Why Is Leonard Cohen Smiling – And Who’s Lenny?

Leonard Cohen at O2

Leonard Cohen at O2

My initial reaction to Leonard Cohen at the O2: Lenny-mania in London,1  the Telegraph review of the November 13, 2008 Leonard Cohen concert at London’s 23,000 seat O2 arena was “Oh hum, another ‘Leonard Cohen gave a great concert’ article.”2 On consideration, however, I am convinced that at least two elements of the story merit mention.

1. Lenny-Mania?

Lenny-mania has, apparently, run rampant –

… what started with a successful summer tour and a much-lauded appearance at the Glastonbury Festival has turned into Lenny-mania this winter

As far as I can determine from my friend, Google, this is the first designation of Leonard Cohen induced Lenny-mania on the Internet.3

Now, I do not contest a newspaper journalist’s authority to name a mass movement or enthusiasm. Sports writers have long devoted hundreds if not  thousands of column inches to informing readers that a city that is home to a sports team in contention for the championship has succumbed to [insert team name]-mania.

Of course, I would also hold that bloggers are authorized and perhaps obligated to pass judgment on the name given to that movement.

And, as for Lenny-mania – I don’t care for it.

Lenny (left) and Squiggy (right)

Lenny and Squiggy

It’s a personal preference, I suppose, but I find it almost impossible to use “Lenny” to indicate Leonard Cohen except in an attempt at humor. In good fettle, I might be able to pull off “Len.”

When I think “Lenny,” I think “Lenny and Squiggy.” That’s Lenny on the reader’s left.

Or Lenny from The Simpsons (pictured below).

Would the headline of this post be regarded the same if it were “Why Is Lenny Laughing?”

As it  happens, none of my best friends are “Lenny’s,” but I can imagine having a buddy named “Lenny” and even envision warmly greeting him after a long absence with “Hey, Lenny, you ol’ sumbitch. Long time no see. What’s shakin’?”

Also, I am the first to attest that there are, doubtlessly, batches of talented and wonderful guys known as “Lenny.”

But, on hearing “Lenny,”do I think of, say, the undeniably talented Lenny Kravitz or the legendary comedian, Lenny Bruce?

I do not.

And I certainly do not think of Leonard Cohen.

Also, hasn’t  “mania” been a tad overexposed as a suffix indicating a craze among a population segment?  In addition to the afore-mentioned enthusiasm for sports teams, -mania can also be found in references to Cicada Mania, Mini Mania (a passion for Mini Cooper cars), Sarah [Palin] Mania, Monster Truck Mania, Twirl Mania (admiration for baton twirling), Magnum Mania (wildness for all things Magnum P.I.), Collar Mania (obsession with custom dog collars), and Bacon Mania.

Yep, I’m caught up in  Anything But Mania-Mania. Surely, we can do better by Leonard Cohen and his manic fans.

What About That Smile?

Leonard Cohen at O2

Leonard Cohen at O2

Leonard Cohen is, after all, the man known as4 the Grand Master of Melancholia, the Godfather Of Gloom, the Master Of Erotic Despair, the Poet Of Bedsit Angst, the Gloom Merchant, the Poet Laureate Of Pessimism, the Apocalyptic Lounge Lizard, the High Priest Of Pathos, the [Biblically lachrymose]  Jeremiah Of Tin Pan Alley,  … .5

Even in the story accompanying the photo atop this post, the only reference to the singer’s mood is “His bass-baritone voice rumbled through a back catalogue of doom-laden reflections.”

So, what’s with the sparkling (face it, it’s sparking), full fledged, non-ironic smile?

As it turns out, Heck Of A Guy has access to a hot shot psychiatrist for a clinical assessment – and I diagnose a severe case of happiness.

Lenny, ya big lug, I’m sorry for outing you as being happy
and hope it doesn’t ruin your rep or put a damper on
Lenny-mania. Are we OK? We’re still pals, right?

Credit Due Department
The photo of Leonard Cohen is from the Telegraph article already referenced, Leonard Cohen at the O2: Lenny-mania in London

  1. Leonard Cohen at the O2: Lenny-mania in London by Graham Boynton. The UK Telegraph. Nov 14, 2008 []
  2. I should note that Graham Boynton’s piece is well written, insightful, and, except for the Lenny-mania coinage, on the mark. There just isn’t much in the way of new information. []
  3. There is a 1999 “Lenny-mania” citation that references Lenny Johnrose, a English professional football player, and there is at least one individual and perhaps more who use “Lennymania” or its variations as a user name. []
  4. See Leonard Cohen Nicknames []
  5. Yes, I know he is also called Laughing Len, the Existential Comedian, and the Smiling Dada Of Despair, but those don’t do much to advance my point, do they? Besides, this post is running long already; I haven’t the time or space to explain existentialism, the Dada movement, and recognition of sardonic nicknames. []

0 responses to “Why Is Leonard Cohen Smiling – And Who’s Lenny?

  1. Damn…that Graham Boynton has written my review!
    Except, as all LC fans know, he is 74 years old!
    ‘Lenny’ had every reason to be happy – the audience (at Bournemouth) adored him.
    I may try and add to the ‘mania’ by posting another review next week.