826 Valencia

Cultural Center in The Mission, Dogpatch & Potrero Hill

Avast, ye scurvy scallywags! If ye be shipwrecked without yer eye patch or McSweeney's literary anthology, lay down ye doubloons and claim yer booty at this here nonprofit Pirate Store. Below decks, kids be writing tall tales for dark nights a'sea, and ye can study writing movies, science fiction and suchlike, if that be yer dastardly inclination.

This eccentric pirate-supply store selling eye patches, spyglasses and McSweeney's literary magazines fronts a nonprofit offering free writing workshops and tutoring for youth. Yank open wooden drawers organized according to pirate logic: a drawer marked 'illumination' holds candles; 'thump' is full of mallets. But leave the stinky tub o' lard well enough alone, or you might get mopped – a pirate hazing ritual that involves a trap door, a mop and the element of surprise.

Before you leave, step behind the velvet curtain into the Fish Theater, where a blue-eyed and smirking (yes, smirking) puffer fish is immersed in Method acting. The ichthyoid antics may not be quite up to Sean Penn standards, but, as the sign says, 'Please don't judge the fish.'

For further fishy shenanigans, visit King Karl's Emporium at 826's nautically themed satellite center in the Tenderloin (180 Golden Gate). Check the calendar for evening writing workshops, ranging from perfume-inspired fiction to neighborhood oral-history projects.