February 12, 2010

The List of Leonard Cohen nicknames

I’m still waiting for my copy of Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists which I wrote about at the end of last year (someone out there seems to be enjoying The Infinity of Reading an Umberto Eco Book), but in the meantime I want to applaud this List of Nicknames for Leonard Cohen which Graham Beattie posted on his blog this month after coming across it in the newsletter of the International Institute of Modern Letters.

Nicknames for Leonard Cohen

Lord Byron Of Rock’n’Roll
Bard Of The Boudoir
Ladies Man
Grandson Of The Prince Of Grammarians
Master Of Erotic Despair
Master Of Romantic Despair
High Priest Of Pathos
Poet Laureate Of Pessimism
Grocer Of Despair
Prophet of Despair
Poet Laureate Of Commitophobes
Bard Of Bedsits
Dr. Kevorkian Of Song
Beautiful Creep
Godfather Of Gloom
Prince Of Bummers
Troubadour Of Travail
Laughing Len
Laughing Lennie
Captain Mandrax
Poet of Rock and Roll
Master of the Egg Salad Sandwich
Poet of the Holy Sinners
Poet Of Existential Despair
Jikan, Jikan The Useless Monk, Silent One
Poet Of Bedsit Angst
Gloom Merchant
Bourgeois Individualist Poet
Grand Master of Melancholia
Durable Hipster
Legendary Ladies Man
Existential Comedian
Spin Doctor For The Apocalypse
Grizzled Prophet
Damaged Priest
Hippie Icon
Apocalyptic Lounge Lizard
Jeremiah Of Tin Pan Alley
Amiable Gangster
Poetic Playboy
Emotional Imperialist
Restless Pilgrim
Patron Saint Of Angst
Smiling Dada Of Despair
Montreal Mensch
Prince of Pain and Crown Prince of Pain
Joking Troubadour of Gloom and Troubadour of Gloom
Master Of Sexy Melancholy
High Priest Of Solitude
Disappearing Mr. Mysterioso
Master Of Misery
Maestro Of Melancholy
Poet Of Love
Patron Saint Of Disappointment
Prince of Precision
Poet Of Pleasure And Pain
Bard of Our Great Depression
Godfather Of Miserablism
Coolest White Man On The Planet
Poet Of Swinging Suicides
Master Of Duende
Bleak Baritone
Troubadour Of Love
Cat In The Hat
Mel Torme of the Terminally Downbeat

I like this list because it’s funny, but also because of how … dedicated it is, like its compiler, Dr. H. Guy, whose website 1HeckofaGuy (where the list is posted) is not just about Leonard Cohen, but mostly it is. I wonder if Umberto Eco knows about the list, perhaps I’ll find a mention of it in his book, possibly in Chapter 9, “The rhetoric of enumeration”.

He would certainly appreciate Dr. Guy's use of scholarly footnotes. Myself, I had a moment of confusion due to mixing up the footnote numbers with the nickname numbers, which made it seem as though “The Master of the Egg Salad Sandwich” appeared in a Jewish newspaper whereas it actually came from Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend. This did give me a chance to learn about Montreal’s Jewish literary scene and LC’s views on Israel, though, while I was trying to figure out the Jewish connection with Egg Salad.

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Photo by Art Siegel
The website contains many other Leonard Cohen gems – quotes and photos old and new, plus things like how to know if you're at a Bruce Springsteen concert or a Leonard Cohen concert, not to mention a commemorative video made by Dr. Guy in celebration of LC’s 2008-2009 World Tour, with the fantastic title:
Dear Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Tour.
I Hope It Was Good For You, Too.

If, like me, you missed the concert, the one Bookman Beattie says was the best live concert he has ever been to, get the DVD Leonard Cohen Live in London from the library. It won’t be like having been there, but it's definitely memorable all the same.

That's great, but how does this connect to Books?

It's because back in the 1960s, Leonard Cohen wrote two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers. And...

Last year Auckland City Libraries inaugurated a Reading Challenge, in which people read their way across a tic-tac-toe card where each square was labelled with a different genre – crime, romance, adventure etc. - to go in the draw for a prize. Hundreds of readers proved to be happy to give the road less travelled by a chance, but as readers are creative souls, there were some fun discussions at check-out time when it came to deciding which squares qualified to be stamped.

My favourite was the one Stevie at Central Library told me about, a woman who wanted Beautiful Losers to count for her “Romance” square. This is what happens when they republish books and put artistic new covers on them. Now it's a photo of Leonard Cohen (or a Leonard Cohenish figure in fedora hat and raincoat) in the Underground with a pithy quote from Michael Ondaatje, but the original cover featured the author’s own list – worthy of being included in The infinity of lists' Chapter 16, “Coherent excess”– of what his book was about:

"BEAUTIFUL LOSERS is a love story, a psalm, a Black Mass, a monument, a satire, a prayer, a shriek, a road map through the wilderness, a joke, a tasteless affront, an hallucination, a bore, an irrelevant display of diseased virtuosity, a Jesuitical tract, an Orange sneer, a scatological Lutheran extravagance, in short, a disagreeable religious epic of incomparable beauty."

The "in short" reminds me of the famous Leonard Cohen story where an interviewer asked him to describe himself in five words, and he replied "Oh, the seven deadly sins."

Are you thinking, well at least she didn’t try to say it was “Chick lit”?  Yes, you're right, she didn't. It was John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick that she wanted to claim for that.

 ************
if you'd like to try the books:
The favourite game by Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
The witches of Eastwick by John Updike

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 05:30
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