How to Wreck a Nice Beach

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Something To That Effect

From a Whisper to a Scream

By Dave Tompkins at 4:16pm ET

(Droogs play a game of Telephone on the set of A Clockwork Orange*)

The vocoder book is now available in paperback today, with all kinds of bonus terminal beach slaps. It only took a month. That second book is a cinch!

I’d say the paperback drops today, but I prefer you held onto it. Or wore a helmet with two chinstraps. I’d say it gently whispers through your office window like Snake Plissken’s glider, but that may infer that my book is a breeze. (And that your window is open. Though it should be—it’s nice outside.) Or cool air. Or that my book’s breath smells like the inside of a fat wooden leg. Or that you should rip out all the pages and see what flies.

It’s a paperback, so you can batflap your face with it. What I’m really trying to say here is my book is a Troop song. Sometimes I wish it was a farmhouse full of bats. When I taught at a prep school outside Orange, Virginia, there was an old farmhouse that had bats in the walls. One of the summer deans lived there. He’d agitate the bats by jabbing the wall with the butt of a tennis racket. Sounded like the house was taking off. We’d just sit there drunk and listen to the walls flutter, hoping they wouldn’t get out.

Spread spectrum communications now means COLOR. The color is no longer out of space, it’s everywhere.

Said the man from Nottingham who once disguised himself as Robot Redboard: “This may appear a bit strange to you, but I like color.”

The man from the BBC—his shirt is pink!

Forrest J. Ackerman’s Cadillac—is red!

The vocoder exhibit in Chicago—is… azure?

The ELO gatefold—is a gorgeous spaceship!

The cover for Tonto’s Expanding Headband—is, uh, what is that!??

My copy of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream—is still beat to shit!

My best friend from high school—is still on p. 219 and apparently has a tanning membership at Electric Beach!

The sky is blue. It’s uncannily warm for November. Please get me out of here.

More folks have joined the story. A dragon wears a speaking Keytar around its neck. Teen Wolf appears at a high school gym in Compton. Ned “Neck of the Woods” Gerblasnky sings “Feel Like Makin’ Love” through an Electrolarynx. A Dutch kid predicts approaching Stutka bombers by sticking his finger in the air. And Just-Ice loves animals: “I like to wear my Gold in mouth so that I can spit on it and know it’s there.”

*Image courtesy of Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (Little Brown) by Christiane Kubrick. Thanks to the Kubrick Estate for allowing the image to appear in the paperback edition.


  1. I’ve been reading (out loud, and with great difficulty) selected sections of this to a big gray goose, who thinks you write like the spawn of an unholy alliance between Thomas Pynchon and William S. Burroughs. (Don’t shoot the messenger!!!)

    Comment by Maypo — November 21, 2011 @ 7:59pm
  2. Dear Dave,

    It’s a sad day for me. I just finished How to Wreck a Nice Beach and will miss it. What a great gift you’ve given to the world. Thank you for writing it.


    Comment by Jennifer — May 23, 2012 @ 11:44pm

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