Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Astroland and Wal-Mart

Yesterday I read that Astroland, the Coney Island amusement park, is closing, and only the Cyclone roller coaster will remain. The rest has been sold to developers.
I felt a horrible blow in my gut upon reading the news. I felt like the world is coming to an end.
Everything is changing (to a bank) in this city, but why mess with Astroland? Why Coney Island? What's going to happen to Nathan's Famous? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Apparently there will be a fabulous amusement park (and condos) and I'm sure it will be much better and nicer than rickety, dirty, nasty ol' Astroland, but that is precisely the point. Not that Astroland was such great shakes, but it is one of the few places in this city that welcomes the great unwashed. It's one place in this city where the great unwashed rule. And now what? What overpriced, generic hell is gonna visit us now?
Some of us have heard the almost mythical stories of the Coney Island of old, which was the most splendiferous amusement park ever. Well, without quite understanding the unfairness of why we couldn't get to experience the old one, we learned to love the seedy one that remained. Now that is going too, and I feel not only sadness, but deep anxiety and malign discomfort at the pit of the stomach. Is this a sign of aging, where at my ripe old age I start bemoaning the loss of nostalgia? Are they really going to make the poor people of this city go away? Does absolutely everything have to be about more profit? Of course for the children of the future, the new place is going to be cooler. They will never understand what anyone sees in Coney Island's decrepit glory. Well, fuck the children of the future. I like decrepit.

I don't want Astroland to go.

As for Wal-Mart, I'm perfectly content to live without it, but couldn't we oppose the demise of Astroland with the same gumption and passion and histrionics we devote to hating Wal-Mart?

I'm sick of hearing that the podunkization of this city is due to market forces. Market forces are ruthless and relentless and they threaten everything in sight. Aren't there counter forces to stop market forces? Can people put a stop to this frenzy of spending and destroying and putting up banks in every corner?

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