By the time we arrived at the Eight Track Museum, James "Big Bucks" Burnett's tribute to myriad dead media, some 60 or 70 folks had already come and gone, each one gladly forking over the suggested $10 donation per person needed to keep the doors open. At 4 on Christmas Day, the 2630 E. Commerce Street outpost -- a store in the front, an expansive and impressive history-of in the rear -- was still impressively full, both with familiar faces (among them Jack Turlington, ex of The Potatoes, who were managed by Burnett) and out-of-towners who'd seen mention of the museum's grand opening in The New York Times on Friday. And there were more to come -- Mark Ridlen came to play DJ (using only eight-tracks, of course, among them Burnett favorite Metal Machine Music), while George Gimarc and Mark "MC 900 Ft. Jesus" Griffin popped by.
Bucks, peddling enormous "Format War Is Over! If You Want It" posters and opening-day tees and out-of-print vinyl and shelves full of memories, walked around, collecting congratulations and cash. Opening Day, he said, was unfolding beyond his wildest expectations. "You know which day scares me?" he asked. "December 26."
He spent the day offering guided tours to the curious, pointing out not only the stacks of shrink-wrapped Rutles and Elvis and Beach Boys cartridges piled high on long shelves in a giant room, but also the various iterations of eight-tracks over the year, most of which never survived beyond the conceptual. At the museum you'll find every kind of eight-track player imaginable, including a large, flashing display of dashboard offerings -- it's like finding yourself in the front seat of Mom's car, circa 1978. But this time, Big Bucks is in the passenger seat, a tour guide to the history of the artifacts of recorded media about to become dust in the digital age.
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If you think this sounds like a novelty act, guess again -- it's music-biz history, for sale and on display in Deep Ellum at long last. More photos on the other side. But, truly, it must be seen in person to be believed and beloved. Cheaper than a time machine.