“People see me all the time and they just can’t remember how to act.”

“Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts.”

Bob Dylan, 1974
Idiot Wind

Today is Bob’s birthday. He’s a few years older than I am, both of us growing up in the midwest. I will make my Rivers (including one on Bob), more prominent here. Of course I know that most people here don’t care. But we were very lucky to live during his lifetime!

Nojo Mini Concerts From Home

I stumbled onto mini concerts by Norah Jones, from her music room at home, scads of them. She is super talented on many instruments, very laid back with lovely big smiles. It’s her way of injecting something positive into these crazy times. What a joyful gift from a pro!

For Willie Nelson
7 May 2020
11 Apr 2020
26 Mar 2020
23 Apr 2020
2 Apr 2020
16 Apr 2020
She mentions her father, Ravi Shankar!!
That is NOT metaphorical. Her biological father was Ravi Shankar! No wonder she has huge talent!

“Life isn’t about finding yourself — or about finding anything.
“Life is about creating yourself.”

Bob Dylan, from Martin Scorsese’s 2019 documentary, Rolling Thunder Revue

More great Bob Dylan news, Columbia will publish his latest album of new songs, Rough And Rowdy Ways on June 19. It will include the two songs he has recently released on Twitter, plus a third new one that just dropped, False Prophet. Of course this is very big news!

” ‘Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door.
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.”

Stephen Foster, 1854

“For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.”

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time.

I talked with one of my favorite clients last night. Like most years, she was my first client to show up to get her taxes done. She paper filed & already had her refund deposited in her bank account. Now she has also received her $2,700 stimulus payment deposited in her bank!

Let's Give Some Kudos to the IRS for the Hard Work They Have Been Doing --

Tax accounting is my area of expertise. It started as an easy way to make money, like doing homework for people that they couldn’t stand doing themselves, so they’re willing to pay very high hourly rates to entice me to do it for them. None of the “careers” that I had considered following early in my life worked out for me. But one day I realized that my easy numbers job had become a career! I have done nearly fifty years of bookkeeping and accounting; thirty-five years of tax preparation.

It’s been a way to make a good living, but not a source for my blogging, until now.

Steven Mnuchin is the first Treasury Secretary I’ve ever seen much on TV and I like him. He has the Cabinet post that oversees the Internal Revenue Service, but that Cabinet Secretary rarely has any impact on the life of those of us in the accounting industry. He’s clearly been doing an excellent job during our pandemonium. At press conferences, he answers questions quickly and definitively, no particular spin, no games, just the facts, ma’am.

Then on March 26 he promised to get the virus stimulus checks to taxpayers in three weeks. I thought, “Oh no, he has no idea how undermanned the IRS has become in the past decade, due to continual budget cuts.” I was sure this could lead to a bureaucratic snafu that the media would love to turn in to one of their usual breaking news stories.

But Mnuchin has surprised me. He seems to be delivering on his promises. He got the IRS to put up web pages that explain what they’re doing about this free money. There are a number of tools that allow taxpayers to enter their bank account information, so they can receive their money by direct deposit. Mnuchin reported that social security recipients who are already receiving their social security income by direct deposit don’t have to do anything. The IRS will just use the same bank account that is already being used for the social security income.

Meanwhile the topic has become the subject of tons of clickbait articles. Every day, Google sends me one or more of these new how to get your free money articles. Harmless enough, maybe even helpful to some. Early on, the IRS had shut down their public taxpayer assistance locations, where one used to be able to go to ask a tax question in person. Maybe these people were helping with getting the free money out to taxpayers.

But today, the other shoe dropped. Of course, the IRS has had to adjust its staff assignments to meet Mnuchin promises. But an obvious solution had not occurred to me. They have shifted staff from processing the 2019 income tax returns to work on sending out the free money instead, an obvious unintended consequence of getting out the stimulus money fast. The article at that link claims the IRS “now has whole storage units full of unopened refund requests as the pandemic drags on.” I have no way to confirm this, but it seems possible.

Here’s the thing, every year the first clients who turn up to get their taxes done are those who are expecting big refunds and want to get their dough as soon as possible. These are often refunds of more than $1,200 per person. That is, more than the free money they will be getting. The IRS has promoted the speed of e-filing for years, which of course makes their job easier and saves them money as it makes it much easier to automate the processing of tax returns. But this year their boss has given them a surprise order to shift their priorities. Get the free money out there as fast as possible! The IRS is doing that, while the returns for those early filers sit in storage.

This is a shame. I’m sure the folks at the IRS have been working really hard to accomplish the new directives they have received from Treasury. Naturally it did not occur to the politicians to send some money to the IRS to help them staff the sending out of all this free money. Everyone is working hard for the good of our country during very difficult times. I hope the media can resist their natural urge to pounce on the government about the inevitable strains to the tax system. This is a very big country, so any initiative to get money to a large portion of our population is bound to run into some problems. Give them a break, folks, maybe even a thank you, here and there.

Was There Ever a Star With Just One Name Before Odetta? --

It’s surprising to me that this seems to be the first book of any consequence about Odetta, more than a decade after she passed on. I hope the book is worthy, this excerpt gives a promising preview. She was the first brilliant, legendary singer I can recall who was so unique that she didn’t need a last name. In many decades of listening to her sing, I can’t remember even once wondering whether she might have one. One of the most important things she ever did was to inspire a very young Bob Dylan to sing folk songs. Sadly I never saw her perform in person. I should make a more serious effort to collect recordings of her great performances.

I think I must have heard her on a record for the first time when I was at Oberlin. I think there might have been one at Keep Cottage, the co-op dining hall where I was lucky to be able to eat during my senior year at Oberlin. There were only two co-ops at Oberlin, it was the better of the two and I was lucky to draw a winning ticket to be able to have a seat at the table there my last year in college. My friend, Stephanie Gutieri, lived there with three other memorable Oberlin women. Steph is the one who first turned me on to Bob Dylan. My story about this was first published on the Internet nearly twenty-five years ago. It preserved my memory of one of the most important events in my life.

Another fantastic interview by Margaret Hoover this morning on Firing Line, this time Mark Cuban. Half an hour is not very long, but she makes every second count. Highly recommended!

One thing we can be thankful for is that this pandemonium hit after the Internet got built. Things would be a lot different, and likely a lot worse, these days without Internet.

My closest childhood friend passed away about two hours ago from Covid-19. I’d known him since we were in grade school together. He encouraged me to come to our 50th HS reunion and stayed in touch until recently. We got the news from his son on FB. He was a great guy. RIP Phil.

Something terrific has happened on Twitter an hour ago!! Bob Dylan expressed gratitude to his fans, then posted a 17 mins long previously unreleased song about the JFK assassination!

Murder Most Foul

I think this must be like a Golden Age for the dogs in our neighborhood. Their families have been around much more than usual, like a super long holiday weekend. And they’ve been taking the most great loooong walks of all time! What brought these great changes on anyway? 🐕

“Life isn’t about finding yourself … or finding anything! Life is about creating yourself.”

Bob Dylan 🎶

Bob Dylan has a calming influence for me, because the truth is calming.

My wife saw a large bunny in our yard this morning, our first of the year. I hope to see one soon, as well as some Robins. Mr & Mrs Cardinal have been active in our yard, probably all winter long. 🐰