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Monday, April 15, 2013

Death and Taxes

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin said in a letter that "in this world nothing can be said to be to be certain, except death and taxes." Today is April 15, the great American tax deadline and the day that sends most Americans into a state of panic. It is the day when the procrastinating nature of artists and writers, and our general aloofness becomes hauntingly clear, and our failure to sell copies of our last book to anyone besides Mom and Aunt Minnie (thanks again, ladies) becomes a matter of public record.

Henry David Thoreau and the cutting edge hairstyle that inspired the term, "knot-head"

But, it is also a day when we remember that unpaid taxes is an American tradition of authors and artists that dates back to our earliest times, like when Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience in a jail cell, where he sat for not paying his taxes to an unjust government that endorsed slavery...

...Or when Willie Nelson was supposed to pay his taxes and got high instead and held a benefit concert for himself later on to repay a small portion of the millions that he owed the IRS. And even though the IRS eventually did come and hold tax levy sales on most of his worldly possessions, it was Willie who ultimately emerged victorious when big brother failed to find his pot stash. 

But as artists, we remain undaunted. Like the mountain climber in the Price Is Right game, we push forward, unmoved by arbitrary dates like April 15, and unscathed by real world concepts like tax deadlines.  After all, we have editing to think about.

And what's the worst that could happen anyways? It's just a game, and even if the little bastard plunges off the cliff, there is always the spinning of the big wheel at the end, and the showcase showdown, and certainly, it will be of a high enough value and contain enough prizes that we could sell a few of them to pay off the back taxes and penalties.

So, why not put it off until later? You know, when the showcase showdown pays off, or the novel goes triple platinum and you get that huge movie deal, or those powerball numbers finally hit, etc., etc.

Carpe Diem
And you always have to remember to seize that day, because death could come at any moment so you had better finish that novel because nobody else will be able to, and anyone can file back tax forms for a corpse. That is how artists (and all human beings) should live their lives. Like there is no tomorrow. Like today is the last one and everything that we do must matter and count and be representative of a life that has been lived to its fullest. 

Because death can come calling at any time, and any moment. The end is always out there, looming upon the horizon and waiting with calling card in hand and on that card is your name, and mine. And we have but one chance at this, so we had better get it right.

Because this IS life, baby! Live it to the fullest, like there is no tomorrow! Smell those roses. Taste that forbidden fruit. Stop and see that world's largest ball of twine...because tomorrow might never come at all and if you're not careful, you could miss something really important.

But then again, it may also be worth mentioning that Benjamin Franklin had penned that famous line about death and taxes in a letter to a friend that he had written...in French. And it might just be possible that somewhere, something was lost or changed in the translation and that 'taxes' might just come before 'death,' and if that's the case, there's a good chance that I'm pretty screwed, and that maybe, just maybe, I ought to be carpe'ing a different diem...

And, oh shit, I've got to run. Does anyone know where I can get blank forms for 2011? Son of a...

Thanks for reading!



  1. Simplified tax form 1040S
    Line 1: enter the amount you earned in 2012 in box A.
    Line 2: write a check for the amount in box A
    Line 3: Send it in.

  2. Lol, Buzz(and you too, Timothy)! I really enjoy your blog posts. Good points paired with a good attitude, imo. :)