matter if the child you are helping is American, Iranian, black, white or yellow; all that matters is that we are making the world a better place.”

Can the world indeed be made into a better place when there is a ban on publishing literature from countries on the “enemy list”? With censorship in place, can we hope to build bridges between cultures and religions? Nobel Laureate or not, Shirin Ebadi is not permitted to have her memoir published in the cradle of democracy, the
United States of America. Presently any publisher or editor can be fined one million dollars and imprisoned for up to ten years for editing or publishing works by authors from embargoed countries, specifically Cuba, Sudan and Iran, without a permit from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC.) Dr. Ebadi is a citizen of Iran and therefore subject to this law.

PEN American Center, Arcade publishing and several other organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. government asking for an immediate injunction against enforcement of the OFAC regulations. As a result a “general license” was issued allowing Arcade Publishing to publish Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature.

As for Dr. Ebadi, her American literary agency, the Strothman Agency of Boston, has also sued the American government to be allowed to publish her memoir. The restrictions "seem to defy the values the
United States promotes throughout the world, which always include free expression and the free exchange of ideas," Dr. Ebadi said in an affidavit filed with the suit. Both cases will be heard later this year before the final judgment is issued.

Host Maz Jobrani is the consummate performer, both stand-up comedian and dramatic actor. Maz was “Mr. Hut” on the Fox sitcom “Life on a Stick.” He played Secret Service agent “Mo” in “The Interpreter,” the 2005 Sydney Pollack film starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman. He is best known for his role as “Moly” in Ice Cube’s “Friday After Next.” He has also guest starred as “The Sikh” on the season finale of last year’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” along with several other guest appearances. Maz has done standup comedy on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” and CBS’s “Late Late Show,” and performs standup comedy regularly at the Comedy Store and The Laugh Factory on Sunset. He also tours nationally. Angelenos recently saw him at the Mark Taper performing in Tony Kushner's "Homebody Kabul." Visit

Ziba Shirazi, the Iranian Joni Mitchell, left Iran and moved to Los Angeles in 1986. She longed to be free, she says, to write poignant lyrics; she yearned to sing and compose without being hindered by suffocating cultural intolerance. Though she is from the ancient land called Persia and the language and the culture of that 5,000-year-old civilization are, she says, "in every cell of my body"—the wondrous, troubling, miraculous thing is that jazz, literature and social equality are also within her molecules. In fact, her latest album, "Fresh Breeze" blends jazz with lyrics in Farsi. The songs of Ziba Shirazi whether joyous or pensive, whether predominately jazz, blues, or Iranian folk in flavor are never simply nostalgic, never backward looking, always open ended, always with a hint of the future. Visit

"Strange Times Live" is an evening of live performances celebrating Iranian culture and free speech. It includes a reception and is free to the public. There will be a signing by several contributors to Strange Times, My Dear and copies will be available for sale.
Sat., Sept. 10, 2005, beginning at 7:30 pm at the new Levantine Cultural Center, 5920 Blackwelder Street, Culver City, CA 90232, two blocks south of the major intersection of La Cienega Blvd. and Washington Blvd., on the border of Los Angeles (La Cienega South exit from the 10 Fwy). The evening is cosponsored by UCLA, and The Performance Loft. RSVPs strongly recommended to 310.862.1555 or 310.559.5544. For more information contact the PEN USA office at 310.862-1555, or Levantine Cultural Center, 310.559-5544. Visit


More information: 310.862.1555 or 310.559.5544. For more information contact the PEN USA office at 310.862-1555, or Levantine Cultural Center, 310.559-5544. Visit




... Payvand News - 9/2/05 ... --

comments powered by Disqus

Home | ArchiveContact | About |  Web Sites | Bookstore | Persian Calendar | twitter | facebook | RSS Feed

© Copyright 2005 NetNative (All Rights Reserved)