Leonard Cohen Munching Healthy Snacks (No Cheetos In Sight)

Leonard Cohen, who has a penchant for sweets such as chocolate bars and a now well-known penchant for Cheetos (see below), is shown here grazing on a health-conscious selection of fruits in the studio.

Photo atop post found at the official Leonard Cohen site. This photo was originally posted Nov 19, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Red Needle Cocktail-Fueled Passion For “Always” As A R&B Song

Leonard Cohen prepares Red Needle on Talkshowet 1992-12-05

I like your cover of “Always” on the new record. You once told me that your ambition was to someday wear a tuxedo, stand over by a grand piano, and sing “As Time Goes By.”

Did I? (laughs) “Always” is in 3/4 tempo, but every time I played it, it turned into this 4/4 R&B song. When we got into the studio, I was dispensing this drink I invented in Needles, California, called the Red Needle, and I felt we should all drink a lot of this before we recorded. It’s composed of tequila and cranberry juice and fresh fruit. It’s very colorful and very potent. The version you hear is the shortest version I could find because usually we played it for the entire length of the tape. We couldn’t stop playing it.

From Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Originally posted Oct 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Also see Video: Leonard Cohen, Poet-Singer-Songwriter-Mixologist, Recreates His Red Needle Drink On TV

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.

Michiko

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

Was Leonard Cohen A Vegetarian?

Because questions about Leonard Cohen’s vegetarianism arise periodically, I’ve compiled a summary for reference.

Was Leonard Cohen A Vegetarian?

Yep. Leonard Cohen was a self-professed vegetarian for a few years in the 1960s. The exact dates given or his vegetarianism are a tad inconsistent..

Leonard Cohen Loses His Veginity

There is some confusion about when Leonard’s stint as a vegetarian began and ended. The best contemporaneous description I’ve found is this excerpt from Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966.

He [Leonard Cohen] has started eating meat again after being a vegetarian for two years. He had stopped eating meat because he disapproves of the killing of animals. He wrote:

Great torsos of meadow animals strung in glistening exhibition Heads piled in pyramids like parked cannon balls some of them cruelly facing a display of their missing extremities.

He started eating meat again because he got to dislike a certain kind of arrogance he had developed about being a vegetarian. The arrogance was shown in his subtle and partly unconscious attempts to convince Marianna, the sweet-faced Norwegian blonde he has been living with for six years, that not eating meat somehow would make her a finer person. Sometimes Marianna would abstain, sometimes she would be fiercely carnivorous. Now, sitting there among the turtles, drinking Welch’s grape juice, eating a licorice cigar, Cohen says, “1 don’t know, everybody has become kind of loony.”

In his description of the life Leonard & Suzanne [Elrod]  led on their rented Tennessee farm in 1968, Nadel writes1

At the time, he [Leonard Cohen] was continuing  with his macrobiotic diet (between 1965 and 1968 he was a vegetarian). Cohen often had nothing to offer his guests but soy tea.

In the same volume, Nadel notes

A January 28, 1968 article in the New York Times captured Cohen’s state of mind … He offered diet tips; three years earlier, he had been a vegetarian, now he ate only meat.

Leonard Cohen On Vegetarianism

In Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen, the 1965 documentary about Leonard Cohen from the National Film Board of Canada, Leonard declared:

Well its true, ever since I stopped eating meat I feel a lot better among animals, I feel I can be much more honest when I pat a dog.

He also wrote A Person Who Eats Meat2, which he recited during his performance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival:

A person who eats meat
wants to get his teeth into something
A person who does not eat meat
wants to get his teeth into something else
If these thoughts interest you for even a moment
you are lost.

And, he composed

So you’re the kind of vegetarian
Who only eats roses
Is that what you meant
with your beautiful losers

The final words of this poem (for more about this poem, see They Eat Roses, Don’t They? Leonard Cohen, Roses, Vegetarians, Poetics, & Abligurition) from Parasites of Heaven (1966) provide the name for Cohen’s novel, Beautiful Losers.

The serendipitous consecutive mentions of Cohen’s Beautiful Losers (1966) and his vegetarianism proffer an irresistible opportunity to – finally – present my favorite passage from that novel that features vegetarians and hilarity in equal parts:

Secret kabals of vegetarians habitually gather under the sign to exchange contraband from beyond the Vegetable Barrier. In their pinpoint eyes dances their old dream: the Total Fast. One of them reports a new atrocity published without compassionate comment by the editors of Scientific American: “It has been established that, when pulled from the ground, a radish produces an electronic scream.” Not even the triple bill for 65˘ will comfort them tonight. With a mad laugh born of despair, one of them throws himself on a hot-dog stand, disintegrating on the first chew into pathetic withdrawal symptoms. The rest watch him mournfully and then separate into the Montreal entertainment section. The news is more serious than any of them thought. One is ravished by a steak house with sidewalk ventilation. In a restaurant, one argues with the waiter that he ordered “tomato” but then in a suicide of gallantry he agrees to accept the spaghetti, meat sauce mistake.

__________________________

  1. Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel (Random House of Canada, Oct 29, 2010) []
  2. Selected Poems 1956-1968 []