Shop the Pain Away
Yet another 2017 gift guide
It’s been a year, and it’s not over yet. We have reached the grande finale, the time during which we take one last stab at bringing happiness to one another with material things. So, here are a few things that make me happy.
For the young at heart, who also hate Nazis
Maybe you grew up with the Moomins, a group of winsome, doughy Nordic characters and their humanish friends. I got to know them through the chapter books I’d borrow from the library when I was a kid. Their creator, Tove Jansson was a Swedish-speaking Finn who started drawing them during WWII to cheer herself up when she wasn’t drawing political cartoons. Her career started at the satirical magazine Garm when she was only 15, and the amount and variety of her work is astonishing. In addition to illustrations, cartoons, and children’s books, she wrote novels for adults and amazing short stories. I only discovered the latter recently when I picked up The Woman Who Borrowed Memories from a table at Dog Eared Books.
If you want to put a political spin on things, you can buy this poster to benefit Amnesty International (21,90 €).
There is also plenty of other adorable merch out there, like this Moomin Love mug ($23.99).Tove Jansson’s life partner and collaborator Ida Helmi Tuulikki Pietilä was an influential Finnish graphic designer. Spending some time with their work and life story is an antidote to the darkness.
For curious humans, who wonder why some of us are Nazis
Humans. We are so allegedly smart, yet so irrational, violent, and self-destructive. For anyone who is interesting in understanding why we do what we do, this is the book I’ve recommended to everyone this year. The author, Robert Sapolsky, is a professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford. He is also a primatologist who spent 25 summers living with and observing baboons. Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst is not only enlightening, it is a really fun read.
(The book, like his TED talk, opens with a meditation on his lifelong violent fantasy of killing Hitler!)
For the Tina Belcher fan (or anyone else who wants a break from Nazis to just think about, or sit on, butts)
Behold the #BUTTS pin ($11.03) by pixelator extraordinaire Richard Stevens. What a great stocking stuffer/conversation starter or stopper! There are plenty of fun items in the Diesel Sweeties Store. You probably know someone who would enjoy the Fuck It sweatpants ($34.99).
Pair these pants with one of those preserved meat and cheese gift boxes and you have the ideal disaster preparedness kit. Every Christmas we’d get one of those boxes from Great Uncle Bob in St. Louis and I’d eat all the strawberry candies while wondering what the h*ck “summer sausage” was. I do like a shelf stable smoked cheese log to this day.
For the righteously angry who love good design
Sonia Harris transmuted her righteous anger about the truly fucked up state of the world into a line of profane products that are as lovely as they are prohibited from being read aloud on Sesame Street. That pretty vine print on a pencil skirt ($40) has a special message for anyone whose eyes linger.
Plus she’s British so, in addition to the classics we Americans are familiar with, there’s a “sod off” throw pillow and a bollocks bandana. If Aunt Janet questions your taste, just remind her that people who swear are smarter.
It can be a tough world for magical creatures, or for those of us who would like more layout options in a Medium post with a lot of images.
Give John your money. He’ll do something good with it, I promise.
For the woman who has worked up a mighty thirst protesting stupid shit we should be done with by now
We had the great honor of hosting a Kate Bingaman-Burt show in our gallery last year. She is a treat. Little bit of a maniac. Kate spent a week covering the space in giant foamcore diamonds and other assorted amazing objects. It was a beautiful time.
Much of her work is about consumption, like the consumption of some sweet, yet salty male tears in the form of an of-the-moment beverage stocked in every office fridge across this nation.
For that swinging old world semi-nihilist
About a decade ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Magnifico, a sly sleazy Slovenian musician who mixes lounge, surf, soundtrack, funk, and Balkan music into an idiosyncratic stew. It’s everything I love, and probably a problematic fave. He is older and wiser now. His latest album Charlatan de Balkan ($9.99 on iTunes if you still buy music) is the perfect soundtrack to your last, best dinner party on earth.
The title of the lead track “Kuku Lele” is the Slavic expression for when everything goes to hell. I’ve had it on repeat for months.
For cool parents who like books and physics
Kelli Anderson makes books do things. Following the amazing This Book is a Camera , she went big with This Book is a Planetarium.
A pop-up book that is home to a working planetarium and other things too.www.kellianderson.com
For the fitness friend
I have a pair of Superfit Hero leggings. They are extremely comfortable and made well for every body.
We don't call them Superfits for nothing. Our signature fit will not ride up or fall down during your workout. The high…superfithero.com
If you need a gift for someone who loves talking about infrastructure, season 2 of The Wire, or Empire Strikes Back, these 3D printed earrings are a good conversation starter .
Features 3D printed model of the iconic shipping cranes that line the Port of Oakland (and other ports around the world…www.freeformind.com
For the sci-fi fan who hates big pharma and loves robots
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz is a really terrific new book. It will provoke thoughts about patents, capitalism, gender, and free will.
There are submarines, hackers, and cool haircuts.
For the self-styled introvert
Way back in January, I saw Jeff Goldblum perform with his jazz combo the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. His schtick is doing a meet and greet before the performance. So, even though I think “meeting” famous people is weird, I lined up to take a photo with the man himself. He did not disappoint. It’s as though he feels a professional obligation to give everyone the ideal Jeff Goldblum Photo Experience—hugging, purring, accepting weird fan art with extreme grace and good humor. I have never experienced such pure extroversion so up close and personal, and I don’t ever need to again.
It’s hip to be an introvert. So, if you want to mess with a hip introvert in your life, give them these Jeff Goldblum high tops ($64.95) and everyone on the street will stop to talk to them about their feet.
And finally, the obligatory semi-generic gift
Look, sometimes all you can do is buy an appliance off Amazon. The Technivorm Moccamaster ($254.96) is the best drip coffeemaker I’ve ever owned. It has one button. It brews pretty.
The coffee arrives hot and stays hot. The name sounds like an underground DJ in Berlin. Yeah, it’s expensive, but it will deliver a quality morning jolt and it will last.
When I was in Berlin last November, during the US election it was bracing to see how the Germans have held their dark history up to the light. The museums, statues, and memorials exist not to honor the perpetrators, but to remember, understand, and warn so that we can prevent a similar future.
My wish for 2018 is that we are able to confront and defeat hate and greed and replace our pernicious American myth-making with clear-eyed assessments that allow us to move forward towards a more just, inclusive, and prosperous future for everyone.