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Coronavirus has turned New York into a ghost town, so I’m making a ‘mixtape’ to cope



  • I’m trapped in “the greatest city in the world,” which has become a place of profound dread and sadness because of the coronavirus.
  • Music has been my salvation.
  • When I hear St. Vincent sing “New York isn’t New York without you, love,” I imagine that like a bad breakup, the pain of this moment will fade and eventually become a formative chapter in my life. 
  • It’s inspired me to retreat to a pastime I’ve used since high school: creating an epic “mixtape” that would serve as a therapeutic time capsule. 
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic has done what not even 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy did. It has brought the city that never sleeps to an absolute standstill for weeks that will almost certainly turn into months. 

Many New Yorkers, like myself, were here in the city for both of those catastrophic tragedies. This is different. 

Times Square, a place as vital to New York’s character as it is loathed by its residents, is desolate. The notoriously clogged Brooklyn Bridge has no traffic. So many lights have been turned off that we now almost have a night sky.

There’s a profound sense of dread and sadness felt by everyone as the bodies pile up, and the elected officials warn we’re not even close to the worst of it yet. 

This semi-permanent sinking feeling reminded me of the days immediately after 9/11, when the flames at Ground Zero still burned, citizens were certain another attack was imminent, and the nation naively lurched toward a forever war. 

A group of my friends joined together with a transistor radio and drank beers on the sidewalk. Some of us had lost friends and family, and even those who didn’t shared in some form of trauma. Music was a salvation for us. Decades-old songs took on new meaning.

And as one of my cohort ruefully remarked, “It’s like when you get dumped, every sad song is about you.”

One song that particularly affected me during those awful autumn 2001 days was Lou Reed’s “Halloween Parade” — a track which incidentally was off of his 1989 “New York” record.

The late Velvet Underground leader, New York’s unofficial poet laureate, wrote the song at the height of the AIDS epidemic about his lost LGBTQ friends, whose absence at the annual decadent and flamboyant West Village parade was palpable.

Hearing Reed warble, “In the back of my mind I was afraid it might be true/In the back of my mind I was afraid that they meant you,” took on a new and devastating context after 9/11. 

It was still about the friends Reed mourned, but it was also about our people who didn’t make it out of the World Trade Center.

That’s what great art does, it outlives its own inspiration. 

And it inspired me to do what I had been doing since high school, which was create an epic “mixtape” that would serve as a therapeutic time capsule. 

Music as mental health medicine 

While on a short drive to pick up quarantine supplies this week, I heard St. Vincent’s 2017 song “New York” on the radio. 

The brilliantly strange indie electro-rocker also known as Annie Clark sang, “New York isn’t New York without you, love,” and later crooned, “Too few of our old crew left on Astor.” 

Astor Place is vacant, just like everything else, which is awe-inspiring in a most terrible way. 

New York can be a brutal place to live, to work, to raise kids. I do all those things here because the city is full of transcendent experience and discovery. There’s a reason why I — and so many others — pay the toll. Because it’s worth it. 

Without people flooding the streets, parks, restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, arenas, pizza joints, museums, and concert halls, what is New York? It’s millions of people in mostly tiny boxes. It’s all the alienation of modern big city life with none of the passion of the “greatest city in the world.”

“New York isn’t New York without you, love.” 

I realize this is akin to explaining a dream and hoping it achieves the same resonance, but the mournful tones of St. Vincent’s bruising ballad on lost companionship with the city itself reflexively produced a lump in my throat. 

Fans and music writers have speculated that the lyrics refer to a breakup, but Clark insists it’s more just about loving the city and feeling strangely affected by the 2016 death of David Bowie — a “hero” and long-time New York resident she never personally knew. 

All due respect to Clark’s artistry, but that’s not what the song is for me. It’s about now. And I too miss my old crew, and New York. 

The best sad songs aren’t soppy and melodramatic. They’re cathartic and invite you to believe you’re not alone in this world. 

I can hear “New York” and imagine that like a bad breakup, the pain of this moment will fade and eventually become a formative chapter in my life. 

Though 9/11 turned out to be a single traumatic day, we didn’t know it at the time. There was a persistent fear that the next attack was right around the corner. Weeks after 9/11, I remember standing outside the CBS Broadcast Center — where I worked at the time — after anthrax had been found in the mailroom. It felt like the nightmare would go on forever, but it didn’t.

With the coronavirus, we know the worst is yet to come. 

We’re less than a month into a tragedy that further unfolds daily. The end is unforeseeable, and when it comes, it’s unlikely to be definitive. There will be no “V-Corona-Day.” We’ll likely just inch delicately back into something resembling what normal was a lifetime ago, in February.

In the meantime, we’re left with little choice but to maintain. And like most parents in the present moment, I have never had less free time. 

But music can be played anytime, so I use it, all the time. It not only fills the air, it can be an active experience, even for a song I’ve heard dozens of times.  

Not to get all Nick Hornby, but over the past two decades the art of the mixtape has been obliterated by the death of physical media and the rise of the streaming revolution. This is simply a fact, not a “get off my lawn” nostalgic lament. 

The upside of the lost art of the mix is that almost all of the officially-released music of the past 100 years is available for about $10 a month. 

So while I’m trapped inside working, homeschooling three kids, and trading household duties with my wife, I’ve begun building a playlist that captures my experience in this moment in time. 

I’ve kicked it off with St. Vincent’s “New York,” but after that will have to avoid choosing any tracks with titles as on-the-nose as “New York.” 

That’s just basic mixtape rules. 

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How the Internet of Things will transform consumerism, enterprises, and governments over the next five years



Being successful in the digital age doesn’t just require knowing the latest buzzwords; it means identifying the transformational trends – and where they’re heading – before they ever heat up.

IoT Forecast Book

BI Intelligence Take the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, which now receives not only daily tech news coverage with each new device launch, but also hefty investments from global organizations ushering in worldwide adoption. By 2023, consumers, companies, and governments will install more than 40 billion IoT devices globally. And it’s not just the ones you hear about all the time, like smart speakers and connected cars.

To successfully navigate this changing landscape, individuals and organizations must understand the full extent and functionality of the “Things” included in this network, the key drivers of each market segment, and how it all relates to the work they do every day.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has forecasted the start of the IoT’s global proliferation in The IoT Forecast Book 2018 — and the next five years will be transformational for consumers, enterprises, and governments.

  • Consumer IoT: In the US alone, the number of smart home devices is estimated to surpass 1 billion by 2023, with consumers dishing out about $725 per household — a total of over $90 billion in spending on IoT solutions.
  • Enterprise IoT: Comprising the most mature segment of the IoT, companies will continue pouring billions of dollars into connected devices and automation. By 2023, the total industrial robotic system installed base will approach 6 million worldwide, while annual spending on manufacturing IoT solutions will reach about $450 billion.
  • Government IoT: Governments globally are ushering in IoT devices to spur the development of smart cities, which would be equipped with innovations like connected cameras, smart street lights, and connected meters to provide a real-time view of traffic, utilities usage, crime, and environmental factors. Annual investment in this area is expected to reach nearly $900 billion by 2023.

Want to Learn More?

People, companies, and organizations all over the world are racing to adopt the latest IoT solutions and prevent growing pains amidst a technological transformation. The IoT Forecast Book 2018 from Business Insider Intelligence is a detailed three-part slide deck outlining the most important trends impacting consumer, enterprise, and government IoT — and the key drivers propelling each segment forward.

Representing thousands of hours of exhaustive research, our multipart forecast books are considered must-reads by thousands of highly successful business professionals. These informative slide decks are packed with charts and statistics outlining the most influential trends on the leading edge of your industry. Keep them for reference or drop the most valuable data into your own presentations to share with your teams.

Whether you’re newly interested in a topic or you already consider yourself a subject matter expert, The IoT Forecast Book 2018 can provide you with the actionable insights you need to make better decisions.

Interested in getting the full report? Here’s how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Sign up for Connectivity & Tech , Business Insider Intelligence’s expert product suite keeping you up-to-date on the people, technologies, trends, and companies shaping the future of connectivity, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started
  3. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  4. Join thousands of top companies worldwide who trust Business Insider Intelligence for their competitive research needs. >> Inquire About Our Corporate Memberships
  5. Current subscribers can read the report here.


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New York City is reportedly voting on a bill that would criminalize the NYPD’s use of chokeholds during an arrest, as protests for George Floyd rage on



  • The New York City Council, the city’s legislative body, will soon vote on legislation that would criminalize the use of a chokehold by NYPD officers during an arrest, NY1 reported.
  • Sources told the network that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will hold a vote on the proposal at the next council meeting.
  • The chokehold law, which was first introduced in 2014, seeks to make the use of a chokehold during an arrest a misdemeanor offense.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio has previously promised that he would veto the bill
  • But when de Blasio was asked about the bill on Sunday, in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death, he said he would be “ready to support” it if it addressed circumstances where officers face a “life or death situation.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The New York City Council will soon vote on two pieces of legislation that would criminalize the use of chokeholds by NYPD officers and require the police department to codify a system to discipline its officers. 

Sources told NY1 that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will hold a vote on the two proposals at the next council meeting, which is scheduled to take place on June 18, according to the council calendar. An agenda for the meeting has not yet been made publicly available. 

The chokehold law was first introduced by Councilman Rory Lancman in 2014. The bill seeks to amend the New York City administrative code and would make an officer’s use of a chokehold during an arrest a misdemeanor offense. 

As it stands, the use of a chokehold during an arrest is banned under New York City police policy. However, a 2015 investigation by New York City’s police inspector general found that there have been several cases where officers have used a chokehold and faced “little to no punishment by the Police Department,” according to The New York Times.

The proposal was created in response to the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island, who died after being placed in a chokehold by plainclothes NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Video of Garner’s death sparked Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country.

Garner’s case has drawn parallels to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was knelt on by a police officer for several minutes and later died.

Floyd’s death last week was also captured on video and has prompted escalating clashes between protesters and police. In both Garner’s and Floyd’s cases, both men told officers that they “can’t breathe” during the encounters.

protests george floyd new york city looting

A protester runs while looting in Manhattan on Sunday night. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

In order for the chokehold bill to be turned into law, it must be passed by an affirmative vote by a majority of 26 council members. It is then sent to the mayor for approval. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio has previously promised that he would veto the bill should it reach his desk. 

In 2015, de Blasio’s Phil Walzak told The New York Times that “the mayor would veto the chokehold bill as it is currently drafted.”

But when de Blasio was asked about the bill during a Sunday press conference, in the wake of protests over Floyd’s death, he said he would be “ready to support” the bill as long as it addressed circumstances where police officers face a “life or death situation.” 

“What I’ve said in the past is there has to be a recognition of the problem of an officer in a life and death situation,” he said. “So long as that issue is addressed, I could sign a bill if it’s a fair bill that codifies what we already say.” 

“Chokeholds are prohibited, period,” he continued. “We’ve got to recognize when it’s a situation that is absolutely abhorrent and it does happen from time to time where an officer is fighting in a life and death struggle.” 

De Blasio stated that “action” would be taken in relation to the bill “in the month of June and beyond.”

Black Lives Matter protests escalated in New York City over the weekend. On Saturday, an NYPD cruiser rammed into a crowd of protesters, and on Sunday, protesters appeared to set fire outside the Strand bookstore near Union Square.

NYPD sources confirmed to Insider that de Blasio’s daughter Chiara was arrested on Saturday night during one of the protests. A NYPD union had also tweeted confidential information about her arrest, garnering widespread criticism.

Speaking to NY1 on Saturday night, de Blasio said a “small number” of people were “clearly trying to incite violence against the police, and create property damage and vandalism.”


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Elon Musk says he’s taking a break from Twitter



  • Elon Musk on Monday tweeted he’s “off Twitter for a while.”
  • He didn’t give a specific reason as to why he was coming off the platform on which he’s famously prolific.
  • The billionaire’s space-exploration company, SpaceX, just successfully launched astronauts into orbit for the first time, and he has his 1-month-old baby, X Æ A-Xii, at home.
  • Musk, a prolific tweeter, has threatened to quit the platform before, though he’s never quite succeeded.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The tech billionaire Elon Musk, a famously voracious tweeter, has announced to his 35 million followers that he’s taking a break from the social-media site.

“Off Twitter for a while,” Musk tweeted late Monday without giving any further details.

In the 24 hours before, Musk was tweeting primarily about SpaceX’s successful launch of two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on Saturday, and he expressed his opinion that it was “not right” that three police officers involved in the death of George Floyd hadn’t been charged.

Musk’s Twitter use has gotten him into trouble in the past.

In 2018, his tweets about securing funding for Tesla landed him with a $20 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission. As part of the penalty, Musk had to let his tweets about Tesla’s business be vetted by a lawyer.

Musk has also gotten into some bizarre feuds over Twitter, including being pulled into a defamation suit he ultimately won after calling a rescue diver “pedo guy.”

The billionaire told Bloomberg last month that while in retrospect some of his tweets were “dumb” and he wished he could retract some, he valued being able to communicate with people directly without having to go through the press.

As well as SpaceX having made history by launching astronauts into orbit, Musk also has a newborn baby to look after. Last month Musk and the singer Grimes (real name Claire Boucher) announced the birth of their child, X Æ A-Xii.

Musk has threatened to quit Twitter before. In late 2019, he said he was leaving the service only to resume tweeting three days later.


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