Good Deeds, Great Seats: Hallelujah! (Ottawa Citizen 5/16/09

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Good Deeds, Great Seats: Hallelujah! (Ottawa Citizen 5/16/09

Postby sturgess66 » Sat May 16, 2009 8:09 pm

Good deeds, great seats: Hallelujah!

Why an Ottawa man is raffling his tickets to Leonard Cohen to the holiest bidder

Bruce Deachman
The Ottawa Citizen and Wire Services

Saturday, May 16, 2009

In a somewhat inward twist on the Golden Rule, Leonard Cohen has said that if you act the way you'd like to be, you'll soon be the way you act. And admittedly, this uplifting sentiment certainly seems in keeping with the handful of years Cohen spent in seclusion in the late 1990s as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk.

Still, it doesn't seem a perfect fit to equate the Montreal-born singer-songwriter -- ranked just behind the late Johnny Cash and Death himself on the list of celebrities with entirely black wardrobes -- with innate goodness and light. After all, it was Cohen who didn't think of himself as a pessimist because pessimists, in his view, were people who waited for it to rain, while he, he bleakly noted, was already soaked to the skin.

Regardless, it's goodness that an anonymous 40-year-old Ottawa public servant -- who goes by the pseudonym Calvin -- is looking for, while a pair of tickets to Cohen's May 25 concert at the National Arts Centre is the reward that someone wearing the right pair of goody shoes will receive for their selfless deeds.

To discover who fits this bill of goods, Calvin has launched a website -- -- where people can nominate the most commendable among their friends and family, and explain why they'd be worthy recipients of a pair of orchestra-level seats to Cohen's first tour in 15 years.

The tickets, Calvin admits, came as the result of his own greed, when he decided he might be able to improve on the pair he'd already bought by searching the e-Bay auction site. There, he found a pair that had no minimum or reserve bid, and got them for a little under face value.

He thought he could then sell his extra tickets -- with a face value of $502, plus $40 in service charges -- at a great profit, but began to have second thoughts about the plan.

"I started feeling guilty about that," he says, "because of the whole TicketMaster debacle and people having problems getting tickets. I just felt badly about it."

He considered simply advertising them for cost, but thought that whoever bought them would simply scalp them for an exorbitant amount.

"I thought, on what basis do you award these?" he says. "You can do it by money, but then I thought, people say that being good is such a great thing, but you rarely get rewarded for it. So I thought, let's make it that and keep it vague."

By midweek, Calvin had about 700 visitors to his website, and slightly more than 50 nominations. The deadline for nominations is

8 p.m. Monday. After that, Calvin will winnow the list to 10 and, after confirming that the nominees and nominators actually exist, choose one at random.

The winner will be notified on Friday, but will only receive the tickets at the show, in an attempt by Calvin to prevent the tickets being scalped.

The nominations sent in so far have covered a wide range of philanthropy and rectitude, some noting specific acts of kind-heartedness, and others focusing more on generally sterling characters.

"What's surprised me -- in a good way -- is that a large percentage of the nominations are these very day-to-day, mundane, never-gets-a-lot-of-attention kind of things," says Calvin.

"Like someone who marries somebody's mother and totally became part of the family, brings out the grandkids, volunteers at the local community centre. Nothing astounding or out of the blue, but just this genuinely good person; people who just go out of their way for others."

This is the first time Calvin has done anything like this, and while the website refers to it as "Project No. 1," he says he'd rather leave the good karmic planning to others.

"I like little fun things," he says. "I have this view that life is short, so make it interesting.

"I had no idea where this would go when I started the website. I could have 1,000 people nominating, I could have 10.

"But I thought, the website is there; if somebody is interested in doing a project like this, I'm happy to host it. I mean, I had to pay for the web-hosting for a year anyway. I won't administer it, but if someone has an idea, I'm happy to talk to them about it."

In fact, he says he'd love to see the website transferred from one person to the next, each adding their own curious project.

But for the time being, there are those Leonard Cohen tickets to get rid of.

"But I just thought it would be interesting," Calvin says. "There's no underhanded thing behind this -- I'm not this religious person, I'm not trying to promote anything.

"I thought this would be a fun idea."
© The Ottawa Citizen 2009 ... 897c0c2533
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Re: Good Deeds, Great Seats: Hallelujah! (Ottawa Citizen 5/16/09

Postby sturgess66 » Thu May 21, 2009 1:23 am

Another article on this story in today: ... ckets.aspx

Leonard Cohen Fans In Karma Contest For Tickets

Posted: May 20, 2009, 4:27 PM by Adam McDowell

Whose karma is good enough for Leonard Cohen tickets?

The man asking himself that question is a civil servant and, unlike a certain singer-songwriter from Montreal, hasn’t spent years of his life in seclusion as a Zen Buddhist monk. Nevertheless, a shadowy figure named “Calvin” was vexed by that riddle — that koan — when some lucky eBaying left him with an extra pair of orchestra-level seats for Cohen’s concert next Monday at the National Arts Centre in his home town of Ottawa.

Not wanting to see the $542 tickets in the hands of scalpers, last month Calvin set up a website,, to find the person most deserving of them. People could write in nominating any Canadian adult who would be willing and able to attend the concert. “The nomination,” wrote Calvin, who is using a pseudonym for this project, “is based on the person’s ‘goodness’ — however you define that.”

Over the phone from Ottawa, the mysterious benefactor says he wanted the tickets to be enjoyed by a deserving fan who would not be able to afford them otherwise.

Moreover, he says, “I think I wanted something that was bigger than the sum of its parts. I thought, ‘What could I do that was worth more, somehow, than the value of the tickets?’ ”

Calvin received about 95 nominations ahead of Monday evening’s deadline. At 8 p.m. Thursday, he’ll draw a random winner out of 10 finalists (chosen at his own discretion), after which he’ll contact the winner.

Below, excerpts from just a few of the entries:

• “I’d like to nominate my friend A. for the tix … I’d say she’d get the all-round thumbs-up from the karma police. She’s a hospital pharmacist, and she rocks at her job.”
• “L. was a student in my ESL class a few years ago. She was a recently arrived refugee from Iran where she had risked her life as a journalist and filmmaker. The themes of her work were women’s rights and democracy — deadly topics in Iran.”
• “I would like to nominate my mother, J., for the karmic Cohen tickets. My dear mum has spent her whole life giving, loving, and bringing joy to everyone around her … She has always been extremely inspired and moved by Leonard Cohen’s poetry and music, but the only time she even came close to seeing him live was on a patio in Yorkville in the late ’60s. (and it may not have even been him! She was too shy to approach and ask.)”
• “ … I’m not sure that a piece of gum can actually kill a bird but her expression of concern certainly had a karmic influence on my actions. Who knows the number of birds she has saved …”
• “She told us a story of how she saved a puppy one time by giving it mouth to mouth. I thought, ‘How cool is that?’ ”
• “I feel somewhat responsible for this — K. was too unwell to make the arrangements and she left it with me. The web application did not work. So I needed to go the ticket agent. I procrastinated — and, well, the result was an opportunity missed to see one of the greatest Canadian artists of all time.”
• “Unfortunately, I have no opposable thumbs (more on that to follow!), so I’ve asked my friend J. to write on my behalf. We’re writing to nominate my Mom and Dad, C. and W., as very deserving winners of the Leonard Cohen tickets that you are generously offering as contest prizes. I’m a six-year-old German Shepherd and when I was just a baby, I was abandoned along with my sister, Gypsy, in the Gatineau hills …”
Dream Warrior
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Re: Good Deeds, Great Seats: Hallelujah! (Ottawa Citizen 5/16/09

Postby Dream Warrior » Thu May 21, 2009 8:42 pm

Very cool stuff. I nominated a poet friend and her photographer husband. They both work so hard without compensation for the arts in Ottawa . Here's hoping...

Still, who ever the lucky and deserving folk are, no question they will enjoy...
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Re: Good Deeds, Great Seats: Hallelujah! (Ottawa Citizen 5/16/09

Postby jackielyn89 » Wed May 27, 2009 2:38 pm

People could write in nominating any Canadian adult who would be willing and able to attend the concert. Great! Wish you luck. :lol:

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