Friday, March 25, 2011

A good month for theatre

A month ago I headed to Tallahassee to see the play Art by Yasmina Reza.  Why would I drive 4 hours to see that play you ask, because it starred my son, a theatre major at Florida State University.  I was unfamiliar with the play but found out that it won the Tony in 1998 for best play.    Of course I'm a little prejudiced but I did enjoy the production.  The story centers around three friends and the tension that erupts when one buys a piece of art consisting of a white canvas.
A few weeks later it was time for the 8 o'clock theatre production of Bye, Bye Birdie.  I've had season tickets with three of my friends for about 7 or 8 years now and the productions are usually quite good.  The shows are staged at the Largo Cultural Center and the audience tends to the "silver" side.  The musicals are generally more popular with this crowd.  I had seen the 1995 TV version of Bye Bye Birdie and the wonderful Mad Men episode where Sal tries to recreate Ann-Margret's performance for "Patio Cola."  Back to 8 o'clock....the production was up to the usual standard with the exception of the decision to cast Trey Ryan as Conrad Birdie...WRONG!!  Now I realize that community theatre is limited by the talent that auditions, but there had to be someone, anyone, who would have made a better choice for Conrad.  Ryan has been in many 8 o'clock productions and has been perfect when he is playing characters such as Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast or Jack Manningham in Gaslight.  But to cast him as a teen idol?  Not so much.
The culmination of the month was definitely the Jobsite Theatre's production of Yellowman.  This, for me, is what theatre is all about.  Jim Wicker and Fanni Green gave spectacular performances as they deal with the prejudices of skin color within their black, South Carolina community.  Wicker and Green portrayed not only their characters at several ages but their own parents and grandparents.  The intimate setting reinforced the tension and both actors give brutally honest and powerful performances.  The final scenes are gripping in both intensity and desperation as we see the unraveling of promise.  Go! Experience it while you still can.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Irish Underwear

Ok, so I’m not Irish and neither are my underwear but they are "green." Yesterday while everyone was wearing green on the outside I was wearing my new “green” undies. Now when I say green I’m not referring to the color: they are eco-friendly and sustainable
I had made a decision this year to only buy what I really needed and then with a certain set of criteria...used, local, handmade, or sustainable, in roughly that order. Now a girl needs new underwear once in awhile so I decided to do my research into sustainable undies because that was one thing I was not going to buy secondhand...and I couldn’t really knit them either.A quick internet search got me some possible options, American Apparel was one of my initial choices but let’s face it I am NOT and I NEVER was a skinny 20 something. While I admire their mission, the undies were not for me. I need a little more coverage. Another choice was Rambler’s Way:

Soft, Superfine Wool Comfortwear from the founders of Tom’s of Maine
Fabulous idea! Love the ethical and sustainable aspects, however, a little pricey for my budget. I understand that my shopping choices have an impact on the world and I am willing to pay more for things I feel will have a better impact, but I do still have a budget. My choice finally came down to CottonfieldUSA. Their garments are made in the US from organically grown cotton. Their mission fit my shopping criteria but better yet they fit ME. So I ordered a couple pair. They arrived in 3 days, no unnecessary packaging, and fit perfectly. They were more expensive than you what you get at Wal-Mart, but that’s the point. For some further reading on these subjects check out a recent post by a like-minded blogger I follow, a story on the clothing industry and the book that inspired me, "In the Presence of Fear"
 by Wendell Berry

Make everyday “green” not just St Patty’s!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sharing with the Tax Man

This time of year is especially busy for me because I work part time preparing taxes or should I say bartering my expertise in exchange for a Visa gift card. After all currency is only worth what we agree it’s worth. So taxes have got me thinking about how the new sharing economy could affect our infrastructure and the services that are paid for with our tax dollars. Now nobody WANTS to pay taxes but we all want to benefit from what our taxes pay for, such as roads, parks, libraries, police and fire protection, etc.

Legally speaking all income received is subject to federal income tax and most states have some sort of sales tax. Here in Florida we have no state income tax, most of the revenue needed is generated from property and sales taxes and tourism. So what happens when tourists come to Florida and instead of staying at a hotel they decide to try Airbnb or Couchsurfing? Is the owner of that spare room going to pay the 5% bed tax to the county and federal income tax on the money received? On a small scale it will probably not make much of a difference but as sharing becomes more and more popular it could have a huge impact.

My year end bonus last year was a barter gift card. The doctor I work for does a lot of barter business through a barter agency and we always have a surplus of “dollars.” Cash flow was down a bit last year and so we got barter gift cards instead of a cash bonus. I finally had a need this past month to use one of the other members of the barter community. I needed graduation announcements for my son and there was a printer in the network who I contacted to help me. When it came time to settle up the bill I gave her the gift card but I also had to pay the sales tax (7%) in cash. I understood why it was necessary, and realized that the printer could not pay the state of Florida in printing services, (or could they?) it had to be remitted in cash. Then a few days ago I “helped” my friend do her taxes in exchange for dinner. This got me to thinking about all the other barter and sharing transactions that happen without the state getting their cut and the financial shortfalls in the federal, state and local budgets. After all if I had done her taxes at my job she would have had to pay in cash and the income I received would have been taxed. In our transaction very little tax revenue was generated. has an excellent soup illustration about how things change when we start sharing. Maybe as we move to this new economy we need to start thinking about the tax consequences. What kind of options could there be? Why couldn’t some people elect to pay their tax obligation in service to the respective tax collector? Do we really NEED a tax system to get things done? Look at the Detroit Robo-cop initiative. Maybe we should pay tax in proportion to the size our personal carbon footprint? These are just tiny examples. We have to start asking the big “What ifs?” So I’m asking...