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Your Holiday Shopping Guide

Unwrapping locally sourced gifts has never been more fun.

I understand the allure of shopping at big box joints. You know what you’re getting, you know the price will be cheap, and you’re not all that concerned about quality. You also end up in long lines, have the exact same product everyone else has, and, when all is said and done, have purchased a thing that will have no meaning beyond the immediate gratification. Kind of like fast food, but with slightly more health benefits. Today I’d like to offer you an alternative to that. You won’t even need to get out of your Barca Lounger. You can support independent artists simply by having an internet connection. And, bonus, you’ll look smarter, and be cooler, than all your neighbors when you’re done.

This Might Hurt a Bit – Steve Silver
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Steve since before God lost his tennis shoes. Folks have been hectoring him to write his many stories out in a book and now he has. While, ostensibly, a book about being a bouncer, it is far more than that. He tells the story of what it was like growing up poor, living with a divorced mom when such a thing was still a scandal, and how he came through it all knowing how to knock your fucking teeth out or give you a hug, depending on the situation. Steve’s style is as raw as the stories. Absolutely worth your time.

Paintings by Graham Elvis
Besides being a founding member of, internationally renowned pop icons, The Elvis Brothers, Graham is also a visual artist worthy of your attention. Vibrant pop-scapes layered with meaning are a fine addition to any home.

Hybrid Zero by Cyril Brown
Called the “last web comic you’ll ever need,” Hybrid Zero is an eye popping blast into the future you always feared, but secretly hoped, could exist. Rude, raunchy, and beautiful, this is exactly the kind of artistic product the internet was built for.

Clarity Girl by Chris Thomasma
Yes, I wrote some of the stories attached to this comic book series, but those are a small part of the universe Chris is creating. Clarity Girl is a wonderful way to introduce younger readers to an exciting adventure built around diverse characters who love, and respect, each other. Plus, it’s got giant robots. What more could you ask for?

Apparel by Crixtopher Edwin Uregbu
Crixtopher is a young, South African, artist who has combined his talents with a keen, commercial, instinct. His work is both eye catching and meaningful. He is using the money he earns to put his way through college, just like that stripper your dad likes but for real this time, and manages to highlight social issues along the way without being preachy. You’ll be the best dressed person this holiday if you grab one of his shirts. and, I guarantee you, no one else will even try to out-cool you.

Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery – Neil Steinberg & Sara Bader
Addiction takes many forms and is often relegated to some dirty secret families are loathe to discuss. Steinberg, a popular columnist at the Chicago Sun Times, and Bader, creator of Quotenik.com and an editor for the Princeton Architectural Press, craft a book woven with stories and quotes from those who’ve been through it. Most notably Steinberg himself. If you, or someone you know, is working through recovery this book can help you on the journey with a combination of laughter, honest insights, and gut punching clarity.

Isle Squared Comics
This company, founded by Chuck Amadori, is dedicated to sexy, surreal, comics. I’ve reviewed Pale Dark, Bang Bang Lucita, Tether, and Empress and have only scratched the surface. With taut writing, and art that more resembles paintings than comics, there isn’t a bad issue here. If you like your titillation both visual and visceral, this is the place for you.

Art by Shay Jones
A popular, and widely sought, vocalist, Shay has also made a name for herself creating sculpted paintings and other works of art. Her personal creations tend to be expressions of her deep faith and are the kinds of things which make you feel better about being a human no matter your beliefs. She also accepts custom commission requests.

Delinquent Records
Goth and Glam never died. They just went to Alabama to spark an underground revolution. Delinquent has been pushing edges since 1986 and shows no signs of letting up. Pretty much any band with long hair and lipstick has made its way onto their roster at one point or another. With a deep catalog, and continuing new releases, they can satisfy all those urges you never knew you had.

Bloodshot Records
Home to a style of music where punk, country, soul, pop, bluegrass, blues and rock n roll mix and mingle and mutate (their words), Bloodshot has been the place to go if you’re looking for innovative music created by amazing musicians. Impress your friends, quash your enemies, and enjoy some of the coolest shit around.

EZYWRK Music Group
If you’re like me, although the odds are you aren’t, you’re tired of boring hip hop. The nice people at EZYWRK agree. I first discovered them a couple of years back when they began working with, Chicago’s very own, Kidd Bode, and have been stalking everything they do ever since. From hardcore rap to pop influenced hip hop, they bring a breath of fresh air to every release. If you want to be a fan of rap again click their link.

I’m not going to list individual bands since that would take years and I’d still end up missing someone. Instead the labels I’ve posted have deep, indy, roots and solid connections to Chicago’s music scene. You can’t go wrong by supporting them or any of the other creators I’ve listed above.

Oh well, as long as you’re still here, I may as well throw my hat into the ring. In 2015 I made the conscious decision to be more than a blogger, and occasional article dude, and delve, full time, into writing. Why not? I’d lost my job, my home, and pretty much everything else I could think of. It seemed like a good time to try something new. Obviously something old wasn’t working. So I jumped into the deep end and managed to stay afloat. Along the way I’ve managed to write everything from a children’s story to some of the most disturbing sci-fi around.

And there’s more on the way. Personal bonus? I found a girlfriend by impressing her with my throbbing brain. Much to my surprise life is pretty damn good. In other words, you can now wander over to Bill McSciFi, yes – that’s really the name of my site, and read short stories for free, buy other stuff I hope you’ll like, and get to know a little bit more about my literary side.

So there you go. A great way to support independent artists of all stripes without having to put on pants. If even that much effort is too much for you, just send me your credit card and I’ll take care of the rest.

I’m kidding. Don’t send me your fucking card. I’d just use it for stupid shit like food and you wouldn’t have the gifts you so sorely need.

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah Ya’ll!

Photo from the shoot that brought us Rudy Ray Moore’s This ain’t No White Christmas.


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