Basement tapes: microcassettes

Sometime circa 2002 my wife bought me this sweet little SONY recording unit. Probably this device was used most commonly to record interviews or as a dictation machine. Its portability and compactness are useful for discrete recording and it is a fairly quiet unit. I have recorded music ideas, trial runs of stories for readings, snippets of conversation and interviews with my device. I still use it occasionally but mostly it has been replaced by the several digital Zoom recorders in the household and at work. In the early 2000s I could still find tapes for $1.89 at the Super Savings Discount Store at Queen Street and Brock. That store later became a fancy sushi restaurant and then a brew pub, a sign of gentrification hitting Parkdale, the Toronto community I called home for almost two decades.

The Clear Voice Plus
Audio from “Bella Did Ya Eat” brunch at the Free Times Cafe

Take this gem from the Bella Did Ya Eat brunch at the Free Times Cafe, which I would date as having been recorded some time in 2004 or 2005. I wasn’t an archivist in those days, so I didn’t know to date my recordings and record metadata meticulously. Still it is a nice mix of sounds from the buffet brunch I worked every Sunday morning for the better part of four years, the chaos of it, the kind of replication of a family tradition, the personal touches of the owner and creator Judy Perly. I have some stories I could tell but the recording situates the listener in the midst of the hubbub, in part because the recorder was out of sight and out of mind for the participants.

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