I was fortunate enough to be a child in the greatest decade in human history: the ‘70s. Everything was coming together. The Vietnam War was ending, the Civil Rights movement was reaping its first wave of benefits, prog-rock and proto-metal were young and vibrant, and the clothes were awesomely garish. Free love (which I was too young to understand, much less enjoy), cocaine and disco, the much-maligned pop music form, were entering vogue. (For those of you who look back on disco as a vile, contemptible phase in American music, remember – the current trends in house, club and dub-step are steeped in the disco ethic. In other words, there would be no Skrillex without Donna Summer.)
But I digress.
Vinyl LPs were finally the medium of choice for music fans. The old ways of purchasing 45 singles were all but dead as people began purchasing full albums instead. As a kid, I would often take my albums and record my favorite songs from them. Unbeknownst to me, this would become known as the “mix-tape.” I would keep my tape recorder available while listening to the radio as well, capturing anything that caught my attention. This led to cases full of more mix tapes.
I would also experiment. I discovered by depressing the play button while holding the record button only half way down, I could achieve a bizarre effect similar to flanging. I could also regulate the pitch by relieving or adding more pressure to the record button. This would lead to Munchkin or Barry White effects, depending on the length and strength of the pressure applied.
My sister and I would, like any kids, record our own radio programs, complete with weather forecasts and interviews. (My TV handle was Jik Junji.) And I will never forget the evening I spent with my nose pressed against the screen of my parent’s console television in 1981, holding a small, plastic microphone to the speaker, recording every moment (and editing out the commercials) as Tom Snyder interviewed Charles Manson. I still have that cassette.
I would fit right in with today’s hipster cassette collectors.
Considering my long-running affair with cassettes — I have a dresser drawer full of hundreds of them, with an even larger collection of Frank Zappa concerts on cassette — it’s easy to understand why I am so enamored of these ridiculously cute pillows. Authentic-looking labels harken to the early days of mix tapes, with a check box for stereo and a “noise reduction” blank on the blue pillow. The inks and materials are all environmentally friendly, which is a bonus for the earth and your kid (or you, if you are purchasing this thing for yourself). And if you’re into that whole gender-specific color thing, there is a blue one (predictably for boys) and a pink one (for girls).
For better or worse, my daughter has been hipped to dad’s nostalgic tendencies. We’ve spent hours listening to my vinyl records. And she has her own cassette decks, too. What a nifty addition this would make to her collection. (Or mine, for that matter.)