Introduction: The Journey Vs Destination Thing
Today’s post goes back in time to an era when Leonard Cohen was a whippersnapper of 79 and the term “Popular Problems” meant nothing to a Cohen fan other than a list of issues such as committing to a single tune as THE best Leonard Cohen song and maintaining a respectful attitude when explaining to a Dylanologist precisely why Leonard Cohen is superior in every aspect to Bob Dylan. Yes, gentle reader, we are setting the Wayback Machine to August 6, 2014.
On that date, as ongoing readers may recall, the Duchess and I spent a sunny afternoon with Leonard Cohen and his personal assistant, Kezban Özcan, at his home in Los Angeles.
It will surprise no one familiar with Leonard Cohen’s style to learn that visiting the Canadian singer-songwriter was a treat, that food and drink were involved, and that there was conversation and music, but all that’s for other posts. Today’s entry focuses not on the communion but the pilgrimage – and a small act of graciousness.
See You Down The Road – Trailblazing From Mount Baldy To Mid-town Los Angeles
Upon arriving on the left coast from Durham, our first stop was the home of the Duchess’ family, serendipitously located at the base of Mt Baldy,1 which is itself the site of the Zen monastery where Leonard Cohen was a monk in residence for several years.
Consequently, our drive from there to Leonard Cohen’s home was one the Rock Yoda2 has himself made many times. One suspects, however, that his trips have lacked the drama of our initial amble down that particular yellow brick road.
Our journey, you see, was marked by a certain angst laced with fear and trepidation – a reasonable enough response to the realization that our marriage had united in wedded bliss the two worst navigators in the Western Hemisphere. The first time we met, I arrived two hours late, having begun the twenty minute trip by driving in a direction precisely 180 degrees off course. Neither of us was surprised. We are likely the only couple of any sexual orientation who considers a GPS the quintessential marital aid.
Since we have, on many occasions, overcome the challenge of clear and thorough directions to become hopelessly lost, our anxiety was only modestly attenuated by the turn by turn route, including a description of his car that would be parked in the driveway, Leonard had provided to his address.
And thus it came to pass that we made the final turn and were proceeding down the proper street at a safe and sane six mph, simultaneously monitoring street numbers, written directions, cars parked in driveways, maps, and the electronic guide on our dashboard when – and words cannot adequately delineate the vastness of our relief occasioned by this event – we caught sight not of Mr Cohen’s vehicle but of the singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-icon himself seated in his front yard, arranged in a tableau reminiscent of the Old Ideas cover.3
Now, it is possible Leonard Cohen just felt like sitting in his front yard in his suit and tie on a hot August afternoon, but one wonders if he, perhaps aware that the Duchess & DrHGuy are the sort of folks who could be a tad apprehensive about locating his digs, positioned himself as an unmistakable signal that the weary travelers had, indeed, reached their destination.
Or maybe he just wanted to be on hand to greet his visitors when they arrived.
Regardless, I offer this as one more example of the Leonard Cohen graciousness about which one hears so many good things.4
Note: Originally posted Oct 2, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- Leonard Cohen & DrHGuy – Hanging In The Hood
- Calling On Leonard Cohen & Kezban: The Cat, The Cane, The Conversation
- Lunch At Leonard’s In LA – Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan Host Nosh For Duchess & DrHGuy
Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post taken by The Duchess aka Penny Showalter
- Before she ascended to Duchessness, Mrs DrHGuy grew up a Valley Girl [↩]
- OK, this is an anachronism; Rock Yoda, the most recent entry, #270, to the Leonard Cohen Nicknames List, was not added until Sept 15, 2014. Still, it seems the right fit. [↩]
- Note to those whom we may visit in the future, this sort of landmark is the kind of guidance system we need. [↩]
- My working definition of a “gracious host” is one who takes an active role to preclude a guest committing an embarrassing error or feeling uncomfortable. In my experience, a gracious host is an infrequent discovery. From my reading and the experiences of a few friends, I have reason to believe that such entities are even rarer among entertainment superstars. [↩]