In lieu of my traditional end of year posts, I instead offer an anecdote I offered a friend when summarizing my year, one that was left out of the relevant post:
On September 9th, around 3 PM, I went on the Cyclone at Coney. It was the last day that Astroland was going to be in existence; I had already seen the Zipper get driven away. In an effort to get the ride finished sooner (always hate the lines!), I opted for the last car – which I would be sharing with someone else. Someone considerably larger than me.
Sure enough, I had forgotten everything I had ever been told (NEVER RIDE THE LAST CAR) in a wave of nostalgia.
The first 30 seconds were fantastic, even as my back was reeling and my chest was crunching into the bar as we free-fell over and over again. Then we hit a sharp turn and my seatmate slammed into me, nearly breaking my ribs. It wasn’t much fun anymore, it was just pain – so I braced myself to avoid a repeat, and held on for the remainder of the ride.
I got off, collected my bag – cursing myself for deciding to lug all of my lenses and a monopod with me that day. It hurt enough to nearly bring me to tears, but not nearly enough to have me call an ambulance. At the same time – that was going to be my closing memory on Coney Island? I was livid in my pain – walked onto the beach, shot a 270° panorama, and hobbled to the train home.
It would hurt to breathe for the next week, and the pain would continue for about three weeks – and I think it ended right around the time they announced that, surprise, Astroland will be open again next year!
2007 is all right there – the joy, the pain that makes you wince, the regret and the stupid dramatic twist at the end.
Rollercoaster of a year, indeed.
One of my favorite pieces of writing is David Foster Wallace’s collection of short pieces called _A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again_. There’s a piece inside it called *Getting Away From Already Pretty Much Being Away From It All*, a piece that “takes on the vulgarities and excesses of the Illinois State Fair”, if you’re the type to believe Wikipedia. It’s very reflective of the big-city-to-state-fair experience, but there’s one abstract paragraph that I love:
One of the few things I still miss from my Midwest childhood was this weird, deluded but unshakable conviction that everything around me existed all and only *For Me*. Am I the only one who had this queer deep sense as a kid? — that everything exterior to me existed only insofar as it affected me somehow? — that all things were somehow, via some occult adult activity, specially arranged for my benefit? Does anybody else identify with this memory? The child leaves a room, and now everything in that room, once he’s no longer there to see it, melts away into some void of potential or else (my personal childhood theory) is trundled away by occult adults and stored until the child’s reentry into the room recalls it all back into animate service. Was this nuts? It was radically self-centered, of course, this conviction, and more than a little paranoid. Plus the *responsibility* it conferred: if the whole of the world dissolved and resolved each time I blinked, what if my eyes didn’t open?
Continue reading Last Train To Astroland
We spent the afternoon with the [Slice Club](http://www.sliceny.com/archives/2006/04/sunday_thrills_and_slices_at_coney.php) out at [Coney](), enjoying the opening day festivities. We rode the Cyclone twice (once in the front), had some decent pizza at Totonno’s, wandered around the boardwalk, and did a few spins on the Wonder Wheel.
For those who don’t live in New York City but do live in close proximity to the beach and/or an amusement park, you may be wondering what the big deal is. I lay no claim for being able to put my finger exactly on what makes Coney Island what it is, but I can say that it’s like going to an entirely different world.
* [The rest of my photos from today.](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/tags/trip040906/)
* [Video of the marching band.](http://vjarmy.com/junkbin/hungrymarchingband.mpg) (38 MB MPEG)
* [Photos from the Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest 2005.](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/sets/541846/)
This is an attempt at a new way of annotating my photos. If you would rather just look at the photos, you can [view the set directly](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/sets/541846/).
Today, the three of us – Katie, our good friend Thom, and I – trekked out from Astoria at an hour far too early for anyone’s good towards Coney Island, to observe the Nathan’s 2005 Hot Dog Eating Competition.
Continue reading Nathan’s Famous Aftermath