Zine Review: basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue

basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue
Joshua James Amberson
56 pages

basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue is a US-sized, half-fold black and white zine for the love of (and sometimes frustration with and doubts about) the humble cassette tape.

Sometimes you need to go with the beautiful description on the zine itself:

“Twenty writers, musicians, DJs, label owners, publishers, and comic artists tell stories of how cassette tapes have affected their lives, for better or for worse. Within: the art of the mixtape, the importance of the boombox, the intimacy of the Walkman. Plus tales of recording with cassettes, performing with cassettes, releasing cassettes, falling in love with cassettes. Nostalgia, subversion, frustration, possibility.”

Now this is the sort of nostalgia I am all about. I remember holding my little boom box up to the TV in an effort to record the music that played during THAT infamous Final Fantasy VII scene while my heart was breaking. But this isn’t about my memories. Let’s dig in.

basic paper airplane: The Cassette Tape Issue opens with a Track List (table of contents) split into the A side and B side, which I love as a little detail. From there we get a personal introductions to Josh’s life with cassettes and the nagging worry of whether one’s passion equates to a life well spent. Josh goes on to write a little something that I’m encountering within my writerly self more and more:

“But, as a writer, I’m never content with unexplored joy. I want to pick it apart and understand it, open up its contradictions and absurdities.”

Ah, I know that feeling all too well.

We then read a brief timeline of the life of cassettes as well as a brief primer about how cassettes work and have worked through time. From there we get to the shared experiences of first cassette tapes, the freedom of easily transported music on the Sony Walkman, the trials and tribulations of trying to respool that precious musical tape back onto the wheels. Everything is in black type on white paper with a clear tape-insert background for the title. (I love it when zines add in little details to fit a theme.) Some are accompanied by anything from cassette diagrams to actual mixtape lists.

This is the kind of zine that makes me want to share my cassette tape stories. I read the stories written by these contributors and want to tell them how I remember this or had a similar experience with that. Oh, and do you remember…

I could go on and on. I had so much fun reading this zine and think anyone who grew up with cassette tapes, grew to love them, still love them, and even perhaps even still love being able to hold that Walkman close and play those cassettes just for your eager ears will love this zine.

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