How to Wreck a Nice Beach

More Crosstalk on the Vocoder
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Something To That Effect

How To Melt A Robot Gunslinger’s Face

By Dave Tompkins at 1:06pm ET

(Yul Brynner faces off with the Fat Boys)

Here’s a mix for Chairman Mao’s radio show at Spine. (Listen and download here.) I just handed over the records, with a faint idea of the immediate future. Mao did the mixing, from Boggy Creek to Burgess Meredith. (Nice cameo in Burnt Offerings, Burgess.)

I wanted to call it “Bat Doing Pull-Ups,” based on a nightly aberration staged by the curtain drifting above my air conditioner. I’d been tucking the center under the rod, which made the “wings” droop. Each night gives the curtain full benefit of the bat. But one can’t go around saying Hey, here’s the mix I didn’t mix called Bat Doing Pull-Ups, dedicated to the air conditioner. My curtain is a supersonic nocturnalist. The Kriegsmarines trained on electro-shock pull-up bars. Etc.

Then Trevor, Mao’s 2-year-old, saved the day. He laughed at me and directed us to a Dr. Seuss thing called “Too Many Daves.” (He’d met another Dave earlier that day.) “Looks like you’ve got one horse too many.” Trevor is named after one of the Ultramagnetic MC’s, who sometimes referred to himself as TR-808, after the Japanese bottom-maker.

Not in the mix but on my mind: New vocoder intel from De La Soul, a tribute to DST playing the synthesizer at Bronx River. “The gusto is going home with me!” Mad actionable.


Legend of Boggy Creek (Promo 45)
From the summer of boggy pants.

Camp swim test horror. After blowing our jeans into inner tubes, we had to claw through brown water down to the bottom and surface with a handful of squish. Alge Crumpler.

I cannot validate the claims made on this record (250 sightings!), but my heart, as the saying goes, beats like Sasquatch feets* for The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved by PV Glob.

*Biggie had a vocoder moment on “Real Niggaz (Mister Cee’s Best of Biggie)”, when he rhymes over Above the Law’s “Black Superman.”

Clave Rocks—Amoretto
Latin Rascal edits at the wrong speed = morning sludge to the train through the humidity.

Mixed by Charlie Chase of the Cold Crush Brothers who also did this vocoder song.

Talking and Scratching (For the People)—The Computer People Communicators (CPC)

From 1983, on St. Louis’ ElectricLand Records, a Division of Poo Poo Man Records, with special thanks to the Paper Bag Co.

Reality (Music Version)—Disco 3

This is the Fat Boys before they were the Fat Boys, being John Carpenter when he was John Carpenter.

Bonus: A perk of divorce summer was my dad taking me to see The Thing and Escape From New York. (Had to sneak back in to hear the EFNY theme again.) (Though “Over the Wall” is Carpenter’s Krautrock travel jam.) Now every sled dog I pass on the street comes with a Morricone lurk and hopes of genetic mutation.

James Mason Bonus: “Reality” was produced by James Mason, the Roy Ayers keyboard player who also did the Wuf Ticket vocoder 12 “The Key” with Francois K. (Not Lolita James Mason who spanked Peter Sellers in Moet pong.) Mason also did “I Want Your Love,” which may be the best soul song of ’96, wearing 1978’s pants. (Actually if you listen to it, 1978’s pants are already on the floor.)

Boyz-N-Effect—Boyz Going Off
That phaser ascent is from my favorite Cheryl Lynne song “Encore.” They also trapped Parliament’s ghost inside an Emulator. (“If you hear any noise it’s just me and the boys.”) Pretty sure that goulash gut rumble is Melle Mel’s “don’t stop” part from “I Feel For You.” A bass digestif.  It goes hopping mad around minute 7, but we had to move on.

Street Freeks—Jimmy Lewis and LA Street Band
One of the leftovers that didn’t make the book mix, which doesn’t relieve the guilt of not including “Tonight” by Kleeer.

Beauty of Machines—Sylk-130
Loose Ends sighting! Just a scuttle and a hiss, but they’re in here.

Scratch Version B—Indeep

Donna—Art of Noise

Don’t Stop the Rock breakdown—Freestyle
This is from Centipede’s set at the San Francisco book release. Freestyle were from Miami, where Ice Cube once managed to cram a giant hydraulic skull into a mosque.

Conversation: Stick-Up Kid (Instr) B-Boys

“Two Teenage Girls, Grisly News”—EMS Vocoder demo

Running low on weird vocoder ammo here. It was either this Heavenly Creatures thing or a dismal stock Market reading. The Grisly Girls was my favorite TV show growing up.

Slow Beat—Escape From New York (“Snake? I Thought You Were Dead” Version)
Twisted Wires (Instr)
Brain—D.I.X.O. (Monk Edit)
Rockets—Future Woman (nasty “sexy rocket” Zeus Box solo)
Casco—Cybernetic Love (Instr)
Lawton Law—Time Is Now (Dub)

This is sort of the lost Italo disco chapter from the book, save for Lawton Law, who’s from Jersey. (Good job, Chairman, making it all work.)

In case you’re wondering about weird-ass “D.I.X.O.”:

Vocoder Chorus:
Don’t call me that, I’m not insane,
Electric heart, electric brain.
Please understand this program breaks,
Just like you I feel the pain.

The chorus occurs after the girl said “the machine’s going crazy” (which we edited out—nobody’s going crazy here) and apparently hurt its feelings.

This is a great moment:
1.)    The vocoder denies that it’s a few giant ants short of a picnic.
2.)    The vocoder feels your pain.
3.)    The vocoder catches feelings.


(Thanks Veronica Vasicka for the lyrics)

Intermedium Nepalese—Zeus B Held
From the Zeus B Held album Europium. If the album cover is to be believed, Zeus, painted in silver, stole that florescent halo tube from my mom’s kitchen.

Sweet Song Of Summer—Bee Gees
First heard this while driving through the mountains alone in October.* As you can probably imagine, the darkness was really feeling that “I-can-feel-you-in-evil-darkness” part.  But how threatening can the darkness be if it’s down with the Bee Gees?  Where’s Mean Mister Mustard?

As my mom once said, “Summer holds too long.”

*It’s always October around these parts.

August 4th, 2026—Burgess Meredith Reads Ray Bradbury

“Smoke, and then silence.”

Just For You—Ingram
But wait. We did nothing to this. Amazingly “as is.”

August Practice

By Dave Tompkins at 6:03pm ET

Here’s a Jack Tatum obit I did for Hua over at The Atlantic.

You may not be able to tell, but that Dolphin is leaping through a ring of fire.

They are not doing aerobics.

But we should talk about #89, Nat Moore.

In the early 1980s, Nat and fellow Dolphin All-Pro Larry Little co-owned Superstar Rollerteque, a skate rink in North Miami near Liberty City.  Luke Campbell and vocoder enthusiast Pretty Tony Butler had their first DJ gigs at Rollerteque.

Pretty Tony played “Rock Lobster.” Luke played “Tour de France” at the wrong speed.

Superstar Rollerteque is now mini-storage, a place where folks can compartmentalize their sustained decay and unwanted Bass.

The sign at the car rental next door reads: “No Jive, You Drive!”

The Printer’s Bass

By Dave Tompkins at 11:35am ET

Last Friday I played records at the Printer’s Ball in Chicago, along with Dante Carfagna, co-inventor of a speaking device called “Wrong Name Death Scream.”

Dante is responsible for the impulse-buy Venus Flytraps, once available at Woolworth’s of Greater Miami. The flytraps appear in the vocoder book, somewhere between the cackling fly that landed on your sandwich (a narrow escape), and a giant inflatable can of Budweiser. Excellent footage of the flytrapper (and its gooey lunch) appear in The Hellstrom Chronicle.

Occasionally , Dante will send me books like Man With A Shattered World: The History of a Brain Wound or The Case of the Midwife Toad. Or an orange hologram button of Eddie Murphy’s brother’s rap group, K-9 Posse.

(The Midwife Toad, 1971)

Many of the songs that helped Tesser my ass through the gruel of book writing came from Mr. Carfagna: Pure Essence “Wake Up,” John Kaye (The Sparrow) “Isn’t It Strange,” Makers “Don’t Challenge Me,”* “Snake Beats,” The Majestics “Key To Love,” “You Can Drive My Spaceship,” Chico The Leo’s I Love My Momma Hotline, an expensive group called Timeless Legends, Andrew Wartts, and a sub-freak bass song that provided evidence that German U-Boatmen had stolen ashore during World War II to catch Val Lewton movies in Lauderdale. (It’s in the book mix, between Kraftwerk and Jam Pony Express.)

The Ball

The interactive Vocoder Guest Log was set up next to the turntables. People could talk through the EMS-2000 and listen to their robot brains under headphones.

These two little kids with glasses were regular customers. They walked out with all the secrets of the future.

(Photo by Meg Handler)

The sound system at the Printer’s Ball had that MiniMall parking lot Bass. As if copies of Oxford American came with complimentary tube amps and a quad gut-check. This created a more tactile interactive feature: one could sit on the monitor next to the turntables and feel the hot bottom-breath on their legs. It was like bass conditioning  (BC). (The fossils are the future and I promise we’ll get there.) Elsewhere, the low-end seemed to be pooling and eddying in the far corner of the room, where the walls went florescent green and the air caught feelings.

I learned that Trus’Me and Section 25 have bass, but Crime Mob on Friends of Distinction has boom.

DJ Battlecat has boom (and a synthetic cowbell imported from West Palm) but you wouldn’t be able to tell since someone took a claw hammer to my copy.

Polish sausages from Jim’s in the back of a Subaru also, not surprisingly, have bass.

A man with headphones welded to his skull did a thoughtful softshoe from outer space. The headphones came off for “Hydraulic Pump.” He wasn’t homeless, just passing through, “someone who had to have all his shit with him at all times.”

Thanks to the Hughes Brothers and Fred Sasaki at Poetry magazine.

*Not trying to be all secret squirrel about shit, but YouTube doesn’t have all the answers. (And I was lazy.) “Don’t Challenge Me” will be included on Carfagna’s upcoming comp Open Spaces.

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