Holiday Gift Guide: James Baldwin on Wheels, Coffee in a Can
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you thought canned coffee was for grandparents and that film was dead.
By Sean Culligan
Part of OZY’s 2016 holiday gift guide, in which our staffers and contributors clue you in on what they want to give and what they want to get.
Sean Culligan is in charge of all visuals on editorial and is one of two staff photographers. He grew up in Salinas, California, and lives near Santa Cruz. When he’s not illustrating, creating graphics or building OZY’s home page, he’s skateboarding, thrifting or speaking Japanese. Also, he is obsessed with shoes and hip-hop.
Give: Salt Infused With Fear
This Ghost Pepper salt ($8) is the best salt for people who like hot food. I first found it at an Italian specialty store with a terrific salt aisle, and my girlfriend snagged it. We use it on everything — my favorite is toast with mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil. But let’s back up for a second. The bhut jolokia, better known as the ghost pepper, is not like a habanero or a jalapeño. Jalapeño is to ghost pepper like toy gun is to AK-47. Once the hottest in the world, it’s since lost that distinction to other peppers with equally scary names, but the ghost still ranks more than 1 million Scovilles. One OZY editor once licked a ghost pepper … and cried.
The great thing is, people who can’t handle heat can still handle this salt — you get the flavor of the ghost pepper and a touch of the heat, but it doesn’t linger. It’s even better when you add it to stuff that already has heat, creating layers. I’m on bottle No. 3.
Give: Japanese Coffee in a Can
When I lived in Haboro, Japan, I used to drink Boss (ボス) coffee to gear myself up to teach first-graders, who sometimes screamed. This brewed coffee (think can of Coke, not can of Folgers) not only comes in a variety of flavors but has also got amazing ads and commercials featuring Tommy Lee Jones. So amazing that I wrote an open letter to the company begging, politely, for the opportunity to purchase one of the ads, which I had refrained from stealing from a subway car.
Coffee snobs will hate it. At first. Then they will learn to love it. It comes in a can, yeah, but it does the job and it tastes good. Outside Japan, you can get only the Black variety in specialty stores and some online shops for about $2 a can. So when I go to Japan, I come back with 25 cans in my suitcase. Maybe I’ll be nice and give you one.
Give: The Gift of Shooting Film
The Pentax 67 is my hands-down favorite camera. It’s a tank with an incredibly loud shutter — when you take a picture, it sounds like you’re shooting someone, in the bad way. This medium-format camera, which officially debuted in 1969, has some of the best lenses outside Leica and Zeiss. Although it’s not terribly easy to find, keep an eye out at B&H, KEH and eBay, which currently has one with a macro lens for $500. For an additional cool factor, buy the cherrywood handgrip. If I could afford to shoot film every single day, I would. And this is the camera I’d use.
Get: James Baldwin on Wheels
Ian Johnson is the illustrator for Western Edition, and I’ve loved his artwork for years. I follow WE’s skateboards — the company is based in San Francisco, one of my hometowns, and Western Edition stuff is available there in skate shops DLX and FTC. Johnson draws lots of jazz greats, like Herbie Hancock, and renditions of great jazz-album covers, and I’ve always wanted a WE board. Now he’s upped the ante, hard, and put James Baldwin on a board ($50). “Baldwin has a way of cutting through bullshit in a very erudite and classy way,” Johnson says. “In the climate of everyone talking about race more outwardly and so many high-profile works on the subject in the past few years, it seemed appropriate to pay homage to him.”
That board is perfect. I really hope someone buys it for me.
Get: The One True Ring
When I was in high school, MF Doom was my life. That music was the soundtrack to my high school years. He’s polarizing, atypical of hip-hop and rap culture. I’d have him on in my car and my friends would make fun of me. Whatever. He’s an actual lyricist — you have to keep listening to get all the words and layers of meaning and double entendres. There’s a ring with his mask on it, and I want it. I saw the MF Doom Ring when it first came out, but I had no cash, so I couldn’t buy it. Now I’m hoping someone will find one. I saw Joey Badass wearing one recently. Last year an MF Doom Ring sold for $95 on eBay on December 23; I might have considered raiding the Christmas tree it landed beneath. I need this!
Get: Shoes You Can Use … Indoors
I live in a Japanese household, which means no outside shoes inside. And the floors in our house are all tile. In the Santa Cruz area, that means chilly toes. I’m a Nike-head, and I was wearing Nike Solarsoft Mule slip-ons. They’re thrashed. Wal-Mart flip-flops? Not an option. When friends come over, I need to be able to flex on my one-of-a-kind limited edition. I’m eyeing Nike Benassi Solarsoft slides for next-level comfort, and in terms of style, they go with everything. Yeah, they look funny at first, but then it kind of works. And yes, at $35, this involves more money dropped on my house slippers than on my regular shoes (I go thrifting for those). But they stay clean and last longer. I am entirely open to the Nike Benassi Fragment SP Slide in a size 10.5. Santa, are you listening?