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Friday, October 20, 2017

To Hell, and Back

I have no objection to going to Hell. But it can get mind-boggling, trying to reconcile all these opposites. Especially with computer problems that lasted into September.

So I'm behind in my deadline: September 30, 2017.  The day I was hoping to publish Part Two of the Leonard Cohen saga. The day Marilyn Manson was crushed by a toppling scaffold while singing "Sweet Dreams are made of this..."

Instead I spent the week reading about Hugh Hefner, who died on September 27. Then came Manson's accident, and the fall of Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood seems to be undergoing some sort of purge.

Meanwhile in Montreal, we have the ongoing apotheosis of Leonard Cohen. Two sides of the same coin. It's definitely closing time and I will definitely be wrapping up my story, just a little late.

Thank you for visiting and reading. There's more to follow at Occupy Leonard Cohen.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Op Cafe 1967

In 1967, Paul McCartney was dead and the Beatles released Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, on which we were introduced Paul's replacement, sometimes known as "Billy Shears" (seen here on right).

The new Paul looked nothing like the old Paul - I remember we all noticed he had aged, and grown a long face, but we were young at the time and could not imagine such a complicated deception. 

That Paul was replaced is undeniable fact, in my opinion. Just compare faces. The real Paul McCartney had died in the fall of 1966, under suspicious circumstances. By 1967 an enormous psy-op was underway that would target and transform my generation.

So what else happened in 1967?

Well, for one thing I had turned 16 and was living with my parents in a suburb of Montreal. Some of my friends were being drawn to the downtown scene, including the coffee houses and clubs where folk music was now the rage.

Also, Leonard Cohen moved back to Montreal that year (Marianne Ihlen moved there from Greece along with him) and was living not far from McGill University - a pattern he continued throughout his life. He had rented a modest flat at 3657 Aylmer which happened to be a few doors awat from a new coffee house, The Yellow Door, at 3625. The Yellow Door was a McGill social outreach project which became a Montreal institution. It's still there today.
Leonard was getting into music. This was even announced in the 1966 documentary, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen" - a strangely fawning NFB film by Donald Britten that bent over backwards to make Cohen appear to be a rising star, although he was 32 and past his due date by sixties standards. It was also announced on CBC by the lovely future Governor General herself, Adrienne Clarkson. That's how I saw Leonard for the first time, at age 15. He sang "The Stranger Song" and I was mesmerized. On that show, Leonard look a bit like Paul McCartney, eitherbecause everybody was trying to, or to appear younger, or because he wanted to associate himself with the British invasion.

He'd missed the boat as a novelist, and poetry was hardly a money-earner - but anything Leonard did garnered publicity in Canadian media circles. In retrospect, people might say he had a knack for self-promotion, and knew the right people. Which is true but it's not the whole story. Leonard always managed to put himself in the public eye, despite his famous humility, but there were also people in the background who wanted him to be visible.

In those days, he could be seen humbly perched on the steps of the Op Cafe around the corner from his new apartment on Aylmer. The Op Cafe  (later The Image) became a hippie hangout in about 1967, the summer of love, and attracted kids to downtown Montreal. Take a look at these photos from Kristian Gravenor's Coolopolis blog. Note how these photo feature some "alienated youth" who were growing their hair long, forming motorcycle gangs, exploring drugs and free love on the streets of North America. See the guy with the guitar. I think that's Leonard on the steps of the Op - whose somewhat tacky logo is clearly visible behind him.

In fact that block of flats had been bought up by the Nerenberg family whose son, Mark, was the director of the Yellow Door - that's a coincidence, I guess, but Montreal is small and tight like that and the same people show up everywhere owning everything.  A few years later, just after the 1970 October Crisis, I would move into a student coop two block east on  another street bought up by the Nerenbergs who were our slum landlords. I even joined the Milton-Parc Citizens Committee to fight their plan for demolition of cheap housing in our neighbourhood in order to build the giant complex known as La Cité, which now stands on the very site of the Op Café. 
Another Nerenberg - Albert - a McGill Daily editor and journalist who covered the 1990 Oka Crisis for the Montreal Mirror, came on my Facebook page about three years ago. He and his sock puppet troop took great offense to something I'd posted and were so aggressive I had to block them. Well, actually, all of them appeared to be Albert Nerenberg operating under fake identities. A self-described Laughologist, and professional hypnotist specialized in "mind control" and neurolinguistic programming - Albert was also involved with an internet site called Disinfo - but all this is another story. 
Back to that photo of Leonard on the steps with guitar and Beatle haircut. I think I discern the moustache he sported at the time. It's slightly blurred, like the photo which shows him serenading the alienated youth, seen sitting on the pavement because in those days no one cared if you sat down the the sidewalk especially if there was folk music in the air. Two hippies in the foreground appear to be doing their homework - they probably go to McGill which is a few blocks to the west. A filthy kerb with buses going by is a great place to write a term paper while taking in some hypnotic guitar playing. 

All this is happening around the corner from Leonard's new flat which is next to the Yellow Door  which is owned by McGill and down the street from the Allan Memorial Institute, also owned by McGill, home of Dr Cameron and his MKULTRA subproject 68 - on drugs, hypnosis and sleep. Do you notice any connections here? What are the chances that this new hangout was also connected to McGill? Doesn't "The Op" sound like a name these scientists might give to a café? 

It's 1967, not that long after Dr Cameron's McGill-based experiments had been shut down, and also around the time the notorious pshrink died suddenly of a heart attack while climbing a mountain - after which his files were seized by the CIA because they revealed he was experimenting on children in Montreal.
And as I keep telling you, Leonard was also a product of MKULTRA - he even said so at various times to various people. And here we see him humbly (albeit "hypnotically") serenading passersby on the steps of the Op Café, and at the threshold of a long career in music. He has been appearing in films (like The Ernie Game, where he also hypnotically serenades a group of stoned young people at a Westmount party) and on national television. He is recognizable to some Montrealers. That photo looks like it could have been snapped by a passing photographer who also recognized him.

Two other photos taken around the Op Café look professionally posed, and totally phony. Perhaps that's why they were never released. But they seem to tell a story. Thanks to Kristian Gravenor for sharing them!

Let's start with the one of the girl with perfect hair and Mary Quant outfit, whom I happen to recognize as the niece of a famous Canadian painter who painted those mysterious horses galloping at night down train tracks - you must have seen them. They're hanging in the National Gallery and elsewhere across Canada. In 1967, she was 14. 

Here she's artfully posed between two hungry-looking hippies with some fellow who looks like a plainclothes cop coming down the steps behind her. The message seems to be: underage girls, bikers and cops all come together on Park Avenue for a photo shoot to let Montrealers know there is a place called The Op Café where you can find all three.
These photos are a bit embarrassing. Why is this child - who looks older than 14 in the photos -- seen staring into the eyes of a young "biker"  who could be an actor or male model. Look at her hand tightly gripping the handle of his chopper. What is going on here?

A drug deal maybe? or is the precocious teen negotiating a price for sex? It looks as if the photographer took pains to set up the angle and position the actors for dramatic effect. And why were these fake photos taken - to announce a fake hippie scene going on down the Op Café? I'm guessing so.
The fact that there are no photos of real hippies or real young people milling around what was supposedly a very popular hangout, suggests that these staged photos were part of the operation - like the kind the CIA scientists used to set up in communities where they were operating special houses for experiments involving sex and LSD.

But maybe I'm just a suspicious old lady -- maybe I see things that weren't even there. Maybe I only imagine that's Leonard on the steps with his Beatle hair and oversize guitar and hint of a moustache? In those days Billy Shears aka Billy Campbell aka "Faul"  also wore one to disguise the fact that Paul was dead and he had replaced him.

A while back when I stumbled on that old interview and performance by Leonard on CBC TV in May 1966 - a few months before Paul's alleged death - I was struck seeing Leonard dressed up in that turtleneck under a jacket with a Beatle haircut (no moustache). Leonard told me more than once that he "never liked the Beatles" - but he adopted their image in his drive for recognition, and it worked.
Is that strange or ? Why would he do that, at the same time he was claiming not to know them or their music in another interview, saying he had only listened to their album Revolver on which liked the last song, "Tomorrow Never Knows" which many say is about Paul's death...

Close your eyes, float downstream... it is not dying....

Odd, that "floating downstream toward death" theme also comes up in the second part of Chelsea Hotel #1 - about the death (by heroin overdose) of Janis Joplin...

I guess what I'm saying is, there are many things in this story that don't quite add up, and suggest that in 1967 we witnessed the beginning of a very long-running hoax. In which Leonard was to play the role of the Anti-Beatle.

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Shabby Ending

I told my mother, Mother I must leave you
Preserve my room but do not shed a tear
If rumours of a shabby ending reach you
It was half my fault and half the atmosphere...

Leonard Cohen, The Traitor Song (Recent Songs, 1979)

Endings are difficult. The more I try to wrap up my memoir, the more it adds new twists and turns. Just the other day, I thought I had nailed it when I found Leonard Cohen's obituary posted in the "Absent Friends" column at the website of the Wednesday Night Club, hinting that he was a member of this hidden-in-plain-sight secret society, an offshoot of those early meetings that took place in Montreal in the 1950s, and helped birth our Shadow Government. Along with the singer formerly known as Leonard Cohen.

That same night, Leonard appeared in my dream, and this time he actually seemed happy. In fact, we danced down a spiral staircase and landed in each other's arms. He not only thanked me, he congratulated me on getting to the bottom of it all. "After all," he said, "I'm an eleven" (his birth number). I chimed in, "And I'm a twenty-two." Master numbers, numerologically speaking, adding up to thirty-three, the highest level of Masonic initiation. Our work is complete (haha). So mote it be. Now I sound like a Mason, which I am not - but to understand Cohen, one must learn to speak his language. Fortunately that also includes the language of dreams.

What all this boils down to, in my opinion, is that the background to this story is overwhelming. To understand his career, one must understand the secret history of the twentieth century, which has its roots in ancient history, all the way back to Egypt and Babylon. One must also know something about the political scene in which he grew up, before, during and after the Second World War - as well as details about his immediate and extended family. Call in the astrologers who, I am guessing, understood his birth chart and saw a Messianic destiny culminating in his 80th year. Put it all together - a family embedded in organized crime, government, and the military. A lifetime of volunteering for critical operations deeply connected to the advance of a global dictatorship. A spiritual mission that compelled him to "tarnish the Golden Rule" every chance he got.

Only after the shock subsides, does all this begin to make sense - but I repeat myself. Cohen was a product of an environment in a state of crisis where deception was the order of the day. He adopted the hidden agenda, mirrored all of it, through his personality and his art. By the time I met him, it was too late to exit the Cult he had joined early on, or was born into.

So I became a bystander in a drama that gradually exposed a giant sea monster. Interesting that the only photo I ever took of Cohen was of him dripping wet, blinded by salt water, emerging from the sea on the beach at Hydra in the summer of 1979 -- I'll find it someday among my lost treasures and post it here.

In the meantime, I'll just go with my intuition that we've hit bottom. Cohen has now moved on. It's time to try the criminals who still rule the world, turning it into Hell for personal power and profit.


The Wednesday Night Club is a strange entity. David Nicholson had a 'successful career in the Canadian Air Force' -- and MKULTRA's Air Force links are well known. Their list of Absent Friends includes politicians, businessmen, and military intelligence people including one Israeli photographer who worked for TIME-LIFE. Diana Nicholson, who once worked for the CIA in Washington, became Special Advisor in 2015 to the new President of Pearson College, Désirée McGraw, protégée of Maurice Strong and Al Gore. Before her move to Victoria, Désiree did graduate work at the London School of Economics, and also headed the Jeanne Sauve Foundation, based in Montreal. Just down the street from the Allan Memorial Institute, the JSF trains future world leaders in principles of Diversity, Inclusion, Climate change, Gender Equality, Identity. These are the buzzwords concealing the globalist agenda employing mind control in many forms. Ask Hillary Clinton what they really mean -meanwhile I'm informed that Pearson College is the place to send your children if you want them to have successful careers at the United Nations.

But wait  a minute: Dr. Ewen Cameron was a great believer in the United Nations and its eugenics programs. If he hadn't died in 1967, he would have been an honoured guest at the Nicholsons' salons.

First on Diana's 'Absent Friends' list is Dr. Peter Roper, who was Dr. Ewen Cameron's most enthusiastic disciple, continuing his MKULTRA work until he was fired by McGill, where colleagues described him as a 'sociopathic personality.' His son, Marc Roper, is also a Montreal psychiatrist, and wields great power in medical circles -- servicing the same old masters in the Aerospace industry, those secretive child abusers who run NASA.

Further down the list you'll find the late, scandal-ridden Associate Defense Minister in the Diefenbaker government, Pierre Sevigny, and his wife Clou, whose Edwardian mansion at 33 Rosemount the Nicholsons bought in the early eighties for their intelligence work. Again, that Masonic number 33. (In 2015 they celebrated their 33rd anniversary with an article in the ever-supportive Montreal Gazette). The Sevigny's were instrumental in bringing Expo 67 to Montreal -- the year of Montreal's entry into the Fabian socialist dream. The symbol for "Man and His World" is also used by the Fabians, whose better-known emblem is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

In 2010, Liberal MP and former astronaut Marc Garneau - Aerospace again -- stood up in Parliament to honour the Nicholsons and their Wednesday Night salons - essentially acknowledging their influence over the years on Canadian policy making. It's not a big leap from 33 Rosemount (or Haddon Hall) to Cecil Rhodes and the Round Table, another elite grouping that believed the compliant masses should be ruled by a tiny circle of well-connected experts.

There we have the philosophy of the Wednesday Night Club, in a nutshell. How much more blatant does it get? And why do they consider Leonard Cohen an "absent friend"? Because he exemplified everything Dr. Cameron hoped to create in the Man of the Future: a drug-addicted, depressed, omni-sexual sociopath submitting to authority without question, who can't remember what he did last week.

That's Your Man, their 'absent friend'.  Understand him, but please stop worshiping him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Take This Blog(with the clamp on its jaws)

I've been warming up to this for a while. Let it be my final rant on Leonard Cohen, who he was, who he was not, and why it's important to sort this out now.

In a few weeks, in Montreal, a month-long Leonard Cohen event is being organized that will permanently establish his cultural dominance over the city of his birth. Two huge murals have already been erected on buildings to commemorate his towering presence, greater than any living idol, politician or saint of the past. Bigger than Brother André, or Maurice Duplessis. Or Rocket Richard. A bigger runner, coast to coast, than Terry Fox. I think this is unprecedented in Canada, a country that rarely erects statues or honours its heroes, apart from the dead of two world wars.

You have to ask: what is behind this sanctification? Money, perhaps. Festivals are big business, and the arts organizations must be falling all over one another to be part of this massive effort to commemorate the life of Montreal's most famous citizen.

But what are we actually commemorating? After all those interviews in which he explained himself endlessly, do we really know who Leonard Cohen was? I don't, although I lived around the corner from him for two decades. Or at least, I didn't, until I began looking into him. Which is how I learned that the 'real Leonard Cohen' - if there actually was such a person - is far different from the pontificating self-salesman we grew accustomed to, over the years.
Leonard Cohen  captured the attention of millions around the world in the course of a career as a writer, singer, and prolific giver of interviews. I can't think of a singer who has been interviewed more often. I have personally read dozens of interviews he gave over five decades or so. He was a remarkably articulate, entertaining and clever conversationalist, widely read, and capable of delivering profound insights on numerous subjects, all connected, as it happens, to a massive agenda.

He was also a very disturbed individual whose life was - in many ways - a glittering disaster. Secretly, he was a triumph of social engineering. A sociopath who transformed himself into a saint.

Perhaps most concerning: he was a servant of powerful forces who owned and controlled him from birth to death. Is it any wonder he is buried in Mount Royal Cemetery, the scene of cult activity (including ritual murder) involving Montreal's wealthy elite and their Mafia cronies, going back decades?

His honorary degree from McGill University marked a lifetime of service to the gangs that turned it one of the world's most corrupt institutions, catering to secret military projects like MKULTRA in the 1950s, when Leonard Cohen was an undergraduate student politician volunteering in Donald Hebb's sensory isolation experiments, while presiding over the Debating Union and writing his first poems, including A Hallowe'en Poem with its detailed description of children's games of animal torture .

In fact, he never lived more than a short walk from McGill and the Allan Memorial, and his Westmount family connections always ensured he would rise in the world - the question was, How?

Nothing in Leonard's life was left to chance. It was determined, from the outset, by generations of family involvement in secret societies.  Leonard grew up in a neighbourhood where the fathers all worked for Tibor Rosenbaum, the head of PERMINDEX, linked to the Bronfmans, Rothschilds, the international drug and arms trade, as well as to Operation Gladio and the Kennedy assassination. The death of his father left him the man of the house at age 8 - in a world of highly placed criminals. His uncles, who took over his upbringing, included a senator and member of the Bronfman's law firm.

As a teenager, he learned hypnotism - one of the techniques the CIA was exploring for use in mind control - and hypnotized the family maid in order to rape and torture her. Years later, he would rape and torture her daughter, who became the Muse for his most-relentlessly-covered song, Hallelujah, and to whom he boasted of being a CIA agent and 33rd degree Mason, as well as John Lennon's real assassin. Some say Cohen also killed Janis Joplin -- all but admitting to it in an early version of Chelsea Hotel (#1) which gives the impression he was in the room with her when she died.
At McGill, in the 1950s, he joined a cult that included well-respected professors, literary figures, their wives and students, and the notorious Dr. Ewen Cameron - as well as a shadowy inner circle that welcomed Nazi scientists employed by the CIA. Admirers of Aleister Crowley, they would meet for late night rituals, which Cohen described in early unpublished poems.

In a vertical career move to England, in 1959, he met Jacob Rothschild, who sent him to Hydra, where he hooked up with a community of artists, in what would become another social experiment attracting people from the world of military intelligence, gun running, spying, entertainment and publishing.

Portrayed as a lonely outsider, Cohen was in fact a central player in a massive program designed in London and Washington -- a post-war intelligence project whose totalitarian intention was to destroy and weaken families and individuals, and pave the way for world dictatorship by a chosen few, with narcotics and popular culture serving the agenda.

Leonard Cohen was their representative, and embodied all the aims of this program. So when Montreal gets together to celebrate his life and career, what we are actually celebrating is the triumph of MKULTRA.


Let's count the ways Leonard Cohen was Dr. Cameron's biggest MK success, along with Lee Harvey Oswald.

1. Leonard received Manchurian Candidate programming at McGill in the days when the main goal of top secret mind control research was to produce controllable spies and assassins who could carry out missions and later have no memory of their own actions. (Lee Harvey Oswald was a product of this programming, not that he actually killed JFK: he was at the scene in Dallas as a patsy while a CIA hit team fired the fatal shots at the President). Leonard's first big mission was as a spy in Havana during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. It was partially successful, in the sense that it brought him embarrassing publicity.

2. Leonard has always supported the aims and goals of his programmers: a group at McGill that included Fabian socialists like F.R. Scott and Irving Layton. The Fabians' emblem is "a wolf in sheep's clothing." Their aim was to transform human beings, beginning in childhood, using new theories of education eg. "free" schools. Cohen even sent his mentally disturbed, adopted son, Axel Jensen, to the one at Summerhill in the UK, which was also where Leonard first met Rebecca De Mornay as a child.

3. Cohen's early writing shows just how heavily he was influenced by Dr. Cameron and his psychiatric collaborators. As a freshman at McGill, Cohen organized a debate on the question "Should Germany be allowed to re-arm?" which was one of Cameron's pet themes at the time. Cameron wrote extensively about the need to re-engineer the German people to prevent them from starting another world war.  In his early twenties, Cohen rented a room near McGill where he wrote his first unpublished novel, Ballet of Lepers, which explored themes like sado-masochism from the point of view of a young man from a wealthy Jewish family. By then, Cohen was under the influence of the Tavistock programming that was taking over arts and culture -

4. Another of Cameron's obsessions was "the authoritarian personality" which inspired Cohen's 1964 poetry collection Flowers for Hitler. Despite his iconoclastic stance, Cohen was still listening to his Master's Voice.

5. In 1959 in London where he met the Rothschilds while writing his first novel, Beauty at Close Quarters (later published as The Favourite Game) Cohen was deepening his contacts with Tavistock (the Rothschilds created and funded it, as the birthplace of MKULTRA) and the Fabians he had known at McGill. Rothschild would send him to Hydra, where he met Axel and Marianne Jensen, who were under the same influences that would take the western world by storm in the sixties: the drug culture à la the Huxleys (Aldous' niece lived on Hydra), promiscuity carried to mechanistic extremes, destruction of the Old Order via all the mind-expanding techniques and beliefs that became the counter culture.

6. Despite moments of rebellion, Cohen always remained fundamentally obedient to authority. He was one of the cultural spokesmen who advocated "turning inward" and away from overt political action. All the while, he was deeply political in his choices, aligning himself with Zionism, in love with Ronald Reagan, and even joining the IDF in the mid-70s.

7. Late in life, he moved to a monastery - partly for tax purposes and as a stepping stone to retirement that was derailed when his retirement fund turned up empty in 2004. His glorious final decade, when he toured and made millions, turned him into the wise old man of popular culture. In many of his interviews after 2000, he spoke of how little he remembered, and how little he really knew. Let's just say, he knew too much that was healthier to forget.

8. Throughout his career, he was befriended (and used) by the powers that be, even European royalty and the folks at Buckingham Palace. This is one consistent fact of his career: that he always aimed "high" and worked for the darkest forces on earth. At the same time he cultivated a popular image as a man of the people, the perfect exemplar of "sensitivity" and "democratic ideals."

9. His personal life was an astounding mess, which is what one would expect of someone with multiple personalities, a few of which were capable of murder and espionage. You don't get far in a marriage if you're constantly switching alters, and disappearing to go on missions. But when you're Leonard Cohen, your relationship failures end up looking glamorous and evoking envy.

So in the end, Leonard Cohen's most lasting achievement might be fulfilling Dr Cameron's specifications to the letter. Not only was he a controlled public figure throughout his life, but he turned his own slavery into a powerful form of Mastery, through music. We'll be listening to his songs, and absorbing their deep messages, for the rest of our lives. His dark, Satanic programming - courtesy of the CIA -- is now mainstream culture. Hallelujah!

We need to think more deeply about all this before we leap onto that bandwagon.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Various Positions - Ira Nadel

Various Positions: A Life of Leonard CohenVarious Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am finally getting around to reading this biography which I was asked to review when it first came out in 1996. At the time I was distracted by several factual errors that jumped out at me when I started reading it -- and which caused me to doubt the value of the whole book. I felt it was a staid rehashing of the already well-known (at least to me) facts of Leonard's career and life, by someone who didn't really "get" him, i.e. Nadel did a workmanly job of presenting the material, often without comment, as if he neither particularly liked nor disliked his subject. This time around, I'm impressed mainly by the quantity of his research, e.g. his quoting from Cohen's letters during his the early part of his career when he was struggling to make a name for himself and carve out a position in Canadian literature. In retrospect, his efforts to be taken seriously as a novelist and poet seem almost futile, given the hidden background, and what he was up against. I still see Cohen as a serious writer, whose novels and poems can be read as a multi-faceted assault on the society he had grown up in - but were marred by a kind of narcissistic self-obsession that was probably a cover for some real wounds that few could have fathomed back then.

I've written my own memoir of Cohen: The Man Next Door (available at It deals with some of my own experiences with Cohen, on the streets of Montreal as I was coming of age, and later on Hydra and Mount Baldy as I got drawn deeper into the mystery religion that he seemed to embody. Since it ends on a bizarre note, I'm now the process of adding more chapters that are based on later realizations, some of which I've been posting at my blog ( since Leonard's death last November.

Re: Various Positions: one thing that makes it stand out is the raw objectivity some readers complain about. In particular, the chapters about life on Hydra, and Cohen's letters to friends and publishers, reveal sides of him that would shock a lot of his current fans and devotees. I think they probably shocked even Ira Nadel, who serves them up without comment. In fact, the young Cohen was often an obnoxious, self-obsessed megalomaniac who took drugs to deal with his frustrated ambitions. Nadel's biography at least makes it clear why Cohen was both envied and disliked in Canada: he was a braggart addicted to self-aggrandizing hyperbole. Somehow, Europeans were able to overlook this and focus on his songs, some of which were major works of art.

A whole fetishistic cult has lately grown up around him that is often based on trivia, and borders on sanctification -- especially at sites like where you can waste hours browsing through old photos, napkins and witty remarks to visited journalists. No singer has ever been more interviewed in his lifetime, and since his death no detail about Cohen's life is too boring to share with his legions of would-be lovers who never had the opportunity in real life to get to know him. But the real Cohen was a puzzle.

He also left behind an unfinished career as a writer -- choosing to reinvent himself in New York, London and Paris, where he could hide behind his image as a sophisticated, likeable iconoclast.

It's the Canadian chapters that are painful to read. I believe Cohen had a message for Canada that he found too overwhelming - which is one reason he had to write Beautiful Losers while high on amphetamines. I don't think anyone ever really penetrated to the core of his fiction, what it was actually about, what it was a screen for - not even Cohen himself. Canadian critics like Northrop Frye liked to suppress the ugly truths in the early poems and novels, calling them 'mythopeic' when in fact they were often closer to straight reportage about a country that was harbouring Nazis and engaging in secret genocide. Those were the real, deep reasons Leonard Cohen felt driven to write -- but Canada didn't really want that kind of writer.

I have to thank Ira Nadel for bringing some of the guck to the surface. In a few years, Cohen's handlers will probably have managed to bury most of it - and with it, the true story of Canada.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Who Am I?

This is a question I've been meaning to answer. It keeps coming up in connection with finishing my memoir about Leonard Cohen. You might almost say it plagues me. Why do I think my story is important enough to keep telling it, over and over? There are plenty of people who knew Leonard better than I did. I can think of a few: Irving Layton, Nancy Bacal, Morton Rosengarten, Suzanne Elrod, Marianne Ihlen, Bill Cunliffe, Hazel Field --

Or Kelley Lynch - she probably knows him better than anyone, having worked for him for seventeen years.

Some of these people are already dead, unfortunately, while the rest of us soon will be. That in itself is reason to write: to postpone silence. Not that death is an ending, necessarily. Sometimes it's another kick at the can.


Asked if he believed there is life after death, Leonard once said "I hope not."


Really, Who Am I to add my two tiny cents to the hagiographies? How much time did I actually spend with our Man? Adding up the actual hours in his company, maybe they amount to a week or two, spread over twenty years? Most of those meetings left me baffled and confused, frankly. They were profoundly puzzling moments that I spent the next twenty years combing for hidden meaning. And of late, the pieces have begun to coalesce into a kind of giant painting that, finally, makes some real sense.

A while ago in a dream, Leonard appeared stuck in a part of Hell. He was naked and sweating as he hung from a cross. Yes folks: a Cross. I know some of his fans will find this offensive, but after all, it was just my lucid dream. Despite his discomfort, he was very lucid too.

There could be any number of reasons why he was hanging in Hell. There are actions over a lifetime for which time in Hell is the usual punishment. Harming others. Telling lies. Theft and murder. Some things he did while alive were done under pressure, or the influence of drugs. Of course, no one at his Facebook site would believe this but I have to say it because it's the truth. Even Leonard acknowledged all this: besides, it's not exactly news if you pay attention. To survive in the world in which he operated, you have to be a cold-blooded killer. In life, due to his early training, Leonard was game for almost anything, including guilt and regret - but guilt and regret can't erase judgment, and judgment is based on facts. That's the crux of it, the latest round in the endlessly ironic saga that  is Leonard Cohen, even after death.

"Kill or be killed" was the motto he chose at 16 for his high school yearbook, and the name of his first published story. I suspect at graduation he already had some notion of the world he was entering, the one he'd entered at birth.

And the biggest irony: he saw the end coming but couldn't prevent it. So now he's in Hell. And what did he tell me, as he hung there suffering in my dream? As usual, he was a few steps ahead of most of us and spoke plainly, making it clear that he will remain in Hell until he has atoned for the lies he told when he was alive.

In fact, he appeared to be leaving it up to me to tell the truth, and get him out of Hell.

I'll leave that with you for now, while I continue mulling the best approach to this sensitive subject.  Meanwhile, on Hydra today they're unveiling a bench in his memory and celebrating his Life.

Although I never knew him to sit on a bench -- on Hydra he preferred the bar -- I'm sure he wishes he was there now, gazing out at the Peloponnesus.


Let's mince words. I'm not a 'fan'. Or a 'groupie' either. I actually knew Leonard, personally, unlike some of his prominent publicists at LeonardCohenFiles and Cohencentric. They have taken on the Herculean task of presenting him to the world, as he wished to be known. On these sites you will find endless files and archives and discussions offering insight into the side of him that can be discussed in public, and occasionally some bit of information that points in the direction of his secret life. 

I've been banned from both those sites for posting details that reflect his hidden side. My bad. I'm also not particularly welcome at the Leonard Cohen group page on Facebook where I sometimes have felt the need to confront the rampant idolatry. I think you could coherently argue that idolatry is a sin - in fact it's the first one listed in the Ten Commandments. If he were here, and in his right mind, Leonard would be quick to point that out - but instead while he was alive he was quite tolerant of people who idolized him, treating them as the useful idiots they were happy to be.

If I sound harsh and cynical, so be it. It seems I've evolved into some sort of realist.

The Real Leonard was no easy thing to live with, or discuss. I would say in all honesty I loved the Real Leonard and that love was returned, for reasons that never totally made sense. Later, the same love became twisted and a burden I was not prepared to bear. In fact, sorting this out became a Sisyphian task that I wouldn't wish on anyone, not even myself. That's why I abandoned it while Leonard was alive. It just wasn't worth all the misery, undercurrents and slander.

Although typecast as a rejected girlfriend, or worse, I often had access to him when others did not. He put up with me, for unknown reasons, staying in touch over years when I was often confused and angry. He was almost always calm and positive during those private moments that were stolen from the handlers. In most of these secretive meetings nothing happened -- we sat in silence. He was patient, never patronizing or phony. He had perceived that I was clueless about the reasons for our "relationship." With good reason.

I think he was waiting for me to remember our first encounter, decades earlier. I never could. Since it had happened in the context of classified experiments in a notorious mental hospital, while I was a very young child, it was dark and unmentionable -- locked away in a secret closet behind walls of amnesia. Amnesia was a survival strategy allowing me to sidestep the fear and insanity that swallowed certain others who had been through the same thing. My mind was, thankfully, still blank.

I know this now, but I didn't back then.  But Leonard knew. He chose not to speak about it. "If you don't know, then I can't tell you." He simply waited. Meanwhile, the others came and went, serving the public figure.

I cannot endorse the public figure known as Leonard Cohen. That persona was (and is) a fabrication, designed by secret committee to delude us. It worked like a charm. People still believe in it because, after all, what choice do they have? They didn't know him. They never met him when he was a young  mental patient undergoing "psychic driving" in the hands of CIA psychiatrists under intense pressure by their funding agencies to create artificial personalities who would serve their masters, body and soul, as robotized slaves and entertainers. 

Conspiracy theory, you say? It's not a theory when you've lived it.


Oddly, this old poem appeared the other day. It's about "Annie" -- surely you've read it, if you're a Cohen fan, in which case you know it was written in the late 1950s for his first girlfriend, Anne Sherman. I remember it from long ago but, until just now, I never thought twice about it.

Now of Sleeping (from The Spice Box of Earth)

Under her grandmother's patchwork quilt
a calico bird's-eye view
of crops and boundaries
naming dimly the districts of her body
sleeps my Annie like a perfect lady

Like ages of weightless snow
on tiny oceans filled with light
her eyelids enclose deeply
a shade tree of birthday candles
one for every morning
until the now of sleeping

The small banner of blood
kept and flown by Brother Wind
long after the pierced bird fell down
is like her red mouth
among the squalls of pillow

Bearers of evil fancy
of dark intention and corrupting fashion
who come to rend the quilt
plough the eye and ground the mouth
will contend with mighty Mother Goose
and Farmer Brown and all good stories
of invincible belief
which surround her sleep
like the golden weather of a halo

Well-wishers and her true lover
may stay to watch my Annie
sleeping like a perfect lady
under her grandmother's patchwork quilt
but they must promise to whisper
and to vanish by morning -
all but her one true lover.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I recognize this scene. And it does seem odd that he would address his twenty-something lover Anne as if she were a sleeping child. Of course, in Cohen's poems, women often are depicted asleep. Still, it seems like the wrong erotic approach. No wonder she left him! And who are the "Bearers of evil fancy of dark intention and corrupting fashion/ who come to rend the quilt/ plough the eye and ground the mouth" ? How did these violent monsters invade this child's dreamworld, and the poem? Who am I to question? Nevertheless, it adds another layer to the surfacing mysteries --

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Fisher Library

The University of Toronto's Fisher Library is the final resting place of Leonard Cohen's manuscripts. As I happened to be in Toronto overnight last month, I decided to pay a visit to the collection on a rainy Thursday afternoon - which happened to be the only day the library remains open until 8 pm. Because of other appointments I had less than four hours to spend, but it was a start.

I was particularly interested in Cohen's early work. There were several boxes of unpublished writing, so I asked for the first three -- someone had been there ahead of me and they were already sitting on the trolley. Each was filled with folders usually consisting of a few pages -- sometimes many pages -- of manuscripts which either he or someone else had typed on "corraseable bond." Look that up if you don't know what it is -- when I was a creative writing student in the late sixties our professor recommended it to us. It freed us from sticky Taperaser and bottles of White-Out, those other tools of the trade. Leonard's early manuscripts are all neatly typed on this brittle pink-beige paper, using the same pica typeface, and much of the writing (as one might expect) is sophomoric - after all, he was a sophomore then -- and some of it is downright boring. In fact, for the first couple of hours, I struggled to stay awake. I had not been expecting that.

There were short stories. Not many. Neatly typed and formatted for submission to magazines like, let's say, The New Yorker or the Saturday Evening Post. Some title pages had his mother's address on Belmont Avenue in the top left-hand corner. Others were sent from a room on Stanley Street, just down the hill from McGill. I'm guessing Leonard rented a room downtown not just to write in, but also to entertain ladies, pursuing a career according to the guidelines laid out by Writers Digest for hardworking hacks in the 1950s. This was the era when writers all hankered after the kind of sudden, miraculous fame that was awarded to J.D. Salinger for his first novel Catcher in the Rye. It certainly beat going into the family clothing business.

Leonard's early plots are not lacking in Jewish angst. A young man is trying to get laid, and with the help of a more experienced friend, hires a call girl.The twist at the end, such as it is: on their first date he asks her to marry him, stealing her from the older man who brings them together -- .

Another story is set on a street in Westmount and concerns a naive teenage boy and the mysterious girl down the street who plays the recorder -- he calls it a "wooden-flute" which angers her so much she cracks him on the head with it. Although she's clearly a controlling bitch, even a budding sadist, he feels drawn to her garage, where he and a friend are controlled and punished by Recorder-Girl. This story feels autobiographical, like an attempt to fictionalize dull reality, but it peters out before going anywhere.

A third story was set in a boathouse in the Laurentians, and involved some voyeurism -- as the young Jewish protagonist attempts to entertain a French Canadian couple who are camping nearby, and ends up competing unsuccessfully with the man who is charming and handsome but as they"re speaking English, the Leonard-like character has a certain advantage. Wistfully he watches from a distance as the boy and girl embrace in their tent with the light on, casting shadows that make him feel envious and alone.

By the time I'd finished these three stories I was beginning to feel Leonard's life-long  battle with depression as if it were my own. The boredom and pointlessness were more than I'd bargained for. No wonder publishers rejected these stories which (to be honest) showed little sign of talent or creative imagination. The thought of young Leonard renting a downtown room for the purpose of  hammering out these turkeys made me feel faint. Stifled and conventional at an age most of us associate with risk and rebelliousness, he sought vicarious thrills in midnight strolls down Boulevard St-Antoine, peering into downtown windows.

Older women show up here and there in these vignettes -- that's what these were, rather than stories. In another, a young man is living at home with his mother and elderly grandfather who suffers from dementia, pees on the floor, and needs round the clock nursing care - apparently money is lacking and the narrator feels pervasive hopelessness in the face of a situation that offers no escape but death.

I got the sense that, while still an undergraduate, Leonard often felt helpless and trapped. But he kept on writing, because it offered a way out. He also wrote poems at that age, a few strong ones. The first to get published was the hair-raising "A Hallowe'en Poem" which describes a group of children who are sacrificing birds and small animals in their quiet suburban backyards -- it was published and drew a letter of praise from the rabbi of Hillel House. I'll get back to that theme - sacrifice - later because it's repeated.

Ballet of Lepers, his first (unpublished) novel, fills several folders in the collection and partly woke me from my stupour in the library. Rambling and unstructured, it provides surrealistic and violent glimpses into the mind of a disturbed young man who is losing his innocence. The characters include an old man modelled on Leonard's grandfather, and the young hero who is having an affair with the wife of one of his professors. There's plenty of desensitization, boredom and cruelty -- in fact these are major themes of the young Cohen's fiction. A hated and worshipped mother looms in the background, like the executioner of dreams.

Ballet of Lepers is nothing like The Favourite Game -- it's more of an account of a descent into mental illness. In reality, Leonard ended up in the Allan Memorial in 1958 under the care of the notorious Dr. Cameron. You might even think this strange confessional novella was concocted for the pshrinks rather than the public - it has that feel of something written to simulate madness.

I haven't even mentioned the drafts of early poems, some of which made it into Let Us Compare Mythologies -- they also leave a strange impression, of someone trying very hard to be a poet, as if his life depended on it. Biblical and mythopoeic themes meet tales of adultery and sadomasochism.
The professor and his wife show up in several folders, including one long short story which has three pages missing from the middle - just as things were heating up in the young protagonist's secret affair.

You want it darker? The library was closing - it was ten minutes to eight as I fished out the last folder, labeled DISCARDS from The Spice-Box of Earth. About a dozen poems in all, precise, polished pieces, describing a pagan ritual on the slopes of a mountain. A little girl, nine years old, is kneeling on the path. A horned figure. And a heart being pulled from a living body. Not just one poem, but several.The images flash by as if in a nightmare, cut from the final draft. Who discarded them: Leonard or his editor? Why?

The smiling librarian took back the box and wished me good night -- he had a slight German accent. There had been no time to copy the poems, or even reread them. They seemed to describe something witnessed, not imagined -- from the time when Dr. Cameron was running amok in the corridors of the Allan Memorial, long before the true nature of his experiments on patients was known.

The missing poems were dark glimpses into the elite secret society that he had joined at McGill.  The Spice Box of Earth went on to win the 1961 Governor General's Award for poetry, without those all-important, climactic pages.

I'm on a lake in northern Ontario, the kind of place Canadians used to go to write their brooding first novels -- The blackflies are biting -- it's getting darker. I'm going inside.


Painting by David Barclay, ca. 1990
Last night was quite a night. I watched Hitchcock's "Marnie" for the first time -- it's about early childhood sexual abuse, committed by a stranger, and a young woman who can't remember what happened to her. Then this morning I dreamed about Leonard.

We were on Hydra in the heat of summer. A house on "Donkeyshit Lane", the street of stone steps downhill from Leonard's. This house was grander, like a museum, filled with gleaming marble. I'd just dragged my luggage upstairs when Leonard walked in. He looked the way he did at 45, in 1979, my first visit to the island. But emotionally, something had shifted -- he had four more decades of insight and now he was ready to be open and honest. Ready even to listen. He agreed it was time for certain secrets to come out in the open.

We were talking in fluent Greek, for some reason. I had to lean in close to catch what he was saying, expressing thoughts and feelings he never would have in English. Light poured in through  windows and doorways, as in a temple. He said he had to leave "at four o'clock" but he would be back soon. He was wearing what looked like a uniform. In real life, he often phoned and asked me over just before he left for some appointment, that he would never talk about. I would sit at the kitchen table while he shaved in the bathroom, checking himself in the mirror before putting on his hat. Back then, he would fit me into a busy schedule and this habit has followed him into the next world.

In the dream, after he left I went out on the balcony where women were hanging out coloured sheets. One of them asked me if I spoke Greek -- I said yes. She held up her two white cats and asked if I could help remove two fat tics from their bellies.

The uniform sums up Leonard better than anything. He was always, secretly, in the military. Just look at those old photos from the sixties, taken on Hydra. He had a fondness for soldierly dress casuals.

As for those poems, and the secret societies, and his McGill contacts, and all that happened before he was famous: none of it is so farfetched once you know the secret history. In fact, I've heard it all before, from witnesses. I'm guessing there are plenty of clues in the boxes at the Fisher Library, and plenty that we'll never know.

So I'm guessing he had limited choices, given the world he came from. And that when you're born into that kind of background, your fate is pre-determined by all kinds of agreements and obligations. You can walk away, but there are consequences. Or you can kill yourself, but once you've put that option aside, you have to follow orders much of the time.

Irving Layton called him a self-hating narcissist -- that was also my view. Now I think it was that or a total breakdown. "They" -- whoever they were -- his uncles, bosses, handlers, mentors -- knew how to use blackmail. I think his life was actually a series of double binds. The more miserable he was with where he ended up, the better he looked from the outside, and the more envy he attracted.

Few understood what he was up against. "They don't know who they're dealing with," was one of his phrases, along with "they'll never catch us" or "If you don't know, I can't tell you" or "Why do you hate me? I never helped you."

Or "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord."

Once you step into an Avalanche, there is no stepping out. And anyone in the vicinity will get buried alive as well.