Today I take a five hour bus ride to the Ithaca campus of Cornell University, in preparation for my interview with Robotics and Artificial Intelligence researcher Hod Lipson, but not before eating the worst pizza in the world. My bus leaves from the Cornell Club on 44th Street, but having arrived three quarters of an hour before departure I decide to grab a bite to eat. This ranks as one of the worst decisions of my life, up there with asking out my landlady, arguing with security at the US embassy in London and agreeing to see Jimmy Nail live. There was once a rumour that Frank Zappa ate a shit on stage, which wasn’t true. As Frank pointed out, “the closest I ever came to eating shit anywhere was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973.” I don’t know how bad that Holiday Inn buffet really was, but I suggest it has stiff competition in the form of the Europa Café on 5th Avenue.
Cornell’s Ithaca campus is beautiful. This part of town sits over one of the 100-plus verdant gorges that the city is famous for, along with a brace of impressive 19th Century Architecture dating from the College’s formation.
There’s plenty of greenery and open spaces too and throngs of students wander about in a fantasy of American College life, their books clutched to their chests as they laugh, flirt and learn in equal measure. I feel incredibly old. And of course I am. It’s a fact that I’m over the twice the age of about 90% of the people I walk past. Another unequivocal fact is that there’s no shortage of students smoking weed at Cornell. I know this not because I see any toking on a huge bifter but because I find the Insomnia Cookies store advertising “Warm Cookies Delivered Late Night”.
It is a store designed to perfectly service ‘The Munchies’ – and where better to put it than smack bang in the middle of a college campus? It’s a neat business model – and I subsequently find out that Insomnia Cookies has outlets on 18 university campuses throughout the states. Retail is all about location. I’m giggling uncontrollably as I walk past, which but for my age probably makes me look like a potential customer.