The impending onset of the 2012 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour exacerbates a long-standing problem in the Cohen fan community – establishing ones credentials.
It turns out that a major – and perhaps the primary – independent variable in the algorithm for determining Cohenite status is attendance at live Leonard Cohen performances. Now, on websites where fans gather, it’s simple enough to keep score. Members on at least two such sites can include the concerts they’ve attended as part of their username signature, not unlike academics on a university website listing their degrees after their names.1 For example, a long-time fan with the username, ManOnAWire, might have a signature that looks something like this:
ManOnAWire, 1988: Stockholm, 1993: Oslo & Berlin, 2008: London O2, 2009: Durham & Las Vegas
In day to day life, however, how can one signal one has been in the audience at 23 Cohen concerts in Europe and North America over the past 30 years and is not to be confused with someone who has attended only a couple of shows – or, for that matter, someone who may be able to talk the Cohen talk but has never walked the Cohen walk (into a Cohen concert)? There are only so many ways to bring up the experience of singing “So Long, Marianne” along with Leonard Cohen and the rest of the audience at the 1985 Dublin show during a chance meeting while buying unpasteurized white cheddar goat cheese and zucchini at the local Whole Foods store or into a neighborhood cocktail party conversation about, say, the pros and cons of car pool lanes.
Well, DrHGuy was, for several days, a member of the Boy Scouts, an organization that solved this problem long ago by issuing its members badges for every Jamboree, Camporee, and pancake breakfast in which they participated.2 If it works for the Boy Scouts, why wouldn’t a similar system work for the Cohenistas? As a sort of proof of concept, DrHGuy has created a sample badge for the upcoming Aug 12, 2012 Gent Concert (displayed atop this post).3
New & Improved Leonard Cohen Merchandise
The Heck Of A Guy New & Improved Leonard Cohen Merchandise line was launched in 2009 with this explanation:
From emails sent to Heck Of A Guy and posts at LeonardCohenForum, it is evident that selling Cohen-associated jackets, caps, jewelry, and other accessories has not been the World Tour’s greatest strength. Complaints about availability of goods, inadequate sales sites at concerts, and inconsistent offerings from performance to performance abound. In addition, word now has it that the online merchandise shop with has been described as “opening soon” since the Tour began 16 months ago will not open at all.
As is our wont here at Heck Of A Guy, we are stepping up to effect a rescue.
Having learned the hard lesson that 20 years of boredom is the best one can expect in trying to change the system from within by negotiating with Cohen management to provide New & Improved Leonard Cohen Lyrics and to consult on New & Improved Leonard Cohen Concerts, Heck Of Guy will pursue this project independently.
Yep, we are introducing the very special and fabulously unique Heck Of A Guy exclusive line of Leonard Cohen memorabilia, souvenirs, signifiers, and other goodies.
Note that the Heck Of A Guy New & Improved Leonard Cohen Merchandise Agency operates exclusively as an advisory body to the Leonard Cohen organization, which has the advantages of superior funding and – well, the legal entitlement to sell stuff emblazoned with Cohen-related insignia. Inexplicably, none of the proffered designs have been put into production as official Leonard Cohen merchandise. Go figure.
Other items designed by the Heck Of A Guy Leonard Cohen World New & Improved Leonard Cohen Merchandise Agency can be found at
- The “I (Unified) Heart Leonard Cohen” T-shirt
- Keep Calm And Cohen On T-shirt & Traffic Sign
- Leonard Cohen & The Sweet Smell Of Indifference
- The Leonard Cohen Bobble Head
- The WWLCD? T-shirt
- More Dino Duds & Len’s Beach Towel
- Leonard Cohen’s Back For 2010 T-shirt
- The Famous Blue Anorak
- The Heart With A Companion T-shirt
- Venue-appropriate Headgear
- On the other hand, DrHGuy’s signature on this kind of environment lists his Cohencentric web sites rather than the concerts he has attended since he owns more URLs than punched tickets. [↩]
- DrHGuy also had perfect attendance at Sunday School for several years, but somehow that model doesn’t seem a good fit as markers for Leonard Cohen concert attendance.
- These badges would also offer at least a partial answer for the inevitable query from those going to their first Cohen show, “What do I wear to a Leonard Cohen Concert?” Well, what could be more appropriate attire for a Leonard Cohen live show then a sash full of Cohen concert badges?