This month is the 79th anniversary of the great stock market crash that sparked the Depression. To honor this anniversary contempo Wall Street wunderkinds have decided to offer us what appears to be a failed pilot for a reality TV show that suggests banks are not nearly as prepared for disaster as your local cub scout troop. Douglas Rushkoff expertly explains their descent into poorly orchestrated greed in a great article he wrote for Arthur Magazine, and Ron Chernow offers up notable history in last Sunday's Times.
In commiseration I say: who needs money? If it is in fact a mere apparition of its former green self, then let's put it to rest and make our own economy. Raw trade was o' so popular before banks stepped in to mess things up, so let's take a walk on the non monetary side and find our inner art student self (i.e poor).
Instead of shopping at your local designer boutique throw a naked lady party! Commonly called a clothing swap this works best with a lot of variety in the people you invite and the sizes of clothes involved. For me, one kind of success is bringing three bags of unwanted clothing and leaving with much, much less; it's easier to store. Another victory might be channeling your inner Chanel when your best friend is getting rid of a scarf her boss gave her for Christmas. It's always a new experience, every one I've been to is always magically different. Unlike the marketplace, you set the rules. And it doesn't even have to be clothes. Art supplies, yarn, car parts, CD's; you pick the currency then send out the invites. Any extras at the end of the night can be saved for the next swap or passed on to your local charity thrift.
Start up a local food or drink club and take turns meeting at friends homes for an evening of fine eats and/or libations. The host offers up her house as part of the circle and everyone else brings a dish or bottle. Figure it out ahead of time for a thematic twist or let the randomness carry you away in DADA-ist revelry. For party favors that double as wall art play Exquisite Corpse and build an art collection as you tour this monthly soiree around the nabe.
Do you have a burning desire to tour the south of France but no Euros to spend on hotels? Do a housing swap and stay in a house or apartment with all mod cons and pay not one shilling. There are several associations that hook you up with other like minded individuals, some doing a literal trade or others that allow you to 'bank' visits so you can go one place and offer your pad to a visitor from another. You might like your vacation destination so much that you want to swap homes for good: and yes, there is a business that will facilitate that for you.
Why go out to a club when you know so many musicians? Start a local Hootenanny. Provided you live in a space that can handle the extra noise, do a regular jam session. Invite musicians of varying taste and ability and tackle songs by pulling titles from a jar; the novelty of the surprise works for Yo La Tengo when they play Gaylord's show for the WFMU fund raising marathon!
I am sure there are 700 billion more ways we can subvert the dollar crisis and trade our sweat and passions for fun. Walk away from the ugly G-man and follow a path previously carved out by earlier societies, to experience a greener, more social, and less GNP trackable lifestyle.