Saturday, March 22, 2008

Astroplankton (and other favorites)

In an effort to cleanse our house to prepare for it selling like the proverbial hotcake, I took the momentous step of tossing an entire box of music cassettes.

It was not an easy thing to do. There were some in there--Billy Joel's "Glass Houses" comes to mind--that are easily replaceable, should I truly desire to listen to "Sometimes a Fantasy" in the coming months and years. I suspect that desire will be scarce. I was shamed to discover a Spin Doctors "Homebelly Groove" in the bottom of the box. Hootie and the Blowfish? Don't need that. How about The Hooters? Farewell to thee.

The harder ones to abandon were the ubiquitous "mixed tapes," so lovingly memorialized in the film High Fidelity. Shoddily recorded on Maxell or Memorex 60s, 90s, and 120s, I titled them depending on the mood and memories they were meant to capture. Some had been made over time, with the song titles scratched in various ink colors. Many seemed made to appeal, as if through a magical osmosis through dorm walls and/or across state borders, to a particular unrequited love. Others seemed to have been recorded to celebrate a melancholic tendency to steep in one's own sorrow, and then just pull out of it with a empowering crescendo. The wistfulness of "Heart of Gold" breaks into the bittersweet, hopeful "Summer, Highland Falls."

Some of the song transitions are just pathetic and jarring. Carly Simon as a prelude to Peter Gabriel? The English Beat followed by Loggins and Messina? (How did I acquire Loggins and Messina in order to transfer it to the tape?)

Frankly, not much of what's on these tapes is cool in the slightest. But I was feeling kind of sappy as I pawed through it, remembering stuff like that night in the back of my parents' station wagon, or the time I busted the hot tub and found a dead frog floating in it in the morning, or just sitting around weeping pointlessly.

Actually, I didn't toss them in the garbage. I couldn't do that. A nice woman from Craigslist came and took them away, along with a host of other unwanted items, to some mysterious destination in Harrison. I have to wonder who has claimed them. I like to think a group of musically-bereft oldsters at the Harrison Home for Elderly Wanderers are rocking out to "Astroplankton," "Weekapaug Summer of 87," "Jenocide," and "Happy Music for Happy Campers." More likely, the old birds are weeping into their chamomile teas, remembering some finer time when love seemed almost within reach.


Jack Silbert said...

Ah the mix tape. Ah we of that era.
This related book is pretty good:

There's some kinda way to transfer tapes to digital files, but, don't ask me, if I don't know PhotoShop I certainly don't know this either.

Anonymous said...

I can just see those aging ladies in leggings with asymmetrical haircuts listening to those tapes fully cranked up on the stereo of an '88 Trans Am..... You can't go back home indeed.