Leonard Cohen, universally loved and celebrated poet and songwriter quietly passed away in his home in Mid-City at the age of 82. Although the notoriously low key artist had property in several places around the world he spent much of his time quietly and without notice within the TNN borders in a modest home he owned for nearly 40 years. He also spent years practicing Zen Buddhist meditation in the Rinzai-Ji Zen Center located in West Adams where he took on the duties as Zen master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki’s personal assistant.
There is not enough room in this magazine to talk about his accomplishments (which include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and entry in the Grammy Hall of Fame) but a quick google of his name or search on YouTube, will give you everything you need to know. Suffice to say, his voice, his vision, his poetry and music sang into the hearts of cultures around the world where he was revered by the most famous and the most destitute.
His poetry was often infused with mystical vision:
“Oh chosen love, Oh frozen love
Oh tangle of matter and ghost
Oh darling of angels, demons and saints
And the whole broken-hearted host
Gentle this soul”
“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
An understanding and love of women:
If you want a lover
I'll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I'll wear a mask for you
If you want a partner, take my hand, or
If you want to strike me down in anger
Here I stand
I'm your man
I’m Your Man
Mr. Cohen was a friend of mine for over 35 years. I created the portrait used on his 1979 album Recent Songs, designed his hummingbird logo and created a collage of the important influences in his life, which he used as the VIP pass for one of his last tours. By introducing me to some of his monk associates, he was indirectly responsible for my presence in the West Adams community when, over 30 years ago, I moved into one of the Rinzai-Ji houses on 25th St.. and Adams. I currently live across from the Zen Center.
Leonard had a reputation for being a ladies man but he was also a huge supporter of women’s talent. He was an early patron and champion of The Neighborhood News. “I love the Neighborhood News!” he once told me. “That and the New York Times are the only publications I go to for my news.” Even though he was known for his droll sense of humor I like to think this was true. It is often difficult for anyone trapped in celebrity to engage with their neighborhoods and TNN satisfied his sincere desire to know about his community and its residents.
Cohen expressed great affection for his neighbors and often frequented Maria’s café above the old bowling alley at Midtown Shopping Center. He was very upset when they closed it down. “Where will we all go?” he lamented along with the rest of us.
Leonard is survived by his loving son and daughter Adam and Lorca Cohen and three beloved grandchildren.
Adam, who helped produce Leonards last album summed up his dad in an eloquent and perfect description, "
“As I write this I’m thinking of my father’s unique blend of self-deprecation and dignity, his approachable elegance, his charisma without audacity, his old-world gentlemanliness and the hand-forged tower of his work,”
Leonard was buried in his hometown of Montreal next to his family in a traditional Jewish ceremony and although the community has lost an illustrious neighbor it has gained another jewel in its fascinating history.
To learn more about Leonard Cohen's life, you can watch the documentary Leonard Cohen “I’m Your Man” or read my review of it at
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.