Author Phillip Crandall made his way into the Swap Shop last Saturday at 6 a.m. It was still dark outside and humid as he set up a table in his little rented area. Even at the crack of dawn, there was a long line of people down Sunrise Boulevard.
When we spoke to Crandall last February, he had just published a book in the popular 33 1/3 series on Andrew W.K.'s I Get Wet. Over the background sounds of the International Noise Conference at Churchill's Pub, Crandall told us, "I had two dreams, if I was promoting this book. One was a release party, and the other was to set up a parking spot at the Swap Shop, and I'm going to do it. I want to put a blanket out, set a table up, and sell the book at the Swap Shop."
Finally, a year later, both dreams came true. Well, mostly.
The release party took place at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale not long after we spoke. Andrew W.K. Skyped in to be a part of the party fun. Crandall's Swap Shop experience though, wasn't quite as much of a success.
Crandall moved to Margate in 2005. He was checking out records at a garage sale when someone told him that he should visit the South Florida flea market to find more vinyl. He was fascinated by this place where Steve-O got his start as clown in a circus. Crandall says he wanted to have "fans come and make a pilgrimage to buy a book" and saw the Swap Shop as a "fun, fertile ground for consumerism."
So last Saturday, he remembers, "I got excited going in. You get a random spot, and I liked my location." But mostly, people came up with flashlights looking for comic books. "Those people are out en force before it opened," Crandall explains. But he was only selling his book and some CDs.
There were security guards who wondered why he was there. They thought he was selling other stuff in his car on the side. He was blasting music and a few W.K., fans did come by and talked about his music, but most people just wanted to buy his cooler or stereo.
"No one bought a thing," he laments. "If bands would put a spot there and play some music, that would be fun. I thought I could be an arbiter of change!" There was rain at 11:45, and he left at 12:30 p.m. "It was zero success as far as sales, it was exactly what I wanted as far as getting out there at dawn and meeting characters."
"I still had a blast," he explains. He says he got it out of his system and probably wouldn't do it again for a book. However, he will be slinging his 33 1/3 book and other Andrew W.K. materials this weekend, more on that in a second.
Before W.K.'s show at Miami's Grand Central tomorrow, the musician is hosting an all-ages meet-and-greet at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale. "There's absolutely free pizza," Crandall says, though he's not sure if they've "nailed down" what kind will be available, "but we'll get there. We'll bring the best party vibes."
Crandall had asked W.K. if he could sell his book at the Grand Central show later that night, but ended up being the guy who mans the merch table at the musician's shows last night in St. Pete, tonight in Orlando, and tomorrow in Miami. "They tricked me for working for free," he kids. "I'm definitely happy to work for free for this. It's Andrew's show, and I'm just excited to be a part of it."
He's never worked a merch table before, but hopefully, his experience at the Swap Shop was informative in some ways. He actually grew up in Inverness and remembers hanging at the merch tables in each of these cities as a young dude.
Crandall noticed that Billy Joel was playing the American Airlines Arena the same night, just a few blocks away and thought to himself, "I didn't know there'd be two piano gods playing so close together on Saturday night, but I think i'm hitching my wagon on the more fun one." Stop by and say hi to him at the show.
Andrew W.K. all-ages meet-and-greet, 1:30 p.m., at Radio-Active Records, 845 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Visit radio-active-records.tumblr.com.
Andrew W.K. With Wastelands and Bleeth. Presented by Poplife. Saturday, January 31. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $20 to $25 plus fees via epoplife.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.