“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” . . . “Johnny wants a pair of skates, Suzy wants a dolly, Nellie wants a story book” . . . “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!”
The Kenpo iPod Jacket
Can it be that it was all so simple then? Once upon a time, not all that long ago, holiday shopping was a fairly straightforward enterprise. Head to the local department store, grab a sweater or a toy or whatever the hell else your loved one wanted, fork over a few greenbacks, then head back out on your merry way, perhaps stopping by the local watering hole, hung gaily with blinking lights, for a couple festive pops on the way home.
But the Internet, as it has with so much else, changed everything. Sure, in a way it’s made things easier. Who wouldn’t rather take care of everyone on their list with a few well-placed mouse clicks than brave the mad and madding mall crowd crush? By the same token, the Web’s global reach — its ubiquity, and the ease with which weirdos and freaks can utilize it to sell anything they wish — has made shopping more complicated. The Web’s sheer scope means an exponential explosion of gift ideas that can be overwhelming.
The good news is that all that weird crap has to be treasured by someone. For the giftee on your list who has everything (and nothing you’d ever think to buy them) here’s a completely random sampling of the oddball gifts available from the darker corners of the Web.
Has everything — ha!
eBay, of course, that marvelous global flea market, offers huge potential for bizarro gifts. And an invaluable guide to that teeming storehouse of treasures and trash is BayRaider, which regularly scours the site looking for the astounding cultural treasures that can be found there. It’s a safe bet that none of these auctions are still current, but at press time, you could buy Syd Barrett's artificial Christmas tree (starting bid, £100), an original script for a 1990 episode of Columbo ($49.99), and Madonna's eroitc riding crop ($250). The options are limitless.
If your loved one is drawn more to life’s simpler pleasures, consider the marshmallow shooter ($19.98), available from Things You Never Knew Existed which can rapid-fire those puffy white missiles of death more than 30 feet. Crouched behind a snow bank, he or she will be a silent assassin.
Speaking of assassins, from the same store comes a must-have for the paranoids in your life — Kenn Thomas’s Parapolitics: Conspiracy in Contemporary America Book ($19.95) is an omnibus collection of dark mutterings from one of this country’s leading conspiracy experts. “From the Kennedy assassination to the 9/11 attacks, the book examines the underlying conspiracies that drive the secret elites and control the war-ravaged planet they manipulate.”
For more rational (or, who knows? naïve) leftists, consider a book of hard (and hard to hear) facts like David Lester’s illustrated The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism ($9.95). “Located at the intersection of the statistical and the artistic, this catalog of corporate horrors — poverty, exploitation, and injustice — is a damning indictment of capitalism created with both love and rage.” You can buy it via the blog of legendary Vancouver indie provocateurs Mecca Normal, with royalties going to the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.