Ellis & Barnes: Serious Mothers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sketchfest NYC and Coney Island: Labyrinth of Terror

Hi PPPA fans, pals and gals!

If you've been missing us, we've been busy....busy making comedy! The 3rd Floor just got back from NYC (Biz country) who hosted and ran a Swiss watch-like Sketchfest. There were three nights of amazing groups, ending in the Saturday night Craptacular (about an hour of sketches by anyone who wanted to showcase something too groan-inducing or offensive to run in a real show) followed by a dazzling after party at a glamorous New York watering hole. Our set felt solid, we had a great house and it was a blast and truly exhausting experience - probably not as exhausting as Biz' experience of performing AND producing the whole thing. Clap right now for her please! Thank you.

I love New York. I love everything about it and every time I'm lucky enough to go - I take a little gem of a memory away with me; Year One it was racing across the Brooklyn Bridge in a yellow cab as the sun came up over the city. Year Two it was riding the subway while listening to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". This year it was having a panic attack on the Cyclone at Coney Island.

Rumor has it that Coney Island is going to be torn down after this summer. Maybe it's just a portion of it, but still...Coney Island is legendary. When the gang suggested going there on Saturday, I immediately thought of strolling down a boardwalk where to my right the bald Strongman in his leopard-print toga lifts a barbell with two spheres on each end, his moustache waxed into a perfect handlebar. I pictured everything made of wood as a kalaiope plays "Bicycle Built for Two". I pictured skee ball played by gentlemen in top hats and gibson girls gaily waving their parasols from the ferris wheel. This is the only impression I've ever gotten from Coney Island; pictures from the 1920's. I dig carnivals, but I'm not Ride Girl. I get woozy from looking at people on rides and admire their bravery. I try to get past everything and say: "Fuck it. It's two minutes" but fear takes over and doesn't let go. This time I said "Fuck it. It's two minutes and it doesn't look that bad". I'm proud of myself for going on the Cyclone, but not very proud of the fact that it turned me into a kicking and screaming mess.

The Cyclone occupies the space where the world's first roller coaster once stood, was dreamed up by brothers Jack and Irving Rosenthal and designed by Vernan Keenan. It opened in 1927 with a first drop (out of 11) of 85 feet, six 180 degree turns, 16 changes of direction, 18 track crossovers and 27 elevation changes. All of this at sixty miles per hour and just under two minutes. The coaster was said to make Emilio Franco (a mute since birth) utter his first words: "I feel sick" and Time magazine quoted Charles Lindbergh as saying that a ride on the Cyclone was more thrilling than his solo flight across the Atlantic. What wouldn't there be to love about this? Also, I had the feeling that the thrills of 1927 and the thrills of now might be a little different from each other. Boy was I wrong.

I can see how people love it. Even thinking back to the terror of the ride, I can appreciate the beauty of the Cyclone; it's candy apple red seats, the simplicity of the wooden track and the sound of gears and screaming, but I was thrown. Younger Me loved wooden coasters, but Older Me still wasn't prepared. As the bar came down over Ted and me, we shoved off and started to climb, the chain pulling us 85 feet into the Brooklyn sky. "I've made a mistake!" I said to Ted through tears. "I've made a mistake, I've made a mistake, I've made a mistake..." quickly turning into: "Oh NO!" Then: "I HATE YOU." Then sobbing. The eleven drops looked like two from the outside and to tell you the truth - it didn't look that tall. It looked like any coaster I'd be excited to go on when I was ten (and didn't have problems with moving fast in a deceivingly violent & rattley car.) When we pulled into the station, I was shaking, angry and embarrassed. I really thought that I could handle it and was sad when I didn't want to turn around and go on it again with the others (like I do immediately after Space Mountain.) The Cyclone had beat me, but that's alright. She's a tougher broad than I, a West Coast gal on her turf. It's only fair that she kicks my ass.

About 20 minutes later, all was well and we were on our way to enjoying the rest of the day. After our friend Baz bought a truly treasured treasure for me and Ted (and ten people who read this: you're all getting a scan of it) we went to conquer the other goal of the day: enjoying the Atlantic with a few Coney Island hot dogs.

The dogs were magnificent and we still had a few hours to wander and wonder and then suddenly Ted got up and asked me to grab my backpack and come with him, very softly. Kind of like a guidence councellor. "What did I do? Aw, man...if this is about the Cyclone I'm fine!" Ted looked into my eyes: "There's a man with a gigantic snake around his neck who was walking toward us and we have to keep moving because he's coming this way too". He was right. From a distance, the man looked like he was trying to keep a dolphin around his neck. The snake was indeed gigantic and falling off of his shoulders as it shimmered in the sun. It fell right on the spot where I had my last two bites of Nathan's chili dog. Fuck! Was Coney Island a Labyrinth of Terror? What next?

Despite all of this and nearly being beaned directly in the face by a football on the beach - Coney Island was a great time and I wouldn't change a thing about the whole day. I got to ride on a comet of a legend and see my number one fear (snakes) from a great distance and I didn't freak out as badly as I thought. I had the best day of people watching I will probably ever have. I was with friends whom I love.

Coney Island was just trying to be the kind of hostess who knows that her time is unfortunately limited and she was just trying to make an impression.

I can see that now.



At 1:08 PM, Blogger Jason said...

i can't wait for you to see The Wiz


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