The Asshat in the Rye

Fuck You, Old Man Salinger

Fuck You, Old Man Salinger

J.D. Salinger wrote one of the most influential novels in modern history. If you don’t know which book that is, then you’re a moron. That might piss you off, if you are one of those who don’t know which book Salinger wrote, being called a moron and all. All morons hate it when you call them a moron.

Since writing his book, Salinger pretty much didn’t do anything worthwhile. Sure, he wrote a few more books, but nobody read them and nobody much cared. The Catcher in the Rye (fine, morons, there it is) was his magnum opus, and if I ever wrote something that damn good, I probably wouldn’t bother to write anything anymore either. I’d just go off and sit on a beach and drink mojitos with my royalty check money. Of course, then I might get drunk and call the guy a moron, because the guy usually is a moron.

But back to the book. What really knocks me out is a book, when you’re all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. The Catcher in the Rye knocked me out that way. I think it knocked out this Swedish guy, goes by the name J.D. California, because he wrote a sequel to The Catcher in the Rye where the main character is in his 70s and runs around New York City as a crazy old coot. I’m pretty sure that the book, 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, sucks. I haven’t even read it, but if it was written by a Swedish guy obsessed with America and he can’t come up with a better pen name than “J.D. California?” I’m sure the book is a bunch of lousy recycled crap about what he sees on T.V. and thinks that is anything to do with the crumby America we live in.

Crumby and stupid or not, it was probably about time someone writes a sequel to The Catcher in the Rye. You might figure that Salinger would do it, but until today, I thought the old coot was dead. I guess he is still alive, 90 years old, he probably smells like that old guy smell, writing crap wishing he could write The Catcher in the Rye again.

Well, old man Salinger got right sore at “J.D. California,” for writing his sequel, and he’s suing him for it. I can see him now, old man Salinger and some stick up his ass crumby Ivy League lawyer, maybe even an academic with stupid patches on the elbows of his jacket, in court to stop J.D. California from writing the words “Holden Caufield,” because Old Man Salinger thinks that he owns that. Crazy old bastard. But, phony J.D. California doesn’t even call the guy “Holden Caufield.” He just uses the name “Mr. C.” Here’s Salinger’s lousy complaint full of self-important goddamned junk. God I hate that stuff.

If you really want to hear about the suit, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is what “fair use” is, and what Section 107 of the Copyright Act says and all that Mel Nimmer kind of crap but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. I don’t really write this blog for people who don’t know that kind of stuff already.

And like I said, I haven’t read anything by “Mr. California,” so maybe it is a “rip off,” like Old Man Salinger says, but I doubt it. Among other things, you’ll find that Old Man Salinger is not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior and wrote a book about it. If his book is about a guy right out of high school, and “California Man” writes his about an old bugger, with maybe the same name and all, I can’t see any way that could be “copyright infringement,” at least not the section 106 or 107 version of it they taught us in my crumby law school. And if it pisses you off that there are guys out there who contribute one thing to the collective culture, and then think they have a monopoly on anything related to it, well you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.

The thing is, anything that pisses you off and sickens you or stimulates you is probably something that another alienated wack job felt. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry. But, don’t you know, Old Man Salinger’s mind must be so addled by brain rot and the whisperings of his crumby Ivy League lawyer that he doesn’t give a shit and now “Mr. California” will stand trial for more than picking a really queer pen name.

The crappy part of it is that we’re seeing this happen again and again. First crappy Seinfeld and his suit in Castle Rock.

Crumby judge

Crumby judge

Then bitchy J.K. Rowling proved that you can take the white trash out of the U.K. ghetto, but it doesn’t change that she’s trash. And we’re supposed to be all nice about it, and say that they are just living off the fruits of their creative labors. But really, they are just putting big “Fuck You” signs on every stupid corner of the culture and they don’t care – because they made their money, and their stupid stick-in-the-ass Ivy League lawyers don’t care either, because they feel entitled. And if you ever wondered reasons why Sonia Sotomayor is a crumby judge, all you need to do is read her Castle Rock opinion – Castle Rock Entertainment v. Carol Publ. Group, 955 F. Supp. 260 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) where, like morons usually do, she stacked the deck for the big guy and crapped on the First Amendment.

In that case, Beth Golub watched too much Seinfeld, so she wrote The Seinfeld Aptitude Test, a bunch of trivia questions testing the reader’s knowledge of the Seinfeld TV Show. It doesn’t get much more “fair” use than that, but Sotomayor decided to apply a quasi-trademark law view mixed with a bizarre and narrow view of the fair use doctrine – and that since Castle Rock might have one day expanded their works into the trivia book realm, that Golub was infringing on Castle Rock’s derivative use rights. Then the crumby Second Circuit upheld her opinion. See Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group, Inc., 150 F.3d 132 (2d Cir. 1998).

So with the crazy opinion in Castle Rock, you know that this is why Old Man Salinger filed in the Southern District of New York. After he saw Rowling win her case – even though Ol’ Bill Patry even thought she shouldn’t have – then you know that Old Man Salinger was just drooling on his remote control when Matlock came on and then his Ivy asshole lawyers told him he could win. And you know he will even though there’s no way he can say that he was gonna write the sequel, because he just hides in some cabin in New Hampshire, writing nothing or writing something but not publishing it.

Knowing that is half the way to knowing that copyright law has gotten seriously fucked up. The Copyright Clause says that it is there to promote the progress of science and the useful arts – and they thought that writing books was a useful art, don’t you know, so how is it “progress” to stop this “California Dreamer Guy” from writing his sequel, when all that Salinger should be writing is his stinking tombstone. If you think about it, and read Sotomayor’s anti-speech dribble and drabble and drivel you’ll start to see that she, and Old Man Salinger are the reasons that the whole damn culture is covered with “Fuck You” signs written by Ivy League assholes. And all it proves is that if you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the ‘Fuck you’ signs in the world. It’s impossible. So I’ll just make one of my own.

Fuck You, Old Man Salinger. Fuck You.

59 Responses to The Asshat in the Rye

  1. blueollie says:

    I hold you responsible for the keyboard I just ruined by blowing my coffee all over it.

    Expect a lawsuit. :)

  2. Albert says:

    This is not the first time Salinger has sued for copyright infringement, either. In the mid-1980s, he successfully sued to stop the publication of a biography incorporating some of his unpublished letters that had been donated to various research libraries. The Second Circuit (yep) reversed the district court and ordered the preliminary injunction issued:

  3. Ken says:

    He should have written “The Catcher and the Zombies in the Rye.” That’s very big right now.

  4. ipstorytelling says:

    I’ll make one of my own too: “Fuck you moron, Fuck You”. Great post.

  5. KWW says:

    “Coming in the Rye” ????

    Marc – isn’t that the name of a movie from one of your clients?

    • KWW says:

      Oh, “Coming THROUGH the Rye.” Sorry. Same thing though – any preposition works. Through it, On it, In it, Over it.

  6. Halcyon 0L says:

    I hated teaching this book to today’s kids. But, that said, very nice read–well done.

    For those who didn’t get it (and some did not), Marc posted in the voice of the book’s main character.

  7. blueollie says:

    I got it too, though it had been a while since I’ve read the book (or did I just read an excerpt?)

  8. […] of copyright infringement issues, the following article at the Legal Satyricon made me laugh; it will be funnier if you have read the book Catcher in the Rye. Yes, the article makes a point as […]

  9. Atticus says:

    Genius. Would read again.

  10. Scott says:

    Pretty brilliant, if you want to know the truth.

  11. FirstCircuitReview says:

    The Copyright Clause goes on to explain just how the Framers intended to promote the progress of useful arts — by securing for limited times to authors the exclusive right to their writings. In fact, it’s one of the only constitutional empowerments that specifically explains tells Congress how to achieve the desired objective. The Framers understood that limited monopolies provide the economic incentives necessary for individuals to contribute new and creative ideas to the public coffers.

    I would be less concerned with Judge Sotomayor’s Castle Rock opinion–which purports to protect the limited monopoly on new ideas–and more concerned with the First Circuit’s opinion in Torres Negron v. J & N Records, LLC, 504 F.3d 151 (1st Cir. 2007). There, the First Circuit threw out a bona fide author’s infringement suit because, according to the court, the author didn’t submit a valid “copy” of the original piece in his copyright registration. The reason his copy wasn’t valid — because when he wrote the song in his friend’s basement ten years prior he didn’t retain the original cassette tape or lyric sheet. Keep in mind 3 things: (1) Nobody (including the defendant/infringers) contested the fact that this guy wrote the song; (2) the defendant/infringers sold millions of records behind the owner’s back for over 5 years; and (3) at the lower court level, the author was awarded almost half a million dollars from a jury, only to be JNOV’d by the trial judge after the verdict. The First Circuit upheld, and in doing so stifled at least one artist’s willingness to contribute creative ideas to the public coffers.

    • I presume that the judge who authored Torres Negron isn’t being nominated to sit on the Supreme Court.

      • OllieHouke says:

        Did you want her to write an opinion that she knew the 2nd Circuit would overturn anyway?

        • Well, for starters, she could very well have written an opinion that stated “I think that the plaintiff’s case is overreaching and the First Amendment should demand a different result, but I am bound by the Second Circuit’s precedent.”

          Of course, Sotomayor is no stranger to being overturned on appeal:

          Only five of the 232 opinions Sotomayor has written in her 11 years as a 2d Circuit judge have been reviewed by the Supreme Court. Of those five, justices overturned three — including one environmental and one prison abuse case that are drawing attention. With a fourth, the Supreme Court upheld her bottom line judgment, but repudiated her reasoning. The fifth case was upheld.

          In the five cases overall, her decisions won 12 votes from the high court, with 32 votes against. (source)

  12. Cman says:

    Pretty impressive. Very good references to the book. Anyone who didn’t catch it is a moron. “If you really want to hear about it…” –> classic intro.

  13. Boo Boo says:

    The voice was pretty good (is it really so shocking people “got it”?), but the “never wrote anything else of value and no one read it anyway” is waaaaaay off base. I prefer Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction to Catcher any day. And how perfect was A Perfect Day for Bananafish?

    But thanks for the summary of the case. Diverting break from work while still technically doing “professional reading”.

    I’m surrounded by jerks. I’m not kidding.

    • Charles Delacroix says:

      The voice was damn near perfect, and I’m not kidding either. But I agree, Raise High, Seymour: An Introduction, and Bananafish are all wonderful. Franny & Zooey and the rest of the whole Glass family canon is a delight. And this soon after Memorial Day, in honor of all our WWII veterans, I humbly and gratefully recommend for anyone’s appreciation of our servicemen a deeply moving WWII period story, For Esme with Love and Squalor.

  14. Author says:

    Catcher in The Rye is an over-rated piece of cult trash.

  15. ohsuzanna says:

    That’s one of the best posts I have read in ages. F***ing brilliant.

  16. M. says:

    I haven’t had much use for Salinger since I read the book his teenage mistress, Joyce Maynard, wrote about him. “J.D. California” sounds like he could be “Dani California’s” dad. I daresay filing a lawsuit over a book is usually a great way to get me to buy a copy of the disputed book, assuming it’s the least bit interesting (i.e. not white supremacy drivel).

  17. John says:

    I agree with the notion that copyright law is completely out of control. Check out the book The Future Of Ideas – a fantastic discussion that provides even more examples of the absurdity of the law today.

  18. jesschristensen says:

    Genius post.

  19. […] “IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HEAR ABOUT the suit, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is what ‘fair use’ is, and what Section 107 of the Copyright Act says and all that Mel Nimmer kind of crap but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. I don’t really write this blog for people who don’t know that kind of stuff already.” But you really do want to click on that link if you want to know why Sonia Sotomayor had something to do with why J.D. Salinger filed his lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. […]

  20. lester says:

    Clever. Barbarians hate copyrights.

  21. Mark David Chapman says:

    My advice: Get a restraining order.

  22. Patty says:

    God, I loved that.

    I thought for a second you were Salinger…but then I’ve always been the gullible type.

    Some girl once told me she invented leather patches on jeans and she was serious. She was from New Hampshire, too. A bunch of crap. I never really liked her again after that.

    You know, square dancing would never had existed, or any other type of folk dancing for that matter. Or,folk anything. If these damn lawyers existed way back when.

  23. Dusty says:

    Halcyon 0L, thanks for the head’s up on the character imitation. Funny, but that persona just didn’t come though well in the Cliff Notes version.

  24. Bob Loblaw says:

    If you blogged permanently in the voice of Mr. C, I think your law blog would get a lot more hits.

  25. tevtech says:

    Although I agree with the premise of the article…one can only wonder what kind of parents the auther had…..obviously not very good….a few chips are evident…..

  26. A reader says:




  27. Bryan says:

    Truman Capote said of Kerouac’s “On the Road”, “that’s not writing, that’s typing.” I hold the same opinion for “Catcher”. It’s brilliant because a bunch of people said it was. The emperor has no clothes.

  28. Jeff Younger says:


    That is the best goddam blog post in the Internet. Goddam it. I’m fucking dying over here.

  29. ari stotle says:

    catcher in the rye sucked. i absolutely hated that book. i prefer the pragmatism of william summerset maugham to this meandering drivel by salinger. i hated that book in junior high and i hated that book in college when i decided to give holden another chance. what drivel. i hate it. there i said it, and you know what? i hate faulkner too.

    how’s that for the confessions of an english major?

  30. ari stotle says:

    oh yeah, and other crap that is held up to be sooo “cool,”…anything by the beat writers. on the road was crap, too!

    there i said it.

  31. Sarah Rolph says:

    This was pretty funny, really. I mean, if you read the book and all.

    I like how the morons always have to point out how much the book is overrated. What a bunch of phonies.

  32. Maureen says:

    Holden Caulfield would have hated his book being assigned in class. That is the real act of a moron and phony. And since I had to buy and read the darned book against my will, and then was repeatedly told how much I would and must love it because I was a teenager, I have the right to complain about it for the rest of my life if I like.

    (And let’s not even get into the stupid “bad language” argument. Oooh, so dirty and so transgressive, when the pottymouths out in the hallway said worse than that every minute of the day? Mark me less than impressed.)

    I admit that it wasn’t quite as bad as being forced to read Earth Abides. That’s a real stinker. Plotholes of starcruiser proportions.

    But still… get off my lawn, Salinger.

  33. HaloJones-Fan says:

    It’s really crumby to have to ask for goddamn perMISSion any time you want to use even the TINIEST BIT of someone else’s property. Goddamit, I should be able to do whatever I want without having to exercise any restraint or responsibility at all!

  34. mojo says:

    Me, I blame Mickey Mouse. If Disney Corp. can hang onto copyright for that pathetic rodent long after it should have expired, just because they have a ton of money to spend on Ivy-league lawyers, then nobody is safe. We’ll all end up belonging to Disney, now and forever, amen.

    — Goofy

    • Not so much lawyers, but legislators. Disney buys them the way I buy carrots in the grocery. And they’re about as available, too, judging from appearances.

  35. Crank Caller says:

    I agree, “Catcher” sucked, overrated and “speaking to the people” with its middle finger. I agree, Salinger is a lazy old coot and failed in protecting the franchise by not writing the obligatory sucktastic sequel. But really, couldn’t J. D. Malibu wait until the guy was dead? I believe J. D. Fresno is the true moron and loser, or “morron and looser” in today’s internet-speak. What’s next? “Holden Caulfield Rides The Bus” – a coloring book for kids? I say J. D. Sausalito should kneel down at the foot of Salinger’s walker, beg for forgiveness, exchange plot point details with him, and hopefully walk away with his blessing. And if not, Old Man Salinger should sue the diapers off this brat.

    • How would it matter if he waited until Salinger was dead? Anything I write is protected by copyright for 70 years after my death, that is if I ever die.

  36. moron says:

    I confess it: I have never read the book. Now I don’t think I have to. If it is written like the blog at the beginning of this thread, I would chuck it pretty quickly to the recycling bin anyway.

  37. nick kennedy says:

    He published Franny and Zooey ten years after Catcher, Mark.

  38. EDWARD ESTLIN says:

    i sing of how to hump franny.

  39. robedits says:

    If you really want to know, the imitative style was brilliant satire.

    Copyright law is definitely FUBAR right now, but I don’t think we can put all of the blame on Sotomayor.

    Kudos to the guy who was pushing For Esme, With Love and Squalor (from Nine Stories). I think every story in there is like a tone poem. BTW, one of those stories was turned into a movie with Robert Cummings or somebody like that. So when Holden is talking about his brother going to Hollywood and becoming a prostitute, that’s J.D. talking about himself.

    One of the best single sentences ever written (from The Laughing Man) from memory:
    “Her stickwork aside, Mary Hudson was the kind of girl who knew how to wave to somebody from third base.”

    I am humbled and distraught every time I think of it. I will never write such an amazing sentence if I live to be as old as J.D. (I know it’s out of context. Read the goddamn story you morons.)

  40. Lorenz Gude says:

    I read it sooo long ago I didn’t get that it was written in the voice of Holden Caulfield. I should have twigged because of the liberal use of archaic terms like crumby and moron. But the deeper cause is that the book never appealed to me. I knew i was supposed to like it and felt like a …well….moron…for finding it tedious. I just never experienced alienation or teenage angst that way. Not even in 1959 when it was reliably reported at the time to be everywhere.

  41. Christopher Harbin says:

    All morons hate it when you call them a moron, Marc.

  42. […] Legal Satyricon says, And if you ever wondered reasons why Sonia Sotomayor is a crumby judge, all you need to do is read […]

  43. […] you’d like to see JD thoroughly skewered, read The Asshat in the Rye.   Mr. Salinger’s old eyes can apparently still read the fine print so I imagine he can […]

  44. […] of the most creatively cool things can be done by legally reworking a book or film through the doctrine of “fair use,” or when its copyright […]

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