August 27, 2007


THE RETURN OF THE TRANSISTOR WIDOW (No. 018): "Coney Island, Baby"

The Transistor Widow's keeper has returned after a year-long hiatus and we here at I'm Just Sayin' rejoice. Rejoice I tell you! Oddly (or perfectly), No. 018 in a series of ??? arrived in my inbox while I was on the D train heading to Coney Island with my nephew. So, after you take in the latest Widow, scroll down for some observations and videos on the island that is not an island...

Untitled, Will McRobb (2007)

During my 47 years on this planet, 41 of them spent more or less in the New York/New Jersey area, I had never been to Coney Island (at least not to my knowledge -- it's possible my parents took me there when I was a wee lad). So, last Sunday, my wife and I made a pilgrimage to the end of Brooklyn to visit the birthplace of the hot dog before it becomes a sanitized "year-round entertainment destination with seaside attractions and a stronger residential community" or worse: An "Incredibly Bold, Audaciously Cheesy, Jaw-Droppingly Vegasified, Billion-Dollar Glam-Rock" version of Coney Island. Sadly, this is Coney Island's last season (thru Halloween) as the "Coney Island" most people know and love.

Unfortunately for my wife and I, it rained an hour after we got there, but we did get to ride the Wonder Wheel (more on that later) and the world famous Cyclone roller coaster which is celebrating it's 80th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary, you crazy old, beat up, wooden terror machine! My wife road the Cyclone about 17 years ago (before we met), four times in a row...with her mother...who was in her late '60s at the time!!! Meanwhile, one week later, my neck is still a little sore.

On Thursday, my nephew came to town to join me for a Mets-Padres game (6-run comeback, extra innings...Mets lost...still fun) and for our daytime entertainment we got on the D train for a more thorough visit to the place which once was home to Lilliputia, "an experimental community of little people...(who) in a bid to enhance the attraction’s freak factor...were told to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior" -- this was between 1904 and 1911!

First stop, The Wonder Wheel:

wonder wheel
(Click to watch)

Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you've never been on The Wonder Wheel, you may not want to watch the above video. Let's just say if you choose the "swinging" option, the ride isn't your typical ferris wheel experience.

After The Wonder Wheel, we took a spin on the iconic Astrotower (along with a loud group of day campers) and got a great panoramic view of Coney Island and a cool view of the Cyclone:

(Click to watch)

Speaking of day campers, check out these youngsters on the Frog Hopper:

frog hopper
(Click to watch)

Screaming kids: They are so much funnier when they are not sitting behind you on an airplane.

After riding the Cyclone twice in a row (hint: it's $6 for the first ride and then at the end they tell you you can ride it again for $4 which they then reduce to $3 when they don't get any takers), my nephew and I headed over to the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. We were informed that the performers had just bought their theater and we were about to witness their first performance as owner/operators. As a result, we were all treated to child admissions ($4 instead of $6). The show was great fun but not for the ridiculously squeamish -- c'mon, you can handle a guy pounding a large nail into his nose, can't you? No picture taking was allowed but there was a preview outside before the performance:

freak show
(Click to watch)

In the video, besides the circus barker, that's Insectavora (the fire eater) and Serpentina (the snake charmer) on the left side of the screen and Jesus "Chuy" Aceves, the Wolf Boy on the right. At the end of the video I threw in a shot of Donny Vomit, the show's MC and the guy who pounds that nail up his nose.

And here's a bonus picture of Insectavora on her way to work:


So, get your ass to Coney Island before it becomes a bad joke. A good time is guaranteed for all.

(for more info on Coney Island, go here)

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