CD Swap 2010

So oft-linked friend of the Mojo Wire, and my ex-roommate from college, Ian has this thing he does every year [not entirely sure how long this tradition has been going on], where he hosts a by mail CD Swap. For those of you who don't know what a CD Swap is, it basically involves a group of people, generally friends of the guy or girl running the swap, congregating long enough online to say "yes, I want to be involved in this," and then when a set number of people are officially involved, all of them make a mix CD, and enough copies of said mix for everyone involved. They then ship the discs off to the person who organized it, along with a couple of dollars to cover the later expenses of the mix swap.

From there, the person running the swap waits patiently for everyone's packages to arrive, and then divide up all the mix CDs they've been sent so that each person has a copy of everyone's personalized CDs. Then, using the money collected with the discs, packages of all the mix CDs are shot back off to the participants via USPS media mail. The end result being, at least hopefully, that everyone gets a ton of CDs full of new and interesting music, had a little fun in the process, and maybe bonded a bit over similar tastes.

Though not exactly an easy job, it's no great headache to run one of these swaps, and what you get out of the process greatly outweighs any cons. The problem this year [and last year, though last year I wasn't involved], is that as all of you know from reading Ian's blog, he's in Japan, which makes him actually running one of these things near impossible, and the costs astronomical. So, what he needs is a surrogate, or as we've been calling it, a hub, someone with a great deal of free time who can do all the grunt work for the swap stateside.

And, for those of you who don't know much about story structure, this is where I come in.

Around April, wildly different looking packages starting showing up in my mailbox and on my front step, all of them containing mix CDs for the swap. Keeping them organized was pretty important to me, so what I ended up with in my room was two boxes full of this:

Now, that's a relatively close-up image, and the whole point was to keep it all nice and neat for my sanity. But from this, you don't really get a sense of just how much 25 stacks, with 26 CDs per stack, meant to go out to 27 different people, is.

Ah. There we go. Much better. And as you can sort of see, people got pretty creative with envelopes and decoration, meaning I'd need some very special tools for such an undertaking.

Not pictured: post-it notes, and my mitts. Admittedly, the bulk of those tools pictured were for preparing my own CDs, but you get the idea. The envelopes come courtesy of help from Justin, who wisely pointed me to Wal-Mart when I thought I might get price gouged to death at Staples. Thanks to that, all of the envelope money came out of the swap funds, and none out of my own pocket [Ian referred to this as "doing the swap right"].

And all joking aside, I cannot stress enough how much post-it notes saved my ass in this. Though I will admit I use post-its a lot, rarely are they ever necessary -- usually, they're just reminders, and the act of even taking one out to write something on it is more than enough to recall whatever it is I don't want to forget. But for this project I used them for pretty much everything, from saving addresses to marking what had and had not yet been done, and it would have turned into quite the clusterfuck if I hadn't had them.

The moral of the story, robbing an office closet is a long-term plan.

What came next was a lot of CD burning and packing, which ended up with all of the packages lined up like this:

I kept thinking of them as soldiers when I'd line them all up like this. Or Bowser's army against Smithy in Mario RPG. "KOOPA TROOP!! Moooooove Out!"

While I'm referencing things, I'll apologize for the picture quality, and say the only way to get all of these in was through a longview. And if you're not an old-school Green Day fan, then no, you won't get that. But I try to get at least one masturbation reference into the blog each week.

Before sealing them up, and getting them ready to go, I had to add my own mixes to the collection, and since a couple people's wound up getting lost in the mail, I thought I'd do two to shore up the numbers a little bit.

The first one, the red-and-black Jaime Hernandez picture, has a title you can't see which is "Midnight at the Jabber-Jaw," a reference to one of the songs I put on there [that dog.'s 'Minneapolis'], and the fact that most of the music on that mix is the kind of stuff you'd get in a small to mid-sized venue that really wouldn't get started until somewhere north of eleven o'clock. Not necessarily all bar and club music, but close to.

The second, the one in blue, is "Lo-fi in the Parking Lot," which I picked because I know that post those sorts of shows, if you weren't smart enough to keep one of your friends from drinking, your only recourse was to conk out in the parking lot until the next morning, and 9 times out of 10 what you put on the radio the next morning is not what you were listening to the night before -- for the sake of your hangover mostly. At least until you get to the IHOP.

None of this information was included with said mixes. I'm told I over-explain things sometimes, so I figure, at worse, no one will get the connection. And I can live with that.

Anyway, once I got everything closed up and out of my bedroom, it was time to the post office. Now, sadly, since I had other things to mail along with the 26 different packages to be sent out [one to Japan], and because a huge line immediately formed behind me on my arrival at the window, I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the process from there [thus failing at my first try at a photo journal], so the last view of all the CDs came before I left, with them all stacked on grandma's couch.

It was hard to say goodbye.

Anyway, everything was mailed without incident, and I extricated myself of all the CDs which had been my temporary roommates these past couple months. There were a couple of things I could have done differently, as one or two people involved in the mix shared residence, and I might have saved a buck or two by mailing theirs together, this was easier to keep track of, and made sure all of the CDs were safely padded and not too crushed up together. In the end, the mix fund was pretty much exactly how much was needed to send everything out, and I was left with only two reminders of the task I'd undertaken:

My own stack of CDs to start working through. And...

A serial killer-esque wall of addresses that I still haven't bothered to pitch.

It actually looks kind of cool, in a cluttered sort of way. Maybe I should blame Becky Cloonan.

Anyway. It was a lot of fun, and even though my attempts to chronicle the process with my phone cam didn't exactly work out -- how many people get to start their week doing something like this?

Strange days.

1 comments :: CD Swap 2010

  1. The individual stacks look awesome! If my big box o' mix CDs tells me correctly, this is the third full swap- I dunno if Ian and his friends did them before I got involved or not but it's always so much fun seeing what people have been listening to. Can't wait to get mine!