By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“Look at my desk,” he says. “This is fucked-shui. If the mail gets any higher, I won’t be able to see the screen. This is a stack of people who fly in from out of state. Movie stars, celebrities — they all sit right here like everybody else. I had a guy say, ‘I’ll give you $100 if I can come see you today, and anybody whose place I take, I’ll give them $100 too.’ I said, ‘You had a chance to make an appointment in January like everybody else. I can see you on April 15. It’s first come, first served.”
His bio is sketchy and a constant source of speculation to the regulars: He was a golden boy at H&R Block, where corporate culture ultimately proved too great a burden. He’s a die-hard Republican, judging from the framed portraits on the wall of Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Uncle Sam, the latter doubling as his logo. (He was once a finalist on Win Ben Stein’s Money, but seemed far less thrilled by the actual money than the fact that Stein once wrote speeches for the Nixon White House.) He’s a textbook father to his three kids, but seems perpetually vexed by each of his three ex-wives. And he always seems to be dating some fashion model, whose entire profession is secretly in league against him.
“Women are okay unless I marry the broad,” he says. “If I marry them, it’s all over. My Italian grandmother says, ‘If you’re walking in the tall weeds and you get bitten by a snake, it’s not your fault, it’s not the snake’s fault.’” No one appears to have the slightest idea what he means.
“I’m gonna put in some schmooze meals,” he tells the burgeoning starlet whose turn has come. She’s a young woman who clearly has never paid for a meal in her life. “I figure you do about two a month. And I’m giving you a few extra miles this year.” It’s the far side of midnight on a Saturday, and several open bottles of wine are making the rounds. A producer’s assistant remembers the old office, the one just off Hollywood Boulevard, which sported its own retinue of transvestite hookers. An aircraft machinist shows off his latest tattoo, and two sisters recall their first time here, when the woman ahead of them confided, “I know how to make a lot of money on a racehorse.”
“He’s really a performer,” says the producer’s assistant. “I think he should do standup.” Except this is more like the nine-tenths of standup that doesn’t go on stage, the part where he perfects his act.
There is more than a little of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi in Your Taxman’s verbal peregrinations. (“No soup for you — one year!”) Except that whereas all the eccentrics in New York have learned how to make themselves indispensable by leveraging an overburdened system — the subway-token attendant, the dry cleaner, the guy down at the newsstand can all make your life miserable if they so choose — L.A. eccentrics always have an element of performance to them. And as the numerous framed letters from various official entities apologizing for some infraction or capitulating on some obscure point attest, it’s probably a good thing he doesn’t have more free time on his hands.
And so we watch. And wait.
“There’s nothing more I can do for you,” he tells the starlet. “I have just saved you from utter ruin.” Dali’s melting clocks above the mantelpiece remain oblivious to the time, fixed in a permanent dream state of their own. Your Taxman cackles to himself, feeds sheets into the floor-model shredder and launches into an exegesis on garlic.
This is the nexus of the universe. At least until April 15.
And everyone moves up a space.
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