About a year ago, we found ourselves in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Out of boredom, I did a livestream on my social media where I did a joke tutorial about how to draw penises. It was a joke that backfired on me. I ended up making a few hundred dollars off that few minutes I was live. The penises I drew weren’t even good! I also had a series of videos where I spilled crayons on my housemates. They were the dumbest thing ever, but again, I made some cash off them. This was just plain silly. It got me thinking about how there are no rules on how to make money anymore.
At the same time, my housemate Krystal (singer for The Bloody Lips) was working at a nice restaurant and they were giving her her own restaurant. It was going to be a high-end seafood place. She was so excited to finally, after years of toiling away in various kitchens, to be able to implement her own recipes, handpick her own staff, and oversee every detail down to the table service that was used. Then the pandemic hit and her dream was shut down. Opening a new place was not an option for the foreseeable future. Eventually they would offer her old job back to her, but it was with a lesser title and even less money. Watching the frustration in her eyes was discerning.
Lockdown had me spending more time on social media and I saw a ton of people totally shifting the way they made a living. I watched friends start selling arts 'n' crafts, selling vegetables out of their gardens, start brands, get into home improvement, make bird houses, and so many other things. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have to focus on working 40 hours a week to make money for someone else!
We had spent a lot of time talking about Krystal's options before the solution presented itself. I reminded her that we grew up in punk rock. We are rats and scavengers who have never been handed anything. We always took care of ourselves and our own people. This girl had traveled the world doing belly dancing and, along the way, had learned how to cook native foods from all over the world. And she’s damn good at it. And now was the time to merge our DIY punk ethos we learned with her love of cooking ethnic foods. She didn’t just want to work at another restaurant for another egotistical head chef making someone else’s menu. That would have been the easy way out.
So we opened, for lack of a better way of saying it, our own restaurant in our yard. We spread word through our various friend groups, and word spread fast. Krystal would spend time putting together a menu every week, a day or two of prepping food, and then a weekend day of grilling in our yard and having friends in our underground network swing in and enjoy her amazing food while responsibly socializing with people. Things had been going so well that Krystal added a day mid-week with another food option. Word of what we were doing spread and there are a few folks who will drive an hour just to enjoy her menu and enjoy our yard. She has been making more money for less work without all of the red tape of a corporate environment. Is this illegal as fuck? We’re punks. It’s only illegal if you get caught. We haven’t been caught yet, therefore this is completely legal.
I have a handful of other friends that turned to making money from sites like onlyfans and manyvidz. They are doing so well that they were able to quit their 40-hour a week jobs and spend one day filming content and then spend the next 6 days doing whatever they want. The pandemic has reset the way we think about work and living. It has been proven that most office jobs can be done from home. There’s no longer a need to “go to work”. Gatekeepers are a thing of the past. In my world, this is a very punk rock way of thinking. In my life, I have started printing out of my home, I’m putting together a coloring book based on gigposter art I’ve done over the years, writing a TV/web series with my housemates, and writing a book about my crazy life. I was also sent a giant 800 pack of crayons, so I’m excited to start that series of stupid videos again!
"The satisfaction of figuring out a new way to get around the current system in place is a feeling of accomplishment that I can’t describe."
Punk rock taught me that if I could not get a show at the cool venue, then I need to make my own cool venue in a basement. I learned the satisfaction of arts 'n' crafts by decorating my clothes with patches and making my own flyers. I learned how to record on the cheap in a friend’s bedroom. I learned how to manufacture and distribute my music via cassettes and networking with other people. If you want to do something, just do it. I got caught up in life and forgot this along the way. I’ve been coming back to it in the last 10 years or so. The satisfaction of figuring out a new way to get around the current system in place is a feeling of accomplishment that I can’t describe.
YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT. There are no rules anymore. The best thing to come out of this pandemic, in my humble opinion, is that it has broken nearly everything. We are living during a hard reset of the way we previously knew things. Embrace it. Make those punk rock ideals work for you. And remember, it’s only illegal if you get caught…