For the past few years U.S. troops overseas have received thousands of free pirated DVDS — not from some shady Chinese operation or from an actual employee of a Hollywood studio, but from a 92 year-old Jewish man living on Long Island named Hyman Strachman. The soldiers he supplies free entertainment to (he pays for everything himself and charges nothing) refer to him as “Big Hy.”
“It’s not the right thing to do, but I did it,” Strachman told the New York Times. “If I were younger,” he added, “maybe I’d be spending time in the hoosegow.”
In a perfect world — one presided over by yours truly — this guy would be immune to prosecution merely for his use of the word “hoosegow,” but I digress.
Now here’s the thing: the Times profile on Strachman is heartwarming as hell and goes on and on and on about how much what he does means to soldiers. For instance…
Jenna Gordon, a specialist in the Army Reserve, said she had handed out even more of Mr. Strachman’s DVDs last year as a medic with the 883rd Medical Company east of Kandahar City, where soldiers would gather for movie nights around personal computers, with mortar blasting in the background. Some knew only that the discs came from some dude named Big Hy; others knew not even that.
“It was pretty big stuff — it’s reconnecting you to everything you miss,” she said. “We’d tell people to take a bunch and pass them on.”
But — BUT — what’s made clear in the piece on Strachman is that he’s been completely floating under the radar up to this point. So basically the paper just outed this out this old man by a) printing a huge feature on him and then b) going the extra mile and tipping the MPAA to him.
Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America, said he did not believe its member studios were aware of Mr. Strachman’s operation. His sole comment dripped with the difficulty of going after a 92-year-old widower supporting the troops.
“We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home,” Mr. Gantman said.
Poor Big Hy. I’m sure of two things here: 1) he will be contacted son by MPAA attorneys and 2) he was not fully aware of what he was getting into when he agreed to be interviewed. He’ll probably be bunking with a dude named “Claw” on Riker’s Island any day now.