Punk Is a Verb

You know how sometime you have a day where seemingly disparate elements just connect like links in a chain? I had one of those days on Tuesday.

First, I read an article that my friend Andy pointed out: “Why Quantity Should Be Your Priority: the Key to Higher Quality is Higher Quantity”  which contained a number of gemlike quotes such as: “As Ira Glass so famously put it, the best way to refine your craft is to create a huge volume of work. Not to create the most perfect piece you can, but to create many pieces of work.”

Second, we had a discussion in our weekly Oversight meeting at WCA (that’s our management collective) about how new punks gradually become salaried punks. While we have certain numerical benchmarks for putting people on salary, everybody agreed that there’s this other element, which is very difficult to describe in words but which all the senior punks recognize when it happens, which consists of the new punks somehow finding their groove. Everyone around them can feel it  and it’s obvious, OK, they’re there, put them on salary! (Management by instinct — is that a business term?)

That discussion reminded me of this video, linked in the “Quantity” article, of a woman teaching herself to dance by dancing every day. I watched it again and realized, this is just like punking! In the early shots, she’s so careful and tentative that it doesn’t even look like dancing. You can see that she’s thinking about every move that she makes, and every move is an individual move.  But as the video continues you see her learning how to move without having to think about it. Everything she does is connected to everything else, and that’s when she’s dancing for real.

One of the minor irritations of my work life is the autocorrect on my email. I am constantly writing emails to people that include the word “punking”. And the program doesn’t recognize “punk” as a verb, so it tries to correct it to “punching”, which admittedly is usually pretty funny, in context. But I wish my email did recognize “punk” as a verb, just like I wish the acupuncture profession recognized “punk” as a verb.

I’ve said plenty already about why we claim the word “punk” as an identity around here.  “Punk” as a noun is something we’ve covered adequately I think. But “punk” as a verb is something I think we can’t talk about enough, at least at this point. (Feel free to do so in the comments.)

The last thing that happened on Tuesday was that Gloria sent out the monthly newsletter, and thanks to a lot of hard work from Wade and Cris, there was an announcement about our newest POCA Tech fundraiser. We are taking pre-orders for shirts with a version of the POCA Tech logo that simply says “Punk”. I like to think of this logo not as a name tag but as a word of encouragement.  Not “punk” as in, “hey you punk”, or “I'm a punk”,  but as in “come on, let's punk!” It's not so much what we are as what we do: what we're collectively good at because we do it over and over and over. We've taught ourselves to punk by punking. Making the logo involved taking a photo of a punk holding needles in her hand in preparation for a busy shift. It's the symbol of POCA's workforce-to-be. And if you really want to look to the future, it also comes in baby onesies.

Happy punking!

Author: lisafer

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  1. Punk as a verb is going to be recognized some day as long as we all keep doing what we do. Who ever thought there would be a word “Texting”?

    I love to punk!

  2. “One of the minor irritations of my work life is the autocorrect on my email.”

    This had been a major irritation for me, so I finally disabled the autocorrect feature. I’ll live w/ my own spelling errors. I don’t need a computer telling me which word I mean to type and this computer would get very pushy about the spelling it wanted. I’d correct it, then I’d see it was back to the spelling the computer wanted. Not anymore.

  3. “I have no problems using that word punk to describe us…it’s about people making their own world. I’ve had marketing people tell me you gotta watch out using that word – i said you watch out … you let them think what them want.”
    -Mike Watt