Sunday, June 19, 2005

a pirate store like no other pirate store

I knew that 826 Valencia did good things for the kiddies. I knew that, in addition to running a writing center for middle and high school students, they ran a pirate supply store. But seeing an eye patch or two on 826’s website cannot compare to seeing the San Francisco store in person, which I did on Friday.

When I was a kid, I read this book about a family that lived in a creepy, leaky house beneath a huge waterfall. It was called something like The House Beneath the Waterfall. Their grandfather had been an inventor, and their basement was fully of automatons who did creepy things like hack off heads in their working automaton guillotine. The pirate supply store was more whimsical than creepy, but still, there was something about the weird/cool atmosphere—and the fact that it’s a kid-oriented store selling leather whips—that reminded me of that book.

While in SF, I also attended Intersection for the Arts’ 40th anniversary block party, just down the street from 826. The Mission District is, apparently, in the process of gentrifying, which means that for every taqueria selling cheap margaritas, there is also a trendy furniture store where I could maybe afford one decorative drawer pull. Intersection’s pretty-damn-cool block-long bash included lots of only-at-a-street-fair-in-the-Mission sights, such as a dude in tighty whiteys and a bright blue mask chalking “Dare to Bare for Peace” on the street, and people with real tattoos snaking up their arms getting fake ink at the temporary tattoo booth.

I have a complicated relationship with hipsterdom (not to mention gentrification, which would be a longer entry). I own a copy of The Hipster Handbook, which classifies and ridicules hipsters, yet sometimes I find myself scanning the handbook’s list of, say, movies that hipsters like, and thinking, “Uh-oh, didn’t see that one. Or that one. Oh—saw that one. Whew.” Let’s just say I spent much of Saturday being very conscious of my mostly-naturally-colored hair and tiny, lone tattoo.

I shared the aforementioned margaritas with my friend Mark (actually, I guess I don’t know if the margaritas were cheap, since Mark picked up the tab. If they were expensive, sorry Mark. But thanks!). He is also a convert to the blog universe, including a site called Pink Is The New Blog, a name that just about sums things up, I think. He is also so smart and sweet, one of those few people on whom I wish a life of winning lottery tickets and fresh-baked bread. Is it really un-hip to give shout-outs on one’s blog? Or should I just save such things for Friendster testimonies?

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