As we enter February, with the pandemic still going on, I can’t help but think about things from one year ago. I was looking about booking a room in Greensboro, North Carolina where I would be performing in March with Blue Plate Special at a comedy festival. We also had another festival coming up in Gatlinburg at the start of that month, and we were finalizing some other bookings for what was going to be our busiest year yet.
I also, one day on a break from work, had swung by a thrift shop and picked up a great VCR. I had been needing one for a while. The old family VCR kicked the bucket some years ago after lighting ran in on it during a storm. I didn’t think I needed one again, but when I came across some boxes of tapes in the family basement, some with home movies on them, I realized I wanted one. I knew it’d be handy to keep around, but also so I could digitize the home movies for safekeeping.
As the pandemic began, my family and I decided this was the banner time to finally work on getting the basement organized and sorted. It was full of junk and trash and things that needed to be tossed. I found test papers from high school that I had held onto for some insane reason. This long backstory is to say that as things are still ongoing, I felt that I needed another project to give myself something to do as 2021 rolled around. That project was to finally tackle all those VHS tapes of non-family material. Hours of various things taped off of TV some 25, plus years ago.
Nascar races my dad taped, random shows from Nickelodeon I taped. Altogether there are easily 100 tapes at the least. So the question is what am I to do with it all? I know there are things I wanna keep, some things I can thrift—I can’t think of a reason to hold on to my James Bond tapes anymore—and some things I wanna digitize. I’m painfully sentimental, some tapes I can’t bring myself to get rid of, despite not needing them. Such as all the Three Stooges tapes my late grandparents bought me.
To make matters worse, some of the tapes either have no labels on them, the labels have fallen off, or they’re written in my childhood scribble and it’s a bit hard to understand what’s on them. So here was, yet again, another banner time to finally tackle them. To sit through and see what the heck is on what tape, and finally make up my mind with what to keep and what to thrift.
I’ve got a bit of a mess going. There’s one stack of tapes to review and see what’s on then, another stack to digitize, then another I’ve looked at and am not sure of what to do with, and another that’s going to thrift. I must look like a reject from a 1990s era MTV set, sitting out in the basement with a VCR hooked up to my parent’s old portable camping TV. Putting in a tape, check it out, then placing it in a pile.
Some things have surprised me, I did find a tape with footage of my grandmother on it that I didn’t know existed, and another with footage of my making my own episode of “Star Trek” using my action figures and toys. Yes, Virginia, I was as hip then as I am now. It’s one of those things I always said I would do “when I get time.” Welp, that’s all I have now, time. Plenty and plenty of time (cue my glasses falling off and breaking).
I’m hoping that in a few months all of this will be behind us and I’ll be looking forward to performing on stage again—it’s been almost a year—and going to festivals and seeing people. Till then I’ll be in my basement going through my little archive of miles and miles of magnetic tape, then throwing a mask on when I need to do some errands outside. See you next week.