Thursday, March 2, 2017
There are detailed reports from psychiatrists and psychologists. Several describe him as a "schizophrenic boy", "latent schizophrenic" or "adolescent schizophrenic" although no clinical proof is ever given to support this diagnosis and several reports say he presents no symptoms of psychosis.
Peter has been unable to locate his birth parents. His adoptive parents are described in the records as authoritarian, rigid, cold, and ineffectual. Peter's father worked for the Royal Banks of Canada and his mother was a music teacher. When they refused to allow him to run his radio station in their basement and pursue a radio career, he threatened them verbally which led to his being sent to the Douglas in 1962 for the first time.
His records raise many questions: I am guessing his Air Force adoptive father may have enrolled him in Dr. Cameron's program where he was given LSD before age 9 (late 1950s) when he began presenting symptoms of psychosis and was hastily transferred to Dr. Lehmann --
His parents appear not to have cared for him, had no other children, and encouraged his early departure from their home. At age 16 he left for PEI to live with his then girlfriend.
Thank you, Pete! Miss you --
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
For all its studied naivete, Marianne Ihlen's book could be a cautionary tale about the dangers of swimming in unknown waters.
Follow the money, and the CIA-MKULTRA connection. It's 1961 and Leonard's true whereabouts -- the Bay of Pigs invasion -- is not even mentioned even though it's well documented elsewhere and Marianne had to know, even if only in retrospect. Fall of 1961: six months later, payment has materialized and she leaves her mother's house in Oslo to live with Leonard in Montreal, a short walk from the Allan Memorial Institute -- she doesn't mention Dr Cameron, just that the couple lived for a time in spacious luxury, along with baby Axel, son of Norwegian novelist Axel Jensen.
No explanation for where the money supporting this lifestyle came from, only that it wasn't from poetry, or even the alleged "television series" that Leonard was working on with Irving Layton. Also it didnt last long because soon they were back on Hydra scrounging for cast off clothes and furniture. So I think this 1961 windfall came courtesy of Allen Dulles and his ragtag Cuban brigade that took Leonard to Havana and probably served as the inspiration for one of his very first songs, "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes."
Because I knew these people, years later, I find the artsy cover story trite - why do people buy the "flowers on the table" nonsense? It was not a stable or happy relationship even in 1960, before Leonard took off for America, and Marianne sent her 6 month old son to her mother in Norway on a SAS plane after meeting some pilots in the port of Hydra. After her baby departs for the north, Marianne stays on Hydra with Leonard, who was perfectly capable of putting his own flowers on the table. Maybe he needed a cook and bedmate -- although we're told that most of the housework was done by a neighbour, Kiria Sophia. What kept her and Leonard so occupied in their new life together, before their long drive up to Norway? As someone else has noted, everything about 1960 seems slightly iffy and dreamlike, at times cringe-worthy, as writing can be when it's avoiding some unmentionable truth. My guess is that Leonard was getting ready to go to America on a mission, which entailed a period of training before the CIA invasion brigade reached Cuba in the spring of 1961.
Significantly that same year, Marianne's estranged husband was spending much time with his new American girlfriend Patricia whose life revolved around the US base in Athens. Later he would write that he felt "banished" from Hydra (he had wrecked their house in a fit of rage one night, propelling Marianne into the arms of her Canadian poet admirer who lived up the hill.) We learn of Jensen mainly through his letters, usually angry in tone and content, however he never seems to have a bad word to say about the man who took his wife and child. "Leonard has the gift of making himself admired," writes Jensen, "which is why I will keep myself lurking in the background." It almost sounds, at times, as if the two men were cronies instead of rivals. Although broke (like Leonard, he never made real money from writing) the elder Jensen flies off to Mexico to be with his mysterious American friend (handler?) John Starr Cooke, over the winter of 1960- 1961. Cooke feeds him LSD and later Axel and Leonard get their novels reviewed and become famous writers overnight although reviews are just mixed--
(That same year LIFE magazine puts together a feature on the artists of Hydra, showcasing Leonard in particular, as a guitar-playing entertainer although at the time he had not yet written any song. The article is never published and Marianne doesn't mention it in her memoir, but many of her Hydra circle appear in the photos. LIFE Magazine was heavily CIA-controlled, of course, and Hydra writer, George Johnston, was one of its stringers, although by 1960 he was ill with tuberculosis.S0 1960 was some sort of turning point, not just for Leonard and Marianne, but for the island -- stars were rising, powerful people were taking notice -- or perhaps all this was being orchestrated from elsewhere? )
LSD played a bigger role on the island than one would expect in 1960 and also later on. Marianne notes that the wife of Hydra resident John Cassipides was the daughter of LSD guru Aldous Huxley. For anyone familiar with the history of the Tavistock Institute, and its role in promoting the "counter-culture", it should be clear that all this was happening a little early. Either these future cultural icons were amazingly prescient in their drug-taking habits, or someone was the handing them the blueprint for what would become Flower Power and the sixties "revolution". Like her fellow island-dwellers who were busy breaking up their marriages in an endless cycle of drinking and partying, Marianne went along with the trends before they were really trendy.
Later (ca 1967) the same "John Starr Cooke" character invites Marianne to his Oaxaca estate where he feeds her more LSD -- apparently the only form of therapy available at the time. You have to wonder about the presence of so many well-funded gurus whose only job is to encourage people to turn in, tune in and drop out. A daughter of Aldous Huxley marries into the Hydra art community - how could all this not be, somehow, outside the realm of coincidence? Rather it seems that Hydra was chosen as a floating human laboratory, a place to bring together a flock of "unstables" - a social engineering term for change-bringers, the kind of people who influence others to accept new ideas and ways of life.
Maybe what Leonard saw in Marianne, was not just a Muse -- I'm sure she was one -- but also a borrowed wife and child to serve as a foil for his secret activities? Am I being cynical for suspecting his motives in living with a woman he repeatedly cheated on and eventually abandoned?
In one letter he refers to Axel Jensen's son, baby Axel, as "Barnet" (?) What were they all thinking? Apparently nobody including Marianne really wanted this little boy. Not mentioned: When he was 11 baby Axel took LSD provided by wealthy Hydra resident and self-appointed guru George Lialios. The story of little Axel is one of the saddest chapters in the history of this famous couple - today he remains a casuality, permanently residing in a mental institution in Norway. How could Marianne not have realized their magical mystery tour would end tragically as she packed the boy off to private schools in Switzerland, then to Summerhill in the UK, ignoring his pleas to be rescued from this experiment? In the end Axel joined a lost generation that included Lilly Mack's son Sergei and Magda ' s Alexander, both drug takers and drug dealers. Although Sergei has survived, Alexander died young of complications from a sponge diving accident - I was on Hydra in 1981 when the accident happened.
When will these Hydra cover stories stop dipping into the same barrel of clichés? Yes, the expatriates who flocked to the island were talented and young and ready to do anything to make it - but let's not pretend all this is only about the artistic life. Some were artists but others were mercenaries and intelligence operatives in search of a safe haven to do business. Art was present but - especially after the Greek junta (timed to coincide with the Flower Power revolution) -- the real money came from inherited fortunes, as well as drugs and weapons. When Leonard and Marianne arrived on Hydra, Operation Gladio was in full swing -- and western governments and their intelligence arms were intent on taking control of culture in order to engineer future generations. All this was part of the agenda that aimed to profit the wealthy - and Greece was a magnet for all kinds of offshore investments. Ambitious young writers seeking quick fame and fortune soon learned they needed to moonlight to get by - and the rewards for secret work in the service of the CIA could be impressive.
TWO DAYS LATER
Now that I've finished, I'm giving it 3 stars instead of 2. Later chapters had more to offer - including inadvertent insights into the 'hidden hand' operating behind the curtain of Leonard and Marianne's lives, but I can't list them all right now. It seems more than odd that Axel Jensen just happened to check into R.D. Laing's private clinic in London for more LSD and therapy. There is a colourful chapter set in Mexico where Marianne goes seeking solace with Axel's American guru "John Smith" - whose teachings come straight out of Esalen and sensitivity training. A strange and compelling chapter about New York in the Chelsea Hotel days as Leonard was starting to make a career in music - while Marianne struggles with poverty and abandonment on Clinton Street -- reveals much sadness and desperation between the lines.
Marianne at times comes across as a lost creature -- not at all how I had imagined her. I met her once, on Hydra, in 1981 - she had recently remarried and seemed solid, sane, and matronly if shy and withdrawn. As she looks back, in her seventies, at her life as one half of a legendary couple, she seems incapable of seeing through the myths, the amazing deceptions, that made up the legend. But this is true of all the characters, even the hyper-critical novelist Axel Jensen whom she married, and his poetry-spewing rival Leonard Cohen who never really noticed other people.
So Long, Marianne is peopled by ghosts who gave themselves up to the poisoned zeitgeist, sacrificing heir own, ant others', lives in pursuit of fame and momentary 'enlightenment' --
When I closed the book last night, my overwhelming feeling was of pity for the players in this tragedy -- but I'll probably have more to say later. For another account of what Hydra and Leonard were like in the early 80s, read my self-published memoir The Man Next Door. There was more going on than Marianne Ihlen's ghost-written book merely hints at.
View all my reviews
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
was originally THIS:
There's a story here waiting to be told...
Listen to the hummingbird
Whose wings you cannot see
Listen to the hummingbird
Don’t listen to me.
Listen to the butterfly
Whose days but number three
Listen to the butterfly
Don’t listen to me.
Listen to the mind of God
Which doesn’t need to be
Listen to the mind of God
Don’t listen to me.
( Leonard Cohen )
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Multiply those thousand kisses by the 4,000 women he boasted of having over the course of his life. And think about what that does to a man, just for a moment -- not to mention the damage to the women.worshipful way people talk about him. It's disorienting for people who knew him, as the real, screwed up guy he was -- in fact, without his screwed-up-ness he would have been totally boring. He did not present himself in a superior light to those he met, in fact he preferred to come across as a hunchback or leper -- that was his style, his charm, his peculiar calling in life. He treated people as equals. Except secretly of course, he must have wanted to be worshipped because at the end of his life he had millions of fans around the world speaking of him in breathless superlatives. On the surface, he was well spoken and polite, like some incarnated Buddha radiating holy wisdom with every thought, word and deed. He worked his way into our souls, through a lifetime of misery.
And for the trolls who keep spamming the Comments:
A FEW OBSERVATIONS BASED ON DECADES OF LIVING NEXT DOOR, OR AROUND THE CORNER, OR UP THE STREET FROM LEONARD COHEN AS WE SHARED A NEIGHBOURHOOD AND A NUMBER OF CONTACTS:
* He lied often, e.g. in order to manage situations that he had created. He used his loyal followers to help him manage his complicated affairs. When confronted with his own lies, he was brilliant and elusive.
* He turned his nannies and other women into accomplices in his sometimes unconscionable, secretive behaviour – .
* He was a drug addict and alcoholic – he used drugs and booze to mask his depression. How much of his depression was really guilt caused by having to live with the consequences of his own actions, whether he remembered them clearly or not?
* He lied about Kelley Lynch whom he accused of stealing his money. This has never been proved in a court of law.
* He lied to the Roshi about his real reasons for going to India in 2000. They had nothing to do with 'spiritual enlightenment.'
* While adopting an image as a peaceful, impeccably kind and reasonable sage, he absolutely believed in violence. He owned guns and was trained in using them. How does that align with his public image?
* He had a number of apparently separate personalities – with different goals, different relationships, and secret histories. The likely cause of his dissociative behaviour is the documented fact that he was a victim of CIA mind control at one of the leading institutions where this program was created. He was probably a Manchurian Candidate since he went on missions to Cuba, Greece, and Ethiopia. He hid these facts about his early career while sometimes mentioning them in his writing, private conversations etc.
* He was skilled at psychological warfare techniques including ‘gaslighting’ – which he used on many people including myself, for years. He also understood the uses of gossip and 'fake news', particularly to discredit people he was close to. He both created chaos around him and meticulously managed it.
I'll be exploring these topics further in the second edition of THE MAN NEXT DOOR. Coming soon. (Paintings by Dianne Lawrence and David Wilson)
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Adam Cohen's message on the death of his father, Leonard
November 12 at 10:44pm
· My sister and I just buried my father in Montreal. With only immediate family and a few lifelong friends present, he was lowered into the ground in an unadorned pine box, next to his mother and father. Exactly as he’d asked. 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. There’s so much I wish I could thank him for, just one last time. I’d thank him for the comfort he always provided, for the wisdom he dispensed, for the marathon conversations, for his dazzling wit and humor. I’d thank him for giving me, and teaching me to love Montreal and Greece. And I’d thank him for music; first for his music which seduced me as a boy, then for his encouragement of my own music, and finally for the privilege of being able to make music with him. Thank you for your kind messages, for the outpouring of sympathy and for your love of my father.
Message from the blogger known as Ann Diamond
Although I knew it had to happen someday, I wasn't prepared to hear the news last Thursday night, as I sat reading about Donald Trump's victory in the US elections. First it arrived as a text from a friend but I didn't believe it. A minute later another text arrived, and another, and then there were links to Leonard's Facebook site and Rolling Stone. That's when I started thinking it might not be a hoax after all. Finally, CBC's Peter Mansbridge made the announcement and nothing could be more final for a Canadian. In my shock I received an email Inviting me to talk about him early the following morning on CTV Toronto. I was grateful for the chance to say goodbye. Over the next 24 hours, I got two more requests to talk about Leonard from the perspective of someone who had known him.
I knew parts of him. Death seemed to unify the parts and bring them closer. It was like being back at Zero, where birth and death are one. Or like the shock of our first meeting.
Later I learned he had died on Monday, November 7. I need to check my journal but I believe we met on that day, 39 years ago, 11/7/1977. If accurate, that would be eerie. Thirty-nine is three times thirteen, the number of years I lived next door to him. When I was 39, he took my photo and said "Now you look very much like yourself." That was 26 years ago, or 2 x 13. And I was 26 when I met him so that's lots of thirteens.
In fact I owe my life to Leonard Cohen. That is a fact he never mentioned, as it would have been too traumatic, but it ran in the background of our friendship even through the years when we were no longer on speaking terms. Like many things that are true, it can probably never be proven, but it seems appropriate to mention it here.
That plus the fact that I will miss him, although these days he's hard to miss, being everywhere. He was like no one else, and now that he's gone, there is even less chance that he can be replaced. Let alone captured.
So now we can go on missing him, forever.
I've been shooting phone videos of the crowd at Leonard's house opposite the park. I used to live around the corner, for 13 years, so it seemed like the normal thing to do. It was my old neighbourhood too.
On Wednesday I ended up at the fresh grave on Mount Royal -- I hadnt intended to go there but all my appointments were mysteriously cancelled and I had nothing better to do than climb to the cemetery, a half hour walk in mist and drizzle. At the grave site, three people were standing looking down at a fresh patch of sod, two plastic-wrapped bunches of wilting flowers and a drooping white rose -- forbidden in Judaism and probably left there the day before by unsuspecting Catholics. The three visitors all spoke French. One said "This empty space is really in the image of Leonard."
Someone had pinned a poem to the sod with a rock, in what looked like Leonard's handwriting, describing a wonderful conversation they had and how he 'understood'. There were about two dozen small rocks on the headstone, which was blank, not yet inscribed with his name. I said I had known him personally. The taller man left, and the remaining couple started taking photos of each other beside the modest plot. They offered to take mine. I forgot to look sad -- in fact I look deliriously happy -- this is how farewells affect me. After the couple left I hung around in the fog for about an hour. Leonard's barely noticeable grave directly faces another belonging to someone named "FRAID." I sat on the base of FRAID's tombstone but couldn't think of much to say except "Sorry."
I can't understand why there was no actual funeral. When his friends Pierre Trudeau and Irving Layton died, Leonard became pallbearer. I think people were expecting a procession or motorcade, and a huge crowd at Paperman's funeral home. Instead, nothing happened. They say he wanted it that way. He died suddenly in his sleep after a fall before dawn on Tuesday morning (of the election). They shipped the body to Montreal. There was a report that he was already buried before his death was announced on Thursday evening, but his son Adam issued a statement the following Saturday in which he said they had just come from the cemetery. The Globe and Mail wrote that only 15 close friends and relatives attended.
If this all sounds a bit strange, it's because it is.
In lieu of any public ceremony or state funeral, Leonard's house has become an outdoor shrine with hundreds of flowers and candles filling the sidewalk opposite the little park where there was an impromptu concert last Saturday.
Death is not what it used to be. Death is exactly like birth and triggers a simultaneous expansion and contraction that erases conscious thought. We are back at the moment before anything has begun to be spoiled.
Followers of the way, don't be fooled. As Leonard once said, "Nothing is always happening."