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Question: Why aren’t there any banjos on Star Trek?
Answer: Because it's the future!
The Future of Banjos
Whatever your feelings are about the banjo, or the future, you’re sure to enjoy two new takes on these topics by veteran comedians Steve Martin and Albert Brooks.
First up is Steve Martin, who extends his comedic talents to songwriting, as banjo player and leader of Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. I listened to their latest release, Rare Bird Alert, dozens of times on a recent drive down to LA. It was very entertaining: funny, catchy, technically proficient, and gorgeous. “Best Love” is hands down my favorite song on the album--it's sung by Paul McCartney!
Also be sure to check out past release The Crow (New Songs for the Five String Banjo) , winner of the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album. The first song, “Daddy Played the Banjo,” had me in stitches.
Here’s the video for the single “Jubilation Day” (from Rare Bird Alert):
Albert Brooks recently penned his first novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, a bleak (but at times, kinda funny) look at the future of the United States. Brooks writes from a variety of characters’ perspectives as they each face difficulties and challenges brought on by a society in flux.
A massive earthquake destroys Los Angeles, leaving all residents, including seniors, homeless and forced to seek shelter, en masse, at the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, Chinese businessmen come up with ways to use the Los Angeles crisis as means of gaining foothold in not only the US economy, but in the government as well. The President must not only deal with the earthquake, but also the increasing tension throughout the country between young people and “olds,” a segment of the population that is living longer than ever, thanks to the discovery of the cure for cancer and other medical miracles.
Brooks carefully interweaves all these plotlines and makes readers understand, if not empathize with, each character’s motivations. His meditation on the future ends with the election of a new President, leaving the reader to wonder if things will get even worse, or maybe a bit better. This book will give readers a lot to think about long after they have finished reading it.
Karen Choy is the Youth Services Librarian in Half Moon Bay. For the record, there are no banjos in Albert Brooks's 2030.