My first adventure to Coney Island was with a distant cousin, ( can’t remeber which but it was one of Michael Wang’s sisters) when I was 9 years old.
It wasn’t the rides, or the beach or even the hotdogs, but my fascination is with the Coney Island Sideshow.
Whenever I hear that someone has not seen the Sideshow, I have a need to bring them to the show. How can anyone have not seen something so fantastic, so wonderful, and so simple? For $7 you get to enjoy a show that is suspenseful, sensual, and sometimes downright nasty. It’s the 7 car pileup that you simply cannot turn away from. The best example is the line of people paying $1 extra to look into the blade-box that imprisons the contortionist girl.
Yesterday I took LB to see the sideshow, but they were closed for the season. I was disappointed, but it was a beautiful day to experience Coney Island. The empty beach and closed amusement parks gave the setting a post-apocalyptic feel. We found the only off-season video arcade, had a bite of hotdog at Nathan’s and took a memento at the photo booth.
Even in the middle of winter with the wind whipping through the skeletons of Astropark, I can still hear the pipe organ music, smell the popcorn and hear the call of the Sideshow Announcers.
“That’s right, everything in the show are real, the swords are real, the nails are real…”
“You have to put in that photo of you and the baby” said my adopted aunt Joyce from Florida.
This is Selah, my niece.
Funny thing is that I can remember Selah’s dad Chris the day he came home from the hospital. They looked so much alike, the same chubby cheeks, full head of hair. However, Chris did have a alien piece of embryonic tissue which he wore like an awkward hat for at least a week.
The photo was taken in Atlantic City. I volunteered to watch Selah as the rest of the clan pillaged the outlet stores on Black Friday. We sat on the third floor of The Pier Shop at Caesars enjoying the late afternoon sun. She napped while I read from my Kindle. As self-portraits go, it’s not too shabby.
The origin of the name Selah is from the Hebrew Bible although the exactly translation is unclear. It can be loosely translated as a ‘musical interlude’. Selah is the perfect name for a daughter of my cousin Chris and his wife Miriam. Both of them work for a church that uses music as their vehicle to spread their message.
It would be fair for me to tell you now that I’m an atheist. I’m a non-believer but I’m far from uninterested. My interest in All Things Bible started when I read Bruce Feiler’s book Walking the Bible. I take Biblical events with a grain of salt, but for me it tells a great travel story of the Middle East. I’ve traveled a little bit in Israel and Jordan and one day I would like to see St. Catherine Monastery in Sinai, Egypt.
I’m definitely in the minority. To be an atheist, one must have quite the Ego. It’s one thing to say that you’re unsure about a religion but quite another to say that you are certain that God does not exist. I didn’t lose God. There was no great tragedy in my life that caused me to forsake God. I’ve simply never felt the need for God to exist. There was never a time that I can remember when I believed in a higher being. I didn’t heed the warnings of my Buddhist grandmother when she took me through the realms of hell exhibit at a temple and I didn’t observe Lent while attending St. Augustine in Ocean City, NJ.
While sitting there with Selah on my chest, I thought about the “Miracle” of childbirth. This miracle is the continuation of the species. Somehow we crawled out of the soup and learned to procreate. A woman walked by and sighed “Oh my God, how precious”. The idea of a higher power is somehow always invoked when talking about babies. How can anyone deny the beauty that is the Miracle of Babies? Professor Dennett, my freshman year philosophy professor ( strange that a man of his stature would be wasted on the stupid ) would argue that it is only beautiful because it is useful. These are just words that describe a deep feeling buried in our genetic code.
Indeed she is a beautiful baby and life is miraculous. Even an atheist can see that it is a fitting description.
The following is an actual IM conversation between an old friend (female) and myself. As she’ll be reading this, I like to stress that I used the term “old” as in “have known for a long time” and not as in “aged”. Her name has been changed so that her future husband will not know the power she possess.
Buttercup: so she should hvae walked away from her husband as other women did?
Charles Lin: no
Charles Lin: wow
Charles Lin: you really take whatever you want to hear and use it to stick it to people Charles Lin: you’re ready to raise children
Buttercup: cant stop laughing Charles Lin: you and my mom are like the jedi master
Buttercup: no no Buttercup: YOU said that most people would walk away in my cases
Buttercup: so was just confirming what you said??
Charles Lin: yes, but I said it in context
Charles Lin: you take it out of context
Charles Lin: the context is why you find yourself in difficult relationships
Charles Lin: at no point was that a judgement or whether you should walk away
Charles Lin: i simply pointed out that most women would.
Charles Lin: Im by no ways trying to imply that you should or meredith vieira should either
Buttercup: OK. Clear now.
Buttercup: Thanks for the accusaion followed by the clarificaiton Charles Lin: I should record this…
Charles Lin: I can use this again
Buttercup: you should
Buttercup: then you would be prepared when you have kids
Charles Lin: no, more like being prepared to have a wife
Buttercup: it wouldbe like a training
Buttercup: no no
Buttercup: being a bully parent Charles Lin: only women have this sort of power
Charles Lin: its some kind of mother to daughter training you receive
Charles Lin:seriously, I’ve never heard a guy start an argument with “You said….”
Buttercup: hm I recollect someone citing crap from a decade ago Charles Lin: as in “you said I look fat”, “you said you like your mother’s cooking more”, “you said you dont have any female coworkers”
Charles Lin: could be the start of a comedy bit Buttercup: and you said i said a bunch of stuff from 10 years ago
Buttercup: who remmebers this shit
Charles Lin: haha
Charles Lin: and there ya go Charles Lin: “and you said I said a bunch of stuff from 10 years ago”
Charles Lin: haha
Charles Lin: priceless Buttercup: oh wait…rephrase
Buttercup: you cited me from 10 years ago
Charles Lin: sorry, recording the entire thing
Charles Lin: haha
Buttercup: good. do that