Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Coney Island

I just finished watching the fireworks. We have a view here, although it’s not as perfect as when I worked in Seattle right on Lake Union, and we could go on the roof terrace and watch them there. But it seems like fireworks are improving with time. They had some pretty weird shells, with little dots of light that swarmed like alien beings, instead of just falling to earth. Very neat stuff.

We went to Coney Island today, a last-second decision. Turns out I can take the F train right by my house straight there, and it takes less time than from Queens. When we got there, about every person in the history of time was there, so pretty much everywhere you turned was like that ill-fated Who show in Ohio, except much hotter outside. Turns out I haven’t been there in maybe five years, and Sarah hasn’t been there in ten, so the train station was all new to us. The rest of the strip, not so new.

Coney Island is such a strange place. You’d expect, due to the fact that Nathan’s can sell a million hotdogs an hour, that every building in the place would be developed out to hell like Times Square. But more than half of the structures have been sitting boarded up and vacant since the second war. And the places running haven’t seen new paint since Eisenhower was in office. But people come, and people spent money, and it’s still a draw. It’s very strange.

Nathan’s has their big competitive hotdog eating contest on the 4th, and they were setting up for that. Competitive eating is becoming big now. It’s like what professional wrestling was in the eighties. And there were a shitload of people out for that. Plus, if you go to Coney Island, your one I-have-to-go stop is Nathan’s for a hot dog. The place looked like a fallout shelter at the beginning of a nuclear war. There were 20 or 30 lines, each with dozens of people, all trying to get a hotdog. I wanted one, but forget it. I didn’t want the line.

We walked up to the boardwalk and down a few blocks. Sean Maloney, who is running for NY Attorney General, was standing there and came up to me and shook my hand, which was really weird, because he was dressed like he was a tax auditor on vacation, and everyone else around us was completely thugged out. Also, there were at least 23 million people actually on the beach, more than I’ve ever seen in my life, cumulatively.

So, we didn’t do anything. We took a left, walked a few blocks away from the mess and the masses, and went to a nice, air-conditioned McDonald’s, where we got some lunch and watched the Space Shuttle launch. I also watched this guy who looked like that fat fuck on the Sopranos, except two times fatter and in a cut-off shirt, fill a cooler in his car with ice, a cup at a time from the McD’s drink dispenser. He seriously made like 37 trips from car to store, and they were either so busy or so apathetic, they didn’t say shit.

Then home. Then I caught some Twilight Zone marathon, which always reminds me of 6th-ish grade, staying up on vacations until 10:00 so I could watch it on WGN channel 9, before WGN was a big nationwide shitfest. I’ve found that more than 50% of the time, I can name a TZ episode in the first minute. I’m a little rusty right now, though. I have them all on tape, and a bunch on DVD, but I never watch it unless it’s a marathon on SciFi. Always loses something otherwise.

It’s hot as hell, time to go into the other room with the AC, go to bed, and drag my ass to work tomorrow. Anyway, happy 4th.