Two Photos: Leonard Cohen At Mariposa 1967

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Caption: “Here are two shots of Leonard Cohen from Mariposa ‘67. These were taken by my dad and his pal.” Posted by Matt Masters via Twitter

Leonard Cohen played Mariposa on Aug 13, 1967. For more information about and many more photos of the 1967 Mariposa Festival, see

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Now Online: 1997 Leonard Cohen Q&A By Neva Chonin

Leonard Cohen
By Neva Chonin
Rolling Stone: December 11, 1997

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This article is part of the Leonard Cohen Press Archive

Credit Due Department: Contributed by Dominique BOILE

Wishing You The Bestest Christmas 2014

A Heck of a Guy Christmas Tradition

Since 2007, Heck Of A Guy has featured Lady Lawanda’s1 account of her “Bestest Christmas,” a story that I found – and continue to find – touching, wonderful, uncomplicated, profound, gleeful, poignant, heartening, and exactly the gift to offer readers.

That Christmas Day 2014 finds me devotedly and delightfully married to the Duchess, a woman who could have done so much better, does not diminish my feelings for Julie and Lawanda, both of whom brought joy into my life and both of whom were lost in death. Instead, it invests those feelings in Penny as well – and adds Penny’s memories of Don, to whom she was married for 24 years until his death on October 12, 2009, to our shared treasury of cherishments. This story is part of that mutual dowry.

Lady Lawanda’s Christmas Story

The child of devoted parents and the youngest sibling, by several years, of a swarm of indulgent brothers and sisters, Lady Lawanda was the unwitting star of a long-running series of theatrical productions featuring her as ingénue of an ensemble troupe with family members simultaneously playing support roles, exquisitely and exhaustively stage-managing the shows, and serving as an enthusiastic and starstruck audience.

A seasonal favorite was the annual Christmas pageant, central to which was the assumption that Santa Claus was a dramatic, all-embracing, benevolent figure no less real for completing his seemingly impossible tasks accomplished out of sight of those whose lives he blessed – not unlike the first Mayor Daley.

While the script of “Lady Lawanda’s Christmas” varied somewhat from year to year, the most ancient of the recurrent motifs was the the discovery of evidence that Santa had completed his holiday visit.

In the service of that goal, sooty footprints were manufactured that began and ended beneath the chimney, partially eaten remnants of the snack left for Saint Nick and the chow left for his reindeer were strewn artistically, and sound effects congruent with a rooftop landing of a sleigh powered by flying reindeer rendered.

To the young Lady Lawanda, the cumulative effect was utterly convincing.

By her own assessment, Lady Lawanda’s most memorable moment from all these Christmas performances occurred in her ninth year as the juvenile lead in this intimate, long-running, and remarkable theater in an instance which crystallized and preserved for all time her dramaturgical talent for playing a role with absolute conviction.

Lawanda’s Christmas Vision

Running a Christmas Eve errand with her father, perhaps her greatest fan, Lawanda glimpsed something in her peripheral vision. Although whatever had caught her eye had vanished within the fraction of a second required to shift her focus, she knew, wholeheartedly and unquestionably, that she had seen Santa Claus soaring across the sky in his sleigh making his deliveries.

The remaining plot is anti-climatic. Lawanda gleefully informed her father that she had just seen Santa Claus making his rounds, her father acknowledged her report without any suggestion of surprise, let alone doubt, and, on their return home, she found, indeed, that Santa had already come, dropped off her usual bonanza of gifts, and departed.

Epilogue

Lawanda’s glance of that communal myth, made all but inevitable by the ongoing machinations of a family smitten with her, distilled and condensed the innocence, security, delight, unalloyed joyfulness, enchantment, affection, and all that is special in a childhood that was imperfect, which all childhoods are, but suffused with love, which is not true of all childhoods.

If the celebrations, ornaments, feasts, and traditions of Christmas over the generations have accomplished nothing other than that moment when a nine year old girl, to the delight of her loving family, was convinced she saw Santa flying through the sky, I would maintain the time, energy, and expenditures2 have been well compensated.

Our Christmas wish is for each of you to be
likewise blessed, today and every day,
with signs and emblems that you are loved

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  1. Lady Lawanda is the blogonym (and, I hasten to add, the self-chosen blogonym) of the woman in my life for the too few years before she died from breast cancer in June 2008. Lady Lawanda was a profoundly important and positive force in her close-knit neighborhood and the school where she was an especially effective and innovative teacher and leader. She was also a central, vital element in the lives of her family, her friends, and, not least, my children and me. I miss both Julie and Lawanda every day. []
  2. Including those aesthetic affronts committed in the name of commemorating the holiday []

On Christmas Eve, While Visions Of Leonard Cohen Dance In Our Heads …

Leonard Cohen shown caroling after completing his seasonal tradition of decorating his LA home with holiday lights. Asked about the significance of the lighted figure on the wall behind him, Cohen lyrically replied, “It’s just another snowman.”

Leonard Cohen’s 1974 Appearance At The University Of Rome: Performance & Book Promo

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The posting of the above photo four days ago garnered an enthusiastic response from viewers.1 As shown, the caption provided only minimal information about the site and date: “An impromptu performance in an Italian classroom undergoing revolutionary redecoration in the early seventies.”

It also, however, brought to mind a similar shot, which I then tracked down.

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The caption for this photo was more helpful but still limited: “University of Rome 1974. Photo by Carlo Massarini.”

Coco Éclair found this passage from Ondarock by Carlo Massarini that pertains to the above image and also translated it from Italian:

Like the time with Leonard Cohen …

Yes, someone at the State University had heard that Leonard was in Rome, and he agreed to improvise a concert in the Great Hall of Law, all organized in twenty-four hours. He didn’t have a manager with him. I do not believe that the guitar was his, although he also played something just for us in the hotel; the fact remains that he showed up with that guitar at the University, and began to sing with the microphone that was on the counter of the classroom in a very spontaneous way: in short, there was a great willingness to do things outside the box and the conventions, something which today is a bit lost.

After the second photo was posted, Carlo Massarini himself commented:

Hello there,

As translated, the photo is part of a series both in b/w and colour taken in La Sapienza’s Auditorium, in 1974. The quality here is so so, probably a foto shot off my foto-book Dear Mr Fantasy (1969-1982). Leonard was on a promotional trip for the Italian publication of one of his books, and together with Alberto Marozzi, at the time the CBS promo man, we spent some time at his hotel (he played for us Chelsea Hotel, among others) and then we drove downtown to the University area. The guitar was his, by the way. The leftist signs on walls, chalkboard and all over (note the ones close to the windows, Amore Amore Fammi Godere) were very typical of the times.

Merry Xmas to everyone, including The Man himself.

And finally (for now), Coco Éclair also discovered this created-after-the-fact poster (on sale at eBay) commemorating the May 15, 1974 presentation of the Italian translation of Leonard Cohen’s The Favourite Game at Sapienza – Università di Roma.

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Update: In an email received after this post went online, Leonard Cohen confirms he was in Rome promoting The Favourite Game (and the guitar was his own).

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post was contributed by Dominique BOILE. The second photo is found on a handful of websites and at the Francesco Donadio Facebook page.

  1. This was actually a re-publication of the photo, which was almost unnoticed when originally posted in Nov 2011; go figure/ []

Two Photos Of Leonard Cohen Performing At The University of Rome In 1974

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The recent posing of the photo displayed at the end of today’s entry1 brought to mind the shot atop today’s post. Indeed, it is certainly the same scene captured from a different aspect, and its caption offers the location and the year the shot was taken as well as the photographer’s name: “University of Rome 1974. Photo by Carlo Massarini”

In addition, Coco Éclair provides this translation of a passage from Ondarock that accompanies the above image:

Like the time with Leonard Cohen …

Yes, someone at the State University had heard that Leonard was in Rome, and he agreed to improvise a concert in the Great Hall of Law, all organized in twenty-four hours. He didn’t have a manager with him. I do not believe that the guitar was his, although he also played something just for us in the hotel; the fact remains that he showed up with that guitar at the University, and began to sing with the microphone that was on the counter of the classroom in a very spontaneous way: in short, there was a great willingness to do things outside the box and the conventions, something which today is a bit lost.

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At this time, however, other aspects of this event remain a mystery, including the reason Leonard Cohen was in Rome in 1974.  There were no concerts scheduled in Italy that year and, except for these photos, none of the online sources or biographies I checked  nor the Cohen cognoscenti I contacted could offer any pertinent information.

Update: More information about this event can be found at Leonard Cohen’s 1974 Appearance At The University Of Rome: Performance & Book Promo

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is found on a handful of websites and at the Francesco Donadio Facebook page. The second photo was contributed by Dominique BOILE.

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  1. See  Leonard Cohen Performs In “Italian Classroom Undergoing Revolutionary Redecoration” 1970s []