The news broke the other day that J.D. Salinger was dead at the age of 91. I thought for sure that I'd drifted into another parallel reality again, because I could have sworn that he was dead already. Apparently I wasn't alone in this estimation, because Mr. Dockery then emailed me to say:
Like in Tim Burton's Ed Wood movie on Lugosi with everybody saying, "I thought he was dead." But then finally Ed instead of correcting has to say, "Yes, he is." I guess Salinger's been off the radar for so long he might as well have been dead.
It's just another notch in the last moments of the 20th century.
Take me home. Because I can't remember.
And then I got an email on the subject from the honorable Brine Manley, aka "Eggroll", who's sort of the Neal Cassidy to my Burroughs and to Dockery's Kerouac. Well, no, wait, maybe Brine is really more the Burroughs type than me. But that leaves Ginsberg and I don't wanna be Ginsberg, dammit. Can we have two Kerouacs? Anyway, Brine's email said:
I will be toasting him tonight as I drink a quart of Bell's Hopslam and read/shout passages from "Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter" from my apartment rooftop, naked.
A lot of people talk about their first love in high school. I guess for the majority of high school, until I found love working at an amusement park my senior year, Salinger was my first girlfriend/love. Which is a pretty cliché statement to make these days. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, fucking 'Catcher in the Rye': every depressed male teenagers' wet dream since the 60s." Yup. It was, goddammit.
Well, Salinger, 'Bones' McCoy, Piers Anthony, Gene Simmons and the girl on the cover of Ratt's "Invasion of Your Privacy." We all had an open relationship.
Funny. Life hasn't changed too awful much when I read back on those statements. Best to just get back to work and not think about it.
I should say a few words here about the importance of Catcher in the Rye, and probably more importantly, the influence it had on many of my subsequent literary heroes, but having just typed the words "Bell's Hopslam" has me all verklempt now and I should probably go downstairs and make a selection from the wine cellar.
- - JSH