Yesterday, the wife and I went to one of my favorite places on the planet: Coney Island.
After gorging on crab strips, buttered corn and hot dogs, I got to thinking about why CI is so damn cool. I like how it's safe enough to hang out, but still dirty and seedy enough to be fun, yet it still retains a hint of its old-time charm (especially with the Cyclone). It's got a beautiful Atlantic Ocean beach, a sideshow, great food, rides new and old, and my personal favorite game: Skee-Ball!
I think the biggest thing that makes CI so cool is simply how different it is. You just have to check out the Mermaid Parade for proof of that. They even sell buttons proclaiming it "Sodom by the Sea." Now all of this got me thinking, of course, about our beloved Stamford.
I'm not going to reopen the "Stamford has no character" argument. However, I will say that although there are a lot of neat things to do here (cricket comes to mind), a lot of things in Stamford are just so darn generic.
Our "waterfront" dining, Crab Shell and Paradise Grill, serve pretty standard fare and are full of gel-haired meatheads. We have 1001 Italian restaurants serving penne a la vodka. Our local Irish pub is a chain! I think Fairfield County in general is the polo shirt capital of the world, and does it get any more generic than a polo shirt? Why is this town so uptight?
Part of the problem is that there's no "alternative" scene here. I think it would be cool to have a neighborhood like Philadelphia's South Street or SoHo in NYC (although even SoHo is getting rapidly generic-ified). I don't necessarily mean S&M orgies (though I'm not judging), but how cool would it be to have a roller rink in town that hosted roller derby matches?? Even New Haven has Toad's Place, a well-known rock/punk/etc. venue. We have...cover bands at the former Jimmy's Seaside.
Also, I'm not a member of the gay demographic, but as far as I know, there's little to no gay/lesbian scene here, and we all know that gays = fun (for everyone). See again: South Street and SoHo/Greenwich Village.
Unfortunately, part of what allows places like those come to be are seediness and low rent, and while we've got some of the former, the latter is an extinct species in these parts. I'd love to see some pioneers carve out a little "district" somewhere in the CTW, but with the South End catching Antares fever and the East Side getting the Glenview Commons cold, there isn't much "cheap" real estate left in town.
Well, at least Bennigan's is gone. Wait...what's that opening underneath Target? A Houlihan's?? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!
I should add that the Avon Theater's Cult Classics series is awesome, not to mention surprisingly well-attended!