New York State of Mind

This Month Natural Selections interviews Joana Loureiro, postdoctoral associate in the Laboratory of Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease

Country of origin: Portugal
1. How long have you been living in the New York area?

I am originally from Portugal but moved here from Boston, Massachusetts, almost 5 years ago.

2. Where do you live?

Thanks to being a Rockefeller University postdoc, I am fortunate enough to live in RU Housing, in one of the most affluent neighborhoods of New York City: the Upper East Side. In other words, I live across the street from the university.

3. Which is your favorite neighborhood?

There are wonderful scenic views, cute corners, great restaurants, interesting stores, incredible museums, fantastic music venues, etc., everywhere you go around this hustling and bustling city, but if I must, I guess I favor the East Village. Every time I walk down there, I run into some sort of adventure. Either I accidentally stumble into the Howl! Festival or the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, or there happens to be a Dog Run that day. Or I may see a bunch of people dancing on the street around a few musicians that just met around Tompkins Square Park and decided to have an impromptu performance! On an especially eventful East Village day, an opera singer who just happened to be passing by will join the impromptu performance and deliver an effortless “Queen of the Night” aria, which leaves me saying some cliché like “Only in New York City!” Some days going down to the East Village is less eventful. “All” that happens is that the old man sitting on the park bench where I am reading my book strikes up a conversation and ends up telling me about his beatnik days or the 1988 Police Riot. I have yet to go there and not find something inspiring or downright awe-inspiring in this artsy/quirky neighborhood.

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

Cupcakes! And underrated? The Portuguese restaurant Alfama in Midtown. Portuguese cuisine rocks.

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

The variety of sounds, people, the fact you can always find a place that is open if you want to have something to eat or drink, the 24/7 subway, the availability of taxis at any time of  day or night.

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

High real estate prices because they are driving extreme gentrification of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The way things are going, low income and working class people, struggling artists and “struggling scientists,” etc, will not be able to afford living in the city, and without diversity, New York City is not New York City.

7. Describe a perfect weekend in NYC.

One in which I plan nothing and somehow all sorts of wonderful things happen.

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

Besides all the wonderful people I have met here? Joining the Improvisational Theatre Group at Rockefeller University: I love it!

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

Lisbon, Paris, Berlin, Munich, London, Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle?

10. Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?

Hell, yeah!

October 2012