Was Leonard Cohen as attractive a man in person as we all think and, if so, why?
Leonard radiated eroticism without trying. Of course, by the time I met him, decades after his young, handsome troubadour phase, he was old and wrinkled and a little stooped – but still incredibly sexy. What was most attractive about him, however, was his charisma and his heart. He was a gentleman always. My favorite moment of our visit to his home took place shortly after we finished lunch and chatted a while. Leonard took Allan and me into his kitchen to listen to his unreleased Popular Problems album. As Leonard seated us at the table in front of his computer, he asked me if I liked latte, and I admitted I definitely did. A few minutes later he served a cup he had made just for me. I’m convinced if he had gone on tour again, there would have been a “I’ll brew a latte for you” verse added to I’m Your Man. That’s why he was attractive.
What is on your jukebox and what are favorite books?
Books: Mysteries. I love many different authors, especially those that write multiple books with the same characters (e.g. Louise Penny, Robert Parker)
Jukebox: I like oldies, especially Motown (Diana Ross & The Supremes, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), early Beatles, and even bubblegum pop. I’m also into musicals: West Side Story, Wicked, Chorus Line, Chicago… Of course all of Leonard’s albums are on my playlist. Dance Me To The End Of Love, the first of Leonard’s songs Allan introduced to me (that took place before we met in person; we were still in the email stage), remains my favorite.
What was it like to visit Leonard’s home in Los Angeles?
Before we visited, Allan and I had read about the modesty of Leonard Cohen’s home and even the iffiness of his neighborhood. Pico Iyer’s characterization is representative of descriptions that can be found in a number of such articles:
It’s an extraordinary thing. He lives in this tiny house in central Los Angeles that’s so dangerous I’m scared ever to visit it, an area where everyone has barred their windows, you can almost hear sirens and breaking glass. Out of all my friends in California — normal people, struggling writers — he lives in the single most modest place. I and my friends seem rich next to Leonard Cohen. He shares a house with his daughter and he might as well be in the monastery and he’s been there for almost 30 years.1
Well, Leonard Cohen’s home will not be mistaken for Graceland or Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch or, for that matter, Joni Mitchell’s digs in Laurel Canyon. It’s a medium sized duplex (albeit significantly larger than the house in which Allan spent his childhood) with an exterior stairway to Leonard’s second story apartment. His daughter, Lorca, lived on the first floor.
And it is sparsely furnished, in keeping with his aesthetic,
I find the simple life voluptuous. I like … a good chair and a good table.2
Nonetheless, once inside, we immediately felt at ease. Leonard Cohen’s home was a handsome and undeniably pleasant household. Nor did we pick up any menacing vibes from the neighborhood. For Allan’s part, this could be attributed to his being jaded from the time he spent in training at a medical center on the south side of Chicago (aka “the baddest part of town” according to Jim Croce’s Bad, Bad Leroy Brown), but I grew up a valley girl and worked in L.A. for years, and I found it just another older Hollywood neighborhood.
What was the jewelry comparison about?
“When I was a young’un growing up in the Ozarks, I did not anticipate that one of the high points of my life would include witnessing my wife and my favorite Canadian singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-icon, having just met backstage at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, admiring each other’s most recent jewelry acquisitions. Leonard examined and complimented a Unified Heart pendant crafted for The Duchess by a jeweler who has been her friend for many years.”
“And The Duchess was taken with a diamond-shaped pendant sported by Mr Cohen that featured the recently canonized Kateri Tekakwitha, the Algonquin–Mohawk woman featured in his 1966 novel, Beautiful Losers.3 That medal is shown (albeit indistinctly) in the shots below alongside Leonard’s customary bolo tie.”
What attracted you to this wordsmith DrHGuy?
I think the question contains the answer….attracted to his words even before we met. Starting with his story on Match and then our other emails. After we had our first date the emails contained introductions to many poems, and poets (Neruda stands out) He was and is a wonderful person, who puts up with my craziness… couldn’t ask for more.
- Pico Iyer on the strange connection between the Dalai Lama and Graham Greene by Jeff Baker in The Oregonian (April 06, 2010) [↩]
- Leonard Cohen On His Poems, Zen, Hallelujah, His 6 Good Songs, Money, America, And The Squirrel [↩]
- See Kateri Tekakwitha Representations In Leonard Cohen’s Home [↩]