Thursday, July 16, 2009

Leonard Cohen visits a friend in Verdun

This is a story told by Montreal poet Leonard Cohen sometime in the early 1960s. I heard it while listening to the NFB documentary on Leonard Cohen called Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen.

I realize that posting this story may bend the original focus of this storyblog (I was supposed to be posting stories told by me, myself, and I), but I do think it stays in line with its spirit: celebrating good stories in all their forms.

If you want to hear the story, I may post it later at the end of this post. Enjoy!

The other time I was in quarters such as these was when I visited the Verdun Mental Hospital in Montreal. I was visiting a friend. He was on a top floor and I asked him, while he was still lucid, where I could get a coffee. He said downstairs, which was one of those famous last words.

I commenced the decent of several similar stone corridors and I found myself in a kind of arena, which was surrounded by closed doors. It had been a hot afternoon and I removed my jacket as I have been moved to do. I left it with my friend who, though mentally ill, was no thief. I suspect he wasn't even mentally ill: he was doing this instead of college.

I stood watching the four or five doors, wondering about all the possibilities except for the one that occurred.

A door opened and two large men in white uniforms walked out. And they said "Where are you supposed to be now?"

I said, "In the cafeteria."

They nodded to each other. "WHERE are you supposed to be now?"


Well, as their questions continued, my answers continued. And although they started out innocently enough, now began to sound as though I were protesting too much. In fact, after being interrogated three or four more times, I was shouting and pushing them aside, causing them to run after me down the corridor.

It was only after a guard identified me that I was able to go back to the room of my friend, who had eaten my jacket.

-- Leonard Cohen
Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen
National Film Board

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jurgen goes to Heaven

Jurgen goes to Heaven,
but he can't get in because he's already there.

Why is he already there?
It's because his grandmother is already there.

And Heaven would not be Heaven
If Jurgen was not already there.

About which, no more.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Silence of Summer

I'm sorry to say I haven't posted very much this summer (only one post in June and already July with nothing to show for it). Just like the storytelling community in Montreal, summer seems to force us to rest.

Storytelling really is a fall-winter activity, best suited to fireplaces and intimate spaces. In summer, people want to be out there and experiencing stuff. The only exception to this seems to be the summer camp campfire. I've performed at a couple of summer camps and they are fun, especially when you show up out of the gloom of the night to tell a tale, maybe in a mask and cloak, and then disappear, existing only for the story.

I've picked up a couple of new books and I've been searching for that new story to learn. I also promised a charming lady that, for the price of a kiss, I was to write a new story based on a celtic legend. I'm still searching for a celtic tale that suits me, so I should have something soon.

Thanks for your patience and I hope you're enjoying the summer!
Copyright© 2010 John David Hickey