A Very Brief History
by Russ Forster
It was an amazing time in Chicago back in 1990. There was a group of us who worshiped 8-tracks, and we were figuring out all kinds of wacky ways to express our admiration. We had a weekly bowling event we called “Disco Bowling”, and we had even gotten on local television with our antics. We “spun” 8-tracks at our parties, thrilling and infuriating people with our infinite versions of “hits” like MECO’s version of “The Wizard of Oz”.
But we were not content with keeping our odd habits within our own small circles in the Midwest. Bent on world domination, or at least expanding our circle of influence to another few dozen like-minded eccentrics somewhere outside of Chicago, a small group of us embarked on reviving (or starting anew, depending whose version of the story you believe) a magazine called 8-TRACK MIND.
Over the next few years, 8-TM (or E-TM, if you prefer) grew by leaps and bounds, finding an audience that the original minds behind the MIND could not have imagined as they banged out ideas in a cheap apartment kitchen. It changed from being written by a small group of co-conspirators to becoming a compendium of all sorts of voices from all sorts of places. 8-TM became a safe place to write about an insane obsession, an intense love for what most people would consider garbage.
The response was so overwhelming that just three years after embarking on the noble experiment of a magazine about 8-tracks, editor Russ Forster was onto a new project: a film version of the magazine. In addition to giving him an outlet for his celluloid ambitions, it would give a chance for him and fellow 8-TM eccentric Dan Sutherland to meet, greet, and bring together fellow 8-track enthusiasts from around the U.S.
That charmed film project eventually became the 16mm feature documentary SO WRONG THEY’RE RIGHT. Not only did the film give Dan and Russ a chance to meet most of the fantastic contributors to 8-TM scattered around the country; they got to document a real underground subculture at one of its strongest and most interesting moments. And the film helped solidify bonds between members of what came to be a “cartridge family”, many of whom are still friends with each other to this very day.
However, there were some devastating setbacks to hit the 8-TM family in the late ’90s. One of the lowest moments for8-TM is documented in issue #91 when, in the space of mere months, one of the inventors of 8-track died and then an amazing contributor who became known as “Our Lady of the 8-Track,” Abigail Lavine, succumbed to cancer at the age of 32. A few years after these sad milestones, the advent of eBay worked to change the focus of 8-track collecting from fun to profit, from fraternization to market-cornering. Editor Russ Forster, downhearted by these and other changes in the 8-track world, published the final issue in 2001, which also came with a companion videotape.
BUT HERE’S A TIDBIT FOR FREE:
THE 8 NOBLE TRUTHS OF THE 8-TRACK MIND
0) Understanding one’s fate leads to greater acceptance.
1) State of the art is in the eye of the beholder.
2) Society’s drive is on attaining rather than experiencing.
3) In less than optimum circumstances, creativity becomes all the more important.
4) Progress is too often promises, promises to get you to buy, buy.
5) “New” and “improved” don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
6) “Naïve” is not a dirty word.
7) In seeking perfection has the obvious been overlooked?
8) Innovation alone will not replace beauty.?
Contract Russ: firstname.lastname@example.org