Just when we are about to hit the wintry boardwalk at Coney Island (the only and best time to go - summer and you feel like a sea lion flopping in an overcrowded, crotchety and obese, perpetually grunting colony) to eat clams, per Sam Sifton's article, "Slurping Seashells", in the Times some months ago, and to take pictures of this clear blue day, I find that Ruby's, a Coney Island institution has been shuttered. Why? Its lease was not renewed.
Coming on the heels of yesterday's view of the Bowery's glitz and glamour the feeling is of deep disgust. Coney Island is arguably one of the ugliest places on earth but it is still undeniably itself. I'm not nostalgic for squalor, but for something resembling character, backbone and an integrity that comes from withstanding the elements long enough to outlast generations. When the places that give character to a neighborhood are swallowed whole, individuality and eccentricity are lost to the bright sheen of mediocre mass appeal. The irony is that if Ruby was not designed for the masses, nothing is.
The reason to travel evaporates. Mickey Mouse wins.