Big Apple Tales: On the Death of Gil Rogin, 1929-2017

The New York Times treated Gil Rogin to a hometown boy’s obit today, evidence of how glorious it was to be born in Brooklyn before WWII and then climb the golden ladder in Manhattan.  It was his good fortune to sell funny innocuous stories to the New Yorker when its readership was still comprised mostly of the local gray-flannel-suit set and the provincial strivers far, far away across the Hudson.  He joined Time Inc. when Henry Luce’s monument to Cold War patriotism and happy talk produced ‘zines that were fantasmagorical money trees. Editors only needed to stay alert enough to keep all the low-hanging fruit from clogging the elevators. When I crossed paths with him there in 1985, he had moved from Sports Illustrated to Discover, where it made no difference whatsoever that he was totally clueless about science. In retrospect, my guess is that he was brought in to polish the sagging show up a bit (the corporate muckety-mucks had realized no science mag was ever going to rake in the dough like People, and a swimsuit issue was out of the question) in order to unload it quickly on some rubes for way more than it was worth. He succeeded there, too.  I remember that a kid used to come to the office every day to shine his shoes, a mere dram of famously cushy Time Inc. perks. Those were the heydays of print, indeed. After Discover left the stable, and I with it, he fell further upstairs and I never heard anything about him again until this morning’s lavish obituary. So, rest in peace, Gil–you made it all look easy, and then some.

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