So my friend Mark, my boyfriend and I made the pilgrimage to Coney Island on Friday afternoon. The breeze made it a little cool, so there were no old, roly-poly Russian guys wearing Speedos smaller than a dinner napkin, marinating on the sand. There were people fishing from the pier; several crabbers with traps baited with fair-sized chunks of raw chicken; and lots, lots of little kids with their parents. The seagulls were competing with the crabbers- they'd swoop down to the water, catch a crab in the beaks, and then fly back to the paved parts of land to smash the shells and feast on the meat.
I tried to envision it all gone- the food places (there's a great place called Ruby's with amazing fried clams), the bars (there aren't many other places in NYC where you can drink a margarita and walk at the same time without risking arrest), the Hit the Freak game (the freaks never seem too freakish- I look at least that bad awoken from a deep sleep), the bumper cars, Nathan's Famous. I couldn't do it. Those pieces of Coney Island seem inextricably linked to the land they're on. My understanding is the Cyclone is landmarked (I don't think anyone builds wooden rollercoasters anymore), but that's the only piece that is.
There was an article in the "Times" this week, and another in "The Brooklyn Paper" about the developer's new plan. He won't build condos, since there was widespread criticism of the condo idea. He'll build ... three luxury hotels! Three? I'd have thought one was a dicey idea. Unless he can build them as luxury hotels, and then convert them to luxury condos once he can't fill the hotel rooms. Pretty clever, eh?
Won't the Mermaid Parade have lost something if they promenade in front of luxury condos? Hardly seems an inspiring setting for live theatre, does it? Because I think that's what really gets me about Coney Island. You got the ocean, the boardwalk, the little businesses, the rides, the games, and then all of these people, as different as you can imagine, interacting in this setting that isn't like anywhere else. And for the most part, everybody gets along.
It's pretty miraculous, if you think about it like that.