June 2008


Coney Island & Cyclones

Famous NathansFor years I’ve read about family fun out at Coney Island, yet I’ve never made the trek out there.

That changed yesterday when I headed out to see the Brooklyn Cyclones’ season opener.

At the conclusion of my meeting yesterday, in which I think progress was made on some important issues, I got my hair cut and then cleaned myself up to head out.

It was an hour long ride on the N-train out to Coney Island and immediately after emerging from the station, I saw Nathan’s—something I’d read about many times, but never actually eaten. So I decided to grab a hot dog, complete with onions, sauerkraut, and a dash of mustard and ate it.

Here’s a newsflash: Nathan’s hot dogs are nothing special.

Actually I think that the hot dog I ate at Nathan’s might be the last one I eat on a lifetime basis. It was bland, tasteless, and boring—something which describes the other two hot dogs I’ve eaten whilst in New York, from a different restaurant.

I can only assume that all hot dogs are like the ones I ate here in The City. It’s clear that Thüringen bratwurst has spoiled me, and if I am going to eat something phallic and wedged in a piece of bread, it will no longer be a hot dog.

CycloneFrom there I was like a kid in a candy shop—I’d heard so much about the Cyclone, and I guess I assumed it was mythological, something left to the history books, but it wasn’t, so I walked over to the famous Cyclone rollercoaster, forked over $8, and took my place in the mercifully short queue. Once the coaster pulled in, I sat in the last row and held on for dear life.

It’s been years since I’ve been on a rollercoaster, and it was a blast. Next time I will have my eyeglass case with me and take off my glasses, but for one ride I was ok. It’s one of those rickety wooden coasters that makes a ton of noise, and sitting at the back meant that I got whipped around like nobody’s business.

I could have re-ridden the ride for only $5, but I wanted to head to the ballpark.

Signing AutographsAt the ballpark, I was one of the first fans, so I got a magnetic season schedule, before heading in and enjoying the fun. Players were greeting fans, and shops selling stuff. I passed the time looking around, eating a salty pretzel (my baseball tradition), and watching people. It was a splendid spectacle.

And all of this before the game started.

National AnthemThere was the usual pre-game activities: a couple of opening pitches, the introduction of the hated rival team, the Staten Island Yankees; the introduction of the home team, and then the national anthem.

The game was spending fun—a circus like atmosphere ruled. It was also one of the most diverse crowds I’d ever seen in a baseball stadium. At the Indianapolis Indians the crowd is 80% white, 10% African-American, and 10% Latino/other. This had black, white, Jewish, Christian, Italian, Irish, and more. I was sitting next to a Jew who had the Obama button I put up last night.

There were dizzy bat races, promotions for a local Italian restaurant (its advertisement said “proper attire required”; I shall never eat there), birthday greetings, and more.

Lighting the FieldThere was only one thing that caught me off guard. During the 7th Inning stretch they sang “God Bless America.” I don’t recall having heard it sung before—if it’s a 9/11 artifact, I’ve blocked it from my memory of attending other baseball games since then. Regardless I found it awful—I find the song to be worse than the national anthem, which is a trick, but still possible.

I’m pleased to report that the home team won, beating the Yankees by a score of 3 to 1.

From there I wandered back to my hotel where I fit everything in my suitcase with some judicious trashing (old shoes in the trash, new shoes on the feet). I need to ship stuff to my home while I am in Berlin, since I want as empty a suitcase as possible when I find myself in Istanbul, come Saturday afternoon.

Yes, I am on the move again: I fly tonight to Berlin, spend two nights in Berlin, and then head to Turkey.

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