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C.C. Arshagra

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     After high school, C.C. owned his own upholstery company (1979--'84-5), and and went on to higher Ed. to study Marketing and Management (1979-'80) at the Morse School of Business in Hartford Connecticut. C.C. Arshagra decided to fold-up ownership of the shop and hand the the 1938 established business (he had now bought and payed for), the same business that taught the Upholstery trade to his Father, over to his Father for a dollar.

     Many profound and life-altering experiences happened in the years following his Grandfather's death. Few compared to the final years in Hartford, Connecticut at the three family home he bought and then later sold to cover the money spent bailing his Father out-of-debt for three years or better.

     It was in these last years of residency in his home state (1958-'85) that C.C. began uncovering the creative soul that resided, was imbedded within him from the early years in the garden with his Grandfather. C.C. (Chris, as his Father, family, and friends all knew him) loved and respected his Father very deeply, but it simply was not to be for him to remain the employer of his Father and brothers.

     During these life-altering years C.C. entered into poetry, writing with aspirations to pen this century's Nursery Rhymes. He also entered the public world's of music, painting/drawing, public access TV and the Movement Arts (Contact Improvisation). C.C.'s drawings at the time began to show signs of a life/death to life transformation. The art he created started to contain signature changes. For a brief time here and there it read Chris Arshag.

     The work he did as director of the XY Eli Dance Party (Most likely the first Popping, Break-Dancing & RAP TV Show on American Television -- The XY Eli Show) also left emerging marks, of the artist he was to become, upon the cultural worlds around him.

     It was not long after this process of creating under the pseudonym C.C. Arshagra that he began to sign his name Christopher Cistulli Arshagra. This signature soon appeared at the foot of all he penned or drew. The process of living by this name aloud took its time. It weathered its stages of transitions. The changes happened at different speeds in differing social circles. Through the culmination of these times, the name changing grew to be exercised. Step by step, circumstance by circumstance, his birth name faded till only a few in his present daily life still referred to him as Chris. It was a special few, and most always via reasons of friendship, otherwise, he stood insistently, to correct all others. The passion of this was to insist on respecting his Grandfather. Within him, within his heart, and within his mind the process lived through many awkward stages, over many emotional hurdles, for a number of personal reasons, over a period of years and now decades.

     The simple version of this story, the one that answers the question about the origin of his pen name, and now the name he lives by is this. His Grandfather, Arshag, gave him the foundation, which later became his soul understanding of life, and how one faces oneself.

     The true nature of the complex version involved an artistic shift in his reality; a shift in the usage of sound, language, listening, speaking, and understanding.

     During his final year in Connecticut, when the future of his life was being severed from its past, all words were a twilight-zone of communicating truths. A three month long journey of the mind. The muted epiphany began to seep-in about seven months prior to his last day of living as a resident of his home state, Connecticut.

     The dueling realities sent C.C.'s mind into a very private realm of self-preservation, love, survival, and choice. For all intensive purposes, C.C. became mute for a period of 3 months. He never lost his physical ability to hear or speak, or lose cognitive recognition of what he heard or said. Yet, the clarity of comprehending words, whether his own or others, could not translate into an understanding. The possibilities of each word, statement, and verbal interaction were, multi-layered or strikingly contrasting. This was a most mesmerizing time.The life/death to life story was all too real. This was the beginning of C.C.'s life as an artist. He entered the world of arts in the city of Hartford CT. and surrounded himself with as many artists as possible. He, to some degree, had sought this threshold. Perhaps at this time in his life, it would be fair to say he under went a complete transformation of purging all realities that will not survive this full commitment to the human ideal of humanity and love. Humanity and love both are at risk of being ideal delusions of what survival on earth really means.

     What broke the so called' mute period' of C.C.'s life was a book. A library book that was titled Human and Non-Human Deceit. Simple. There was nothing all that profound about the book in and of itself. But the timing of reading of it coincided with a wave of lingo that was spreading wild --on the lips of so many, from so many different social circles and all about the same time. It was dubbed New-speak, or Double Speak, and some referred to it as Laser Talk. Regardless of what it was called, it was all the same. A highbrow deception.

     If you were in-the-know when it (And I do mean IT) was used, you knew that some would get it and others would not get it. Call it a metro-thing, or a heady culture thing, or something akin to an inside gender, class or race thing; and it is all still not the point here.

     The point is here you are into the condescension of other people, and you are aware that the others here mentioned are not. You are consciously speaking over their heads and ignoring they are using language as a form of sincere communication and you are not. It's mean. It's deceptive. It's arrogant.

     It is the weapon of language invading the word-of-mouth world of sincere social communication. The key deceiving point of it (the word it), is 'It' does not refer to anything. 'It' is an empty pronoun with no real attachment to anything except its empty and meaningless self. Someone once told C.C. it is like language on crack cocaine or humanity is a dream that never was nor ever will be.

     It is aware that it is all a lie, and language is nothing but a weapon of deceit. C.C. states that if survival is the end-all paramount truth of reality, then language, words, or even civilizations and religions for that matter are really nothing more than the evolution of tooth and claw: an inhuman admission that inhumanity is real. Humanity’s ideal manifestation is doomed to never be anything more than a kingdom of species and sub-species set to vie for eternity against more of the same within other kingdoms of species set against their own vying sub-species in an eternal exchange of survival and resource use and depletion. Or, more crassly put, the ultimate belief that: There is no love.

     What was once the simple voices and listening of Grandpa and Grandson, were now silent seeds blooming and invisible lessons unfolding, the teachings kept flowing into the present trials and challenges of his late teen, early twenties and still to this day. Thus the proper name Arshag became the soulful sir name Arshagra; and Christopher Cistulli became the ethnic, racial, gender neutral in text form, and religious benign proper (first) name C.C.

     Yet, surrounding the many emotional hurdles of living through a name-change decision, was the love and respect he had in his heart (on-one-hand) for his father and (on-the-other hand) for his Grandfather. There was not always a clear understanding between the two. His Grandfather's character strengths were deeply of mind and soul, as his Father's character strengths leaned toward the heart and music.

     C.C. concluded he wanted a sir name free of ethnic obviousness. He desired a human one. One less easy to lock into a stereotype upon first encountering its sound. He profoundly felt that the courageous legacy of his Grandfather's soul was in him to carry him through the trials ahead.

     C.C. was at peace with his father's almost certain dislike of the choice against his pride, but C.C. confronted his father about it. "Dad? Do you realize you married the daughter of a genocide survivor, a man who lost mother, father, and home in a single day? Dad, you do know he was cast alone into the world at the age of nine to run for his life and never return? A child who now knows ’Papa's going to die someday, but you will live’. He lived to father the woman who is your chosen wife, and my mother. This man helped raise your son with no concept of enemy, vengeance, blame, or hatred, and he was not passive about (the soul-work) his pain."

     "I know your pride is not going to like this but I'm going to live by the name of C.C. Arshagra. Dad. I am going to be a poet." It landed like a heavy stone on soft ground. C.C. tried to then soften the blow with the “Mozart was really an Amadeus” story, but it fell as a weak attempt. He then tried to explain the difference between himself and his brothers, and how his brothers should be the ones who make good of the family name, and that he was going to honor the soul of his bride's Father. Adding "Remember, Dad, you married the daughter of a genocide survivor."

     Then days later, in order to explain (the somewhat nonsensical truth about) adding the letters R and A to the end of Arshag; C.C. met Sun Ra, the world renowned artist who proclaimed to be from the planet Saturn, It was a private setting with only about eight people in the center of an empty black-box performance space, inside the original Real Art Ways location. SunRa was found, by C.C.'s description, to be a truly fascinating being, and way beyond the raw touching gift of an amusing character. Later that night or the next, he witnessed Sun Ra and his Archestra, a mystical sound experience, at Mad Murphy's (now torn down) on Union Street, in Hartford, CT. This experience redefined performance, music, and art.

     C.C. also (for no real particular reason at all) found the sound of the three syllables dynamic and somehow grounding. It just felt right to say,"Are-Shah-Grah." So for this nonsensical, less than logical, and artistically grateful set of 'reasons' (for lack of a better word), he felt born to live with the name Arshagra, further (as if in need of more reason) he felt it nessessary to validate the adding of the last two letters is to signify the number of generations between Grandfather and Grandson; then (as if in need of still more reason) C.C.'s conviction to soul integrity had no wish to become his Grandfather, his Grandfather's soul, or to take on the soul work of his Grandfather. The uniqueness of Arshag's namesake lives on as an evolving human at the center of this man.