1797 Temperance Thermometer Measures the Moral & Physical Impact of Your Drinking Habits


Ques­tion for the drinkers out there:

Does strong beer tak­en in mod­er­ate quan­ti­ties at meal­times make you cheer­ful?

Yeah, me too!

That gives us a tem­per­a­ture of 10 accord­ing to 18th-cen­tu­ry physi­cian John Coak­ley Lett­som’s “moral and phys­i­cal ther­mome­ter,” one of his Hints Designed to Pro­mote Benef­i­cence, Tem­per­ance, and Med­ical Sci­ence (1797).

It’s noth­ing to be ashamed of—anything above zero con­sti­tutes a pass­ing score. The founder of the Med­ical Soci­ety of Lon­don, Lett­som was a pro­po­nent of true tem­per­ance, not total absti­nence. Accord­ing to his rubric, a “small beer” has all the virtues of milk and water.

Dip below a zero, though, and you’re in for a bumpy night.

Punch is appar­ent­ly the gate­way to such demon influ­ences as flip, shrub, whiskey and rum. Gosh. You may as well just skip the punch and go straight for the hard stuff, if, as in Lettsom’s view, they all end in the same vices and dis­eases.

Puk­ing and Tremors of the Hands in the Morn­ing?

Yes, on occa­sion.

Peev­ish­ness, Idle­ness, and Obscen­i­ty?

Yep, that too.

Mur­der, Mad­ness, and Death?

Mer­ci­ful­ly, no. At least not yet.

While not entire­ly free of stig­ma, alco­holism is now some­thing many view through the lens of AA, a prob­lem best reme­died through a sys­tem of per­son­al account­abil­i­ty shored up by a net­work of non­judg­men­tal, sym­pa­thet­ic sup­port.

Back in Lettsom’s day, when an alco­holic hit rock bot­tom, it was assumed he or she would stay there, a task made eas­i­er when the wages of this par­tic­u­lar sin includ­ed the poor house, a one way tick­et to the Botany Bay penal colony, and the gal­lows.

Such loom­ing con­se­quences are eas­i­ly laughed off when you’ve had a snoot, which may be why Lett­som also pub­lished the illus­trat­ed ver­sion of his ther­mome­ter below. A pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, par­tic­u­lar­ly when depict­ing the pre-Dick­en­sian mis­ery that awaits the drunk­ard and his fam­i­ly.

Termometro morall

via Rebec­ca Onion and Slate

Relat­ed Con­tent:

George Washington’s 110 Rules for Civil­i­ty and Decent Behav­ior

Thomas Jefferson’s Hand­writ­ten Vanil­la Ice Cream Recipe

“The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink”: An Ad for London’s First Cafe Print­ed Cir­ca 1652

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Hear the Album Björk Recorded as an 11-Year-Old: Features Cover Art Provided By Her Mom (1977)

bjork 11

Iceland’s biggest export, aside from vol­canic ash, is that pixy­ish pop singer, Björk. Or at least that’s how it seems in the Amer­i­can pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion. Björk’s first three of albums were pret­ty much required lis­ten­ing in cer­tain cir­cles dur­ing the ‘90s.  Since then, her stature in the indie world has only grown.

Yet before she had a run of beau­ti­ful and strange mas­ter­pieces; before she was sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly tor­tured in front of the cam­era by Lars Von Tri­er in Dancer in the Dark; and before she was singing about birth­days with her break­out band The Sug­ar­cubes, Björk cut her very first album. It was 1977, and Björk was only eleven.

Björk, whose name rhymes with “work” not “pork,” land­ed the record deal after a tape of her singing Tina Charles’ 1976 dis­co hit “I Love to Love” played on Iceland’s one and only radio sta­tion. The album, called sim­ply Björk, was some­thing of a fam­i­ly affair. While Björk sang and played the flute, her step­fa­ther Sævar Árna­son played gui­tar while her mom, Hildur Hauks­dót­tir, designed the album cov­er. (See above.) Over­all, the record sounds exact­ly like what you might expect an Ice­landic album from the ‘70s sung by a tweenaged chanteuse might sound like – part Abba, part King Crim­son and part ear­ly Miley Cyrus. Björk does pret­ty groovy cov­ers of The Bea­t­les’ “Fool on the Hill” (top) and Syree­ta Wright’s “Your Kiss is Sweet (mid­dle),” both sung in Ice­landic. There’s also an equal­ly groovy psy­che­del­ic instru­men­tal track ded­i­cat­ed to painter Jóhannes Kjar­val, (below) whose work is on Ice­landic cur­ren­cy. Björk report­ed­ly went plat­inum in Ice­land. You can lis­ten to more tracks from that album on WFMU.

via WFMU

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Björk and Sir David Atten­bor­ough Team Up in a New Doc­u­men­tary About Music and Tech­nol­o­gy

Ice­land in the Mid­night Sun

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing one new draw­ing of a vice pres­i­dent with an octo­pus on his head dai­ly.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

Sylvia Plath Reads Her Poetry: 23 Poems from the Last 6 Years of Her Life

In March of last year, Toron­to col­lec­tor Greg Gaten­by auc­tioned off “some 1,700 LPs, 45s, and 10-inch discs”-worth of record­ed lit­er­ary his­to­ry, con­tain­ing read­ings by such canon­i­cal fig­ures as “Auden and Atwood, Camus and Capote, Eliot, Faulkn­er, Kipling, Shaw and Yeats,” and the record­ings fea­tured here from Sylvia Plath. Gatenby’s entire col­lec­tion went on sale for a buy-it-now price of $85,000 (I assume it’s sold by now), and while we might have pre­ferred that he donat­ed these arti­facts to libraries, there may have been no need. Most of them are already, or we hope soon will be, dig­i­tized and free online. Sylvia Plath read­ing her poet­ry (now out of print) was orig­i­nal­ly released on vinyl and cas­sette in 1977 by pro­lif­ic spo­ken word record label Caed­mon, but of course the read­ings they doc­u­ment all took place over fif­teen years ear­li­er, some at least as ear­ly as 1959, the year before the pub­li­ca­tion of her first book, The Colos­sus and Oth­er Poems.

Many of the poems here appeared in The Colos­sus, the only col­lec­tion of poems Plath pub­lished in her life­time. Some, like “Novem­ber Graveyard”—first pub­lished in Made­moi­selle in 1958—were col­lect­ed late, in the Ted Hugh­es-edit­ed Col­lect­ed Poems in 1981, and the rest appeared in Ariel and oth­er posthu­mous col­lec­tions. Odd­ly, the title poem of her first book doesn’t appear, nor will you hear any of the poems that made Plath an infa­mous lit­er­ary fig­ure: no “Ariel,” no “Dad­dy,” no “Lady Lazarus,” though you can hear her read those poems else­where. Many of these poems are more lush, less vis­cer­al and per­son­al, though no less rich with arrest­ing and some­times dis­turb­ing imagery. Sev­er­al of these read­ings took place in Feb­ru­ary 1959 at Harvard’s Wood­ber­ry Poet­ry Room. The album’s offi­cial descrip­tion tells us these are “selec­tions from the last 6 years of her life,” and also include “read­ings for the BBC before she wrote her con­tro­ver­sial nov­el, The Bell Jar.”

Before Caed­mon col­lect­ed these less­er-known poems record­ed read­ings of “Dad­dy” and “Lady Lazarus” had already been released on the com­pi­la­tion record The Poet Speaks in 1965. Lis­ten­ing to Plath read these poems may prompt you to pull out your own edi­tions to read them for your­self, whether again or for the first time. To see a full list­ing of the poems Plath reads above, scroll to the bot­tom of this bib­li­og­ra­phy page on sylviaplath.info.

Find more great poet­ry read­ings in our audio col­lec­tion — 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Sylvia Plath Read Fif­teen Poems From Her Final Col­lec­tion, Ariel, in 1962 Record­ing

For Sylvia Plath’s 81st Birth­day, Hear Her Read ‘A Birth­day Present’

Sylvia Plath Reads “Dad­dy”

Lady Lazarus: Watch an Exper­i­men­tal Film Spo­ken by Sylvia Plath

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

Christopher Walken Reads Where The Wild Things Are

Per­haps you saw Spike Jonze and Dave Egger’s twee, sun­lit, aching­ly earnest adap­ta­tion of the Mau­rice Sendak clas­sic Where the Wild Things Are. Per­haps you found it irre­sistibly charm­ing. Per­haps, how­ev­er, you missed the sharp edges of Sendak’s lean adven­ture, its under­cur­rent of fer­al vio­lence, its flir­ta­tions with mat­ri­cide and can­ni­bal­ism. Well who bet­ter to con­vey such fright­en­ing under­tones than mas­ter of casu­al men­ace Christo­pher Walken?

Just above, hear him read Wild Things like you’ve nev­er heard it before. Walken’s inter­po­lat­ed com­men­tary on the illus­tra­tions draws our atten­tion to a few fea­tures we prob­a­bly missed in our sev­er­al hun­dred read­ings of the book, such as the pos­si­ble sui­cide of Max’s ted­dy bear and a poten­tial swarm of giant insects in his trans­formed bed­room. After you hear Walken’s take, Max’s harm­less sup­per­time day­dream might give you night­mares.

Walken has long enjoyed enter­tain­ing the kid­dies with his creepy inter­pre­ta­tions of children’s sto­ries. Just above see him read the Three Lit­tle Pigs in 1993 on the British com­e­dy series Sat­ur­day Zoo. Once again, he adds his own explana­to­ry com­ments. He’s a lit­tle more Bil­ly Crys­tal than Cap­tain Koons this time, and if his deliv­ery doesn’t make you LOL, his day-glo sweater and wick­er throne won’t fail to. Host Jonathan Ross liked the read­ing so much he invit­ed Walken to read again in 2009 on his BBC show Fri­day Night with Jonathan Ross. This one’s for the old­er kids—a dead­pan ren­di­tion of Lada Gaga’s “Pok­er Face,” below. Can’t get enough of Walken’s read­ings? Don’t miss Kevin Pollack’s spot-on par­o­dy of the actor Mick­ey Rourke once called a “strange being from anoth­er place.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” Read by Christo­pher Walken, Vin­cent Price, and Christo­pher Lee

Hor­ror Leg­end Christo­pher Lee Presents a Heavy Met­al Ver­sion of The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy

Lou Reed Rewrites Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” See Read­ings by Reed and Willem Dafoe

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

The Only Footage of Mark Twain: The Original & Digitally Restored Films Shot by Thomas Edison

We know what Mark Twain looked like, and we think we know what he sound­ed like. Just above see what he looked like in motion, strolling around Storm­field, his house in Red­ding, Connecticut—signature white suit draped loose­ly around his frame, sig­na­ture cig­ar puff­ing white smoke between his fin­gers. After Twain’s leisure­ly walk along the house’s façade, we see him with his daugh­ters, Clara and Jean, seat­ed indoors. Above you can see the orig­i­nal murky ver­sion, fea­tured on our site way back in 2010Here, a dig­i­tal restora­tion (which we can’t embed) does won­ders for the watch­a­bil­i­ty of this price­less silent arti­fact, so vivid­ly cap­tur­ing the writer/contrarian/raconteur’s essence that you’ll find your­self reach­ing to turn the vol­ume up, expect­ing to hear that famil­iar cur­mud­geon­ly drawl.

Shot by Thomas Edi­son in 1909, the short film is most like­ly the only mov­ing image of Twain in exis­tence. We might assume that Edi­son also record­ed Twain’s voice, since we seem to know it so well, from por­tray­als of the great Amer­i­can humorist in pop cul­tur­al touch­stones like Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion and par­o­dies by Alec Bald­win and Val Kilmer. Kilmer’s sur­pris­ing­ly fun­ny in the role, but he doesn’t come near the pitch per­fect imper­son­ation Hal Holbrook’s been giv­ing us for the bet­ter part of six­ty years in his mas­ter­ful Mark Twain Tonight. Holbrook’s vocal man­ner­isms have become a defin­i­tive mod­el for actors play­ing Twain on stage and screen.

Giv­en the num­ber of Twain vocal imper­son­ations out there, and Edis­on’s inter­est in doc­u­ment­ing the author, we might be sur­prised to learn that no orig­i­nal record­ings of his voice exist. Twain, we find out in the short film below, exper­i­ment­ed with audio record­ing tech­nol­o­gy, but aban­doned his efforts. It seems that none of the wax cylin­ders he worked with have survived—perhaps he destroyed them him­self.

As nar­ra­tor Rod Rawlings—himself a Twain imper­son­ator and afi­ciona­do—informs us, what we do have is a record­ing made in 1934 by actor and play­wright William Gillette,  an able mim­ic of Twain, his patron and long­time neigh­bor. Like Hol­brook, Gillette spent a good part of his career trav­el­ing from town to town play­ing Mark Twain. Above, you’ll hear Gillette address a class of stu­dents at Har­vard, first in his own voice, then in the voice of the author, read­ing from “The Cel­e­brat­ed Jump­ing Frog of Calav­eras Coun­ty.” Gillet­te’s per­for­mance is like­ly the clos­est we’ll ever come to hear­ing the voice of the real Twain, whose major works appear in our col­lec­tion of 550 Free Audio Books and 600 Free eBooks.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mark Twain Plays With Elec­tric­i­ty in Niko­la Tesla’s Lab (Pho­to, 1894)

Mark Twain Wrote the First Book Ever Writ­ten With a Type­writer

Rare Record­ing of Con­tro­ver­sial­ist, Jour­nal­ist and Amer­i­can Lit­er­ary & Social Crit­ic, H.L. Menck­en

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

Martin Scorsese’s New Documentary on The New York Review of Books Airs Tonight on HBO

A quick note: Tonight, HBO will air the pre­miere of The 50 Year Argu­ment. That’s Mar­tin Scors­ese’s new doc­u­men­tary about the influ­en­tial lit­er­ary and aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nal, The New York Review of Books.

Writes The New York Times: “Robert Sil­vers has assigned thou­sands of pieces for The New York Review of Books, so why not a doc­u­men­tary film? “The 50 Year Argu­ment” … orig­i­nat­ed along the same lines as one of the lengthy, learned arti­cles in The Review: Mr. Sil­vers sought out a tal­ent­ed essay­ist, in this case Mar­tin Scors­ese, and asked him to explore a sub­ject — the magazine’s 50-year his­to­ry — that he was pas­sion­ate about but not expert in.” The result is a “tex­tured and smart but thor­ough­ly cel­e­bra­to­ry, a paean to the mag­a­zine and the amaz­ing­ly durable Mr. Sil­vers, now 84.”

Regret­tably, the film isn’t avail­able online. But you can watch the trail­er above and then a long Q&A about the film. Record­ed in Berlin ear­li­er this year, the Q&A fea­tures Scors­ese on the stage, along with David Tedeschi (his co-direc­tor), NYRB edi­tor Robert Sil­vers, pub­lish­er Rea Hed­er­man, and con­trib­u­tor Michael Green­berg.

We have many oth­er heady doc­u­men­taries (where else?) on our list of 200 Free Doc­u­men­taries Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies

Longform’s New, Free App Lets You Read Great Jour­nal­ism from Your Favorite Pub­lish­ers (includ­ing The New York Review of Books)

Revis­it Mar­tin Scorsese’s Hand-Drawn Sto­ry­boards for Taxi Dri­ver

Mar­tin Scorsese’s Very First Films: Three Imag­i­na­tive Short Works

Glenn Gould Gives Us a Tour of Toronto, His Beloved Hometown (1979)

I write this from Toron­to, hav­ing come to explore, record inter­views in, write about, and gen­er­al­ly try to under­stand this big, busy, famous­ly diverse, and some­times form­less-seem­ing metrop­o­lis Cana­di­ans appre­ci­ate and resent in equal mea­sure. Despite the dif­fi­cul­ty of defin­ing or even describ­ing it, the city has nur­tured impres­sive minds. If not Cana­di­an your­self, you might strug­gle to come up with a list of notable Toron­to­ni­ans, but sure­ly names like Mar­garet Atwood, David Cro­nen­berg, Frank Gehry, Joni Mitchell, and Mar­shall McLuhan ring bells. Despite hav­ing passed in 1982, pianist-com­pos­er Glenn Gould may still rank as the city’s best-known cul­tur­al ambas­sador. “I’m not real­ly cut out for city liv­ing, and giv­en my druthers I’d prob­a­bly avoid all cities and live in the coun­try,” he said in 1979. “Toron­to, how­ev­er, belongs on a very short list of cities which I’ve vis­it­ed and which seem to offer to me, at any rate, peace of mind — cities which, for want of a bet­ter def­i­n­i­tion, do not oppose their city­ness upon you.”

He says it at the very begin­ning of Glenn Gould’s Toron­to, which spends the rest of its 50 min­utes explor­ing not just the city itself but Gould’s ideas of its nature. The doc­u­men­tary, which orig­i­nal­ly aired as an episode of the CBC series Cities, fol­lows him from the CN Tow­er which looms over Toron­to to the water­front (on what he calls “the least great of the Great Lakes”) to the grounds of the Cana­di­an Nation­al Exhi­bi­tion (a siz­able event with a “spir­it out of a small-town fall fair”) to the then-new city hall. Along the way, his mono­logue touch­es on the peace and qui­et Toron­to offers him, the reflex­ive dis­taste it can inspire in oth­ers, the “cul­tur­al mosa­ic” to which it plays host (some­times insis­tent­ly), the way it sur­vived the 1960s with­out endur­ing the dis­as­trous hol­low­ing-out Amer­i­can cities did, and the friend­ly rival­ry it enjoys with Mon­tre­al. Gould’s clear, ana­lyt­i­cal man­ner of speech deliv­ers a stream of point­ed obser­va­tions, dry jokes, and child­hood mem­o­ries, reveal­ing his nuanced life­long rela­tion­ship with the city: not the sim­ple one of a boost­er, nor the even sim­pler one of a detrac­tor. But then, Gould nev­er had any­thing sim­ple about him — nor, as I’ve come to find out this past week, does Toron­to.

You can find Glenn Gould’s Toron­to in our col­lec­tion of Free Doc­u­men­taries.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Glenn Gould Per­form His Last Great Stu­dio Record­ing of Bach’s Gold­berg Vari­a­tions (1981)

Glenn Gould Explains the Genius of Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach (1962)

Glenn Gould Offers a Strik­ing­ly Uncon­ven­tion­al Inter­pre­ta­tion of 1806 Beethoven Com­po­si­tion

The Art of Fugue: Gould Plays Bach

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A 1932 Illustrated Map of Harlem’s Night Clubs: From the Cotton Club to the Savoy Ballroom

32 Harlem Map

Harlem’s under­go­ing anoth­er Renais­sance of late. Crime’s down, real estate prices are up, and throngs of pale-faced hip­sters are descend­ing to check the area out.

Sure, something’s gained, but some­thing’s lost, too.

For today’s hol­i­day in Harlem, we’re going to climb in the Way­back Machine. Set the dial for 1932. Don’t for­get your map. (Click the image above to view a larg­er ver­sion.)

This deliri­ous arti­fact comes cour­tesy of Elmer Simms Camp­bell (1906–1971), an artist whose race proved an imped­i­ment to career advance­ment in his native Mid­west. Not long after relo­cat­ing to New York City, he had the good for­tune to be befriend­ed by the great Cab Cal­loway, star of the Cot­ton Club. Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho! Check the low­er left cor­ner of your map.

You may notice that the com­pass rose devi­ates rather dras­ti­cal­ly from estab­lished norms. As you’ve no doubt heard, the Bronx is up, and the Battery’s down, but not in this case. Were you to choose those trees in the upper left cor­ner as your start­ing point, you’d be at the top of Cen­tral Park, basi­cal­ly equidis­tant from the east and west sides. (Take the 2 or the 3 to 110th St…)

But keep in mind that this map is not drawn to scale. I know it looks like the joints are jump­ing from the sec­ond you step off the curb, but in real­i­ty, you’ll need to hoof it 21 blocks from the top of Cen­tral Park to 131st street for things to start cookin’. Hope­ful­ly, this geo­graph­i­cal lib­er­ty won’t get you too hot under the col­lar. And if it does, well, it may be Pro­hi­bi­tion, but stress-reliev­ing bev­er­ages await you in every loca­tion list­ed, as well as in some 500 speakeasies Camp­bell allowed to remain on the down low.

If that does­n’t do it for you, there’s a guy sell­ing reefer across the street from Earl “Snake­hips” Tuck­er.

As you stag­ger back and forth between Sev­enth Avenue to Lenox (now referred to as Adam Clay­ton Pow­ell Jr. Boule­vard and Mal­colm X), bear in mind that Camp­bell was the first African-Amer­i­can car­toon­ist to be nation­al­ly pub­lished in the New York­er, Play­boy, and Esquire, whose bug-eyed, now retired mas­cot, Esky, was a Camp­bell cre­ation.

In the end, he was an extreme­ly suc­cess­ful illus­tra­tor, though few of his cre­ations are reflec­tive of his race.

The map above, which did dou­ble duty as end­pa­pers for Calloway’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Of Min­nie the Moocher and Me, is far clos­er to home.

Right above, see Cab Cal­loway per­form “Hotcha Razz Ma Tazz” at the famous Cot­ton Club, in Harlem, 1935.

via Big Think

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Langston Hugh­es Read Poet­ry from His First Col­lec­tion, The Weary Blues (1958)

Duke Ellington’s Sym­pho­ny in Black, Star­ring a 19-Year-old Bil­lie Hol­i­day

Rare Record­ing of Con­tro­ver­sial­ist, Jour­nal­ist and Amer­i­can Lit­er­ary & Social Crit­ic, H.L. Menck­en

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, Hoos-York­er, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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