Monday, July 4, 2011

A Coney Island Greeting on the Fourth of July

This started out as a gray day in New York City. Instead of a view if the Palisades and an armada of small boats slowly making their way down river for the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks, my windows seemed like very large glasses of milk. it looked like a perfect day to enjoy a second viewing of John Adams on HBO and remembering what politics was once like in America.

Two years back I worked on the Fourth so I made a photo diary out of my lunch break. It was a celebration of the local farmers who also worked that day, The Lincoln Center Farmer's Market on the Fourth of July. Ron Binaghi, a 6th generation farmer who really knows his product, explained the importance of being able to "Eat it raw."

Last year on this date, I think it was about 98° and way too sunny. Because I was too busy enjoying the crowd and fun at the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, I did not write a Fourth of July diary. So on this day, as I enjoyed John Adams, I found some of those photos and put together a Coney Island view of the Fourth of July.

I hope you are having a wonderful Fourth of July. Since I started writing the weather has cleared up some and I can smell Bar-B-Cue on my terrace. But I'm feeling lazy and stuck in John Adams mode. With the sun breaking through, some city dwellers will be enjoying the Fourth in a Johnnie Pump. And does anyone here remember Scully!

Living in the Bronx and with almost ever other driver out of town, half the fun of a Coney Island Hot Dog contest was getting there. National Parks are breathtaking but so is the view of and from the Brooklyn Bridge.

There are few pit stops as delicious as a break for a "Poor Man's Malted." Have you ever had an Egg Cream? No egg, no cream but agitation with a spoon as seltzer water, semi-frozen milk and some chocolate syrup is mixed. Mixed with those long salty pretzels, it just doesn't get any better that a genuine New York City Egg Cream.

While I was in the neighborhood I took a look around.

Goodbye Presidents Street and Hello Coney Island.

At Coney Island the year round fun never stops and there always some great views to see.

The view of the people enjoying the surf on the 4th of July.

And last years turnout from the pier with the view of where Astroland once stood.

I was lucky enough to get out there before the final days of Astroland and posted a photo diary called Got a Happy Story? Coney Island Edition. That was back in 2008 and some might feel that now with a corporate amusement park, the homogenization of Coney island is complete.

The southern tip of Brooklyn might no longer be, as George Tilyou once said, "Coney Island, between June and September, is the world," but New Yorkers are lucky that there is any amusement Park at all there. In that diary I met and thanked Dick Zigun, the self appointed Mayor of Coney Island and owner of the Freak Show.

Dick Zigun and others worked very hard as community activist to keep the amusements in Coney Island. His letter to the editors, Coney Island surf should remain working people's turf, is now a classic.

Some say it was the economic downturn that saved Coney Island from Bloomberg's dream of high rise hotels, shopping malls and office buildings but I like to think that "people powered politics" played a part. So CHEERS for the little guy on the Fourth of July.

I think "Shoot the Freak" has survived. That's harmless enough but you probably won't see anything with the controversy of a "Waterbord Thrill Ride" anytime soon at the new Coney Island.

Still amusements dodged the Bloomberg bullet at what was once the amusement center of the nation.

The new amusement park is named after the once great Luna Park and two landmarks have survived. The Wonderwheel.

And the great Cyclone that Woody Allen did not live under in Annie Hall.

Another survivor that is still standing but no longer in use. Once the people who did not want to see the view from the Cyclone because of the steep hill that followed could take a nice gentle elevator to the top.

You can find the old Coney Island everywhere you look.

And you can't say Coney Island without saying Nathan's Famous. Those hot dogs really do taste better here. It must be the salt in the air.

Last year a police officer told me that 50,000 people attended the hot dog eating contest.

And who won? I don't remember and don't even know who won this year but it was fun to watch with so many people.

CHEERS to the people.

Had enough of my photos? If not you can always go visit The Lincoln Center Farmer's Market on the Fourth of July and celebrate some of the Americans who are making a difference.

John Adams just ended. You gotta love a mini-series that ends with;

"My Dearest Friend,
Whether I stand high or low in the estimation of the world, my conscience is clear. I thank God I have you for a partner in all the joys and sorrows, all the prosperity and adversity of my life. To take a part with me in the struggle."
--John Adams to Abigail Adams

"Should I draw you the picture of my heart, you would know with what indescribable pleasure I have seen so many scores of years roll over our heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time. Nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the image of the dear, untitled man to whom I gave my heart. You could not be, nor did I wish to see you, an inactive spectator." --Abigail Adams to John Adams

"Oh, posterity.You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it." --John Adams

A parting shot.

Have a Happy.

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