November 5, 2010
Inaugural Blog Tour: How To Wreck A Nice Beach
by Paul Oliver
If you missed yesterday’s inaugural post then you might be wondering what this is. Basically we want to take the end of the year to revisit what we’ve published but do so in a unique way. Instead of talking about what some bigger publications have said we decided to look at how smaller and often individually-run blogs are talking about books.
Today we’re going to see how two very different blogs — one of them a fairly large affair replete with knowledgeable name-drops and sneaker worship — covered our book How to Wreck a Nice Beach, by Dave Tompkins (whose blog in association with the book is tremendous in its own right). The book is a weird history of the vocoder — a device from the early days of telephonics that was co-opted by military intelligence services during World War II, and eventually ended up as a staple of hip hop and pop music.
All of which means How To Wreck A Nice Beach is tailor made for the multimedia presentation found on blogs. The history of the vocoder is one that must be heard and seen as well as read. Thus the profuse illustrations found in the book (everything from never-before-seen photos from the secret Bell Labs to photos of musicians such as Afrika Bombaataa) and healthy dose of youtube videos found on blog posts about it.
First stop is Gary Warnett’s Gwarizm, which has nothing to do with fantasy outfits and ironic heavy metal. Instead it has everything to do with sneakers, the ironic fashion sense of hipsterism, periodicals and, well, music. The blog also has one of the better posts on Tompkins’ book and delivers it in lingo. No doubt.
Dave Tompkins is good. Really good. It’s worrying that the ability to edit blog posts and online content to your heart’s content could make writers complacent. The fear of editorial rejections and the finality of submitting to print is a fair motivator to improve your written word. Current hip-hop writing isn’t up to scratch it’s all top 10s in bite size controversy-heavy morsels or a link-heavy sentence above a Sendspace link. I need more.
Gwarizm is not Warnett’s only venue for sneaker lore and fashionably initiated culture commentary. You can also find him here and here.
Again, here’s the link to his piece on How To Wreck A Nice Beach.
Today’s second stop is the anonymously run but nonetheless worthy blog Frequency Response. FR’s post on Thompkins’ book is exactly the sort of mixed media format that perfectly suits the vocoder.
But don’t get me wrong. FR is not scared to use, you know, words;
A frequent, tired cliche about music writers is that many of them are failed musicians who wish they had the lyrical and musical skills of the artists they support/pan. I imagine there is some truth in that. But I am certain that most music writers would sell their soul for the lyrical gifts and creativity of someone like Dave Tompkins, whose new book is a testament to his gifts as a writer and interviewer.
Click through the link to read Frequency Report‘s wonderful book review that winds into a long list of embedded youtube videos of songs named in How To Wreck A Nice Beach. Not the least of which is Neil Young‘s “Transformer Man” or the Jonzun Crew‘s “Pack Jam.”
So enjoy blog peoples. On Monday we’ll be off to visit an amazing site on East Asian politics in reference to B.R. Myers‘ The Cleanest Race.
Paul Oliver is the marketing manager of Melville House. Previously he was co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia.