The trauma and humiliations of moving are slowly retreating, and we helped hasten their departure this weekend by spending a day at Coney Island. In a remarkable and mildly upsetting display of time having its way with me, the requisite ride on the Cyclone hurt my back so badly, I wound up hobbling around like some kind of old guy for the next two days.
In spite of the associated embarrassment of being injured by an amusement park ride, I still espouse the commonly held opinion that the Cyclone is the most terrifying roller coaster in the world. Not because of its design, but because waiting on line to board it will reward you with visible wood flecks in your hair -- the result of the entire structure decaying just above you. I've heard tell of a ritual which involves Cyclone employees scaling the structure every morning during the high season to hammer back loose nails and secure rotting wood. Awesome.
The Wonder Wheel is less arresting, at least in terms of heart attack potential, but offers peerless views of the park and surrounding environs. Unfortunately, the re-development that's blindsided the whole area has definitely begun to take its toll on the raucous reputation that Coney Island has boasted for so many years, most noticeably through the sheer lack of New Yorkers who bothered to brave the daunting subway ride. Five years ago, a mid-August day as perfect as this would've meant a packed F Train from 14th Street onward, but we rode in relative solitude all the way out to Stillwell Avenue.