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Published April 27, 2008

the boardwalk is quiet tonight. a light rain thinned the crowds and only those of us without a choice, or who don't care about being a little damp, are left. i belong in the latter category. i love walking in the rain, or just after. especially out here, next to the ocean (well, sort of the ocean...it's hard to think of coney island as being on the ocean...at least, for me it is). i like the acrid smell of the rainwater slowly rotting the wood of the boardwalk mixed with the seaweed/salty garbage aroma of the ocean. i like being able to make out my own footsteps on the planks, thudding out in rhythm over the timid coney island surf. i scan the beach...a few souls left on the wet sand. making the most of it building a sandcastle, or just digging a hole that, for once, won't fill itself up. who knows if there is a purpose, they're just doing what they can, and most of them seem to be having a great time doing it. a rustling next to me grabs my attention and i see a bum pulling an uneaten funnel cake out of the trash. she looks at me warily, so i smile at her until she decides to react to me...nothing. she just stares at me as she pulls off a soggy piece of funnel cake snd shoves it in her mouth, not taking her eyes off me. i child screams indignantly from inside the amusment park and the homelss woman finally turns away...grumbling something about crazy junkies wandering around, creeping everyone out...i assume she meant me. soon, though, i'll be the one welcome here...if i bother to bathe, and she'll be getting dragged off the property to make room for all the nice families of tourists that will be frequenting new york's very own mini disneyland...which is what coney island is gonna be turned into. all those smells of rot and death, all the shadiness that occurs just on the edges of the perception of this place, will be cleaned away. disinfected for the greater good of a sterile tomorrow. another piece of the mirror will be broken away, so we can just imagine what that part of the reflection looks like, and imagine it better. the progression of beauty will not be stopped, and in 100 years, when they tear this place down again in the name of modernization and money, someone will write of it's power and mystique just as i, and countless others, have. they will lament the loss of a landmark that represented something beautiful of the past, and cry out that we must retain our unique identity...but this is our unique identity. this is what makes us...whatever it is that we are...the mirror never breaks, we just lie to ourselves that it isn't good enough and then buy a new one...but hey, as long as there's still ski-ball, dance-dance revolution and beer, i don't care what the place looks like, i'll be there. but i'll never eat funnel cake out of the garbage...

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