Waiting (and waiting) for “The Phantom Menace”

"Crazy K" is so crazy about "Star Wars" movies he's been in the ticket line for weeks.

Topics: Star Wars,

On Geary Boulevard, a bustling, foggy thoroughfare that divides San Francisco in two, passersby are being treated to an unusual sight. Slumped on a gray bean bag in front of the Coronet Theater, Khari Crowder (who goes by the pseudonym “Crazy K”) is conducting a one-man vigil. Like others in cities from Los Angeles to Austin to New York, Crowder is waiting (and waiting) for the privilege of seeing “The Phantom Menace” on opening night. His marathon camp-out began April 30 and will end Wednesday, when the movie opens. He’ll be joined by scores of die-hard fans as the anticipated day approaches, but when I spoke with Crowder, he was the sole occupant of his line and grinning with enthusiasm for the long wait ahead.

Whose idea was it for you to camp outside of this theater?

My directors, Slim and Hazel, at radio station KMEL. I work
on the street team, in promotions. Slim came up with this crazy idea to
stand in line. They asked me, and without hesitation I said yes. I will be
out here night and day, 24-7.

What are you doing about a bathroom?

I’ve worked out a thing with Round Table Pizza here behind me and Pip Printing. They allow me to use their restroom
facilities.

Are you a big “Star Wars” fan?

I am a huge “Star Wars” fan. I’ve been a “Star Wars” fan since I was 4,
when I first watched it — seeing R2 and C-3PO walk in the desert after
they jettisoned their pod from Princess Leia’s ship. I’m a big
fan. And, between you and me, I always wanted to be Lando Calrissian.

You’re not a typical “Star Wars” geek, though.

I can never say I’m an extreme geek in anything, because I just don’t
want that label, but I could tell you some things about “Star Wars,” yes. I
have all three videos, the new versions and the old. And I have my light
sabre, too.

Do your parents know you’re out here?

My parents do know I’m here. My sister knows I’m here, too, because she’s a big “Star Wars” fan. She has most of the old baseball cards from the original “Star Wars.” In fact, this is her light sabre. We’re big fans.

How many tickets are you buying for the opening?

As many as I can get.

What’s it like out here during the day and night?



They bring the smelly dumpsters right out here, that stink so bad. It’s the weirdest thing: People have been stopping by on their lunch breaks. They’ve been stopping by any time they get a little time off. I’ve had like a collection of people, especially the meter maids. Calvin, who’s a tow-truck driver, has been going up and down this street towing trucks and hitting the horn and stopping by every once in a while. I haven’t dealt with the real cold nights yet, but I have my tent and I have my warm-ups. My “Star Wars” pajamas will be coming here. So I’ll be set.

What was it like when you first saw “Star Wars”?

The sights and sounds: especially of the laser cannons going off with
the X-wing fighters, the Millennium Falcon, the first scene, Chewbacca, and then the best and most memorable thing is James Earl Jones’ voice. His voice is so distinct and so clear that it just puts you in awe when you first hear the voice come around. And then in the later movies, he calmed down and came into a more grounded voice and it just took off from there. That’s probably the best thing in the whole movie.

Why does “Star Wars” mean so much to so many people?

Well, most of them, it’s what they grew up on. I don’t know if it’s an
early X generation or the late baby boomers, but that section, that demographic there, they grew up on “Star Wars.” It almost took on a cult following, similar to what “Star Trek” has done, but on a much greater level. Plus, George Lucas, who’s a local, a native to this area — this is his place right here, the Coronet Theater. He’s shown all of his previews here and all of his movies, and we know he’s going to show this one here.

But it hasn’t been officially announced that it’s playing
here.

Hasn’t been. I could be camping in front of the wrong theater. But I know, I can feel it in my bones, that this is the place.

Jenn Shreve writes about media, technology and culture for Salon, Wired, the Industry Standard, the San Francisco Examiner and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, Calif.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>