Summer’s almost here, which always gets me thinking about Coney Island, and the inevitable changes taking place there make me feel incredibly sad. Coney’s like a spiritual home to me, my own scrappy Mecca.
Sections of the wooden Coney Island boardwalk have been replaced with concrete, and the Coney Island USA gift shop is now offering an “Authentic Coney Island Boardwalk Shard in a Bottle [...] sealed in a vial with genuine Coney Island sand” for a mere $10. “It makes the perfect gift.” Here’s a shot of the old boardwalk:
You might remember that, last summer, I came across the line of Coney Island furniture by Uhuru Design. Made of reclaimed pieces of boardwalk, the design of the pieces takes its formal cues from aspects of Coney, like the Cyclone Lounger that’s inspired by the famous rollercoaster:
I can accept this kind of creative reuse of the boards, and I appreciate that the design of the pieces references the place itself. Sure, the prices seem astronomical, but this is handmade furniture.
The shard in a bottle, made by Huckster Fabrication, is just a useless fetish object that capitalizes on the nostalgia surrounding Coney Island. Sure, a portion of the proceeds benefits the non-profit Coney Island USA, but this sadly reminds me of the goods available at the pirate shop in San Francisco, the sale of which also benefits a worthy non-profit. The difference is that these are well-executed gag gifts that are part of an elaborate fictitious narrative:
But maybe the Coney Island of the mind is only a fiction at this point?