Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Damn Arbor's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

2014 Calendar from Sloe Gin Fizz

Gentle reader, are you having trouble finding gifts for your friends and family? Do you want to make sure the money you spend this season stays in the community? Well, you're in luck, we have worked tirelessly to assemble an outstanding list of locally made gifts.


The Rocket, 122 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti

The picture basically says it all. The Rocket has everything you could dream of: candy, robots, monsters, locally made products. If you are looking for some small gifts, or fun stocking stuffers, lock no further.

For all you Ann Arbor folks, Peaceble Kingdom on Main and Middle Earth on South U also have great stocking stuffers.

Acme Mercantile is also running a holiday pop up at Salon Vertigo on Fourth Ave.

Traverse City Bourbon

Good bourbon at a very reasonable price. Quite smooth, notes of oak and vanilla. Available wherever fine spirits are sold.

Biercamp Sausage, 1643 S State St, Ann Arbor

Do you have a difficult to please carnivore you're shopping for? Biercamp is the place for you. You can't go wrong with their handmade smoked meats and sausages. I highly recommend the landjäger, a mild semi-dry, smoked sausage. Biercamp also offers great vegetarian food options.

Sam's, 207 E Liberty, Ann Arbor
Can you go wrong getting that special someone a nice Christmas flannel shirt? What about a nice wool cardigan, or even a wool cap? You can't go wrong at Sam's.


Sloe Gin Fizz
Cool art and paper products from local illustrator Nicole Ray. Wonderful unique gift cards and tags. Check out the awesome 2014 calendar pictured at the top of this article. There also some pretty cool cards with KitchenAid Stand misers.

Dang Argyle

Dang Argyle has unique handmade pouches, purses and walets. You'll also be able to catch Dang Argyle at some upcoming local craft fairs.

Dear Golden
Dear Golden is a vintage clothing store in Ypsilanti that has a great online shop.

City Bird
City Bird has some pretty sweet Detroit and Michigan-centric holiday decorations. You can visit their Etsy store here.

Craft Fairs
Least we forget to plug the upcoming craft fairs. They too are great places to find tons of gift options from local artists. DIYpsi is Saturday and Sunday at Corner Brewery; Tiny Expo is this Saturday in Kerrytown.


Literati giftcard or tote bag. I mean, who wouldn't want one of these?

Once Upon a River--Bonnie Jo Campbell--Set in rural Michigan in the 1970s, Once upon a river, contrasts our State's natural beauty with rural poverty, loss, sexual assault and pollution. One of my favorite books by a great Michigan author. American Salvage--Bonnie Jo Campbell--A collection of short stories set in and around Kalamazoo. These stories are gripping, and stark and beautiful.

Art Student's War--Brad Leithauser--EJ loves this book, but I was unsuccessful in coercing her into writing a review. I hear it is a beautifully written coming of age story set in Detroit during the 40s and 50s. One of the MacArthur Fellow's most approachable works.

The Telling Room--Michael Paterniti--A book about love and betrayal and the quest for the perfect bite of cheese.

We Sinners--Hanna Pylvainen--from EJ's review: "'We Sinners,' ... sketches the outlines of a Laestadian family in the Detroit suburbs as they come to terms with a demanding religion that has equal potential to keep them together and to draw them apart. This debut novel, by metro Detroit native and University of Michigan MFA Hanna Pylvainen, has something to say to anyone who has wrestled with religion, who has disagreed with family, who has weighed personal needs against the expectations of loved ones--anyone, really, who has had to grow up."

I hate to leave this beautiful place--Howard Norman--From EJ's review: "... a collection of personal essays available tomorrow, begins as any good summer read could begin. It is August 1964 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the adolescent Mr. Norman is chatting casually with Paris Keller, his older brother's girlfriend. Paris stands topless in Mr. Norman's boyhood home, while her t-shirt, wet from a downpour, tumbles in the dryer. Sexual awakening and reluctant adulthood loom. "It was the first conversation I ever wrote down," the writer admits, a statement impossible to untangle from the bareness of Paris' breasts."

Saul and Patsy--Charles Baxter--From EJ's review: "The place Saul and Patsy settle down to start their lives--he as a teacher, she as a loan officer at a bank, both, shortly, as parents--is decidedly not Ann Arbor. Despite a reference to the Fleetwood and a drunk driving accident on M-14, the listless atmosphere of the fictional Five Oaks does not evoke any of the urbanity, culture, or there-ness of our beloved university town. Rather, Five Oaks is decidedly not-there, marginalized even by supporting characters in the novel. Part of the charm of this love story is Saul and Patsy's determination to preserve themselves in the face of the brutal obscurity of the place, to make Five Oaks "there" for themselves. In this way, "Saul and Patsy" expounds on a theme that Charles Baxter wrote so effortlessly in "Feast of Love": that is, love as the hero, as the Divine, the white knight, that which will transcend the narrative and lift us from our dreary circumstance. However, in "Saul and Patsy," Baxter hints at the less savory implications of a life made worthwhile through love."

Feast of Love--Charles Baxter--From EJ's review: "...written by a former University of Michigan creative writing professor and recommended to me by a student and a university employee. It's set in Ann Arbor, and the characters, the ideas, the weave of colloquial storytellings ring so true and so poetically Midwestern that I search the faces at Old Town on a Friday afternoon for the coffee shop manager Bradley, for his first wife Kathryn the softball player, for his employee Chloe. (Charles Baxter's not there; he teaches at the University of Minnesota now.) This is a book about love and loss and Ann Arbor..."

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods--Matt Bell--EJ got about two chapters into this book on our honeymoon. It's good, but maybe not honeymoon material. From the Times review: "A newly married couple, flush with love and possibility, leave everyone and everything they know to forge a life for themselves. But not long after they move into their new house, their infatuation fades. Carefree youthful courtship is replaced by the burdens of adult responsibility. The wife, who grew up in an abusive household, finds herself subjected to her husband’s abuse. She has multiple miscarriages, but he keeps pressuring her to try to have children. When she conceives again, he convinces himself that she is faking her pregnancy; and when she gives birth, he is certain that the child is not his. As the wife devotes herself to her child, the husband grows jealous. Jealousy and estrangement lead to separation; the husband succumbs to violent and self-destructive impulses and fantasies. Only many years and trials later do the husband and wife arrive at some sort of hard-won reconciliation."


Want to drop some real money on someone AND show you're cool: Shinola Watch. Sure they run $500 - $1000, but it is literally the finest watch made in America, and it's made in Detroit. Benji has one and he loves it. A Shinola watch is a watch you will pass on to your grandchildren with pride.

Alternately, you can always go with a Shinola Notebook; it's a bit cheeper than the watch. Also, it's way nicer than a Moleskine and at a comparable price point. Also, it's made in Ann Arbor. EJ has one and she loves it.

So there you go Gentle Reader. Hopefully we've helped you with your shopping. Do you have any local suggestions you'd like to add to the list? What are you hoping for this winter holiday season.


  1. There's a signed 1st edition of Baxter's Saul & Patsy on the dollar bookcart in front of Aunt Agatha's...