The Stranger vs. Bumbershoot
Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), Mike Doughty, and the Transatlantic Orchestra in a Bene?t for 826 Seattle Sat Sept 3, McCaw Hall, 8 pm
In about a month, a space-travel supply store is opening in Greenwood. It's called Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. and its products will include gravity-detection devices, vehicle repair patches, TYVEK suits, rope, Velcro, freeze-dried ice cream, antimatter, space treaties, flags, and clean air. All the money the store makes goes directly to 826 Seattle, a writing center for teenagers.
Dave Eggers founded the original 826 a couple years ago in San Francisco and now, following that success, he's opening 826s all over the country. On Earth, Eggers is most famous for his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and his magazine McSweeney's and, again, for masterminding the 826 project, which led Time magazine to name him—along with various diplomats, defense secretaries, and prime ministers—one of the 100 most influential people of 2005. Eggers is donating his hefty Bumbershoot speaker's fee to 826 Seattle, and so are all the others involved in the Saturday night McCaw Hall event he's put together: Sarah Vowell (who is president of the board at 826 NYC), Daniel Handler (more familiar to young humans as Lemony Snicket), Mike Doughty (formerly of Soul Coughing, now a solo musician), and the Transatlantic Orchestra (featuring members of Death Cab for Cutie).
The event is two hours long and hard to describe. What I can tell you is that it may or may not involve a piece about an Irish setter written by Eggers and a piece about the Battle Hymn of the Republic written by Vowell. Plus, new music by great musicians, which is always nice. And you will get the chance to lend your financial and moral support to 826 Seattle, an institution Seattle should thank its lucky gaseous orbs to have.
"There will also be prizes," Eggers said—well, typed—last week, "and some talking about the Ancient Sumerians. I am serious." I was probably supposed to ask him questions about 826 Seattle, tutoring teenagers, and writing. But I already know a lot about those things. So I asked him about space travel.
What are the main needs facing space travelers these days, in your opinion?
We hear a lot of complaints about the food.
It's been said that space is the final frontier. Do you agree?
It's one of the top three final frontiers, for sure. Definitely in the top five or six. I think they consider Greenland one of the final frontiers now. I can't keep up. But space is one of the better ones.
Why are there so many stars?
Well, there weren't always so many stars. Ask your grandparents about how many stars they had. We should be happy to have so many stars. More than we need, in my opinion.
Can anything be done about space dust?
Lighter surfaces tend to hide dust—any kind of dust, really—better than dark surfaces. So your spaceship should be white, unless you want people writing WASH ME on the hood. Embarrassing.
What's your advice for aspiring space travelers who don't know how to get started?
Start with the clothing. Something smart. Something that says you intend to travel at very fast speeds, on hydrogen-fueled rockets. Tight is good, but flexibility and breathability are also key. Often people come up and say, "I'm going to space, can I wear this?" And they're wearing a wool sweater with cords! It's hard to know what to say to those people.