“I want to be Leonard Cohen when I grow up” 2012 New York Show Review


The 78-Year-Old Singer-Songwriter Delivers A Career-Defining Concert

I want to be Leonard Cohen when I grow up The 78-year-old singer-songwriter delivers a career-defining concert. After many years in hibernation, the endlessly cool 78-year-old singer-songwriter has returned to his career with a vengeance — perhaps literally so, since it was prompted by the embezzlement of his life’s savings by his former business manager. Since 2008 he’s been touring the world, playing arenas to capacity crowds and delivering shows that have been the best-received of his entire career. And the release this year of his latest CD, Old Ideas, demonstrates that he’s still — to quote one of his best-known compositions — atop the tower of song.quotedown2

Opening lines from Leonard Cohen at Madison Square Garden: Concert Review by Frank Scheck. Hollywood Reporter: Dec 19, 2012.  Photo taken by and posted with the permission of James Finch. Originally posted Dec 19, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Bet – Seymour Mayne’s Eulogy For His Friend, Leonard Cohen

We made a bet one day in 1963, as a group of Leonard’s friends sat in a circle in Robert’s living room and Leonard strummed his guitar, offering us song after song. Impetuously, as the youngest enthusiast in that room, I predicted that he would easily make a million with his then-unrecorded songs. Leonard quickly responded that he would present me with $10,000 for my little magazine, if that indeed materialised.quotedown2

Seymour Mayne

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The Bet was first published: Jewish Quarterly (U.K.), Winter 2016.

Seymour Mayne: Seymour Mayne is the author, editor or translator of more than seventy books and monographs, including anthologies and critical texts. At the University of Ottawa where he serves as Professor of Canadian Literature, Canadian Studies, and Creative Writing, he has supervised the publication of a series of twenty annual anthologies of new student writing.  Over the years he has helped sustain the Ottawa and national capital literary community.   He co-founded the poetry monthly Bywords, the poster magazine Graffito, and for a number of seasons he served as mc of the popular poetry reading venue, Bard.  (Excerpt from University of Ottawa website)

“I still pack [Leonard Cohen] like a sleeping pill, a beautiful ghost to surrender to, a spiritual songster for these unspiritual times.” Ahmed Rashid

Throughout my life I have taken Cohen everywhere and I have done so like many others for wanting the poetry of love and tolerance, musical harmony and his gruff voice to end days of covering wars and political conflict as a journalist. Whenever I travel I still pack him like a sleeping pill, a beautiful ghost to surrender to, a spiritual songster for these unspiritual times. In a 1993 interview he came closest to defining his credo:

“I am completely open and transparent and therefore its easy for anyone to grasp the emotion that’s there. I am the person who tries everything and experience myself as falling apart. I try drugs, Jung, Zen meditation, love and it all falls apart at every moment. And the place where it all comes out is in the critical examination of those things – the songs. And because of this, I am vulnerable. There’s the line in ‘Anthem’ that says, ‘There’s a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.’ That sums it up: it’s as close to a credo as I’ve come.”quotedown2

Ahmed Rashid


From Death Of Leonard Cohen by Ahmed Rashid (ahmedrashid.com: November 11 2016). Photo by Chatham House – Ahmed Rashid, Journalist; Author, Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West, CC  Wikipedia Commons

Also see Why I Love Leonard Cohen by Ahmed Rashid (New York Review of Books: Nov 15, 2012)

Thanks to Klaus Offermann, who alerted me to Death Of Leonard Cohen by Ahmed Rashid

Michiko Rolek On Her Lunch Conversation With Leonard Cohen & Their Menu

From right to left: Leonard Cohen, Michiko Rolek, her husband, Ron, and a Mount Baldy monk

After was posted on this site, I received these photos with this gracious message from Michiko:

Hello Allan,

Thank you for inspiring me to revisit my experience with Leonard Cohen.

A couple of things came to mind from a conversation I had with Leonard that I tuned out until very recently, and I thought you might find them interesting. As he mentions,

“You might even be able to skip having to visit a place like this, or if you are already in one, perhaps with this valuable information you can slip away…She has made some important matters wonderfully clear.”

Leonard’s teacher,  Joshu Sasaki Roshi, was sitting with us after lunch and shared that I was fortunate to be born into a famous zen family, but I felt a little uncomfortable and just smiled and listened.

Looking back, I recalled hearing from a head monk that Joshu Sasaki asked Leonard to write the foreword because I shared zen secret tools to nurture our original nature.

My recent “Aha moment” was realizing that Leonard used the zen secret tools (brilliant basics) that we discussed at lunch to leave the zen monastery and go back on the road. Now, his words about actually “slipping away” from a zen monastery rang true with deeper meaning.

He also made a comment about my bandana and the connection between zen and the art of mindfulness training being rigorous like the military. I agree wholeheartedly. Leonard lived his practice and he manifested mastery of the fundamentals like focus, dedication, discipline, and fearless confidence to stay in the zone.

I am grateful, Allan, for you inspiring me to have these insights re. my mindful moments with Leonard.

My passion is re-ignited to share zen and the art of mindfulness in a whole new light, a diamond sky of wonderment.


Leonard Cohen Food Files: Salmon Sandwich, Ice Cream, & Tequila Cocktail

In an earlier email, I had asked Michiko “What Leonard prepared for the lunch you shared?”  She responded

I recall Leonard preparing a delicious sandwich served on homemade bread with salmon, a fresh salad with spring greens. I recall his warm smile when he served ice cream for dessert. And, since it was a day off for the monks, he had a tequila cocktail.

Joshu Roshi & Michiko Rolek