I'm typing this from a bench in New York City's famous Washington Square Park. NYU borders the sides of the park, which serves as a massive, green, common area for the student body and right now, with a few extra minutes on my hands, I thought I would jot down a few more impressions of the last 24 hours.
I take the subway back and forth to school. Here just a few days, I am already feeling pretty confident that I am getting the hang of the system. I have to say, some of the best musicians ride the subway. I know, because they are always there, playing. From full bands with amps, to a man and his solo Spanish guitar to a barbershop quartet moving from train car to train car in constant song, there are performers here for whom you are more than happy to throw some loose change their way. Not that all my fellow travelers hear them, mind you. I am convinced that Apple stays in business, not off the sales of their computers, but off the iPods they sell to New Yorkers. Not simply walkmans or portable satellite radios, but genuine iPods. Young and old. Poor and rich. I am not exaggerating when I say that every third or forth person on the train is oblivious to the world, embedded with the distinctive white earphones that act as armor to undesirable attention and hassling.
Aside from the blog just below this one which describes my advising meeting and class enrolling, I also went on a several hour tour of Greenwich Village today. Led by one of the school's deans, it was an intimate, walking examination of the area's colorful Bohemian history, full of the sort of great trivia that a guide book can't even touch. One of the oldest bars in NYC that only in the past few years finally began admitting women? Yep. Bob Dylan's apartment? Yep. The architecture of Stanford White. Yep. Everywhere you turn are quant and ancient reminders of this city's centuries old past and vibrant present. With no school activities on Thursday until the evening, I plan to put my map away and spend a few hours of the afternoon wandering, getting lost, and discovering this section of the city that I'm sure I will come to know well.
Despite all its money and prestige, NYU is still a college like any other. While certain buildings are indeed lavish (the library is a massive, modern structure), most buildings are not the palatial spaces one might expect. Cramped and untidy classrooms are the norm and oddly enough, there is something reassuring in that fact. I came expecting a sort of hallowed opulence, and am comforted to find that even the best film schools require janitors and fresh paint. It means I have a fighting chance here!