Why I Hate Sonny Bono

Tombstone of Sonny Bono at Cathedral City’s Desert Memorial Park

Tombstone of Sonny Bono at Cathedral City’s Desert Memorial Park

My original plan was to empty my bladder on Sonny (“Watch Out for That Tree!”) Bono’s grave, but Martine prevented me. For many years, I had borne a grudge for the former singer and Congressman, as have all serious book collectors.

The reason is the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. It is also referred to as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, because the unspoken aim was to extend Walt Disney Studio’s copyright of Mickey Mouse. According to Sonny’s widow, Mary Bono, he had wished to extend the copyright forever. He was deterred when it was pointed out to him that what he wanted was unconstitutional.

Now one of my favorite writers is Marcel Proust. There recently was a new translation by various hands of In Search of Lost Time. My access to the last three volumes of the series—The Prisoner, The Fugitive, and Finding Time Again—was impaired by Bono’s legislation. Eventually, I got my hands on the paperback edition; but the hardbound will not be available to me unless I buy it in Europe or I live to a very, very ripe old age.

Of course, Sonny did not live to see his legislation become law. He died in a skiing accident when he hit a tree at the (aptly named) Heavenly Ski Resort near South Lake Tahoe, California.

Martine and I had been visiting the Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, where we also saw the graves of Frank Sinatra and Magda Gabor (sister of Zsa Zsa).