Gift Guide 2012: The Unaccredited Professor

Your friend belongs to no university but somehow knows everything under the sun and moon, as he is careful to remind you on each and every occasion. When you bought Fifty Shades of Grey last year as a gift, your friend actually went to the bathroom to wash up after touching it. These stores should help you avoid a repeat occurrence.


Hollywood Vintage

2757 NE Pacific St., 233-1890,

Walk past the slightly more frou-frou entrance featuring the quaintly refashioned hat stylings of yesteryear and an array of spinning sunglasses towers, and you will find yourself in a vast and nearly unadorned sea of blazers, suit jackets and sports coats. Your everyday mod fop or swing-dance fetishist will find double-breasteds or thin lapels, and double rows of buttons. But for the traditionally bookish fellow, a jacket should be elbow-patched and tweedy, with more colors of gray, brown or dusky blue fabric stitched into a single square-inch than a rainbow could ever know or see. For such a modest type, the sheen of flash or tight of cut will not do. It is the firm respectability of dowdiness that draws him. The boxy midcentury cuts of the university-trained poetess can also be found here. One can advertise one's literacy in so many ways.

Buy this: Blazers, blazers, blazers. Prices range but aren't steep.

Mother Foucault's

523 SE Morrison St., 236-2665.

Mother Foucault's shop and staff look a bit like that of the misanthropic BBC comedy Black Books—and indeed, owner Craig Florence takes part in a shambling, bibliophilistic webcast called The Late Now from inside the bookstore—but its mood is more like a secret clubhouse you belong to just by darkening the door. The virtue of the small bookstore is you always find what you weren't even looking for, but at Mother Foucault's, just about everything seems like what you're looking for, provided you're buying for the sort of person who reads German and French, spouts drunken poetry or modern philosophy in the wee hours, hates middlebrow more than lowbrow, pontificates on alternative Latin American histories and does so all in the spirit of real, good fun. 

1. Buy this: Stock rotates, but one lucky reader will have a crack at a gorgeous $75 gold-leafed Folio Society edition of Empires of Early Latin America. Otherwise, Foucault's has lovely gift certificates.

Monograph Bookwerks

5005 NE 27th Ave., 284-5005,

Monograph is a hidden cubbyhole of contemporary art and design books hidden just around the corner from the fast-gentrifying bustle of Alberta Street. That the store's entrance is obscurely by the wayside seems fitting, because its wares are equally so: The out-of-print, un-findable, rare and lovely are the Bookwerks' stock-in-trade, which means when you're shopping for the book and art aficionado whose prodigious appetite has already disposed of 3,000 books and is prepared to entomb 1,000 more, your choice won't likely be a mere accountant's redundancy. If you want to know what in the shop is a unique and beautiful butterfly, the best thing to do is ask: Co-owner Blair Saxon-Hill will fill your arms until you can't even see your way out of the place, which is a nice symmetry with those who can't find their way in.

2. Buy this: Monograph Bookwerks walnut ink ($10 for 4 ounces), or for the design geek, Bibliographic, by Jason Godfrey ($29.95).

82nd Avenue Pipe and Tobacco

400 SE 82nd Ave., 255-9987,

Any unaccredited professor worth her salt will benefit from the grim authority that a good smoking pipe provides, with both its dim tether back to the ancient histories and its ever-present intimations of black-lunged mortality. This old Montavilla haunt was here back when both the neighborhood and its residents were in deep disrepair and disrepute, and has endured largely unchanged since. But behind its sketchy exterior it is a dry-aired and comforting respite for the discerning smoker, with a beautifully burnished walk-in humidor, over 100 premium cigars and a wide selection of refined tobacco pipes ranging from the haughtily English to the ornately Chinese. This is where Rudyard Kipling would buy his tobacco, and it is where he would smoke his pipe while waxing eloquent about life in the colonies.

3. Buy this: Mario Armellini Pipe ($150). Glass pipe stand ($50).

Oregon Historical Society

1200 SW Park Ave., 222-1741,

If a picture steals one's soul, as the old saw goes, then offering up a photo as a gift is both creepy and ridiculously generous, especially if your friend is the devil. But it's the Hegelian Weltgeist—the world soul—we're aiming at here: The Oregon Historical Society has more than 1,600 images from the olden days of Portland and Oregon, from nature now long-sullied to sullen menageries of apple pickers and bustling centennial expositions. Photos are available online or at a kiosk at the Historical Society. The upshot is, pretty much any image available to the historian can be made into a high-quality print for the old souls among your friends. Instant Weltgeist! 

4. Buy this: Does that black-and-white 1800s print stir feelings of a lost world vertiginously renewed? A 5-by-7 will cost a mere $10, while a massive 40-by-60-inch is $350.

Division Leap

211 SW 9th Ave., 206-7291,

Both the street and, to some degree, this bookstore are still under construction, and this tiny box of a shop is disarmingly unadorned. Thus unsullied by advertising, Division Leap seems oddly pure at heart. It specializes in Portland-made books and books far to the left of the field. In some cases the books themselves are art objects, small items of fetish. Case in point: a small, limited-edition book by Fredrik Averin, called Poem, in which the words on the page quite literally come undone in the middle as one turns its pages. It's difficult to describe the effect, but it's a terribly elegant little thing. So is this bookstore.

5. Buy this: Poem ($15). Poetry broadsides from Portland's Tavern Press ($4).

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