Getting lost at Coney Island is quite a strange experience, especially in November. Cold gates lock the skeletal structures in tight, while carnival staffs still hang out outside the empty alleys, looking for a straggler who might want to play some pinball or take a shot at throwing some darts at balloons flaccidly hanging on a cork board. A man stands outside of the “Original Nathan’s Hotdog’s” repeatedly yelling something incomprehensible at invisible people on the sidewalk. What did I expect from an off-season amusement park in Brooklyn, NY?
A friend and I rode our bikes through the streets of Bushwick to take the subway from Prospect Park, about a 30 min ride to the end of the L train. It wasn’t a bad day for a bike ride and the city seemed to be in a good mood: teenagers played basketball in the park, children skipped along with each other, drunk men danced happily on the side of the road. No one looked at us, at least I didn’t see them looking.
When we got off the train we looked for a place to park our bikes but could only find parts of barrier fences or benches, so we rode our bikes to the boardwalk and chained them up to the ramps side railing and walked down to get deliciously soggy hot dogs, overly sweet lemonades, and to snap some pictures of the deserted Ferris wheel, wooden roller coaster, and the other abandoned attractions.
There was something mystical and morose about Coney Island that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t put into words. Every street, corner, and sidewalk radiated with an ancient and tainted energy that dated far past the previous summer or the summer before that. It felt as if Luna Park had always been there, created by the demented carny with the black hair and the insane smile that is there every time you turn around to avoid his face. The attractions felt like they had personalities within themselves, some stood proud and unashamed, while others hid beneath the shroud of a tarp. The grime and sadness seemed to match too well with NYC and oddly enough, gave me a feeling of comfort and made me feel a little less lost. Everything appeared the way I thought it should have and although I felt a bit mournful, it gave me some solace.