W42ST Daily 7/17/2020

I’ve had a morning routine since lockdown. It goes a little like this: I get the newsletter written, then I head to the roof for a workout. Nothing crazy – a few push-ups, squats, planks etc. Body weight stuff.

I’d like to say this routine is non-negotiable, but it’s entirely dependent on the weather, the presence of a hangover, and the murderous mocking bird nesting on the fire escape next door that dive bombs my ass any time I attempt a down dog. 

What is non-negotiable is the meditation afterwards; ten minutes of quiet before the rest of my day takes over.

When I began, sometime back in March, it was eerily silent up on that roof. There was a glass-like clarity to the birds’ chirping. No cars grinding their gears and honking their horns on the street below. No aircraft roaring overhead. 

I noticed a difference when I was up there yesterday, in the stillness of the morning. The cars were back, and the birdsong was stifled by the 24-hour auto shop’s whirring and clanking. But there was more. A long, slow, deep hum. A sound that has no beginning and no end. Even in the silence, there was no silence. 

What was this mysterious noise? The sound of eight million laptops yawning into life? The AT&T building sending out some secretive signal to the Russians? 

I did what any sane, sentient being would do. I googled it. 

“The Hum is a name often given to widespread reports of a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming, rumbling, or droning noise not audible to all people,” said Wikipedia. 

There’s even a World Hum Map and database, recording cases of this “unusual unidentified low-frequency sound that scientists now call the Worldwide Hum. 

“The classic description,” it reads, “is that The Hum sounds like a car or truck engine idling outside your home or down the block. Some people describe it as a low rumbling or droning sound … We estimate that 2-4% of the global population can experience this phenomenon under certain conditions.”

The Guardian has written about it. So has The Atlantic. The Independent said it has been the cause of at least one suicide (and claimed the noise is caused by “microseismic activity from long ocean waves impacting the sea bed”).

Some blame it on a form of tinnitus, saying the noise follows sufferers wherever they are. But this weekend, in the Catskills, I’m blessed with pure quietude. No hum. And so, while I hate to say this, and have no genuine desire to go back to lockdown, I miss it. I miss the pause. I miss the quiet. I think the planet does too.

If one word has come to define the business world in this post-COVID era, it’s pivot. Daters have learned to hang out on Zoom. Gyms have taken their workouts online. Some restaurants have become de facto grocery stores. Others have pivoted to supply essential workers. Artists are experimenting with new media. A rehearsal space is making hospital gowns. An entertainment PR is amplifying Black voices. And at least one caterer has sold up, left for the Catskills, and is designing modern, alternative living spaces.

These are the stories of entrepreneurial New Yorkers who have not taken the challenges of the financial crisis sitting down. What’s yours?

This – for shits and giggles. There’s a prize for anyone who sends me a video of themselves doing this with their cat. That prize will be my love and admiration. The quote is from Princess Diaries, by the way. Thanks, Matt, for making my week with this one.


The Fire Island Dance Festival can’t take place in person this year, but the annual summer fundraiser takes place virtually from today, featuring three world premieres and three beloved festival favorites. Dream of the beach.

Warrior cultures of the past welcomed their military home in rituals of storytelling. Following in that tradition, Poetic Theater is hosting this free reading of original work by veterans tonight. Join the ritual.

Jillian Richardson and Ken Page talk Deeper Dating – billed as “a revolutionary new way to find love. Before the event, fill out a profile, then, when it’s live, you’ll break into small groups, matching with other local single people who share your interests and values. It’s specifically for New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s, seeking a partner of the opposite sex. Find out more.

Stars of The Met Opera perform live from all over the world tomorrow afternoon, in this special pay-per-view concert. Learn more.

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