Mohawks, spiked bracelets, screaming lyrics, and a stiffly raised middle finger… fuckin’ punk rock. It’s how I grew up in Southern California and from it I learned a particular ethos.
See, the same DIY ethic that powers punk rock is also at the core of the concrete culture. We’re unconventional. We get involved. We do things differently. More importantly, we see an injustice in the world and rather than turn a blind eye we set out to effect a change. Oi!
Get a haircut and get a real job
Go to college. Get your degree. Get a job with a pension and benefits. Work hard, be a happy cog. Don’t forget to collect all the “important” stuff to clog the hallways of your homes – it’s how we keep the country working, y’know.
Despite being the “sensible” thing to do for generations you and I have realized this prescription for how we’re supposed to live our lives is a crock of shit.
However, accepting this illusion as reality is what creates a shitbag full of slackers.
If there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, why should I even bother? I’ll just play my Xbox until I have to put on my Mr. Cluck’s uniform and go to work.
It’s unfortunate that it’s also how many perceive our own concrete culture… those of us who skate, ride, have ink, and embrace the ethos of DIY. They’re wrong.
Where we went punk
Now listen up, especially the sniveling bitches (read: slackers) in the crowd. Here’s a quick crash course on DIY…
Flashback to the 70s. The country was full of hippies disillusioned with the state of being. The curtain had been pulled back and for the first time folks got a good look at “the man” and they didn’t like what he was selling.
Rather than cinch up a tie and tote a briefcase they decided to turn on, tune in, and drop out.
So, on one hand we had the tarnished promises being peddled by “the man” and on the other we had a bunch of folks who rebuked the system by “making love, not war”.
But, there was this third group of people who came around. They were like “Fuck the fat cats and their system. And fuck those hippies who waste their time with love-ins.”
Discontent, non-conformist, individualist, free-thought. This is punk. And their music, their words, their dress and lifestyle reflected this ideology.
They refused to buy into a system they didn’t believe in, and they didn’t sit down waiting for someone to hand them a new one. Instead, they rushed the stage, elbows swinging, and did things their way.
They published their own zines, started their own record labels, distributed their own music, promoted their own gigs. They spoke out about things they believed in. They did it DIY. And they still are…
Do. It. Yourself.
DIY. It’s an ethic based on being self-reliant. That the Ordinary Joe can do things never thought possible. Joe ain’t one to wait around for someone to fish the fly out of his soup… he’ll get that damned fly himself.
What Joe lacks in professional training he makes up for with moxie. He seeks out and gains the knowledge and skills for himself so he doesn’t have to rely on some “expert” to tell him what to do or how to do it..
DIY is about being self-reliant, taking charge, and being personally accountable.
The DIY of the Concrete Culture
Today it’s glaringly apparent that nothing will be handed to you. The things folks once thought were a given, or entitled to, are not coming down the pipeline. Job security, like social security, is a myth. Folks have also wised up to the real definition of “cubicle worker” – wage slave.
So what’s a punk to do? We’ve started our own revolutions by flipping the established paradigm on its end and by doing things our way. Folks like you and I are making waves. These folks know that a fulfilling life is a hell of a lot more important than slaving away at something you’re not passionate about in exchange for valueless green pieces of paper redeemable for stuff built by other hapless workers.
True to the DIY ethic they’ve made themselves personally accountable… they took back stewardship of their happiness and the world around them.
For some of the concrete culture it means going location independent and traveling beyond boundaries and borders to make a difference. Some selflessly volunteer in their community. Others have started their own businesses and are calling their own shots. Some are self-publishing their pictures and prose. While still others are turning their backs on crass consumerism and living a life of minimalism.
DIY. Punk. Life.
Live your life your way, on your terms, and fully accept all the joys and hardships that come your way because of it.
If you’re not DIY then I have one question, “Who or what are you waiting for?”