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Gnashing of Teeth Part II: On the Other Hand Rabbi...

By: Jeff Mudrick Posted: July-07-2010 in
Jeff Mudrick

Leonard Cohen
Of course with all this teeth gnashing there had to be an other hand. And this came through to me quite forcefully last evening following a conversation with the concert promoter who happened to be in Phnom Penh and stopped by Garage for a couple of cold beverages and to talk about the Cohen show.

So yes, on the other hand rabbi, what about the beneficiaries?? Is it really important who does the giving and what their motivations might be? Or put more directly in terms of the Cohen concert: If the primary goal of this concert series is to raise money for two worthwhile local charities, and if the maximum fundraising can be achieved by filling this venue at these ticket prices, is there any obligation to cater to fans by offering lower ticket prices and thus reducing the charitable benefits? Can one morally justify writing off, let's say $30,000 (that might go to the Red Cross (300 tickets x $100) so that 300 fans can attend the show who might otherwise not?

From a moral perspective I think it's a tough argument to make. Leonard and his promoter have considered this carefully I'm told and have come down clearly on the side of maximizing the proceeds available to the charities. Whether the promoters are correct in their calculus is a separate issue but they certainly know more about maximizing concert revenue than I do. Of course the moral high ground is lost if the monies don't get spent by the charities as they should. I will presume that Leonard's people have done their homework here regarding the charities.

Mr. Cohen has a history here to consider: 100% of the proceeds of his September Tel Aviv concert, a very pricey ticket, went to the Fund For Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace he established to aid organizations doing good work in Israel and Palestine. And that includes 100% of the promoter's earnings as well (I looked it up).

What about from an artistic point of view? Will it be the same show, as good a show as if Cohen were playing to an arena of primarily fans? Well I am assured that Leonard will play the same quality show he does around the world regardless of who is filling seats, and with Leonard being known as an artist of extraordinary integrity, I don't doubt this. Ok, there may be less foot stomping and hooting, but that might be the same in say Tokyo.

Does the elitist nature of the concert limit the extent to which this is meaningful event for the larger Cambodian community (which of course is another main goal of the concert series)? From a cultural point of view, yes I think it would if Leonard and his peeps simply fly in and fly out. But it seems that this event means a great deal to Leonard so I'm expecting more from the man. I know a lot of local fans are hugely disappointed at the high ticket prices but I for one am anxious to see how this plays out.

Following on from Part I - Gnashing of Teeth Among the Coheneem?

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Now this would be an act

Now this would be an act worth bringing in.
I think that there are more security personnel at this gig that the number of people, that will be at the Cohen concert.

HUGE Crowd


Long term commitment

If the Cambodian Red Cross would effectively help the poor Cambodians, it would be known. Unfortunately it is well known that besides the TV show manipulations, the Cambodian Red Cross does absolutely nothing; for decades. The poors in Cambodia remain the poorest in the region... for decades. Just spend a few days weeks and look at the farmers in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Feel and see the differences... Where the hundreds of millions USD of assistance have been spent? Besides the infrastructures, we can legitimately question how the poverty problem is effectively addressed in Cambodia. This concert organized by The Mekong Sessions makes no exception. Just one more example.

"Those who criticise the motives behind the concert not only display an astonishing lack of knowledge or true long term commitment to the development process in Cambodia"
Interesting topic... I will not display my credentials but i have a pretty good long term knowledge of what has been done in Cambodia. Do not tell me that the "renovation of the indoor court of the Olympic Stadium" is a long term commitment.
It is like the hundreds empty schools that were built in provinces. Just walls. No program, no maintenance, no education. Is that what you call long term commitment?

Should Mr. Cohen be blamed? probably not. He does not realize that. He has probably been misguided. The Mekong Sessions probably fudged all this.

Sorry but all this does not make any sense. I qualify this as a joke, or even better... a scam.



Media Release 15.07.10: The

Media Release 15.07.10: The Mekong Sessions Responds

As local promoters of the Leonard Cohen Live in Phnom Penh benefit concert at the Olympic Stadium on 27 November 2010, the Mekong Sessions is issuing the following singular statement:

1. Leonard Cohen Live in Phnom Penh is, thanks to the exceptional generosity of Leonard Cohen and AEG Live, a benefit concert with proceeds going to Cambodian Red Cross, the athletes with a disability of Cambodia and a full renovation of the indoor court of the Olympic Stadium. This has been made absolutely clear from the outset including the official media release of June 17 2010, on the Mekong Sessions website and associated media. Those purchasing tickets can be assured not only of experiencing one of the greatest musical and cultural events anywhere but also that they will be positively contributing to assisting some of the most vulnerable in Cambodian society through two of the most reputable organisations in the nation.

2. Given the pioneering nature of the concert, significant production costs are involved given the lack of resources necessary for a concert of this calibre at the present time in Cambodia - hence the lack of artists to date of the stature of Leonard Cohen playing here.

3. The Olympic Stadium is a relatively very small venue with just 3600 seats available. This has obvious impacts on the ticket prices as does its present dilapidated condition. Purchasers are guaranteed the most intimate concert on the World Tour in an international standard venue.

4. Sadly, while the Mekong Sessions has been embracing the enormous privilege of hosting Leonard Cohen in Cambodia, a vocal minority of expatriates in Phnom Penh have been using digital forums to post highly inflammatory critiques.

5. The nub of the issue is not the concert; rather it stems from a small segment of expatriate community bloggers in Phnom Penh who enjoy Cambodia for lifestyle opportunities impossible in their own countries and now complain when something is perceived to be beyond their reach despite the clear benefits for Cambodia and Cambodians. Those who criticise the motives behind the concert not only display an astonishing lack of knowledge or true long term commitment to the development process in Cambodia but denigrate the dignity of Leonard Cohen and his decision to honour us with his performance.

"I am deeply honoured, as is every Cambodian I’ve spoken to, that Leonard Cohen has chosen to perform a benefit concert in Phnom Penh," Mekong Sessions CEO Chris Minko said today ahead of a Cambodian media conference on Friday 16 July,

"This is the culmination of 15yrs work on behalf of the disadvantaged in Cambodia. After watching Live in London with Khmers for the last three nights running and witnessing their reactions to the elegance and humanity of his performance, I hold no reservations as to the welcome Leonard Cohen will enjoy here. The Mekong Sessions is focusing its entire energies on ensuring a seamless event regarded as a highlight of Leonard Cohen’s acclaimed world tour."

"In a world where humanity is lauded but often measurably limited in those that grasp the chance to make a difference, who better to cast light than one of the greatest statesmen and poets of the human condition?"

Chris Minko
Mekong Sessions
Source -

user avatar kidkhmer (not verified)

Like I

Like I said..


user avatar RSJ

Challah at ya boi!

$300 dollars to see a the final tour of LEONARD COHEN who, by most accounts, may well be the greatest songwriter ever. In freaking Cambodia. And for charity no less! What's obscene is the self-rightuous indignation of a bunch of cheap-ass fans*.



I haven't noticed any "self-rightuous(sic) indignation", just reasonable discussion of a current event.

Who are you calling "cheap-ass"? I have not heard from anyone or seen a single comment about this from anyone - with the exception of yours - that does not think the ticket prices are extremely high.

The title of your comment seems vaguely anti-semitic and that's definitely very uncool and much more obscene than all the other reasonable comments.

user avatar RSJ

Riight, the guy professing

Riight, the guy professing his appreciation for Leonard Cohen and his "extremely high" ticket prices is an anti-semite. Because that makes sense.

[edit: removed a snide comment I made.]



I did not call anyone an anti-semite, I said that the title of the post "Challah at ya boi!" struck me as being vaguely anti-semitic.


Because "challah" is a traditional Jewish bread, "boy" (or boi) is a somewhat disrespectful epithet, and when you combine that with calling people "cheap-asses" is came across to me as an insult.

Makes sense to me RSJ.

user avatar RSJ

I'd call you an overly

I'd call you an overly sensitive d-bag, but won't for fear of next being labeled a misogynist. Because, you know, d-bag... the vagina, your retarded insinuations... I'm sure you can draw this one out too.

user avatar Anonymous

thanks for the horse's mouth!

thanks for the horse's mouth! My opinion is, like everything in the world... why exclude those who can't afford to pay that amount? The tickets would sell at a lower price. They will probably all sell at the higher price (or someone will ensure it seems like they have). But why exclude those that can't afford?

That's one gripe.

My main concern, having actually bought a ticket, was ... where is my money going? Is it genuinely going to the charities or is some of it being creamed off the top by HIM or the likes of?

Any way of knowing this?

user avatar Anonymous

if i had bought a ticket at

if i had bought a ticket at that price, my main concern would be how you are going to get your money back when the concert is canceled.

it reminds me a lot of the World Peace Music Awards planned for Hanoi a few years back by an enterprising fellow who claimed to have Dylan, Baez, Lionel Ritchie and Gloria Gaynor lined up. All fell apart 2 weeks out. that one was going to be for charity also.


As to where the money is

As to where the money is going I honestly don't know how we can now (or should I say you as ticket buyer can now). I can only hope that Leonard's people have done their homework in underwriting the charities involved and have incorporated some measures for accountability. Given that Leonard has done this before, his people should be able to do this to some extent.

user avatar Anonymous


...why not play 2 shows then? One charity show and another at realistic prices. I'm sure both would sell out. Charity or not, the ticket prices for this show are obscene.


It would be great to see two

It would be great to see two shows. He's here, travel and equipment costs incurred. Hope it happens.


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