Yesterday, Governor Cuomo gave us our orders. Our uniform to take on the war against Covid-19 is a mask, a face covering. Our opponent in this war is invisible, unseen, and a mask will be a sign that we are strong against it.

I’m not a conformist, I’m a contrarian. But I will be wearing my mask as ordered when I can’t be a safe distance from others. It seems strange, inhuman, but I realize the importance for others and me.

The idea of wearing a uniform doesn’t sit well with me. I hated it at school. I’d always assumed it had military origins, but it really started in schools! There is evidence of the first use of military uniforms dating back to 200 BC and the Spanish warriors who faced Hannibal. However, it was Christ’s Hospital (that’s the name of a school – quirky lot, the Brits), in London, founded in 1552 that really formalized it.  They have blue coats (and as you can see from the picture, nice white neck scarfs that could double as masks!).

It was nearly 100 years later that Cromwell’s New Model Army dressed its foot soldiers in red coats. Venetian red dye created a result that was as impressive as it was terrifying, and identified the British military around the world.

The first U.S. military uniforms date back to 1779, when General George Washington chose a blue uniform in direct contrast to the red uniforms of the British Army. Here endeth today’s W42ST history lesson!

Meanwhile, conformity is battling with #WFH culture. One judge in Florida is telling attorneys to get out of bed and put on some clothes. “It is remarkable how many attorneys appear inappropriately on camera,” Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey said. “One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers.”

Needless to say, W42ST editor Ruth Walker is forever a conformist – and got dressed up to create a video message for you all yesterday. Make sure to watch until the end!

You can see more videos from W42ST readers at  Send us you personal message too via DM at Instagram or just reply to this email.

We’re all about NOT spreading things around right now. But if you’re enjoying this daily newsletter – if it’s bringing you a little joy in these dark times and helping you feel connected to your neighbors as social distancing becomes the new normal – please tell your friends. They can sign up here and make us stronger together. Phil’s coming atcha tomorrow.


When your cash register is a cigar box and security is baseball bat – welcome to Hell’s Kitchen circa 1996. Read the story of Delphinium Home’s owners at

How Hell’s Kitchen resident Telly Leung is coping in these COVID-19 times. Read more…

Listen out at 3pm today as the city’s transit operators simultaneously #soundthehorn on their fleets of trains, buses and boats to honor transportation workers. Beep Beep, yeh…

Sending our love and condolences to Michael. barista at The Jolly Goat Coffee Bar. With sympathy…

Head over to Insta and look who’s tawking in the #BestNYAccent challenge! I’m walkin’ here…

Short of book ideas? NYPL’s 10 most checked-out eBooks since the library temporarily closed. Kindle at the ready…

Ruth will be back with you tomorrow morning (hopefully in a FULL work uniform and mask!). Keep safe and keep smiling.


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