Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Twill Tape Measure, an Audiotape Cassette Unspooled and Puckering, Shining

Advice sought: I've a boatload of cassettes on shelves in my basement. All are at least twenty years old, most more. I've copied to CD most of those I knew I wanted to carry forward a long time ago, but I was browsing the crates over the weekend and discovered many that I mehhed once but want now - EIEOU, remember them? for instance, Soup Dragons? I put one tape into a player and SNAP! I put a second into a player and SNAP! Am I well and truly fucked? most if not all probably gone? I do have access to a university library's media center and their state of the art equipment. Advice?


Caroline Knox

Long jetty, long shell-racked jetty, cracked warped planks.

Beautiful fish, beautiful sea-bass poached with an August tomato, on
     an ironstone plate.

A snake's slough, a snake's spinal cord, a dry-rot stump.

A twill tape measure, an audiotape cassette unspooled and puckered,

Agate prayer beads, kazoos, whistles, rattles.

A bike-chain and a bungy cord.  A moebius strip and a broccoli elastic.

Split vanilla pod inset with paltry-looking flat oily brown seeds.

Egg-and-dart molding of vitreous fake sandstone.  Contrails, mares' tails,
     mackerel sky


  1. OF COURSE I remember EIEIO. They have gotten back together for a couple of recent shows, matter of fact.

    Brother of a friend of mine is an archivist and librarian. He says most media are impermanent; magnetic media the worst. I think you're fucked, especially if those tapes were pre-recorded. Cheapest materials available.

    FWIW, in archiving, apparently an even more difficult problem is media that were designed for a machine that is obsolete. so not only does the library have to try to keep all these machines on hand, but find somebody to fix them....

  2. Although if sticky poorly spooled tape is your issues, perhaps if you fast forwarded all the way through the tape and then rewound it, perhaps it would be less frictional?

  3. Susan of Texas is a guy?

    The things one learns on the internets!

  4. Someone didn't shell out mad doubloons for the Maxell XL-90s.

  5. In one of my former lives, I was a magnetic tape duplicator - if by SNAP!, one means that the tape has broken off 'cleanly' at the leader, the issue would be with the tape, it having become bonded in some way (usually heat/moisture related) with itself.
    If the magnetic tape has stretched somewhat before breaking, that would indicate a tension issue created within the deck that could be remedied (as ZRM mentioned) by a complete fast forward and rewind prior to playback, balancing the tape to the machine. I would recommend doing this to all older recorded media prior to first playback after storage.


  6. I so shared Richard's fabulous post on my Facebook. What a fabulous reading experience, I was on pins and needles. thought I: Surely, he's not going to NOT mention...and then! The suspense almost killed me. Almost! THANK YOU, RICHARD.

  7. One of my college radio homies played that band on his show the other night and really digs them as well. I'll give it a listen when I'm not where it has to be quiet.

    I've still got cassettes from the college years, scored at thrift stores in Kent and probably belonging to the same person, and also a box of tapes of mostly goth rock and dream pop and Nick Cave I bought on ebay. Some of them will be hard to replace, though depending on the titles, we might have stuff up at the station that I could copy and mail to you. Shoot me an email with some titles and I'll see if I can work some magic.

  8. Thanks for Kind offer. I'm probably not going to get to monkey much with cassettes this weekend but yes next. I'll let you know.