All I Want for Christmas Is World Peace, Absolute Power, and Omniscience
I thought I was immune, but the biggest snowflakes I think I’ve ever seen just started falling outside and I went around the office singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Good thing I’m the boss. But I hadn’t had any twinges of Christmas spirit up till then. I mean, I did feel a sympathetic tug on the heartstrings when my son Oscar wrote his letter to Santa. I was really impressed with the detail and I was rather surprised that he informed Santa that certain items could be had at Kmart—I mean, Santa’s workshop is pretty well known.
Oscar’s mom did set him straight when he asked for DVDs of the entire Indiana Jones series. Santa makes toys, she said. He doesn’t stock movies.
I have been asked a few times what I want, and I’ve been thinking about that and also what I will give to the nears and dears and the compulsories. Here are a few thoughts.
Every year I get stuff I don’t want. Stuff for the home that would never ever see the light of day in my place and clothing and accessories that are so alien to my taste that it makes me wonder if I’m getting my point across. My father-in-law has given me a black pullover three years in a row. I’m sure he doesn’t remember, but at least he remembers my name. I’m dropping hints now. In the past I’ve said please don’t buy me anything for Christmas both to my wife’s family and my own side of the bloodline. It hasn’t worked, but then last year I made a breakthrough with my mother.
Why don’t you get me something from Harry and David, I asked? I thought that might work, since Harry and David was something I remember being under the Christmas tree when I was my kid’s age. They’re the people who invented the “Fruit of the Month Club” and they sell really good fruit and sundry comestibles by mail. Last year my mom sent really good pineapples, pears, and apples. Really good. There were even edible apricots, an endanged species. And now they offer the Organic Fruit of the Month club. This is really a perfect gift for those whose tastes in consumer gifts are not exactly our own, especially if they happen to live in an area (such as most of the United States) where you can’t get a good piece of fruit.
Things have changed in recent years, but we have lived through many decades now in which fruit was mainly bred not for its taste but its appearance and its shipping qualities. But Harry and David have fruit that tastes like fruit tasted before the agronomists started fucking it up. For me beautiful, perfect fruit is genuine luxury, not pashmina and zebrawood. I can’t wait for the peaches. So to make a long story short, if you’re related to me by blood or marriage, please send fruit, no clothes or ceramics or chess sets.
I’ve been in the habit of sending some choice vintages around town to clients and the like and may do so this year. I’m a big Champagne fan and I will probably be sending out a few cases of Pol Roger—the bubbly Winston Churchill liked to sip. So legendary is this preference that Pol Roger named their premium vintage champagne Cuvée Winston Churchill. This old house, dating to 1849, specializes in the brut or dry style and so they catered to the English palate. The Britons like their champers as dry as their wit.
For my money Pol Roger’s Brut Reserve is the perfect everyday champagne. If you’re celebrating your new contract with the Yankees you might want to pop a bottle of Krug, but if you’re simply celebrating life on a diurnal basis, you can open a very excellent bottle of Pol for about forty bucks and it blows away everything else in that range with its clean dry taste. I prefer it to the more expensive, yeasty Veuve Cliquot.
Recently I got a gift package from a pal from Petrossian, the well known international purveyors of caviar, and it was marvelous. It made me think about caviar again and this year it’s back on the menu for the holidays. I come from a cabal of caviar aficionados. Once one of my homeys gave me a kilo of Sevruga for my birthday and a few of us sat around drinking Champagne and ate the whole damn thing. But in recent years, due to the criminal behavior in the area of the Caspian Sea, there has been a terrible lack of good caviar. Imporation of Beluga caviar, from the endangered sturgeon of that name, was banned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 2005. In 2006 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned all trade in Caspian sturgeon caviar because of unethical practices, exempting Iran where the culture (or is it the ayatollahs?) seem to have upheld quality. On the Russian side of the sea things deteriorated terribly, and it seemed that they were willing to kill the good that laid the golden egg just for his foie gras. (What a tortured metaphor, sorry!) Anyway, the Caspian article became rare and prohibitively costly and this led to the development of alternatives.
It turns out that America, despite killing off most of its sturgeon (the Hudson used to be full of them), has turned things around somewhat to the extent that we are now producing some excellent caviar. I didn’t try it for years, thinking that Tennessee Paddlefish just didn’t sound that appetizing. But it turns out that the fish eggs being peddled by Petrossian and my other caviar stop, Russ and Daughters, the venerable Lower East Side shop (on Houston Street), are really fantastic.
Petrossian is offering an American caviar sampler that explains everything without a word, with 50 grams each of Hackleback, Chataluga Prestige, Alverta, and Royal Transmontanus caviars. I’m working on the words. Check back in 2009. Russ and Daughters is offering what they call American Ossetra from California (awesome), Hackleback from the Mississippi River Valley, and Paddlefish, which resembles Sevruga and is quite delicious. Here’s some of Russ’s paddlefish roe:
I like buying American. Haven’t quite talked myself into a Yankee car in a while, but I will give our native caviar my 100% endorsement. Buying this will help those pesky Russkies get their environmental act together.
What else do I want for Christmas? Well, after racking up more frequent flier miles than ever this year I have decided to give up on my old-fashioned spurning of luggage with wheels, and I’m hoping the wife or Santa provides me with a big rolling carry-on to match my other T. Anthony luggage. And then last year I asked for a Canon G9, the compact digital that all my photographer friends carry. Just holding the thing made me want it, and since my compact Panasonic Lumixes with their nice Leica lenses have smashed sceens, I needed something new, but there was an error and somehow I got a considerably more costly Leica, which is a fantastic camera but won’t even fit into my cargo pants, making it tough to do the undercover kind of photography I like to do as a sneaky bloggeur. And I can’t figure out how to work the thing half the time. Maybe this year Santa will listen more carefully.
I may not be Terry Richardson or Todd Eberle, but my friend Olivier Zahm, the guru-in-chief of Purple Fashion, can take artistic pictures under highly challenging nightclub conditions, so hey, I need this camera. From what I understand it can take a great picture almost by itself.
What else? I have asked Santa for an Irish passport but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve been thinking about a sauna. There’s a really great shipping container made into a sauna by Castor Design. This is no ordinary sauna, but a freestanding structure that is a recycled shipping container with a traditional wood-fired stove, with such extraordinary features as solar power, iPod stereo, guitar hookup, magnetic truck light, wool toque, and bronze antlers. This is built in Canada by Canadians who seem determined to walk the thin, jagged line between fine art and demented design. These guys also make a nice set of headphones with antlers on them, some cool stools and tables and an incomparable “invisible chandelier,” custom-made from burned-out light bulbs lit from within.
And what do you want for Christmas? By the way, if your kid asks there are seven candles in the kwanzaa kinara, and the reindeer’s names are as follows: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. The one with the red nose, Rudolf, got that way by eating amanita muscaria or fly agaric hallucinogenic mushrooms, as reindeer are wont to do. Eating these potentially highly toxic mushrooms has been known to cause flying.
Notice the similarity of this mushroom to Santa Claus.