Leonard Cohen Is Not Gone

By Steve Silkin

THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF LITERATURE has featured only the rarest examples of lyrics to songs that were played on the radio or stages of concert halls. Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” is one of them. Even divorced from the droning, wistful melody, the subtext evokes the lightness and weight of the ideal love an artist has for his muse. “And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind / And you know that she will trust you / For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.”

Cohen died on Nov. 7 at the Los Angeles home of his son Adam and daughter Lorca. He was 82. His passing follows the recent release of “You Want It Darker,” which Adam helped him produce at their upstairs studio while the great singer-songwriter was struck with limited mobility. The New Yorker profiled Cohen on the occasion of the album’s release. The writer of the profile was the magazine’s editor David Remnick, leader of the standard-bearing publication of American letters. Remnick wasn’t going to assign this baby. This one, he must’ve said to himself, is mine.

Let us take a brief tour of the man’s catalog. The obituaries noted that he was seen as the Continue reading “Leonard Cohen Is Not Gone”

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I Tell You Story So Crazy That You Maybe No Believe But Is True Story

By KAMAL P. JEAN ‘PANTHERE’ (as told to Steve Silkin)

NOV. 8 2016: ELECTION DAY. Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. I signed up to be a poll clerk and was sent to the voting place in an apartment across the street from my childhood haunt, Topanga Plaza. On my lunch break, I walked around the corner to a Starbucks and sat down to relax. A Middle Eastern gentleman soon took the table next to me and began loading his laptop with downloaded music. We chatted about this and that, and he told me he was a deejay who had just arrived from a long residence at clubs in New York. Kamal P. Jean “Panthere” was his name, French for panther, as he’d first gigged in Belgium. I told him I’d just finished editing the memoirs of a World War II Latino fighter pilot who had been there during the Battle of the Bulge. He was excited when he found out that I was a writer, because he had met some quite interesting characters during his stay in New York and told me about some of them. Of course, it’s possible that I actually fell asleep in the Starbucks and dreamed this. But I seem to remember that this is what he said:

Is story of boy name Omar. They give him little job keep busy tell him bring goats to field in morning, let them eating grass, then bringing them back goat pen in one hour or when they stop eat, but they never stop eat, so he just bring them back when he feel tiredness.

So Omar do this each day. Omar parents happy, Omar happy, goats happy. Everybody happy. All good.

But one day Omar go pee on fence. Is that day story become terrible story not happy.

Electric fence so nobody steal goats which was problem before Omar born so Omar father Ali-Hooli put electric fence keep goats for milk and make more goats.

Tell Omar never touch on electric fence. But he did not telling Omar explain why, and why no pee near electric fence.

So one day Omar have to make big pee and so big stream hit fence but make no zapping Continue reading “I Tell You Story So Crazy That You Maybe No Believe But Is True Story”