Salinger and Jack Kerouac you can get your hands on. Go to the source of the rebellion and buy from City Lights (261 Columbus, SF; 415-362-8193, www.citylights.com). If you really want to start a fire, hit up anarchist ground zero Bound Together Books (1369 Haight, SF; 415-431-8355). You are also well-placed to mold their fallible little minds into appreciating good music. Find all the songs that riled you up in your adolescence at Streetlight Records (3979 24th St., SF; 415-282-3550, www.streetlightrecords.com). Even if they hate your picks, you'll have taught them a valuable lesson about snubbing all that fancy marketing and finding their own taste. You're such a good role model.
BIG BRO OR SIS
It's always hard to shop for the person who made your young life a living hell. To help you turn the page on that awkward history of rivalry, sign your tormentor up for the gift that keeps on giving. Magazine subscriptions are always a great idea for the holidays — but really, who wants to funnel their money into publishing houses all the way out in New York? We have tons of extraordinary publications based right here in the Bay Area! You can't go wrong with Planet (www.planet-mag.com) for culture vultures, SOMA (www.somamagazine.com) for artsy types, Mother Jones (www.motherjones.com) for the world conscious, or Wired (www.wired.com) for the tech savvy.
THE YOUNG ’UNS
The only reason I tolerate the holiday shopping madness is that it offers a valid excuse for grown people like myself to play with toys. Now that there are some nephews in the picture, I don't feel so creepy fondling everything on display at the Discovery Channel Store (865 Market, SF; 415-357-9754, shopping.discovery.com) in the Westfield Center. I know, you have to brave the big, scary new mall, but the payoff is strong. From crime scene kits to talking globes, this store will make you feel like a kid again. Everything is educational, but the children will never know. Ambassador Toys (186 West Portal, SF; 415-759-8697, www.ambassadortoys.com) has all the lovely LeapFrog (a local company!) baby things and tons of interesting multicultural stuff too.
Mom-mom and Pop-pop are so easy. If you remember to call, they're thrilled. Getting them a gift? Oh, you're such a honey pie! Head to Paxton's Gate (824 Valencia, SF; 415-824-1872) and pick up some orchids or carnivorous plants for her to fawn over. Grandpa will probably be happy if you just show him how to use the digital camera you got him last year, but go the extra mile and start an aquarium for him. This way you'll know exactly what to get him every year: more fish! The folks over at Ocean Aquarium (120 Cedar, SF; 415-771-3206) will get you started right.
Don't forget about your little critters this season. San Franciscans like to give their pets the run of the house — in my case, the tortoise Bukowski has the painfully slow and woozy stagger of the place, but you get the idea. Bukowski will be getting a tasty bouquet of dandelion greens from Golden Produce (172 Church, SF; 415-431-1536) in his stocking this year. Fido probably won't enjoy chewing the weeds, so try Babies (235 Gough, SF; 415-701-7387, www.babiessf.com). This store is pretty much the holy grail for spoiled little dogs.
Admit it, you have an inkling that your ex is probably stalking you on MySpace. Why not call the sneak out with some kitschy spy wear from the International Spy Shop (555 Beech, SF; 415-775-47794, www.internetspyshop.com)? Nothing says "I can still see right through you" like some X-ray glasses. The Fisherman’s Wharf shop is also ground zero for all things private dick.
Just put your name on the damn card. Fin.
GET ’ER DONE
So you waited until the last minute — you haven't bought a single gift. People have started dropping hints about the great things they've found for you (some of these people weren't even on your list — the jerks). What the hell do you do now? Don't panic.