A little while back I had asked a few questions to Professor Solomon about his feelings as to what's shaping up or not in the continuing saga of the Coney Island redevelopment. Here's what he answered about the uncertainty of Coney's future. One that even mechanical Gypsy fortunetellers in booths can't predict!
Professor Solomon bills himself as an “amateur professor” Professor Solomon is a findologist - which basically means an expert at finding lost objects. He has also written a book about Coney Island which explores the amusement area and its history and interviews with Coney old-timers. The book "Coney Island" is available for free and can be downloaded in full here.
His bio states:
He has appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” National Public Radio’s “What Do You Know?” and other shows. He was recently seen in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary “Lost and Found.” His Twelve Principles were featured by Family Circle magazine as their “Great Idea” of the month.
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KC: What are your feelings on the proposals for Coney Island by Thor Equities and Joe Sitt?
PS: What I've always enjoyed about Coney Island has been the character of the place--carnival-like, raffish, "downscale." The vision offered by Thor is one of a glitzy, Las Vegas-like, upscale sort of place. Such may be inevitable, economically, but lamentable to anyone enamored of the old Coney Island.
KC: What are your feelings towards what the Mayor announced [last November] recently?
PS: The Mayor's plan offers hope that the present character of Coney Island will be at least partly preserved.
KC: Do you think his parkland plans will be stopped?
PS: It's hard to say if the plan will succeed. There does seem to be political opposition to it in some quarters.
KC: What do you think will happen--what are your predictions? Do you think this will be the usual promises-made-promises-broken that will keep Coney Island in waiting for many more years?
PS: Until recently, there were [mechanical] Gypsy fortunetellers to be found in booths at Coney Island. But even they might have hesitated to predict the future of the place. It may be that political squabbling and other complications that will keep Coney Island in its current state for many years. (Although maybe that's to be welcomed!)
KC: I also wanted to know what you feel or fantasize Coney Island SHOULD be like.
PS: I guess I wish that Coney Island could just be left alone by the various powers that be. For all its obvious problems, I much enjoy going out to Coney Island at present. That would no longer be true if it got glitzified. (Not to mention the years of construction noise and such.)
I would welcome improvements at Coney Island--but on a small operator level, rather than by corporate entities.
Alas, that's probably not going to be the case.
Its future? I'm no fortuneteller, so I'll just wait and see.
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Solomon is the author of How to Find Lost Objects, published by Penguin Books. His other publications include Japan in a Nutshell, Coney Island, How to Make the Most of a Flying Saucer Experience and The Book of King Solomon.