La Figa Holiday Gift Guide: Celebrate Krampus with Community-Focused and Socially Conscious-Themed Gifts

‘Tis the season. I have friends who make huge batches of fudge and give that out as gifts, and other friends who flavor and then bottle vinegars and oils. I have friends who can create coasters and potholders out of scrap fabric, knit lingerie, paint flower pots, découpage, draw, paint, bead, and generally out-arts-and-crafts me with one arm in a cast, which is why I shop very seriously with them, as well as looking for gifts that are socially responsible. (I don’t recommend hand knit bras, btw; they are itchy, lumpy, and offer no support, but um, it was the thought that counted).

Gifts should reflect the giver’s awareness of recipient, and carry a bit of the giver’s personality. Practical, thoughtful, and thought-provoking  are also important attributes. And because this is Firedoglake, a healthy dose of social consciousness never hurts.

Top of my list: FDL’s Free Bradley Manning t-shirt (there’s also an awesome sweatshirt). I ordered one for a friend as a Thanksgiving  gift, and he loved it, and I have one myself. The cotton is soft, the design is super cool, and you’re helping to support Manning’s trial coverage and activism.

Want to give a group gift, say for the whole family or your office? Occupy Sandy desperately needs Tyvek suits to protect those who are cleaning up mold damage in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Or consider supplying Occupy with the FDL Occupy Supply items. You can tell your peeps that instead of laying out for whole bunch of made-in-China crud that will end up gathering dust or getting regifted, you’ve made sure that an Occupy group is warm and cared for with American-made gifts.  And since usually  your family gives you socks and scarves, why not pay that forward and give socks and warm blankets to Occupy! Besides, weren’t your stodgy aunts and cousins thrilled last year when you gave a toilet in their name via Oxfam?

A Firedoglake Just Say Now shirt is perfect for your “states’ rights” libertarian relative–and for the fundamentalist Christian too, because after all, Pat Roberson did come out in favor of the legalization of marijuana, saying:

I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.

(And of course, Firedoglake memberships make great gifts as does a donation to Planned Parenthood. Or to your local library!)

This holiday season, along with their offerings like Lick It Softly (a blend of  peppermint and vanilla) and Krampus 2012 (red musk and black leather), niche perfumers Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has special, limited edition blends to raise funds in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. Based on a guide to the seraglios of New York City published in 1870, The Gentleman’s Directory’s “Frank Burns” and “Miss Addie” are two distinct scents designed to recall a forgotten age of forbidden lust:

FRANK BURNS
As you pass down Houston street, faro banks abound, till we reach an unpretending red brick building No. 25, kept by Frank Burns, known as the “Judge and Jury”. This is a great resort for the sportsmen both of this and the other country. Everything here is conducted in a respectable and orderly manner.

Bay rum, polished oak, exquisite pipe and cigar tobaccos, and a splash of bourbon.

MISS ADDIE
The next house, No. 55, is kept by Miss Addie Blashfield, the dashing brunette, who has eight or ten boarders, both blondes and brunettes. These are a pretty lot of girls, of pleasing and engaging manners. It is regarded as a first class house, very quiet and orderly and is visited by some of our first citizens.

Red sandalwood, vanilla orchid, sweet clove, neroli, apple blossom, and a gentle hint of star anise.

Books are gifts that need to be given to yourself and to friends! And this year there are two very amazing and wonderful books that highlight LGBTQ, and make perfect gifts for LGBTQ and allies. Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano (DJ Paul V.) features photos and short essays by everyday people about growing up LBGTQ, as well as exclusive new stories and photos from LGBTQ people in the public eye, including Rep. Barney Frank, Erasure’s Andy Bell, actor Patrick Bristow, radio host Frank DeCaro, columnist Michael Musto, singer Sia, blogger Perez Hilton, composer Marc Shaiman, and drag legends Jackie Beat and Coco Peru. Born This Way is sweet, funny, at times heartbreaking, and ultimately joyful and triumphant.

Actor/activist/author Michael Kearns’  The Truth is Bad Enough: What Every Became of the Happy Hustler? is an important social documentary/autobiography by the first openly gay actor in Hollywood (Kearns came out during the peak of his television career which included stints on Cheers, Murder She Wrote, and The Fall Guy). In 1991 he publicly disclosed his HIV+ status on Entertainment Tonight, and in 1994 he adopted his daughter Katherine, making him the first openly gay, publicly HIV-positive, single man to become a father. Kearns also co-founded  two AIDS organizations with partner James Carroll Pickett: Artists Confronting AIDS and STAGE (Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event), the longest running theatrical benefit in the world.  The Truth is Bad Enough takes the reader through the nascent days of Gay Pride, through the AIDS crisis and beyond, from Kearns’ first major media explosion (Kearns created Grant Tracy Saxon, the bisexual author of The Happy Hustler, a deliberate spoof of Xaviera Hollander’s The Happy Hooker), his childhood and relationships, though his work in theaters as a playwright, and actor, as an activist, and most importantly as a father.

Many of the films we’ve featured on Firedoglake Movie Night are available on DVD, and out of the over 190 films we’ve discussed, there’s bound to be something for everyone on your list!

Who doesn’t love coffee? Okay, maybe a few people. This year along with Dean’s Beans, a pioneer in Fair Trade, organic coffee (all his beans are certified organic, Fair Trade, and kosher!) who can create custom roasts for everyone on your holiday lists, there’s a new java supplier on my list: Trystero Coffee, a nano-roaster in Atwater Village, right by the Los Angeles River. Bean maestro Greg small-batch roasts heirloom, direct trade varietals on Thursdays, then delivers them around town on a bicycle (though Trystero does ship priority mail fo rhtose of you out of cycling range). It’s a family business–just Greg and Nicole, and they rock. Plus Trystero’s name and logo is from one of my favorite books, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

There are now almost a hundred small wineries in the U.S. creating organic, sustainable and/or biodynamic wines. Some like Rubicon (Inglenook) owned by Francis Ford Coppola, are not, shall we say, inexpensive (his run about $250 a bottle!), but with some searching, you can find bottles in the $20 range, like Bonny Doon and Snoqualmie Valley.

Some times a special girls (or guy) needs a glamor gift, and that’s where Batcakes Couture comes in. Using ethically sourced feathers, Madame Batcakes creates fascinators,  boutonnieres, cuffs and headbands, as well as handmade crystal devil horns and lacy cat ears, plus amazing hats. And showgirl head dresses!  I gotta love and support a single mom who works 18 hours days and, having no insurance, paid for her son’s critical medical care herself (an extra $20,000 she had to glue together using just her skills as a hat maker).

I’ll bet many of you know a local artist or crafts person who makes some amazing items; or look for them via Facebook and at farmers or flea markets. By shopping local artisans, you help your community. Just make sure your local “artist” isn’t reselling stuff made elsewhere and claiming it as their own; you want to support their art/craft, not their ability to source “handmade” items from abroad and double the price–one problem found frequently on Etsy. Though Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson claims the craft site is trying to stem that problem, not much seems to have been done, despite Etsy community continually flagging blatant junk resellers.

Shop sensibly, locally, thoughtfully. And remember this is the time of year when many social groups and small organizations and charities get together to hold sales where you can find cool vintage goods and some great handmade items. Just maybe not the knit bra. Seriously.

#N17 Marches, Good Jobs LA and Occupy LA: Actions and Arrests

Thursday, in two separate actions, several hundred people participated in a march organized by Good Jobs LA, with folks from Occupy LA, SEIU and citizens joining in as part of a general day of action to protest police actions in New York and elsewhere, and planned arrests went off without a hitch;  later in the afternoon, a large group from Occupy LA marched back to the Bank of America branch and some folks were arrested. There was no violence in either action.

Occupy LA at Bank of America, 11/17/2011 afternoon:

For the first march, 7am donuts, coffee, bananas and oatmeal bars were laid out for the protestors, news crews were in place and buses arrived with more people to join in. The Bureau of Street Services had closed off intersections and freeway off-ramps to accommodate the permitted march, and of course the LAPD was in place. This was a planned and permitted march which promised a banner hanging from an overpass and tents set up in an intersection, plus scheduled arrests! Wow, party!

 

The crowd warmed up for about half an hour with a drum trio and a rocking chant leader who rallied the crowd with

Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!

Hola! Good job! LA!

Rebuild! LA

then the march began. As we turned a corner, Epic Fail Guy (aka Anonymous) and friends unfurled a huge banner reading

We Come In Peace

while dancing and posing. It was dramatic and goofy at the same time. EFG continued his frolicking on the other side of the building and mysteriously appeared on a flatbed truck with the chant leader at intersection of 4th and Figueroa where a huge banner guarded by sheriffs deputies hung from an overpass proclaiming

LA Needs Good Jobs

As promised, there was civil disobedience: Three tents were set up in the center of the intersection and twenty protesters with blue armbands circled holding hands. Eventually a lot of police showed up (it was kinda scary to see the really big schoolbus painted black with LAPD stenciled on it) with riot helmets and batons. But since there were no gas masks or shields, it was clear this was just crowd control.

Some, however, did have the latest fashion accessory, the “green gun” – a rifle with a green stock and strap which indicates it shoots rubber bullets. All of this was very structured. After we all got on the sidewalk, the police broadcast an order to disperse, declaring an unlawful assembly. After the second order, the cops marched in stood in front of the chanting crowds on the sidewalks, holding their batons, while a another group moved in and handcuffed the designated arrestees. First up, an 82-grandmother.

Each arrest was greeted with cheers and lots of news footage–all the local and national networks were there, plus police video teams, and it looked like at least half the crowd had cameras. When all 20 were arrested, the LAPD hopped on their riot-mobiles and sped away. We all began to disperse, though some stayed for speeches.

It was very stylized, regimented, well-orchestrated, though having police at both ends of the street was a little disconcerting, but there was street with sidewalks we could have used to bail if it had gotten weird.

I noticed some of the police officers doing crowd control didn’t look happy, they seemed uncomfortable with the idea that if things went south, they’d have to bonk folks with batons, folks of all races and colors and age, moms holding babies, senior citizens and scrawny artist types with cameras. Luckily, despite one hysterical woman who was shouting that we all needed to get in the streets and was moved away by organizers, the crowd listened to the chant leader who urged us to give the civilly disobedient their space and clear room for the officers.

Meanwhile, Occupy LA has filed a restraining order to prevent the LAPD from dismantling the camp without notice, and Police Chief Beck told the LA Times he is working to negotiate a timeline for the camp to leave. At camp factions have emerged: The rabid frothing anarchists–some of whom have come down from Oakland to radicalize Occupy LA and think, depending on who’s talking, Los Angeles Occupiers need to get off their butts and raise some havoc, get arrested, maybe smash some shit and, like you know man, start the Revolution, get tear-gassed, get their heads beat in, and generally make the eleven o’clock news, ‘cuz like Los Angeles looks like lazy sissies, we gotta represent for the Revolution, man; the more by-the-book activists who see the advantage of staying arrest-free during protests (this week there were five arrests relating to inter-camp issues including assault and lewd behavior), and believe in reformation through action and also in not repelling the average citizen with acts of violence including property damage; and the people who are just hanging out and doing nothing but living in the camp.

Later in the day, Occupy LA took over Bank of America Plaza on their own. There were numerous arrests.

 

Today I’m going to camp with FDL member Bluewombat to deliver socks, Neopsorin and other supplies from the FDL Occupy Supply Fund. The camp is still having massive food problems; the Health Department has been dropping in to inspect any kitchen Occupy LA uses for camp cooking, and donations of packaged foodstuffs are needed because the camp has lost another kitchen.

Black Phoenix #Occupies Your Nose and FDL Takes to the Road for #Occupy

The perfumers at the ultra-cool and collectible Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have whipped up the sweet scent of democracy, Occupy style, and are donating all proceeds above manufacturing costs to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA in the form of  dollars to the OWS General Assembly for needed supplies, as well as sending pizza, aka the round meal (and making sure the ‘zas have lots of veggies on them for extra vitamins and fiber).

So far BPAL has donated over $1,300 to the OWS GA and has delivered stacks of pizzas to both camps, thanks to the scent which they describe thusly:

Rock the protester cliché! This is a filthy friggin’ patchouli, dark, deep, rooty, and strangely sexy, with cocoa absolute, tobacco absolute, and bourbon vanilla.

Meanwhile at Firedoglake, we have the #Occupy Supply Fund, with Kevin Gosztola hitting the road in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky to donate specific goods needed at eight sites.


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