Photos – Chris Buck’s 2001 Leonard Cohen Shoot: Rosicrucians, Photographic Destiny, & Pastrami Sandwiches With A Side Of Chopped Liver

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Introduction by DrHGuy

The photos taken by Chris Buck for use in “Cohen on Wry” by Michael Krugman (Flaunt: Oct 2001) are some of my personal favorites because they compellingly convey the unique amalgamation of gravitas, geniality, and graciousness that defined Leonard Cohen. Chris has also provided the intriguing back story of the shoot that resulted in these superb images.

Leonard Cohen 2001 Photo Session by Chris Buck

I’m frequently asked to name my favorite photo session of my career, and I always answer “Leonard Cohen.” It’s not because this is the best photograph in my new book UNEASY (a 30-year portrait retrospective) but it was a sitting with someone I most admired, as a musician and as a man.

After the shoot I wrote six pages of handwritten notes about the experience, the text below is culled from that material.

July 20, 2001, at his home, Los Angeles

For lunch today I had a pastrami sandwich with a side of chopped liver. Leonard Cohen made it for me.

I walked into the kitchen and there was a small man leaning over a stove, wearing a dark suit and hat. As I entered Leonard Cohen turned to me, and with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth he said, “Nice to meet you, do you want some coffee, man?”

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He gave me a tour of the house so I could decide where to shoot. We saw the various bedrooms, the bathroom, the back guesthouse and his upstairs studio, where he recorded his recent album.

As we stepped out of the guesthouse I asked him who the Rosicrucians were. He said that they were a group who started in Egypt – mystics who then developed over the centuries. They give seminars that you can sign up for and attend. I asked if they had contacted him (as someone who had endorsed them in his song Dress Rehearsal Rag). He laughed, and made it clear that he hadn’t really endorsed them.

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As we were speaking I saw an upside down beetle squirming on the driveway. I excused myself for a second and turned it over, allowing it to fly away. Leonard seemed pleased and thanked me for the gesture.

It felt magical to have this little Buddhist moment with Leonard Cohen, but I was also aware that I was probably trying to impress him.

I some took time away to sit at a wooden table in his living room to collect my thoughts and notes to prepare for the photo session. After few minutes wandered into the room and sat on the arm of a big chair a few feet from me. He could tell I was nervous, and I told him that I really wanted to do something great and special. He looked at me and said, “If you are meant to make a really wonderful picture, there is nothing in this world or any other that can stop that from happening.” And I thought, “Wow, that’s cool.” He paused and then said, “If you’re meant to make a bad picture, there’s nothing in this world or any other that can stop that either.”

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We had been told that we had two hours for the shoot, and after exactly 120 minutes we stopped and Leonard Cohen made lunch for my assistant and I. He said that he’d gone to the Jewish deli that morning and picked up ingredients, and that the chicken liver was really good today. I agreed to have some it tasted pretty great. Was it really an exceptional batch of chopped liver, or was it just special because Leonard Cohen offered it to me? This I’ll never have a sure answer for.

Chris Buck Website Instagram

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More information about Chris Buck’s book Uneasy at Uneasy by Chris Buck

“Scandinavia’s always been hospitable to me, It’s the gloominess that is savored in these cultures. Or perhaps it’s just all that herring my mother fed me” Leonard Cohen

scandFrom Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Scandinavian map by 000peter – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons, Originally posted Jan 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

See other Leonard Cohen geopolitical quotes at

Leonard Cohen Explains How Suzanne And Krystal Burgers Led To Him Leaving Tennessee

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The girl I was with was what destroyed it [life in Franklin Tennessee], because she developed this obsession with Krystal burgers. I mean it got to be a serious problem.  She refused to cook, so we’d have to go in every day (20 miles) to eat cheeseburgers, and it just destroyed the whole isolation — Suzanne.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen, explaining why he left Franklin,Tennessee in Leonard Lately – A Leonard Cohen interview-article by Bill Conrad. Posted May 7, 2012 at No Depression. Note: Although not published until 2012, the article is based on an interview that took place in autumn 1976.

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Credit Due Department: Photo by Nathan Eror from Houston, TX, USA – Breakfast, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted June 14, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Where’s the beef?” Leonard Cohen defends the American hamburger

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The American hamburger – even the fast food one – is vastly underrated. It’s a pretty good piece of meatquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen 1993 Interview: The Fanning Sessions RTE

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Leonard Cohen Animation: Leonard Prepares Fig & Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres

s;oce5During a 2006 interview at his Montreal home, Leonard Cohen, ever the gracious host, tops fig slices with cheese to share with the interviewer because – well, because that’s the way Leonard rolls. See source video at Leonard Cohen On His Poems, Zen, Hallelujah, His 6 Good Songs, Money, America, And The Squirrel

View more Leonard Cohen animated gifs at Leonard Cohen Animations. Originally posted January 12, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

What Leonard Cohen Taught Chef Nancy Hinton About Food

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Cohencentric’s Leonard Cohen Fake Photos Encore: Many of my Leonard Cohen fake photos are showing up on Facebook, Tumblr, and other online platforms, often without attribution or explanation, leading to me being accused, in absentia, of misleading viewers. I’m republishing some of these images – along with the posts with which they were associated. This post was first published in Cohencentric on June 25, 2015 and on Dec 13, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric  Note that the “Credit Due Department” section points out that this graphic is a Photoshop creation.

This Post Contains 24% Of Your Recommended Daily Allowance Of Leonard Cohen

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.

~ From Democracy by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – Restaurant Consultant

Chef Nancy Hinton1 opens her essay, What Leonard Cohen taught me about food (soupnancy: September 18, 2007), with these words:

Do not judge. Just do your thing. Try and please the person on the receiving end, the consumer of your art, whoever he or she is without any expectation of appreciation. This is what Leonard Cohen taught me about cooking.

Peeking under the silver dome to check out the entrée,2 it turns out that the key to the lesson is that “Leonard Cohen’s music made me [Ms Hinton] realize that it is still possible to be touched profoundly by something without understanding every nuance.”

She goes on to discuss the parallel situation in which she, as a chef, might feel her skills are wasted in preparing meals for yokels.3

Her point, of course, is that less refined customers may genuinely and profoundly enjoy her food without grasping each aspect of the process of preparation or the product much the same way that she is deeply moved by Cohen’s songs and words without grasping each aspect of the process of preparation or the product.

… covering Leonard Cohen songs, especially for television soundtracks,
[is] one of the few high growth industries in the current economy …

And, she is precisely correct (i.e., her view is identical to mine) about Leonard Cohen’s generosity of spirit in making his music and poetry accessible not only to a widely diverse audience but also to other musicians, who have made covering Leonard Cohen songs, especially for television soundtracks, one of the few high growth industries in the current economy; to visual artists, who use his words as inspiration; and to more profoundly creative sorts like Phillip Glass, who adapt and weave his work into their own visions.

Heck, he’s gracious to journalists, some of whom clearly lack any manners, let alone a valid perspective on his oeuvre, and who use his conversations as well as his professional work to sell cold remedies and diet colas advertised in their publications.

I admit to being a tad disappointed that the chef-author chose not to comment on Leonard Cohen’s penchant for “pair[ing] Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a 1982 Chateau La Tour,”4 his experience during his five year stay with the Zen monks on Mount Baldy as a cook (his specialties were soups and a lauded preparation of teriyaki salmon),5 or the Red Needle cocktail he concocted, according to the authoritative LeonardCohenFiles, from Tequila, Cranberry juice, Lemon (and/or exotic fruits), and ice.

Otherwise, however, Nancy Hinton’s post is not only an interesting, relevant, and thoughtful piece well worth reading but also a heartening source of encouragement for folks like me who have on occasion been treated cavalierly at one or two of your swankier beaneries. The idea of a hot-shot chef who believes in putting out her best work for every customer, regardless of his bumpkin titer, and who has a thing for Leonard Cohen has me ready to hie myself to Montreal to chow down at Ms Hinton’s establishment.

Her post can be found at What Leonard Cohen taught me about food
 
Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is courtesy of my Photoshop program.

Note: Originally posted Dec 13, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Nancy Hinton describes herself on her blog:
    I’m thirty seven years old, an anglo from Quebec City, and a chef by profession. Formerly the chef de cuisine at L’Eau à la Bouche, I now cook at “la Table des Jardins Sauvages”, a woodland table specializing in wild plants and mushrooms just outside Montreal, and I consult and teach on the side. In spirit, I’m a proud Québecoise and Canadian, who loves Montreal, and the country too. I’m a fiesty, passionate, idealistic, slightly obsessive-compulsive insomniac, who loves life, and my job. I love food and cooking, and making people happy. I love to work hard and play hard. I love fire and knives; I love fresh herbs, tomatoes, almonds and cheese. I love curry, and meat broths, and everything anise flavored. I love anything from a pig, anything green, and anything pickled. I love good coffee and wine, and eating with chopsticks. I love the smell of men’s cologne, of Dad’s bagel shop, and of fresh coriander. I love making lists and checking things off. When not in the kitchen, I love newspapers, reading and rollerblading. I love CBC radio, Leonard Cohen and being in the sky.

    She sounds, in fact, delightful – if a bit exhausting. []

  2. The wordplay could have been worse – I considered using “spill the beans” []
  3. To be fair, she doesn’t call the culinary disadvantaged “yokels.” She calls us “country bumpkins on a bender,” which I’m sure is meant only in the nicest way. Shucks, within the Québecoise crowd, “country bumpkins” is probably one of those expressions that masquerade as insults but are actually used as an ironic signs of comradely, not unlike men in the Ozarks greeting each other with “Jim, you ol’ SOB, how are you?” []
  4. Quote from Anjani Thomas. See Pitchfork interview []
  5. See Rolling Stone, “The New Leonard Cohen” []