First time I ever stepped onto Coney Island was to cover the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which is a lot of capital letters to ascribe to an event in which men and women choke down mountains of tube steaks on national television, yes, but indeed an event you should attend to if you consider yourself a red-blooded and -meated American. That day Takeru Kobayashi set a world record by eating more hot dogs in 12 minutes than I've eaten in the past 20 years.
I was standing near enough to him that I felt my own gorge rise and he mowed down dog after dog after dog. It was raw, foul, awe-inspiring. Afterward my friend Marcel and I grabbed a train home. As we swayed on the elevated tracks, in a mostly empty MTA car, on a warm July afternoon, a woman across from us puked a puddle of splattery sludge on the floor directly between us. Marcel and I looked at one another. We didn't smile. We didn't speak. We got up and moved a few seats away. "Well," he said, "we knew we weren't getting out of this day without something like that happening." This public barfing was a badge of authenticity, as if we'd just gotten our parking validated. Coney Island, thy name is viscera.
The boardwalk gets a bad name these days. And Sandy clobbered the living hell out of it. If you're going to drink this weekend, and we know you are, support Coney Island by nursing one of Shmaltz Brewing Company's line of Coney Island beers. I snagged a 22-oz bottle of Barrel Aged Human Blockhead today because the fellow on the label, Donny Vomit, was the first person I ever saw floss his skull by snorting the tip of a condom and yanking it out his mouth. Per its name, it also happens to be aged in bourbon barrels. The beer carries notes of rich malt, butterscotch, maple, balsamic vinegar, rum-raisin pudding and hazy mornings-after. The sweetness masks the 10.8 percent abv, so it's reminiscent of all kinds of terrible decisions you made when you used to think schnapps was the pinnacle of drinkability. This is the beer to make thirty-somethings feel like underclassmen again.
Mostly, it is a beer you must consume slowly. In that, this craft lager forces you to do a very Coney Island thing: Kick back and enjoy with the patience of a time bygone.
The Cardinals visit the Jets, a team given to pratfalls nonpareil. The Giants are about to out-adequate the rest of the NFC East, per usual, when they visit the Redskins. And on Tuesday, the Thunder pay a visit to Brooklyn's own Nets. In another time of year, Durant and Westbrook would be a little further south to check out the Mermaid Parade, we're sure.