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February 28, 2011

The glitz and glamour in seeing the pantheon of stars turn out for the Academy Awards is always impressive. Watching it from CanaDa tonight was no exception.

Since I unexpectedly and powerfully came alive to God on February 1, 1975, I have experienced many unexpected surprises and wonders. One of them was during the 1976 Academy Awards.

Nine months after that awakening at the age of 29 going on 30, I sold all my possessions in Montreal and put on a back pack, entering the Unites States to discover the Spirit of ’76. That Spirit led me to so many places I never could have imagined prior to February 1, 1975.

I spent some time in Venice Beach, California. It was an awesome time for me, especially because it was my 1st winter in a warm, sunny climate. I had a free place to stay half a block from the ocean. I was invited to party more than I could accept.

I held two jobs. At 7am, I set up the tables and chairs on the patio of the Sea & Shore Restaurant on the Boardwalk. For doing just that, I received a full breakfast, and I could sit on the patio whenever, and drink free coffee until closing. It was a wonderful place to meet and greet, discussing the issues of the day.

My other job was washing dishes for $1/hr at Suzanne’s Kitchen Friday to Monday, also on the Boardwalk.  I toured to other places in between. Suzanne was a part time actress and an excellent cook. Her most famous movie part I am aware of was in ‘The Parallax View.”

Graceful words dripped from her lips like milk and honey. Then there were times when it seemed she just suddenly snapped and her words were like icy daggers, making everyone within hearing distance feel like they were guilty for whatever it was.

For the 1976 Academy Awards, she brought a portable television to the Restaurant so we could watch the spectacle. I marveled I was so close to where it was happening for the 1st time in my life. History was made that night. For the 1st time ever, a live trans Atlantic broadcast with Diana Ross in Amsterdam was part of the show.

During the presentations, a stranger I had never seen before came into the Restaurant and handed me a brown paper wrapped package and disappeared into the night before I opened it and could ask questions.

To my great wonder and surprise, it was a black leather bound book with the gold embossed title, ‘The Words of Jesus.’ It contained only the words of Jesus from the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

To me, it was much more valuable and uplifting than getting a golden statue/false god/idol.

Unfortunately, my back pack with the Book in it was stolen at The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City months later. I resigned myself to the probability this was meant to be. I could relate with Job – The Lord gave. The Lord has taken away. Blessed Be the name of The Lord.

On the inside front and back covers of the Book there were words written: to be given to – and there were many names written in the Book between the covers. There was one name written I did know, my Sales Manager in Montreal in 1967, nine years earlier. Chances are it was the same name, but not the same person. The next recipient was probably living in Kansas City.

Doing a Google search for information on Suzanne’s Kitchen Circa 1976 after I posted this article I found this recent story on her.

Written by: Jimm Hillis on November 13, 2010 for The Cambridge Citizen.

This is the first of a series on the Woman behind the song.

One of a songwriters main inspiration point is the women in his life, usually a girlfriend that they have loved and lost. Sometimes they are about fictional women that were inspired by real woman but the ladies make up many of the songs over the last 100 years or so. One thing that I have always wondered about is who is the woman that is being sung about, what made a songwriter write about her? And while it is not as earth shattering as some other things being discussed in town I still find it interesting and hopefully so do you.

In 1967 Leonard Cohen released SUZANNE, one of the truly great Canadian songs of all time and in true songwriter tradition the main character was real. Her name was Suzanne Verdal, the then wife of Canadian Sculptor Armand Vaillancourt and she lived in Montreal. The song describes the City of Montreal in all it’s splendor as well as giving us an image of SUZANNE that to this day still sits in my mind.  The real Suzanne claims that she and Leonard never had sex despite what some think the song represents and as a matter of fact Cohen himself has said that there was neither the opportunity nor the inclination to actually go through with it, and according to Suzanne she has only seen Leonard twice since the song was released, once in the 1970′s and once in the 1990′s.

Today Suzanne lives in Venice Beach California and is an on again off again homeless person living off the good intentions of friends and artists that call the beach home.

I contacted Jim Hillis and he confirmed it is the same Suzanne of Suzanne’s Kitchen. I don’t recall her ever saying she lived in Montreal so just finding out Lenord Cohen’s Suzanne and the one I knew so long ago is the same one is a wonderful surprise to me.

Naturally it is more interesting for me than for any reader of this story to note Leonard Cohen sings about Jesus in his song. Another coincidence is Jimm Hillis wrote about Suzanne on the 13th of November. Newspapers in the past printed I have the “trademark” on the number 13. Is it all just co-incidence or design?

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  1. weldon permalink

    wow aug75-aug76 I was employed by an oil well drilling contractor working 2wks-12hr shifts in the 140F summer Sahara and 1wk off via 737 to an apt in Palma , or anyway the wind blew in europe by ship, plane, train or mc. I was living good. Met lots of good people from everywhere. What a difference a day can make. It was 13 yrs later I learned Jesus Is Champion for the little guy.

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