Coney Island and the Brooklyn Cyclones

Sounds like a cool name for a band, huh?

If you use it I promise I won’t sue you but I will ask that you include a mention and possibly photo of me inside your album sleeve. Another teenaged aspiration achieved. Adriana – 1, Adolescent Angst – 0

Now I’m on a winning streak – I hope you’ll forgive me for this tardy recollection. Forgive me, it’s been two days since this actually happened, so I may in fact exaggerate, or distort facts for my own amusement, for a change.

Our lovely downstairs neighbours, Derek and Shaniqua (changed to protect their identity, I always wanted a friend named Shaniqua, as a side note), invited us to come to a baseball game to which of course we said yes. I had forgotten we had made such an arrangement until Shaniqua helpfully reminded us on the weekend. Thank heavens for her. Seriously.

Neither of us had ever been to a baseball game and I had never even watched one (though I had schooled myself via The Simpsons and the Madonna-tastic A League of Their Own so was clearly an expert). Derek and Shaniqua also hadn’t visited Coney Island for ages, so were keen to see the sights.

Derek and I, being dutiful stay at home “wives” took the subway into Manhattan, picked up Shaniqua at her work (in the garment district – like Surry Hills if it was huge and nothing like Surry Hills) and walked the ten blocks to the husband’s workplace. Due to the incredible heat, and tourists milling like blinded cattle around the base of the Empire State Building (WALK IN A STRAIGHT LINE!) I was reduced to a particularly hot, hangry** mess by the time we got to the h-place.

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I thank the city of New York every day for their air conditioned trains. I LOVE YOU.

The hangriness* subsided somewhat in the air conditioned ride on the F-train out to Coney Island where we were ecstatic to be received by the hot-dog stalwart Nathan’s.

Hot dogs are somewhat an institution here and strangely edible.

Oh, I know they’re like the roulette of meat products.

It hasn’t stopped me from enjoying them on a semi-regular basis – in fact I’ve had two since I’ve arrived here a month ago, and based on my previous rate of consumption (around once every ten years) I have increased my intake exponentially by the power of pi x infinity*** since leaving Australia.

The first hot dog I ate was at Costco, and it was $1.50 including a refillable soda pop (Diet Coke, of course) and was delicious.

The Nathan’s hot dog I would rate secondary to the Costco hot dog for two reasons:

1 – The price, which was comparable to a Harry’s pie v a Four and Twenty pie but without the extra mushy goodness to justify it

2 – The size, which matched my hand and not my forearm.

What gives, Nathan’s? I’m sure your founder, Nathan Handwerker, would be interested to know what his non-Polish cousin Peter Costco**** is up to.

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Nathan likes: hot dogs, and signs. Dislikes: non-battered foods, Costco

The h also bought a poutin-type side dish to accompany his hot dog which was a sore-looking mess of crinkle-cut fries topped in bacon bits and (neon orange) American cheese. American cheese is excellent – when I asked what it was nobody could tell me. God bless America!

Anyway, back to our protagonist.

Sated, we ambled around to the stadium which was exactly like what you see in The Simpsons only with slightly more concrete, and Coney Island amusements in the background.

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Take me out to the ballgame…

The Cyclones C team is a minor league team that has some promising members but on the whole plays like … well, me. Shows potential, but can’t catch a ball with a bucket. The only terminology I have to reference here is from my own juvenile exploits in primary school compulsory soft ball so I am excited to share with you my cultural analysis of the experience:

– everyone gets their own scoreboard graphic and theme music. Theme music best described as urban versions of “Coco Jambo” by Mr. President.

– Medieval Times, evidently a sponsor of the stadium, hands out free crowns in either red or blue, depending on which team you go for. They also had a halftime.. ahem.. show of knights in team colours sword fighting. I never thought I’d be one to say this, but it was a little exciting. There were sparks flying off their sword strikes, loud banging noises, grunting… it was AWESOME. It also appeals to my newfound love of cosplay which means I WILL be making the trip to Jersey to go to Medieval Times (more on that later) and also to the New York Renaissance Fair the day before I come back to Sydney. But like I said, more on that another time. SO. Excited.

– Various fried foods – corndogs, burgers (deceptively called sandwiches), fries, cheese on a stick, and the smell of your pants melting as your butt expands faster than the speed of light. Seriously, the only non-fried food options were a pretzel or ice-cream. Delicious, but hardly dietetic. Particularly after a hot dog main.

– Chatty McChat Chats – you go to a ball game to be heard, and not seen, so it’s important to note that there was a lady there actually wearing pyjamas, and several men that alternately either kindly let us eavesdrop on their oral history of baseball coaches or would graciously correct our conversational mis-steps.

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I am SO excited this photo worked out. I caught the Knights at play. Hahahahha. Mature, I know. Ohhh yeah.

We relished the game experience (reminds me – we saw a hot-dog race – Relish won but as Derek informed me – there is no winner, cause you need Ketchup, Mustard, AND Relish all together for a hot dog to be a winner) for about an hour then decided to split and take a stroll along the boardwalk.

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Did someone say CHEER SQUAD? There is a small part of me that’s dead sure I would have been a cheerleader if I was born here. But I wasn’t. And nobody needs to watch a 30+ year old, wise-cracking cheerleader fumble her way through a bump and grind routine that would make Madonna blush.

Now, Coney Island is now a “cleaned” up version of its former self. That’s to say, it still attracts a colourful crowd and a fair chunk of that crowd is not familiar with the concept of a belt to hold their pants up.

The crowd itself I don’t mind (actually quite enjoy the people watching) but they clearly don’t understand the social mores of public ablutions.

There was one public toilet block open on the boardwalk by the time we left the game. Stupidly I had been deaf to the call of nature inside the stadium and once outside realised the urgency of about a litre of Diet Coke working its way through my kidneys and hitting my bladder.

Thinking quick, one gentleman had decided to pee on the door of the nearest closed facility. Shaniqua and I shuffled on to the open one, which is where I was greeted by the dirtiest, no, that’s not the word for it. The grungiest toilet block I have ever been into. One side of stalls was POLICE TAPED and a lady was still in there – possibly passed out, possibly dead. Who could know. The other side was fortunately available for use and featured the usual wet floor you encounter in public toilets (why is it that people don’t seem to be able to aim their crotch directly above the bowl? I get it, there’s no way I’d sit on the seat – if there is one – either, but you can’t get the pee in the toilet? Is your chakra misaligned? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM HERE?). I was wearing shoes that are easily hosed off, so wasn’t concerned with the wet floor. What was interesting was that I noticed the cleanest part of the bathroom – walls, door, empty toilet roll holder, etc.. WAS THE CEILING FAN. Which was covered in about 10cm (not kidding) of dust. But dust seems cleaner to me than miscellaneous body fluids, used gum, or sanitary refuse. Am I alone in this?

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This sign should be above the toilet block.

After a full body hand-sanitiser rub down we continued our promenade, walked through the amusements (I didn’t ride anything though the scariest would have to be the Cyclone – built in 1927 and wooden) and busted a move outside this awesome looking joint.

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Bump your a$$ off! Dodgem cars – awesomely signed.

By then our Coney Island paradise had faded beyond dusk into darkness. The streets, still steamy, filled up with more slack waisted pant wearers, and their loud female accompaniments. We hailed a town car (possibly the only town car with no air con) and Shaniqua and I shang***** our little hearts out to the radio, to the wild bemusement of the driver who the h implored to have pity on him for having to live with me (sucker).

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OOHHHH I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY!

Then we were home. To the cleanest, coldest, sweetest place in Brooklyn that night.

THE END.

* hangriness – (etymology: a combination of hungry + angry) when you are so hungry you feel like eating your own fist, which is ironic considering all you want to do is swing it at the nearest person.

** hangry – like hangriness but an adjective, instead of a poorly constructed noun

*** in case you have your calculator out, this is not really an accurate value but I haven’t done maths in a really long time. As a frame of reference, this value is inversely proportionate to the quality of my digestive health which is another story (and equally corrupt formula)

**** Not actually founded by someone called Peter Costco, some dudes named James and Jeffrey from Washington. Guys who clearly know their way around a hot dog…

***** shang – past tense of shing, when you shout + sing at the same time. Often a result of excessive ingestion of alcohol, in this case, heat induced delirium

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