Watching reportage showing German farmers dumping milk from huge milk trucks into the street, to protest low prices, a Hayastantsi shook his head and said, “See how they’re protesting? What’s wrong with Armenians, they don’t protest anything, no matter what. If they do, it’s half-way (kes beran). All they say is, ‘what can we do?’ In my opinion, it’s an Armenian sickness.”
A few examples of this ‘Armenian sickness,’ as our friend put it: At a recent premiere of a film about Armenian history, our patience ran out and we left early, due to the quite good film being drowned out by synthesized versions of the songs “Kilikia” and “Hayastan Drakhtavayr,” not to mention synthesized music played throughout the entire film, making it difficult at times to understand the narration. Outside, when we told our opinion to someone involved in the film, his answer was, “What can we do? I don’t like it either, but they wanted to do the safe thing, and did the music this way.”
After the film, in the open area in front of Kino Moskva, Dashnaktsutyun was having a concert/rally for their candidate in the upcoming election. Besides one or two normal singers, at least 2-3 pop stars that perform in night clubs (where things happen that we won’t go into here) did their lip synching. When we asked a 40-year-old Dashnak why Dashnaktsutyun invited such people to perform at their concert, he answered, “What can we do? This is the way things are today…”
Walking towards the city center, with a Dashnak friend, we saw his amazement and disgust as he looked at the new construction going on downtown. “I’ve been too busy lately to see all this. They’ve ruined the city center with these disgusting buildings. Look over there, beyond the Central Post. Those buildings going up are destroying the downtown image and scenery in general.” He stopped and thought. “If real Dashnaks came to power, they’d destroy all this and start all over again. And the comment one of our leaders just made…now I know how wrong he was. He said Yerevan was advancing into the future, with all this new construction, but Paris, where they maintain and respect their old architecture, is stuck in the past. Ridiculous. Now I know why some say, ‘long live the Soviet Union.’”
Before departing, our friend told about a presidential award, a fair sum included, which was given to a sub-par writer. “When it became clear that the award was for a book written some 18 years ago, the other writers up for the award stayed silent. When I asked one of them why he didn’t protest, he said, ‘What can we do? This is the way it is.’”
I remembered a musicologist's words after a recent folk theater production, when she personally told the producer, “I bow down to the work you're doing," and later told us privately that she thought the production was bordering a disaster, and did nothing for folk culture and culture in general. When we asked her why she praised the producer, even though she obviously had a different opinion about his work, she said, "What can we do? This is the state of things now..."