Above: store-bought bow and discount wrapping paper, pieced together with magic tape and love.
Yes, I know there's only five days left till Christmas, that by the time this post is completed Hanukkah is already twinkling its arrival, that some holiday shoppers are sitting smugly alongside their craftily wrapped presents, the kind with hand painted angel paper and chiffon bows and berries artfully attached.
But the Tropical Roundup is not one of these shoppers. She is on Cuban time, which technically means that while everything will get done, it will all happen in a great flurry, at the last minute, with some presents and cards assembled in the driveway outside the recipient's home. Wine will assist in these endeavors, as will cortaditos and pasteles de guayaba (both of which I'd consume twice a day if I didn't care about looking like a gourd). One does not have to be Cuban to exist in this perpetually behind (but well fortified) state. But it helps, as does living in South Florida, where "Cuban time" is as common an expression as Turn down the a.c. and Coño!
Here are a few quick gift ideas for those of us who consider Cronus a nemesis:
1. Behold the beauty to the left, a Great Gatsby tee from Out of Print Clothing, displayed prettily alongside my high school copy of the novel. My birthday, wedding anniversary, and Christmas are all within a couple of weeks of each other, so my husband is doomed to hunt for gifts for me throughout December. I assist (read: prod) him with tips, such as this shirt I'd been eyeballing for about a year now.
On its website, Out of Print states that it "celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Our products feature iconic and often out of print book covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art."
Indeedy. Other choice picks include Thoreau's Walden, Darwin's The Origin of Species, the mysteries of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys (The Sign of the Twisted Candles and The Mark on the Door, respectively), and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, in a festive red and white.
To browse women's, men's, and kid's shirts, visit here. If you select overnight or second-day air delivery, your prezzies will arrive before Santa does.
2. Last month I was lucky enough to read at the Miami Book Fair International and hear many fine poets, whose fine books I bought as well. I think you should buy them too, particularly from independent bookstores like Books and Books, Powell's, Politics & Prose, or whatever book shop is in your town and is battling Amazon, the real world version of the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Here's some of what I scored: Susan Briante's Utopia Minus (Ahsahta Press); Sandra Beasley's I Was the Jukebox and Gerald Stern's Everything is Burning (both from W.W. Norton); Radha Says: Last Poems by Reetika Vazirani (editors Leslie McGrath and Ravi Shankar / Drunken Boat); Seamless Matter: Thirty Stills (Rain Taxi / OHM Editions), by Ravi Shankar; and Shapes the Clouds Assume (Kattywompus Press), by Jesse Millner, offering one of the best poems I've ever read about my home state.
Why I Love Florida, by Jesse Millner
It's mostly because I'm a pantheist: like the Moguls I worship the sky, blue heaven that floats above me, like Whitman I worship each leaf of the St. Augustine grass, each blade a bright flag of this tropical world's dispostion, like Dickinson I worship the black racers along the dirt road I run most afternoons, those "narrow fellows" pouring their oily bodies into weeds that line my journey west, which is the orientation Thoreau argued for, the direction he walked each day from his shack at Walden Pond as he looked for that particular oak tree, the one whose branches filled with the music of God, which is a chorus of the natural world, a kinship with tree, flower, root, and earth, the hymn shriek of the osprey alighting from the slash pine outside my window last Saturday, yes, God in every thing, manifest in cypress dome or pine barren, in saw grass or slough, in the summer cumuli that blacken to nimbus and bring the hard rain that is itself the only true baptism, that holy hard rain, which cleanses this despoiled paradise, which roars into ditches and lakes that disperse and collect, but does not wash away our many and collective sins.
3. Poster Art from Ironforge Press! Give the music slaves in your life a chance to re-experience their rock-age, or gaze longingly at the show they missed, by purchasing concert posters from this Fort Lauderdale print shop specializing in flatstock and silk screen. Older stoners will enjoy AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Steely Dan, and Black Crowes; skillful tributes to Of Montreal, Arctic Monkeys, and Minus the Bear might appeal to the young and moustachioed set, but, really, there's no accounting for who's going to listen to what. Right now I'm listening to an Uncle Tupelo album recorded around the same time I was in elementary school (that last bit is a fatass lie).
4. Finally, Radio-Active Records is taking orders all week. This independent record store sells a sea of vinyl, along with cds, turntables, and more. Here's an interview I did a couple of years ago with owner Sean Kayes and store manager Mikey Ramirez, who offers this little known bit of vinyl lore: "If you slow down the 12-inch copy of Madonna's Into the Groove, it sounds just like David Gahan from Depeche Mode."
Because plenty of its business is conducted online, Radio-Active knows how to coddle out-of-state customers. But they've got bricks and mortar too. If you live in South Florida, stop by for a vist, as did this groovy lady, who got Jesus (and Mary Chain) while holiday shopping.