This place fascinates me. It's packed with interesting people from all parts of society. Some live here, some visit, some are homeless, some are filthy rich. I met a group of guys on the pier this past weekend and played some percussion with them for hours. We drank cheap beer and danced. Most of the group is from Cuba and accepted me once they realized I have decent rhythm for a white boy.
The man at the end is homeless and sleeps under the boardwalk. He was drunk when I met him and spilled his guts out to me. "I feel free here," he said about living on Coney Island. He started crying when he began to think about his former loved ones, including his mom that passed away years ago a couple days before his birthday, his twin brother who kicked him out of the house and various others he has met and lost along the way. He was happy to have someone to talk to and I was happy to listen. He told me that was more important than money - honesty, truth and friendship. As we talked he looked up to the sky and said that God has a plan for him.
As it is for many, Coney Island is a welcome escape for me. I grew up on the water and miss it when I'm far. And even though water surrounds this city, it's easy to feel claustrophobic and landlocked when you have so many people, buildings and trains holding you in. I plan to spend some time at this strange and beautiful place, to make photos, hear stories and refresh my senses.