Friday, May 28, 2010

Voices from 98 Bowery's past

Marc H. Miller has posted more fascinating content to his 98Bowery site:

Messages from the Telephone Answering Machine, 1982-87

Per the site description:

My world in the 1980s lives on in part through a collection of answering-machine tapes that I recently retrieved from storage. Unlike the digital variety we use today, the old machines recorded messages on cassette tapes purchased separately and placed in the machine. Most people reused their tapes, letting new messages record over the old. But being the pack rat that I am, I kept all messages, and when both sides of a tape were filled, I dated and saved the cassettes. I had no special reason to do this. They were simply archival debris that I couldn’t part with. Hearing the messages again has been revealing. Some are from men and women I knew well, some were left by passing acquaintances, and others, by complete strangers. Some allude to significant occasions, others to frivolous moments, the search for diversions, and the mundane realities of everyday life. Individually each message is a record of a specific person and moment. Together they form something more -- a sound portrait of my life in the 1980's composed of the voices of the people who were in it.

Listem to them all here. (I like the one marked Avenue A...). When you're at the site, be sure to check some of the other features. I could spend the whole weekend doing so. One EV Grieve favorite: the Curt Hoppe and Al Goldstein video.

[Image via Marc H. Miller and 98Bowery]

For further reading on EV Grieve:
Life at 98 Bowery: 1969-1989

Revisiting Punk Art

Q-and-A with Curt Hoppe: Living on the Bowery, finding inspiration and shooting Mr. Softee


Jeremiah Moss said...

these tapes are great. it's amazing to hear voices from the past and how different they sound from voices of today. especially the women's, which are nothing like the nasally braying you hear so much of today. the women on the tapes have a deeper resonance, without uptalking. their voices make them sound intelligent and interesting. what's that about?

Bowery Boogie said...

awesome find.

Alex in NYC said...

Wow...this is really compelling. Nice find, EV.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks Alex and BB.... Amazing that Marc saved these... something perhaps so unremarkable at the time... makes me want to save everything, though storage space in my apt. is about this size of this comment box.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

That's really wonderful.

In the early 1970s, my uncle recorded messages on cassettes while he was in the army overseas and mailed them to my family instead of written letters. Hearing his voice is just amazing, and it's that everyday stuff that can really transport you back in time.

Unknown said...

In "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol," Andy Warhol wrote: "You should have contact with your closest friends through the most intimate and exclusive of all media -- the telephone." That is, straight from the speaker's mouth to the intended hearer ear. It's this breach (écouteurism?) that makes hearing these messages so titillating.

James Taylor said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Moss. The people on these tapes sound like real, intelligent adults, and nothing like the folks I come into contact with in Manhattan today. I also love how when Robin calls you can hear "Genius Of Love" in the background.