Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hogwash Island

The current issue of The New Yorker has a small portfolio on Coney Island in winter, with an intro by Mark Singer. As so often happens in that magazine, the text looks perfectly fine at first, until you let it sink in and realize it's just suburban and sentimental.

Let's take for instance, the following innocuous-looking sentence: "If you're in a the mood for a trifecta, you can still buy lunch at Nathan's and lose it, in installments, aboard the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone."


First of all, Singer leaves no cliché unturned: mentioning hot-dog emporium Nathan's is utterly expected, especially when you can get better material from the Russian places in nearby Brighton Beach or the new taco stands, or Totonno's on Neptune Avenue if you really want another long-running institution.

But even worse is that neither Singer nor his editor seems to have spent any actual time at Coney Island in winter: Both the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone close during the cold months, reopening only mid-March. Guys, this is a basic fact of NYC life!

Nathan's, the Cyclone, Weegee…can we at least get less moldy banalities? Something about Stephon Marbury growing in the Coney projects, for instance, or the yellow submarine marooned offshore.

Coincidentally, the Sheila and I went to Coney last Sunday and yep, the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone were boarded up. We also strolled on the boardwalk; it looks empty and ghostly in The New Yorker pics, whereas we saw a hopping place, packed with families (the vast majority of them Russian-speaking) getting some fresh air. And I've been to Coney enough times in winter to know this was not a freak occurrence. The back alleys of the amusement park itself are, indeed, deserted, but the boardwalk is jumping even in February.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I soooo miss going to all the small Russian owned cafes at Brighton Beach after a night out at Disco 2000. Fun!