The Half-Sister Of Mercy, Leonard Cohen, & DrHGuy – Part 2


Beacon Theatre, NYC

Introduction: This post is the sequel to The Half-Sister Of Mercy, Leonard Cohen, & DrHGuy and is part of The 2009 Beacon Theatre Show Detour in the saga of How DrHGuy First Connected With Leonard Cohen.



DrHGuy Lays The Smooth Patter On Half-Sister Of Mercy #2

At the conclusion of the preceding post, The Half-Sister Of Mercy, Leonard Cohen, & DrHGuy  my attempts to decide what to do with an unexpected extra ticket to the Leonard Cohen Beacon Theater Concert has been interrupted by the arrival of

…  a young (mid-twenties), tall, lovely, vivacious, companionless woman, who is a long-time Leonard Cohen  fan and who is, as one might imagine, most desirous of attending the concert.

Yet, doing so is no easy decision for her. It turns out that once one subtracts the expenses entailed in living in New York from the subsistence level wages paid yoga instructors, “splurging on entertainment” comes to mean picking up a sack of microwave popcorn to go with the video from Blockbuster, not buying tickets for Leonard Cohen’s first US concert in 15 years.

Practicing, in emulation of the Strategic Air Command, eternal vigilance, I detect an opportunity to resolve our respective problems and make my move.

I go directly to my slyly seductive rap, “Uh,1 I’ve got an extra ticket. You could be my guest for the concert – if you want.”

Pretty slick, eh?  I’m  especially proud of the “if you want” part that adds just a soupçon of charming awkwardness to the implicit  guilt.

I repeat the same lines at least three times, the final rendition taking place after she had already agreed to my suggestion.

I’m not certain in retrospect, but I may have also told her I was Kris Kristofferson.2

Regardless, she accepted.

Leonard Cohen Sings For The Half-Sister Of Mercy And Me3

The rest of the story is one more replay of the classic they lived happily ever after — until around midnight when she had to leave, this being a school night and all ending.

For that night, we were boon companions. She was duly impressed with my vast repertoire of arcane and useless Cohen trivia — or was practiced enough in dealing with men to present a credible facade of interest, either of which would have been, in my judgment, a satisfactory response. Genuine interest is gratifying, expertly feigned interest, in a one night, one time only situation, is admirable.4

And, she seemed sincerely pleased by my capacity, developed as a result of blogging about the first 99 or so concerts in the tour, to predict the elements of the show. (Yes, I asked her first if she wanted to know what was going to take place or if she preferred being surprised. I do have some rudimentary social skills.) My reassurance, for example, that “this will not be the final encore” was especially well received.

For her part, she knew Cohen’s work intimately, having listened to his music for many more years than I and, further, was a musician by inclination and training.

What were the chances I would end up attending the Leonard Cohen concert with an opera-trained singer who, among other gigs, fronted a David Bowie cover band?5

I also learned about her work and life at an ashram, her current job as a yoga instructor, and her plan to attend medical school in order to become – yep, you guessed it – a psychiatrist.

And, yes, we exchanged sidelong glances and performed synchronized eyebrow arching when Cohen offered, should one want a doctor, “to examine every precious inch of you,” in tacit acknowledgment of one of the benefits of medical school.

She was a delight, ending the evening by initiating the requisite embrace and, if memory (or fantasy) serves, a chaste peck on the cheek.

What Does Leonard Cohen Have To Do With This?

A reader emailed me, asking why Leonard Cohen got titular billing in the preceding post, “The Half-Sister Of Mercy, Leonard Cohen, & DrHGiu.”

Obviously, this accidental rendezvous took place at a Cohen concert (and the “Half-Sister Of Mercy” reference wouldn’t make much sense if this were, for example, a Rolling Stones show), but the reason Cohen is significant to my story goes a tad deeper.

From my perspective, there was something between the two of us that went beyond the enjoyment shared by compatible companions at an entertainment event.


My Half-Sister Of Mercy, until and unless she reads this, was and remains unaware that I had spent the daylight hours the day of the concert touring the same  New York locations Julie6 and I had visited on trips to the Huge Honeycrisp: the hotel where we saw Tom Wolfe, who was speaking at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, the Broadway theaters where we saw a batch of shows, beginning with the eight-hour version of Nicholas Nickleby in 1981, the restaurants where we indulged in the range of offerings from caviar and sturgeon at Petrossian (for a country girl, Julie developed some expensive tastes) to kielbasa sausage and falafel from street vendors, and our favorite sites, from the Chrysler Building to the buildings in which the publishing houses reside.

I was, consequently, feeling my losses more poignantly than usual that night.

And, while I wouldn’t suggest that my Half-Sister Of Mercy, should she apply for canonization, offer it as evidence of a miracle, there was something in our connection that hastened my recovery from that desolation.

I’m not convinced that the unsentimental affection between us would have taken place in other settings. I don’t, for example, see the same kind of feelings being generated against the background of an Arcade Fire concert – or shows by Bruce Springsteen, U2, or Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

I write about this episode without any illusions that some kind of mystic connection took place, that anyone fell in love, or that a persistent and profound relationship was formed. I think it entirely likely that the  woman beside me that night was doing no more than being polite to a generous, seemingly benign guy.  All that matters is that she was there that night, I was there that night, and I was the better for it.

As for  Leonard Cohen, that’s why he gets billing.

As for my one time companion, the Half-Sister Of Mercy deserves the same kind of musical memorialization Leonard Cohen afforded Barbara and Lorraine, the original Sisters Of Mercy. She will, unfortunately, have to settle for these two inadequate posts I’ve composed.

As for anyone else immersed in feelings of loss, I can’t do better than leave you with the blessing that ends Leonard Cohen’s Sisters Of Mercy:

sistersfinalCredit Due Department: Photo atop this post by Drew Geraets


The thrilling conclusion to How DrHGuy First Connected With Leonard Cohen


Note: Originally posted Feb 26, 2009 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Once you’ve got a winning opening, why change? []
  2. Hey, it worked when Leonard Cohen used it on Janis Joplin. As Cohen tells it

    And I  looked into her [Janis Joplin’s] eyes. She avoided my eyes and it became clear to me that she wasn’t looking for me. She was looking for Kris Kristofferson. I said, “I am Kris Kristofferson.” She said, “I thought you were a lot taller.” I said, “I am a lot taller but it’s just photography.” []

  3. I am informed that others may have attended the Beacon Theatre Concert, which would explain why it took us so long to leave the building after the final song. []
  4. Perhaps spending the past nine years as the single parent of perpetually adolescent sons has adjusted my expectations. I do find myself reveling in certain social interactions, the chief feature of which is an absence of upward rolling eyeballs and exaggerated sighs of disgust. []
  5. Her dedication to her craft can be measured by her willingness, in anther situation, to perform Janis Joplin songs, transforming her clear, rounded tones into a Joplinesque growl by bathing her vocal cords in whiskey. One makes sacrifices for ones art. []
  6. Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author.  Many posts on my personal blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ. []