My tape player ate Art Bergmann!

April 9, 2009

Art Bergmann has had to endure a lot over the years: the poverty that goes with being a musician, John Cale’s ill-suited production on Crawl With Me, arthritis, a bad back, etc. But now this: ripped to shreds, severed, dead. I’m talking about my vintage cassette copy of Bergmann’s Sexual Roulette. My tape player ate it.

It all started with another Bergmann recording – his 10-song demo from 1984 that was later released as Vultura Freeway but is now out-of-print. In an attempt to recapture what Art used to sound like before that list of ills, I’ve been listening to the demo a lot. Obsessively. Most of the music I listen to these days is in MP3 format, so I got it in my head that the demo, which is on an old Maxell C90 tape, needs to be digitally converted.

I found instructions for making the conversion and set up all of the equipment. But when I pushed down the play button on the tape player, it sprang up right away. I pushed it again and again and the same thing kept happening. Here’s where I did one smart thing: I took out my treasured Vultura Freeway tape and put in Sexual Roulette, which I treasure slightly less. Here’s where I made a bonehead move: I pushed play again and FORCED the button to stay down. Bad idea. I could tell that nothing was moving inside the player and I heard a sick sound. With trepidation, I slowly opened the door and my worst fears were realized. There was carnage, everywhere. A long section of the tape had come out of the cassette, and the mangled tape was tightly twisted around the apparatus. For a long time I tried to gingerly extract it, but the inevitable happened. The tape snapped.

Art & Carnage:

Art carnage

Stunned by the finality of it, I quietly fished out the pieces. I wondered where exactly the break occurred. Was it during “Bar of Pain”, when Art sang “Bar of pain. Not again.” Or maybe it was in “Deathwatch”, in the part that goes “Our luck has now run its course. All wagers lost on a fast dark horse.” Somehow what transpired seemed fitting, like it was a metaphor for the broken lives that Art sang about on the album.

Scene of the crime (after the body parts were removed):

Art scene of the crime

Postscript: I went to the iTunes Store, where I actually paid for and downloaded Sexual Roulette. The music sounds great, way better than it did on the tape. So there’s a happy ending. But hearing Sexual Roulette this way is only making me more determined to go digital with that demo, which remains in one piece. Anyone have a working tape player I can borrow?



  1. I think there’s something to be said about the demise of Art Bergmann in general here, with respect to the Richard’s on Richards spectacle…

  2. I have a player Wongski. I also have a CD copy of Sexual Roulette as a back up in your next hour of need.

    Woof, woof.

  3. I have a mini cd/tape player too, if you want something really portable.

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