Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

December has been a challenging month so far. The annual budget has been hanging over my head since before Thanksgiving. When it comes to forecasting and predicting how much newsprint, ink, office supplies and utilities will cost versus how much revenue will come in from advertising and newspaper sales over the next two years, I find it painful staring at the spreadsheets on my computer, calculator in one hand and crystal ball in the other.

I made it through this budget season by keeping my eye on the prize. The budget was due Friday and as soon as I hit "send" I started packing.

My best friend Denise's birthday is Dec. 27. She is the last of my

high school classmates turning 60 this year. For the last three months

we've been planning a special birthday celebration tonight.

I don't use the term "best friend" casually. Denise and I go back to

freshman year in high school; we go back to being Kennedy girls together

in 1968; exploring New York City and Washington, D.C., together as

freshmen in college; being roommates in San Francisco; spending the

summer of 1971 in Europe together; participating in each other's

weddings; being auntie to each other's children; helping each other when

our parents passed on; laughing and crying together during the ups and

downs; talking on the phone, writing letters, exchanging emails, texting

andndash; almost every day for almost 50 years.

We like the same music, especially the music we grew up on. Years ago

we discovered a singer-songwriter named Leonard Cohen. His carefully

crafted lyrics ignited long discussions over the symbolism and hidden

meanings in his songs since the late 60s. His unmistakable voice sang on

as we went about the business of growing older. We've had Leonard in

our lives nearly as long as we've been friends.

Tonight, at the Rose Quarter Theatre of the Clouds in Portland, we

will see Leonard Cohen in concert. I bought sixth-row seats the day the

tickets went on sale in September.

I also wrote to Leonard Cohen's manager. I'd just chatted with Judy

Collins in Crescent City and I felt like I was on a roll. Maybe I could

interview Leonard Cohen for my column! After a couple of emails back and

forth, I was cc'd in an email to the venue authorizing Denise and me

access to the press area tonight.

"The concert will be a treat," his manager wrote, "and I can get you

access to the band, but Leonard is not doing any pressandhellip;Leonard is not

meeting friends, family, fans, celebrities, other poets, or press while

on tour. His show is three and one half hours, and he is performing

four nights a week. In between, he travels and rests."

Leonard Cohen's world tour ends Saturday in Las Vegas after more than

250 performances. Cohen, who is 76, last toured 16 years ago. "I was 60

then, just a kid with a crazy dream, he says on his "Live in London"


Denise and I have been fans since 1966 but have never seen him in

person. Tonight's the night. I am still hopeful, like a kid with a crazy

dream, that we'll get a backstage glimpse of him. At the very least

tonight's concert should be the icing on Denise's 60th birthday cake.

I'll let you know how it went.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at

mthomas@triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.