Page 9 of 12

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:43 am
by Dem

As we say in Greece "κάλλιο αργά παρά ποτέ!" (better late than never)

Hydra didn't forget it's "Λεονάρδο".


Re: Bench updates

Posted: Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:57 am
by ursula48
What a great surprise! The bench is wonderful!
It brings tears to my eyes to read the inscription.
Thank you Jarkko and all those who made this idea reality. I must admit I lost hope the bench would ever be constructed on Hydra.

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:13 pm
by MaryB
Dear Jarkko,

Thank you for the precious info and pics on the bench opening ceremony. It means so much to those of us who were involved but could not be there.

Most affectionate regards,

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:32 pm
by solongleonard
Further update - I sat on the bench again today. I chose the left hand corner as you stand with your back to the sea. Tomorrow I am plannng to try the right hand corner! It is raining quite a lot today and some people have used, what the Greeks call, "umbrellas" to divert the descending "drops" of rain from falling on their clothes or bodies. A couple of crazy Cohenites are not using "umbrellas" at all!!!

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:49 am
by B4real
MaryB wrote:
Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:13 pm
Dear Jarkko,

Thank you for the precious info and pics on the bench opening ceremony. It means so much to those of us who were involved but could not be there.

Most affectionate regards,
Ah Mary, my sentiments exactly!!
So fulfilling to see this finally completed and know that our contributions helped.
Thank you Jarkko and everyone else tirelessly doing the "hands on" jobs for well over two years to make this a reality.

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:21 am
by mutti
Yes I too thank you for the photos and all the hard work that went into making the bench a reality!
Leslie 8)

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:21 pm
by BlizzardofIce
So happy to finally see this!
Thank you for not giving up.

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:54 pm
by jarkko
And here is another panorama view for you - this is what you see when you sit on our bench!


Link to a hi-res version (1.4 MB):

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:01 pm
by MaryB
Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you Jarkko.

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:41 pm
by jarkko
From The Guardian, UK ... SApp_Other
Hallelujah: superfans keep Leonard Cohen's spirit alive in Greece

Fans of the late musician have been gathering on his former Greek island home to sing his songs, swap stories about him and unveil a bench overlooking the sea

Caroline Brothers
Monday 12 June 2017 17.53 BST

A round of applause broke out when the barman at the Roloi cafe hoisted a small red and white flag over the waterfront taverna – the unified heart symbol that the Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen used on the cover of one of his early poetry collections.

The first tourists of the season, a dozen at most, were gathered beneath it on the Greek island of Hydra where Cohen, who was yet to soar to fame as one of the most lyrical songwriters of his generation, arrived in 1960 to work on his poetry and novels.

This small group of travellers had not arrived at the Roloi by chance. Within the next few days, another 200 would join them on a kind of pilgrimage to this island beloved by the singer, who died last November.

One by one or in small groups, some with guitars slung over their shoulders, they made their way to the island from Japan, Holland and Australia, from Canada, Germany and Ireland, from Britain, Lithuania, France, from the US, and above all from Finland.

That is because the gathering – their eighth on the island since 2002 – was organised by Cohen’s biggest fan club, the Leonard Cohen Forum, which is run out of a small brick house in a suburb of Helsinki.

Photo: The taverna (now closed) at Kamini on Hydra where Cohen sometimes went. Photograph: Caroline Brothers

That is where Jarkko Arjatsalo, teaching himself how to make a website back in 1995, decided to fill the gap left by a defunct English fanzine by creating a site for Cohen. No one was more surprised than Arjatsalo when, two years later, an email landed from Cohen himself.

“In 1997, he emailed from the Buddhist retreat at Mount Baldy and asked, if he sent us material, would we put it up on the site,” said Arjatsalo, a retired accountant. “Well, you can guess what the answer was.”

The first item to arrive in Finland was the manuscript of the song Suzanne, one of the most famous in the songwriter’s repertoire. More followed. In all, Cohen sent 20 manuscripts and 50 drawings, said Arjatsalo, who wears a silver ring given to him by the musician he met more than 40 times.
Cohen was 26 when he arrived on Hydra in 1960, joining a small group of expatriate artists who had moved there when the port consisted of four coffee houses and a taverna. Water was delivered by donkey and homes were lit by kerosene or oil.

Sign up for the Sleeve Notes email
Read more
Using a $1,500 bequest from his grandmother, Cohen purchased an old stone house without running water, plumbing or electricity. There, Cohen worked on his poetry and novels in the garden, swam in the afternoons, and met up with the Australian writers George Johnston and Charmian Clift at the Roloi – which at the time was a grocery store called Katsikas with a handful of tables out the front.

“The years are flying past and we all waste so much time wondering if we dare to do this or that,” Cohen said of his decision to buy the house, according to his Canadian-American biographer, Ira B Nadel. “The thing is to leap, to try, to take a chance.”

For Cohen, who at this time considered himself a writer rather than a musician, it was a productive period. During roughly seven years on Hydra he wrote a controversial poetry collection titled Flowers for Hitler; his first novel, The Favourite Game; and a book about religion and sexuality called Beautiful Losers.

Photo: Gerard George Kettel and Claudia Rucker perform for fans at the inauguration of the Cohen bench on the Greek island of Hydra. Photograph: Caroline Brothers

It was also on Hydra that Cohen fell in love with Marianne Ihlen, the beautiful Norwegian woman who became his muse and was later immortalised in his ballad, So Long, Marianne.

Recognising each other by their united-heart pendants, their penned-on heart tattoos, or their concert T-shirts, the fans gathered over four days at various locations of Cohen-related significance. They include Cohen’s walled house that still stands in the town; the peeling russet-and-yellow taverna at Kamini, where he used to meet with friends; and the tree outside Douskos’s taverna, where a famous 1960 photograph shows Cohen playing guitar with his friends.

Those who have been before share Cohen stories with first-timers who have come in greater numbers this year compared to two years ago.

Régine Spindler, a retired school teacher from the French town of Thionville, Alsace, met the singer twice, at 18 and again at 22, by travelling to his concerts and chatting to his technicians. When she heard of the artist’s death, she said: “I couldn’t cry then, but now, being here …”

Hafid Gafaïti, an Algerian-American literature professor and a fan since the 1970s, met Cohen four times on Buddhist retreats and says he still cannot play his last CD.

Photo: Wan Yan Qian, 30, from China, wearing a Cohen T-shirt (Ain’t No Cure for Love), a united hearts badge pinned to her basket, outside Cohen’s house on Hydra. Photograph: Caroline Brothers

Meanwhile, Wan Yan Qian, 30, a Chinese bank official who works in Japan, is the youngest fan to have travelled to Hydra for this event. She owns two Cohen albums though she has no turntable to play them on, having fallen for his music as a student. “It’s his older voice, the music … it got me,” she said. “It’s impossible he will do no more tours.”

German singers Claudia Rucker and Ben Leinenbach performed 23 Cohen songs on a restaurant terrace near Cohen’s house. There were guitar-strummings on the waterfront and spontaneous singalongs at the Roloi that lasted until dawn. To accommodate the large number of fans this year, the film of one of his concerts had to be programmed twice at Hydra’s open-air cinema that has been run by Lakis Christides since Cohen’s day.

Among the small spontaneous acts of commemoration, more public ones took place. On Saturday, the municipality renamed a street in the songwriter’s honour. And 400 fans crowdfunded the construction of a wide stone bench overlooking the sea that was inaugurated, at last, the same day.
“It was supposed to be a present for Cohen’s 80th birthday, but now it is dedicated to his memory,” said Arjatsalo wistfully, standing in the late afternoon sun at a ceremony in which the seat was formally presented to the island.

Rucker performed A Bench Above the Ocean, which she composed on the island two days earlier, and German guitarist Gerard George Kettel performed Bird on the Wire, the most emblematic song linking Cohen to Hydra. Cohen wrote it on returning to his house to discover an electricity cable now running outside his window. The telephone service had arrived.

A moment of silence, interrupted only by the chugging of a boat and the shouts of children, was held before Arjatsalo, Christides and the mayor of Hydra, each with a set of scissors, cut the aqua ribbon across the bench.

Then Arjatsalo read a message that Cohen had sent him after he learnt about the plans for the Hydra bench. “I bow my head in gratitude,” he wrote. “Dear friends, thank you for the countless times you have lifted my spirit, thank you for the comfort and encouragement. Love and blessings, Leonard.”

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:52 pm
by its4inthemorning

Thanks for your efforts, which must have been considerably greater than are apparent in this thread, to see this project through. I admire your patience and hope many fans get the opportunity to see the result.


Re: Bench updates

Posted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:03 am
by Gentle Reader
The bench is beautiful! Yes , thank you for never giving up on the project. Thank you to everyone who helped make it become real. Hope to see it one day soon!

Linda Fish

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:58 pm
by jarkko
Eija and I have now created three Photo Galleries:

- construction of the bench
- inauguration of the bench
- street naming & open air concert

You will find all these here: ... RA+(2017)/
All photos by Panagiotis Macromanolis and Eija Arjatsalo. Copyright 2017.

If you want to use a photo on another website, please email or PM me for permission.

It is also possible to download any or all the photos.

We will also make a Gallery with meetup photos but it will take a while.


Finally done!
From the right: Mr. George Koukoudakis, Mayor of Hydra, Jarkko, Mr. Lakis Christidis of Hydra Cinema Club.
Photo by Panagiotis Macromanolis

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:04 am
by MarieM
Such beautiful and happy photos depicting a loving tribute to Leonard. It is such a comfort to see our vision finally become reality.

Jarkko, thank you so much for your extraordinary efforts to see this project through to conclusion. I'm not sure many of us know anyone who is more diplomatic or has more patience than you. It is rather ironic then, that our project required superhuman quantities of both. We are so lucky to have had the right man for this job.

With this project we shared in a bond of love and respect for Leonard. Because we didn't wait to make this a memorial, we were able to convey to Leonard our feelings and to feel his gratitude. And now our bond is set in stone. Thank you to all who participated in this project and to Leonard who gave us so much.

Re: Bench updates

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:48 am
by B4real
Ah Marie,
I saw Jarkko's post this morning and couldn't find the right words to say and you have said it all for me - I couldn't agree more :D

Just one thing I would add if I may......I've never seen Jarkko looking so dashing in a photo as in the one above ;-)