If you venture into the depths of Bloomberg Hall, along a gloomy corridor that echoes with the thump of laundry machines, you will find the entrance to Room 044. Just another pale door in a series of pale doors, the unadorned surface gives no indication that this is the portal to a magical realm. Enter slowly, with reverence.

You now stand in the birthplace of this magazine. The room is inhabited by dust motes and by Nasslings, a self-proclaimed eccentric group of writers and artists who gather to prepare weekly content. From a shelf, a large stuffed dog wears a tiny gold fedora and watches over the proceedings.

The Nass room is a shrine of effortful eclecticism, the walls pasted with a vivid collage of imagery bestowed by untold generations of Nass members. The sight is infinitely stimulating. Your eye might land on a bewildering poster of bleach-blonde popstar Jesse McCartney; an old recruitment flier from more belligerent times (“Hate the Prince? Write for the Nassau Weekly!”); a clip of semi-nude monochrome photography; a poster of frogs practicing yoga beneath a moonlit mushroom.

The printed magazine is everywhere you look — stacked in tall piles, filed in mislabeled drawers, taped to the walls, folded into paper airplanes. You might glimpse the plastic statue of Jesus, wrapped in twinkly lights, but don’t be misled. Only the Muses are worshiped here.

. . .

In the days of yore, the Nass used to hold pitch meetings in two locations. The strictly-business Monday meetings took place in a bright and well-ventilated classroom in Frist, while the muggy Nass room was reserved for the more casual, vibe-iferous Thursday meetings. I always preferred the latter.

My first foray into this basement lair occurred on a September afternoon in 2018. I was but a wee freshman in those days (you see, I am now one million years old). I remember heat and sweat. Oppressive, odorous, stale basement air. We froshpeople sat hunched and huddled on the unvacuumed rug in the middle of the room while the upperclassmen luxuriated on the sofas.

I recall erstwhile editor-in-chief Zach Cohen ‘19 lounging in a big leather armchair. He drawled an idea for a piece, some musing about the landscape architect who designed the undulating meadow by the LCA, or something like that, probably. Zach wasn’t pitching the piece, per se — more like showing us newbies how to think. How to Follow The Way of the Nass.

But I had not yet found The Way. Case in point: in that same meeting, I pitched an article about birds. Well, a listicle. Of bird species names I thought were silly. I submitted the piece to the editors but was hubristically bothered by the edits I received, so I “forgot” to send in revisions. The piece wasn’t published in the magazine until 2022. By then, I was the one sitting in the big chair, alongside the mystical Mina Quesen. By then, we could do what we pleased and we followed our own Way.

In 2018, however, I was still a feckless frosh. In that first month, I dragged a friend of mine (a fellow writer) to a Nass meeting. There, she met a boy and they started dating. My friend was less enthralled with the Nass — she never attended another meeting — but we had both found love. Well, no, I remained single. But I’d found a community of outrageously creative basement dwellers. I’d found a home at Princeton.

Later that year, I migrated from the floor of the Nass room to the sunken futon against the wall. Much easier on the old musculature. I’d been attending meetings for a few months by then and considered myself a veritable veteran. In one meeting, a new face appeared, a face haloed by long hair and a beard. This fellow was Peter Taylor ‘22, and it was his first Nass meeting. That day, someone was pitching a piece about masculinity, struggling to describe “the ideal masculine form.” The kid pointed at scruffy Peter — “like him!” It’s no wonder Peter stuck around. He would soon become a friend of mine and later the editor-in-chief of this magazine. He loves to be reminded of that anecdote.

My own tenure as editor-in-chief ended in January. Now, in my old age, I have more time to read and enjoy the Nass. It’s easier to admire a galloping horse while you’re standing on the sidelines than while you’re riding it, or so I assume. (I don’t ride horses — I’m just a writer.) Yet I was so caught up in my thesis this semester that I stopped coming to Nass meetings. Months passed and I realized I hadn’t attended a single one. I missed the room, the terrible lighting, the bursts of insight from those mingling minds.

Finally, I emerged from my thesis cocoon to visit Bloomberg basement for the last Nass meeting of the school year. I sat on the sofa and watched a new generation of Nasslings run the meeting. Their vibecrafting is excellent and the community seems more energized than ever. Now there’s fresh art on the walls from fresh Nass members, though the room is still musty as heck. It holds the same stagnant air that I’ve breathed a thousand times. It smells like home.

I imagined my freshman self sitting on that carpet, looking at my senior self. Would I seem as wholly self-possessed as Zach Cohen had seemed to me? I’m not wholly self-possessed. But I am so much more myself thanks to the Nass.

All of this is to say, dear reader, that a visit to Bloomberg 044 could change you. By the time you leave that room, you’ll bear a light layer of dust, a new respect for witty icebreakers and editorial deadlines, and a fondness for the bizarre, burgeoning brilliance of the Nass. I shall miss it dearly.