Three Photos: Leonard Cohen At The Rinzai Zen Community (2012)

Photos dated July 21, 2012, the date of ceremonies celebrating Kyozan Joshu Roshi’s arrival in the United States on July 21, 1962, found among the public photos at the Rinzai-ji Zen Center Facebook Page by Evelyne Bénomard.  Note that Kezban Özcan, Leonard Cohen’s personal assistant, is also shown at the left of the bottom shot.

I Scream, You Scream, It’s Leonard Cohen Eating Ice Cream – With Kezban Özcan In LA 2014

Leonard Cohen!!! One of the all time greatest humans to ever exist, eats VL ice cream. #saltedcaramel #humbledbygreatness

A post shared by Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (@vanleeuwenicecream) on


Photo posted April 4, 2014

Caption: “Leonard Cohen!!! One of the all time greatest humans to ever exist, eats VL ice cream. #saltedcaramel…”

Comment: “They ordered “extra small scoops”

Note: Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream advertises “Ice Cream & Vegan Ice Cream made in Brooklyn with the worlds finest ingredients. New York & Los Angeles”

See other Leonard Cohen photos of this sort at

Note: Originally posted April 5, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Calling On Leonard Cohen & Kezban: The Cat, The Cane, The Conversation


A couple of days before this posting, the Duchess & I spent a sunny Los Angeles afternoon with Leonard Cohen and his personal assistant, Kezban Özcan. While the conversation covered many topics, I suspect that readers may be less acutely fascinated by some issues, say, the comparison of the exercise programs favored by Leonard Cohen and the Duchess, than others.

For example, what about the …

The Cat Without The Hat

Kezban confirms that our favorite Canadian singer-songwriter-icon & long-time canine lover is now the primary caregiver for a cat (see photo atop this post and the shot at Leonard Cohen & DrHGuy – Hanging In The Hood) who roamed the neighborhood and “got himself adopted” by Leonard Cohen. Asked the name of the cat, Kezban writes,

The cat’s name is Jackson. (but I like pronouncing it with a French accent, I have a feeling he likes that:)


Left to right: Duchess, DrHGuy, & Kezban Özcan. Photo by Leonard Cohen

The Walking Stick

That rattan walking stick originally came into play because of a gout attack. At the time of our visit, Leonard didn’t appear to rely on it and its function may well have transformed from mobility aid to fashion accoutrement. And, yes, there was talk of adding a soft shoe routine to his stage act.

What’s Leonard Cohen Up To Next?

At one point, Leonard responded to a comment I made about the wonders of his doing concerts lasting more than three hours with “We’ll have to do that again.”

Being the intrepid blogger I am, I prompted “So, there’s going to be another tour?”

Without hesitation, Leonard Cohen leaned forward, flashed his grandest smile, and immediately replied in a firm, clear voice, “Maybe.”

Not satisfied with that equivocation, I pushed forward with “Is that a definite maybe?”

Leonard smiled again, answering “A tour is a definite maybe.”

I countered with “Well, you have to do something. Your retirements haven’t been very successful.”

Leonard came back with “Or maybe I’ll write a book.”

That conversational thread ended with my offer to ghostwrite his autobiography.

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post was taken by Kezban Özcan via a selfie app.

Other Posts About The 2014 Visit:

Note: Originally posted Aug 8, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

This Great Leonard Cohen Photo Was Taken July 11, 2015 By Kezban Özcan


Kezban Özcan, Leonard Cohen’s assistant, was good enough to confirm my guess that she indeed took this shot that went online last night:

Yes, I’m the photographer, took the photo on Saturday (7/11/2015) in my backyard, late afternoon, Los Angeles

For more about Kezban, see Kezban Özcan Talks About What It’s Like To Be Leonard Cohen’s Assistant

Video: Ed Sanders Blocks Autograph Seekers To Allow Leonard Cohen’s Escape From Berlin O2


Those in the business of gleaning and then selling celebrity autographs sometimes videotape the signing itself to assure potential buyers of the signature’s authenticity.  In this case, the video, taken after the July 17, 2013 Leonard Cohen concert in Berlin, captures not only the Canadian singer-songwriter responding graciously to requests for his autograph, but also Ed Sanders, a Producer/Director who has worked with Cohen on several projects and has often been his companion on recent tours, blocking the avid autograph-seekers to allow the performer who had just completed a three hour set to escape.

In the screen capture above, Ed Sanders is to Cohen’s left.  In the screenshot below, he has rotated in front of Cohen, blocking  access to Cohen by the main contingent of those requesting autographs and reaching out with his right hand to intercept another attempt from that direction.

sanders1-2He then rotates once more and, as seen below (a screenshot of another video of the same event), secures passage from the venue for Leonard Cohen and his assistant, Kezban Özcan.

sanders3Ed is, after all, a pro. The maneuver can be viewed in motion on the video below.

Leonard Cohen signing Autographs at 17th July 2013 in Berlin

Note: Originally posted July 18, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Kezban Özcan Talks About What It’s Like To Be Leonard Cohen’s Assistant

During recording of Sony-Bravia ad in Santa Monica

Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan during recording of Sony-Bravia ad in Santa Monica

The Artist Assistant

Behind every great artist there is an assistant.

So begins A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Assistant, an entertaining and instructive essay by Graham T. Beck published at The Brooklyn Rail.1 While the entire piece is worthwhile reading, this excerpt is especially pertinent to our purposes today:

Depending on who you ask, being an artist’s assistant is a lot like being a friend, or a secretary, or a 19th-century factory worker. Wages range from paltry to lawyerly; work spaces from stately to slovenly to simply unsafe. Some spend their days in business-casual and others in coveralls, but what they all share is unfettered access to the personalities and studio workings that others only glean from CVs or biographical blurbs. There are stories of ungainly tantrums, eye-popping extravagance, clichéd eccentricity or profound compassion; these accounts are traded by artist’s assistants like baseball cards or bragged about like battle scars. It would be a gross understatement to say that it’s engaging to talk with assistants about their workdays; it’s often like hearing from a star-struck therapist freed from the binds of doctor-patient confidentiality.

It turns out that Leonard Cohen has an assistant.2 In fact, many readers are aware that Kezban Özcan,  who handles – well, anything that needs to be handled, holds that position because a significant portion of her work is interacting with fans.


It was, in fact, Kezban’s performance of a task benefiting this blogger3 that first triggered the thought, What would it be like to be Leonard Cohen’s artist assistant?  Given that I have identified myself as a blogger, it is, of course, a redundancy to note that my next immediate thought was Can I make a post out of that?


Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan during recording of Old Ideas album – May 2011

It has required some time to transform that nascent notion into the post before you now,4 but the final product proves worth the wait.


Born and raised in Istanbul, Kezban came to the US eleven years ago.  She has a younger sister and brother, Elif and Yasin, respectively. Her parents ran a catering business, but, as she explains, “My dad has recently retired, and they are out and about having finally some fun now.” She is, in her words, “single and available.”

The Old Ideas Album Cover Photo

OldIdeasThe photo on which the cover of Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas album is based was taken by Kezban Özcan.

Q: When and where was photo on the album cover taken?
KO: In front of his house, in Los Angeles, around March 2011.

Q: How did photo get taken?
KO: I take pictures of him and his family on an almost daily basis and show them to him. He just liked this particular one and decided to use it for his album cover.

Being Leonard Cohen’s Assistant

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  1. Beck’s essay deals with artists who work in the visual arts, such as painters and sculptors, but the content also seems apposite to those in the performing arts. []
  2. Kezban is officially Leonard Cohen’s artist assistant – aka administrative assistant, aka personal assistant, aka celebrity personal assistant,  personal assistant to recording artist, and many other titles (eHow offers advice for those interested in such a position at How to Find Celebrity Personal Assistant Jobs) []
  3. That task involved Kezban and the Duchess colluding to present me with items autographed by Leonard Cohen as wedding gifts.  See Thank You Leonard Cohen and Duchess Of Durham For The Wedding Gifts. []
  4. To put it bluntly, the responsibility for the delays lays at the feet of Mr Cohen, who inexplicably determined that his assistant’s priorities over the past month were those jobs associated with the release of his Old Ideas album rather than her working on this post for me []