The Subway Philanthropist.

by David Budbill.

The Emperor is stingy. The Emperor is greedy. The Emperor hates

the poor. He hates music and sex. And so long as the Emperor is

on the throne, the subway philanthropist plies his trade, prowling

the bowels of New York City moving deliberately from subway sta-

tion to subway station dropping fifty-dollar bills into white plastic

five gallon buckets, saxophone cases, violin cases, upturned straw hats,

Tupperware bowls, all sitting quietly in front of electric guitar

players, Mariachi bands, women classical saxophonists, avant garde

jazz ensembles, brothers in do-rags drumming on plastic buckets

and tin cans, a woman playing a saw, an electric organist playing

Guy Lombardo’s greatest hits, old Chinese men playing one-string

Chinese violins, Peruvian Panpipe Players, young Chinese men play-

ing Chinese flutes, Buddhist monks playing Shakuhachi, doo-wop

singers doing close four part harmonies, conga players, bongo play-

ers, cellists, string quartets, Hawaiian guitar players and trombone

players too, all of them, every one, no matter how good, how bad,

it’s music and it’s a stay against, an antidote to, The Emperor’s ha-

tred of all that is warm, good and alive. And so the subway philan-

thropist plies his trade, makes his rounds, prowls the subways pay-

ing one fifty-dollar bill at a time to keep humanity alive while the

Emperor wages war upstairs, above ground, in the sad daylight of

the world.






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