Million Dollar Ideas
By Brian Polk
Art by S. Putnik
Published Issue 093, September 2021
Over the years, I’ve had several ideas that would have earned me millions of dollars if I had any sort of follow-through whatsoever. In my own head — where my “follow-through” skills are on point — these ideas have allowed me to quit my day job, give TED Talks, go on vacation for longer than four days, order mix drinks with non-well liquor, pay someone else to clean up after me, and learn how to cheat on my taxes like a legitimate rich. But alas, I am not wealthy. Sure, I could blame my financial status on a radically stratified class system designed to keep people like me away from the generationally wealthy (and other self-proclaimed “social betters”). But also, I never set any of the following ideas into motion. If I had, of course, I would surely be paying way too much for top-shelf liquor at the bar in the Brown Palace. Instead, I am trying to string together enough freelance gigs not to starve (and I’ve also been drinking the vodka that comes in plastic bottles to save money). Fate is a strange thing, isn’t it? Anyway, if you cash in on any of these million-dollar ideas, you should float me some of the profits, and I will definitely reciprocate by buying you a mixed drink (as long as it’s made with well liquor).
Try Harder™ The Self-help Empire
All self-help books, seminars and podcasts all have the same underlying theme: try harder. So I figure the Try Harder™ Self-help Empire could easily seep into every aspect of the self-help industry — from exercise and diet to winning friends and earning money. I may even write a self-help book on how to write your own self-help book! (The possibilities are endless.) First, I need to figure out how to register a trademark, which is probably something I may or may not google when I get around to it.
Gar-Gum™ The Garlic Flavored Chewing Gum
You know when you eat garlic and your breath smells really bad for the rest of the day? Gar-gum™ is the one gum that doesn’t try to mask the unpleasant odor of garlic, it fucking doubles down! So now when someone waves their hand in front of their face like they’re trying to shoo away the smell and says, “Did you eat a bunch of garlic at lunch?” you can grab the package of gum as though it was a roll of Mentos in a ‘90s TV commercial and just smile right at them. Also comes in onion, tuna and cigarette smoke flavors.
Distributor of Plastic Fork/Knife/Spork/Napkin Sets
After ordering a lot of food for delivery during the pandemic, I ended up with an entire fucking drawer full of plastic utensil sets. I figure if I ask even a couple of my friends for all their unwanted sets — or better yet, host some kind of plastic utensil drive — I could easily start a business. And since I have no overhead, I could undercut the competition pretty substantially.
At my work, I always watch very young children hit the automatic door opener or play with the self-check machines. And so I developed the idea for Buttonland!™ — a place where children of all ages can press buttons all day. For the really young kids, I would just get a bunch of shiny, round buttons that made lights go on and off and watch them stay busy for hours. For older kids: video games. And for adults: gambling machines. Because at Buttonland!™ there are buttons for everyone to press!
Purchase A Time Machine
Hopefully some of these other million-dollar ideas stick, because I’m trying to save up for a time machine so that I could invest in Bitcoin and maybe provide some seed money to Twitter or something. Of course, I also need to find the place that sells time machines, but I figured once I have the money, time machine salespeople will come knocking on my door.
Try Harder Redux™ The Religion
Did you know if you found a religion, you don’t have to pay taxes? And since most religions generate vast amounts of capital, you end up being rich! And we all know that rich people don’t pay taxes. So double tax-free status! In order to start my Try Harder Redux™ Religion, I’m going to have to consult the June 2018 column I wrote for this magazine where I lay out the groundwork of starting a cult. And as any student of history will tell you, all religions begin as cults. Once I’m established as a cult leader/religious executive, that’s when the money starts rolling in.
Brian Polk is a Denver-based writer, publisher of The Yellow Rake, and drummer for Joy Subtraction and Simulators. He’s the author of Placement of Character and Turning Failure into Ideology. He likes writing, muck raking, yellow journalism, zines not blogs, cheap booze and punk rock.
Siena Goldman aka S. Putnik lives in her birthplace, Los Angeles, where she has spent her lifetime so far experimenting with the visual and musical arts. She loves working with pencil, pastel, watercolor, crayon and collage to convey interesting textures, color palettes, and moods in her multi-media artwork. As a 25 year old, she has spent a lot of life in school, uncomfortably switching districts and trying to fit in. Now, she is just stepping out yet again, this time stuck in the squeeze of birth as a young artist.
Check out Brian’s August piece, Single Sentence Fiction For People Who Really Don’t Enjoy Reading, with accompanying art by S. Putnik here.