leonard cohen

I have no idea why I leave for a few days and none of our Canadians picked up this story. They brag about loving maple syrup and hockey, but for heaven’s sake folks, this is Leonard Cohen from Montreal! If he ain’t Jewlicious, who is?

This man creates visions of Jewish Canada by simply existing. Sure, he grew up in Westmount instead of the poor streets of St. Urbain – commemorated forever by another winner of the Canadian Governor General’s award, Mordecai Richler – and has allegedly gotten laid by more non-Jewish women than Tom Jones. Not only that, but he’s now a Buddhist monk, although I have no idea whether that means he now no longer beds non-Jewish women, especially since his latest girlfriend is quite a hottie (they’re putting out an album together soon). But let’s face it people, just hearing the name “Leonard Cohen” conjures up visions of circumcized snowflakes generations of Canadian Jews toiling in the hard Montreal winter.

By the way, allow me to pause here for a second:

Leonard Cohen –
Jewish, Canadian, Montrealer, winner of Governor General’s award

Irving Layton –
Jewish , Canadian, Montrealer, winner of Governor General’s award

Mordechai Richler –
Jewish, Canadian, Montrealer, winner of Governor General’s award

A.M. Klein –
Jewish, Canadian, Montrealer, winner of Governor General’s award

Saul Bellow –
Jewish, Canadian, American, Montrealer, winner of Nobel Prize for Literature

Okay, truth be told, Cohen conjures up Jewish Montreal, but also lazy days lounging on Greek islands while figuring out what life is about and writing poetry between steamy sessions with Marianne. The dude got lessons in life and love from Irving Layton, and then went out and DID IT. He took his Canadianism, his Judaism, his cosmopolitanism and somehow managed to influence millions of people with his music and poetry. How many poets actually become known by millions for their poetry? Leonard did it. And he did it with style.

Unfortunately, it seems that the 70 year old living legend finds himself virtually broke after a lifetime of work. Yup, it happened to Billy Joel (Jewlicious), Sting (Roman Catholic) and countless other stars, and now it’s happened to Cohen – he’s apparently been ripped off, allegedly by his longtime manager and possibly by his investment manager. The story in all its gory details is available in this Macleans article.

The bare essentials are: lifetime of work; millions of dollars; trusting others to manage funds; going up a mountain to spend some years becoming a Buddhist monk; learning accidentally, after coming down from the mountain, that the $5 million slated for one’s retirement and inheritance to kids is gone and nobody is willing to accept responsibility; getting one’s lawsuit of advisor pre-empted by advisor’s lawsuit; getting one’s lawsuit of manager pre-empted by friends claiming she’s imbalanced and on verge of possible suicide. He’s now facing a mess, the prospects of all that money lost, having to work hard at an advanced age, and the ugliness of lawsuits.

Fortunately, it seems that Cohen doesn’t live it up so it may not be all that bad.

That second article also notes that the Buddhist has not given up his Judaism. It seems he enjoys traditional Shabbat dinners with some singing beforehand, in Hebrew. Now imagine that deep voice that you heard as a teenager, just before going out on a date with Becky, as it sings “shalom aleichem mal’achei hashalom,” preparing to bite into some brisket and matzo ball soup…and among the beauty, you might hear the torment of a man betrayed.

God, I hope for his sake that he’s not celibate.

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