Twittering Machines 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

This year was an interesting and amazing year. Let’s hope they all are. Mine was split roughly in half, work-wise, and I couldn’t be happier about where I’ve landed—TM is becoming the site I always wanted to see and I thank you, yes you, for choosing to hang out with us.

I love gift guides, especially ones where I find something new, something old, something different, and something fun. I hope you find some of these things in the 2018 Twittering Machines Holiday Gift Guide. Enjoy!

Akira Satake Ceramics. Akira Satake makes beautiful Ceramics (from $25 on up). Each piece speaks with its own voice because each piece is made by hands with heart and soul.

The Criterion Collection. Here’s a double feature that’ll light your hair on fire (forever). Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi masterworks Stalker ($31.96 / Blu-Ray) and  Solaris ($31.96 / Blu-Ray).

Deutsche Grammaphon. Franz Schubert, Piano Sonatas Nos. 20 & 21, Krystian Zimerman ($21.73 / 2 LPs on Amazon or $15.25 hi-res download from Presto Classical). Beauty incarnate.

Guggenheim Museum. Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future ($65). “When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint died in 1944 at the age of 81, she left behind more than 1,000 paintings and works on paper that she had kept largely private during her lifetime. Believing the world was not yet ready for her art, she stipulated that it should remain unseen for another 20 years.” The world is so ready for Hilma af Klint (time to re-write art history).

Sony. What would a Holiday Gift Guide be without at least one hifi product? I know, most Holiday Gift Guides (wink). I don’t have the Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Noise Canceling Over Ear Headphones ($349.99) but I’ve heard them and I want them. Bad. If you enjoy good sound, convenience, and peace and quiet, you want them too.

Frida Kahlo, René Magritte, Vincent Van Gogh

The National Gallery of Art. Artist Action Figures ($35/each). Self-explanatory.

Organelle Music Computer ($495). “The Organelle® makes it easy to explore new sounds and experiment with new ways of making music. It combines playful and intuitive controls with a powerful and flexible sound engine. The result is an instrument that is limitless in musical possibility and a joy to play.” What more can you ask for?

The New Museum. The artist Louise Bourgeois was an insomniac. If you ever have trouble sleeping or you just want to look like Louise Bourgeois not sleeping, pick up this fine and fun Louise Bourgeois Silk Portrait Eye Mask ($30) and dream about art.

Polaroid Originals. The Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera, a fine work of Industrial art, puts a little, or a lot of, magic in every photo. Thanks to the fine folks at Polaroid Originals, you can pick up a fully refurbished SX-70 ($429.99), a couple packs of film ($18.99/8 pics), and make your own magic. On a budget but still want a vintage refurbished Polaroid camera? The Polaroid 600, either Square ($129.99) or the One Step Close Up ($139.99), will do the trick. Or roll the dice and pick one up on the cheap on eBay.

Third Man Records. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica is a magically great record that belongs in every music library (well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to). Jack White did up a lovely package for his Third Man Records imprint that included a Bob Ludwig remaster of the album, a tote bag, a replica trout mask!, and more. This VAULT PACKAGE #36 was only available to Vault subscribers but you find a copy on eBay (prices range from $50 to about $120).

The Whitney Museum. We all get ’em. Why not have a place to jot ’em down? The Bad Ideas Notebook ($14) is the perfect place to put ’em. Or is it?

The Sharon Van Etten Store. Sometimes, bad ideas can make us cry or we just get something in our eye (wink). Sharon Van Etten tissues ($5.00) are for those moments.

A vintage baritone ukulele. Why vintage? Because they are inhabited by friendly ghosts of music played on them past and they can be cheap if you are patient (eBay). That’s my Harmony. We’re in love.

Acoustic Sounds. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold As Love was the band’s 2nd record and it changed my life when I first heard it back in the 1970s. I own Axis: Bold As Love in the original stereo Reprise tri-color label version as well as a later Japanese mono release but I have this Analogue Productions remaster on my Holiday short list. I’m typically not a buy-the-same-record-over-and-over kinda guy, what with all of the wonderful new music to buy and I’m not done changing my life just yet,  but I make an exception for Jimi (I have 4 versions of Are You Experienced).

agnès b. The white shirt. A dietary staple for everyone’s closet. While I own a lot of white shirts, they are part of my fancy going out uniform, my favorite white shirt going on a few decades is the planet shirt from agnès b ($285). Single breast patch pocket, classic collar, wide cut (“slim fit” is evil), in a fine cotton twill that only gets better with age. I’ve owned mine for at least 15 years and it’s still getting better.

Pants. You need ’em. Pictured are my everyday summer pants (Red Kap Men’s Multi Pocketed Wrinkle-Resistant Cotton Work Pant $29.39 from Amazon), my everyday winter pants (Carhartt Men’s Double Front Duck Utility Work Dungaree Pant B01 $49.99 from Amazon), and my fancy going out pants (Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1954 501 Jeans in Rigid $285 from Levi’s).

Chord Electronics, Ltd. While my review is forthcoming, I will say if you have $500 and change and you want to buy something that makes music with its mojo in tact, look no further than the little Chord Mojo (currently $518 on Amazon).

General Pencil Company. Pencils. When was the last time you made a drawing with a pencil? Did you know that a drawing a day keeps the Doctor away? It’s true. While pencils are a dime a dozen (wink), I buy my Cedar Pointe #2/HD pencils ($30/3 dozen) from The General Pencil Company, founded in 1889, whose pencils are “Handcrafted with Pride in our Factory in Jersey City, New Jersey.” Another point of fact—you cannot make a mistake when making a drawing with a pencil.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. I like Marcel Duchamp and so did artist Elaine Sturtevant—”Produced in conjunction with Third Drawer Down Studio, this Elaine Sturtevant mug accompanied the exhibition Sturtevant: Double Trouble, on view at MOCA March 20, 2015 – July 27, 2015. Sturtevant reproduced a famous “Wanted” poster originally made in 1923 by Marcel Duchamp, she inserted her own face and name in place of Duchamp’s. Fine bone china & dishwasher safe 3 3/4″ x 2 3/4″ wide” (a steal at $5.00).

If that’s too flashy, how about a classic? The Original New York City NY Greek Ceramic Coffee Cup 10-Ounce ($12 from uncommongoods) is fun, funny, and Eco-friendly compared to the paper version. Back when I lived on Reade St. c.1987, my daily coffee came in one so I get all nostalgic when I wrap my hands around the Original New York City NY Greek Ceramic Coffee Cup.

John Prine’s self-titled debut album is a masterpiece. Get it on vinyl from The Elusive Disc ($21.99) or the hi-res download from HDTracks ($17.98 / 24/96).

Hideka Tonomura. Series S #3. Paper size 10 x 14 inch / Image size 140 × 79 mm. RC paper digital print. Edition of 5 ($427.63)

shashasha (delivering Japanese and Asian Photography to the World). Buy art! Art comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors and it is guaranteed to improve your life more than a new pair of interconnects. I’m finding myself enjoying the work the of Hideka Tonomura but I also enjoy just about everything that shashasha has on offer. There are original prints and books in all price ranges. For the adventurous.

Printed Matter. How about something a bit more sculptural? Jenny Holzer Raise Boys and Girls the Same Way Wooden Postcard ($20.00).

W. W. Norton & Company. Poetry. While it’s important (imperative?) to have some TS Eliot and Emily Dickinson on hand, to name just two, why not try on something new! I recommend New York poet laureate Marie Howe‘s Magdalene because it fills me with warm glowing wonder. From “Conversation: Dualism”:

Is that bad? the girl says, when someone tells a story, or when we see
an accident on the road, or lately when almost anything happens.

Well, I say, not good, nor bad.
But is it bad? she says again, sensing my small

hesitation. Well,
not good, I say

—and that seals it.

James Smith & Sons. Life is too short for crappy umbrellas. Buy one for life like the classic Shaftesbury Slim (£185) from James Smith & Sons (I dig the whangee crook handle), “Made famous by John Steed (played by Patrick Macnee) in the television series ‘The Avengers’. The Shaftesbury Slim furls tightly to achieve an elegant look that is often associated with the gentleman of 1930’s London.”

Mercedes Benz. Life is too short to drive slow. The Mercedes AMG E 63 S Wagon (around $120,000) is pure practicality with 603 HP Net power @ 5,750-6,500 rpm, 627 lb-ft Net torque @ 2,500-4,500 rpm, 3.4 second 0-60 acceleration time, and 64.0 cu ft of cargo capacity. That would cut approximately 43 seconds off my trip to the Shop Rite!

Acoustic Sounds. Sonny Rollins Freedom Suite from 1958 is a zen jazz monsterpiece featuring Sonny Rollins on sax, Oscar Pettiford on bass, and Max Roach on drums ($21.98 for the LP). Unlike driving, the more you listen, the more intelligent you are (see Repo Man).

KEF Direct. The new KEF LSX ($1,099/pair) have everything you need to play music packed inside. Just add music from your phone, your computer, your record player…They come in colors!

Kazoo Factory. Make music not war. Making music through a Kazoo ($2.99) will make you happier than anything else on this list (excepting charity). “You do know to play a Kazoo, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and. . .blow.”  A little known fact: a Kazoo is more accurate than a hifi.

CharityWatch: Top Rated Charities.

noun: charity; plural noun: charities

1. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.
2. the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.

Being charitable will make you and the world better. I recommend picking a charity from the CharityWatch list because:

Groups included on the CharityWatch Top-Rated list generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, have met CharityWatch’s governance benchmarks, and receive “open-book” status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to CharityWatch. Please see the Criteria section of the website for more information on the rating criteria and methodology that CharityWatch adheres to.

Cover image: Colour, CHAN Wai-Kwong. Self-published. Book Size: 389 x 275 mm / Pages: 30 images / Binding: unbound / Publication: 2018 ($133.04 signed). Available from shashasha