Just to show I'm not the only person given to occasional fits of
nostalgia :-), here's a piece from Vanity Fair in which people who
stayed at the famous "melting pot" of New York music and art creativity
look back at their times there. I read it only because they listed my
friend Robert Crumb as one of the contributors, and I was curious as to
what he would say. (His comments were just SO Robert, and nailed it

But the piece did remind me of a lovely song written by Leonard Cohen,
so I listened to it again this morning and I'll pass that along to those
who either know it or who don't, but might like it if they did. It was
one of *his* rare nostalgia songs, written for Janis Joplin when he
learned of her death.


Risking the ire of those who have a samskara about name-dropping :-), I
*have* run into both principals in this song in my life -- Leonard
briefly at a TM wedding in L.A., and Janis back during her
pre-really-famous years when we were hiring San Francisco bands for the
rock concerts/light shows we promoted in college. That's why a couple of
lines in the song strike me as poignant.

And clenching your fist for the ones like us
Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty
You fixed yourself, you said, 'Well, never mind
We are ugly, but we have the music.'

THAT captures the Janis Joplin I observed in the early days, back before
her fame earned her enough money to pay for dermabrasion to remove the
physical scars of adolescent acne that had so disfigured her face. As
powerful as she was up on stage, offstage there was still an aspect of
the girl who had been called ugly pretty much every day of her life as
she grew up. At least she had somewhat of a sense of humor about it,
judging from this line from the song:

You told me again you preferred handsome men
But for me you would make an exception

Now THAT is funny, because although Leonard could never be considered
classically handsome, he had such charisma that even at that time he was
the considered the epitome of the term "ladies man" in music circles.

Among all of the self-important reminiscences of the hotel related by
self-important people, Leonard's song still reigns supreme. I think it's
nice that he took the time to remember the woman whose face may have
been scarred but whose heart -- even then -- was a legend.

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