Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Leonard Cohen: A monk walks into a bar...

There’s a lot of talk and publicity about I’m Your Man, the new hagiographic documentary about songwriter, poet and ladies’ man Leonard Cohen, built around a worshipful concert and idolizing interviews with the likes of Bono from U2.

The doco apparently places much weight on Cohen’s much-publicized decision in the late 90s to give up the pop life, shave his head and become a Buddhist monk in a monastery high up on a place called Mt. Baldy.

It’s a true story, and even got into People magazine at the time.

But there’s a story between the lines…

Around the time Leonard was chanting, we were spending many an afternoon in LA bars and restaurants— there was a new Tabloid Baby at home, so we had to get out while we could. And while celebrating New Year's Eve 1998 with a late lunch at the Sonora Café on La Brea Avenue, we moved to the bar and found ourselves seated next to Leonard Cohen! Leonard, who was supposedly in the monastery (but has a home in the neighborhood), had the shaved head, but in place of a monk’s robe he wore a grey suit, and he was contemplating not his navel, but a mysterious beautiful woman.

Leonard was drinking booze. Then he stepped outside for a cigarette!

We drank alongside the monk, and made a quiet cell phone call to our mate Neal Travis at the New York Post. The story from Neal’s column exists somewhere in the archives.

A few months later, it was another afternoon at the Hamburger Hamlet on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. We again found ourselves at the bar, and again, alongside us, with a new beautiful woman and a fresh drink, the same head and suit and a bowl of French onion soup— was Leonard Cohen, once again drinking—and smoking in the afternoon!

Now that’s our kind of monk!

Enjoy the documentary. But remember, the truth exists between the lines…

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