Coney Island Weekend

Coney Island is going away. It's a sad truth that New York City is being developed within an inch of its life. Everything from warehouses to piers are turning into condominiums and a lot of the flavor of the neighborhoods, and consequently the city, is being glazed over with that Midwest sheen of homogeneity. The latest victim is Coney Island, that low-rent bastion of carnival culture that was once called "Sodom by the Sea."

Coney Island is an interesting place, a collection of small amusement parks all backed up against each other with very little to differentiate them except ticket booths. The rides are a mix of period piece carnival rides that look like they've been painted a few thousand times, with inch thick enamel that is still peeling off, and modern fiberglass style attractions that you can probably find in any county fair around the US. Interspersed into that are the two landmark rides, the Wonder Wheel, and the Cyclone. The Wonder Wheel is a Ferris wheel of sorts, except every other car is on a looped track so that as the wheel turns the car rocks back and forth in a dizzying motion. It is the only one of it's kind in the world. The Cyclone is also a historic ride, standing in the space where the world's first roller coaster stood, and it is still ranked as one of the best coasters in the world. All of this together is a bizarre mix of modern and past, tacky and fascinating, beautiful, ugly and ugly/beautiful, all at once. It's such a bizarre place.

Out on the boardwalk is the usual mix of beach stores selling tee-shirts and sun lotion, bars and beach food vendors selling everything you can imagine fried, and/or stuck on a stick. But the real attraction is the people. Beach bums, loud Dominican mother's, women in bikini's dancing on stilts, drag queens, burlesque dancers, screaming kids, carny workers, sideshow freaks... everybody is welcome in Coney Island and no one feels out of place. It is one of the best places to people watch that I have ever seen.

But now it's over. This is the last year of Coney Island. The area has been purchased by a real estate developer. They promise that they aren't planning to put in shoebox condos. In fact they are cleaning space and bringing in a semi-permanent circus for the summer, the first time that a real circus has been in residence there in decades, but people still worry. The Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone won't go anywhere because they are registered landmarks, but the rest have no guarantees. All those decisions will be revealed to the public at the end of the season. It's been a much talked about event here in the city as you can imagine. It may be the final straw that gets the people motivated to fight harder against what is happening to the city, we'll see. In the meantime the biggest question what happens to the residents and workers? There are men who have been operating the major attraction rides for nearly 40 years, and that type of job can't have much of a retirement plan. Besides that where else can you go to see the variety of people and events that Coney Island collapses into a single location. Sure all those people I mentioned will go on, out there in the world somewhere... but not as one. Not as a collection so easily accessible, and that's sad. It's a culture that going away, not just a place.

My advice... if you can get here before the summer is over, you should. It really is just a day trip and you can easily fit it into a schedule for any other trip to the city that you might be planning. Come, see Sodom before it falls.

I Barely Know Myself Anymore

This morning I was starving on the way to work and I stopped by one of the ubiquitous cofee trucks on the street corner by my office to grab a muffin. I asked for an apple muffin, which I have gotten from ths truck before so I wasn't worried. I got up to the office and discovered that it was a banana muffin.

Anyone that knows me knows that I HATE bananas. I have since I was a kid. I don't like the texture, I don't like the flavor, I just find the whole package distasteful.

But I ate the muffin. I ate it because I was late alredy, and I didn't want to go back down to get another one, and because I was starving. I ate it... and... it wasn't bad. In fact I might have actually enjoyed it a bit. Have I been wrong all these years? Do I actually LIKE bananas? Or have my tastes changed? I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle a fully fresh fruit right out it's slimy yellow wrapper, but... maybe it isn't so bad for them to be in my food anymore.

What has the world come to?

Lake Taghkanic Weekend

I just got back to the city from my fabulous weekend in the mountains! I'm a little tuckered, but boy am I happy. It was a great weekend.

Kid Flash and I decided to visit Lake Taghkanic State Park, which is in upstate NY. Find the area on a map where the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders meet the NY border and trace your finger towards the left. You'll Taconic State Park immediately, but keep going and you'll see Lake Taghanik. It's a small state park, but it is incredibly well equipped. They have four or five levels of camping, regular ground camping, RV camping, camping platforms, cabins, and cottages. The cottages have private showers where the cabins just have toilets, and a shared shower block, but they are more than adequate.

We arrived Friday afternoon about 3 and found our very cute and quaint little cabin. It has two bedrooms with double beds, (we chose this camp ground because it had double beds, all the others had either twins or bunks.) a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen and a small screened porch. It looked like it had been refurbished over the winter, the floors were freshly polished and it was immaculate. Since the cabins just started season rentals a few weeks ago we very well could have been the first people there this season.

After checking out the cabins we set out on a quest for food for the weekend. KF is vegetarian so I hadn't wanted to do the food shopping without him. It's been a long time since I cooked vegetarian meals for myself, so I wanted the input. It took quite a bit of questing to find a grocery store, but with the help of some locals we finally found an IGA and put together the necessities for the weekend. I won't bore you with the menus but we had some really good meals, included a pasta with pesto and fiddleheads, (that's what's cooking in the pan in the pic) and this eggplant dish, that I HIGHLY recommend. We also picked up some of those compressed wood fireplace logs because it was a little cold and we were planning to make good use of the fireplace that the cabin provided. I am SO glad we did.

The temps on Friday night got down pretty low, but that's just good weather for snugglin' so I didn't complain. The weather said that we were supposed to have rain over the weekend and temps in the 50's so we were expecting much, frankly.

Saturday we spent most of the day hiking around the lake that gives the park it's name. The park had been created and laid out as part of the CCC in the 30's, and a lot of the structures are original to that era. Included in that is a 40' water tower where we found this VERY large bird nesting. If anyone reading this could help ID this bird we'd appreciate it. I know it's a lousy picture and we never saw the full bird, but what we saw was black, except for a white area underneath her bill. To give you a sense of scale the nest she's resting in here is between 4 and 5' in diameter. It was a HUGE nest.

We also did a bit of geocaching, finding the one cache that was in the park. It did end up raining a bit, but it was pretty much just a mist, and the trees on the hiking trail protected us from most of us.

The next day started off with MUCH more rain. We were woken up by driving rain, and figured that any further hiking or fun in the area was probably going to be out. I had one more geocache in the area that I wanted to hit, and we had planned on going over to another state park and doing a bit more hiking. Luckily by the time we dragged ourselves out of bed the rain had stopped and the sun was out. We decided to hit the cache at least, and see how the day progressed. First we had lunch at a classic silver American diner. By the time we were finished there the sun had dried most everything out. The cache was a bust, we never could find it unfortunately, (there's KF standing in the middle of a stream trying to get a clear read out of my GPS unit).

To wrap things up we hit Taconic State park, and hiked up to the Bash Bish Falls (that's them in the pic), and to Sunset Rock, where you are supposed to be able to see all three of the local states from above.

All in all a FABULOUS weekend and a really great start to my summer season. I think it is really going to be a great year if this is any indication. Next up on the agenda is Prague, then probably a bit more camping. I can't wait!!

Teacher Let The Monkey's Out

The semester has ended! Huzzah! What does that matter to me since I'm not in school anymore? Well it means I get my boyfriend back. For a full three months my life will be free of homework and papers and the general ruckus that has meant I only got to see my boyfriend three days a week, and usually when he was grumpy from working all day on group presentations with classmates that are... well... I'll charitably call them "challenged."

First up in my exciting new life? A camping trip. This time tomorrow I'll be in a cabin in the woods snuggling in front of a fireplace. (And possibly listening to the rain on the roof... but let's keep our fingers crossed that that doesn't come to pass.) I can't wait.

Oh, and the key to my boyfriend's heart? I discovered it this week. After two weeks of begging I allowed him to stick a wasabi pea up my nose. Apparently it was the ultimate act of love and now he's convinced. Who knew?

(Yes it burned.)

Subway Sketches Part CLXXXIV

Subway Sketches Part CLXXXIII

May 12 of 12

It's the 12th! That means it's time for another 12 of 12! This is based on an idea created by Chad Darnell, 12 photos to document the 12th of each month. I up the ante a bit by creating a theme for myself. This month: These Are The People In My Neighborhood!

About 10:30 I leave Kid Flash's apartment. (That's his elbow.)

This is my Super, Maggie, in the lobby of my building. She's always friendly. She's lived in this neighborhood for so long that there's a park named after her down the block.

First task for the day: laundry. I usually try not to do this on the weekends because it's super busy at the laundromat, but it wasn't bad today.

After that I head downtown for some fun. I liked the green shirts of these ladies against the green trees. It was a beautiful day, a tiny bit chilly.

In the subway station, waiting for my train. Since there are two levels at my station a lot of people wait on the stairs in-between so that they can catch whichever train arrives first.

The movie theatre. I saw Waitress. It's a cute movie. It was interesting because all of the characters are such broad caricatures yet they somehow become real over the course of the movie.

A hot dog vendor outside the theatre.

Starbucks. I left the house in a tee shirt but the temp dropped pretty fast so I swung through for something warm to drink.

I also stopped by K-Mart. I need a pair of swim trunks for the summer, something that I haven't owned in years.

The booth attendant at the subway station.

On the way home.
Back in my own neighborhood I snagged a slice of pizza from a place around the corner, and that's it. End of the day. Next month I'll probably be late posting for this, but it should be a fun one since it will be another travel day and I'll be on the way to Prague!

Travel Itenerary

May 19-21 Lake Taghanik campgrounds with Kid Flash

June 12-19 Prague with my Mom.
June 22-24 North South Lake campgrounds with Kid Flash and friends.

July 4-8 Wildwood, NJ with Kid Flash and friends.
July ?? (Date TBD) Working trip to Orlando Opera (well... and some fun too).
July ?? (Date TBD) Watch Hill Beach camping with Kid Flash and friends.


August ?? (Date TBD) Watch Hill Beach camping with Kid Flash and friends.

I'm tired already, but BOY does it seem like I have a fun summer ahead of me!!

Assist Yourself

Since I moved to New York City I have been resisting the standard path that most people in theatrical design take, which is doing a few shows here and then, and attaching yourself to an established designer as an assistant to learn the biz. Everyone always warns you, "Don't assist for too long." The danger is that you miss the window of becoming your own person and just end up as an assistant for the rest of your career. I had been getting good work and making a living without ever having gone the assistant route. The past year or two though I have felt as if I had hit the ceiling of what I can do on my own, so when the opportunity came to assist on this tour I jumped on it. First off let me just say what a joy it is to work on a show without terrible budget constraints again. After 3 years of doing shows with $250 budgets it's nice to be able to design unfettered without having to worry where I am going to get something. I already know that this was the right decision, in the past two weeks I have done things that I never had to do in my freelance life before. Sending proposals for bid out to a scene shop, creating breakdowns on a design to be sure that it will all fit in a transfer truck, etc. etc. Basically all of the things that they talk about in grad school but never really give you practical experience on. I'm supposed to be in this shop for 6 weeks. Everyone here tells me that they were given the 6 weeks line when they were hired as well, and some of them have been here for years. Would I stay that long? I dunno. It's tempting. Steady pay, benefits. But it is still doing other people's work, and not so much my own, so we'll see how long it takes for me to get restless. For now though... I'm happy as the Assistant Designer.

Bloggery Is Hard.

Well, I have just turned into a piss poor blogger haven't I? Sorry, I do apologize. After 10 days in Savannah where net connections were often iffy, and the starting this 9 to 5 lifestyle (usually more like 9:30 to 6:15 frankly) I've just been off my game. I'm trying to settle my life back into a routine but it's weird. Plus... my transit times are off, so there are MANY more people on the train than when I used to ride it, so I have trouble sketching. I have steady work that is enjoyable. I have a boyfriend that I love and adore. What the hell am I supposed to blog about? All the usually bitchy whiny-ness of my life seems to have settle ditself out. I'll try to do better in the coming days, I promise. I have three sketches that have been languishing in my sketch book, (two of which were done before I left for Savannah), but I've been too lazy a fuckwit to scan them. I'll get there, I'll get there.