Spookarama today. Photo by  Sarah Ackerman.

Spookarama today. Photo by Sarah Ackerman.

It pains me to say this but the days of many of our nation’s beloved amusement rides are numbered. One way or another, beloved institutions that make up Coney Island and other boardwalks will go away, either due to time, the distractions of Pokemon Go-style games, conversion to condos or the ever-rising sea levels that will soon turn ocean-front property into deep-sea property (but keep arguing about parking spaces, everyone!). With this loss go our memories of youth and first dates and lovably cheesy rides that remind us of a simpler time before paying $20 to see The Smurfs in 3D. We got a taste of this in 2012 when Sandy whacked the boardwalk in Coney Island, damaging many of the rides; at my hometown boardwalk in Seaside Heights, that kooz of as storm sent an entire pier to amusement park heaven.

Among the most endangered of these kinds of attractions are what’s known as “dark rides” like the Spookarama at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, those single-cart rides that take you through a haunted house full of ghosts and scares. They’re prime for teenage making out, have been around for 100 years — and they’re disappearing. Only about a dozen of the old-school version are left in the United States, according to one count. Joel Zika, a 36-year-old art and design university professor in Melbourne, Australia, has been fascinated with the dark rides for years, reveling their connection to early horror effects in movies. So he decided to document them in the only way that would truly do them justice: Virtual reality. He’s crowdfunding his project now and planning a trip to Coney in October to record the Spookarama in all its old-timey glory.

“It’s not so much that these are amazing experiences, but that they’re really unique,” Zika told Brokelyn. “All this stuff that’s really immersive, 360-degree experiences, some of them up to 100 years old. That’s fascinating, that’s something that may be more valuable to me than looking at old cinema.” (more…)

09/06/16 1:41pm
Via @therealcalebmclaughlin on Instagram.

Gaten Matarazzo (left) and Caleb McLaughlin of ‘Stranger Things’ snap a selfie with Darren Criss at Coney Island yesterday. Via @therealcalebmclaughlin on Instagram.

The kids from Netflix’s summer hit Stranger Things have done the impossible: they’ve been nearly ubiquitous for months now and yet we’re somehow still not sick of them. Fresh off their charming appearance on Fallon, featuring Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) crushing Nicki Minaj’s rap from “Monster,” kid stars Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) and Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) popped by Coney Island yesterday, appearing on stage with Darren Criss at Elsie Fest, a big stage and screen music festival at the new boardwalk amphitheater.

You probably missed all this since the beaches were closed out of fears of severe rip tides from Hermine, which led to lots of empty beaches. But if you were there, you would have seen Matarazzo continued to impress with his previously noted singing ability as the duo sang songs with Criss, and overall looked like they are still having the best time of their lives, which they probably are. (more…)

08/25/16 12:20pm
A new mini-golf course has opened in Coney Island. Photo via @anthony_0358 on Instagram.

A new mini-golf course has opened in Coney Island. Photo via @anthony_0358 on Instagram.

Recently, we recommended Shipwrecked, Brooklyn’s first indoor mini-golf course, as a fun, air-conditioned diversion on a hot day. Since opening in Red Hook a couple months back, Shipwrecked has filled a huge hole in the summer fun market, since there isn’t much else in the way of mini-golf in Brooklyn. But now, a new course called Brooklyn Miniature Golf opened last week in Coney Island, according to Gothamist.   (more…)

08/09/16 3:45pm
cyclones picnic

Families gather in the picnic area to enjoy a meal before the game. Photos via the Cyclones.

Summer in the city isn’t the same without a baseball game, especially making a day of it with a big group. But it’s hard to convince a bunch of friends to drop a month’s rent on Yankees box seats. And no one wants to sit in the nosebleed section of Citi Field. Luckily us Brooklynites have a better option: The Brooklyn Cyclones’ brand new Brooklyn Backyard Picnic area. The Cyclones removed one of their bleachers for the 2016 season and turned it into an events space groups can rent out before the game.

From the moment you enter the private entrance you feel like you’re visiting someone’s yard party, but on a Jay Gatsby scale. There are grills with dozens of dogs and burgers, buffet tables, coolers full of soda and bars dotted all around. But this isn’t just some isolated suburban retreat. You’re right next to the Cyclones outfield, at eye-level with the players. (more…)

06/29/16 9:30am
The seats at the new semi-outdoor Coney Island amphitheater, where semi-free concerts will be held this summer. via Facebook.

The seats at the new semi-outdoor Coney Island amphitheater, where semi-free concerts will be held this summer. via Facebook.

Coney Island has been home to free Seaside Summer Concert Series ever since former Borough President Marty Markowitz made it his pet project years ago. This year, with the opening of the brand-new Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, the city’s first major beachside venue (which the Village Voice already called a $61 million logistical boondoggle) the concert series announced plans to relocate to the new 5,000-seat venue.

That apparently also means the shows aren’t quite as free as they used to be: Some of the shows are now a mix of paid/free tickets, so you’ll have to go down to Coney Island a few days before the shows like the Beach Boys and Kool & the Gang to get tickets to some shows instead of just walking up. It’s been, suffice it to say, a very mixed start for the new Live Nation backed theater.  (more…)

05/27/16 3:00pm
Dance your face off with DJ Ali Coleman (#)

Dance your face off with DJ Ali Coleman (#6)

1. Plan for a cruelty-free feast at Haymarket’s Vegan Memorial Day Sale, with 10 percent off all BBQ supplies, plus treats by pop-up vendors Ponycakes, Brooklyn Whiskers, and Yeah Dawg. (Haymarket’s Corner, FREE)

2. Compete for swag prizes at Syndicated’s Downeast Cider Popup, featuring an oh-so-challenging single-hole putt-putt course, plus cider cocktails and a special cider-infused meal. (Syndicated BK, FREE)

3. Gorge and groove and gorge again at the YES Memorial Day BBQ // Pig Roast & Dance Party, with tunes by Tunico, Bonzai, and Saint Glock. (House of Yes, FREE) (more…)

05/25/16 4:00pm
Huge concert venue, beer garden and more: Here's everything new at Coney Island this summer

The Art Walls are returning to Coney with new artists this summer. Photo via Facebook.

If you are currently sitting comfortably or reading this on your phone while standing in one of NYC’s famous cold brew lines, take a second to stretch your free hand around and pat yourself on the back. There, you deserved that, reader, because despite all odds, you did it: You made it to goddamn summer. You survived being snowed in with your sexy roommate, you considered fleeing to New Orleans, maybe you even thought about leaving the country, but you didn’t and now Memorial Day weekend is here and you can finally live your best Brooklyn life again (by that we mean the one that’s outdoors and in jorts, of course).

It also means it’s time to get down to Coney Island if you haven’t already. Coney Island’s renewal has been a mixed bag in the past couple of years: for every cool new ride or bar, there’s a tacky chain restaurant. But this summer sees the addition of lots of new things to be excited about, including a new beer garden and a huge outdoor concert venue where you can see the Beach Boys on July 4th weekend or Vanilla Ice in September, if you’re into that.  (more…)

05/20/16 2:03pm
The hot dog wars return! Nathan's and Feltman's renew rivalry with super cheap showdown May 28

How many hot dog wars will the next administration involve us in? Photo via Flickr user Angela Rutherford.

Coney Island is basically the equivalent to an Americanized Birthright for hot dogs (despite what Detroit may think). Though a little less kosher than we’d hope for, Coney Island is a historical motherland to the birth of our beloved franks, home to not only Feltman’s (the man, the legend, who started the frank craze in the United States), but to Nathan’s Famous since 1916.

On May 28, Nathan’s is celebrating their 100th anniversary by going old school and selling their famous weiners for the original 5 cents each! From 11am-2pm (and limited two per customer), you’ll be able to enjoy a piece of Brooklyn history (and get a fancy commemorative certificate) joining swarms and crowds of people looking to grab some weiners. Seems innocent enough, right? Patriotic even?

Sure, Nathan’s Famous is THEE hot dog hot spot on Coney Island and quite frank(ly) the planet, but let us not forget how Nathan Handwerker originally got his start: working for Feltman’s, who is widely considered the inventor of the hot dog. But did you know that Feltman’s is in the midst of a comeback? Steeplechase Beer Garden (a mere two blocks from Nathan’s) will be hosting a Feltman’s pop up selling their historic weenies for 10 cents each from 2-4pm on the same damn day of Nathan’s Famous Centennial. (more…)

05/12/16 9:45am
Personally, I think American is trying too hard. Via Facebook.

Personally, I think American is trying too hard. Via Facebook.

The warm weather finally hitting us brings with it thoughts of Coney Island and hot dogs. But for me, I’m not talking about the ones in Brooklyn. You see, for me, you can take the girl out of Michigan, but I still got a lot of Midwest quirk when it comes to adapting to the BK lifestyle. My hand still makes the perfect map of Michicgan to show people where my hometown is. Once at a Checker’s, I accidentally referred to wanting a Coke as “pop” without realizing it and was given Pip’s because that’s what the employee thought I meant. Prepping for brunch at work, I misspoke referring to the bodega across the street as a “party store” and was met with confusion and questions from my coworkers from what exactly makes it a “party.” I’m constantly craving Detroit Made BBQ Better Made Potato Chips, Faygo Red Pop and Ghettoblaster from Motor City Brewery, I have strong opinions on Motown and a love/hate relationship with “Don’t Stop Believing,” and though my love for Zetterberg’s beard is eternal while love for sports limited, I lose interest in the NHL season soon as the Red Wings are out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But what I’ve been finding myself pining for insistently lately (mostly when drunk) are Coney Dogs from D1 (Detroit One) Coney Island in Detroit. That’s right, both hot dogs and diners where they serve the hot dogs are called “Coney Islands” in Detroit.  (more…)

05/06/16 3:00pm
Skaff stands for Coney.

Skaff stands for Coney.

As The Brooklyn Museum was kind enough to remind us earlier this year, no place in Brooklyn remains as mystical as Coney Island. Home of the Cyclone, 800 of the best summer jobs, our beloved Freak Bar and, more recently, Times Square mascots, Coney Island imbues true meaning into that saying about “letting your freak flag fly.” Heck, they’re the authority on the subject.

Recently, genderqueer BK rapper Uncle Meg (aka Meg Skaff of Hand Job Academy) took up with some of Coney Island’s most iconic freaks to film a music video for her new song, “Big Daddy Margaret Rose.” The video used the set of Eric Rivas’ Vamp Bikers Tres in Bushwick, but its heart was obviously in the People’s Playground: Skaff’s video features everyone from the Coney sideshow barker to the strait jacket escape artist to that woman who impossibly survives having a bed of nails pressed into her chest multiple times a day. See for yourself below; it’s pretty excellent.

We caught up with Uncle Meg to ask her just what made her want to shoot the freaks for this video, and what “Big Daddy Margaret Rose” says about a city that feels less and less “freaky” every day. Update 11/1: Uncle Meg’s album Bug is out on Nov. 4; catch her next show Nov. 7 at Sunnyvale.  (more…)