One in Two Thousand: Oliver Cohen ’23

Bellamy Richardson

(Bellamy Richardson / The Williams Record)

Each week, the Record (using a script in R) randomly selects a student at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature, excluding current Record board members. This week, Oliver Cohen ’23 discussed listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, playing on the club volleyball team, and moving to New York City after graduation. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Bellamy Richardson (BR): The new Taylor Swift album, Midnights, came out a few days ago, and I know you’re a huge Swiftie. What are your thoughts on the album?

Oliver Cohen (OC): Well, for me this was a highly anticipated event. So much so that it was in my Google Calendar. I was all ready to have a listening session with my friends. Unfortunately, my friend’s thesis presentation on Friday — thank you bio department — got a little bit in the way. But I did end up having a listening session on Thursday night with some friends, and I have to say I’m a little bit disappointed. I think The New York Times put it best in their review: “Midnights feels like a fuzzy Xerox of old accomplishments.” And as someone who really enjoyed Taylor Swift’s earlier work and some of her more recent work, I feel like this is probably her worst album. I’m sorry if that offends anyone reading this.

BR: So in terms of Taylor Swift’s other work, what would you say is your favorite album?

OC: That’s a really tough question. I would say Red is definitely my favorite album. It has a lot of consistently really good songs. But I also like her more recent work, like folklore and evermore. And I definitely like her leaning into her indie side more. I’ve been listening to Lizzy McAlpine a lot recently. And I think she might actually surpass Taylor on my Spotify Wrapped this year. So if anything, it’s a very clear sign that Taylor needs to up her game.

BR: OK, switching gears. You’ve been a part of club volleyball since freshman year. How has that been going?

OC: This year, I’ve really enjoyed just being a member. It’s a lot less stressful not to have to deal with running the club like last year, and there are a lot of really amazing [first-years] on the team. Williams doesn’t have a men’s varsity team, so all the players that played volleyball in high school end up joining us, and it’s been really fun. Yesterday we went to Siena College for a preseason tournament, which was a lot of fun. 

BR: How did you do?

OC: We made the finals, actually, and ended up losing to [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute]. And the biggest perk of going to tournaments is you get Chipotle on the way home. Although now, I’ve heard, there is a Chipotle in Pittsfield, but I have yet to try it myself. I heard there’s a new steak option, which I know, Bellamy, you wouldn’t enjoy very much, being a vegetarian. And apparently, in New York City, the new steak is $19, for a burrito, which is a $5 premium over the chicken. That’s inflation for you, folks.

BR: From an econ major.

OC: Econ and history — don’t get it twisted. History first, then econ. 

BR: OK, switching gears again. So the reason we became friends back in freshman year was because of WCJA [the Williams College Jewish Association] and going to Shabbat together, and I know you’re still on WCJA board. What projects have you been working on?

OC: I’ve taken on a couple main projects this year, my first being the website. Check it out: It’s not in its final form quite yet. But this week I’m also taking on the initiative to plan Spooky Shabbat. Please pull up dressed as anything you wish. That will be this Friday at 7:15 p.m. We’re gonna have pumpkins on the tables.

BR: Nice! OK, so I know you’re from Chicago, but you’re moving to New York after graduation. What do you think you’ll miss most about Chicago, and what are you excited for about NYC? 

OC: I’m excited for a lot of things. I was living there this summer, and it’s just so great. And I feel a little bit embarrassed to compliment New York because, you know, there are so many people from New York at Williams that won’t stop talking about New York, and it’s kind of annoying. [Laughs.] But having lived there this summer, it’s just so great, how everything’s open so late. And the energy when you walk down the street is really incomparable to any other city. Also, well, the prices are high, but if you know where to go — like Best Fresh Pizza on Ninth Avenue, [they have] dollar slices, unless they think you can be taken advantage of, like they thought about me, and they tried to sell me a cheese pizza slice as extra cheese pizza that was $1.50. And I’m telling you, this slice looked exactly the same as the other slice I bought at Best Fresh Pizza this summer, so that made me feel bad. So don’t let them take advantage of you. Don’t look like a tourist. But I’m very excited for how many Williams people will be there and for making eye contact with rats in the subway.

In terms of what I’ll miss about Chicago, I think I’m gonna miss living in a house and just how spacious and clean and relaxed Chicago feels in comparison to New York. I think New York is also like this, but Chicago has a lot of distinct neighborhoods, like Wicker Park and Wrigleyville, and there are lots of distinct characters in Chicago, and I appreciate that about the city. 

BR: Alright, last question. As seniors, I think something that we’ve been talking about, and something on our minds, is how to take advantage of this last year in Williamstown. So what are some things that you would like to do before you graduate?

OC: That’s something that’s been on my mind for sure as a senior. I’ve been trying to do new things. I recently went to the Clark for the first time, which is pretty embarrassing as a senior. I also learned that there’s a Williamstown Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the month of October, so if you’re reading this, you might have one more chance to go before it closes. And the burger is to die for. A cow did die for it. Poor Eph. [Laughs.] 

So those are things that I’ve done that are new. Things that I’d like to do before I graduate? Well, One in Two Thousand was definitely one of those. I’ve been trying to get Bellamy to rig the algorithm since freshman year. 

BR: And then it happened! It was fate!

OC: And now she finally rigged it and could play it off as just, you know, the algorithm.

BR: Oh my gosh.  [Laughs.]

OC: But I definitely want to take some crazy classes, like something out of my comfort zone, maybe astronomy or theatre or art. I think it would be a lot of fun.

BR: Cool. Anything else you’d like to say to the readers?

OC: Advice: Try the quesadilla at ’82 [Grill] — but like, the just-cheese one. The chicken one doesn’t have the same melt.

BR: Well, that’s good for me.

OC: Yeah, shout out to my vegetarians. Before you graduate, try the spice level five at Blue Mango.