Guest post: Holiday gifts for men

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This post is brought to you by my boyfriend Seth, a college professor, documentary-maker, avid bicyclist (yes, that’s largely why I got a bike), lover of cool things, and all-around improver of the quality of my life. I’ll let him take it from here. I’ve had lots of pocket knives, and maybe I like my Swiss Army knife best because I do not seem able to lose it (and I lose everything), and I always use it.  I’ve misplaced it in cars, in my home, in clothes, and it always returns.  The key to getting the right knife is to get one that does enough but not too much.  This is the one given to me a long time ago and it’s always in my pocket, until I misplace it, and then it reappears.

I drink ice coffee all day, every day, everywhere. This handsome Zojirushi thermos is my besty, and it’s even better than it looks.  Keeps everything hot and cold, opens with one hand, and locks, so it never opens on its own, and it’s thin enough to slide into most any bag. Get the 20-ounce version; the 16 is too small.

I take my lunch as well as my coffee with me, as much as I can.  Here’s what I carry it in now; like the Zojirushi the Kayto’s thermal is the right profile to glide in and out of my pannier (see below).  And if lunch requires a container, I dig this one, not only because of its cool and useful folding spoon, but because of its metal insert and overall perfect size.

When I worked in the Strand book store in the mid-1980s, I would every once in a while see the perfect satchel in beautiful leather, rugged and utilitarian as well as urbane.  I would ask the patron where they got it and each time it was from the same guy, Fred Eisen, on Montague Street, a couple of blocks down from where my uncle lived, in Brooklyn Heights.  That initial Mail Bag, the one with the single buckle, lasted me through grad school, which was a long time, and beyond.  Years and years, almost two decades later, after working that thing to capacity, stuffed with books, day after day after day, I frantically searched for Fred and and found him…in Pennsylvania, where he still makes the mail bag as well as many other cool ones, including versions on his classic theme that can do different things. This is closer to what I use today.

 

I love pens, the real kind, and I have three main types: the first is this micro, one-hand-operated twisty that I keep in my pocket for quick, quotidian jots.  At the other end of the spectrum are my fountain pens, which I use when I have dedicated time and place to write. I do all of my best thinking by hand, in ink.  None of my fountain faves are still made, but the company that made my favorite is Namiki (mine is their Bamboo in black lacquer with an extra fine nib and, of course, ink from a bottle). My favorite ink these days, by the way, is Noodler’s blue-black.  Finally, there is my in-between, everyday pen for serious scribbling and no worrying about leaks in transit, my Tombow Ultra stainless steel rollerball (pictured here) that feels substantial in my hand and writes beautifully (I like the extrafine cartridges, in black or blue).

A gregarious poet from Galway introduced me to Redbreast in a Dublin pub a few years ago, and I have not looked back (I don’t miss the peat at all in my favorite single malts); this single-pot 12-year old (that’s the one you want, 12 year old) Irish Whiskey is smooth and rich, and with a splash of still water it’s my winter tipple.

This handsome vest  is ultra-practical: warm, thin, and you can wear it under anything and it looks good anywhere, any time of day, all winter long.  Pockets, all the ones you need, side ones for your hands, and breast ones for your pads and pens.  What else does one require?

I love my bags from Fred Eisen but I ride a bike every day to get everywhere, and I am always looking for the perfect bag to fit on my ride but convert into something I can carry with me and that can carry my stuff after I chain up.  Nothing is perfect.  But the best I have found is the Pack `n Pedal from Thule.

I also have a front carrier from Minoura on my bike, especially good if I don’t have my pannier with me.  But it also balances things out if I do. Always useful to have a place to throw (more) things. The Gamoh is strong and looks imposing; its hardcore armor makes the cab that wants to play chicken with you think twice. Oh, and it has a bottle opener built into its front grill.

The best thing I discovered passing through Bremen: Hachez chocolate.  I’m a dark chocolate fan and Hachez’s is great, and so are the various combinations they mix into their bars.  Speaking of travel and chocolate, the best thing I discovered in Sicily was not chocolate from Modica, but chocolate from Modica is the best I’ve had. It’s an acquired taste, worth tasting. It’s made cold, following recipes that go back to the age of encounter, half a millennium ago, between the Americas and Europe. Its granular texture resembles Mexican chocolate. Its flavor is unforgettable, like the Baroque town that turns it out (from various makers, just pick one and if you like pistachios, go for it).

 

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Comments

20 Thoughts on Guest post: Holiday gifts for men
    liz
    12 Dec 2018
    11:23pm

    All I can say is who does not like dark chocolate. Truly one of life’s finest pleasures.

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    Kathi
    11 Dec 2018
    1:09pm

    Swoon at the guy, his prose, his style. So happy for you, Kim!

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    Anne
    11 Dec 2018
    1:47pm

    My husband loves that Filson vest so much that he has two of them and as soon as it turns cold wears them in constant rotation.

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    Elle
    11 Dec 2018
    3:42pm

    This was a very considered gift guide – likely one of the best I’ve read. Especially appreciated how personal anecdotes helped define item need and brand choice. Thank you, Seth. And yay for Kim!

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    gablesgirl
    11 Dec 2018
    7:11pm

    Seth what a wonderful list. We GOACA are so glad to get to know you better. Dark chocolate, who knew men liked it! And hints on what you will be gifting our dear Kim?

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    Colleen
    11 Dec 2018
    10:27pm

    Well, goodness……think I’d run out and get a bike too! 😉. Truly great list. Will definitely pick up some Redbreast for the guys on my list.

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    Yvette Hawkins
    11 Dec 2018
    10:35pm

    Wow, Kim, you’re man is fucking INTERESTING!!! This list!!!

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    c.w.
    11 Dec 2018
    9:06am

    Howdy, Seth, thank you for providing such a great list! Also appreciate how these items are non-gender specific. (and I’d like to add that you are a lucky fellow to have found Kim)

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    Rae
    11 Dec 2018
    9:29am

    This is the BEST round-up for dude gifts. I found something for my husband, father-in-law, and brother. And my darling dad would have happily received the Irish Whiskey. Thanks for this one!

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    LG
    11 Dec 2018
    10:59am

    Aw, this is a nice list, but I also just wanted to chime in and say that I’m happy you are happy!

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    Eloise
    11 Dec 2018
    11:00am

    I may buy one of those leather bags…..for myself!!

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    Viajera
    11 Dec 2018
    11:23am

    You had me at “folding spoon.”

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    Jen
    11 Dec 2018
    12:17pm

    My oh my, does this gentleman sound dreamy! He has three types of pens, and he won me over with the phrase quick, quotidian jots.” Happy for you. And, oh yeah, great list!

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    Hope
    11 Dec 2018
    12:22pm

    Yay for Kim and Seth!!!

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    Jane
    11 Dec 2018
    7:45am

    This is an excellent gift guide – ideas that are specific enough to understand what might set them apart from other, similar ideas. Thanks!

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    Krista
    11 Dec 2018
    8:20am

    Oh God, this list is so sublime! I love the image I get of this fellow from his choices! As a “girl of a certain age” struggling with finding someone to hang out with I have all sorts of nosey questions about where you met him etc…but will have to just be content to sigh in true friend envy, the best kind…sigh…

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    Heather
    11 Dec 2018
    8:45am

    My thoughts exactly – who IS this man, and does he have a brother who is single? A man who appreciates a good leather bag and a nice pen and a wool vest and who rides a bike everywhere? Where does one find such a unicorn? (But seriously, a lovely list, and I’m happy for you both.)

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      Jenny
      11 Dec 2018
      11:08am

      Maybe he has two single brothers? A cousin? A high quality male friend?

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    RebeccaNYC
    11 Dec 2018
    8:56am

    Seth seems like a keeper, and I love his taste! I have to chime in about the Filson vest. I’ve been buying Filson flannel shirts for my dad for years (his love for them is deep and true) and one time my husband started looking through the catalogue (a dangerous thing to do, as this stuff is pricey) and fell in love with a similar vest. I bought it for him for Christmas and we were both deeply disappointed in the quality. The quality of the wool was fine, but the finish was so sloppy it did not even look like the Filson’s I had been buying over the years. (Dad still has all those shirts, wears them every day and they are holding up beautifully. Dad is 90, btw) I sincerely hope they improved this, that vest is so beautiful.

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    Y.k.
    12 Dec 2018
    7:02am

    You had me at ” age of encounter “.
    Nice list!

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About

Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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