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21 November 2009

Leonard Cohen: Poet, in a younger prime

The documentary is called Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen.

This will expire soon — as will we — so watch. That’s the point, isn’t it?

UPDATED NOVEMBER 25, 2009: I’ve just found a suitably anecdotal quote that will serve as something of a replacement for when this video’s been taken down a few days from now.

    “I interviewed Leonard Cohen at every opportunity, including at the Zen Center on the edge of the tiny resort village of Mount Baldy, outside of Los Angeles. It was 1995 and Leonard had been living in a cabin no larger than a budget motel for about two years, so involved in the center’s lifestyle that he got up every morning at 3:00 a.m. to begin preparing the day’s first meal for Joshu Roshi, a spiritual leader. After our talk, Leonard, who had traded in his stylish suits for modest robes, invited me to stay for lunch, which was one of his soup specialities. I watched him labor over the various vegetables for more than an hour until he was satisfied. Afterward, he walked me to my car. When I opened the trunk, he noticed an open package of Fig Newtons that I kept for an occasional treat. Eyeing them, Leonard, speaking in a slow, deliberate style that seemed in keeping with the Zen Center itself, asked ever so politely, ‘Could I have one of those Fig Newtons?’ Being the generous guy that I am, I offered him the whole package. ‘Oh, no,’ he said, pointing to his spartan lifestyle. ‘Just one will be fine.’ As I drove away, I could see in the rear view mirror that he was staring fondly at it, presumably thinking about whether to take a bite now or save it for later.”

From Robert Hilburn‘s Corn Flakes with John Lennon

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26 July 2009

I am curating the Happy Ending Reading & Music thing @ Joe’s Pub on Weds, August 5th

For the past few months I’ve served as a musical guru of sorts to novelist Amanda Stern, the founder of the Happy Ending Reading & Music Series. Now she’s been so kind as to let me curate the latest in her run of sold out shows at Joe’s Pub.


Hint hint! The place seats 150 and I have a zero person guest list, so if you’re interested in coming you should buy tickets soon. BUY TICKETS HERE

I’ve assembled a night on the theme of PROGRESS & PROCESS. You can read detailed BIOS & INFO HERE. The participants are blessed & creative people, some of whom I have the benefit of knowing well. Please come & get to know them a bit yourself.

Amanda & I will co-host the night together. Here is her BLOG & below is her picture if you want to get to know her a bit as well.


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Happy Ending Reading & Music series @ Joe’s Pub || Theme: Process & Progress

August 5, 2009 - 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE: I recommend you buy ASAP if you’re interested in coming. The first eight installments of the series at Joe’s Pub have sold out very quickly.


What is this?: An edition of the Happy Ending Reading & Music Series at Joe’s Pub.

Theme: Process & Progress: I love people who make things. This night will be devoted to how these people do it.

When: Wednesday, August 5th 7pm – 9pm

Where: Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St, NYC, NY 10003. (Subways: R, W to 8th Street, 6 to Astor Place)


COLIN STETSON will deliver an opening invocation on solo saxophone. Aside from his work as a soloist, Stetson has brought his unique voice on winds and brass to the stage and studio work of artists including Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Sinead O’Connor, The National, LCD Soundsystem, Bell Orchestre, Antibalas, and Anthony Braxton. Stetson was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan and lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The featured musical guest will be BUKE & GASS, cover stars of this month’s local scene publication The Deli Magazine, who describe them as “a two man (wall of sound) band – although one of them is a woman.” This South Brooklyn duo consists Arone Dyer (the lady) and Aron Sanchez (the dude) who are able to play bass, guitar, ukulele, kick drum, snare, tambourine and sleigh bells all at the same time thanks to their curious innovation of their custom made instruments. Arone is on buke and voice, Aron plays drum and gass — all of which are filtered through various pedals and amplified by a pair of funny looking stereo guitar amps. Their music is simultaneously clear voiced and fuzzed out, innately hopeful yet redolent of darker things.



RACHEL COHEN will be reading from her book A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, which traces thirty-six actual encounters among writers and artists over the course of a century. Published in 2004 by Random House, it won the PEN/Jerard Fund Award and was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Prize and the PEN/Martha Albrand First Nonfiction Award. A fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Breadloaf, and the New York Institute for the Humanities, she has published pieces in The New Yorker, The London Review of Books and McSweeney’s, and been anthologized in Best American Essays. She teaches in the writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Queens, where she is at work on a book about art historian Bernard Berenson for Yale University Press


BRANDON STOSUY‘s presentation will be drawn from his in progress oral history of American black metal, a section of which ran in The Believer. A senior writer at Stereogum and Pitchfork‘s metal columnist, he has written criticism for many publications and collaborated with artists on catalog essays and exhibitions, most recently with Matthew Barney at Munich’s Goetz Collection; with Kai Althoff in a three-part installation at Dispatch Gallery on Henry St; and with Brody Condon for an upcoming sculptural rewriting of William Gibson’s Neuromancer at the New Museum. Stosuy’s 2006 anthology of downtown New York literature, Up Is Up, But So Is Down, Up Is Up, But So Is Down, was selected by the Village Voice as one of their 25 favorite books of 2006. He also curates a monthly heavy metal showcase in Brooklyn called Show No Mercy and occasionally teaches art and literature at NYU.


If luck holds and his wife does not go into labor, MATT LUEM will take part in Brandon’s presentation. Matt is my correspondent about teenage kicks from the west coast.


LAWRENCE WESCHLER‘s reading will be drawn from his books about two visual artists — Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin and True To Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney. Currently director of New York University’s Institute for the Humanities and artistic director for the Chicago Humanities Festival, he was a staff writer at The New Yorker for over twenty years where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He received a Lannan Literary Award in 1998, is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award in Journalism, received a National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 2006, and was finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.



AMANDA STERN is the author of three novels, the critically acclaimed novel, The Long Haul and two young adult novels written under a pseudonym. She founded the Happy Ending Music and Reading Series, out of the Happy Ending Bar in 2003 and has been running, curating and hosting it ever since. She moved the series to Joe’s Pub in January 2009. She’s at work on her next adult novel and a series of three children’s books for the Penguin imprint, Grosset & Dunlap.



In 2001, ALEC HANLEY BEMIS co-founded Brassland, a record label that documents the work of a growing community of musicians, including The National and Nico Muhly. In recent years he has added consulting work for the UK-based festival company All Tomorrow’s Parties and general manager duties at Cantaloupe Music. In 2009, he began co-managing Dirty Projectors, and took a seat on the board of directors for Manhattan New Music Project, a music & education non-profit. In an earlier career, Bemis was a journalist who wrote for outlets including LA Weekly, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate and The Los Angeles Times. He has taught in New York University’s graduate journalism program, produced projects for new media design firm Funny Garbage, and worked as an editor/writer at trend spotter Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Roughly translated PROGRESS & PROCESS is a night about creativity in action — how makers actually make what they make — all their visionary insights and petty concerns. There are sub-themes of duality and repetition; artistic innovation and invention; the psychological relationship between shrink and patient, interviewer and subject; and also some brief insights into make-up, modern clowning and the ways artists outfit themselves to cope with the world’s harsh vacuity, distractions & short attention spans. I hope people will find the contents relevant, stimulating, and occasionally humorous, if not in a “funny ha ha” way, in the manner in which a small baby sometimes puzzles over the food they’re given to eat.



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