Godless Dollars For Buskers

There’s a busker on the corner
With a beat-up old guitar
And he’s singing ‘bout some wise men
Who were following a star
And the night is getting chilly
And he’s missed a meal or two
Could be sadness; could be frostbite
But he’s looking rather blue
Stop and listen to his music,
And to really cheer him up,
You can drop some godless dollars in his cup

Walk a block or two up further
And you’ll hear a young quartet
With a sound that’s warm and cheerful
In the cold and dark and wet
On ahead, a hammered dulcimer
Plays carols in the night
And it almost feels Dickensian
The sound, the smells, the sight
It’s the warmth of shared humanity
That keeps the cold at bay
While you’re passing godless dollars on your way

And the local high school chorus
Dots the town in smaller groups
Going house-by-house and caroling
To neighbors from their stoops
And an actor reads a story
Of the Ghost of Christmas Past,
And it’s magic, for a moment,
Though of course, it cannot last
Christmas lasts, it seems, forever;
Scenes like this are much too short…
So you give them godless dollars for support.

With final exam season, I had forgotten all about last year’s project, de-godding dollar coins and using them to support the local musicians who are doing their best to make this season less of a chore for shoppers and businesspeople. I’d actually like to suggest that this could be “a thing”–that is, in the same way as bills stamped “gay money”, or 2-dollar bills for gun enthusiasts (for the 2nd amendment, geddit?), a noticeable but unobtrusive sign of atheist giving. It’s just as easy to drop a handful of coins into a guitar case as it is a handful of bills (and they won’t blow away!), plus you get to feel like Scrooge (or Scrooge McDuck), tossing coins at street urchins.

Just go to your bank and trade in some paper money for dollar coins, de-god them (an engraver, a Dremel tool, or a cold chisel would all work quite well), and give them out generously to the musicians and others you wish to support. (Yes, of course you can just take a sharpie to your bills, but they aren’t as noticeable–and it’s fun to see a musician who thinks you dropped in quarters realize that, nope, those were unanticipated dollars!

And if you are really lazy, just donate here, using the tip jar–I have pledged that all donations will be converted to de-godded coins (quarters stay in circulation longer, but dollars fit this plan better) and used to spread cephalopodmas cheer year-round.

Oh, yeah, buy my book(s), too–the perfect (war against) Christmas present. (links in the “Buy the book (etc.)! tab at the top of this page.)
Pile of de-godded dollar coins


  1. says

    Isn’t it against the law
    To do currency surgery?
    Those “Where’s George” markings are a flaw
    But don’t fix the printed perjury.
    The ones I like, and spread I must,
    Are those that read “In US we trust”!

  2. Flip the second says

    That is rather a silly idea. Legal or not, most people will look down, see the besmirched money and assume it’s not legal and that you were unkind – the money won’t be used and you won’t be helping the people you set out to help. Buskers are probably not caring about the godlessness of their money. However they might care that it takes them the better part of a day to earn a few dollars, only to discover it is ‘unusable’. Even if it is legal, how many are going to take the time to find out?

    Don’t punish buskers simply because your legal tender includes god.

  3. Cuttlefish says

    Oh, please. Any coin that’s been around an arcade or dropped in a parking lot is considerably more dinged up than these coins are. And no one looks at a dollar bill that has a note written on it, or a “where’s George?” stamp, and figures it is worthless. They work fine in vending machines, too, and automated checkout lines at grocery stores, if you don’t want to hand them to a person. And yes, buskers won’t care, for the most part. It’s a trivial little nothing of an exercise, the whole point of which is to emphasize the trivial little nothing of the “ceremonial deism” on the coin.

    Those nasty fake twenty dollar bills with bible verses inside, now *those* are punishment. In no way is giving actual, usable money to buskers punishing them. And since I’ve already received one in change, from a store I did not spend it in, I can guarantee that people use the coins.

  4. cubist says

    Flip the second: Are you going to denounce those “cross pennies” Cuttlefish mentioned, too, or does your disapproval of “besmirched money” dissolve like mist when it’s Xtians who are doing the “besmirch”ing?

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