Restocking The 2007 Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit



Everybody Knows – Today Is The Birthday Of Leonard Cohen

Update: For Leonard Cohen’s response to this post, see Is Leonard Cohen A Sweetheart Or What?

Well, at least every Cohenthusiast knows that Leonard Cohen was born September 21, 1934.

The question, however, is – are you prepared?

Growing up in the Bible belted-and-suspendered Ozarks, I heard the following question repeatedly issued from the church pulpit and the Sunday School lectern:

What would you do if Jesus came to your house today?

Well, the truth is I would have been creeped out, especially if he didn’t call first, but I understood the message underlying this query: we should live our lives in such a Christian manner that we would be prepared if Jesus dropped in for a visit to the point that the only change we would need to make would be frying up an extra pork chop for dinner.

I now find it more entertaining and enlightening to ask myself

What would you do if Leonard Cohen came to your house today?1

Given that today is his birthday, a host would surely want to acknowledge that with a celebratory ceremony of some sort, but a generic funny hats and gag gift sort of affair just doesn’t seem to fit and, as far as I know, Hallmark doesn’t yet sell a Leonard Cohen birthday pack with paper plates, napkins, cups, and decorations all coordinated in a “Tower of Song” theme.

Stepping into the breach, Cohencentric is proud to offer the

Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit2

For the natal day entrée, the kit provides a uniquely Cohenesque dish. As Anjani Thomas noted in a Pitchfork interview, Leonard Cohen is

the only man I know who pairs Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a 1982 Chateau La Tour.

And what could more effectively insure festiveness than a pitcher or two of Red Needle, the cocktail concocted by Leonard Cohen himself in Needles, California and the fuel that drove the process that created his album, The Future? The recipe, according to the authoritative LeonardCohenFiles, calls for Tequila, Cranberry juice, Lemon (and/or exotic fruits), and ice. As indicated in the lower right corner of the graphic, the hard core Cohenistas may well wish to pop for the deluxe edition of the kit, which includes the services of the drink’s creator as bartender.

This 2007 version of the kit also contains 73 of those thin green candles.3

Finally, perhaps the trickiest question is what music does one play for Leonard Cohen’s party. An all-Cohen-all-the-time playlist smacks a tad too much of pandering, but blasting the kids’ hip-hop repertoire seems even riskier. Happily, Leonard has several times expressed his appreciation of one song appropriate to the occasion, noting, for example, in Martin Oestergaard’s interview, Leonard Cohen Gave Me 200 Franc,

One of the greatest songs in history is “Blueberry Hill.'” “The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill.” I would be happy to have written that line.

All that’s left is the host issuing a heart-felt

Happy Birthday, Leonard

Credit Due Department: Animation Source video: Talkshowet – Leonard Cohen. (S2E5 – Denmark: Dec 5, 1992). View more animated gifs at Leonard Cohen Animations

Bonus September 21st Trivia: Not Everyone Knows that September 21st is also

… the birthday of many other famous, infamous, & not so famous folks:4

  • 1328 – Hongwu Emperor of China (d. 1398)
  • 1411 – Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, claimant to the English throne (d. 1460)
  • 1415 – Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 1493)
  • 1912 – Chuck Jones, American animator (d. 2002)
  • 1931 – Larry Hagman, American actor
  • 1935 – Henry Gibson, American actor
  • 1940 – Bill Kurtis, American television journalist
  • 1947 – Stephen King, American author
  • 1950 – Bill Murray, American actor
  • 1967 – Faith Hill, American singer
  • 1967 – Tyler Stewart, Canadian drummer (Barenaked Ladies)
  • 1968 – Ricki Lake, American actress and talk show hostess
Happy Birthday Honogwu, Rich, Freddy, et al

… and the date of several historical events of varying significance:

  • 1745 – Battle of Prestonpans: A Hanoverian army under the command of Sir John Cope is defeated, in ten minutes, by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart
  • 1765 – Antoine de Beauterne announces he had killed the Beast of Gévaudan, but was later proved wrong by more attacks.
  • 1780 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.
  • 1792 – The French National Convention votes to abolish the monarchy.
  • 1827 – According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the angel Moroni gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Joseph translated into The Book of Mormon.
  • 1981 – Belize is granted full independence from the United Kingdom.
  • 1970 – The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets at Cleveland Municipal Stadium 31-20 on the first edition of Monday Night Football.

On a personal note, on this September 21st, I am finally coming to grips with the September 21, 1989 breakup of The Bangles, best known for “Walk Like An Egyptian” and “Manic Monday.”5

Note: Originally posted Sep 21, 2007 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Of course, the even more intriguing question would be, “What if Leonard Cohen and Jesus came to your house today?” []
  2. Note: The Leonard Cohen Heck of a Birthday Bash Kit is also certified for celebrating the songwriter’s birthday in his absence or, if one prefers, ones own birthday, or the birthday of Jesus. []
  3. Hmmm. I just realized that if Leonard Cohen came to my house on this, his 73rd birthday, he would be accompanied by Anjani, and I would be in the company of my assistive walking device. []
  4. Source: Wikipedia []
  5. Source: Streaming Oldies []

I Scream, You Scream, It’s Leonard Cohen Eating Ice Cream – With Kezban Özcan In LA 2014

Leonard Cohen!!! One of the all time greatest humans to ever exist, eats VL ice cream. #saltedcaramel #humbledbygreatness

A post shared by Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (@vanleeuwenicecream) on


Photo posted April 4, 2014

Caption: “Leonard Cohen!!! One of the all time greatest humans to ever exist, eats VL ice cream. #saltedcaramel…”

Comment: “They ordered “extra small scoops”

Note: Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream advertises “Ice Cream & Vegan Ice Cream made in Brooklyn with the worlds finest ingredients. New York & Los Angeles”

See other Leonard Cohen photos of this sort at

Note: Originally posted April 5, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen, Anjani Thomas, & The $690,000 Hot Dog


The Best Hot Dog In The World – Mike’s Hot Dog Stand, Toronto

This account is from I’m your dog: Forget tea and oranges by Shinan Govani (National Post)  [Update: no longer online]:

According to a report on Anjani’s own Web site, the Hawaiian canary-goddess and her 71-year-old bardic beau are quite taken with Toronto’s street meat. In particular, the celebrity-friendly Mike’s Hot Dog stand near John and King West.

It was Anjani who discovered it first, later introducing it to Leonard. In fact — so the unbelievable story goes — it was she who had been steadily been “losing large bets” to him over a period of time, and was in the hole for $690,000. Then, earlier this year when she was in T.O. on another visit, she “decided to go for broke,” all along “waging it on a claim to know the location of the best hot dog in the world.”

Enter: Mike’s Hot Dog Stand. The Suzanne singer was so uniformly impressed with its dogs –its “slightly grilled egg-bread bun” as well as its “bevy of unique and tasty condiments” – that he conceded it all to his sweetie. And paid off her debt!

More Leonard Cohen Hotdogging

An account of a less expensive hot dog dinner is found at Music Smarts by Mr. Bonzai: Meet Leonard Cohen [Update: no longer online]:

On our way to [Leonard Cohen’s] home, Mrs. Bonzai and I stopped to pick up some greasy wieners (Pink’s famous chili dogs) and a jug of Chianti. Leonard greeted us at the door barefoot in a 3-piece suit, sporting a five o’clock shadow, and led us to his sunny kitchen nook where he set out fine china and silver for our haute dog cuisine.

Credit Due Department: Photo of Leonard Cohen and musician Julian Coryell at Mike’s Hot Dog stand in Toronto by Marie Michele; found at LeonardCohenFiles.

Note: Originally posted November 5, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Goes Bananas: I’m Your (Banana-Munching) Man Cover Art, Banana Song Performance Video, & More


Leonard Cohen seems to have had an atypically high number (perhaps even a bunch) of banana connections, and where else, if not Cohencentric, are you likely to find them gathered in one place?1


The Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man Cover Has A Peel

And there is a story behind that cover art. In Various Positions, his biography of Cohen, Ira Nadel describes the scene:

At a Los Angles warehouse to watch the filming of the [Jennifer] Warnes’ video, “First We Take Manhattan,” Cohen was photographed by publicist Sharon Weisz in his dark glasses, charcoal gray pin-striped suit, and white T-shirt, eating a banana. For him, the image was precise and revealing:

Sharon showed it to me later and it seemed to sum up perfectly. “Here’s this guy looking cool,” I thought, “in shades and nice suit. He seems to have a grip on things, an idea of himself.

The only thing wrong, of course, is that he was caught holding a half eaten banana.

And it suddenly occurred to me that’s everyone’s dilemma: At the times we think we’re coolest, what everyone else sees is a guy with his mouth full of banana…”

He admired the photo so much that it became the signature image for his 1988 hit album I’m Your Man, and the poster image of his 1988 world tour.2

The same photo is shown to better advantage on the cover of the 7″ vinyl single of I’m Your Man.

Continue Reading →

  1. Update: I’ve tracked down another banana reference or two since posting this which will be covered in future entries. All such posts can be found at Leonard Cohen – Bananas []
  2. Nadel, Ira.  Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen. Pantheon; 1st edition (October 8, 1996) 245-6 []

Leonard Cohen As Model Mandarin Orange Marketer

orangesA few months after publishing Cohensubstantiation – Commonplace Tea Becomes Sacramental Repast In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, I came across this post from a marketing blog which also focused on Leonard Cohen’s transformation of the Constant Comment tea Suzanne served him into “tea and oranges all the way from China.” In this case, the author was moved to present the Canadian singer-songwriter’s classic song as a model for storytelling in advertising.

The following is excerpted from Storytelling 2.0: Think Leonard Cohen by Alice Germanetti (Content Market Insider: Oct 25, 2013)

47 years ago, Leonard Cohen wrote “Suzanne,” a song about an engaging young woman who “feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China.” In those few words he painted a picture of an exotic, mysterious, romantic and desirable creature, just by having her serve him a light snack.

Every woman I knew went out and bought a can of those sweet little Geisha oranges. And you had to really look for them, too. I bought several. Along with a flowery blue kimono. I was, after all, an Italian girl from New Jersey…

Every few months I bought a fresh can. After my 11th can in two years, I assumed Leonard was in on the deal. He had singlehandedly created awareness and desire for those little oranges in our culture. He was responsible for putting Mandarin oranges on the map and in the Mayfair Market. He had to be getting a cut…

Decades later, I heard LC interviewed about “Suzanne.” He said she was a rare beauty who served him Constant Comment Tea. My heart sank. My mother drank Constant Comment. It wasn’t from China. It wasn’t exotic. It wasn’t the tea AND oranges I pictured, it was a tea bag WITH slivers of dried up orange rinds…

But I thank you, Leonard, for giving me 40 years of believing I could be somewhat magical and mysterious and exotic. And I sincerely hope the world appreciates what you did for the marketing of Mandarin oranges.

For more about Leonard Cohen changing Constant Comment from grocery to sacrament, see Cohensubstantiation – Commonplace Tea Becomes Sacramental Repast In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne

Note: Originally posted October 25, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric