We didn't make it to the Mermaid Parade on Saturday, but met these tired and happy mermaids on the train that evening; they insisted the eternal rain had not dampened spirits one bit. Last Friday, the rain spared Coney Island for the opening game of the Cyclones (below--they even won, despite our presence, which usually acts as a powerful jinx). We love going to the Cyclones, despite our rudimentary ability to follow a baseball game; there are Nathan's hot dogs, beach breezes and sunsets, the mighty eponymous coaster itself looming in the distance, and lots of silly stunts between innings. It feels like a Brooklyn family gathering, and nobody on the field looks like they're using steroids or being paid like junk-bond kings.
Brooklyn, as Mark Helprin has observed, is infinite; so, apparently, is Coney Island, if you explore beyond the hotly contested nexus of the rides and boardwalk. A few days ago, I discovered another strange outland when I drove Daughter to a track meet in Kaiser Park, described by the Parks Department as "the perfect combination of beach fun and beauty combined with the functionality of a landlocked park." On this afternoon, with storm clouds again lowering, it was more like a strange dreamscape, one that began with a trip down Neptune Avenue, a stretch of car-repair joints so desolate that it brought Willets Point to mind.
The park has a gorgeous track thanks to an ongoing multi-million dollar restoration, but on this day, it was nearly deserted except for a handful of basketball players. From this shrugged shoulder of Coney Island, one actually looks out north to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Above, some guys had pitched a little tent on the shore, where they were relaxing. One had arrived by tricycle and another brought his dog, all sharing a peaceful, post-apocalyptic vibe.
The inlet between Coney and the mainland is studded with a few rotting docks and barges, and the beach is an inaccessible swath of boulders studded with strange cast-offs. A guy in dreadlocks fished off the concrete pier; blues and stripers are caught there, he said, although not, that day, by him. Further along the shoreline, abandoned shopping carts and garbage cans stood like sculptures.
Nature emerged at the fringes, too. I don't know if this grass is an ornamental or an invasive weed, but its pattern is fantastic. On the rocks, the milkweed bent over in the wind, ready to burst open and welcome the monarch butterflies.
Daughter had gamely signed up for track, and we did the "thunderstorm-coming" sprint back to the car to return to our own planet of Flatbush through the orbit of Neptune.