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Home » The Vine

The Vine: April 13, 2012

Submitted by on April 13, 2012 – 10:33 AM36 Comments

I find myself in great need of some wisdom from you and The Vine readers. 

First of all, my partner and I have been disagreeing on the question of “stuff” vs “stuffs” when referring to “stuff” as plural. I say “stuff” because, well, that sounds…correct. He insists that “stuffs” is correct because Google has entries on both being correct. It’s driving me crazy, can you please settle the question?

Secondly, I am about to head over to New York City again in June! My last trip there was a crazed 4-day affair during which I spent most of my time visiting schools and was also pretty badly planned. Since I’ll have more time this year, I need advice on what to see and do. My only drawback (or maybe it just means more chances for exploration) is that my family intends to stay with friends in New Jersey the whole time so I have to go back there at night. But other than that, I shall most likely have 6 wonderful days there, so anything goes!

I’d like to avoid anything too “touristy” or crowded, more interested in bookshops, music, farmer’s markets, looking at interesting buildings, checking out kooky museums/galleries/hangout spaces/cafes. My very best memories from my last trip was walking from one end of Broadway Avenue to the other and also visiting the superhero supply store in Brooklyn. I would probably also want to go shopping for bike jerseys/accessories, secondhand books, sneakers and that Land’s End tote or its lookalikes, so suggestions on where to find them would be very much welcomed. 

Thirdly and somewhat related to the second, a friend of mine has tasked me with looking for The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. If anyone knows where in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Amherst, or Boston I might be able to find them in, please, please, please help me out? Thank you all so very much!! 

The girl who is FAR too excited about this trip

Dear Trip,

1) “Stuffs” sounds like a Britishism to me, and a casual usage at that; “stuff” is a collective noun, which implies a plural or a number, and there’s no need to pluralize it with an S. Circumstances do exist in which you’d use a variant on “stuffs” — “foodstuffs,” e.g. — but unless he’s using one of those specific words, to do with “fabrics or scientific materials,” it’s not correct. “Google has entries on” a lot of things, so that citation is basically meaningless.

2a) (It’s just “Broadway.” Sounds like a fun stroll, though.)

2b) My recommendations: i) grab a copy of Time Out New York (or peruse it online, or download the app if they have one) the week before you arrive, and see what’s going on so you can start narrowing your list of must-dos; ii) for your shopping needs, downtown/SoHo is a good locus for sneakers and bags (8th St. for shoes), but head to Brooklyn, maybe, for bike stuff (except! do not go to R&A Cycles in Park Slope! remember how the Italian team shivved Dennis Christopher’s front wheel in Breaking Away? that is how they act in there, especially to feee-males! eff that! go somewhere else!); iii) Green-Wood Cemetery. A hidden history-nerd gem, and in that nabe you will also find a nifty bookstore complete with resident adorbs feline, excellent coffee at Dub Pies, a well-curated secondhand/artisan store called Black Bear, and yours truly, chillin’ in her office, so come say hi.

Readers: limit yourselves to three (3) suggestions for NYC non-touristy shopping/activity fun times. Three (3) total. And please read the rest of the comments thread first, to maximize the awesomeness of your own comment! Thanks!

3) Google-fu isn’t knocking that one out? Hmm. If the readers don’t know, and if you’re on Twitter, shout out my man Mark Blankenship at @IAmBlankenship; I’m betting he’ll have a line on it. And also follow him, he’s funny and fun.

Okay, y’all. Hit it.




  • Dolph says:

    RE: Beckett — If you can make it to Schenectady, Alibris lists this entry:

    $236. Can’t tell from the listing whether this is also a brick & mortar location, unfortunately.*sellerinfo*sellername

  • Anonymous for this one says:

    I moved away going on seven years ago, but things I miss most/always make sure to hit when I go back are:

    (1) The flea markets on W 25th Street/The Garage (

    (2) RICE TO RICHES (crazy delicious rice pudding place on Spring Street just north of Little Italy)

    (3) Wandering around in Park Slope and Soho/Chinatown.

    Have fun!

  • Maggie says:

    The Drama Book Shop will have the Beckett book if anyone does. Plus it’s a delightful place to visit — the only location in Times Square for which that statement is true! It’s on 40th St between 7th and 8th Ave. I would recommend a trip there even if you’re not looking for a Beckett-related book.

  • Stewart says:

    Trip: Having been to New York only once (and drunk most of that visit), I can’t help with the trip. But from a quick search on Abe Books, it looks like the Beckett notebooks are going to cost you if you do find them. Be prepared to ask for a hefty reimbursement from your friend.

  • Karen says:

    I’d just like to second that opinion on R&A Cycles. They’re not pleasant unless you own a $3k road bike. Go to Dixon’s instead — so nice and they have free air for your tires. There’s also Adeline Adeline downtown. Pricey, but really cool stuff. They’re technically a “ladies” bike shop:

    It’s a bit touristy, but the High Line is just so damn cool. Try going earlier in the day, before it gets too overrun, or on a weekday if possible.

    Books of Wonder on 18th street is a great children’s book store, and they have a little bakery on one side.

  • Abby says:

    Take a walk on the High Line! I bring every single visitor there now–it’s a terrific blend of urban and wild. Plus, places to sun, eat an ice cream, look at outdoor art…I enjoy it every time I go.

  • scone says:

    New York advice:

    If you go to 8th Street for shoes (which I recommend – between 5th and 6th there are like 15 little stores), and you like mystery/crime novels, there’s a great independent bookstore on Greenwich Ave called Partners & Crime. There’s lots of restaurants along Greenwich Ave – there’s also a cute Tea shop called Tes & Sympathy further along (though if you like tea, I really like Tea Spot on MacDougal, which is also close by.).

    If you liked walking on Broadway, I think walking the West Side Highway is really nice. At 46th across the highway, you can get H&H bagels from the location where they make them. Yum.

    Lastly, even though it’s a bit touristy, you should check out the High Line. It’s pretty cool. Plus you can wander in the surrounding neighborhoods, which have cool buildings and some good stores and very tasty restaurants.

  • Sarah T says:

    Based in the UK, I have no NY knowledge to share – but on “stuffs” as a plural of stuff (rather than eg “he stuffs a turkey”),I can say it’s not a Britishism I’ve heard in 30-odd years here.

  • Whitney says:

    Governor’s Island has been a big hit with every vistor I’ve taken out there (and I’ve also gone with just NYC friends as well). The link to the page is here:

    They seem to add more and more scheduled events each summer, but it’s a big enough place that you can just move to a different area and it is still quite pleasant. Last year, they had free bike rental available on Fridays.

  • emilygrace says:

    Since you bike, I’d recommend renting one for a day/afternoon. The Hudson River Greenway is lovely, or any of the downtown bridges. Bridge-wise I’d recommend taking Chrystie St through Chinatown to the Manhattan Bridge. There’s sometimes weekend bike polo at a park along Chrystie, and the Manhattan Bridge gives you a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, which is better than being on it (also slightly fewer pedestrians). Stop by the Brooklyn Flea market at Hanson Place. Then bike through Prospect Park to Greenwood Cemetery. You could come back by way of Williamsburg, and the Williamsburg Bridge, for extra shopping and the City Reliquary, a tiny museum on Metropolitan. Any bike shop that offers rentals will have NYC bike path maps and also advice.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Stop by the Brooklyn Flea; don’t buy anything there. (Except food, which is yum.) The prices are outrageous.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    “Stuffs” sounds like your guy has been reading a lot of ninteenth century novels. Very Jane Eyre. Not wrong, but old fashioned enough to sound it.

    As I am in Seattle and have only been in NYC once for fifteen minutes to change planes (But I saw the Statue of Liberty out the plane window!), please write in what you ended up doing so I can live through you vicariously.

  • Jo says:

    Haven’t been to NYC yet, but probably will go next year on my honeymoon and my fiance, based on the ONE time he went, talks about wanting to go to Rice to Riches. Also, he wants to go to the Strand.

    Personally, I’d be happy to spend the trip in museums and at Broadway shows, so I’m going to steal the advice other people offer you for my own trip.

  • Flora says:

    I have been trekking over to Red Hook pretty frequently recently–they have cute shops and great brunch spots like Home Made.

    If you go to the Highline, you might check out this pretty nice spot for drinks/snacks also:

  • Georgia says:

    Seconding the Governor’s Island recommendation! Also, this is hard to get to, but Red Hook is a cool little neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s right on the water and Valentino Pier/Park has a wonderful view of the Tappan Zee bridge and the Statue of Liberty, as well as free kayaking on Sundays! Red Hook has great food, too: Kevin’s is great for brunch, Baked is an awesome bakery, and Steve’s Key Lime Pies sells, you guessed it, key lime pies (as well as frozen, dark-chocolate-dipped key lime tarts on a stick, called “Swingles.”

  • Annie says:

    Putting in a plug for Ft. Tryon and the Cloisters. So pretty, and I believe the flowers are blossoming now.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    The Cloisters! I have to get back up there soon. It is always so pleasingly cold inside too; great stop on a hot day.

  • Stacey says:

    Take an aerial tram ride to Roosevelt Island- not a heck of a lot to do once you get there except walk by the water down to a little park. But it’s a cable car in NYC! Definitely different.

  • NZErin says:

    Purely anecdotal, but in my (19thC lit scholarly) experience, when referring to material, stuffs is simply the plural of stuff.

    e.g. I needed to buy some stuff for a new dress, so I went down to the haberdashery and looked at their stuffs.

    That’s a really clumsy sentence, but you get the drift.

  • adam807 says:

    Even though it’s totally touristy do either the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock if you’ve never done them. I’m a native and I’m still a total sucker for those views.

    If you go to the High Line (which I second), grab a meal nearby at Colicchio & Sons.

    See “Peter and the Starcatcher” on Broadway. It’s amazing and delightful and unlikely to tour.

  • Adrienne says:

    Just popping in to say “YAY! Breaking Away!” A timely reference, too, since Little 5 is next weekend and our lovely hamlet of Bloomington is already overrun with drunk undergrads (and more than a few drunk alums, actually…)

    But yes, I love that movie. LOVE IT HARD. I’m going to go sing some opera now.

  • CindyP says:

    Kooky museums: is not that kooky, but it’s FREE! and small enough that you can pop in while on a walk, wander about and see whatever special exhibition is up, and pop back out. Tenement Museum

    I wouldn’t call the Museum of Art and Design kooky, but sometimes the exhibits are:

    So pick whichever is near your walk!

  • Caitlin M says:

    If browsing for used books is your pleasure, definitely stop into the Strand:

    If you’re there on Mon/Weds/Fri/Sat, you’re also right by the Union Square Greenmarket (most vendors on Weds and Sat), which is pretty nice in June, with all the late-spring produce happening.

    And second (or third) the Cloisters, also lovely in June with the gardens in bloom. When I lived in NYC, I especially loved the in the city/out of the city feeling there (i.e., is this really in Manhattan?).

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    If you only have time for one bookstore, though? Don’t make it the Strand. Yes, it’s miles of books — with dicky clerks, unfindable merch, and eau de bum pee in most of the non-fiction aisles. If you want to get yelled at and pay for it, go to Katz’s for a pastrami where it’s actually worth it.

    Also, get off my lawn.

  • Kristin says:

    Going to prove my uncoolness here, but I like walking in Carl Schurz park on the Upper East Side. It’s smallish, but right along the East River, and there’s a footbridge where you can cross to Randalls Island (though a secluded section so don’t go alone or late). Also there are some very cool waterfront buildings and little half-blocks between East End and the river where the rich folk live.

  • Lisa M. says:

    Go to the Strand! But bypass the lower floors in favor of the rare books on the top floor. We got 16 original Audubon prints for about $20 because they had fallen out of the book.

    And then, go to vol de nuit for a lambic ale (if that is your taste). I love that place. It’s a small hole in the wall belgian bar.

  • Becca says:

    Lower East Side Immigrant Experience Walking Tour!

    1. The Tenement Museum (make a reservation or get there early)

    2. The Pickle Guys

    3. Dumplings.

    (And as a former independent bookstore employee, I’d like to echo Sars’s advice to avoid the Strand. It’s every negative stereotype about an indie store all wrapped in one angry building.)

  • Leigh says:

    Ha…thanks, Sars. Totally agree with you on The Strand. Went there once, absolutely hated it, never went again. And I am a major book nerd who would be happy to just live in used bookstores.

  • Kerry says:

    I have never been to Red Hook, but I feel that it is unlikely one can see the Tappan Zee Bridge from anywhere in Brooklyn. Perhaps Georgia means the Verrazano Narrows. (Fun fact: it was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built.)

  • Georgia says:

    Kerry, I totally did mean the Verrazano, which I realized shortly after posting, and only now got around to correcting. Still: nice view.

  • rab01 says:

    I have to second the Governor’s Island and Cloisters’ recommendations.

    1) If you have any friends that work in a high floor of one of the office towers, I’d recommend that view over the Empire State Building. The city can look even better from the 40-60th floor of a building than it does from the 100s. (Plus, no lines)

    2) Walking or biking in Central Park on a Saturday afternoon and taking in the street performers and general scene. My favorite area is around Sheep’s Meadow, Bethesda Fountain, Summer Stage and the Boat Pond.

    3) Yes, it’s a touristy thing to do but the Museum of Modern Art really is worth it.

    p.s – It might be just childhood associations, but I still don’t hate the Strand.

  • phineyj says:

    Been British all my life and never heard ‘stuffs’ other than as verb or in ‘foodstuffs’.

  • mosprott says:

    Totally second Vol de Nuit. Good beer, moules & frites. And there’s an interesting little veg restaurant 2 doors down.

    Too bad Cooper-Hewitt’s renovating. Love that place.

    Take pictures. It’s fun. The architecture everywhere is stunning, and the people-watching can’t be beat.

  • Kim says:

    I just wanted to say that these lists make me want to go to New York more than any list of tourist attractions I’ve ever seen.

    I always get caught in the trap where if I go so far to visit a place (and from Australia everywhere is a big travel commitment) I feel like I should see all the ‘important’ places, and that just doing everyday things is a waste of holiday. Even though I never really enjoy them anyway because they are usually crowded and disappointing. And I do enjoy just relaxing and feeling the atmosphere of a place. That’s one reason that tropical holidays are good – the important thing IS relaxing and enjoying the vibe. :)

    Does anyone else get that? Do you have strategies for dealing with it? Are there any good sites you use to find the heart of a city when you travel there?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I just use The Vine. Is that wrong?

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