Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My last drink at Ruby's on the boardwalk at Coney Island.

I don't have much to say about it.

It's been here, "a Brooklyn treasure," since 1934.

After this summer, it will crumble under a corporate tsunami, along with the rest of the boardwalk.

How can I ever go out there again?


EV Grieve said...

Were you really drunk when you took that top photo or is it artfully off-kilter?

Or maybe I'm off-kilter?

Anyway! I can't imagine going out to the Corporate Coney of our Future.

Eric said...

Your photo looks almost exactly like the one I took when I visited Ruby's in July. I have to go one more time; what's the last day?

tacony palmyra said...

I got a beer at Ruby's this summer, their own brew on tap, and I almost fell over when the barkeep told me it'd be SEVEN dollars. Jeez. No wonder the place is usually half empty.

randall said...

Do you really think that corporate beer is going to be cheaper?

David Brooks wrote a pretty interesting op-ed piece today. It seems to me somewhat relevant to the dialog of this site.

everettsville said...

Ate/drank at Ruby’s on the boardwalk about a month ago during one of those intense heat wave weekends (sat right where the guy in the fedora is sitting in the last pic). Between the wilting humidity, the grease from the chicken, fries & corn crawling up my fingers and face, and the jukebox turned up way too loud, it ranks right up there as one of the most physically uncomfortable meals of my life.

Given the choice, and being human, I might have preferred a little a/c and a “nice” place to sit down…but it would not have been as memorable or interesting. I had the joy of watching my daughter giddily devour a huge corn on the cob that was too big and too slippery with butter for her to actually pick up.

The problem with all these new corporate places popping up everywhere is that they’re too easy. They don’t challenge us in any way to experience anything but sensations of familiarity & comfort, and it's a dull comfort.

One experience disappears into the vague sameness of them all.

(tacony, I agree they charge a little too much for the beer but I forgive them knowing it was my first/last time)

JAZ said...

I grew up getting taken to Coney Island almost every weekend during summers to play in the sand and enjoy the rides, haunted house, etc. We used to play for hours on the little square wooden scooters (red or blue - I always went for blue). My grandfather taught me how to hit a baseball at the old batting cage (RIP to both).

I know what's still left is being obliterated soon, but I don't know if I have the heart to go once more with the mentality of looking at the terminal patient. The bank building not being saved was the last straw for me I guess - how the fuck does something that classic, that beautiful not get preserved?

From time to time I inevitably find myself in Coney Island (old friends, occasionaly business related, etc.) Of course you can't help but notice how much is already gone, but during those times I'm there, but I'm not - it's hard to explain but maybe you understand.

Then again, maybe I need to walk the boardwalk and say my goodbyes to what has held on but cannot any longer - for everything it gave to me I probably owe it that much.

When I was putting sand in my brother's back pocket while standing in line for a ride as a 9 year old boy, I never for a second would have thought that one day it would all be gone.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

I keep making "last" trips there, but as long as Ruby's is still open, I feel I need to keep visiting. Once they're gone, though, I'm not sure if even the Cyclone can draw me back.

Marty Wombacher said...

I'm going out this Sunday and will probably hit it one more time in September. I'll go once next year, just to see show pathetic the Boardwalk is after they rip it up and bring in sports bars and gourmet coffee shops. And then, never again.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Randall, thanks for pointing us to the Brooks piece. it is so true. and Coney Island, like much of Bloomberg City, is about to become not so haimish.


Streets of Stamford said...

I'm heading down to CI next Saturday for one last visit. I'm sure it'll be bittersweet. I'm also sure that I'll be filled with inept rage at Thor, Zamperla, Sodexho and Bloomie. If I were one of the Warriors, I would throw bricks through all the windows in Joe Sitt's properties and spray paint obscenities up and down his fences. But, alas, I'd fall in better with the Newsies than the Warriors.

As for the people saying that our nostalgia is overrated, I hope they know that we're not pining for the ghost town Coney Island of the 1970s and 80s, what with its crack vials, graffiti and homeless guys sleeping under the boardwalk. I think we're pissed that just when Coney Island got things turned around and became a safe, fun -- and still a little grimy -- place to be, Bloomberg came in and turned it into Times Square South.

Coney Island used to be called Sodom by the Sea, but we need to think of a new nickname. How about Sold Out by the City?

Anonymous said...

That place is iconic, what a shame. Coney Island, New York will not be Coney Island, New York without Ruby's! Someone stop this, please. Our history is fading. Call the Historical Society, where is the NY Preservation Society when we need them?

JakeGould said...

Tacony Palmyra, are you serious? You are complaining about a $7 beer charge at a bar you might go to once or only twice a year? People like you are part of the reason a lot of these places die. Everyone suddenly likes to visit them and enjoy their charm and take pictures but when it comes time to actually support the business with actual cold hard cash, you clam up.

What nonsense!

Say whatever you will about Bloomberg but there is a genuine class of residents in NYC who want to keeping “slumming” neighborhoods, but actually don’t want the businesses to thrive.

That pisses me off more than Bloomberg. Amortize the cost of the beers, suck it up and deal with it. Soon enough you can just sit back at home drinking cheap beer delivered to you from Fresh Direct while you stare at pictures of old businesses and wonder why it's all gone.

Anonymous said...

St's of Stam - once again comments about it being Bloomberg, even if it would probably have occured under any mayor. When will you all get over bemoaning the problem and focusing on one person. The societal soul sickness is much more than a part of this city administration. I'm afraid it goes wider and deeper and started long before and will continue long after Bloomberg.
Have a nice day all.

packy said...

@ anon 12:00am

I wholeheartedly agree that it is a societal soul sickness that is causing this to happen. One of the problems is that most people (or at least people who have influence) don't give a shit about anything (history, culture, architecture, uniqueness, etc.)but themselves and how much money they can make. You see it everywhere and in all aspects of today's society. Not sure when it happened (maybe it's always been that way) or how (could just be human nature), but somewhere along the way people have been conditioned to want convenience and familiarity and along with that people have given up thinking about things. See the movie Idiocracy. It's sadly funny.

BirdOnAWire said...

Hi Jeremiah,

I grew up in Coney Island in the '70s--my uncle still lives there, right off Surf Avenue. I just wanted to say that your heartbreak and your powerful words speak for me too. The destruction of Coney is too much for me to put into words myself most of the time or to even think about without crying. I somehow (stupidly) thought it would be spared from the soul murder befalling the rest of New York.

Katrink said...

The irregular regulars will reunite on Sat. 9/24 around 2-ish for a last hurrah. Rumor has it Sam will make a guest appearance direct from Puerto Rico.
Don't stay away - make the most of it before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

What kills me about this whole thing is the destruction of successful existing businesses. There are plenty of empty lots and decimated buildings. Why not start with those? And as soon as the new company took over running The Cyclone and abandoning re-rides, a part of Coney died. Thanks, "progress."

AE said...

It IS amazing that Coney Island does poorly after Zaperla and their bretheren take over. They have no feel for what the area is about and part of the blame also has to be put on the public. People are so used to sitting around at home and watching TV and playing with electronic gadgets that they lost the feel of things that are real and edgy.Everything needs to be the same wherever we go and it's all so sanitized and uninteresting that the boredom level of society today is beyond my comprehension. And as one poster mentioned....all anybody gives a crap about these days is money and consumerism. It makes me really sad....I grew up in Coney and still live close by. I go there every chance I get....not like the ones who just show up to say goodbye.

Anonymous said...

While we all mourn the loss of the boardwalk businesses there are still mom and pop businesses that will go on and need support out at Coney. Deno's Wonder Wheel Park is family owned. All of the rides (other than the Scream Zone) on west 12th st are mom and pops. The folks at Coney Island USA are a not for profit arts organization that bring us the Mermaid Parade, sideshow, film festival, burlesque, beard and moustache competition, tattoo and motorcycle show, coney museum as well as others and they have a cool bar in their landmarked building. There's also a slew of new bars (family owned) popping up along Surf Ave. There's still some magic out there and NOT supporting what's still there will only lead to condo world and a true death bell for Coney. We can collectively keep a part of Vanishing NY from complete over take if we actually go and support these mom and pops instead of harping on what's gone.