Coney Island of the Mind

Ferris Wheel

Because Moses is preparing for a Century that rides from NYC to Montauk (next weekend), he’s been riding his bike as much as possible.  This past weekend we rode to Coney Island, which is about 18 miles round-trip.  A complete lack of hills makes the ride easy as pie, though sitting on a bike for that long is aways a commitment, and despite my best efforts to sunscreen myself (I burn just thinking about sunshine), I wound up with the tops of my hands burnt.

Coney Island
Beach
Beach

Despite the sore butt and sunburned hands, the ride was well worth it.  I really do love Coney Island, even if it’s the way you love an exhibit at a historical society, which is pretty much the way I think of it.  I spent a lot of my time there wistfully wishing the fun in being there was an authentic form of enthusiasm, but Coney Island is clearly a series of artifacts marking a much more simplified era.  People don’t take the train there with butterflies in their stomach in anticipation of riding the ferris wheel.  Instead children go there as a throw back to something their grandparents once did, and after a few hours of ring toss and rides they get back in their cars in their brightly colored clothes marked with Disney Princesses (or worse, Ed Hardy t-shirts), and return to their Wii.

Ring Toss
Crazy.

Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs.

I’m all for life, improvements and technology, but still.  It gives you a little lurch in the stomach to realize Coney Island was once this:

Coney Island Turn of the Century

Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress

And for whatever reason, this keeps popping up in my life, which is unfortunate because it’s TERRIBLY upsetting.  Apparently when there was an electricity race going on in NYC between Edison and Tessla, Edison came up with the idea for the electric chair as an “added bonus” to HIS electricity design (Edison’s design required coal-fed factories be close by to light up any area being a mile or two while Tessla’s model allowed the nasty coal production means to be far, far away and the lights in the city connected by a network).  To prove the “effectiveness,” of the electric chair, Edison executed Topsy, a Luna Park/Coney Island domesticated elephant that had killed three people (one of which was her incredibly abusive trainer who tried to feed her a lit cigarette).

Feel free to read all about it here (or not, as it’s seriously the worst thing I’ve heard about in a long time, and yes, I know how silly that might sound to people that aren’t animal weirdos like me, but I’ve had enough drunken arguments with meat-eating frat boys to last me a life time, so please spare me).

My only piece of mind on this is that Luna Park burned down shortly after Edison murdered this poor elephant and filmed it.  People referred to the burning as “Topsy’s Revenge.”

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