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The Difference Between San Francisco and New York

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This piece is the intro Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in New York City

I’m sitting now in my Bushwick apartment coming to terms with the realization that my time here in this strange and brutal city is quickly coming to an end.  I maintain that, no matter how much you love New York, this city fucking hates you.  Don’t take it personally;  this broad is just badder than you are.  Her game is tighter, her mind is quicker, her swagger is more believable.  She’s not the one who got away, she’s the one you never had a chance of getting, and this is what makes just being near her so exhilarating.  There’s a quote from Thomas Wolfe that goes something like, “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”   And I think old Mr. Wolfe was on to something; New York will never be yours, you will always be hers.  She’s got you pussy-whipped and you fucking know it.

But me, I’m leaving.  Two and half weeks and I’ll be gone.  I’m filling my days (and notebooks) wandering through these streets, getting to know them as well as a one gets to know a lover met on vacation.  I’m getting to know and admire the creases, cracks, and character of these thoroughfares, but I’ll never know what it’s like to be with them forever.  This has just been an affair and I’m heading home to my wife in California, San Francisco; the one who takes the love I give to her and repays it in spades.

I’m gonna miss this city.  I’m gonna miss the electric fervor of summertime rooftops and the girls who wear next to nothing on the humid and fetid subway.  I’m gonna miss the snow that sneaks in while I’m dreaming and piles itself up on the cars while they sleep in the street.  I’ll miss the little badge of pride that goes along of with saying that I live in Brooklyn, not in Manhattan.  I’ll miss all the beautiful people who have nothing to say, and all the ugly ones who say too much.

Thank you New York, you’ve been a sweet and charming mistress who deals out pleasure and pain equally the way a blackjack dealer can just as easily give you 21, or make you bust.  I’ll be back, probably sooner than you’d like, but this is it for us kid.  This affair is over.  I want to ask you to never change, to stay just the way you are, so that when I do come back you’ll be just as you are now.  But you and I both know that can’t happen.  At least I’ll have my book, which will let me pin you down to exactly who you were, to me, for the past 10 months.  Just do me one favor after I leave: tell all the developers they can suck my dick.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. August 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    \”Let all the haters of Zion be shamed and turned back.\” (Psalms, 129, 5)!!

  2. BAS Writers
    August 13, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Nice one, really. No place is home for me more than NYC, and reading this made me incredibly homesick. Even after living there for almost a decade taking the N or the D over the Manhattan Bridge and getting that view of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan-in rain, snow, or sun-can still make a lump rise in my throat. I’ve never loved a place more.

  3. […] Road – Hit and Run Hula this Saturday Written by Stephen Torres – Threadbare-Fact Finder The Difference Between San Francisco and New York Written by Broke-Ass Stuart – Editor In Cheap August 12, 2009 Cheap Fashion: BCBG & Ella […]

  4. Danielle Levanas - Bargain Soul Huntress
    August 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm


  5. April 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I currently live in San Francisco and I am contemplating moving to NYC in August. Seems like NYC could be a great place to become familiar with. Thanks for sharing this. It’s helping me see how others fall in love with NYC. I hope to do that as well.

  6. April 26, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Brilliant. I am moving “back” to Austin to work on some projects, re-root, and yeah- you described the essence on NYC exactly… I’m fervently writing, filling in all the spaces, in hopes that she sticks with me…but then I go down south and people think I’m a meanie! HA. The irony. Oh NYC….

  7. March 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    As a native New Yorker living in the “greater” Bay Area (Napa), I love this post. For me, New York is like the family you are born into — you love it unconditionally because it’s in your blood, but there are always parts of it that you are either ashamed of or don’t want to be associated with.

    And although some of us love our families to death, we cannot always prevent our environments from significantly impacting our personalities, our emotions, and our behaviors. . Ashley is New York is far different than Ashley in California. New York, much like my family, turns me into an obsessive compulsive, success driven, headcase.

    But then thing about New York is, no matter what, it’s still in my blood. It is part of my genetics. I can never really leave it…

    • March 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Glad you dug it Ashley! It’s the intro to my NYC book. I think you’d like it 🙂

  8. Kit McKnight
    September 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I’ve lived in both San Francisco (the Inner Richmond throughout the 90’s ) and New York City (Manhattan, Upper East Side in the mid-70’s.) All the years I lived in San Francisco, I was frequently reminded of New York City in the 70’s. Now? In 2017?? Greed has taken over! I hate to see what it has done to my two favorite American cities.

  9. genexxer
    September 11, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Okcupid hooked this coastsider up with three INTENSELY beautiful New Yorkers on vacation in SF. All fit “…wasn’t the one that got away…You never had a chance…” and “tighter game than you”. I’m truly edified in the rear view.