David Bowie’s Lost Album Toy Will Get an Official Release: Hear the First Track “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving”

To the serious Bowie fan, the unreleased self-covers album Toy is not a secret. This collection of reworked pre-“Space Oddity” songs recorded with his touring band from his 2000 Glastonbury appearance was bootlegged a year after it was shelved in 2001. And it has been re-pressed illegally nearly every year since, sometimes as Toy and sometimes as The Lost Album. Some of the fourteen cuts popped up as b-sides over the years, but the whole album? Maybe, fans thought…one day.

Well, that one day is here, as the first single “You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving” dropped yesterday along with an announcement for a larger 90’s-encompassing box set release coming soon after.
According to Chris O’Leary’s Pushing Ahead of the Dame webpage—which you really should bookmark if you haven’t yet—the original version of “You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving” was written when he was only 18, and earned him a reprimand from none other than The Who’s Pete Townshend. ”You’re trying to write like me!” said Pete.


You can totally hear the Who influence in the chorus of the version released by Davy Jones and the Lower Third, which apes the fuzz-guitar freak-outs from “My Generation.”

Three and a half decades and multiple Bowie-incarnations later, and the former Davy Jones decided to look back at those hungry early years and redo some of his songs.

The plan in 2000 was to gather his band and record an album old-school, live, in studio, with all the energy and sometimes sloppiness that used to happen in the 1960s, when most bands got at most two days to record their first albums. The first Beatles album was recorded this way, and look where that got them.

But this also afforded Bowie a chance to fix the weaknesses of those original songs in structure and arrangement. Says O’Leary: “The new version is longer, far more elaborately produced, far more professionally played and it still sounds like a Who knock-off, only a knock-off of The Who ca. 1999. That said, Bowie sings it well and it does finally rock out at the end.”

Bowie’s plan was to quickly finish Toy and drop it unannounced as a surprise to his fans. This is commonplace now—Beyonce and Radiohead have done similar secret releases—but EMI freaked out, balked, and their reaction ultimately led Bowie to leave the label.

Other songs reimagined on Toy include “Liza Jane,” Bowie’s debut single from 1964; “Silly Boy Blue” from his first self-titled 1967 LP; and “The London Boys” a 1966 B-side. The album also includes songs that didn’t make it on the bootlegs: “Karma Man,” the original of which turned up on Bowie at the Beeb from a 1968 session, and “Can’t Help Thinking About Me,” originally released in 1966.

The release will be part of Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) an 11-CD or 18-LP box set that will focus on Bowie’s third decade. Toy will be released separately as a 3-CD release called Toy:Box, containing “alternate mixes and outtakes.” Better save your pennies!

Related Content:

When David Bowie Launched His Own Internet Service Provider: The Rise and Fall of BowieNet (1998)

In 1999, David Bowie Predicts the Good and Bad of the Internet: “We’re on the Cusp of Something Exhilarating and Terrifying”

How David Bowie Used William S. Burroughs’ Cut-Up Method to Write His Unforgettable Lyrics

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

See Every Nuclear Explosion in History: 2153 Blasts from 1945-2015

There have been more than 2,000 nuclear explosions in all of history — which, in the case of the technology required to detonate a nuclear explosion, goes back only 76 years. It all began, according to the animated video above, on July 16, 1945, with the nuclear device code-named Trinity. The fruit of the labors of the Manhattan Project, its explosion famously brought to the mind of theoretical physicist Robert J. Oppenhemier a passage from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” But however revelatory a spectacle Trinity provided, it turned out merely to be the overture of the nuclear age.

Created by Ehsan Rezaie of Orbital Mechanics, the video offers a simple-looking but deceptively information-rich presentation of every nuclear explosion that has so far occurred. It belongs to a perhaps unlikely but nevertheless decisively established genre, the animated nuclear-explosion time-lapse, of which we’ve previously featured examples from Business Insider’s Alex Kuzoian and artist Isao Hasimoto here on Open Culture.


The size of each circle that erupts on the world map indicates the relative power of the explosion in its location (all information also provided in the scrolling text on the lower left); those detonated underground appear in yellow, those detonated underwater in blue, and those detonated in the atmosphere in red.

Trinity created an atmospheric explosion above New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert. (Otherwise Oppenheimer wouldn’t have been able to witness it change the world.) So did Little Boy and Fat Man, the bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. Those remain the only detonations of nuclear weapons in combat, and thus the nuclear explosions everyone knows, but they, too, represent only the beginning. As the Cold War sets in, something of a testing volley emerges between the United States and the Soviet Union, culminating in the colossal red dot of 1961’s Tsar Bomba, still the most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested. With the USSR long gone today, the explosions have only slowed. But in recent years, as the data on which this video is based indicates, nuclear testing has turned into a one-player game — and that player is North Korea.

Related Content:

Every Nuclear Bomb Explosion in History, Animated

53 Years of Nuclear Testing in 14 Minutes: A Time Lapse Film by Japanese Artist Isao Hashimoto

200 Haunting Videos of U.S. Nuclear Tests Now Declassified and Put Online

Watch Chilling Footage of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Bombings in Restored Color

U.S. Detonates Nuclear Weapons in Space; People Watch Spectacle Sipping Drinks on Rooftops (1962)

J. Robert Oppenheimer Explains How He Recited a Line from Bhagavad Gita–“Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds” — Upon Witnessing the First Nuclear Explosion

Haunting Unedited Footage of the Bombing of Nagasaki (1945)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Jim Henson’s Farewell: Revisit the “Nice, Friendly” Memorial Service at St. John the Divine (1990)

Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it. — Jim Henson

Born in Greenville, Mississippi, Jim Henson spent his youth practicing the tenets of Christian Science, a faith he would officially renounce in 1975. But the power of positive thinking his early religion years instilled would persist, romanticized by his alter-ego, Kermit the Frog, and tempered by foils like the earthy, irascible Ms. Piggy. For every foul-mouthed Oscar the Grouch, there was always a lovable Big Bird, “Jim taught us many things: to save the planet, be kind to each other, praise God, and be silly,” said Muppet writer Jerry Juhl at Henson’s 1990 New York City memorial service. “That’s how I’ll remember him — as a man who was balanced effortlessly and gracefully between the sacred and the silly.”

Henson’s first memorial, held at the cavernous Cathedral of St. John the Divine bore witness to Juhl’s portrait of the late, brilliant creator’s legacy. In true Henson fashion, the puppeteer directed the event himself from beyond the grave, a final lighthearted joke, as he had written in a letter to his family four years earlier: “It feels strange writing this while I am still alive, but it wouldn’t be easy after I go …. This all may seem silly to you guys, but what the hell, I’m gone and who can argue with me?”


By “this all,” Henson meant a funeral service in which guests were forbidden to wear black and asked to mourn and celebrate to the tunes of a Dixieland brass band: “A nice, friendly little service,” he wrote in his instructions, with a “rousing” soundtrack.

To the sounds of jazz, his friends and family added — of course — the songs that defined Henson’s career, including “Sunny Day,” the Sesame Street theme song, Muppets anthem “The Rainbow Connection,” and — in a second memorial service held two months later at St. Paul’s in London — Kermit the Frog’s anthem, “It’s Not Easy Being Green” (above) sung by Big Bird and Oscar puppeteer Caroll Spinney. (Spinney passed away in 2019.) Both Henson memorials were solemn (unavoidable given the occasion and the venues) but also decidedly silly, as story after story about the man poured forth from those who knew him best.

In the Defunctland video at the top, you can see Henson’s friend and frequent collaborator Juhl take the pulpit at St. John the Divine to tell his favorite Henson story of working on their first show in 1955, Sam and Friends, a local Washington, D.C. live-action/puppet program that gave birth to Kermit. Doubting the joke at the heart of a sketch, Juhl went to Henson with his misgivings; and Henson replied, “It’s a terrible joke, but it’s worthy of us.” The laughter that rumbles through the crowd is characteristic of both funeral services, which feel far more intimate than they are. Or as Henson’s son Brian says in his tribute, “Sorry Dad. Little service, big place.” See the full New York funeral service for Henson just below.

Related Content:

Witness the Birth of Kermit the Frog in Jim Henson’s Live TV Show, Sam and Friends (1955)

Jim Henson Creates an Experimental Animation Explaining How We Get Ideas (1966)

The Creative Life of Jim Henson Explored in a Six-Part Documentary Series

Watch Blondie’s Debbie Harry Perform “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog on The Muppet Show (1981)

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

Nirvana Refuses to Mime Along to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on Top of the Pops (1991)

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, first released on September 24, 1991, “the day,” writes Michael Tedder at Stereogum, “that college radio-nurtured types and arty hard rock officially became rebranded as Alternative Rock, and, according to legend, everything changed forever.” You might believe that legend even if you remember the reality. Yes, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was just as huge as everybody says — and, yes, you likely recall where you were when you first saw the video or heard the song explode with Pixies-inspired quiet-loud ferocity from the radio. But the change was already on the way.

Nirvana emerged in a pop music landscape slowly becoming saturated with alternative music. You might also remember where you were the first time you saw the video for Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence,” for example, or R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” or Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” — or when you first experienced the dynamic/melodic assault of the aforementioned Pixies, virtual alt-rock elders by the time they released Trompe Le Monde, their fourth studio album, in the same September week that Nevermind appeared. (You may remember where you were the first time you heard the word “Lollapalooza,” first organized in 1991.)


The fateful week in September also saw the release of 90s-defining albums like Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory. In the year that Nevermind supposedly single-handedly invented “grunge,” Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger and Pearl Jam released Ten. It’s fair to say Nirvana were one of just many bands reinventing themselves and the culture. Even the hair metal bands and teen pop idols Nirvana put out of business were already trying to make more serious, “authentic” music before Nevermind turned every executive’s head.

Kurt Cobain was already well aware — and wary — of the dangers of hero worship and blind allegiance to style over substance. It was an attitude he came by naturally given that, in 1991, his friends in Olympia, Washington founded an indie record label called Kill Rock Stars. He’d written an anthem, “In Bloom,” about it before anyone heard the opening power chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” As he pursued, with rigorous ambition, the power of rock stardom, he rejected its trappings and pretensions, as when the band appeared on Top of the Pops and took the piss out of the show, rather than mime along dutifully, as Mark Beaumont writes at NME:

Pretending to strum his guitar like a robot and making no attempt to go anywhere near an actual chord – presumably a statement about being asked to perform like a mechanical puppet – Kurt launches into his vocal in deep, theatrical baritone, an homage to Morrissey that comes across more like Jim Morrison on mogadon. Meanwhile Krist Novoselic flails his bass around his head like he’s wrestling a live wolf and Dave Grohl’s ‘drumming’ is more like an interpretive dance to represent ‘goofy imp’. Oh, and heaven knows what the TOTP censors thought of Kurt changing the opening lyrics to “load up on drugs, kill your friends” before trying to eat the microphone. 

In light of the groundswell of alternative bands emerging — or still plugging away — at the time of Nevermind’s release, the myth of Nirvana as the single-handed inventors of 90s alt-rock is more than a little overblown. This is especially so in a decade that saw electronic dance music and hip hop cross over into rock and vice-versa, a trend Nirvana had nothing to do with. They were a thunderingly great band, and Kurt Cobain was a rare and gifted songwriter, but the heart of Nirvana’s popular appeal was extra-musical. The band — meaning, principally, Cobain — most honestly embodied the spirit of the time: painfully ambivalent and at war with its aspirations. “Kurt — I would call him a windmill,” says bassist Krist Novoselic. “He wanted to be a rock star — and he hated it.”

Related Content: 

The Recording Secrets of Nirvana’s Nevermind Revealed by Producer Butch Vig

How Nirvana’s Iconic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Came to Be: An Animated Video Narrated by T-Bone Burnett Tells the True Story

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s Headbanging Cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

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

America’s First Banned Book: Discover the 1637 Book That Mocked the Puritans

In the contest for the title of the most American historical figure of them all, Thomas Morton‘s name can’t be left out. Businesslike, litigious, given to rhapsodies over nature, and not resistant to turning celebrity, he was also — in a characteristically American manner — born elsewhere. Back in Devon, England, he’d made his name as a lawyer, representing members of the lower class in court, but in 1622 he was hired by investor Sir Ferdinando Gorges on a trip to handle his affairs in the North American colonies. This was just two years after the founding of Plymouth Colony, whose success had inspired many an English businessman to contemplate getting in on the New World action himself. In 1624, Gorges sent Morton across the Atlantic again, this time with everything needed to found a colony of his own.

Morton was not a Puritan, nor was he “on board with the strict, insular, and pious society they had hoped to build for themselves,” as Atlas Obscura’s Matthew Taub puts it. Though his own colony of Merrymount became Plymouth’s rival in the fur trade, for the Puritans “the problem wasn’t only that Morton was taking goods and commerce away from Plymouth, but that he was giving that business to the Native Americans, including trading guns to the Algonquins. With Plymouth’s monopoly dissolved and its perceived enemies armed, Morton had perhaps done more than anyone else to undermine the Puritan project in Massachusetts.” And that was before Morton erected Merrymount’s 80-foot, antler-topped maypole, around which he invited residents to “drink, dance, and frolic.”


Obviously, Morton’s reign as a “lord of misrule” (as Plymouth’s governor William Bradford deemed him) could not be borne for long. “During the 1628 festivities, a Puritan militia led by Myles Standish invaded Merrymount and chopped down the maypole,” writes Taub, noting that the incident inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1832 short story “The May-Pole of Merry Mount.” Morton also turned out to be an able chronicler of the period himself, at least after the subsequent tribulations that saw him sentenced to death by starvation, helped to survive by the Native American tribes with whom he had maintained good relations, safely returned to England, and frustrated in his attempts to return to the colonies. Around 1630, he did what any true American, official or aspiring, would do: put together a lawsuit.

Morton demanded, writes World History Encyclopedia’s Joshua Mark, “that the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony demonstrate by what authority they exercised their power,” arguing for the revocation of its charter “because the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony had not only misrepresented themselves in obtaining the charter but had no right to colonize the region in the first place as it was legally in Gorges’ patent.” As the long (and in any case futile) legal proceedings dragged on, Morton got the idea of turning his extensive briefs for the trial into “a three-volume work of history, natural history, satire, and poetry” called New English Canaan, a Biblical allusion underscoring Morton’s critical view of the Puritans as “abusing the natives and the land for profit and then justifying their actions in the name of their god and the scriptures.”

Linda Cantoni at Hot off the Press writes that “the first two books of New English Canaan are mostly non-controversial, containing Morton’s observations on the native Americans, whom he respected greatly, and on the rich natural resources in New England. It was in the third book that Morton rolled up his sleeves and got down to his real purpose of skewering the New England Puritans, who, he said, ‘make a great shewe of Religion, but no humanity.'” As a result, writes Mental Floss’ Jake Rossen, “his book was perceived as an all-out attack on Puritan morality, and they didn’t take kindly to it. So they banned it,” making New English Canaan what Christie’s called “America’s first banned book” when they auctioned a copy off for $60,000. But you can read it for free at Project Gutenberg, bearing in mind the most American lesson of all from the life of Thomas Morton: when all else fails, publish a tell-all memoir.

via Atlas Obscura

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Read 14 Great Banned & Censored Novels Free Online: For Banned Books Week 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Incensed Letter to the High School That Burned Slaughterhouse-Five

When Christmas Was Legally Banned for 22 Years by the Puritans in Colonial Massachusetts

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Why Scientists Can’t Recreate the Sound of Stradivarius Violins: The Mystery of Their Inimitable Sound

In his influential 1936 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” critic Walter Benjamin used the word “aura” to describe an artwork’s “presence in time and space” — an explanation of the thrill, or chill, we get from standing before a Jackson Pollock, say, or a Michelangelo, rather than a photograph of the same. Writing in the age of radio, photography, and newspapers, Benjamin believed that aura could not be transmitted or copied: “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element” — that rare thing that makes art worth preserving and reproducing in the first place.

Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that musical instruments have aura — that the very sounds they make are its manifestation, and that, no matter how sophisticated our technology, we may never reproduce those sounds perfectly. As Hank Green explains in the SciShow video above: “For centuries, musicians, instrument makers, engineers, and scientists have been trying to understand and reproduce the ‘Stradivarius’ sound. They’ve investigated everything from the materials their maker used to how he crafted the violins. But the mystique is still there.” Can science solve the mystery?


At heart, the question seems to be whether the aural qualities of a Stradivari instrument can be plucked from their time and place of origin and made fungible, so to speak, across the centuries. Antonio Stradivari (his name is often Latinized to “Stradivarius”) began making violins in the 1600s and continued, with his sons Francesco and Omobono, until his death in 1737, producing around 1000 instruments, most of which were violins. About 650 of those instruments survive today, and approximately 500 of those are violins, ranging in value from tens of millions to priceless.

Green surveys the techniques, materials, physics, and chemical composition of Stradivari violins “to understand why Stradivarius violins have been so hard to recreate.” Their sound has been described as “silvery,” says Green, a word that sounds pretty but has little technical meaning. Rather than rely on adjectives, researchers from diverse fields have tried to work from the objects themselves — analyzing and attempting to recreate the violins’ shape, construction, materials, etc. They’ve learned that time and place matter more than they supposed.

The wood of a Stradivari violin “really is different,” Green says, “but because Stradivari never wrote down his process, researchers can’t quite tell why.” That wood itself grew in a process over which Stradivari had no control. The alpine spruce he used came from trees harvested “at the edge of Europe’s Little Ice Age, a 70-year period of unseasonably cold weather … that slowed tree growth and made for even more consistent wood.” We begin to see the difficulties. One researcher, Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus of biochemistry at Texas A&M University, recently made another discovery. As Texas A&M Today notes:

[Stradivari and fellow maker Guarneri] soaked their instruments in chemicals such as borax and brine to protect them from a worm infestation that was sweeping through Italy in the 1700s. By pure accident the chemicals used to protect the wood had the unintended result of producing the unique sounds that have been almost impossible to duplicate in the past 400 years.

Perhaps we cannot duplicate the sound because none of us is Antonio Stradivari, working with his sons in the early 18th century in Cremona, Italy, building violins with a unique crop of alpine spruce while fighting unseasonably cold weather and worms.

Related Content: 

What Makes the Stradivarius Special? It Was Designed to Sound Like a Female Soprano Voice, With Notes Sounding Like Vowels, Says Researcher

Watch Priceless 17-Century Stradivarius and Amati Violins Get Taken for a Test Drive by Professional Violinists

Why Stradivarius Violins Are Worth Millions

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

Stand-Up Comedy in the Internet Age — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #106

 

Your host Mark Linsenmayer discusses how Internet culture has changed stand-up with three comedians: past Pretty Much Pop guests Rodney Ramsey (who co-owns the Unknown Comedy Club) and Daniel Lobell (host of Modern Day Philosophers and author of the Fair Enough comic), plus Dena Jackson (also a speaker on yoga and mindfulness and host of The Ego Podcast).

How does the existence of YouTube, social media, and virtual spaces changed the way comedians construct a set, relate to their fans, and make a living? We talk about story-telling vs. one-liners, repping your hometown, comedy cliques, surviving negativity, and more.

Some articles that go into these issues further include:

Follow @TheUnknownVenue, @Denatalks, and @DanielLobell.

This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

How New Yorkers Dodged Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws by Inventing the World’s Worst Sandwich

Three men feast on free lunch in a drawing by Charles Dana Gibson

In one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, beer-swilling Homer falls in love with a sandwich. He spends his days nibbling away at the “sickening, festering remains of a 10-foot hoagie,” Nathan Rabin writes, “long after decency, self-respect, and survival would all seem to dictate throwing it out.” The sandwich may be yet another instance of the show pulling some obscure detail from American history for comic effect — or maybe writer David M. Stern read Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, in which the playwright describes “an old desiccated ruin of dust-laden bread and mummified ham or cheese.”

O’Neill’s sandwich is so historical, it has a name, the Raines Sandwich, named after New York State Senator John Raines, the author of an 1896 law that raised the cost of liquor licenses substantially, upped the drinking age from sixteen to eighteen, and banned alcoholic beverages on Sundays except in large hotels and lodging houses which served a complimentary meal with their drinks. The law targeted working people and their one day of respite, and it hit bar owners hard. “After all,” writes the Irish Examiner, “labourers mostly worked six days a week, with Sunday their only full day for drinking, and Sunday was the most profitable day for saloons.”


The complimentary-meal-with-drinks mandate, as it were, was designed so that wealthy patrons at luxury hotels could drink on Sundays, but low-rent saloon owners seized on the loophole, transforming dive bars into rooming houses overnight with tablecloths and “alleged bedrooms” made from attics and basements. “It was then that the loosest possible definition of a ‘substantial meal’ became the Raines Sandwich.” The sandwich might be made of anything, even a brick between two slices of bread; it was rarely eaten. Sometimes, it would be served to a guest with their beer or whiskey, then whisked away and given to someone else. A single Raines Sandwich might last the day, or even the whole week.

Some establishments tried to get away with serving crackers and moldy cheese alone (stalwart New York Irish pub McSorley’s gave away crackers, cheese, and onions — a dish for which they now charge). But the courts required a sandwich, at the very least to be served, and the city enforced the law with righteous vigor — thanks in large part to a young Theodore Roosevelt. As Darrell Hartman writes at Atlas Obscura, New York Republicans in Albany “spoke for a constituency largely comprised of rural small-town churchgoers” worried about urban vice. But Raines had a city ally in Roosevelt, then a “37-year-old firebrand… pushing a law-and-order agenda as president of the city’s newly organized police commission.”

Roosevelt canvassed the Lower East Side with patrolman Frank Rathgeber, sending him into saloons in plain clothes to investigate. “Rathgeber said he saw many sandwiches but only one bed,” writes author Richard Zacks in Island of Vice. The sandwiches were moldy, and were taken away uneaten. “He never was asked to buy a second sandwich” with subsequent drinks, “or even to eat the first one.” Despite the reform crackdowns, the shady business of the Raines Sandwich let saloon owners skirt the law until it was repealed, finally, in 1924. As Hartman notes, behind the purported good intentions of the Temperance movement lay a determined culture war:

Those in favor of the Sunday ban, generally middle-class and Protestant, saw it as a cornerstone of social improvement. For those against, including the city’s tide of German and Irish immigrants, it was an act of repression—an especially spiteful one because it limited how the average laborer could enjoy himself on his one day off. The Sunday ban was not popular, to say the least, among the city’s Jews, who’d already observed their Sabbath the day before.

The Raines Law was as much about enforcing religious observance and cultural conformity on immigrants as it was an attempt to combat crime, poverty, and violence in the city. Those whose beliefs did not prevent them from enjoying themselves on Sunday saw no reason to take the law any more seriously than they would a rotting week-old sandwich or a brick between two slices of moldy bread.

via Atlas Obscura

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

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