Edouard-Scott de Martinville developed a machine for recording sound some twenty years before Edison. His phonautograph “wrote” the patterns of a person’s voice onto a thin film of carbon – including, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s “thin tenor … falsetto voice, almost as high-pitched as a boatswain’s whistle” (though […]
San Francisco, August 25, 1863 Quite a night, last night. Tom Meacham’s promotional blurb for the new show at his Opera House – a melodrama based on Byron’s Mazeppa – promised that “Miss Menken, stripped by her captors, will ride a fiery steed at a furious gallop onto […]
Last night the waters of San Francisco harbour rippled to the sound of a YouTube film that has been viewed 31 million times. Not, as you might think, the musings of a botoxed influencer, but the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing Take Five live in a club in Belgium […]
The rule for our voyage is to keep ever onwards – to sail always in new waters – so inevitably we named our yacht Heraclitus after the philosopher from Ephesus who famously observed some 2,500 years ago that you cannot step into the same river twice. Heraclitus was […]
The place to be in 1863 San Francisco is the bar in the Occidental Hotel on Montgomery Street where the legendary Jerry Thomas held sway – and where Mark Twain was seen to drink a cocktail or two. A genial fellow guest, Edward Peron Hingston, author of the […]
The Mayflower 400 is a fully-autonomous ship sailing across the Atlantic – and it raises questions that go back to the origins of the Untied States.
The Makah have lived for nearly 3,000 years on the north-western tip of the United States – and they are a people whose lives, traditions, and identity are intimately bound up with whaling.
If you like photography and/or poetry, this post might upset you. You will know many of the photographs commissioned by the Farm Security Administration in the depression years: most famously, Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother – a pea picker sitting in a tent with her children (an image that […]
T S Eliot used to live not far from us in London. Senior members of our family who visited his flat remember the wonderful collection of modern art , built up since his early days: as a young man in Paris, he had been friends with Roger Fry […]
The work of photographers like Thomas Ryan RedCorn and Zig Jackson are working to reclaim native truth from the stereotypes of Edward Curtis and the movie industry.