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.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.