New York State of Mind

To celebrate 10 years of Natural Selections, this month we are reprinting an interview with Zach Veilleux, Executive Director of Communica- tions and Public Affairs. Country of origin: USA. The original interview was published in the April 2004 issue.

How long have you been living in New York City?

I moved to the city in the summer of 2001 from Allentown, Pennsylvania, where I had lived for five years. I needed a change of scenery.

Where do you live?

Just off York Avenue on 75 th Street.

Which is your favorite neighborhood?

It depends. To live in, the Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights or Battery Park City – I like being near the water. For eating dinner and walking around, I like Tribeca and the West Village. For character, Canal Street. For architectural flavor, the Financial District.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?

Overrated: They call this the city that never sleeps, but it’s hard to find a video store open past midnight, and you can’t get decent sushi later than 10:30 p.m. Underrated: The Roos- evelt Island Tram. Most people don’t even know it’s there and even those of us who work a few blocks away rarely ride it. Take it at night. It’s the best $2 you can spend in the city.

What do you miss most when you are out of town?

The energy. Just standing on a busy street corner in New York City is both exhilarating and exhausting. Every so often I need a break from it, and yet once I leave I start to wonder why everything seems so quiet and slow.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

Trash on the sidewalk. We’re the most evolved society in the world but we put our rotting food on our front doorsteps and let our dogs use the sidewalks as open sewers.

Describe a perfect weekend in NYC.

A long bike ride along the Hudson; a round trip on the Staten Island ferry; walking over the Brooklyn Bridge at night; eating at a sidewalk café I’ve never been to before, will never go to again and don’t bother to notice the name of; visiting the gorillas at the Bronx zoo; a long nap – in no particular order.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?

The first night I moved to New York I spent in the Lenox Hill emergency room, waiting four hours to get a tetanus shot after cutting my thumb on a metal fan blade. I made friends with a girl who sprained her ankle. She turned out to be crazy. I hadn’t even lived here 12 hours and I’d had the entire New York experience–danger, perseverance, romance and heartbreak, all of it totally superficial.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?

I’ve always thought my own tropical island would be nice. Beyond that, I’m not picky.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker? Why?

I pay the exorbitant rent; as far as I’m concerned, the title comes with it.

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New York State of Mind

To celebrate his retirement, this Month Natural Selections reprints an interview with Patrick Griffin, former Manager of the Faculty and Student Club. Country of origin: Ireland. The original interview was published in the April 2009 issue.

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How long have you been living in New York?

50 years
Where do you live?

Bronx
Which is your favorite neighborhood?

Woodlawn, Bronx.
What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?

Tavern on the Green Restaurant is the most overrated thing in the city. NYC Transit System is the most underrated.

What do you miss most when you are out of town?

Convenience of the transportation system.

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

Traffic congestion.
Describe a perfect weekend in NYC.

Staying at the Regency Hotel; eating at top rated restaurants; visit museums and dancing at the Regency Ballroom in the evening.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?

Closing a bar one summer night. My last two customers were leaving. As I got to the door to let them out, they put a pistol at each of my temples and robbed me. Before they left, they handcuffed me to a steam pipe, with regular police handcuffs. Somehow I was able to break loose and call the police.

If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?

Ireland.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker? Why?

Yes, because I think NYC is the greatest city in the world.

New York State of Mind : Aylesse Sordillo, Graduate Fellow

By May Dobosiewicz

Aylesse Sordillo

Been here: 7.5 years

Lives in: Central Harlem

From: Outside of Boston

Is there something you do regularly that you could only do here?

For sure. I’m really into underground electronic music shows, and New York is one of the only places where you can pretty much see everyone since they’re not the kind of people who tour super broadly. PS1 has a whole summer series called WarmUp. They have a backyard where they do electronic music shows with music and beer.

Do you have a favorite museum?

The Brooklyn Museum.

If you could change something about New York, what would it be?

It would be less expensive to live here.

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New York State of Mind

This Month Natural Selections interviews Matthew Meselson, Visiting Professor from Harvard University. By May Dobosiewicz.

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From: California

Been Here: Two months

Staying in: The Upper East Side 

What brought you to NYC?

We thought it would be warmer with not as much snow and rain as Boston, but we’ve had one really unusual winter here!

Do you come often?

Yes, pretty often. We have a son and daughter down here, and now we are introducing two of our grandchildren to New York. My wife grew up in New York. There’s something about the air here, she feels like she’s at home.

Do you remember the first time you came to New York?

Yes, it was 1949. I used to make rare earth chemicals and sell them to the AD Mackay Company on 198 Broadway when I was a kid in Los Angeles, California. I came to New York and wanted to visit the company, imagining it would be some fabulous place with all kinds of chemists, but instead it was just a little office and a room with shelves and shelves of dusty bottles. I was selling praseodymium oxide and samarium oxide—really pure stuff—for 60 cents a gram, and they were charging about ten dollars for it. A huge markup! The old couple that owned the company took me out for lunch, told me they were going to retire, and that if I wanted the company, I could have it for free. I was only 19 years old, and I thought, do I really want to spend my life doing that? I said “No” and got on a ship to La Havre, France.

What do you think of New Yorkers?

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New York State of Mind

MelvinThis Month, May Dobosiewicz interviews Melvin White, Environmental Assistant, Laboratory Safety & Environmental Health.

From: The Bronx

Been here: 30 years

Lives in: Manhattan

 

Do you feel that New York has a sense of community?

I do. I’ve had so many rough experiences, and as a whole I’ve received good love from my community, even when I’ve made mistakes. Sometimes you see somebody with a mean face walk by, but if you met that same person in a different environment, you’d probably have so much in common. That’s what makes this city so social.

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New York State of Mind

This Month Natural Selections interviews Carly Gelfond, Assistant Director of Development. Country of origin: United States.

1. How long have you been living in the New York area?

I’ve been living here for seven years, since I graduated from college in central New York State. I’m originally from New Jersey.

2. Where do you live?

I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It takes me an hour to get to and from Rockefeller, but it’s worth it. I love where I am at both ends of the trip.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

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New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Jim Keller, Grants Management Specialist in the Department of Sponsored Research & Program Development. Country of origin: United States.

1. How long have you been living in New York?

I moved here from Buffalo, NY nine days before 9/11—September 2, 2001.

2. Where do you live?

Crown Heights, Brooklyn, but I’m about to move on up to the East Side! Continue reading

New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Marisa Cerio, Laboratory Administrator in the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology & Epigenetics. Country of origin: United States.

1. How long have you been living in New York?

My whole life—thirty three years!

2. Where do you live?

Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

It’s not beautiful, but based on the sheer number of great restaurants, venues, and shops, I’d probably have to say Williamsburg. The Snug Harbor/Randall Manor section of Staten Island is really gorgeous though.

4. What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?

Manhattan. It’s great and all, but if you’re living in New York without checking out the outer boroughs, you’re definitely not seeing the full picture. There is such an amazing range in diversity of people, cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles within the outer boroughs. And not just Brooklyn—The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island have some truly wonderful neighborhoods, museums, trails, and, of course, Italian ices. Continue reading

New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Leslie Church, Assistant Editor in the Communications and Public Affairs Office. Country of origin: United States.

1. How long have you been living in New York?

I have been living in New York City for a little over a year.

2. Where do you live?

I live in the East Village. Or, as my phone often likes to (appropriately, I think) autocorrect it, the Easy Village.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

My own. On the surface it looks to be all hipsters and NYU kids with something to prove, but half of the residents in my building are tried and true New Yorkers who have been living there for thirty years. They have some stories. And we have [the restaurant] Mud! If you like delicious food and dimly lit cozy cafes with friendly waiters who won’t judge you for having dinner by yourself, go to Mud. Continue reading

New York State of Mind

This month Natural Selections interviews Amanda Martinez, Associate Director of the Women & Science initiative in the Development Office. Country of origin: USA.

1. How long have you been living in New York?

I have lived in New York for nine years.

2. Where do you live?

I live in Astoria, Queens.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

My favorite neighborhood is Jackson Heights. It is the intersection of many different cultures. Astoria is a very diverse area as well, but in Jackson Heights this diversity is more pronounced. It’s great to walk around and hear the different languages, smell the different foods, and feel immersed in an international experience only a short subway ride away. Continue reading