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A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: The Pursuit of a 'Catcher'

Over the weekend I caught a great documentary on JD Salinger on PBS. Salinger is widely know not just for penning The Catcher In The Rye, but also his reclusiveness following the delayed success of that novel. With no question this documentary was all about trying to find out as much as we could about Salinger, while at the same time trying to fight his obsessive fans.

That was a weird portion of this documentary. You hear stories from young writers looking for answers, book lovers who feel the need to ask him questions and even the mention of noted killers who used the book. It really gives a horrible depiction of what the cost of celebrity is like. You really could understand Salinger’s defiance to this attention.

My high school, as Catholic high school, assigned us to read The Catcher in the Rye during junior year. I enjoyed the narration, the style and the attitude of the novel. When I say that, it’s not in the fanboy sense — I just enjoy a finely crafted story. Though if I met JD Salinger prior to his death a few years ago, I probably wouldn't have bothered him about with questions about Holden Caulfield or plans for a sequel.

Growing up, I never had heroes. I remember playing baseball as a kid, and my dad would always make comments about studying a player's skills and technique over worshiping him as a hero. This was a better upbringing than becoming a diehard fan who blindly followed one player, especially given that most guys I grew up watching were cocaine users and juicers (Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens).

Yet we see people meet celebrities and antagonize them with the low points in their lives. Like in Salinger’s case, people probably bothered him following John Lennon’s death and the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan since both shooters claimed The Catcher in the Rye was the inspiration for their actions. Salinger would repeatedly tell people that he was a writer, not a counselor. People still wanted to prod him for a reason. If he knew it, he probably would've shared it.

In my own line of work, I was talking to a play-by-play announcer who got to spend an inning calling a baseball game with Bill Buckner. For those unfamiliar to baseball, Buckner made a critical error in the 1986 World Series, which factored in the Red Sox losing the title. Buckner became linked to that error from then on out. The play-by-play guy, despite knowing that Buckner was being a sport for sitting in for an inning, decided to ask him to talk about the error. I could never do that, especially out of context. Baseball fans know that play forwards and backwards. To give Bill Buckner his due, he was a seasoned veteran in 1986. He won not only the 1980 batting title, but also amassed over 2,700 hits. He was a consistent player who developed a weak ankle from a previous injury he never healed fully. Also to further his defense on that play, the game was lost more by Calvin Schiraldi (for throwing a slow curve to the slumping Gary Carter) and Bob Stanley (for his pass ball to score Kevin Mitchell to tie the game).

Without a doubt, this country is obsessed with celebrities, maybe not as biting and intrusive as the English are with their tabloids, but horrible regardless. The next time you see a celebrity and want to mention a low point in their career, don’t. Unless it’s Kanye West. Make sure your camera is on and then sell it to TMZ, because we need more fuel for their fire.

That was sarcasm.
A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: The Pursuit of a 'Catcher' Reviewed by Seth Pohorence on 1/29/2014 Rating: 5

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