Bobby Corcoran, Murfreesboro, TN: ‘I enjoyed listening to the Dueling Banjos piece. I have a friend who is involved in several activities, one of which is music – The Cumberland Trio. I thought he might be interested, so I forwarded it. I thought you might find his response of interest.’

The original Dueling Banjos LP recorded in 1961 was called “New Dimensions In Banjo & Bluegrass” by Eric Weissberg & Marshall Brickman, both of whom were teachers at Juliard and members of the NY Symphonyboth played bass and cello! I have the original LP. It has been remastered to CD and is available on Amazon – HIGHLY recommend! The Dueling Banjos song was on that original LP with Weissberg and Brickman dueling on BANJOS. When the soundtrack to Deliverance was released one song was changed from the original 1961 release and that was Dueling Banjos which was done between Weissberg and a guitar player named Steve Mandel. I don’t know why, because the original is better. Side One on the LP was all in Scruggs style by both. Side Two had Brickman playing a new style that went beyond Scruggs called “chromatic,” which was invented by Bill Keith. Weissberg played the same songs in Scruggs style to show the difference. We met Weissberg and Brickman on the ABC-TV Hootenanny show back in ’64 when they sang with a great folk group called The Tarriers with a black guitar player/lead singer named Clarence Cooper. Brickman played bass and Weissberg played banjo. Brickman went on to produce and direct movies including several with Woody Allen. Both are still around I think.

☞ Well, Marshall certainly is – he’s our astonishingly talented, modest upstairs neighbor. We heard him play the banjo a few New Year’s Eves ago, just sitting on a couch with another neighbor, no audience, and I – having no knowledge of this background – asked whether he knew how to play the song from Deliverance. As it turns out, why, yes, he did.


You’ve probably seen this one already, but just in case:

On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at AU, was requested to testify. At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: ‘Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?’ Raskin replied: ‘Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.’ The room erupted into applause.


Pieter Bach: ‘Jonathan Levy’s proposal of mandatory gun insurance is excellent! And if there were jail time for someone found to have an uninsured gun, so much the better. Maybe we can get the authorities in places like Oakland, where I live, to pay some attention to this idea. We had our 35th murder of the year last night, and the police and coroner were still working at the crime scene when I passed it on my bus to work. Oakland, like many other cities, has huge potential. But it will never be realized until something substantive is done about the guns.’


Richard Reiss: ‘Between Iraq and the climate, this article from March 30 New York Times is pretty much the whole shooting match, when you think about it. It has many sad but funny quotes, like this one:’

Improving mileage now would be easy if we sacrificed some zip in new cars, [an expert] said, ‘but in this country, we don’t sacrifice for anything.’

☞ It goes on to note that the average vehicle went from zero to 60 in 14.4 seconds 25 years ago (and weighed 3,200 pounds). Now it sprints to 60 in 9.9 seconds (and weighs 4,100 pounds).

Instead of keeping acceleration and weight constant and using our technological advances to improve fuel efficiency, we kept fuel efficiency constant and increased acceleration and weight – at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars we now owe to our friends the Saudis and others.

(By my exceptionally rough calculations, we could have saved nigh on a trillion gallons of gas over those 25 years. At a buck a gallon, let alone three, that couldn’t have hurt our personal, or our national, finances. Or the atmosphere.)

Tomorrow (and if you’re getting annoyed, you can click that hyperlink and read it today): ANNUITIES!


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