Nik Cohn’s Feverish Dream – The New York Times
It is now hard to believe that anyone took it for the literal truth. His daring art makes most of the new journalism look like court shorthand. Vincent and his Bay Ridge gang were composites, based on mods he knew in London a decade ago. Cohn – who appears in the article as a dark figure in a tweed suit – never spent much time at the 2001 Odyssey nightclub. This “Saturday Night” touched a deep nerve was not particularly heartwarming for her. Creator. “I found it very difficult to operate,” he says of the aftermath, not happy to talk about it. “I got completely lost and had a huge contempt for myself. It knocked me off my cart, and my cart was never the strongest foundation in the universe.
What followed could give birth to a new VH-1 series called “Behind the Prose”. Guilt-ridden, money-rolling Cohn spent three years working on a single paragraph. His use of recreational drugs, a standard problem for the time, began to escalate. It is a period of which Cohn speaks with marked disgust: “an old and unattractive story,” he calls it. “I was a very lost puppy.”
The story goes like this: On May 19, 1983, FBI agents arrested Cohn at his West 76th Street townhouse. Fifteen other people, including John Jermyn, the notoriously self-destructive British Earl, were also arrested that day for plotting to import millions of dollars in heroin and cocaine. The most important charges were dropped (Cohn was clearly not a trafficker), but Cohn was still given five years probation for possession, a parade of unwanted newspaper headlines, and a much-needed jerk. “I was playing Russian roulette with life and death,” he says. “So that was the best thing that ever happened to me, really.”
Soon after, Cohn and Muntean reunited with their dread Shelter Island. (“The outside world can take me anywhere, but it can’t get me here,” he likes to say.) In the late 1980s, Cohn was starting to rally, writing a series travel stories to America for the Sunday Times in London, which led to other immersive reporting work, including “The Heart of the World”, a Lieblingesque stroll along Broadway, and “Yes We Have No “, an excursion through foreign England, in which Cohn spends time with an Asian Elvis impersonator. and right-wing nationalists who worship the Norse god Odin. And then came “Triksta”, in 2005, a book as much about the New Orleans rebound scene – Soulja Slim, Choppa, Che Muse, Jahbo – as about Cohn getting by and trying to produce rap records in the pre – Katrina New Orleans, a city that has obsessed her for over 40 years. (To keep up with the beat, he listens online to DJ Chicken’s morning hip-hop show on Power 102.9 FM.)
Cohn was no longer an “insufferable little idiot” but an approachable, battered journalist with a golden ear for life stories, even if that ear couldn’t turn hip-hop beats into radio hits. “When I was young and in a hurry, there was something that made people do not want to talk to me, ”Cohn admits, still relishing the turnaround. “So when people started talking to me, I was like, Wow, this is way more fascinating than anything I’ve made up. I realized you don’t have to create the myth. do not need to embroider. the.“
Cohn Shelter Island house is a memory arcade of pop artifacts. A vintage Jax beer clock looks out from behind a gleaming mahogany bar; a Rowe AMI jukebox is filled with vintage singles he still loves the most: Jackie Wilson, the Drifters, Darlene Love. (As much as Cohn adores Prince and hip-hop, he has a soft spot for classic girl groups like the Ronettes.) It’s here, and in the writing house in the back, that Cohn’s ear has perfected over the past two decades as a recently turned inward journalist. “Every minute I’m not writing,” Cohn says, “I hear voices. And I’m just amazed at how direct and authentic it all is compared to the vocals I used to hear. Cohn spends his waking – and often unawakened – hours in the company of his main characters, of whom there are dozens, only stopping away for an occasional run in Manhattan. With a flash of the imagination, he can conjure up a London bus ride in 1981 or a pair of Courrèges boots circling Kensington Gardens.
“I said to myself: what is it that sticks to your throat? Well, you’ve never been good at fiction. (“Saturday Night” has perhaps been his most successful attempt so far.) And so he embarked on “a massive, unstructured, non-writing, endless 50-year journal,” as he read it. ‘described, not wanting to say too much. He got into the habit of writing by hand on the large wooden board his father used to compose “The Millennium Pursuit”. A photo of Norman Cohn, handsome with a Rasputin beard, sits on a side table nearby. Both Cohn’s parents, he points out, lived until the mid-1990s. But as fiery and robust as Cohn himself appears to be, he has suffered for years from hepatitis C, a disease that can wrap it up like jet lag, and he doesn’t think he’ll get through it as long as they do.