How to Wreck a Nice Beach

More Crosstalk on the Vocoder
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Something To That Effect

I’ll Get To It

By Dave Tompkins at 12:44am ET

Exciting things afoot next week. There’ll be a vocoder on NPR’s Morning Edition. There’ll be a mix on Mad Decent Radio with talking Slurpees.

There’ll also be a trip to Chicago—where, incidentally, I once purchased the Creature From the Black Lagoon Christmas light set pictured on (bing!) page 277 of HTWANB.

Please excuse me while I get it together.

In the meantime, here’s a sketch of me talking to a frog, as rendered by The Talented Illustrator June Kim. (Though I never rocked airplanes on my pajamas.) It’s based on a somnambulistic moment from college back in 1991. Late one night, my then-roommate—who can be found in HTWANB having asthma attacks and listening to “Scorpio”—discovered me in the open doorway of our apartment.

Apparently I was emphatically pleading with a frog that was sitting on the doormat.

“How can I get to you when you’re on the outside and I’m on the inside?!? How can I get to you!??”

I remember the frog blinking at me and saying nothing, though frogs aren’t supposed to blink. Yet frogs certainly can speak, as you’ll learn in my (bing! bing!) book.

Other things I wanted June Kim to draw for the book:

- A grasshopper behind the wheel of my stepbrother’s Camaro, cutting through a cornfield.  I have a sketch of this somewhere. The grasshopper is staring at you through the rearview mirror. He or she is wearing Kool Moe Dee sun-dimmers. Shucks are flying. Just like Steve McQueen in The Hunter.

- Back when my book was going to begin at the 1980 US Open, I asked June to draw Frog McEnroe playing Frog Borg. (Frorg?) The crowd would be high society robots, including Henry Kissinger*. The judge would be a glyptodont in a sun hat. Not to be confused with a cryptodont.

Not to be confused with anything.

- Then we thought, what if—what if—instead, “we” drew a giant throat with a hole, or stoma, in it. And the hole would be strung like a tennis racquet, with frogs peeping through the catgut grid. And the stencil would be a vocoder diagram.  Or Bambattaa in a space viking hat. And the breeze would be whistling “Pack Jam” through my perforated Rod Laver’s.

This would’ve been the cover.

I am glad June Kim still speaks to me.

Hope to see you in Chicago.

*During the CBS broadcast of that 1980 Borg-McEnroe throwdown, there was an amazing shot of Kissinger extinguishing a gnat under his glasses between sets. The Secretary of State had better seats that Ille Nastase, who wore a fly shit-fly green Adidas track suit. Nasty has extinguished many a judge with his middle finger.

How to Wreck a Motorcycle and Suit Up for Football Practice

By Dave Tompkins at 12:10am ET

(Image Courtesy AT&T Archives and History Center)

The AT&T Voder talking keyboard exhibit, photographed at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. A robot-to-robot phone call took place between the Bay Area Voder and the New York Voder, which had been speaking barnyard at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow. I can only imagine what those old buzzards said to each other. We go stupid for Mac Dre.  Unvoiced thizz energy.

The How to Wreck A Nice Beach hot airship/wheat shredder has landed in the Bay, where George Lucas once hired a funeral director to play the voices of robot cops.

Where an iguana ran a subterranean computer city. (More on that one later.)

Where  I once interviewed Jack “Call Me Assassin” Tatum on a golf course and learned that his Oakland Raider teammate, Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas, did indeed take his practice in full pads just after having a THX motorcycle wipeout in the team parking lot.

Late Night Hype Addendum From SOM in S.F. last night
Last night, B Cause’s set went from “Street Freeks” [sic] to “Nasty Rock” to “Shutterbug.” (I heard “Shutterbug” while talking to Chapter 7’s Annie Coulter about her dad’s vocoder exploits in the CIA). Among the many reasons to love “Shutterbug” is the fact it uses the Talk Box to channel The System. (Wasn’t the bald guy from The System in Phantasm II?)

Open the Door, Homer

By Dave Tompkins at 11:08pm ET

A mouthful of germs and consonants. From the notebook of Homer Dudley, inventor of the vocoder. December 12, 1932.

(Image courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center)

Bell Labs Speaker Box, 1939 World’s Fair

By Dave Tompkins at 10:48pm ET

Is she checking messages on her nails?

Where’s that boat going?

(Image courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center)

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