Monday, January 22, 2007

I think this post's mostly filler...

Here's a commercial from the Park's heyday:

Oh, and Lady in the Yellow Shirt? It was never, ever like going to Broadway.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Joe the Sign Guy

The signs at the Park would not have won any design contests. Most were purely informational, with vinyl letters affixed to a green or brown-painted piece of plywood. They were all made by an old hippie named Joe. He was the Sign Guy. Joe the Sign Guy.

Sometimes, when it got slow in the sign shop he would pick up some extra shifts in Lift Operations. He would come into the office before he was scheduled to start, sit down with a big sigh and say, "Hiiii TheRESE." It was always surprising to hear such a lilting singsong come out of such a big dude.

One day, he came in to the office while I was in the midst of payroll reconciliation, shift change and a general nervous breakdown. He sat down and greeted me as usual. After dealing with whatever jerky 18-year old was hassling me over his shift assignment I turned to him and started complaining about how hard it was to get anything done in that office. I needed some sort of Do Not Disturb sign, but meaner. Would he make me one that said Fuck Off?

"Sure, TheRESE. I'm low on vinyl in the shop, but as soon as I get more in, you got it."

I promptly forgot all about the Fuck Off! sign. But Joe, bless his heart, did not. A year or so later, I stopped by the Park during the off season to visit a friend. As I passed the sign shop, the window flew open, and through the cloud of cigarette (and possibly pot) smoke that billowed out I heard Joe yell, "TheRESE! I have something for you!"

Sure enough, it was a FUCK OFF! sign. The plywood was painted white, the letters were red. It was beautiful.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

SnOasis, or, What Happens When You Try To Run A Summer Ride In Winter

Unlike this winter, 1996's was a cold one. The Park, in conjunction with a New York City Top 40 Radio Station, decided to PUT ON A SHOW!!!! An outdoor concert to feature, among others, Noel Gallagher from Oasis. To make it more of an Extravaganza, management decided to open the Bungee Tower for the day.

I was living in Boston at the time, but decided to come down for the show. I hadn't been home in awhile, and this seemed as good an excuse to make the trip as any. Plus, it totally made my Brit Pop-loving co-workers in the record store jealous. So I hopped on the bus and high-tailed it down to New Jersey.

My sister and I arrived at the Park the next morning and made our way out to the tower. Our friend Steve was already there, setting up the airbags. The sun was shining. The air was cold. The stage was set up in the parking lot. Music filtered over-- Alanis Morrissette, Garbage, and, of course, Oasis. Wonderwall, to be exact. It's a pretty song. We heard it about 17 times that day.

Steve and I climbed to the top of the tower, where we realized that, in addition to being cold, it was also windy. And icy. So windy, that the steel cables that attached to the top of the rubber bungee cords (which allowed the jumpers to be safely lowered to the ground after their jump) were blowing off the retrieval arms (used to pull the cord back in to the top of the tower, thus allowing the next jumper to be buckled to the end of the cord.) To correct this, Steve or I had to climb up on to a catwalk above the jump platform and manually reposition the wayward cable. There was no ladder to facilitate this. You had to climb on to the railing and hoist yourself up. It was no big deal in the summer, but factor in the cold and the wind and the ice? Danger! Luckily, neither of us plummeted to our death.

Back to the cold. We had been given a space heater. We presumed it was to keep us warm. Not sure how one puny heater was going to keep two people warm in the middle of a howling gale, we hit on an idea-- Let's take everything out of the equipment locker, put the heater in, and sit in it! Genius! We later found out that we had been given the heater not out of concern for our well-being, but for that of the cords. Seems they were only safety tested to work in temperatures above freezing. Whoops!

So we huddled in our box, listened to Wonderwall on an almost constant loop and prayed that no one was crazy enough to want to jump in those conditions. But, unfortunately for us, there's always someone willing to walk up seven stories in ski boots.

Oh, and Noel Gallagher? He showed up right before his scheduled start time, played two songs and then stomped off the stage and into a waiting limo. Guess the poor fella was cold.