Off Broadway

One leaves the car and another walks in and bursts into song. This is the way of the underground world in New York City where the subways are filled with panhandlers of all ages and skills sets. Not a day goes by below the concrete jungle without some sort of entertainment designed to attract compensation for a short performance.

The first panhandler was an older gentleman with a huge keyboard. He apologised for interrupting and then began his routine of prerecorded melodies accompanied by a song about being unemployed and in desperate need of help. The second guy was much younger, early twenties, and walked into the subway car singing “Stand By Me.” He paused for a moment and went into a schpeel most of the younger panhandlers these days all seem to recite about trying to stay out of trouble and put a little change in their pockets. He was a terrible singer, voice cracking with just about every note he uttered so it wasn’t a surprise that he didn’t make any money in this partiular car.

It all kind of makes you wonder, with the singers and musicians and candy selling basketball players and break dancers, if there’s one entity behind them all writing speeches and choreographing dance routines while collecting a percentage of a days profits from the many subway acts. It also kinds of makes you question which acts genuinely need financial help and which ones are in it solely for financial gain.

I guess in the end, especially in regards to the ones who actually put on a show, it’s all entertainment. So I guess if you enjoy, “applaud and employ.”



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January 2010
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