Music-inspired Lake Oswego resident publishes first book
Lake Oswego resident Stephen Cohen has dabbled in many different art forms — and he synthesizes all of them in his recently published book.
Cohen, who is also known by his performance name of 3 Hand Stephen, published "Baggy Red Pants and Other Stories" with Wake Robin Press on Aug. 3 —a 33-page book filled with short stories, poems, lyrics and visual art.
"I've been a musician and artist pretty much my whole life," Cohen said, adding that he's produced albums and has toured all over the United States and beyond. "I'm really happy with the book. I had a feeling about it. It was like when I made my first album. It was really exciting to see that first album."
Cohen, who plays guitar and does vocals, grew up in Rhode Island and received an art degree from the University of Oregon. He started by making jewelry out of old guitar strings when he lived in Eugene. He later advanced to creating musical instrument sculptures out of objects found around the home.
Throughout his book — which was largely completed during the pandemic — Cohen includes visuals of his sculptures like the piece that was superimposed on a footpath at Iron Mountain Park.
While the four short stories he published are fiction, he wrote them based on some of his life experiences. The first story, "A Hitchhiker's Tale" was derivative of his time hitchhiking across the U.S. after attending Brandeis University in Massachusetts for three years (prior to the University of Oregon).
"After many adventures along the way, including living in a treehouse in the mountains, living in geodesic domes and makeshift shacks in several communes, working as a movie extra in New Mexico, working with autistic children in Philadelphia, living and performing at coffee houses and restaurants in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico, and becoming a father to 2 sons, Stephen arrived in Eugene, Oregon and stayed there for 18 years," Cohen's website read.
Another story was based on his time working for TriMet on an accident appeals committee after he moved to the Portland area.
"That was a really interesting part of the job, so I have a story about that, about a case," he said.
Cohen said during his time as a musician he's also played at many music festivals, so his fourth story is called "Mars Music Festival."
"I imagined I was asked to play," he said. "It's in the future and I was asked to play at … the first music festival (on) Mars."
The title, "Baggy Red Pants," comes from a lyrical poem. And that poem is based on the time a movie producer saw Cohen walk out of a music store in red pants and asked if he would like to be an extra in the movie.
"Everything tells a story," Cohen said.
Cohen plans to have a virtual reading through Annie Bloom's Books Sept. 20 and people can register for the Zoom event.
Cohen describes his book as "ageless" and encourages folks to give it a read.
"Sometimes … younger people — and I was probably the same — you think that older people don't change but actually we change a lot," Cohen said. "We change all the time."
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