21 questions

Oliver Sacks Has Luxuriant Eyelashes

Name: Oliver Sacks
Age: 77
Neighborhood: West Village
Occupation: Neurologist, Professor, and Author; his most recent book is The Mind’s Eye (Knopf). He’ll be discussing longevity with Jonathan Weiner at the 92nd Street Y on February 10, at 8 p.m.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Bob Silvers, founder and editor of The New York Review of Books, one of the great institutions of intellectual life here or anywhere.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
The annual herring-fest put on by Russ & Daughters when the Holland New Catch comes in each spring.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I see patients, think, and write.

What was your first job in New York?
I had a summer job as a neurologist at a hospital in Staten Island. I lived in the Village and rode to the ferry on my motorbike. After work, I would ride around exploring Staten Island, which was relatively unspoiled at that time.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Last night, I saw Brian Friel’s play Molly Sweeney at the Irish Rep. It reminded me of my own patient, Virgil, the blind man whose story inspired Friel.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Occasionally, if they are making music or painting.

What’s your drink?

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Once or twice — in my lifetime. Usually I subsist on cereal, sardines, and tabouli. Sometimes I have food delivered by Tea & Sympathy, or my local sushi place.

What’s your favorite medication?
The prescription eyedrops that control the pressure in my eye. As a side effect, they have given me long, dark eyelashes.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
A 1944 classroom chart of Electromagnetic Radiations, which takes me back to my boyhood love of physics and chemistry.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
More than $20.

When’s bedtime?
Between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The old. The new Times Square is sanitized and unreal; the old one had an earthy reality.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
He has done more to uglify New York than anyone else.

What do you hate most about living in New York?

Who is your mortal enemy?

When’s the last time you drove a car?
September 25, 2009 — the day before my eye hemorrhage.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It confirmed my deep distrust of the market.

Times, Post, or Daily News?

Where do you go to be alone?
The New York Botanical Garden. I especially like the old-growth forest there; few people realize that the garden includes 50 acres of woodlands that have never been cut — probably the only virgin forest left in the city. It gives you an idea of what the whole place might have looked like before the Europeans arrived.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
The inability to leave New York.

Oliver Sacks Has Luxuriant Eyelashes