On Tuesday April 8, 1980 the majority of the Iranian population in the U.S. and specially in Los Angeles were students. Some were here before the Iranian revolution and many came after, but almost all were receiving money for school tuition and other living costs from back home. The U.S. government’s decision to block these particular funds had a very long lasting effect on the lives of a lot of young people. For some this might have even been a turning point. This was the beginning, if not the beginning of the end of a chapter in these students’ lives.
Once Upon A Time in Los Angeles has its roots in this day! It is one of my projects that’s been eating dust for so many years. I will be posting images from this project here and if you care to share any of them please include proper credit and links to the source.
Note: The featured image is a bad photographic reproduction of the from page of LA Times from a time when even Fax machines were not yet available for purchase! So please excuse the quality..
I took this photo when I saw Ahmad Shamlou in 1989. He was very gracious. I had asked him to give me a few minutes before his reading (a fundraiser in support of the victims of an earthquake in northern Iran). When he arrived he wasn’t feeling well but didn’t say anything about it. I noticed just the same and told him that it would be OK if he was not up to it. I explained that I didn’t want to impose on him and we could take photos another time. He insisted that I do it as long as I didn’t take too long. So I respected his wish, and this and other photos are the result of that day.
He returned a year later to do another reading, this time in support of the Kurdish refugees. He was in much better health and his sense of humor was back. I gave him a couple of prints of this photo in the dressing room. He took them out of the envelope, and after he saw this photo, he said: “you made me look like Emamzadeh” (a saint) and laughed. Aida, his wife who was standing right beside him smacked him playfully on his shoulder and said “is this how you treat young artists?” to which he replied “I’m kidding, he gets it…”
I know I’m not the only one wishing that he was still around… There will never be another Shamlou.