“Eventually, we’re going to run low on safe, popular [Super Bowl halftime show] entertainers, and you’re going to wind up with Leonard Cohen in a fedora at midfield. Which, actually, might be pretty awesome.” Leonard Cohen Reappears In WSJ Sports Section

Leonard Cohen – Repeatedly Appearing In WSJ Sports

Recently, Duke of Derm1 informed me he had been surprised to come upon the following Leonard Cohen reference in, of all places, the sports section of the Wall Street Journal:

I think we can all agree that baseball has done a crummy job of relating to kids. It long ago sold its soul to TV and corporate-suite buyers, squeezing out families and anyone who must prioritize minivan gas and travel-league fees over $40 parking and $7 hot dogs. Too many games start late and run deep into the night; a next generation of fans gets excluded from the fun. Baseball is becoming one of those things that only adults enjoy, like real-estate ads and Leonard Cohen. [emphasis mine]2

I also thought it was atypical (as well as a pretty darn funny turn of phrase), but it seemed somehow reminiscent. A quick search of my own site turned up the reason for the sense of familiarity – a June 29, 2009 DrHGuy post called WSJ Sports On Leonard Cohen:

… we were reminded of what a tame event the Super Bowl halftime show has become, thanks largely to Mr. Jackson’s sister, Janet. We like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty just fine, but neither one is going to break out the look-alikes or the smoke cannons and embrace the showbiz glory of the NFL’s glitziest stage. Eventually, we’re going to run low on safe, popular entertainers, and you’re going to wind up with Leonard Cohen in a fedora at midfield. Which, actually, might be pretty awesome. [emphasis mine]3

One Is An Accident, Two Is A Coincidence, Three Is A Trend

Were it not for those two examples, I would have meandered my way through the journey of life under the misconception that an allusion to Leonard Cohen would appear in any section of the Wall Street Journal other than Arts & Entertainment or perhaps Books & Ideas with approximately the same frequency as one of his albums hitting the top of the sales charts, i.e., once every fifty years or so.

Now, however, I was confronted with two such occurrences, both written in a clever, humorous style by the same columnist, Jason Gay, whose WSJ column profile follows:

Jason Gay: Jason Gay has written for publications including GQ, Rolling Stone, Outside and The New York Observer. He was once briefly detained for underage drinking outside a Milwaukee Brewers game, and lives with his wife, cat, and Mel Kiper Jr. aboard the International Space Station. Write to Jason at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at wsjcouch.

Intrigued,4 I ran a search for similar specimens and, without heroic efforts, found three more of Mr Gay’s dandy WSJ Sports Cohenjections to offer readers.

From Congratulations, You’re a Detroit Lion by Jason Gay (WSJ: April 27, 2009):

By the way, we hereby encourage the inclusion of rowdy Jets fans at all public events. We would like them to be seated in the rafters of Congress at President Obama’s first State of the Union Address. Put a bunch of them in the first couple rows of the Cannes Film Festival, Christmas Eve at the Vatican and all of Leonard Cohen’s concerts. Guaranteed entertainment. [emphasis mine]

From Even the Bad Boys Turn Good in Vancouver by Jason Gay (WSJ Feb 22, 2010):

Bode Miller is an Olympic gold-medal hero.

Awkward. Awesomely awkward.

Who didn’t want to see this comeback? Besides NBC, of course, which opted to show Mr. Miller’s historic super combined victory on tape delay, several hours later. That’s cool. As the NFL taught us years ago, nobody wants to watch live sports on a Sunday afternoon.

Still, Mr. Miller persevered—and now takes a restless place in Olympic history. It’s an amusing mantle for a dissident who liked to renounce the five-ring mystique, who appeared to care less if your breakfast Wheaties came with his unshaven, blue-eyed visage. Mr. Miller with a gold medal is like Leonard Cohen with an MTV Video Music Award—a strange, comical pairing that somehow feels all right. [emphasis mine]

And in an expansion of the earlier Super Bowel riff, the February 5, 2012 WSJ Blogs ran 56 Inappropriate (But Still Kind of Awesome) Super Bowl Halftime Shows by Jason Gay.

One idea for the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show: Leonard Cohen.

  1. Tom Waits
  2. Morrissey
  3. Fiona Apple
  4. The Shins
  5. Portishead
  6. Sigur Ros
  7. Tori Amos
  8. Leonard Cohen
  9. Cat Power
  10. Bon Iver … [emphasis mine]

Discovering, with a modicum of effort, five witty Leonard Cohen references in Mr Gay’s WSJ sports column in the past three years leads me to believe (1) there are more such nuggets inlaid in this author’s writing and (2) Mr Gay has found himself a go-to, unstoppable, unlikely to be copied move to the basket. Consider this post a highlights reel.

DrHGuy Note: I attempted to contact Mr Gay in hopes he would contribute a few comments to this post. As the WSJ might phrase it, he did not respond to my email requests.

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Originally posted Oct 17, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com.


  1. aka Russ Hall, who has been my friend since our days as classmates at the University of Missouri Medical School and has been mentioned occasionally on this site (Russ is, for example, the narrator in the seminal How To Make The Original Chocolodka video) and, incidentally serves as Chair of Dermatology /  J. Lamar Callaway Professor of Dermatology at Duke University School of Medicine. []
  2. Baseball Needs to Bring Back the Ice-Cream Truck by Jason Gay (WSJ Sept 26, 2012) []
  3. U.S. Soccer Can’t Silence Brazil, Vuvuzelas by Jason Gay (WSJ June 29, 2009) []
  4. OK, I do have a remarkably low threshold for becoming intrigued []

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