A Day in the Life of Zen Monk Leonard Cohen: A 1996 Documentary


I don’t think anybody really knows why they’re doing anything. If you stop someone on the subway and say, “Where are you going – in the deepest sense of the word?” you can’t really expect an answer. I really don’t know why I’m here. It’s a matter of “What else would I be doing?” Do I want to be Frank Sinatra, who’s really great, and do I want to have great retrospectives of my work? I’m not really interested in being the oldest folksinger around. 

– Leonard Cohen, speaking to author Pico Iyer in April 1998

As director Armelle Brusq’s 1996 documentary, above, shows, singer-songwriter—and yes—Zen monk Leonard Cohen’s routine at the Mount Baldy Zen Center outside Los Angeles extended beyond the usual mindfulness practice. His simple quarters were outfitted with a computer, printer, radio, and a Technics KN 3000 synthesizer. He sometimes doffed his robes to enter the recording studio or enjoy a bowl of soup at Canter’s Deli. Comparatively, his worldly attachments were few, divvied between the professionally necessary and the fond. Still, calling his daughter, Lorca, to pass along a veterinarian’s update, Cohen sounds every inch the doting Jewish dad.

Read the full post via Open Culture  http://ow.ly/P9GzZ

Amanda Palmer Reads Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska’s Poem “Life While-You-Wait”

“Consolation for those moments when you feel “ill-prepared for the privilege of living.”

via Brain Pickings http://ow.ly/P9B0L

Brain Pickings: Amanda Palmer Reads Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska’s Poem “Life While-You-Wait”

One spring evening not too long ago, I joined the wonderful Amanda Palmer on a small and friendly stage at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music and we read some Polish poetry together from Map: Collected and Last Poems(public library) — the work of Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska (July 2, 1923–February 1, 2012), for whom we share deep affection and admiration.

When Szymborska was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996 “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality,” the Nobel commission rightly called her “the Mozart of poetry” — but, wary of robbing her poetry of its remarkable dimension, added that it also emanates “something of the fury of Beethoven.” I often say that she is nothing short of Bach, the supreme enchanter of the human spirit.


Amanda has previously lent her beautiful voice to my favorite Szymborska poem, “Possibilities,” and she now lends it to another favorite from this final volume, “Life While-You-Wait” — a bittersweet ode to life’s string of unrepeatable moments, each the final point in a fractal decision tree of what-ifs that add up to our destiny, and a gentle invitation to soften the edges of the heart as we meet ourselves along the continuum of our becoming.

Please enjoy from Brain Pickings

My Friend The Therapist And Santa

My Friend The Therapist And Santa…

My friend who is a therapist asked me not too long ago, as a friend, and not a therapist, what love looked like to me. Because she is a therapist I naturally assumed she meant how did it “feel”.

The first of many strange thoughts that came was of Santa Claus. That feeling you have as a child knowing he was coming, or that he had been there because the cookies had been eaten, and the milk was all gone. You know, all the good things before you find out Santa is a lie, that the radio station, and Millers Hardware spared no expense to provide detailed reports of his trip from the North Pole. That the reindeer at the mall lived on a farm outside of town and were in great danger of dying and disease because it is so damn hot here in the South during summer.

Her question and my thoughts were a result of a discussion about you. The discussion where,  as a friend and not a therapist, she stated I should run for my life because it sounded as if you were actually capable of  surgically removing my penis while I slept, and laughing about it. I had to laugh (uneasily) at that visual, for a number of reasons but mainly because my second mother in law had told me basically the same thing about her daughter. I didn’t listen to her either, and here I am, divorced, penis in hand. Good thing I relied on Jesus and not Santa for that I suppose.

So, faced with that irony, and the question having been posed by my friend the therapist, who asked as a friend, and not as a therapist “what love looked like” to me, I was forced to answer that I had no fucking clue.

Twirling Blade. Twinkling Snowflakes. The Patina of Bloodline Oak


Sitting at the table,
the worlds problems being solved,
he rolls the silvery blade
between his fingers.

An accomplished knife thrower.
One false move, or true move
starts, or ends it all.
Twinkling pink snowflakes dance.

The table.
The bloodline legacy.
Ten years of
grandfather’s pennies.

Time spent wondering,
past the mirror to his soul.
The worlds problems are
solved in silence and paranoia.

through the oak patina,
what that sheen looks like
from the inside out

The smell was
of dirt and mold,
not of nothing
and blood.

It started out so fresh.
The first so clean and free.
He loathed conceding
he was, wondering.

Which would be cleaner ?
Which would be more free ?
Shimmering pink snowflakes,
or hypnotic sparkling edge ?

Twirling silvery blade between fingers.
The accomplished gambler
in his own Monte Carlo.
Waiting, for the one true move.

The ball drop into a numbered pit
on the spinning patinaed oak wheel.
The one false move that ends it all.
Twinkling pink snowflakes dancing.


v2 redux