Sunday, January 29, 2006

Maxell Tapes.

Maxell Tapes are, and were, a huge part of my life. To be specific, Maxell 90 minute cassette tapes. I have over 900 of them.

They were amassed over a 15 year period of time, and I probably have not added to the collection in 6 years.

Why?

My "hobby" involved with the collecting of the Maxell's, no longer exists, as the whole "enchilada of my hobby went online...and based on online streaming as well as CD burning."

The one constant of being a Grateful Dead fan was the interaction of trading tapes, trading amongst fans. There was no internet yet.

You would meet someone in your circles, (through a friend, at a social event) and one of 2 things would happen.

* a list a few pages long would be produced from the persons back pocket ( a list of their entire collection, single spaced with source taped from, generation, as well as equipment used to record the concert, and ratings -- kinda like a wine collection with ratings by the holder)
* stories exchanged, along with mailing addresses

This interaction would foster SOCIAL BONDS. Not to mention, great tapes could be traded amongst fans.

But, each tape had a story of how you acquired it, and more importantly YOU COULD PICK HIGH QUALITY RECORDED SHOWS.

But, you know what?

More often than not, it was the "average, or less than average, recording quality shows" - that for some reason got more attention from my cassette player.

I liked hearing a little crowd noise, I liked hearing a loud roar during "China Rider" or a little sing along from the back of the taper section during a stellar "Tennessee Jed" -- one line in particuliar signified a Dead show, and encompassed the parking lot scene, (for those of us who frequently got on the road, a overnight stay in the parking lot of the arena, or a local lot near the venue) -- this line needed good crowd energy...and no matter what, was the barometer to measure good crowd interaction.

"Drink all day gonna rock all night
The law come to get you if you don't walk right"

The main point is, I was DRAWN TO LESS quality tapes and shows --- and more to INFERIOR sounding cassettes, and shows to hear the ZEITGEIST -- and the SPIRIT of the unspoken moment.

I gave up sound quality, for FEELING.

The internet at large gives us more, more quality -- more experience at acquiring ...but AT WHAT PRICE?

None, to little interaction.

Kids today who are Deadheads, have never traded music. Kids in college can download literally hundreds of shows from servers in a weekend, and have a HUGE COLLECTION of shows -- AND CALL THEMSELVES COLLECTORS.

They are.

It's just a different medium, in a different age.

I hate to say I yearn for the old days, (old days, being pre-web for a Deadhead tape collector) but, I do.

The bonds, the acquaintances I made, the stories of each and every tape acquired -- "from a guy in Pittsburgh we met at a rest stop..." to the "Older couple at Shoreline Ampitheater who sent me stickers with each show I wanted..." -- to the guy on the Indian reservation at Compton Terrace in Arizona, that not only fixed my broken down car -- but gave me his list of tapes, and SENT ME 20 killer shows - expecting nothing in return..."

To today.....just go click on a link - and download the show to your computer.

It's "High Time" to bust out the Maxell's......and thank them for all they have given me, even though they are "old school."

I will let those old tapes tell a story - with each dusty opening of the hard plastic covering.

AAhhh, simplier times -- did I tell you I miss Jerry?

9 Comments:

Anonymous +deadpandon said...

Amen Andy, I miss the trips to the P.O. and the anticipation of that pkg. with a new show in it. When I move to Ore. this summer my 1200 tapes are going with me.
A 66 y.o. deadhead w/ 130 shows seen.
Don

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was horrified to read your piece on The Tapes. My first instinct was to stick my head way down in the sand and pretend I'd never read it.

Fuck it, I'm going out to the dumpster right now...stay tuned.

WELL this story just got a lot longer...(it's Monday morning, and I've got a lot to do, but THIS CANNOT BE IGNORED)

The coincidence has actually made me nervous. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type.

I have hazy memories of smoking pot in the passenger seat of a slightly rusty white Suburu wagon, doing 60 in a 30 on Harts Lane, 22 fucking years ago. There was CERTAINLY a Maxell tape in the player.


I am 37 years old now, and about to have my first child. LAST NIGHT I was cleaning out my basement, "nesting", I've been told. I was filling up a big black garbage bag with junk, headed for the landfill. When I grabbed the random bag of cassette tapes, I hesitated, but only briefly. I don't even own a cassette player, of ANY TYPE, anymore. The last one I owned (a black Emerson boom box with stickers all over it, got crushed during the building of my house, 4 years ago) I knew there were memories in that bag, but out it went.

So here's the rub. My childhood partner in crime sends me a link to a blog (I have NEVER ONCE visited a blog site until 1 hour ago). It's about the fucking tapes! The Fucking Tapes! I made my wife take a picture of me holding the tapes, freshly rescued from IN THE DUMPSTER.

-GD Greek Theater 7-15-88
-GD Radio City 10-30-80
-GD Boston Garden 9-20-91
-GD Park City, UT 8-20-87 (Andy for sure)
-GD Hartford Civic Center 10-14-83
-Dead Set recorded for me by my highschool girlfriend Karen F. (I recognize the hand writing, after all these years)
-"X" Country Mix (a mix made for me by Jeff B. when I drove the Jetta out West, we never went back)
-A mix called "Mellow Vibes/Trippin' Tunes", made by I-don't-know who.
-Moab Mix, a mix made for weeks in the Utah desert in the early 90's.

As well as tapes from: U2,Quincy Jones, Freddy Jones Band, REM, Nirvana, Bigg Head Todd, B-52s, The Eagles, Gin Blossoms, Bush, The Alarm, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, UB-40, Neil Young, Phil Collins, Talking Heads, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. AND A BLANK MAXELL XL-2 100 MIN TAPE STILL IN THE WRAPPER.

Song lists hand-written by 10 different human beings, nail polish on the tapes (forever), labels stained with dirt (blood?),a hand-drawn Steal-Your-Face on the Greek tape, even a note from Karen F. on the inside of the song list card.

I don't think, 22 years from now, my I-pod will give me flash-backs like these tapes just have. The Jetta and the Suburu are long gone, but the tapes stay! Anyone know where I can buy a used player?


Thank You My Old Friend

2:24 PM  
Blogger Merry Mona said...

A year+ ago I was facing back surgery and had to give up my beloved 4-runner. This really hurt since, I'm a truck girl. I had searched far and wide for this 2 cyl. truck, they're a rare find as most are 4wd, 6 cyl gas hogs. So, I traded up for a car (sigh) that was a more gentle ride. And low and behold, the car I bought was ANALOG. It's only a 1999 model, I gave up tape before that! I was shocked, but unflustered because I knew I had my many hundreds of Maxell tapes collecting dust. Now, they're all in my trunk rotating through my player. I hadn't listened to most of these in 10 years. It was like reuniting with old friends. A lot of mine were sourced with an old friend who took his professional reel to reel to shows. Mine are masters. On so many of these tapes, I know exactly who it is screaming too close to the mics. A couple even feature filler of me yakking on the break. I was thinking, I'd sell the tapes with the car when I move on, but how can I? I've still got my Harmon Kardon double deck, ready to hook up to the living room.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Andy Dorfmann said...

Hey Andy,
This is something a lot of us have been lamenting for some time now. I have cases and cases of cassettes from across the years. Each one has a story. It's all cold and soulless now. Don't know about you, but I've lost some of the passion for "collecting" as there is no human interaction involved at all. I miss the packages in the mail, the late nights flipping the tapes, even the trips to the post office. It all seems so distant now, though its only been 6 years or so since it all seemed to stop.

They are but vestiges of a bygone era. I can't let my tapes go. They are sitting in crates in the attic, collecting dust. But they represent such a part of me and so many friends that I simply cannot bring myself to part with them.

So what SHOULD we do with all this media?

Thanks for this thoughtful and provacative blog entry. My mind was flooded with some wonderful memories. The LMA can't ever replace that.

Andy Dorfmann

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Tom Miller said...

What to do with all the media?
I've still got all my cassettes, and my LPs, that sit alongside my burgeoning collection of CDs, DVDs, Hi8 tapes, hell even all my books! I try and purge every once in a while, remove maybe 1 percent, and end up getting rid of something I love.

It's easier to just keep it all, or get rid of it all. Fortunately I have enough space that I can justify accumulting a bit now, but if I was still moving around it would be a tough call.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Tom Miller said...

And I still have an unwrapped Maxell XLII 90 min, ready to go!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Dumbek said...

I'm sure I still have a stack of MaxPoints around here somewhere...


nice post.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok so kids now a days can get 100s of shows by downloading them in a weekend.. um.. i say if u cant compete with that.. join em. ha. i am an old time taper too. had 24000 tapes til july 02. now i have nearly nothing. long story but i am now newly into cdrs. and i want stuff to listen to. and i can download but i dont know where to go cept archive.org and the bit torrent sites which i dont like because i cant keep my ratio up enough to be able to download anymore. so i give up. and no one there will help me find a way to fix that problem. so what i want is a way to get more shows. i am jonesin for toonz. iffin ya know what i mean. perhaps someone can email me directly with some suggestions and advice. im darthkardzz at aol dot com. thanks

10:56 AM  
Anonymous chrisco said...

Great post, Andy. To follow up on our email exchange / intro last week, here's a link to my Jerry tribute:

http://tinyurl.com/ytbqzr

To the next generation: Lets stoke those flames and create our new reality and spread the positive vibes. Cheers again!

-chrisco
buzzpal - the world is your party
www.buzzpal.com

8:58 AM  

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