New York State Of Mind

This Month Natural Selections Interviews Carl Modes, Postdoctoral Associate from the Magnasco Lab.

By Melvin White


How long have you been living in the New York area? 
Three and a half years. I grew up in the Philadelphia area and have visited NYC many times over the years, so I wasn’t wholly unfamiliar with it before moving here.

Where do you currently live?
220 E. 70th Street. Three cheers for Rockefeller housing!

Which is your favorite neighborhood? Why?
The East Village, with its abundance of interesting restaurants, bars, and markets is probably my favorite neighborhood to hang out in, though I’m happy I live somewhere a bit more laid back.

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

Overrated: The hustle and bustle, which is really only noticeable in Midtown or touristy Underrated: So many great small and medium-sized parks besides Central (and Prospect) Park.

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

Probably the energy and sense of opportunity, like you could do or buy or learn or accomplish almost anything just around the corner.

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

No so much a new change as wishing for the realization of a change already underway: the completion of the 2nd Avenue subway would do so much for Rockefeller’s neck of the woods, both in terms of accessibility and vibrancy. Its existence might even improve the 6 train!

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

If the weather’s nice then long walks across several neighborhoods and park or riverwalks, randomly stopping off in interesting little shops or bars or restaurants. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, then wandering around inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Museum of Modern Art.

What is the most memorable experience you have had in NYC?
Seeing lower Manhattan blacked out after [Hurricane] Sandy and all the daisy-chained extension cords and phone-chargers being provided by the first line of storefronts with power around 39th Street.

If you could live anywhere else, where might that be?
Another one of the cities in the northeast or Chicago, San Francisco, or San Diego. I probably wouldn’t turn down Hawaii, either, especially after this winter we’ve had.

Do you think of yourself as a New Yorker?
In some ways yes, in some ways no. I think you have to have either grown up in the city or lived here for a long time before you feel wholly of New York—there’s just so much to it.