Paul Sorvino died on Monday at age 83. He was involved in an anecdote that I cherish a little. In some respects it might surprise you.
Last night I watched an engrossing movie. The Wind Rises was master filmmaker Miyazaki Hayao’s last work (or so he said after its release; there are always rumors of new projects). It is the story of Horikoshi Jiro, the idealistic young engineer who became the chief designer of the famous Mitsubishi A6M, notoriously known as the “Zero,” the most effective Japanese fighter plane of World War II.
There is so much to talk about, almost none of it good. Money that you earned and saved is being effectively squandered by inflation, as those savings lose their value in large measure because the political party in power is made up of idiots and liars. The president, who was a louse before he was insane, doesn’t care about you any more than the reprehensible Donald Trump did, and neither do any of his lefty elitist colleagues.
Sixty-four years ago, the number one song in the nation was a simple thing sung by the Kingston Trio. It was called “Tom Dooley.” The performance, coming at the height of the great folk scare of the 1950s and early 60s, began with Bob Shane’s banjo riff, played on a plectrum banjo like — maybe the same as — the one I have upstairs in the banjo locker.
It is accurately said that pride goeth before a fall. Please make no mistake: What follows is not written out of pride, nor some desire to say, “See? I told you so.” Quite the opposite. I possess no special gift of prophecy. I have no access to inside information. I guess I have wits enough to survive — made it this far, anyway — but nothing much beyond that. Yet somehow I was able to predict a lot of what has happened in the last year or so.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized that the electric bass guitar is an instrument designed so that music-ish sounds can be made by creatures who lack opposable thumbs.
It’s something that I’m sure crops up from time to time in all our lives: Is it about time to build a banjo?
Monday was the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial’s dedication, and while that’s scarcely an event that should make us stop in reverent silence, it made me smile.