Simply as Die Laborious is a Christmas film, the hardcases of the Chronicle Information Group additionally know the explanation for the (winter vacation) season. Our most necessary contribution to this Present Information subject is the primary installment of our 2021 monprofit Want Checklist (see p.16); in case your group needs to take part, it isn’t too late. However why cease there? In search of a present for the politically or civically minded in your life – or possibly a touch about what you’d like beneath the Festivus pole? Here is some stuff!

State Authorities Santa

Holding the ability on? Defending Texans from the plague? Dwelling as much as the ensures of justice and fairness within the Texas Con­sti­tution? These could be good items, however they’d be costly, exhausting to wrap, and exhausting for many state officeholders to ship. You could find extra typical assertion items and stocking stuffers in, naturally sufficient, the Texas Capitol Present Store, which earns cash that helps the State Preservation Board handle the Pink Dome and its grounds. (You could find their retail places within the Capitol Guests Heart – the previous Basic Land Workplace constructing on eleventh Avenue – and within the Capitol Extension, and on-line at

If you happen to thought, as many do, that the Capitol store simply sells vacationer tchotchkes for individuals who do not dwell right here, it’s not so. What extra becoming manner for Austinites to endure the antics of our ruling regime than with on-point boozeware etched with the Texas state seal? Glasses on your favourite tipples vary from $10-16, or $30 for a beer stein; it’s also possible to rating a whiskey decanter (with a pewter seal) for $75. Or maybe a pair’s present? Decide up the stainless-steel insulated bottle and tumbler set for $100 – it holds “a complete bottle of wine!” in line with the store’s useful web site.

After you polish off that Sauv Blanc on the subsequent tailgate, you would possibly need assistance discovering your manner house, and the Capitol store has a lot of maps, though largely they’re from earlier centuries. As an example, the 1939 Austin zoning map, produced on the time by the Chamber of Commerce to hawk the town’s funding alternatives, and now custom-printable for you and yours in several sizes, supplies (paper or canvas), and framing choices for wherever from $28-625. Guess what number of zoning classes (use districts) there have been again then? Seven! Guess what number of there at the moment are? Ultimately depend, 38 base districts, which may mix with a number of of a minimum of 13 completely different overlays. Except you may have the broad facet of a barn to fill, it’s successfully not possible to have a single “zoning map” comparable to this, even only for the neighborhoods throughout the pre-World Warfare II metropolis limits.

Texas Up That Tree!

For 25 years now, the State Preservation Board has additionally produced an annual collectible Capitol Christmas decoration, a program begun by the late Nelda Laney whereas her husband Pete was Texas’ final Democratic Home speaker; she designed the primary seven herself, and informed the Texas Bar Journal in 2013, “That is what I would like on my tombstone – the Capitol decoration woman.” Her thought has translated into greater than $10 million in funds for Capitol repairs through the years, and you might have already got a number of of the greater than 1 million in circulation, as they’re go-to consumer items from banks, regulation companies, title firms, and such. The Capitol store may also help you full the set way back to 2011 ($22 a bit) earlier than it’s a must to resort to eBay for the older ones. The aesthetic high quality of the sequence is kinda up-and-down, however they’re all made additional­-adorable in miniature; 10-piece units (every decoration is about 2 inches throughout) from this system’s first twenty years price $75. You’ll be able to go all out on your subsequent vacation open-bar lobbyist-adjacent social gathering tablescape with an identical bite-sized tree topper and a brass show tree that can face up to the trials of Texas-induced local weather disasters.

Different companies have gotten into the vacation swag sport to earn some cash to carry out their core features whereas the Legis­lat­ure and state management concentrate on Fox Information points. A working example: Texas Parks and Wildlife Division points ornaments annually ($19.95 on-line) commemorating the well-known and lesser-known locations within the Texas State Parks system. This 12 months’s highlight is on the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, which you may should tackle religion, because the decoration itself simply exhibits a Longhorn steer in a discipline of wildflowers. Older ornaments within the sequence, highlighting state parks from Tyler within the east to Terlingua within the west, are priced to maneuver at $9.95 or much less. You may also, after all, give the present of admission charges to the true locations themselves by buying a Texas State Parks present card. (Observe: You’ll be able to’t purchase an annual park move as a present for another person, as a result of safety, however you’ll be able to load up a present card with the $70 sticker value.)

On the Nationwide Scene

The Milwaukee-based Nationwide Bobble­head Corridor of Fame and Museum, which is an actual place (close to the Harley-Davidson Museum!) in addition to the “premier bobblehead retailer” on-line (, has already produced 14 entries in its state governor bobblehead sequence, together with Andrew Cuomo in a number of poses (one waving bye-bye!), however you’ll be able to pre-order fortunate No. 15, our personal Greg Abbott, for February 2022 supply (simply in time for the first; $25). Additionally out there for pre-order: Florida’s Ron DeSantis, in case you’d prefer to pit him towards Gov. Loveless in a 2024 cage-match preview. There are lots of, many different politically themed bobblehead designs on the market – Bernie on the inauguration! Dr. Fauci! Justice Amy Coney Barrett! The Bidens’ canines! A sequence of 18 “uncared for presidents” (e.g., Chester Arthur) crafted for the 2020 Democratic Nationwide Conference that sorta occurred in Milwaukee! And so forth. The governor bobbleheads, and a few others, are additionally fundraisers for the American Hospital Affiliation’s 100 Million Masks venture, which is properly ironic in Abbott’s case.

If you happen to’re the kind who likes to rearrange your bobbleheads in line with some arcane system solely , you would possibly derive some inspiration from designer Griffin Gon­zalez’s intelligent Periodic Desk of the Presidents (out there at, unframed $38/framed $110), which packs an infinite quantity of details about the primary 45 heads of state, the eras wherein they served, and the traits of their management into the acquainted columnar format. As with all objects at Unusual Items, your buy features a donation to one of many e-retailer’s nonprofit companions – RAINN, the Thurgood Marshall Faculty Fund, the Worldwide Rescue Committee, or American Forests – which have obtained greater than $2.6 million from the shop’s Higher to Give program since 2001.

In search of one thing a little bit extra anarcho-socialist? What a Hell of a Method to Die, which describes itself as “the #1 Leftist Army Podcast since 1917,” and its sister present Lions Led by Donkeys have fairly the facet hustle in swag at their on-line retailer ( – stickers, pins, patches, mock problem cash, even bars of cleaning soap, all at reasonably priced stocking­-stuffer costs. Not simply emblem merch like these company podcasts, however we cannot spoil all of their jokes – go see for your self. The choice contains a number of trans-themed designs from artists Poppy Haze and Riley Chadwick, proceeds from which assist assist the “radical neighborhood care” of the peer assist community Trans Lifeline (

For Your Nerdy Readers

This reporter was lucky sufficient to reasonable the current (digital) Texas Ebook Competition panel that includes Austin information legend Neal Spelce, whose new memoir With the Bark Off: A Journalist’s Recollections of LBJ and a Life within the Information Media – remarkably, the 85-year-old’s first e-book – has been revealed by UT Press. Spelce, who was first employed by KTBC (owned on the time by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson and household) in 1956 to exchange a part-time author named Invoice Moyers – you might have heard of him – would a decade later make his personal mark on historical past because the one live-on-scene reporter broadcasting the Texas Tower taking pictures and its aftermath, and within the course of saving who is aware of what number of lives by warning his listeners away from campus.

Like so many Austin journos (together with this reporter), Spelce additionally had a considerable profession in communications and political consulting when these disciplines had been nonetheless a bit novel round right here, together with a stint as Woman Chook’s spokesperson. His e-book does have the insider tidbits in regards to the LBJ years that the title guarantees – even Luci Baines Johnson, in her approving cowl blurb, says so – however it’s additionally an necessary doc of Austin historical past, and of the altering information enterprise. (On the Ebook Competition, Spelce was paired with one other Texas broadcasting icon, Bob Phillips, whose A Good Lengthy Drive: Fifty Years of Texas Nation Reporter can be a worthy learn from UT Press.)

Want one thing even wonkier? One other actually attention-grabbing Texan, Houston’s Christof Spieler, launched final 12 months an up to date second version of his 2018 e-book Trains, Buses, Folks: An Opinionated Atlas of US and Canadian Transit (Island Press). Spieler, an engineer and concrete planner and lecturer at Rice, gained a following 20-odd years in the past, as urbanism discovered its footing in Texas’ mega-boomtowns, as a considerate champion of extra equitable mobility and options to auto-centered transportation and land use. This included some sharp critiques of the transit establishment ante in Houston and different cities; he was rewarded/punished for his efforts by then-Mayor Annise Parker with an appointment to the Houston METRO Board of Administrators, serving till 2018.

The meat of his e-book is an in depth and certainly opinionated deep dive into 57 giant city transit methods in North America, together with our personal, although the Undertaking Join transit system overhaul (which Spieler has counseled) was permitted by Austin voters simply weeks after this version of Trains, Buses, Folks got here out. Since roughly 61.3% of all transportation­-related arguments in Austin activate “Why cannot now we have what Metropolis X has?,” Spieler’s e-book is a useful reference to make sure such debates happen on fact-based soil.

Trains, Eagles, Parks

Talking of fixed-guideway transit, Austin’s oldest rail-based circulator system, the soon-to-be-reincarnated Zilker Eagle, has rolled out its personal first-edition swag, together with grownup and youngsters T-shirts with the brand new Eagle emblem – just like the Maltese Falcon, however tie-dye ($28) – and even colorwave socks ($20 at The Austin Parks Basis, which has taken over the mini-train operation on the metropolis’s favourite vacation spot park (together with the opposite thousands and thousands of {dollars}’ price of donations and volunteer time it offers to the town parks system), additionally has its personal merch that includes its hummingbird emblem and different designs, together with objects you’ll be able to truly use on the park, from blankets to (pet) bowls to bandannas. Along with its on-line retailer, APF shall be mounting its first-ever in-person pop-up retailers this weekend (Dec. 3-4; Friday, noon-5:30pm, and Saturday, 10am-2pm) on the “newly renovated Zilker Eagle depot” close to the playscape, on the south facet of Barton Springs Street.

A model of this text appeared in print on December 3, 2021 with the headline: Politics Present Information 2021: Ain’t That Good Information