Sunday, January 31, 2010

Putterbabe: Writer Deborah Copaken Kogan Adds Real Estate "Habitats" Column To A Record-Breaking Series Of NYT Stories About Herself.

Have you been keeping up with the ongoing NYT series on Deborah Copaken Kogan?

We have, so we already knew Kogan was a photographer, a memoir writer, a novelist, a Vespa rider, and a showbiz mom. Now it turns out she's handy with a hammer!

With today's "Habitats" column, Kogan has achieved a what appears to be a remarkable new record: she has now been the subject and/or author of five different NYT columns about herself.

Way to go, Debbie -- the NYT has a crush on you. Now who are you, again?

In a single decade, Kogan has been the subject of a "Modern Love" column in Styles, a "Night Out With" column in Styles, an "Urban Strategist" column, a "Lives" column in the NYT Magazine -- and, as of this morning, the topic of an 1,168-word "Habitats" column on her family's new Harlem home, in Real Estate.

It's a singular and remarkable achievement for a relatively little-known writer who, only a decade ago, couldn't even rate a review of her first memoir -- "Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War" -- in the NYT. For those unfamiliar, "Shutterbabe" recounted Kogan's travels through Europe as a sexually adventurous young photographer. She named each chapter for a different boyfriend.

The NYT kicked off its obsession with Kogan right around the time "Shutterbabe" was published, with a "Lives" column that chronicled her willingness to let her 3-year-old daughter climb dangerous rocks in the park, despite demurring adults nearby.

"I'm used to unsolicited parental advice by now," Kogan wrote.

Next came the "Night Out With" column by Linda Lee, only a few months later, describing Kogan as a "media powerbabe" in leather pants, drinking Cosmos and fixing up friends. By this time Kogan had abandoned her wanderlust and started a family with her husband, Paul. But the NYT informed she still liked to party at hotspots.

"Does it count if it's by remote control, from a cell phone?" Kogan asks the reporter, when she remembers that she has forgotten to light the Hanukah candles for her children.

For four years we didn't hear from Kogan, until she re-surfaced with an "Urban Tactics" column (a now-defunct feature) in 2004 that described her recent purchase of a Vespa to ride around Manhattan.

Kogan bought one to address her considerable commuting challenges. "We live on the Upper West Side," Kogen explained. "My office is in TriBeCa. I have one child in school on the Upper East Side, the other on the Upper West..."

The NYT welcomed Kogan back to its pages with an April 15, 2007 "Modern Love" column -- a breezy confessional about an encounter with a stranger who entered their apartment to signal his passion for a girl across the way -- and who helped Kogan and her husband rekindle their own fiery love.

"It was as if, via the amorous couplings across the way," Kogan wrote, "Paul and I were reaping the benefits of an extramarital affair — a rise in ardor, a distraction from reality, a reawakening of what it means to be alive — without the guilt and lies....We tucked the kids into bed early and found our way to each other for the second night in a row."

It has been almost four years since the NYT updated us on the Kogans. Constance Rosenblum corrected this with a "Habitats" column this morning that covers the family's move to Harlem -- a neighborhood that until recently, Rosenblum reports, Kogan had seen "only through the windows of a Town Car."

After years of ridiculous rents, the Kogans now pay a paltry $3,5oo for the top three floors of a townhouse on St. Nicholas Avenue in Sugar Hill. Debbie did the renovations.

"Mastering the mysteries of the power drill and the molly bolt," Rosenblum wrote, "[Kogan] installed kitchen shelves and hung a spice rack, pot racks and knife holders."

Are you listening, Home section editors?


FGFM said...

I expect this sort of thing from the Chicago Reader and the like where people do human interest stories on their buddies without disclosing the relationship, but the NYT should really hold itself to a higher standard.

carmen said...

Hmmm... Kogan has an interesting life, so its worth writing about. I thought it was a great piece.

I am not a journalist but shouldn't good journalism start with good stories and good characters? I think one of the strengths of the Times is they have not lost sight of that.

Anonymous said...

I agree about good stories and characters. But what is the good story here? There's no struggle or tension except whether the Kogans will continue to rent or decide to buy. The real estate section is obsessed with publicity-seeking upper middle-class people like this.

Anonymous said...

There are idiots and then ther are Idiots. What purpose does the nytpicker serve? controversy? envy? jealosy? This inane commentary just dosen't desever to be published. I guess in the age of the Internet, any moron with a keyboard has the opportunity. It is a shame that so few exercise constraint.

I have to confess that I just met Deborah and she and her husband couldn't be more genuine, caring, beautiful people. Her job is to write. Te get assignements that allow her to be in the public eye. One has to applaud the job she has done. Several articles as the author or subject of a NY times article would normally be lauded as an accomplishment, but whoever writes for nytpicker can only be described as bizare. Perhaps is is envy or an attempt to justify a career less accomplished.

Hurtful articles like this are all that is wrong with the Internet and crappy sites like this.

Anonymous said...

See your own post on Jennifer Steinhauer quoting friends. There's a group of buddies --Steinhauer, Kogan, Amanda Hesser-- who like to quote each other and give each other space in each other's publications. They each have a running theme. Kogan's is how she can't afford to live in NYC -- and is seemingly unwilling to do the math and either increase revenue by, say, getting a salaried job, or decrease expenses by eliminating the private school tuition or moving to a more affordable location.

Anonymous said...

Just so everyone knows the Anonymous comment posted by this author at 7:52 p.m. is not from a friend of Deborah's but one that hopes to be.

There is just no reason for the negativity on the Internet. I would like to think humanity is better that this, but obviously we have a lot of evolving to do.

Anonymous said...

I love the idiot who posted at 7:55. The point of the recent article is about cutting costs. As for private tuition does the poster of the comment evne know the situation. Wehn we delve into personal lives without regard to the facts it is iresponsible and uninformed. I guess everyone wants there moment in the sun. The right to post comments without knowing any of the facts.

It is unfortunately that stupid people have equal access.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even think this was about Kogan. The article was more about the New York Times and the way it keeps coming back to the same people, over and over and over again. We live in a huge city, shouldn't there be a diversity of subjects to write about? That seemed to be the nytpicker's point, not that there's something wrong with Kogan. Sure, she's a lovely person, we knew that two articles ago.

For the name-calling poster said...

Re: "Wehn we delve into personal lives without regard to the facts it is iresponsible and uninformed."

Then don't go to a major national media outlet and give just half or less of the story. That is craven hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

To 8:48:

If it is your job to deal with the national media then that is what one must do.

It is the uninformed among us who should not comment.

The Internet makes everyone think that their opinion is important when most of the time it is just knucleheads trying to see their writing in print (online).

Sad that so many are so needy.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why Kogan's defender(s) is/are so angry or surprised. If you make your living writing about your personal life, you need to expect people are going to comment on your choices.

msk said...

I am amazed at the amount of poor grammar and spelling errors in these posts. People, if you are going to be critiquing a newspaper or its content, at least don't embarrass yourselves by writing poorly. Of course, it ironically proves the opinion many of you express: that any "idiot" -- a word many of you use with frightening frequency -- can post a comment on the internet. How many of you could get a story or a comment published in the Times, though? Or The Daily New, or The Post....