Happy Birthday Leonard Cohen

Today Leonard Cohen is 81 years old. Any lover of poetry and song has to acknowledge his influence if not his overwhelming charm, intellect and insight, aside from his stamina. The man endures but his words linger. Almost every occasion recalls a Leonard Cohen lyric to me.

I first heard of him in story, reading about Joni Mitchell’s love life when I was everything Joni as a young teen. Legend has it that they were lovers, his appearance cited in ‘A Case of You’ (“Just before our love got lost you said, ‘I am as constant as a northern star,’ and I said, ‘Constantly in the darkness. Where’s that at. If you want me I’ll be in the bar.'”)

I had never heard his music, which I would not have understood or liked back then anyhow. I much later came upon his name when I heard one of his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright in the movie Shrek, not knowing it was his song. The lyrics moved me so at the time, a time of longing for me for some unknown missing piece I could not identify, could not silence the wind whistling through its gap.

Since then, I got to see him in concert at a lovely venue in Los Angeles with a long-time fan (and beloved), who opened my eyes to the man whose music I had heard and lyrics I had known most of my life. It was like coming home to witness this stylized crooner-sidechick act, the beat poet gone show-time while the words rang and rang and rang. His poetry attracted me like a siren with a bad smoking habit; I love the gruffness in his swagger and throat.

Happy birthday, Mr. Cohen. You know you’re immortal when….

there are 60 versions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ Ranked.  I still like number 3 the best, Wainwright’s version.

Speak Up!

I am all over this video, which captures the gist of a sticky issue. Freedom of speech means some will take a hit, get their feelings hurt, even re-live traumatic experiences by someone’s words. Better some take the hit than an important freedom for all be jeopardized.

Censorship belongs least on a college campus.

Perhaps we need to project ourselves on to the bloody battle fields and lie among bleeding out bodies of those who fought for that freedom in the American Revolution, or maybe we just need to think about this logically for a moment.

Teaching about human civilizations, i.e., becoming educated, entails learning about the hideous as well as the glorious. Do we stop studying the Civil War because some students identify as Southerners and may be offended by that period in history? Do we forget entire courses like criminal justice in law school because some students come to class as former crime victims? How have we become such boorish cowards that we fear our beliefs and values are so thin that they cannot withstand challenge, fine-tuning or amendment?

The Kentucky City clerk who refuses still to issue same sex marriage licenses even after a court decision denying her “right” not to issue them in accordance with her beliefs is emblematic of this mentality that “it’s my world and everyone else should live according to my rules” mentality–make me comfortable. Get another fucking job if you cannot perform this one in good conscience! Don’t go to college if you are not psychologically prepared to do so, being “triggered” by mocroaggressions.

The Constitution protects free speech. It’s the first amendment, a very brief, uncomplicated, simply worded two lines that most people can read if they are educated beyond the fourth grade. It does not protect sensibilities. I challenge anyone to find that Constitutional protection, not even in the “penumbras” of the Bill of Rights, where the right to privacy was extracted.

While I am a full supporter of sensitivity–mindful of the grand diversity of beliefs and experiences–education, particularly beyond K through 12, just like comfort is not a right, just as any given job is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution. They are privileges. Necessities, but privileges nonetheless, the same as a driver’s license.

Rights vs. privileges: it’s important to know the difference.

Sure, some people will use their words as weapons, spew hate speech, but that is not the speech that is protected under the Constitution, out of which the Supreme Court has carved exceptions. The violation is one of human respect, decency and citizenship, as well as codified laws.

Eleanor Roosevelt, or whomever the sentiment is attributed to, said it best when recalling that no one can insult you without your consent: you know, sticks and stones and all that. Behaviors–like refusing people their legal rights to be married (not to mention be happy) because you happen to be in a position to do just that by your job title–are another matter.

As a civilized, democratic nation, we fight disagreeably offensive speech with more speech, counter and other speech.

First world problems are so wacky, the taken-for-granted privilege of living in a country where the luxury of sensibilities are even considered a topic of discussion. Crazy.

Lost in Translation…

…I think. One of Bollywood’s finest? Not sure about that but this was just wacky good fun–and so colorful–for the first two minutes, anyhow. :))

She’s Leaving Home

Not the right lyrics but the refrain is the same. We live like clichés: daughter leaving for college, we weep, we anguish, and we sever ourselves from ourselves to get past the pain. We cheer ourselves with thoughts of new beginnings and circle of life and metamorphoses, butterflies growing beautiful, upward flight past us.

It feels trite and real at the same time. Our lives have been captured in too many Hallmark poem-lets for sale.

I have anticipated this moment in my dreams (nightmares) since she was born, different shapes and scenery, but all the same theme: leaving.

She’s leaving home. Off to college, which will be her new temporary home in a new state. Whether the leaving is temporary or permanent is yet unknown.

In the meantime, I will be shoring up for the next one’s departure, estimated time of departure, two years or twenty.

Published on #RebelleSociety: Learning How to Shift Our Anger Out of Overdrive and Into Freedom



Please visit RebelleSociety.com and read the complete version of an essay I sketched on the blog a few days ago: Read it here.

Blogging has been a fruitful enterprise for me creatively speaking, and I am happy to have maintained my initial pursuit and purpose for it as a sort of notebook of ideas and writings, both complete and incomplete, wholly raw or somewhat polished.

When I find myself in mid-spasm of angry spume, I calm myself with a gratitude checklist, one item being the opportunity to write. This blog has facilitated that.

Thank you all for reading.  Here is a treat:



The Music of Ménage a Trois

In reality, it was an unusual but mutually agreeable menage a trois, whose intimacy is reflected in that extraordinary scene of the three of them, side by side in bed, sheltering from Hitler’s aerial bombardment.
Ursula was, in her own words, “fathoms deep in love”, but Williams told her he would never leave Adeline.

So she could only be the “icing on whatever cake he had, and not a disruptive influence”.

The fascinating story of poet Ursula Wood and British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was the subject of news in 2007 when she died at age 96, having succeeded her once-lover-then-husband by 50 years. She was 38 years his junior when they met at her prompting. At the time, Vaughan Williams was married to Adeline Fisher, cousin of Virginia Woolf, and Ursula to Michael Wood, an officer in the British army. Ursula Wood’s fascination and passionate love at first sight for the composer not only flattered the composer’s naturally roving eye for pretty women, but fueled his dying spirit as caretaker for his inherently cool natured wife who was eventually rendered immobile by rheumatoid arthritis.

When Wood entered the composer’s life, it was not long before the affair between them started. Her presence at the Vaughan Williams household was first legitimated under the auspices as young assistant and caretaker, but Adeline was shrewd enough to be credited with knowing the score. Thus, the excerpt above, which is detailed in The Daily Mail’s article by John Bridcut, as depicting Wood holding the hands of both the composer and his wife during a raid in 1944 by Hitler’s army.

Indeed, on one occasion, Ralph and his wife and Ursula and her husband all met up at the opera for what must have been a most uncomfortable evening, particularly as the opera (Williams’s own Hugh The Drover) was a romantic story of rivals in love.

After Vaughan Williams’ death, then Ursula Vaughan Williams kept the affair discreetly within her memory until her death in 2007 at which time the details were revealed by her own desire to have the true story told. Wood’s biography of her husband also provided the basis of the documentary by Bridcut, released shortly after her death.

Though it is unknown how Adeline felt about the affair right under her nose, by all appearances, however, she tolerated her husband’s relationship most likely knowing that he was a man of passion that she herself could not reciprocate whether due to her own nature or her illness or both. So, it is not far fetched to assume that rather than lose her husband, she accommodated.

Of all three, the story of patience is the most magnificent human attribute fleshed from their ménage a trois: his for caring for the wife he vowed he would not leave despite his love for Ursula, Ursula’s patient caring for both while she longed to be with him, and Adeline’s patient endurance of the love affair right before her eyes that had to hurt. Of the three, I admire Adeline the most for her practical concession of her exclusive rights to her husband’s monogamy, whether that was calculating to her own advantage or wise and charitable love in consideration of her husband’s needs, or both. 

I have maintained before that the mistress role is not easily doffed off with vilified stereotypes of cheating and deception. Sometimes–oftentimes–it is far more complicated with subtleties that reveal the intricacies of human nature adapting to circumstances, a fascinating anthropological, psychological and sociological study.

Felicitations on the Auspicious Occasion of Your Natal Day!

Congratulations to all who have survived another day

Opened their eyes to the sky and the light just to say

Thank you to whomever it pleases for my birth, today.


And in case you didn’t know, here is the skinny on birthday celebration ritual as we know it here in America today.

This is Why You Get to Celebrate Your Birthday Every Year.

  credit: happy birthday mistress 

Wait for the last one on this short video:  it’s worth it.