We asked some notable San Francisco personalities to recall their most memorable holiday gifts. Read on for the superlatively good, bad, and fugly (plus our recommendations for where to get the good stuff).
BRIANNA TOTH, CURATOR, COORDINATOR FOR THE CONCERT SERIES "NOISE IN MY KITCHEN"
WORST A sweater with pink elephants on it from Argentina, from my ex-boyfriend. It’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen … it has nothing to do with him as a person.
BEST Once, my friends accidentally ran over my Jawbreaker cassette Dear You because it fell out of my pocket when I got out of their car. They felt bad and bought the record for me for Christmas, on vinyl.
Find punk rock on vinyl at Thrillhouse Records, 3422 Mission, SF. (415) 826-0223.
MERIC LONG, VOCALS AND GUITAR FOR THE DODOS
WORST A small ceramic version of ET when I was six. It was terrifying…. I got out of bed and smashed it in the middle of the night.
BEST A tiny keyboard called the Casio SK-1. It can record sounds and play them back in different frequencies. I got it when I was a kid, and it still sounds great.
Find pianos and electric keyboards at Piedmont Piano Company, 660 Third St., SF. (415) 543-9988, www.piedmontpiano.com.
BRENDA KNIGHT, AUTHOR OF WOMEN OF THE BEAT GENERATION, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER AT REDWHEEL WEISER/CONARI
WORST An unbelievably fugly wall planter called the Little Brown Jug, the most hideous gift imaginable. I got it at a party. When I opened it up, it stopped everything. You could hear a pin drop. I tried to sell it at a yard sale, but nobody would take it. It’s probably still there at the Goodwill on Haight.
BEST Jewelry from a store on Carl and Cole called the Sword and Rose. They sell exquisite, intricate, affordable, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Stop by the Sword and Rose, 85 Carl, SF. (415) 681-5434.
JONATHON KEATS, ARTIST, CURRENTLY SHOWING "MIRACLE WORKS" AT MODERNISM
WORST The worst hasn’t happened yet. My parents often threaten to give me a cat, apparently on the principle that an animal will make me responsible. The only thing worse than being given a pet is being the pet that gets given.
BEST I already have more books than I’ll ever read, which is why being given another one is such a luxury. I especially enjoy obscure old books, because they contain whole lost worlds. For instance, I was once given a well-worn hardcover called Around the World with Jigger, Beaker, and Glass. The title alone was as good as a month’s travels.
For rare and first-edition books, try Phoenix Books, 3850 24th St., SF. (415) 821-3477, www.dogearedbooks.com.
CHICKEN JOHN RINALDI, ARTIST, SHOWMAN, FORMER MAYORAL CANDIDATE
WORST My best and worst were at my annual Christmas Eve game show party. One year everyone left before the gifts were all used up. So I opened one. It was a Mexican magazine of horror and gore unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was chilling and haunting and real a magazine of car-accident victims and people who had died from dog bites, bee stings, battery acid. It was totally out of control. With cute little captions in Spanish. I’m still haunted by that magazine.
BEST A random coupon for a kiss from a girl named Donna. I said into the mic that she could hang around until the show was over so I could collect my kiss. She was crazy gorgeous in a weird, giantess kinda way and was totally into biting. I like the biting.
Give the gift of looking at (if not actually kissing) gorgeous women: a tour of SF strip clubs through Slinky Productions. (510) 291-9779, www.slinkyproductions.com.
BERT BERGEN, ARTIST, CURATOR, DRUMMER FOR ASCENDED MASTER
WORST A series of Franklin Mint plates depicting football plays with nondescript football players. They had painterly guys in orange getting tackled by nondescript defenders. And what’s a 12-year-old supposed to do with decorative plates?
BEST That would have to be a hunting rifle, a .30-30, the same kind that the Rifleman uses. I killed my first deer with it.
We’re not going to support guns or killing living creatures, but if you want to find a dead animal gift of your own, visit Gypsy Honeymoon, 3599 24th St., SF. (415) 821-1713.
TED EDWARDS, VOCALS AND GUITAR FOR THE MUSIC LOVERS
WORST My first electric guitar, from my cousin Jane when I was 13 years old, because it set in motion a cycle of events that led to three divorces, despair, and debt.
BEST My first electric guitar, from my cousin Jane when I was 13 years old, as it led to an intimate love affair with the wonder of song, the glamour of the stage, and therein finding the one and only place I have ever belonged.
Find and fix electric guitars at San Francisco Guitarworks, 323 Potrero, SF. (415) 865-5424, www.sfguitarworks.com.
LIANNA HIBBARD, GENERAL MANAGER, UPPER PLAYGROUND
WORST Homemade leg warmers.
BEST Artist series Adidas Superstars the San Diego edition by Dave Kinsey.
MALIA, BARTENDER, THEE PARKSIDE
WORST A ceramic potpourri simmer pot with flowers painted on it.
BEST The iPhone I haven’t received yet (hint, hint).
Like you didn’t know: get an iPhone at the Apple Store, 2125 Chestnut, SF. (415) 392-0202, www.apple.com.
AMANDA CASKEY, GENERAL MANAGER, CAFÉ GRATITUDE RETAIL STORE
WORST A pink rhinestone charm bracelet with three-inch-long black rhinestone palm tree and taxicab charms.
BEST My grandmother promising to match the money my girlfriend and I save toward buying a house.
You may not be able to give the gift of half a house, but you can get hip, charming housewares from Egg and the Urban Mercantile, 85 Carl, SF. (415) 564-2248.
ABAI, DJ, BOUNCE REFLEX
WORST Fruitcake! I was a kid, and it was Christmas. I was so grossed out by it because it looked slimy and green. When the family wasn’t looking, my brother and I fed it to the family dog in the kitchen. He wolfed it down, then threw up all over the place a few minutes later. That was not fun.
BEST A sound system, gear to play on, an album, a trailer, and a van to pull it all in! Because that gave me the opportunity to travel around the country playing music I loved, which fueled my travels abroad to do the same thing.
DJs in the know shop at World of Stereo 2, 1080 Market, SF. (415) 626-1195. *