Voices from 98 Bowery

Messages from the Telephone Answering Machine, 1982-87

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.

Answering machine audio cassette tapes from 98 Bowery

Alan

Audio cassette tape

Alice

Audio cassette tape

Andreas

Audio cassette tape

Anne

Audio cassette tape

Annette

Audio cassette tape

Avenue A

Audio cassette tape

Baird

Audio cassette tape

Becky

Audio cassette tape

Bettie

Audio cassette tape

Candace

Audio cassette tape

Colette

Audio cassette tape

Curt

Audio cassette tape

Eve

Audio cassette tape

Evelyn

Audio cassette tape

Helen

Audio cassette tape

Ileen

Audio cassette tape

Jack

Audio cassette tape

Jane

Audio cassette tape

J.B.

Audio cassette tape

Jill

Audio cassette tape

Jim

Audio cassette tape

Joan

Audio cassette tape

Leonard

Audio cassette tape

Lisa

Audio cassette tape

Martha

Audio cassette tape

Nathan

Audio cassette tape

Neke

Audio cassette tape

Paul

Audio cassette tape

Robin

Audio cassette tape

Rose

Audio cassette tape

Sol

Audio cassette tape

Spencer

Audio cassette tape

Steve

Audio cassette tape

Tom

Audio cassette tape

Tomiyo

Audio cassette tape