Monday, July 16, 2018

VOLUME ONE - NUMBER ONE



NOT MY TOWN

Here in the Lake Region of Wayne and Pike Counties PA we have a free advertiser known as “Our Town” that has been around for quite a while.  I have been picking up the current copy of this freebie for years at the diner in Honesdale, the Boat House Restaurant or the IGA, originally as a summer tourist and now as a resident.

The first 3-pages of this publication contains very literally unreadable ignorant, hateful and racist ramblings by the editor/publisher that embraces the perversion of Christianity promoted by the so-called “evangelicals” of the religious right.

Obviously, I read this free publication only for the jokes and notices of local fund-raising events that are included inside.  I certainly do not read the editor/publisher’s nonsense.

Lately random scanning of parts of the editorials indicate they have “doubled down” on ignorance and deplorability – emboldened by the unfortunate “normalization” of hate, bigotry and white supremacist views resulting from the Presidency of dangerous and despicable Donald T Rump.

The Lake Region is a vacation community, relying on summer tourism for much of its economy, and this free publication is readily available to tourists at a variety of locations.  I certainly do not want visitors to our region to think the garbage in these editorials represents the thinking of the majority of local residents. 

One reason for reviving THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING is to offer to locals and visitors to our area an intelligent alternative to the ignorance, hate and racism of “Our Town”. 





WHAT KIND OF NAME IS “THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING”?

I am, or have been, an avid reader of murder mystery novels.  I do admit I don’t read as much as I used to, or would like to, but when I do nowadays it is usual what is known as “cozies” - a sub genre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.

Over the years I have read mystery series where the “detective” has been -

* an investment banker,
* real-life public celebrities (in fictional adventures) – Steve Allen and George Kennedy
* members of the clergy – a Rabbi, a Methodist (assumed) minister, and a priest – and,
* cats and the occasional dog - while not the main detective at least important members of the investigative “team”.

One of the mystery series with detecting cats was “The Cat Who . . .” books by Lilian Jackson Braun, featuring a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his amazing Siamese cats, Kao K'o-Kung (Koko for short) and Yum Yum.  Like me, Qwilleran was originally from a big metropolitan city and, a few books into the series, moved to quaint rural Moose County ("400 miles north of everywhere").  He wrote a column titled “The Qwill Pen” in the local newspaper “The Moose County Something”.

So the title of this blog is a tip of the hat to Lillian Jackson Braun and her hero Jim Qwilleran.




THINGS NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU

In 1972 I started my “apprenticeship” as a paid tax return preparer.  My employer and mentor, James P Gill, would play NYC radio station WRFM - home of "American Popular Standards" - all the time in our storefront office at Journal Square.  I learned the art of tax preparation listening to radio personality Jim Branch and the music of Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Jack Jones, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, and Frank, Dean and Sammy

And discovering "Things No One Ever Told You" from Jim Aylward – “a collection of unusual facts, figures, and feats”.

So, with a tip of the hat to Mr Aylward, I will share Things No One Ever Told You in each “issue” of THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING.  Since my chosen profession is that of tax professional, I have been preparing 1040s for individuals in all walks of life since 1972, and I am known far and wide as the internet’s “Wandering Tax Pro”, let me begin with a tax-related “thing”.  Here is -

WHY WE NO LONGER  MAKE CHECKS FOR TAXES DUE PAYABLE TO THE IRS

When I first started preparing tax returns if you owed the government a balance due on your 1040 or 1040A, or any other tax form, you were told to make the check payable to “Internal Revenue Service”.  

But beginning with 1998 tax returns this changed and taxpayers were instructed to make checks payable to “United States Treasury”.

Why was this change made?

It appears several crooked tax preparers had told clients with a balance due to make their checks payable to “IRS”.  They also told the clients to leave the signed return with them and they would mail it to the government.

Once the client left the office the preparer would carefully change the IRS on the check to MRS, followed by a name in all caps (i.e. MRS JOAN TAXPAYER).  The crooks would then cash the check and “take the money and run”.  When taxpayers eventually received notices from the IRS and attempted to contact the preparer they would discover that the office had been closed and the preparer was nowhere to be found.  




BOBSERVATIONS: 
WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS NEW JERSEY ANY MORE

For the first installment of this column let me reprint an item from my book BOBSERVATIONS about some "culture shock" from moving from metropolitan Jersey City NJ - across the river from "the Big Apple" - to tiny and quaint rural Hawley PA. 

I moved here about 6 years ago, going from a “blue” state to a “red” state.  Things are a bit different here in “the country”.  For example -

(1) I never thought I would hear this said in a holiday season radio advertisement -

A new luger under the Christmas tree will mean a lifetime of pleasure!

The thought had never occurred to me. 

I realize here in the country guns and hunting are often a part of everyday life, but this still sounds wrong to me.

My first introduction to the proliferation of guns in my new home was when I learned that one of the items you can use to verify your identity when renewing your PA driver’s license is your gun license.

(2) One day while reading the “Do Something” column of the local newspaper I came across the announcement for a “Manure Management Workshop”.

And it had nothing to do with political public relations. 

(3) My first time voting as a Pennsylvania resident was the 2012 Presidential election. 

As I introduced myself to the panel at my polling place and was signing in the Republican challenger, who had overheard that I was a new PA resident, came over to welcome me, publicly announcing (I assume jokingly) – “Here in Pennsylvania the Republicans pay $20.00 per vote.”

My response – “I just came from Hudson County, NJ where the Democrats paid $25.00 per vote.”

FYI, in Hudson County NJ it is, or at least at one time was, practically illegal not to vote Democrat.  And we were told by the local Democratic Party to vote early and vote often, and to remind our deceased relatives to also vote early and often.

I was not upset or offended by the challenger’s greeting, and accepted it as a joke.  But I couldn’t help thinking that if he had said that to me at a Jersey City polling place he would have been promptly physically evicted and escorted to jail.

By the way – I actually did vote Republican in that election, but never got my $20.00!

(4) All kinds of weird stuff happened locally when I lived in Jersey City, and nothing I would read in the Jersey Journal would surprise me.  I thought I had escaped all the crazy people and happenings when I moved from the city to the country

But what is described in the following headline, which appeared shortly after my move, never occurred (to my knowledge anyway) anywhere in Hudson County NJ -

“Pennsylvania Man Jumps Out of Window, Gnaws Woman’s Head in Bloody Attack.”

What happened?

Richard Cimino Jr., 20, was arrested in Hawley, Pa. after he allegedly broke into a house before emerging from a window naked and bloody then began to chew on a passing woman’s head in a so-called ‘cannibal’ attack.”

Fortunately, it was a truly unique incident and nothing near as bizarre has been reported since.

Of course, now that I live in NEPA my auto insurance premiums have been cut in half (and, before Obamacare, so were my health insurance premiums), the total real estate taxes on my condo are just slightly over $600, the air is cleaner, life is more relaxed . . . the list goes on and on.



IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING

This past Saturday night I attended my first outdoor performance of the annual summer “Wildflower Music Festival” on the grounds of the Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary in White Mills. 

I enjoyed two-time Tony Award nominee Christine Andreas, accompanied on piano and accordion by her husband composer Martin Silvestri, performing selections from Broadway and the Great American Songbook - while I grew up with the rock and roll of the 60s this is my favorite type of music - as well as some numbers from her “PIAF – No Regrets” show.  It was a great show .

The name Christine Andreas did not ring a bell with me, but it appears I saw her on Broadway in “The Scarlett Pimpernel” and she played a character in a story arc on the soap “Another World” that I watched daily years ago (it went off the air in June of 1999 – I had been watching since the mid-1970s).  She has also been in several other Broadway musicals and performs regularly at popular NYC cabaret venues.

The seating area opened at 5:00 PM and the performance began at 6:00.  It was a bit of a walk from the parking lot (although I arrived before 5:30 there were a lot of cars already and I had to park in the back) to the performance area, but that was ok with me.  Thankfully it was nowhere near the trek from the parking lot to the outdoor stage at Bethel Woods (former site of Woodstock).  A bus was available for those who did not want to make the hike.

The promotional literature invited us to bring along a lawn chair or a blanket (there are no seats).  I had a special folding chair I keep in the trunk of my car for such an occasion.  Picnics and beverages of your choice are permitted.  There was a taco truck on site.  No picnic, or tacos, for me, as I dined at home before setting out. 

The concert area, as the website describes “among majestic pine trees and green ferns”, is landscaped so that there are tiered rows facing the stage going up the hill.  There is plenty of room and the sound system was very good.  As Christine pointed out a few times, the weather gods were cooperative.  The last number of the night was, appropriately, the title song from the musical “On A Clear Day . .”.

I ended the evening with cocktails at The Ridge in downtown Hawley on the way home.  Unfortunately, it appears I left the restaurant too early – I discovered on Facebook the next morning that I missed a concert by server Alicia, daughter of the cook and manager.

The remaining events in the festival are -

July 21: Walkin’ the Line - a tribute to Johnny Cash by Bennie Wheels and his band
July 28: Green River – a CCR tribute band
Aug. 4: Champian Fulton – a “1940s Style” jazz pianist and singer
Aug. 11: The Lao Tizer Band featuring Karen Briggs- contemporary jazz fusion music
Aug. 18: Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver – a bluegrass band

I suggest you purchase a ticket for an upcoming show – it is a wonderful venue.  Tickets are $24.00 for general admission and $12.00 for students (6 to 18 years).  Children under 6 are admitted free.  You do not purchase a ticket for an individual performance, as there are no seats to sell.  The ticket is generic general admission and is good for any event.  Tickets can be purchased at "the door" on the night of the performance.  

In case of rain, performances are held at the air-conditioned auditorium of the Wallenpaupack Area High School.  Any change in location will be announced on the festival website.

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Your thoughts and comment on THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING are always welcomed.  You can post a comment below or email me at rdftaxpro@yahoo.com (with LAKE REGION SOMETHING COMMENT in the subject line).

TTYL

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