Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekly World News XXIV

A piece I wrote for Weekly World News in July 2005. Change a couple of dates and facts and it still works, four years later...


SINGING THE WOES OF UNEMPLOYMENT
The Moochers and the Paupers Rock Wall Street
© Weekly World News

NEW YORK, NY – Their once expensive suits have grown tattered, their designer shoes are scuffed and worn, but these five former businesspeople haven’t lost their taste for the good life...just their ability to pay for it.

They are The Moochers and the Paupers, a singing group made up of men and women who used to have it all until they lost everything but their voices to hard economic times.

“I was on top of the world,” said 42-year old Dennis Donnity, until 2004 a stockbroker for the prestigious New York firm of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe. “I was earning a couple a million a year, lived in a penthouse in Trump Towers, and was married to a gorgeous trophy wife. Then I lost my job, my home, my wife, and everything else.”

Now he sings for food in parks and on street corners.

They all have similar stories. “I was on the fast track to making partner in the legal firm of Lacey, Buttons, and Bowes,” recalls Michelle Phipps, 36. “But then the economy slowed up, the firm lost several major clients, and I was out on my can, canned.”

“A couple years ago, I was worth $17 million bucks,” sighed entrepreneur John Pilpop. “Now I eat out of supermarket dumpsters and have to sleep on the couches of friends and relatives.”

The five out-of-work financial workers met on the unemployment line the week after Thanksgiving, 2004. “We were all reaching the end of our unemployment benefits and started talking over day-old donuts salvaged from the Dunkin’ Donuts dumpster,” explained lead singer Melissa “Moocher” Elliot, a former financial analyst for Goldfinger & Sacks. “Dennis mentioned that he played the guitar and Michelle admitted that she could sing and shake a mean tambourine.

“Well, the next thing you know, we all broke out in song and passersby started dropping coins in my coffee cup...which was annoying since I wasn’t finished drinking it and at a buck sixty-nine a cup, well, you can understand.”

Ex-banker McGuinn McGuire was the first to suggest that they form a group. “We made almost 17 bucks in 10 minutes just goofing around. I was mooching my meals and a bed off my brother-in-law and couldn’t get arrested in the job market, so what did we have to lose?”

The Moochers and the Paupers started playing gigs on street corners in the Wall Street area. “It was kind’a embarrassing to be singing for spare change where my former co-workers could see me,” admitted ex-Wall Streeter Melissa Elliot. “On the other hand, seeing me must’ve made them realize they could be in my boat, so they started dropping tens and twenties into the hat.”

McGuinn McGuire began to write songs for the Moochers and the Paupers that reflected their economic plight, including “Unemployment Dreamin’,” with such lyrics as:

Oh, my job is gone ‘cause I was downsized today,
I went searchin’ through the want ads,
and then began to pray.
No one wants to hire,
if you ain’t minimum wage,
Man, I used to drive a Jaguar,
now it’s bus fair I cadge.


Their most popular number is the haunting “Check Day, Check Day”:

Check day, check day, so good to see,
Check day, check day, how fast 26 weeks does flee,
Oh, unemployment, unemployment is not new to me,
Which makes check day a close friend indeed.


“We’ve started to attract quite a following,” John Pilpop said. “Some of our fans are even employed!”

“The group’s booked to play the 42nd Street subway station next month,” reveals Dennis Donnity. “We’re very excited.”

Michelle hopes success doesn’t spoil the Moochers and the Paupers sound. “Once you actually own your own bed and stop having to eat from dumpsters, it takes the edge off your art, you know?”

1 comment:

Namek said...

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