An Ivy League Arson: 50 Years Later

It’s about 4 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, April 5, and Diego Bernadete is having trouble writing a paper for Allan Bloom’s Government 462 class. He’s writing on Polus, a character in Plato’s Gorgias. Open in front of him is a translation by Benjamin Jowett in a two-volume set from the Random House Modern Library that he had brought with him to college from his father’s library. For some reason, at one point, Diego opens his door.

“I open the door and billowing down the corridor there was a fire,” which mainly consists of a thick, black smoke.

Diego reacts quickly like he’s been training for this — though the residents never had a fire drill in the building — he immediately begins yelling “FIIIIIRE, FIIIIIRE, FIIIIIIIRE”

When he imitates the yelling now, his voice pronounces the middle of the word with an ah vowel sound, highlighting his Brooklyn roots.

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