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What Will Become of You, Eak the Geek?

A neglected neighborhood suddenly registers on the real estate radar and developers swoop in, worrying locals who wonder aloud what will become of their gritty turf. The pattern is cyclical, but when we're talking about Coney Island, the usual cast of characters is a little more ... colorful. Expanding on the news that shopping mall developer Thor Equities has bought up property on Coney, the Times heads down to Astroland to gauge the mood:

"People come to this beach because they can't afford a vacation," said the manager of Gyro Corner, who gave his name as Joey Clams. "They bring their own food. They don't need expensive restaurants." Dick D. Zigun, a tattooed impresario who runs what he says is America's last 10-act sideshow of sword swallowers, fire-eaters and snake charmers, says that a mall might prompt the city to abandon Coney Island's amusement zoning altogether and replace carnivals with condos. Coney Island would get too clean, upscale and homogenous.

Hopefully Mr. Zigun's employees won't choke on their swords when they find out that City Hall will soon release a plan for turning Coney Island into a year-round attraction with new shops and apartments.
· In Coney Island's Future, Looking to Past Glory [NYTimes]