Part 165: Cassette Case Man

RECORD STORE TALES Part 165:  Cassette Case Man
cassette case 1

The setting:  my store

The year:  1997

The characters:  me and a scary dude

Remember tape cases?  Some looked like briefcases.  You could store anywhere from 24 to 60 tapes in one case, which snapped shut with a clasp.  Others were double sided, made of nylon, zipped shut, and could hold 120 cassette tapes.  At my peak, I owned about 10 cases altogether, different sizes, to hold my cassette collection.

cassette case 2

We had phased out tapes completely by 1996.  It was a dead format.  CD had taken over completely, and our stores were some of the first in the area to go 100% CD.   You could still buy tapes downtown at Encore Records, and I occasionally still did.  I remember buying Fireball, by Deep Purple, on tape there in 1996, because finding a CD in town was impossible.

One afternoon in ’97, when I was working alone, a big dude walked into the store.  Outside of a Tarantino movie, I’d never heard so many “F-bombs” dropped in one conversation.   Luckily I was journaling back then and recorded the conversation for posterity.

Big guy:  “Hey, where are your cassette boxes?”

Me:  “You mean like tape cases, for carrying your tapes around with you?”

Big guy:  “Yeah, them fuckin’ things.”

Me:  “Uhh…we don’t carry those anymore.  We phased out tapes a while ago.”

Big guy:  “Fuck.  You fuckin’ sure you got nothin’?”

Me:  “Yeah, pretty sure.  We don’t carry tapes, so we don’t carry tape accessories either.”

Big guy: “Why the fuck don’t you carry tapes?  What are people supposed to do who listen to fuckin’ tapes?”

Me:  “Well, you could try the mall.  I think some of those stores carry tapes.  They probably have cases too.”

Big guy: “Think so?”

Me:  “It’s worth a try?”

Big guy: “Fuck.  I’ll just make one.”

Me:  “OK.”

Big guy: “Yeah.  Fuck.  I’ll just buy some fuckin’ wood.  Cut ‘er up nice and build a fuckin’ box for my tapes.  Just get some fuckin’ wood, fuckin’ slap ‘er together, and make a fuckin’ tape box of my own.  Yeah.  That’s what I’ll do.”

Me: “…That sounds like a good idea.”

Big guy: “Fuck, it’ll be easy, I’ll just buy some fuckin’ wood.”

And I never saw him again.  True fuckin’ story!

28 comments

  1. I wonder if he ever got wood?

    I loved this… cassette cases, what a blast from the past. I just had one for a few years but it was enough to hold my paltry cassette collection which, at that time, was mainly just KISS.

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    1. I know I never gave him wood.

      Fuckin’ cassettes, man…those were the days! I had evert single Kiss cassette up to Hot In The Shade…Revenge was the first one I bought on CD.

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      1. Haha I’m sure you did! ;)

        I got Revenge on cassette too! I was a late adopter of CDs. Most my 70s KISS stuff was on LP and the 80s stuff was cassette. I know I had Dressed to Kill and Destroyer on cassette though… I miss cassettes! Wish I still had them.

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        1. You’d have to store them fuckin’ things if you had them! (I’m gonna talking like Cassette Case Man in this post from now on.)

          I don’t miss my cassettes so much, most of them anyway. They took up so much space. And I’d never play them. There are only a few that I wish I’d kept because they were unique. I had a unique Helix cassette that was glow-in-the-dark.

          Err…fuckin’.

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        2. C’mon Scott, humour me. Play along with LeBrain. Let me re-write your sentence correctly:

          “Yeah, nostalgia only goes so fuckin’ far… I’d love to still have them for the fuckin’ memories but I got rid of them for a fuckin’ reason!”

          OK, now that’s done….

          As you’re aware I dug up some of my old tapes for Record Store Tales, and I did a fuckin’ transfer to mp3. Well, I was fuckin’ shocked at how bad they sounded. I realize time has passed, but this used to be my primary source of music! It’s like with cassette, you’re only hearing half the fuckin’ music.

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        3. I used to fuckin’ hate when they got fuckin’ chewed up. And i used to hate that fuckin’ washy noise you’d fuckin’ get where the background (usually the fuckin’ cymbals) would go loud and quiet the whole time. Like fuckin’ Moonchild. My tape of that was like that. All fuckin’ splishy splashy.

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  2. Great story. I was a Cassette Case (Young) Man in the ’80s, but I was not crazy & intimidating. I still have them…four double-sided cases that hold 60 on each side. Even though I was an LP guy who quickly morphed into a CD guy, I always had cassettes of albums I copied from friends as well as my own homemade compilations, and of course I needed an organized place to keep them. I lost no sleep when cassettes were phased out and it’s been years since I played any of them, but I still have a cassette player in my stereo set up and they’ll be available when I’m ready to play them. I wonder how much your crazy guy would pay me for my cases now.

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    1. I have a cassette deck in my “main” system, as well as the USB cassette deck which is better for my future plans of transferring all my cassette material over. There’s still a few things that I only have on cassette.

      I think my crazy guy would have been willing to pay a lot…up until he realized he could just build one out of fuckin’ wood :)

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        1. Probably more expensive at Home Depot!

          When I was a kid, my folks used to take us to the cottage for 2 weeks in the summer. I didn’t want to do without my music, so I hauled ALL of it up. ALL of it. Sometimes that was six or seven tape boxes! Plus some GI Joe’s!

          My folks were very tolerant of my passions (and my OCD).

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        2. I completely understand that concept, Mike. I resisted the whole MP3 thing for a while because I wanted a player that could fit my entire collection. I eventually ripped everything (8,000-9,000 titles, and who knows how many actual discs) and I’m now content with having a player that fits 80-100 CDs at a time, but optimally I’d like to have access to all of my music at all times. I know there are options for that with cloud storage, but I’m not tech savvy enough yet.

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        3. Yeah nor am I. Right now I’m content to rip to an external hard drive, and change up albums on my mp3 player as I go. Technically I COULD bring my external hard drive and a laptop with me wherever I go…it would still be easier than bringing all my albums (which is impossible).

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  3. Hahaha wood.

    True story: I still have one of those cassette briefcases in the basement. It’s huge. No idea how many tapes it holds, but it’s the faux leather kind. I have one of the zippered nylon ones, too.

    I also still have two of those boxes with the three slide-out drawers. The ones where you couldn’t ever get the tape that was in the deepest section out ever again. CLASSIC.

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    1. Ahh well. Either way I salute you — utmost respect for those who serve.

      I think the ammo cases would probably be the coolest way to store a heavy metal music collection that anyone could imagine! I think Megadeth’s box set was even designed to look like an ammo case!

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