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May 20, 2003

If you're looking for a graduation gift for the Gator in your life, but are at a loss for creative ideas, consider items created by SFSU faculty, students and alumni. Choosing gifts with a connection to SFSU can be clever, memorable and just plain fun. Here are some CDs, books, artistic diversions and party particulars that can make a Gator proud.


Wrap up some hip-hop for a good friend -- the latest solo album from Dan "The Automator" Nakamura (BA '91) is "Wanna Buy a Monkey?" or go with his band Gorillaz' self-titled CD, which went platinum in 2001.

Pick up "Cheap Thrills," the second album by Big Brother and the Holding Company. Founding members Peter Albin and Sam Andrew met while students at SFSU, and though they're most memorable for their collaboration with Janis Joplin, the band continues to record and tour.

Parents looking for a return on their educational investment might consider the recording "Where's the Money," by Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks. The title cut by Dan Hicks (BA '65) was featured on HBO's series The Sopranos. Or check out Dan's more current works, "Alive & Lickin'" (2001) and "Beatin' the Heat" (picked by as one of the top 10 CDs of 2000).

Jazz up someone's graduation party with CDs by jazz saxophonist and alum John Handy or Artist-in-Residence Branford Marsalis. Handy's latest is "Live at Yoshi's Nightspot" (2000) but his Grammy-nominated "John Handy Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival" (1966) is a must-have disc, too. The latest from Marsalis, "Footsteps of our Fathers" (2002), pays homage to such jazz greats as John Coltrane, Ornette Colman and Sonny Rollins.


Books by SFSU alumni and faculty abound, and you can't go wrong with popular favorites like "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" by Ernest Gaines (BA '57), "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes (MA '75), Anne Rice's (BA '63, MA '65) "Interview with the Vampire" or Po Bronson's (MFA '95) "What Should I Do With My Life?" which might provide guidance to graduates concerned about post-college plans.

You can also take a tip from various "top book" lists. Sports Illustrated's 100 book picks for 2002 includes history Professor Jules Tygiel's classic, "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy" as a "rich, intelligent cultural history."

Among the San Francisco Chronicle's "Top 100 Books of the Year" for 2002 you'll find Carol Muske-Dukes' (MA, '70) "Married to the Icepick Killer: A Poet in Hollywood," cited as "a wry, witty look at Hollywood ... filled with apt, telling anecdotes and intelligent analysis." Also in the Chron's Top 100, philosophy Professor Jacob Needleman's "The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders." The Chronicle wrote: "Examining the deepest values of such overly familiar figures as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Lincoln, he provides a searching and ultimately adoring reconsideration of our original and still central values." The latest book from Maxine Chernoff, chair of Creative Writing, is the short story collection "Some of Her Friends that Year," which the Chronicle called "refreshing" for its breadth of characters and diversity of plots.

Artistic diversions

Actors stepping out of school and onto the audition stage can find encouragement in films by SFSU alums. Among them are "Wayne's World" with Dana Carvey (BA '79), any of the "Lethal Weapon" series with alum Danny Glover or Annette Benning's (BA '80) "American Beauty." Or check out Joe Carnahan's recent release "Narc." Carnahan, the film's writer and director, recently told The New York Times that the first incarnation of "Narc" was a 28-minute short he made as a student at SFSU.

Art students might be interested in the work of Roy De Forest (BA '53). A poster of his print "Country Dog Gentlemen," part of a recent exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is available at the museum store.

Celebrate in style

Celebration attire and interview-appropriate suits are essentials for a new graduate, and you can help out the woman in your life with a gift certificate to one of the 171 bebe stores. Manny Mashouf (BA '65) is the founder, chairman and CEO of the popular women's retailer.

To celebrate after commencement, consider a few bottles of something bubbly, responsibly imbibed. The Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., founded by Dean Biersch (BA '84) offers a spring selection, Maibock, which is available through June.

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Last modified May 20, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs