Tag Archives: Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen: The Man with the Hat.

A few years back, I started writing a story about a boy with anger management issues. He found himself involved in an adventure that would take him all around Europe, culminating in a big face-off with the bad guys, in Athens. The only things he really cared about was his girlfriend and the music of Leonard Cohen. As part of my research for this still unfinished story I downloaded Cohen’s greatest hits. The only thing I knew about him was his melancholic music, his downbeat lyrics, and a voice that matched both of these attributes. Listening to his songs changed few of my preconceptions; but they stayed with me long after I stopped working on my story.

Tonight I got to see Leonard Cohen perform live for the first time. A friend had seen him on each of the four previous occasions the Canadian visited Ireland. He spoke highly of him, and when a ticket became available he asked me along. Cohen was playing the second of four dates at Dublin’s Kilmainham Hospital, the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). It was a cold but dry September evening. 10,000 adoring fans packed themselves into this excellent arena, waiting for The Man himself to appear on stage at exactly 7:15pm. I didn’t know what to expect.

Three and a half hours later, I realised I was in the presence of a beautiful mad man. At 77-years-old, Cohen led from the front, aided by a band of international musicians and singers that have been with him since he began touring again after an extended stay in a Buddhist monastery. (I did say mad, right? But in a good way.) Every song from his greatest hits – if they can be called that – got an airing. Personal favourites like “So Long Marianne”, “Suzanne”, “Tower of Song”, and “Dance Me To The End Of Love” had me in goosebumps. His performance of “Democracy” will go down, for me, as the highlight of the evening.

I can’t continue without mentioning Cohen’s backing singers, Sharon Robinson, co-writer of many of his well-known songs, and the fabulous Webb Sister, Hattie and Charlotte. Each of them got their own moment in the setting September sun, with Robinson’s rendition of “Alexandra Leaving” suitably spine-tingling.

What enamoured me about Cohen was his obvious respect for his musicians. Each time they had a solo to play, he would take off his hat (a Fedora or Trilby, I’m not sure which) and watch them play. He knows he wouldn’t be where he is without them. We know that, too. And we wouldn’t be where we were without Leonard.

I don’t care if he has to wheeled out in a chair the next time he visits – I just want to be there.

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NaNoWriMo 2010: Preparation Update

There are seven more days to go before the madness known as National Novel Writing Month begins. That means there is exactly one week to get that outline fine-tuned, those characters fleshed out and your plot in working order.

So, no pressure there.

As I mentioned previously, I didn’t fully commit to last year’s competition because of lack of preparation. I felt I could write on the fly and see what happened. Well, not getting further than 12,000 words is what happened. This year I have promised myself (and others) not to fail. I cannot allow this to happen. Barring natural disasters or circumstances completely beyond my control, I will write a minimum of 1,700 words a day, every day for the month of November.

This time I’m prepared. My story has been in my head for nearly a month and now my outline suggests I’m good to go. I have – unlike last year – a beginning, a middle and an end. I have my characters named and their motivations worked out.

The Main Players

Tim “Bucktooth” Fanning: 22, five nine, 160 pounds, round face with close-cut blonde hair. He likes wearing hooded tops and denim jeans, sports an earring in his left lobe, and has tattoos on each shoulder; one supporting Manchester United, the other Celtic FC. He has blue eyes, is state educated and is angry – a lot. His parents are Robert and Marie and he lives in an inner city Dublin housing estate. Single and unemployed, he likes soccer, GAA kick-boxing and WWF. His best friend in the world is Lester Drumm and together they go to rock concerts; though Bucktooth’s secret passion is the music of Leonard Cohen.

At the beginning of the story he’s looking for some work to pay for anger management therapy, and that’s where the plot kicks off. If I say anymore I’ll be in danger of spoiling how he progresses through the novel. Needless to say he changes – but not too much that it becomes ridiculous.

Valerie D’estang is a 20-year-old Parisienne and becomes Tim’s kind of love interest. She meets him while having her photograph taken at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. This will be my novel’s first major set-piece. It will involve her father, Nikolas, a journalist with AFP, who’s also in league with the major villains of Bucktooth, the clandestine organisation known as FILTH, controlled by the mysterious Mr. Sandross.

Tracking Tim’s every move, unwilling to help when he runs into trouble, is the equally shadowy MeerLin Corporation, a philanthropic organisation with headquarters in Dublin. Are they a force for good or evil, or are they somewhere in between?

Supporting Cast

Charles Formly: CEO, MeerLin Corporation.

Frank Lord: Chief of Ops, MeerLin Corporation.

Deandra Rimes, Security Chief, MeerLin Corporation.

Dicky Boyes, Press Officer, Meerlin Corporation.

Mr. Sandross, CEO, FILTH.

Dieter Hassberger, Security Chief, FILTH.

Frau Kessler, Mr. Sandross’ Personal Assistant.

Georges Matelot, UN Representative, Geneva.

Various goons, minions and henchmen.

The Locations

Dublin – Berlin – Athens – Geneva – Paris – London – Dublin (again)

The Plot

It involves a powerful historical artifact, a group of Neo-Nazis, some Chinese assassins, a little bit of sight-seeing, fights in airport lounges and a man who may or may not know who killed Pope John Paul I in 1978.

I have this and much more besides, ready to go for this day week.

How is your own preparation going?

On This Day…21 September

Tuesday, 22 September 2010

The sun has come out again, so it’s out with the shades and shorts and make good use of it while it’s here. It may be gone tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday, people. Have a good one.

Let’s have a look at what happened on this day down through the years. We start with…

1780 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point. That was decent of him. Didn’t make him popular, though.

1827 – Joseph Smith, Jr. is reportedly visited by the angel Moroni, who gave him a record of gold plates, one-third of which Smith has translated into The Book of Mormon.

image c/o mormonbible.org

1937 – J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is published.

1942 – In Poland, at the end of Yom Kippur, Germans order Jews to permanently evacuate Konstantynów and move to the Ghetto in Biała Podlaska, established to assemble Jews from seven nearby towns, including Janów Podlaski, Rossosz and Terespol.

1993 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin suspends parliament and scraps the then-functioning constitution, thus triggering the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993.

2008 – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the two last remaining independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Happy birthday to:

Leonard Cohen, the legend himself, is 76.

Birthday boy Bill Murray

Actor Bill Murray is 60.

Ricki Lake, US daytime TV presenter, is 42.

Liam Gallagher, singer with the band Oasis (now no longer with us) is a snarling 38.

Richard Dunne, Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland defender, is 31

That doyenne of reality TV and daughter of Lionel, Nicole Richie is 29.

The world of cinema lost a legend on this day in 1974 with the passing of Walter Brennan.