Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MEMORIAL DAY 2011 and Four Hours In Brooklyn


MAY 30, 2011

To All the Great Men and Women Who Gave Their Lives
in Defense and Support of our Nation; To Those Who Fought And Gave Us Our Independence; To Those Who Preserved It; And To Those Lost Protecting and Maintaining Our Way of  Life at Home and Abroad,  
A Respectful Memorial Day to You.  And To All The Families Who Gave Us These Brave People To Serve Causes Beyond Our Homes and Communities, As a Veteran, I Thank You and Salute You. 

No Plan?  No Problem!  This is Brooklyn.
Hey!  They didn't put a guy from Brooklyn in every old war flick for nuthin' ya know!  One in every seven people in America can trace their families through Brooklyn.  I like throwing that one out there.

A friend from Chicago once made a joke to me about Brooklyn, calling it the Borough Where Everyone Leaves.  It was just that; a joke, and a smart one because I understand the truth in what he said.  However, it's a crack that's haunted me since he made it.  Not because of what or how he said it.  Who hasn't heard that line before?  But it's just something that stayed with me because it's different than hearing that line on an old TV documentary or reading someone wax nostalgic in some writer's article.

No one knows the truth in that joke better than me and my fellow natives who have always called this place home.  We know it well.  But then I leave my house on a day like today and have Four Hours In The Life, that confirm for me I live in the greatest place on Earth.

I didn't leave my house till 2:00pm this afternoon.  I had no particular plan today.  The wife and I looked at each other and kicked around some ideas.  We decided on Coney Island.  We wanted to have a beer or two so we left the Trolley home.  Only a few stops away, in very short time we were in the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue Station.

As expected, we arrived to a Sea of Humanity.  Anyone accustomed to the NYC Subway system knows the above picture represents Order.   The scene depicted above moves to the beat of urban choreography, and with the purpose of an ant colony marching from point A to point B.  Then the  crowds exit and disperse along Surf Avenue and into Coney Island; and to the limits their imaginations.  They do this at the Atlantic Ocean seaside strip off Brooklyn, just like they have for well over a century.

The best ocean breeze you ever felt smacked us right in the face as soon as we stepped onto the platform.  Unfortunately, it was a station induced phenomenon.  We didn't feel the coolness of the ocean breeze again until we hit the Boardwalk.

Ruby's Bar & Grill on the Boardwalk is looking at a very clouded future.  Change$ and good ol' Capitalism are taking over a modernizing Coney Island, while many parts of the Old Neighborhood Coney feel are being pushed out.  The building in the picture to the left dates from the late 1800's and is just the kind of old Coney that is being torn down building by building and lot by lot .

It was unsettling not seeing SHOOT THE FREAK in their usual spot along the Boardwalk.  That's why it was a no brainer for Mrs. TROLLEY and me to head over to Ruby's and lower our body temperatures there on this 90 degree day.  And with Coronas in hand and sunglasses at the ready, me and the Mrs. were down for some brews, the breeze, and taking in the abundant eye-candy heading to the beach.

But another real look around shows Coney's former self is fading.  These signs read like hieroglyphs and hints that another era in Coney is ending rather than pointing to a place to eat.  A new Coney is trying to take a turn at being Brooklyn's Back Yard now.  That in a nutshell however, has been the history of Coney Island; Change.

The Coney Island Museum and the Eldorado's Bumper Cars are still holding their own on the Surf Avenue strip.  But literally right behind them, looms major Change; and yes,
with a Capital C.

......As in Coasters!

Say hello to the newest machinery and attractions introduced to Coney Island designed to make you scream.  Then again, screaming is a relative term when speaking about Coney Island.  It's what's made it one of the oldest, oddest, peculiar, and most spectacular places in the country; Ever.

But Coney Island Classics like Dino's Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone Roller Coaster and the Coney Island Freak Shows, along with very special people and native Brooklynites dedicated to preserving everything worth preserving about our little Playground By The Seashore make sure, in the face of change, nothing really goes away, and keeps everything the way I remember as a kid, in a relative sense of course.

The Brooklyn Cyclones Baseball Club has been one of the greatest occurrences in my life much less a welcome addition to Coney Island.  I'll get into more of that later in the month.  But after our beer, me and the Mrs. headed over to the MCU Park ticket office because I needed a couple of more tickets for two particular games.  Their season starts in a little over two weeks from now.  So as a little teaser, here's a picture of the back of the scoreboard!  LOL

I was sporting my Roberto Clemente jersey today.  I ran into this gentleman and we thought it a cool idea if we got together for a picture of Hall Of Fame jerseys.

Talk of Cyclones Baseball also is an alarm clock signaling the Coney Island Mermaid Parade is also right around the corner.  If you've never been to one, do it.  As for me and my better half, we were satisfied with our Coney experience for the day and were getting hungry.  We decided to leave Nathan's Famous for a less crowded day in the near future.  But just as a reminder, the Nathan's Famous National Hot Dog Eating Contest is only thirty-three days away!



Views from the train platform @ Mermaid Avenue/Stillwell Avenue
(Nathan's ~ Parachute Jump ~ MCU Park)

Me and the Trolley Lady came up with a plan to jump on the Q-train and skip over to Sheepshead Bay and eat at Randazzo's!  Pure Genius!  We were strolling down Sheepshead Bay Road in no time.  Emmons Avenue was just as glorious on this sunny Memorial Day as Coney was.  After a short wait, we sat down for some seafood freakin' insanity.  We had worked up quite an appetite by this time and decided to get a little of everything.       ...And two more Coronas!

Then the Crab Cakes came!  We were stupid in love with life this afternoon.  Or maybe we were just really hungry.  But it couldn't have worked out better.  After paying the bill, we were in dire need of a walk.  There are few places on the planet better to take an after-dinner stroll than along Emmons Avenue.

Feeling good after an easy walk we stopped into the local Car Service and eight bucks later we were home by 6:15 pm.  And that's how my wife and me spent our Memorial Day Holiday.  In just a bit over four hours, we had accomplished so much and moved around exceedingly well!

It goes to show - We had no plan this afternoon.  But in Brooklyn, you don't need one.  All you have to do is leave your house.  That's the way it is here.  So getting back to what my friend in Chicago once said to me... 

Hey, they can leave if they want to.  Life is a choice in many respects.  But for my part, I know I live on the greatest piece of dirt protruding out of the world's mighty oceans.  So g'head - Beat it if ya wanna leave.


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