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Farewell, paradise

September 14, 2009

It’s the end of the summer.  Nostalgia wafts along the boardwalk.  We brush the sand off our feet.  It’s time for shoes again.  And sweaters.  I’ve been chilly lately.

While riding the train into the office, I took one last summer excursion, courtesy of Diablo Cody’s (“Juno”) recent Entertainment Weekly column (link to full column below).  Cody waxes poetic about Coney Island which she calls “New York’s kitsch classic.”  It got me thinking about how memory, nostalgia and the scent of hotdogs mingled with salty air combine to make us love a place.  The sort of place we want to save to remind us of the happy feelings we connect with it.

Cody writes about Astroland (some once upon a time amusement designer’s notion of “space age”) and its demise to make way for hotels (that will probably destroy the very charm that made people want to visit in the first place — a sort of east coast example of Waikiki that’s paved paradise to put up the same ol’ same ol’…).  Farewell.  It’s always a little sad when the summer ends.  And it always feels like you’ve lost a best friend when a place you loved is no more.

Astroland, one of Coney’s best-known amusement parks, closed last fall.  What was once billed as a “space-age” park ironically became a psychedelic boneyard of dismantled thrill rides.  Apparently some mustache-twirling developer thinks that Coney Island could be a good place to build hotels, and a lot of beloved attractions may fall victim to progress.  If life was an ’80s teen comedy, a ragtag group of locals would surely band together to save the Scrambler (and possibly lob a few coconut cream pies at Mr. Nasty Developer).  Unfortunately, life is a lot more like a Coen brothers movie:  No one has enough money and the ending feels ambiguous.  Rest in peace, A-land.

Diablo Cody on Coney Island –

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