Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
– Arthur C. Clarke
Help me out here. What should I do with the boxes and boxes (and more boxes) I have of old videocassette tapes from the 1980s and 1990s?
I came across another such collection over the weekend, and I am at a loss.
Do I save them? Do I sell them? Do I dump them? Are they environmentally harmful?
At our house, we still have two old TV sets that will play a VCR cassette, but we never do.
Things sure have changed.
When I first splurged with a tax refund check in the mid-1980s and bought a VCR, I began taping every movie I could find.
Part of Ted Turner’s WTBS film library soon became mine.
I began with old stuff – Clark Gable (It Happened One Night), Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca) and Cary Grant (North by Northwest)
Then, it was James Bond movies (Dr. No, Goldfinger).
I then began to go for themes of my two favorite interests – journalism and baseball. I taped movies showing great newspaper characters: Northside 777, The Front Page, His Girl Friday and Deadline U.S.A.
I added those baseball greats: Pride of the Yankees, Bang The Drum Slowly and The Natural.
Beginning in 1989, I started to tape every Super Bowl. When the Braves began to make pennant runs in 1991, I taped all their playoff games, then all their World Series games. And when the Braves didn’t make it, I taped the World Series anyway.
I have hundreds of videocassette tapes of Major League Baseball games. I used to pull one out on a cold winter’s afternoon and enjoy the boys of summer playing a game whose outcome I’d long forgotten.
I would have them for posterity, just like I would have the Bush-Dukakis debates. I threw in inaugurations and State of the Union speeches.
I might be one of the few people in America who can compare the George Bush nomination acceptance speech of 1988 (very good) to the one four years later (kind of flat).
Closer to home, I thought I really needed to keep up with the Georgia Legislature and began taping its nightly Lawmakers show on PBS.
In fact, in 1990, an underdog gubernatorial candidate who had heard of my tape library called to ask if he could go through it – looking, no doubt, for his opponent saying something foolish.
I declined on ethical grounds, and Zell Miller was elected easily.
There’s more, much more.
With rare exception, however, I have never gone back and looked one up, pulled it from its cardboard sleeve and watched it.
And now I don’t have any idea what to do with them.