EDITOR’S VIEW:After an especially long Tuesday—near the tail end of this magazine’s frenzied editing cycle—I was in the mood to go home, eat some soup, and watch a Family Guy rerun. Instead, I ventured out into the cold, black February night for a six-hour photo shoot.
A couple inches of snow still covered the pavement in a dark brown quilt as I met photographer Noah Devereaux on Washington Square Park’s northeast corner. Our aim: Wander NYU’s slushy streets and buildings looking for anyone or anything worth a picture. We had no real agenda, expectation, or goal. Maybe not the soundest logic for a six-page feature story. But the notion was intriguing—let’s see what this place looks like on a truly random night.
Attention to my fatigue and gloveless frozen fingers soon gave way to something else. This place I’d walked through nearly every day for a decade transformed in front of me.
First there was Ali, who patiently rewashed his hands and feet to show us the technique and explain how it helps him prepare for Muslim prayer. Then there was Justine, whose nerves seemed to evaporate as she climbed a rock wall for the very first time. There was William, an economics major, practicing piano in a tiny room to give himself a creative break from studying. Then Coral, who smiled sweetly and reread her lines, and told us she wasn’t nervous for her 11 PM play audition. Finally, there was DJ Tim, a 2003 alum, who bounced to the beats he was spinning for WNYU radio. And there were many more, all friendly and each so immersed in something.
I parted from Noah around midnight. With the luxury of sleeping in the next day, he would continue shooting till dawn. But I had seen enough, and it all reminded me of a line from a letter Albert Einstein wrote to his friend János Plesch about universities. He liked being around them, he said, because that’s where “the future was being brewed.”
Is NYU and all its inhabitants perfect? Come on. But in an instant, some people or moments are. And on the night of February 12, it sort of felt like that was true everywhere we looked.