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.