Archive for Amusement Tax

Top Ten Potential Theme Songs for The City of Harrisburg

This post really shouldn’t require much of an explanation, but with the Sunday morning, eleventh-hour press conference held by Governor Rendell and “Mayor” Thompson about the state bailout (it IS a bailout)yesterday combined with the announcement of a HUGE lawsuit filed by TD Bank against the City and the half a million dollars we’re short on payroll and the looming clouds of bankruptcy gathering up the Susquehanna River, I thought it was a great time to suggest a new theme song for Our Fair City.

So here, in no particular order, are my Top Ten Potential Theme Songs for The City of Harrisburg. ©

Tennessee Ernie Williams- Sixteen Tons

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

Merle Haggard- Working Man Blues
Sometimes I think about leaving, do a little bummin around
I wanna throw my bills out the window catch a train to another town
But I go back working I gotta buy my kids a brand new pair of shoes
Yeah drink a little beer in a tavern,
Cry a little bit of these working man blues

Desmond Dekker – The Israelites
Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir,
so that every mouth can be fed.
Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

Cast of Annie – It’s A Hard Knock For Us

It’s the hard-knock life for us
It’s the hard-knock life for us
No one cares for you a smidge
When your in an orphanage
It’s the hard-knock life
It’s the hard-knock life
It’s the hard-knock life!

Elvis Presley – In The Ghetto
Then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don’t get far
And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

Steve Miller Band- Take The Money and Run
Billy mack is a detective down in texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He aint gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin off of the peoples taxes

Bobbie sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and they’re still running today

The Beatles- Taxman
(if you drive a car, car;) – I’ll tax the street;
(if you try to sit, sit;) – I’ll tax your seat;
(if you get too cold, cold;) – I’ll tax the heat;
(if you take a walk, walk;) – I’ll tax your feet.

Bruce Springsteen and The Sessions Band – Pay Me My Money Down

Oh pay me, oh pay me,
Pay me my money down,
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my money down

Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want –
And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse”

P. Diddy, Puffy Puff Daddy – All About The Benjamins
You should do what we do, stack chips like *Hebrews*
Don’t let the melody intrigue you (uh-uh)
Cause I leave you, I’m only here
for that green paper which lead you

Linda Better Start Promoting

Today is June 23. It’s about 5:30 in the afternoon and a Wednesday. The “Harrisburg Jazz and Multi-Cultural Festival” Hosted By, er, was-Hosted By-But-Now-It-Ain’t-By-Mayor Linda Thompson begins in ten days and there’s nary a calendar, schedule, email blast, Facebook invite or even a TWEET to be found.

Sure, the city is in rough shape and whether or not this poorly-renamed “festival” was even going to happen was up in the air until only about a month ago, but you’ve got an event that you’ve known about since BEFORE you took office and there’s been nothing but BAD INK about it since the renaming- it’s time to HIT THE STREETS.

To make matters worse, the “headliner” of the “Jazz and Multi-Cultural Festival” has been announced…but it ain’t much worth getting excited about. The Duke Ellington Legacy Band – a band formed by the Jazz legend’s, ahem, grandchildren. (which, I guess is better than last year’s American Music Fest headliner – an Asia tribute band)

Look, I might not be qualified to comment on the finances of the city or the wacky situation involving the Harrisburg Authority and the incestuous nature that the appointments are taking, but I DO know a thing or two about booking a show and promoting events and I can say with full confidence that the 2010 American Music Fest Harrisburg Jazz and Multi Cultural Festival is going to be a major disappointment unless the new parks and rec director pulls a gigantic Raven out of his hat and brings back Jerry Garcia, John Lennon and Jim Morrison from the dead to headline a show on a stage borrowed from Pink Floyd and has Bill Graham come down from the skies to promote it.


Are there any bands booked for this thing? I titled the post the way I did because Linda Thompson is hosting this thing- so, who better to ask than the HOST, right?

Get with it, guys. And if you can’t figure out this part of the administration, HIRE someone to do it.

This Is Not A Post About Roller Coasters

Want proof that reforming an Amusement Tax is a great thing?

Look no further than Kennywood Amusement Park in West Millflin, PA.

The 111 year old amusement park had fought local officials for YEARS about the fairness (or lack thereof) of their local Amusement Tax before winning the reform.

Last April, West Mifflin officials and Kennywood brass came to an amicable agreement which made both parties happy…and saved the century-old park nearly two million dollars per year in payouts.

And TODAY- Kennywood announced they’ll be building a brand new roller coaster…to the tune of five million dollars.

Think that the reform of the Amusement Tax had anything to do with that?

You betcha.

Wake up, Harrisburg. It’s 2009. Get with the times or you won’t HAVE any great businesses to tax out of town.

Bluegrass Month at ABC

The Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company highlights national and regional bluegrass acts for the month of November- most shows ‘no cover/free to the public’-

Capitol region live-music-hotspot and gathering place The Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company announce today that they’ll be dedicating the music calendar for the entire month of November (historically the busiest month of the year at The Abbey Bar) to national and regional touring bluegrass, newgrass and folk music acts.

Over the past several years, The Abbey Bar at ABC has played host to thousands of touring bands from virtually every genre in the spectrum and has become known for its top-notch and eclectic music calendar. Specifically, bluegrass has proven to be something of a surprise local favorite among patrons of the venue.

“It’s a perfect fit, really- we’re so close to the Mason-Dixon line and basically sit in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountain range and are at the northern tip of the Appalachia region that it makes perfect sense for us to pay homage to this musical genre which has been cultivated here in our region for over sixty years.”, said Mike Van Jura- talent buyer and promoter at Appalachian Brewing Company.

Historic bluegrass roots are generally traced to the West Virginia/Kentucky region and first gained popularity in post-World War II America and developed it’s unique sound based around each instrument (most often banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, upright bass and fiddle) taking a turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others revert to backing.

In bluegrass, as in jazz,; this is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. [Wikipedia]

The Bluegrass calendar at The Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company is as follows- (All performances are ‘no cover’ and begin at 10PM unless noted otherwise)

Friday November 7- River Town Revival

Saturday November 8- Dick Butt Kiss and The Tightends-

Sunday November 9- An evening with Hot Buttered Rum (Tix onsale at $10 advance/$15 door)

Friday November 14- Oakhurst – (Denver, CO)

Saturday November 15-Perkasie (Lancaster, PA)

Friday November 21- Hackensaw Boys with guests Mason Porter (tickets onsale now at $10 adv/$15 doors)

Friday November 28- Soulgrass Freedom Junction - (Harrisburg, PA)

I’m The First Guy In Harrisburg Charged With Not Paying The Amusement Tax

Do you think I go too far in this blog?

I don’t feel that I do.

Sure, maybe I can forgo some of the ball busting, but what fun would that be?

I feel that I’m an observant person.

And I also feel that I bring to light some alternative takes on what the local commercial media might think but certainly aren’t able to say.

I’ve been pretty public and vocal about the local amusement tax fight. And the local tax collector absolutely hates that.

You see, I’m pretty sure that the local tax collector is a nice guy. He’s gotta be. But because I question the legality, fairness and value of the amusement tax, he’s got a bullseye on my back for every single show that I do or have done.

Quite some time ago, the tax collector for the city filed a citation against me for “failure to pay the amusement tax” and we both appeared in front of Judge Solomon.

The tax collector made his case and I made mine- but of course, I lost.

Found guilty of “failure to pay the amusement tax”.

I think that the fine is something around a hundred a fifty bucks.

But I still haven’t paid it.

It’s not that I’ve ignored it. It’s just that I haven’t paid it yet. (Even though every dime that I’ve owed to the city in amusement tax has been paid, I guess I still have to pay the hundred and fifty bucks.)

ANYWAY- I’ve been wanting to write a blog about “A Night in The Life of a Harrisburg Police Officer” and go on a ridealong. (Note: If the Patriot News writes a story featuring a night in the life of a Harrisburg police officer anytime in the immediate future, you’ll know they got the idea here first)

So I called the Harrisburg Police and spoke with the officer in charge of the ridealongs. He was very enthusiastic and explained the process to me. I have to give my requested ridealong times and beat (I told him I want the busiest, bloodiest, most dangerous shift- he told me 4-11 on a Wednesday).

After giving my information, he explained that they would run a background check to make sure that my ridealong doesn’t turn into a ride-to-the-clink and that he’d call me back when it cleared to set the time.

About fifteen minutes later, I got a call back.

“Michael, this is xxxxx xxxxxx with the Harrisburg police”

“Oh, hey. How’d everything turn out?”

“Well, you do have one thing on here that you’re going to have to clear up before we can take you out on a ridealong”

“Uh oh, is it a parking ticket?”

“Ha, no. No, this is something about failure to pay amusement tax?”

“Ah, the amusement tax. Yeah, I guess I forgot about that. So all I have to do is go and pay that and we’ll be all set?”

“Yup, sure thing. Just go square that away and we’ll schedule you a time for a ridealong.”

“Okay cool. Can I ask you a question?”


“How long have you been on the force?”

“Eighteen years.”

“And in eighteen years, you’ve seen a lot of stuff, eh?”

“Sure have.”

“Well let me ask you this- in your eighteen years on the force, have you ever seen someone charged with failure to pay the amusement tax?”

“Uh, nope. Never.”

So, folks, because of the amusement tax, I’m not able to report to you on exactly what it’s like to work a shift on the Harrisburg Police Force.

That is, until I pay that stinkin fine.