April 19, 2012 | Back to: News

Post-April 15 party: Ghost of Twain returns to wax taxes

Here’s a quiz which won’t cost a penny but might tax your memory: Who wrote the following?

1 — “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

2 — “Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”

3 — “The difference between the taxidermist and the tax collector is the taxidermist takes only your skin.”

4 — “The average American is true to his Christian principles 363 days out of the year. The other two days he visits the tax office and the voting booth.”

Answers: 1 Ben Franklin; 2 Margaret Mitchell; 3 and 4 Mark Twain.

Another famous line is “You Can’t Go Home Again,” the title of Thomas Wolf’s 1940 posthumous novel and a misimpression regarding the “Ghost of Twain.”

McAvoy Layne, known for decades around the lake as the Ghost of Twain, returns Saturday to his old haunt in the Village Center at Incline Village to perform “Twain on Taxes.”

The former Mark Twain Cultural Center is now the Toccata Performing Arts Theater. In its eighth year, the Tahoe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus took up residence in the facility this winter to continue what McAvoy and Rebecca Layne started in 2010: a venue for music, theater and culture.

Now that the income tax filing deadline has passed, Saturday’s event will provide an opportunity to look back at the ritual and perhaps shed some tears of laughter and/or sorrow. That is unless the deadline was missed. In that case, it might be prudent to follow Twain’s (aka Samuel Clemens) lead and high-tail it out of town, in his case from Buffalo, N.Y.

Twain penned “The Mysterious Visit” during his short stint in Buffalo with his new bride, Olivia Clemens. The story’s visitor was a man from the Internal Revenue Service.

“We talked, and talked, and talked — at least I did,” Twain wrote. “And we laughed, and laughed, and laughed — at least he did.”

The Ghost of Twain will tell the rest of the story on Saturday. Folks who attend are welcome to bring appetizers and desserts. There is a bar or, for a corkage fee, people can bring their own booze.

Layne moonlights as a Lake Tahoe Action figure, but he did not address his appearance in a weekly column.

“I’ll not be promoting this raid upon an unsuspecting public in Pine Nuts,” Layne told his editor. “I don’t want anybody thinking I’m from New York.”

Tim Parsons


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 19, 2012 01:37PM Published Apr 19, 2012 01:35PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.