Lynn Parramore

Lynn Parramore looks back on the Great Depression to see the path ahead.


How do consumers save when they make less than ever before?

Sometimes, they take their business underground. Call it the Downturn Hustle. As folks tighten their belts on just about everything, certain bootleg activities are on the rise.

That’s nothing new. When Prohibition went into effect in 1920, bootleggers got busy providing alcohol to speakeasies and thirsty consumers. By 1929, the year of the Great Crash, a vast underground industry of black market booze had arisen, an illegal trade unlike any the US had ever seen. Gangsters got rich, grew violent and became celebrities as newspaper stories and movies covered their exploits…

hamilton_alexander-150Defending Geithner on the South Lawn last Wednesday, Obama commented that Alexander Hamilton may be the only other Treasury Secretary to have so many hot potatoes to juggle. Yet Geithner is in danger of becoming the public face of the AIG scandal. Will Obama’s defense fly?

We’ve been reminiscing about Alexander Hamilton ever since visiting his birthplace in Nevis last month, and agree that Geithner has a tough act to follow. Hamilton was not only one of our most brilliant and forward-thinking Founding Fathers, he was also the #1 babe in the group (there’s a reason the delectable Rufus Sewell portrayed him in John Adams). The Recession has got us thinking about older men, and we have a not-so-secret crush on Hamilton. Sorry, Geithner…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150Recession Lexicon: Canniversary

A year from the date when you got canned from your job.

This term, especially popular in the UK, takes a celebratory stance towards what could otherwise be a downer (shout out to our friend London Jack for the suggestion). If your canniversary is coming up, we suggest rewarding yourself for surviving with a night on the town. If you were laid off in a group, why not get the whole gang together for festivities? You’ve earned it.

Ex. Should we do our canniversary at Raoul’s?

homeMoney’s tight. So every penny counts when you’re on the road…

Maybe the Recession has given you more time to travel, but less cash. How does a rent-free vacay sound? Swap your pad for another in a destination you want to visit and enjoy potentially unlimited savings. Home swapping allows you to travel further and longer than you ever thought possible: We’re talking Italian villas, mountain retreats, and beach bungalows. Plus, you get more space than a hotel could ever offer. It’s even possible to swap vehicles and pet care. The best part is that you get to live like a local and receive tips on what to do and see from your “host”. For a $100 annual membership fee, will guarantee you a swap partner, or you get a year for free…

brendanbarry150Profiles of people who are seeing opportunity in a pile of economic lemons.

Brendan Barry, Rainwater Harvester

Location: Raleigh-Durham, NC

Before recession: Excavating Contractor

Now: Owner at North Carolina Rainwater Harvesting. Barry’s company installs above/underground systems for home and business owners.

Q. When did you notice a shift in the economic climate?

A. As an excavating contractor, I saw a building slowdown in Massachusetts in 2007. Watching friends fight over any crumb that fell from the home building table became too much to bear. Coaxed by siblings and a perception of a better local economy down south, I closed my sewer, water and grading biz and moved to NC the following December.

aa-book-150Lynn Parramore looks back at the Great Depression to see the path ahead.

Can we help ourselves out of the downturn?

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

~The Beatles

Self-improvement is in the American cultural DNA. After all, the pursuit of happiness is one of our inalienable rights. From the get-go, American society was relatively fluid in its class structure compared to European counterparts. This dynamic situation encouraged people to believe that perseverance and hard work could bring the bluebird of happiness flapping to their door. Founding Father Ben Franklin was a self-improvement guru, outlining strategies for attaining moral perfection and improving body and mind. Franklin, was a pragmatist, too. He didn’t shy away from investigating the most orderly, self-disciplined path for the accumulation of wealth…

tomatoWhile the Recession has a lot of businesses trending down, organic farmers like Patrick Horan say their debt-driven business is riding a contrarian wave. Horan’s farm, Waldingfield, specializes in heirloom tomatoes, which he uses to produce a special heirloom sauce. His Connecticut farm has been in the family since the 18th century and is now one of the largest certified organic operations in Connecticut. Horan talks to RW about weathering the downturn and America’s shifting attitudes towards organic food.

RW: How has the Recession affected you?

PH: As a farmer, I’m used to dealing with constraints. A lot of the farming business is debt-driven. If you’re in the northeast where you have a smaller growing season, you have to plan carefully. So far, I haven’t seen a downturn in my business, but that is partly because of something called CSA (community supported agriculture). In this system, people buy a share and get a box of vegetables every week. It’s a shared risk, and the system offers protection to the grower.

_buckle_0089_tIn New York, Chelsea’s contemporary art galleries are feeling the pinch. Last year, the art market only declined by about 4.5 percent, but the post-war and contemporary sectors dropped by 11 percent. In recent months, notable galleries have closed their doors, but that’s not something Michael Lyons Wier plans to do. For the owner and director of the Lyons Wier Gallery, the economic crisis has become an opportunity to let his imagination run free.

For 15 years, the Lyons Wier Gallery on 7th Avenue has featured contemporary art from painters around the globe. But in the downturn, business as usual no longer fits the bill…

madoffIt appears that Madoff is going to jail, and we can practically hear the shouts of joy from the rooftops of Manhattan. Madoff, with his silvery coiffure and elegant suits, looks like a man who has enjoyed exquisite pleasures and lived a life of unimaginable indulgence. He is the poster child of greed, the very portrait of the monster who smiles suavely while wreaking havoc.

The country may experience catharsis while witnessing his demise and ultimate incarceration, and that is an important thing. We may need a symbol on which to focus our profound disgust at the excesses that have been so ruinous to our economy…

hairCan’t afford to drop a Benjamin on your lid? Don’t despair. The Empire Beauty School, located in mid-town Manhattan near the Empire State Building, has a full-service student salon where you can tame your mane for the price of a Starbucks latte…