In Annie Hall, Alvy Singer famously traces his adult neuroses to his childhood home, which, crammed beneath a roller coaster in Coney Island, rattled at regular intervals. The coaster was the Thunderbolt—which closed in 1982 and was infamously torn down, illegally, by Giuliani in 2000—and it really did have a house underneath its back loop, used to house caretakers up until its demolition. One of those erstwhile caretakers, amusementeur Andy Badalamenti, passed away this week, Amusing the Zillion reports. The man who operated historic rides, such as the Tornado and the Bobsled, both once on the Bowery, had been battling cancer.
Here’s a choice bit from ATZ’s obit:
When the Tornado roller coaster was set afire by arsonists in 1977, Andy climbed to the top with a cross on his back and screamed “We’re gonna fix it! The Tornado will be back!” But the coaster was doomed. “The image of Andy Badalamenti high atop the smoldering ruins of the historic roller coaster, triumphant and defiant, promising rebirth, remains a part of Coney Island folkore,” writes [Coney historian Charlie] Denson.
UPDATE: More at Kinetic Carnival