Photo: Birgit Bateman & Leonard Cohen – Toronto 1982

“In Sept. 1982, a fund-raising event for Canadian authors, called 101 Authors Night, was held in Toronto. Madison Press, the publisher for my first book, “The Art of Robert Bateman”, had bought a table with Leonard Cohen as the celebrated author, while I was to be at another patron’s table. That meant, that Birgit was Leonard Cohen’s dinner partner. Here they are sitting at the Madison Press table. She was delighted of course, but said that he did not ask “to carry her groceries in”. It’s a wonderful memory of a great poet, musician and singer. Luckily we were able to get tickets to his concert when he was in Victoria just a couple of years ago. He was incredibly entertaining and gave so much of himself for 3 hours. Amazing how he spanned so many generations!” – Robert Bateman

Thanks to Gordana Stupar

“The first standing ovation was for Leonard Cohen strolling on stage and looking so good in a dark suit & fedora”

James Reaney, writing in “Cohen Cooler Than Ever” (London Free Press, May 25, 2009). Photo (Coachella 2009) by Fred von Lohmann. Originally posted July 14, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Takes Berlin But Not Without Struggle – Tour Tales 2009

But love is not a victory march,
it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah!

Leonard Cohen’s Battle For Berlin

As noted by concert-goers, Leonard Cohen’s July 2, 2009 Berlin concert was not an automatic triumph. This report from LeonardCohenForum by brinberlin limns the situation:

… the Webbs and Sharon Robinson came on unsmiling, stony-faced, morose, and despite the obligatory standing ovation LC looked ill at ease to say the least. One problem must have been the audience. What a lack of vibe. Mostly over 50 (as I am, but not like them!) and looking as if they just came for an evening out, provincial in the most pejorative sense of the word, they could have been watching anyone really. They marched up and down the aisles with wines and beers as he sang, talked amongst themselves, clapped and whooped each time they (wrongly) thought a song had ended… really embarrassing. … They were only waiting for Suzanne, and the rest seemed to pass them by as they hysterically took mobile phone footage of each other and the screens…

While others who attended disagree about the appearance of the performers and the extent of the philistinism rampant in the crowd, the consensus is nonetheless that the Berlin show was challenging in a way that many other stops on the World Tour have not been.

Many previous Tour concerts (including the one I attended at the Beacon Theatre) have been as much worship services of gathered Cohen  acolytes as they are entertainments.  The greatest risks posed in such circumstances has been competitions by audience members to demonstrate who is most appreciative of, knowledgeable about, and emotionally intimate with Cohen and crew.

From both the reports of those in attendance and the press, there is little doubt that, by the end of the Berlin show, Cohen had won over the audience. What is striking is that this was a victory accomplished by the overwhelming display of professionalism and grace by Leonard Cohen, the backup singers, and the band.

Keep in mind that this is the grown-up version of the Leonard Cohen who walked off the stage in frustration in a 1972 concert. Of course, this is also the Leonard Cohen who thoughtfully considers his responsibilities as a performer:

You definitely go into a concert with a prayer on your lips. There’s no question about that. I think that anything risky that you do, anything that sets you up for the possibility of humiliation like a concert does … you have to lean on something that is a little better than yourself I feel I’m always struggling with the material, whether it’s a concert or a poem or a prayer or a conversation. It’s very rarely that I find I’m in a condition of grace where there’s a kind of flow that is natural. I don’t inhabit that landscape too often. … Well, I mean this in a kind of lighthearted way. When you walk on the stage and 5,000 people have paid good money to hear you, there’s definitely a sense that you can blow it. The possibilities for disgrace are enormous.1

Leonard Cohen’s 2009 Strategy For Taking Berlin

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  1. From An Interview with Leonard Cohen” by Robert Sward. A Side. Montreal, Quebec. 1986 []

Montreal Gazette Photo Mystery & DrHGuy Solution: Why is Gratien Gelinas talking to Leonard Cohen in a 1969 photo?

Quebec actor/playwright Gratien Gélinas

Note & Update: The photo above is not the photo addressed in this article, and the photo under consideration is no longer online at the original site of the story but is still accessible at the Vancouver Sun site.

Leonard Cohen & Gratien Gélinas Confer In Photo

The photo conundrum is set forth in A Belated Happy Birthday to Leonard Cohen by Pat Donnelly (Gazette: Sept 23, 2014):

A chronic procrastinator, I have been known to miss birthdays before. Even familial ones.

So here, at last, is my present to Cohen and his fans.

It’s old photo which I accidentally unearthed in the Montreal Gazette archives while looking for files on actress Huguette Oligny who died on May 9, 2013.

Talk about procrastination. That’s how long I have had the photo on my desktop.

Enough of the confessional mode.

Back to the photo, which shows Leonard Cohen in conversation with Quebec actor/playwright Gratien Gélinas, (Oligny’s husband.)

This image has intrigued me ever since I found it. It was filed as a photo unattached to a story or cutline. The only information to be gleaned from it was the date (1969) and the fact that is was published in the now-defunct Montreal Star.

If anyone has any idea what the occasion was that brought these two Canadian cultural icons together on that day in 1969, please share with the rest of us either by leaving a comment or sending me an email at [email protected] or both.

DrHGuy Solution:  My best guess is that Gratien Gelinas and Leonard Cohen are concocting names for a satellite – of course.

These excerpts (note the 1969 date) are from Present at the Creation: The Telecommission Studies and the Intellectual Origins of the Right to Communicate in Canada (1969-71)  by AI Dakroury:

Note: Originally posted Sept 23, 2014at, a predecessor of Cohencentric