Sunday, July 27, 2014


Every Sunday near the pier, there was a group that set up a stereo system to play salsa, merengue, and other Latin music.  The first time I found them, I just watched, like everyone else.  I asked someone next to me why the people weren’t dancing and he said they didn’t know how.  The second time I went, I asked someone to dance and that got the group dancing.  I was wearing flipflops and I took them off. I dance for an hour before I realized the balls of my feet were blistered.  It was really painful getting home.  Maybe that’s why they didn’t dance.

If you walk east along the boardwalk from the pier at Coney Island, you’ll find loads of different types of people.  Most are there for the sea and sand, but some of them just want to walk around, some are there to fish on the pier, some just want to cool off.  There are bike riders, skateboarders, and roller-skaters.  And sandcastle builders. 

After you pass the Aquarium and the handball courts, you’re in Brighton Beach.  This is Russian territory and apartment houses line the boardwalk with a few expensive restaurants sprinkled in. I ate at one of them that had a glass floor with an aquarium underneath so you can watch the fish, but at some point, it burned down or blew up or something and I don’t know if the aquarium was replaced. 
On the boardwalk and sand at Brighton Beach, the older Russian women are not shy about their bodies and very often you can find them wearing their panties and bras as a two-piece bathing suit. 

Post by Alana Cash

Monday, July 21, 2014


Photo by Matthew Stanton (Flickr: Mermaid Parade 2009) 
Every year in Coney Island there is a freakishly fun parade known as the Mermaid Parade.  It's a celebration of the Summer Solstice created by artists and all are invited to participate. 

People with outgoing personalities or those wanting to live out an alter-ego don costumes representing sea creatures.  Women put on wigs and long fishtail skirts or tights, covering their upper region with coconut shells, clam shells, bikini tops, green paint, or little bits of nothing.  There are also mermen, and they can be pretty outlandish.  There are crabs, lobsters, clams, pirates, and other characters decked out in geegaws. 

The parade starts at Surf Avenue and 21st Street and strolls down Surf Avenue.  It’s hot.  It’s loud.  It’s fun.  There are cars and floats, marching bands and one-man bands.  And you’ll never see anything like it anywhere else.  If you want to plant a chair on the curb, you’ll need to arrive a few hours early.
By Joe Mazzola (Flickr: Mermaid Parade 2008) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Okay, it’s already happened in 2014, but for next year’s parade, get more information here:

Post by Alana Cash

Monday, July 14, 2014


In the city of baseball, I attended one game at Yankee stadium and several Mets games at Citi Park in Queens where I sat in the nosebleed seats trying to keep track of the game while people wandered back and forth getting their refreshments for most of the game.

And I found that, by far, the best place to watch baseball in New York City is at MCU Stadium in Coney Island, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

There isn’t a bad seat at MCU Stadium so you can clearly see all the action, and it’s right at the beach so you have the sea breeze with seagulls flying overhead.  Farther down the boardwalk, as it gets dark, the colored lights on the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone rollercoaster come on like a promise of more fun.  The stadium is family oriented with lots of games for the kids to win prizes and tickets are very affordable.    

The Cyclones are one of the New York Mets’ farm teams, and while player performance may be uneven on different days, these are still some of the best baseball players in the country [including major league players, there are about 6,000 pro baseball players in the US].  MCU Park is where major-league Mets players on the disabled list work their way back to Citi Field in Queens.  So there’s a possibility of seeing some legends up close [I saw a Mets player every time I went to a Cyclones game].

The pleasure here is in watching skilled players play the game.  There aren’t a lot of loud drunks carrying on and blocking your view.  There won’t be fights in the parking lot after the game either.  It’s just baseball.

Post by Alana Cash

Monday, July 7, 2014


Congratulations to Joey “Jaws” Chestnut who proposed marriage to his girlfriend and then won his 8th Mustard Belt title by eating 61 hotdogs in 10 minutes at the Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Championship. 

Nathan’s is a landmark on the southwest corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues, a block from the beach, and right across the street from the Coney Island subway terminal [You can get to Coney Island on the B, D, F, Q, or R train]. The terminal is a little Coney Island museum -- the hallway is lined with giant photographs and artifacts of the history of the various amusement parks of Coney Island.  The train station was rebuilt in 2004-2005 and is probably the cleanest and nicest subway station in Brooklyn.

Nathan’s used to be just down the block from the carnival rides at Coney Island – the bumper cars, Tilt-a-Whirl – a whole feast of fun.  But New York realtors tore all that down to build condos on the beach.  Before they could get a permit for building, the local populace fought the development and stalled it.  So what used to be a fun-land is now an empty lot.

But Nathan’s is rarely empty.  In the summer the fold-back doors are opened to lines of people that stretch around the block.  They serve more than a variety of hot dogs – they serve a variety of smothered French fries as well as fried clams, chicken tenders, Philly cheesesteaks.  That sort of thing.

Nathan’s started out as a mom and pop hotdog cart in 1916 owned and operated by Nathan and Ida Handwerker.  Nathan worked as for restaurateur Charles Feltman [buried in Green-Wood Cemetery btw] who is credited with inventing the hot dog. When Nathan had fully  learned how to make hot dogs, he and Ida created their own recipe and went into business. They cut the price to a nickel.
 Feltman had charged a dime.

Nathan's was kept in the family for decades, but finally they sold out to a corporation, and sadly they’ve franchised, which tells you the food isn’t that good.

In the winter, the folding doors are kept closed and there are a handful of tables and chairs and few people. About mid-morning, you can usually find a few members of the Polar Bear Club drinking coffee before and after taking a dip in the frosty Atlantic Ocean.  

Post by Alana Cash