The beach is empty
They covered the pools
The patio umbrellas come down
Oh God, my God...
Sorry, I had to go there. Grey Gardens, Coney Island...opposite ends of Long Island, sure, but equal amounts of wacky.
I kinda feel sorry for Coney Island, the same sorriness I felt for Little Edie I suppose. I just want to shout, SOMEBODY THROW A NEW DRESS ON THAT GAL AND CHEER HER UP! We all know what happened to Edie in the end, but the saga of Coney Island is still playing itself out every single day; and what a fascinating saga it is.
I traveled down there this weekend with my friend Ali (actress, mother to a pit mix named Ruby, and all-around lover of life). There's just something about the cheap glitz, the grotesque glamour. The palpable desperation for What Once Was. Plus eerie remnants of the sideshow culture that once indulged the basest of a paying customer's curiosities. Coney Island is infested with the ghosts of itself.
And that's just in the summertime, when cheerful beachgoers swarm the streets in flip flops and sunburns. So to visit this place in winter, when the boardwalk is quiet and the surf is cigarette-free, it feels so haunted you'd swear you hear the delighted century-old screams of some Luna Park visitor of yore still wheezing through the air.
And as it is now the middle of January, it will be a long time before anybody will line up for an Italian ice here.
Months before the shops will open their doors to sell sand pails and tacky hats.
Weeks and weeks and weeks before any kids will mow their mom down on an overzealous dash to the water.
The signs of life will return, but not for awhile. What is a midwinter visitor to do?
Well thank God the hot dog place is still open.
Nathan's Famous, folks. Opened in 1916 and still selling bazillions of its signature product today.
As a vegetarian, I did not partake of the meatier items on the menu...but these onion rings sure hit the spot.
Supposedly the hot dog itself was invented right there in Coney Island. I guess Nathan just did it better than everybody else. And here's proof: look at all that hot dog trash! Yummy.
So, there you have it. The Island in winter. Some might say she's nothing more than a classless breath of her former glory.
But--you want to know something?
Truth be told...
I don't wanna know a Coney Island that isn't classless.
And I'll toast an onion ring to that any day. See you when the snow melts, Coney.