This photo is from the pirate store at 826 Valencia St. in San Francisco. They have drawers full of swarthy things, a small theater that faces an aquarium, and a trap door that I can reveal no more about. They sell practical seafaring goods like sypglasses, powder horns, mermaid bait, etc., in order to fund the after-school writing program that meets there daily. The pirate store and writing center was designed by the same folks who make McSweeney’s, which is to poetry what Apple is computers, so you know it’s done with style. This enormously successful non-profit founded by Dave Eggars has gone on to birth other 826 after-school programs around the country. But each has their own focus: New York has a shop for superheros, the Seattle shop is for space travellers, Chicago’s “Boring Store” is secretly an undercover secret agent supply store. But all of them are a space for professional writers working one-on-one with local kids.
Now that you know how marvelous 826 Valencia is, you can bet that when they put out a benefit album, it’s going to feature a bunch of music that you’ll want to get your hands on.
The album is called You Be My Heart and it features The Cloud Room, Melissa Nadler, Bowerbirds, Maps & Atlases and more. Here’s a taste.
The track Mrs. Marquis de Sade from The Cloud Room has an early-nineties jangly vibe.
The Bowerbirds track begins “I’ve seen seven wonders but two were your eyes” and has a lovely keyboard melody.
You’ll be able to buy your own copy of You Be My Heart on December 9th. If you want to know more about 826 Valencia, Dave Eggars’s TED Talk about it is a good start.