Six years ago I was on the phone with Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster.” We were talking about Ruben Fleischer‘s then-upcoming Gangster Squad, in which the fabled L.A. gangster was a character. Alas, Tereba kept pronouncing “Cohen” like “Cohn,” as in Harry. Was Mr. Mickey’s name not spelled C-O-H-E-N, and was it not a two-syllable thing? “It’s just the way I talk,” she replied.
Michael Cohen is not a rat, but I like Sarah Rodgers’ illustration. Created for a Michael Daly Daily Beast article called “Michael Cohen Debuts the Art of the Squeal,” it’s superbly done. The eyes are perfect.
Lately I’ve been noticing the occasional CNN or MSNBC commentator pronouncing Michael Cohen‘s last name as “Cohn.” Like “own” with C in front of it. “Why do they do that?,” I said to myself the other day. “It’s hardly a phoenetical challenge to say COE-WUHN, which is how it’s pronounced.” I’ve even heard the occasional dweeby critic refer to the COHN brothers, whose Ballad of Buster Scruggs will debut in Venice a few weeks hence. But instructing your tongue to say COE-WUHN is some kind of phoenetical challenge, apparently, if you speak with a New York borough accent. And so every now and then, a person will say Joel and Ethan CONE, as in ice cream cone or conehead. Or Michael COHN.
I can’t stand it when people do this. Get it straight. Practice in the upstairs bathroom before going to work. I never heard anyone mispronounce the last name of the late legendary songwriter and ladies’ man Leonard Cohen. Why was he spared while Michael Cohen (whom I respect now that he’s dumping on Trump) is getting pelted left and right on the news channels?
Honest admission: An hour ago I referred to the upcoming Coen brothers western as The Ballad of Lester Scruggs. Which is even worse than it initially sounds as the Foggy Mountain Boys were named Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.